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The Beginner’s Guide to Lifecycle Marketing

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The Beginner's Guide to Lifecycle Marketing

Every customer is different.

They are at different stages of the buying journey and, therefore, respond to different messages. Having only one message—and shouting that at all of them—will not work and may even turn some of them off.

Instead, you need a better strategy. One that takes into consideration the stage customers are in. From there, you can customize a more suitable message.

How do you do that?

Well, you can do what’s called lifecycle marketing. In this post, you’ll learn the following:

What is lifecycle marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is the process of matching the type of communication a customer wants to see as they progress along their lifecycle.

Typically, the customer lifecycle consists of six high-level stages, similar to the modern-day marketing funnel:

  1. Awareness – Your potential customers first learn about your brand.
  2. Engagement – Your potential customers interact with your brand and learn more about your offerings.
  3. Consideration – Your potential customers evaluate your offerings and decide if you’re the right fit.
  4. Purchase – Your potential customers turn into customers by buying from you.
  5. Support – You support your customers by ensuring they’re deriving maximum value and satisfaction from their purchase.
  6. Loyalty – Your customers love your brand. They purchase from you repeatedly and/or take the initiative to tell others about you.

The idea behind lifecycle marketing was developed by Infusionsoft (now Keap) to promote its email marketing software. Today, the concept continues to be associated with email marketing.

However, customers don’t just interact with a business via email. So we can expand the scope of lifecycle marketing to other marketing channels too.

How to implement a lifecycle marketing strategy

To create a lifecycle marketing strategy, we’ll use this framework, courtesy of Barilliance. It involves three steps:

  1. Triggers
  2. Message(s)
  3. Channel

Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Triggers

Triggers are predefined conditions that determine when a marketing message should be presented to a customer. These conditions are aligned with the six stages of the customer lifecycle.

Since the six stages of the customer lifecycle are pretty high-level ones, let’s break them down into more specific segments that can serve as triggers:

  • Prospects who have not heard of your brand [Awareness]
  • New site visitors [Awareness]
  • New email subscribers [Engagement]
  • Prospects who are comparing [Consideration]
  • Cart abandoners [Consideration]
  • First-time customers [Purchase]
  • Churned customers [Support]
  • Active customers/VIPs [Loyalty]

Basically, any customer action can be turned into a trigger.

2. Message

This is what you send your customers.

Don’t just send anything, though—not only should your customers care about the message, but it should also be related to the trigger that sent said message.

For instance, you may want to send an email reminder to cart abandoners, i.e., customers who dropped off at the Consideration stage.

3. Channel

This is where the message is taking place. It can be any marketing channel—email, social, live chat, YouTube, etc.

Lifecycle marketing tactics

With the framework in place, let’s look at how we can apply it in reality. We’ll use the segments we created as examples of how to execute lifecycle marketing.

1. Prospects who have not heard of your brand

Trigger: Customers realize they have a problem and search on Google to learn how to resolve it
Message: Educate your customers on how to solve the problem
Channel: Search engine optimization (SEO)

Customers can’t buy from you unless they know you exist. And discovery usually occurs because customers first find out they have a problem they need to solve.

When that happens, most of the time, they turn to Google. This means if we want potential customers to find us, we need to rank on Google. Not only that, we need to figure out what problems they’re searching for and what kinds of words they’re using.

To do that, we can use a keyword research tool. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a few terms related to what you’re selling (e.g., “coffee,” “cappuccino,” “coffee bean,” etc)
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Switch the tab to Questions

Matching terms report results

Here, you’ll see over 300,000 potential topics you could target. Look through the list and pick out those that are relevant to your website. Then create content that will rank for these topics.

Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs

2. New site visitors

Trigger: Customers land on your site for the first time after discovering your content
Message: Subscribe to your newsletter
Channel: Email

After discovering your content, most people will leave and never return. So if you want them to continue engaging with your content and brand, you need to get them to stay or return to your website again.

There are many ways to do this, including getting them to follow you on your social channels. In my opinion, email is the best channel because you own the direct communication. (Social platforms can remove you anytime.)

However, a visitor to your website won’t hand over their contact information without some enticement. You can do this in a variety of ways. For example, we keep it simple by asking them to join our weekly digest:

Text field to enter email address to subscribe to Ahrefs' newsletter. Next to text field is bearded man on a computer

E‑commerce stores tend to dangle discounts as an incentive:

Text field to enter email address and subscribe to Zalora's newsletter. Text above promising $20 voucher for those who subscribe

Whereas bloggers prefer giving away free eBooks:

Picture of man. Next to it is a CTA to unlock an ebook

3. New email subscribers

Trigger: Customers sign up for your newsletter
Message: A welcome series introducing your brand, content, and catalog/products
Channel: Email

Once the prospect signs up for your newsletter, you should deliver whatever you promised—a discount code, eBook, etc. But beyond that, it’s a great opportunity to continue engaging them and introducing more of your content (or if you’re an e‑commerce store, your catalog of products).

For example, after confirming your subscription, marketing agency Demand Curve follows up with an email of resources you can check out:

Short write-ups, each with a link leading to various resources

Dr. Rhonda Patrick has a multiday email series that introduces you to her premium content, which she provides for free:

Rhonda's newsletter containing links to premium content

4. Prospects who are comparing

Trigger: Customers are looking for product comparisons on Google
Message: Feature comparisons, product comparisons
Channel: SEO

Customers will always want the best bang for their buck. So even if they’re familiar with your brand, they’ll make comparisons. One of the ways they do this is by searching on Google for comparisons between your brand and your competitors’.

Here’s how to find who your customers are comparing you with:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter your brand name
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Under Terms, click on “vs”

Matching terms report results. "vs" option in the sidebar

Here, we can see the different brands that our customers are comparing us with.

It’s up to you whether you want to create one page or individual pages for each competitor. At Ahrefs, we created one versus page:

Excerpt of Ahrefs' "versus" page

Rather than the standard side-by-side comparison of features where the page creator wins, we decided to feature independent polls and talk about the features that only our toolset has.

Polls showing most SEOs prefer Ahrefs

5. Cart abandoners

Trigger: Customers add products to the cart but don’t complete the purchase
Message: Complete the checkout process
Channel: Email, retargeting

During the process of buying, customers may procrastinate or hesitate. They begin by adding your products to the shopping cart but abandon it halfway because they are distracted, have another matter to attend to, are surprised at the total price, or are annoyed by an element of your checkout process.

In fact, Statista’s March 2021 study found that almost 80% of online shopping orders were abandoned.

Abandoned carts are fine if customers return. But many don’t. Sleeknote claims that e‑commerce brands lose around $18 billion in sales each year because of cart abandonment.

That means you need a way to try and get these customers back.

The most common way is to send an “abandoned cart” email. Here’s an example from Bonobos, a men’s clothing brand:

Abandoned cart emails aren’t just limited to e‑commerce brands. You can use these emails for any incomplete transaction in any industry. For example, here’s one from CodeAcademy, an online programming school:

 CodeAcademy's "abandoned cart" email

Besides email, you can also retarget these customers using social media ads. That way, as they’re browsing the web, they’re reminded to complete their checkout with your brand.

6. First-time customers

Trigger: Customers buy your product
Message: How to get the best out of your product
Channel: Email, in-app, live chat, social media, video, content marketing

Give your new customers a great experience, and they’ll be on their way to becoming a VIP of your brand. One way to do this is to offer support and education—teach them how best to use your product so that they will be motivated to stay or buy more.

At Ahrefs, besides our in-app onboarding, we also send emails introducing a variety of resources we’ve created to help customers get more out of our product. This includes a brief explainer on what our toolset does, an introduction to our knowledge base and in-app tutorials, as well as reminding them they can speak to support staff on the live chat anytime they need help.

Excerpt of Ahrefs' email with information on how to use its tools

We also share with them the best content on our blog and YouTube channel, most of which features the different ways to use our toolset and execute different tactics:

Excerpt of Ahrefs' email containing links to its best content

Finally, we also invite them to join our customers-only Facebook group, Ahrefs Insider, so they can interact with other top-tier SEOs to get the latest tips, tactics, and solutions for their problems:

Excerpt of Ahrefs' email containing invitation to join its FB page

Education and support aren’t just limited to software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses like ours. E‑commerce brands can do it too. Take a look, for example, at how Beardbrand creates content to support its customers:

Beardbrand's content about taking care of beards

If you sell women’s clothing, you can always show your customers how to pair up different styles for different seasons. Or if you sell sneakers, teach your customers how to take care of them (especially suedes!), clean them, and pair them up with different styles (or even lace them differently!).

7. Churned customers

Trigger: Customers buy your product once and never purchase anything again
Message: Discount for returning
Channel: Email, retargeting

The above trigger is to prevent churn. But no matter how much you try, some customers will leave or stop buying from you. However, a percentage of them can be persuaded back.

Retargeting can work well here. Use ads to remind them they’ve not bought from you for a while and invite them to check out your brand again.

Email can work too. Drew Sanocki famously helped transform streetwear brand KarmaLoop from facing bankruptcy to being acquired. One of the tools in his toolbox was the discount ladder strategy for winning back churned customers.

KarmaLoop's email offering "Welcome Back" discount to customers

Drew explains the strategy in more detail here. But basically, the idea is to give increasing discounts over time to customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while.

But once the customer buys, they’re taken off the discount ladder. This ensures you’re not driving your brand downward into a discounting spiral (incidentally the reason why KarmaLoop was on the verge of bankruptcy in the first place).

8. VIPs

Trigger: Customers who repeatedly and frequently buy your products
Message: Join VIP program
Channel: Email, in-app, in-store

Customers who love your product should be given more opportunities to buy again and buy often. If you have one, it’s a good idea to invite them to your loyalty or VIP program.

For example, Sephora’s Beauty Insider is one of the most successful loyalty programs around. It has over 25 million members, and they make up close to 80% of Sephora’s annual sales.

The Beauty Insider program has tiers, which encourage loyal customers to buy more so that they get upgraded to higher tiers:

Table showing perks that Sephora customers can get when they unlock the various membership levels

Being a Very Important Beauty (VIB) member is important to Sephora’s community members. Not only do they get rewards and discounts, but they also get access to exclusive products and events. So much so that there is a proud VIB community on YouTube:

List of Youtube videos about Sephora's VIB sales, recommendations, etc

Final thoughts

The segments and triggers I’ve written about are not exhaustive.

Depending on your business, you can take a more granular approach and create more segments. And for each segment, you can always consider more triggers.

Bear in mind the absence of an action can also be a trigger. For example, a situation where a potential customer joins your email list but doesn’t open the past five emails can be a trigger that spurs you to send a new message.

What do you think? Did I miss out on anything about lifecycle marketing? Let me know on Twitter.




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The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024

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The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024

Choosing the right website builder may depend on your goals. They have a variety of features, and some platforms excel in areas that others don’t.

Not all builders will fit if you need advanced SEO or ecommerce capabilities.

We compared 10 website builders based on price, data limits, core use cases, and whether they provide domains.

The 10 Best Website Builders Compared

Website Builder Starting Price Free Option Premium Content Gates Limits Free Domain Great For Extras We Like
WordPress.com $9/month Yes Yes 1-50 GB Yes (annual plans only) Blogging and text-based sites
  • Easily work between the .com and self-hosted sites.
  • Customizability.
Wix $17/month Yes Yes 2 GB-Unlimited Yes Small businesses & entrepreneurs
  • Educational programs and support.
  • Scheduling.
  • Ad management.
  • Email campaigns.
Duda $25/month 14 days Yes 1-4 sites No Getting started
  • Excellent help and support.
  • Zapier integration.
  • Multiple language sites.
  • Content library and free assets.
HubSpot $15/month Yes Yes Up to 30 pages on the free plan No Scaling
  • Conversational bots.
  • Wide range of free tools for sales, marketing, and services.
  • Extensive site and business owner education.
  • Mobile app.
Squarespace $25/month 14 days Yes Unlimited bandwidth, 30 minutes of video storage Yes (annual plans only) Quick, no-fuss sites
  • Custom product creation without worrying about fulfillment and shipping.
  • Integrated ecommerce on larger plans.
Webflow $18/month Yes Yes Starts with 1 GB bandwidth and 50 CMS items Yes Designers & Agencies
  • Schema markup and structured search support.
  • Pre-built interactions.
IONOS $6/month No No 50-75 GB Yes Small businesses on a budget
  • Affordable.
  • Competitor tracking.
  • Online booking included.
  • Built-in privacy and SSL.
Shopify $5/month 3 days No Unlimited products, bandwidth, and online storage No Ecommerce
  • Wide range of ecommerce features.
  • Large app store for extensions.
Weebly $12/month Yes No Unlimited storage Yes Beginners
  • Ease of use.
  • Built-in SEO tools.
Hostinger $2.99/month No No 25,000 visits,
100 GB SSD storage,
400,000 files
Yes Budget sites
  • Very affordable plans.
  • 24/7 customer support.

10 Best Website Builders For 2024

1. WordPress.com

Screenshot from WordPress.com, June 2024

With 62.7% of the market share held between WordPress.com and .org, WordPress is the largest and most prominent website builder.

Key Features

  • Over 50,000 plugins and 8,000 themes for customization.
  • Ability to transition between hosted and self-hosted options.
  • With paid plans, custom domains, site security, and advanced features are available.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • User-friendly interface suitable for beginners.
  • Flexibility to create various types of websites.
  • Built-in SEO tools and options to optimize your site for search engines.

Cost

  • $0-$70/month ($0-$45/month, billed annually), plus custom options.

2. Wix

Wix webpageScreenshot from Wix.com, June 2024

Wix controls only 4% of the CMS market, but that small number translates into hundreds of millions of users and makes it one of the most popular website builders.

It offers ease of use and flexibility, making it suitable for creating professional websites with expanded functionality.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates with drag-and-drop editing.
  • Wide range of elements and third-party apps for added functionality.
  • Comprehensive business solutions, including ecommerce and marketing tools.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for beginners and those needing advanced features.
  • SEO Wiz tool for optimizing your site’s SEO settings.
  • Extensive help, resources, and guides for website creation and promotion.

Cost

  • $0-$159/month, plus custom options.

3. Duda

Duda.coScreenshot from Duda.co, June 2024

Duda is a website builder that balances ease of use with advanced customization options, making it popular among designers and developers.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop interface and customizable templates.
  • Widgets and add-ons for expanded functionality, including ecommerce.
  • Mobile editor for creating mobile-friendly versions of your site

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for businesses and individuals seeking a professional website.
  • Built-in SEO optimization features, including meta descriptions and sitemaps.
  • Excellent customer support with live chat, email, and resources.

Cost:

  • $25-$199/month ($19-$149/month, billed annually), plus custom options.

4. HubSpot

HubSpot webpageScreenshot from HubSpot.com, June 2024

HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing, sales, and customer service platform with a powerful website builder.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop interface and customizable templates.
  • Pre-built modules for forms, CTAs, and social media integration.
  • Integrated CMS, marketing automation, and sales tools.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for businesses seeking a comprehensive solution.
  • Built-in SEO tools for keyword research, on-page optimization, and analytics.
  • Scalable platform that grows.

Cost

  • $0-$450/month, plus custom options.

5. Squarespace

SquarespaceScreenshot from Squarespace, June 2024

Squarespace is a website builder that offers beautifully designed templates and powerful ecommerce features.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates that work across devices.
  • Ecommerce tools for inventory management, order tracking, and payment processing.
  • Marketing tools for SEO, video, and audience management

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for businesses focusing on ecommerce and brand promotion.
  • Built-in SEO features and integration with Google Analytics.
  • Mobile app for managing your site on the go.

Cost

  • $25-$72/month ($16-$52/month, billed annually), and enterprise plans.

6. Webflow

Homepage of webflow.comScreenshot from webflow.com, May 2024

Webflow is a website builder offering advanced design and development features suitable for users of all skill levels.

Key Features

  • Free plan for getting started with basic features.
  • Ecommerce plan with advanced tools for selling products and managing orders.
  • Team plan with collaboration features and client billing.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for individuals and teams looking for advanced customization options.
  • Advanced SEO features, including schema and Open Graph.
  • Unique features like scheduled publishing, logic flows, and animations.

Cost

  • $0-$235/month ($0-$212/month, billed annually), including enterprise plans.

7. IONOS

Homepage of ionos.comScreenshot from: ionos.com, May 2024.

IONOS is an affordable and simple website builder that offers all the essential features for creating a functional and beautiful site.

Key Features

  • Three-step site design process: choosing a design, adding content, and promoting.
  • Search engine-optimized templates built for performance.
  • Presence Suite for managing and promoting your site

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for quick website setups, test projects, and DIYers.
  • Templates are pre-optimized for search engines.
  • Affordable pricing plans with essential features.

Cost

  • $6-$15/month ($4-$8/month billed three years in advance).

8. Shopify

1721393763 166 The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024Screenshot from: Shopify.com, June 2024.

Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce platform that enables businesses to create online stores and sell products easily.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates and drag-and-drop editing.
  • Powerful ecommerce tools for inventory management, payment processing, and shipping.
  • The app store has thousands of apps to extend functionality.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for businesses of all sizes looking to create an online store.
  • Built-in SEO features and the ability to edit meta tags, URLs, and site structure.
  • 24/7 customer support and extensive documentation.

Cost

  • $19-$399/month ($29-$299/month billed annually).

9. Weebly

1721393763 174 The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024Screenshot from: weebly.com, June 2024.

Weebly is a user-friendly website builder that offers a wide range of features for creating professional websites and online stores.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop interface and customizable templates.
  • Ecommerce functionality with inventory management and payment processing.
  • Blogging platform and app center for additional features.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for beginners and small businesses.
  • Built-in SEO tools, including meta descriptions, alt tags, and sitemaps.
  • Responsive customer support and community forum.

Cost

  • $$0-$29/month ($10-$26/month billed annually).

10. Hostinger

1721393763 885 The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024Screenshot from hostinger.com, June 2024.

Hostinger offers an easy-to-use website-building tool in its web hosting plans, designed to help users get sites up and running fast.

Key Features

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface.
  • Suitable for beginners and those needing a website up and running quickly.
  • Free domain, website migration, email, and SSL are included in the hosting package.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Optimized for speed using LiteSpeed Web Server technology, advanced cache solutions, and Object Cache for WordPress.
  • Advanced security features, including unlimited SSL certificates, DDoS protection, automatic backups, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Cost

  • $2.99-$9.99 for the first month ($7.99-$19.99/month on renewal).

Find The Right Website Builder For Your Needs

When choosing a website builder, consider your needs, budget, and skill level.

  • WordPress.com offers flexibility and customization for bloggers and content-heavy sites.
  • Small businesses and entrepreneurs may prefer all-in-one solutions like Wix or HubSpot for marketing integration.
  • Ecommerce stores should evaluate dedicated platforms like Shopify for robust selling tools.
  • Beginners can start with user-friendly builders like Weebly, while designers and agencies may prefer more advanced options like Webflow.

With the variety of website builders available, there’s a solution for every need.

More resources:


Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

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How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

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How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

Getting to the top of Google can be quite slow. Especially so for small, new websites. And the competition can often be too strong, which makes it quite unlikely for you to outrank your rivals in the first place.

Well… if you can’t win, change the rules.

There’s a very simple trick for getting search traffic for the keywords that you want to rank for—without actually ranking for them.

Enter…

One of the most common pieces of marketing advice is to “go fish where the fish are.” Whatever product or service you want to sell, you have to follow three simple steps:

  1. Figure out who your ideal customers are.
  2. Find the places where those people are hanging out online.
  3. Go to those places and find ways to promote your product.

Quick example: if you want to sell fitness gear, it would be good to figure out how to tap into the r/Fitness community on Reddit, which has over 12M members.

What does it have to do with SEO though?

Well, whatever search traffic you want to drive to your own website… someone is already getting it to theirs, right? And their website is not necessarily your direct competitor.

If you own a bagel joint in Singapore, you definitely want your website to rank in Google for “best bagels in Singapore.” But the pages that actually rank for this keyword are listicles, which give readers a bunch of different suggestions. So your job is to get featured in as many of those top-ranking listicles as possible.

Ranking for a keyword with your own website isn’t the only way to get customers from Google. Getting featured on other pages that rank for this keyword is incredibly effective too.

I call this tactic “second-hand search traffic”.

The underlying idea is not new though.

You might have heard of the concept called “Barnacle SEO,” shared by Rand Fishkin back in 2014. There’s also a concept called “Surround Sound,” coined by Alex Birkett. And another one called “SERP Monopoly strategy” by Nick Eubanks. There’s also a reverse concept, called “Rank & Rent.”

The idea behind all of these tactics is practically the same: if a page gets a lot of relevant search traffic from Google—you have to try and get your business mentioned there.

1721330765 614 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything1721330765 614 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything
Source

But that’s easier said than done, right?

Why would anyone bother to feature your business on their website?

Well, one simple answer is money.

If a website owner can make money from mentioning your business on their page, there’s a good chance they’ll do it. This money could come in the form of an affiliate commission or a flat fee for an annual or permanent placement. Sometimes these things can also happen as part of a broader partnership deal.

Getting listed for free is very, very hard. Especially so if you’re not already a big and respected business that people naturally want to feature on their website.

And yet—it’s not completely impossible to get listed for free.

Case in point, we just published our own “best SEO conferences” post, in order to rank for relevant search queries and promote our upcoming event, Ahrefs Evolve Singapore.

And then we went ahead and reached out to all websites that rank for the “best SEO conferences” keyword and asked them to add Ahrefs Evolve to their listicles. So far 10 out of 17 featured us on their pages, without asking for any payment whatsoever.

1721330766 734 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything1721330766 734 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

The most straightforward way to execute this strategy is to compile a list of highly relevant keywords (with high business potential scores), pull all the top-ranking pages for each of them into a spreadsheet, and start your outreach.

But there’s one other fruitful source of pages to get second-hand search traffic from. These are pages that are linking to your competitors, while getting a decent amount of search traffic themselves.

Here’s how to find these pages in 3 simple steps:

  1. Put the website of your competitor in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the Backlinks report.
  3. Apply the “Referring page > Traffic” filter.
How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for AnythingHow to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

Here’s an example of a page I found while trying this out for the ConvertKit website:

1721330766 665 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything1721330766 665 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

As you can see, this page is not about “email marketing” (the primary topic you’d go for, if you wanted to promote an email marketing tool). And yet, this page is receiving 2.6k visitors per month from Google (as estimated by Ahrefs), and it recommends a bunch of email marketing tools to its readers.

So if you own an email marketing tool—like ConvertKit—you definitely want to get mentioned on that page alongside your competitors.

The moral of this story is that you should look outside of the topics that are immediately relevant to your business. Any page that gets traffic and mentions a competitor of yours should become your target.

And Ahrefs makes it super easy to find such pages.

That’s it.

I hope you found this tactic useful. Don’t sleep on it, because there’s a good chance that your competitors won’t.

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What SEO Should Know About Brand Marketing With Mordy Oberstein

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What SEO Should Know About Brand Marketing With Mordy Oberstein

For the SEO industry, the Google documents leak offered an important view behind the scenes. Although the leak was not a blueprint of how the algorithm worked, there was considerable confirmation that SEO professionals were right about many elements of the algorithm.

From all the analysis and discussion following the leak, the one insight that got my attention was how important the brand is.

Rand Fishkin, who broke the leak, said this:

“Brand matters more than anything else … If there was one universal piece of advice I had for marketers seeking to broadly improve their organic search rankings and traffic, it would be: “Build a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, outside of Google search.”

Mike King echoed this statement with the following observation:

“All these potential demotions can inform a strategy, but it boils down to making stellar content with strong user experience and building a brand, if we’re being honest.”

Mordy Oberstein, who is an advocate for building a brand online, posted on X (Twitter):

“I am SO happy that the SEO conversation has shifted to thinking about “brand.”

It’s not the first time that “brand” has been mentioned in SEO. We began to talk about this around 2012 after the impact of Panda and Penguin when it first became apparent that Google’s aim was to put more emphasis on brand.

Compounding this is the introduction of AI, which has accelerated the importance of taking a more holistic approach to online marketing with less reliance on Google SERPs.

When I spoke to Pedro Dias, he said, “We need to focus more than ever on building our own communities with users aligned to our brands.”

As someone who had 15 years of offline experience in marketing, design, and business before moving into SEO, I have always said that having this wide knowledge allows me to take a holistic view of SEO. So, I welcome the mindset shift towards building a brand online.

As part of his X/Twitter post, Mordy also said:

“I am SO happy that the SEO conversation has shifted to thinking about “brand” (a lot of which is the direct result of @randfish’s & @iPullRank’s great advice following the “Google leaks”).

As someone who has straddled the brand marketing and SEO world for the better part of 10 years – branding is A LOT harder than many SEOs would think and will be a HUGE adjustment for many SEOs.”

Following his X/Twitter post, I reached out to Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Brand at Wix, to have a conversation about branding and SEO.

What Do SEO Pros Need To Know About ‘Brand’ To Make The Mindset Shift?

I asked Mordy, “In your opinion, what does brand and building a brand mean, and can SEO pros make this mindset shift?”

Mordy responded, “Brand building basically means creating a connection between one entity and another entity, meaning the company and the audience.

It’s two people meeting, and that convergence is the building of a brand. It’s very much a relationship. And I think that’s what makes it hard for SEOs. It’s a different way of thinking; it’s not linear, and there aren’t always metrics that you can measure it by.

I’m not saying you don’t use data, or you don’t have data, but it’s harder to measure to tell a full story.

You’re trying to pick up on latent signals. A lot of the conversation is unconscious.

It’s all about the micro things that compound. So, you have to think about everything you do, every signal, to ensure that it is aligned with the brand.

For example, a website writes about ‘what is a tax return.’ However, if I’m a professional accountant and I see this on your blog, I might think this isn’t relevant to me because you’re sending me a signal that you’re very basic. I don’t need to know what a tax return is; I have a master’s degree in accounting.

The latent signals that you’re sending can be very subtle, but this is where it is a mindset shift for SEO.”

I recalled a recent conversation with Pedro Dias in which he stressed it was important to put your users front and center and create content that is relevant to them. Targeting high-volume keywords is not going to connect with your audience. Instead, think about what is going to engage, interest, and entertain them.

I went on to say that for some time, the discussion online has been about SEO pros shifting away from the keyword-first approach. However, the consequences of moving away from a focus on traffic and clicks will mean we are likely to experience a temporary decline in performance.

How Does An SEO Professional Sell This To Stakeholders – How Do They Measure Success?

I asked Mordy, “How do you justify this approach to stakeholders – how do they measure success?”

Mordy replied, “I think selling SEO will become harder over time. But, if you don’t consider the brand aspect, then you could be missing the point of what is happening. It’s not about accepting lower volumes of traffic; it’s that traffic will be more targeted.

You might see less traffic right now, but the idea is to gain a digital presence and create digital momentum that will result in more qualified traffic in the long term.”

Mordy went on to say, “It’s going to be a habit to break out of, just like when you have to go on a diet for a long-term health gain.

The ecosystem will change, and it will force change to our approach. SEOs may not have paid attention to the Google leak documents, but I think they will pay attention as the entire ecosystem shifts – they won’t have a choice.

I also think C-level will send a message that they don’t care about overall traffic numbers, but do care about whether a user appreciates what they are producing and that the brand is differentiated in some way.”

How Might The Industry Segment And What Will Be The Important Roles?

I interjected to make the point that it does look a lot like SEO is finally making that shift across marketing.

Technical SEO will always be important, and paid/programmatic will remain important because it is directly attributable.

For the rest of SEO, I anticipate it merges across brand, SEO, and content into a hybrid strategy role that will straddle those disciplines.

What we thought of as “traditional SEO” will fall away, and SEO will become absorbed into marketing.

In response, Mordy agreed and thought that SEO traffic is part of a wider scope or part of a wider paradigm, and it will sit under brand and communications.

An SEO pro that functions as part of the wider marketing and thinks about how we are driving revenue, how we are driving growth, what kind of growth we are driving, and using SEO as a vehicle to that.

The final point I raised was about social media and whether that would become a more combined facet of SEO and overall online marketing.

Mordy likened Google to a moth attracted to the biggest digital light.

He said, “Social media is a huge vehicle for building momentum and the required digital presence.

For example, the more active I am on social media, the more organic branded searches I gain through Google Search. I can see the correlation between that.

I don’t think that Google is ignoring branded searches, and it makes a semantic connection.”

SEO Will Shift To Include Brand And Marketing

The conversation I had with Mordy raised an interesting perspective that SEO will have to make significant shifts to a brand and marketing mindset.

The full impact of AI on Google SERPs and how the industry might change is yet to be realized. But, I strongly recommend that anyone in SEO consider how they can start to take a brand-first approach to their strategy and the content they create.

I suggest building and measuring relationships with audiences based on how they connect with your brand and moving away from any strategy based on chasing high-volume keywords.

Think about what the user will do once you get the click – that is where the real value lies.

Get ahead of the changes that are coming.

Thank you to Mordy Oberstein for offering his opinion and being my guest on IMHO.

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Featured Image: 3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock

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