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The Basics Every Business Owner Should Know

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The Basics Every Business Owner Should Know


This article is an introduction to marketing for small-business owners, solopreneurs, and beginner marketers. Our goal is to help you understand the key concepts of marketing without unnecessary jargon.

This guide is going to be packed with information. But keep in mind that we’re only scratching the surface here. So feel free to follow the links to other articles that dive further into topics you’re most interested in.

But first, here’s what we’ll talk about:

Here’s how the American Marketing Association (which reviews the definition every three years to keep it timely) defines it:

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

If that definition sounds a bit complex, here’s the gist of it. What this definition is trying to tell us is that marketing is not only about promoting something, but it’s also about creating desirable products and services and distributing them in a way that increases their attractiveness.

Why is marketing important?

Businesses transfer (sell) goods or services to customers in exchange for value (money). Sounds easy. But here’s what can go wrong for a business:

  • The customer may not know about the product/service.
  • Even if they know it, they may not have a desire for it.
  • Even if they know and have a desire for it, they may choose to buy from another business.
  • Even if a business manages to go through all the steps to transfer its goods, the customer may not be satisfied enough to come back, buy again, or recommend the business to others.

Marketing is a business practice meant to address all those issues, such as generating awareness through generating desire, fostering customer loyalty, and encouraging advocacy. In other words, because marketing connects the business with its customers, there can be no sales without marketing.

So now we know what marketing is and why it is important. But what does marketing actually do? What are the main roles or key areas of marketing?

For decades, marketers have been answering these questions with the four Ps of marketing:

  • Product – What you sell
  • Price – How much you sell it for
  • Place – Where you sell it
  • Promotion – How you get customers

Let’s dig in.

Product

One of the roles of marketing is co-creating the product. In fact, this is where all marketing starts.

Every product development process needs to take market conditions into consideration. Things like who the customer is, what product features the market demands, who the competitors are, and how to do better than these competitors. We can answer these and similar questions during market research.

Discovering what to build is a critical stage in marketing and in business. That’s because it’s virtually impossible to effectively market a product that doesn’t fit the market. Conversely, a product that can satisfy an existing demand in a promising market doesn’t need complicated or pushy marketing tactics.

So, to give you a taste, here’s how Ahrefs (our product) matches against some fundamental questions that marketing answers in this area:

4 Ps of marketing: product fundamentals. Table with questions on left and corresponding answers on right

Price

A good price is one that your target audience can afford and makes your business profitable. This is easier said than done. But marketing is here to help.

Setting a price point arbitrarily is rarely a good idea. There are various ways marketers can inform executive decisions based on market insights. Here are some basic ones:

  • Run a survey or conduct interviews with your target audience. You can discover what price will make people question the quality of a product and what price will make people deem the product too expensive for their wallets.
  • Make comparisons with your competitors, aka benchmarking. If you set your price close to what your profitable competitors charge, you will likely get a pricing model that works in your market.
  • Adjust for the psychological aspect of pricing, i.e., focus on what your price should communicate to your future customers. Make sure you’re not offering fewer benefits for the same price as your competitors. Or even worse, fewer benefits for a higher price. On a typical value proposition matrix, the best options are the ones highlighted in green:
Value proposition matrix table. Three columns are "higher price," "same price," and "lower price." Rows are "more benefits," "same benefits," and "fewer benefits"

Place

How and where customers will buy a product or service, i.e., place, is another factor that marketing influences (this happens even before we touch on promotion tactics).

Here, market research offers insights into important information, such as the customers’ shopping habits and competitors’ sales channels, to determine the optimal distribution model.

Have you ever wondered why some products are not directly available on the producer’s website? Or why do some types of software come in both digital and physical versions while others do not? That’s no coincidence. That’s marketing.

Here’s a quick rundown of some popular distribution models that marketers can choose from:

4 Ps of marketing: summary of distribution models. Columns are "types of product," "direct distribution," "indirect distribution," and "examples of mixed distribution models" with corresponding information below

Promotion

Only after establishing sound fundamentals in the product, price, and place can marketers then focus on promotion. These are the tactics used to reach the target audience with a message. Think advertising, blog post creation, social media, email marketing, etc.

Marketers are usually associated with activities from this area of marketing—and this “image” is not wrong. Once the strategic components of marketing are in place, marketers spend most of their time working on promoting what their companies have to offer.

When planning promotion tactics, marketers need to know some things:

  • Who are they trying to reach?
  • What marketing channels work best?
  • What is the typical buying journey of their prospects?
  • What budget and staff do they need to achieve their goals?

For example, at Ahrefs, our core marketing tactic is innehållsmarknadsföring. We’ve chosen to focus on this type of marketing because:

  • Lots of people are searching on Google for solutions to problems our product solves. So if we create content that ranks high enough, people can find us through Google and learn about our product. (We’ll talk more about product-led content in the last section of this article.)
  • If we can create content that ranks while “drinking our own Champagne,” we can send an authentic message about the quality of our product and the expertise of the people who build it.

In the next paragraphs, we’re going to focus on the promotion part of marketing. But if you want to read more about the four Ps of marketing, check out this guide.

OK, let’s move on.

Marketing is a process. Professional marketers are well aware that visitors don’t become customers immediately—at least not in every type of business. And marketers don’t argue with that fact. Instead, they take that into account and develop a “path” to convince people gradually.

It’s likely no other marketing concept conveys that truth better than the marketing funnel.

A marketing funnel is a system designed to attract customers (or clients) to a business. And then convert them. Gradually.

A typical marketing funnel consists of several stages of converting visitors into leads, then into customers, and then possibly into brand advocates.

Funnel with 6 sections. From top to bottom (Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Action, Loyalty, Advocacy)

Take these two tactics, for example.

A blog post about doing keyword research for SEO is likely to drive visits from search queries related to the topic, such as “seo keyword analysis” or “how to do keyword research.” This means that this content is a good way to generate awareness and interest about our brand and product, as people Googling these terms don’t need to know about us in the first place.

List of keywords with corresponding data

On the other hand, we have a landing page that compares Ahrefs to some of our competitors. Since it will be mostly visited by people who already know our product and are most likely in the market for an SEO tool, this is a proper tactic for the Consideration stage of the funnel.

The other important takeaway from the marketing funnel model is that marketing as a process doesn’t end after someone buys from you. If you want your customers to come back and make repeated purchases, it’s a good idea to keep people engaged after the “purchase” stage.

One of the ways to achieve this is to send out a regular newsletter to your mailing list. Datacamp, a code learning platform, aims to keep its users engaged by sending regular emails. They contain a “weekly goal” reminder and a curated list of resources. Here’s an excerpt from one of those emails:

Excerpt of Datacamp's email

Introduction to the types of marketing

Marketing is a business challenge that has more than one solution. These different solutions are the types of marketing. And these are not secrets in the industry—companies copy and remix them all of the time. The key lies in choosing the optimal combination of these types and using them well. Let’s take a look at some examples.

B2B and B2C marketing

These acronyms stand for business-to-business marketing and business-to-consumer marketing, respectively.

Marketers often differentiate these solutions because some tactics are more effective for marketing to businesses and others for marketing to consumers. Even the messaging style differs.

Here, we have an example of account-based marketing: A company uses emails to promote a new product feature. The emails were carefully targeted, sent only to accounts most likely to benefit from the new feature. Instead of urging prospects to “buy now,” the message is a case study of a solution to a business problem.

Datanyze's email containing link to case study

Below, we have a tactic often used in B2C marketing: influencer marketing. In this example, an influencer with 21.5K Instagram followers quite obviously advertises a food delivery company on her page. It’s a simple yet powerful message: If that company is good for me, it’s probably good for you too. Here’s a handful of discounts so that you can take action immediately.

Influencer's Insta post promoting Foodpanda and discounts

Inbound and outbound marketing

Another pair of basic marketing types that can be used to describe most marketing tactics is inbound and outbound marketing. The first one is about “pulling the customer in” by, for example, providing helpful content to the prospect when they’re ready. The latter is about pushing the offering to the customer with an “interrupting” message, e.g., advertising.

First picture: lady welcoming man. Picture below: lady with megaphone screaming "buy" at man

For example, when we aim to attract new visitors with an article about email outreach, it’s inbound marketing (if people access the article via a search engine).

Someone searching for "email outreach" on Google, then clicking on Ahrefs' article on SERP

But when we launch a PPC marketing campaign with ads featuring the same article, that’s outbound marketing. This is because we’re reaching out to potential customers who may not necessarily be interested in us or ready to learn more.

Ahrefs ad promoting "email outreach" article

Content marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers. By content, I mean blog posts, podcasts, videos, infographics, ebooks, etc.

Promotion through content marketing usually involves satisfying a prospect’s need (e.g., the need to solve a problem at work, the need for entertainment, etc.) while giving exposure to the product or brand.

For example, Trader Joe’s (a grocery store chain) found a way to serve up helpful and entertaining content featuring everyday products that shoppers can find on its shelves. And it’s doing this in more than one way:

Links to three types of content in Trader Joe's catalog

Trader Joe’s regularly generates three types of content in the Fearless Flyer food catalog that’s also distributed in print.

So not only does it go the extra mile and provide product information on neatly designed pages, but it also gives some inspiration on what to do with those products:

Recipe write-up on left. Picture of ingredients on right

While sharing recipes for delicious meals, Trader Joe’s also promotes its products.

Take a look at this picture from one of its blog posts titled “Take a Dip Into the New Year” (pun intended). The main characters here are two ordinary jars of olives. But by showing them in the context of a delicious olive dip (there’s a recipe for it too), the olives now look exceptionally tasty to potential customers.

Olive dip with bread

Through its content marketing, Trader Joe’s is turning dull grocery shopping into a colorful, funny, and appetizing journey that gets better with every product shoppers put into their carts.

Trader Joe’s content is an example of product-led content, which we’ll talk more about later.

Email and social media marketing

Email and social media, although quite different from each other, share a similar idea for marketing: gather an audience and use an owned marketing channel for direct messaging.

For instance, here is the same message distributed in two different ways. One is in a newsletter sent to our email subscribers; the second is a tweet to our Twitter followers.

Excerpt of Ahrefs' newsletter containing short write-up on one of its articles

Do you notice the intersection of different types of marketing here? There’s content marketing (the article about statistics) mixed with email marketing; there’s also content marketing mixed with social media marketing. By “mixing” these, we can reach more people with our articles instead of only publishing them on our blog.

Growth marketing

The last type of marketing I want to talk about is a rather new addition to the “family.” Growth marketing is the process of increasing a company’s revenue by applying an experiment-driven and integrated approach to all stages of attracting customers.

So instead of simply copying what’s working for other marketers or focusing on one marketing channel, growth marketers devise hypotheses and then verify them through data from marketing experiments. Therefore, growth marketing needs to be open to any type of marketing and all marketing channels—as long as they work and there is data to prove this.

What’s also distinctive here is that growth marketing, unlike some more traditional theories of marketing, doesn’t just attract people to a business. It aims to take care of the entire marketing funnel. So, at one point, a growth marketer may be optimizing ads on LinkedIn. At another, they may be turning customer feedback into product feature ideas.

Take a look at the example below to see how growth marketing can be different from the types you’ve seen above. This model shows a growth loop that works for Notion, a productivity app: Every new user is a chance to attract (and/or retain) another user without the company needing to incur additional costs or take further actions.

4-step growth loop for Saas: attract new users, activate users, retain users, then users build templates

Three marketing tips from an eight-figure ARR company

Everything we’ve discussed so far may sound like basic marketing theories. But make no mistake here—these things work. Here’s how applying some of the above principles helped Ahrefs become a successful, eight-figure annual recurring revenue (ARR) company.

Tip 1. Marketing relies on the product more than anything else

The effectiveness of marketing depends on many factors, e.g., the budget, how well a business stands out from the competition, and whether the business targets the right audience. But above anything else, marketing relies on its fundament which, if you remember from the four Ps of marketing, is the product.

Here’s why:

  • Marketing can’t effectively promote something that the product doesn’t deliver, i.e., it has to be based on what the product truly offers.
  • Marketing is expected to generate customers. But the message that marketing creates is not the only factor that a potential customer takes into consideration. Marketing can point someone toward a product. But the person’s final decision will most likely depend on the functionality and price of that product.
  • People don’t need to trust marketing anymore to learn about a product. Before buying anything, they can check product reviews or see what other people say on social media. This ties back to the importance of having a good product.

At Ahrefs, we made sure our product fit the market before we hired the first full-time marketer. Back then, the product grew mostly thanks to word of mouth from satisfied customers and impressed reviewers. To this day, word of mouth is one of our top three customer acquisition channels.

Poll on Facebook where people prefer Ahrefs to SEMrush

Just one of many polls where people vote for our product. Source: SEO Signals Lab.

Our product-market fit also allows us to invest in content marketing confidently. This brings us to the next point.

Tip 2. Create product-led content for SEO

To create product-led content means to turn your product into actionable advice for your audience.

Consider the scale below, which we use to rank topic ideas. Product-led content is basically content that gets at least a “1” on that scale:

Table with scores 3 to 0. And explanation of criteria to meet each score.

In general, there’s nothing wrong with non-product content, as it can offer a vast pool of topic ideas with considerable traffic potential. But we prefer sticking to content where we can feature our product because:

  • We can naturally showcase our product in each piece of content: how it looks, how it works, and what it can be used for. And we can do all that in a context that is familiar to the reader.
  • This style of content can serve more purposes when it comes to the marketing funnel. The same article can be an effective way to attract visitors and retain customers.

And finally, to create product-led content for SEO means to develop content with organic search as the main distribution channel in mind. In marketing jargon, the kind of content that is designed to rank in search engines and attract searchers from search engine pages is called SEO content.

This type of content has many benefits. But for the sake of brevity, here are two main ones:

  • SEO content generates almost free, consistent, and passive traffic from search engines.
  • Searchers are likely willing to learn more, as the content answers their search queries.

Let’s illustrate the results of this tactic: Currently, the content on our blog alone generates over 340K organic visits every month. If we wanted to generate the same amount of traffic through paid ads, we would need to spend almost $540K every month.

Tip 3. Experiment, measure, and scale what’s working

As you may have noticed, at Ahrefs, we mainly stick to content marketing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do other types of marketing. In fact, we experiment whenever there is a chance for us to learn something new or improve something that’s already a commonly used tactic.

Here’s why it matters:

  1. What works for some may not work for others – So not only is it wise to take any marketing advice with a grain of salt, but it’s also important to test things yourself.
  2. It’s hard to get things right in the first run – And you probably shouldn’t try to. An iterative process of reaching your marketing goals is often the best approach.
  3. Trying something out in practice is often a better way to solve problems – This is compared to just having a theoretical discussion among your peers.

But whatever you do, it’s crucial to measure the outcome. Just like the old business adage says: What you can’t measure, you can’t improve. For instance, let’s look at the chart below showing one of our blog posts’ organic traffic. If we hadn’t measured the post’s performance, we couldn’t have improved it. Consequently, we would have missed out on a lot of traffic.

Line graph showing jump in organic traffic after post was updated

The rest of the process is pretty straightforward. If it works, start doing it regularly. And if it works in the long run, do more of it.

It’s a simple rule, but it sometimes gets overlooked. Marketers tend to get distracted from what’s important by the latest fads. They also get too consumed by the everyday chase of nailing those KPIs.

Slutgiltiga tankar

Let’s quickly sum up what we discussed in this article. First of all, contrary to popular belief, marketing is not only about promoting a product. It’s also about co-creating the product based on market research and user feedback.

Secondly, marketing is typically a process that connects the right audience with the right kind of product, a sort of matchmaking. It doesn’t end at converting a visitor into a customer. Some marketing tactics will allow you to keep your customers, encourage them to come back, and spur them to recommend your business to others.

Finally, there is no silver bullet in marketing. There are different types of marketing that you should probably try out to see what you can do best and what gives you the best outcomes. On that note, we hope our sharings on the three simple yet powerful things that have worked for Ahrefs will inspire you.

So what are the next steps here? If you’re in need of a battle plan that will guide your marketing efforts, that means you’re in need of a marketing strategy. Well, you can learn how to do that in this five-step guide. And if you want to streamline your learning process, try these 17 Free Online Marketing Courses to Learn Digital Marketing.

Har du frågor? Pinga mig på Twitter.





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Yelp Details Removal Of Paid Review Groups & Lead Generators

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Yelp Details Removal Of Paid Review Groups & Lead Generators

Yelp published its 2022 Trust and Safety Report detailing actions it took against lead generators, fake review groups and businesses incentivizing reviews.

Yelp Cracks Down on Paid Review Groups

The report details the proactive approach to chasing down online review groups and breaking them up.

Among the tactics Yelp used is identifying IP addresses used for fake positive reviews, as well as connecting users to groups that are arranging paid reviews.

Yelp’s Trust and Safety report revealed that it fights online review exchanges by identifying the groups on social media and working together with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to break them up.

In a 2021 blog post about their recommendation software, Yelp wrote that they monitor online groups and even conduct sting operations to catch the fake review rings.

Yelps newly released Trust and Safety report explains:

“Yelp strictly prohibits offering incentives or other compensation in exchange for writing, changing or removing a review.

To combat this on and off our platform, our User Operations team did the following in 2022:

– Issued 415+ warnings to businesses for engaging in compensated or incentivized review behaviors.

– As part of our broader Consumer Alerts program, we placed 88 Compensated Activity Alerts on business pages after receiving evidence someone offered cash or other incentives in exchange for posting, updating or removing a review.

We also placed 405 Suspicious Review Activity Alerts after our systems detected a large number of positive reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates incentivized reviews.

Made 1,100+ reports to third-party sites, such as Twitter (150 reports were made by Yelp), Facebook (130 reports), Instagram (110 reports) and LinkedIn (70 reports), to warn them of content from more than 900 suspicious groups, posts or individuals we found on their sites participating in online review exchanges.

Third-party platforms took action on content at issue in approximately 77% of our reports.”

Yelp Closes Thousands of Fraudulent Accounts

The Trust and Safety report reports that Yelp closed over 77,000 user accounts for terms of service violations and suspected deceptive and abusive actions.

They also rejected over 32,800 potential new business pages for being associated with spammy activities that violated Yelp’s policies.

An interesting revelation is how they came down hard on lead generation businesses whose business model is to create fake business listings and then sell leads to local businesses.

Yelp writes:

“Nearly 2,000 business pages removed for being associated with lead generators, violating Yelp’s policies.

‘Lead generators’ create fake business pages then take the customer leads generated and auction them to other contractors.

This behavior tricks people into paying exorbitant costs for services, targeting vulnerable consumers who are often allowing service providers into their home (locksmiths, movers, home cleaning, etc.).”

Yelp User Operations Team Content Removals

The report notes that 2% of all Yelp contributions were removed by their user operations  team in 2022. That includes reviews, photos, review up-voting, and other forms of contributions.

Yelp Trust and Safety

The integrity of reviews is important to a recommender ecosystem like Yelp. Yelp uses a recommendation software as their first line of defense against deceptive behavior. The software itself is dynamic in that it keeps tabs on the users and businesses as they engage with the platform.

Yelp writes:

“The recommendation software is entirely automated and applies the same objective rules to every business. The reviews that are recommended for any business can change over time as Yelp’s software learns more about the reviewers and the business.”

It also employs human moderators in their User Operations team to follow up and manually review reports generated by users, businesses or their automated systems.

Read Yelp’s Trust and Safety Report for 2022

Featured image by Shutterstock/II.studio



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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

Content marketing has become one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to get traffic to a website. When done right, the traffic keeps coming long after you stop actively promoting it.

If you own an e-commerce website and want to learn how to utilize blogging to grow your brand and increase your sales, this is the guide for you.

I’ve personally grown blogs to over 250,000 monthly visitors, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients in the e-commerce space to help them do the same. Here’s an overview of my seven-step process to starting and growing an e-commerce blog. 

But first…

Why start a blog on your e-commerce site?

Creating a blog has a whole host of benefits for e-commerce websites:

  • It can help you move visitors along your marketing funnel so they eventually buy.
  • You’re able to rank highly for keywords on Google that your product pages could never rank for but that are still important for building brand awareness and finding customers.
  • It can help you grow your email list.
  • You’re able to continue to get traffic without constantly spending money on ads.
  • It provides many opportunities to link to your product and category pages to help them rank better on the SERPs.

If you don’t know what some of these things mean, don’t worry—I’ll explain them along the way. But for now, let’s take a look at some e-commerce blogs that are working well right now so you can see the end goal.

Examples of successful e-commerce blogs

Three of my favorite examples of e-commerce websites using blogging are:

  1. Solo Stove
  2. Flatspot
  3. v-dog

Solo Stove comes in at the top of my list due to its excellent use of videos, photos, and helpful information on the blog. It also does search engine optimization (SEO) really well, bringing in an estimated 329,000 monthly visits from Google (data from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer).

Overview of Solo Stove, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In fact, it’s grown its brand to such a level of popularity that it even created search demand for keywords that include its brand name in them, then created blog posts to rank for those keywords:

Ahrefs' keyword report for Solo Stove

But that’s not all it did. Its blog posts also rank for other keywords in its marketing funnel, such as how to have a mosquito-free backyard or how to change your fire pit’s colors.

E-commerce blogging keyword examples

Then on its blog posts, it uses pictures of its fire pit:

Solo Stove blog post example

Ranking for these keywords does two things:

  1. It introduces Solo Stove’s brand to people who may eventually purchase a fire pit from it.
  2. It gives the brand the opportunity to promote its products to an audience who may not have even known it existed, such as the “mosquito free backyard” keyword.

Moving on, skater brand Flatspot also does blogging well, with a cool ~80,000 monthly visitors to its blog just from search engines.

Overview of Flatspot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One of its tactics is to piggie-back on the popularity of new shoe releases from major brands like Nike, then use that traffic to get readers to buy the shoes directly from it:

Flatspot promoting Nike SB shoes in blog post

Finally, let’s look at v-dog—a plant-powered kibble manufacturer that gets ~8,000 visits per month.

Overview of v-dog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

My favorite post it’s done is its guide to making wet dog food at home, which ranks for the featured snippet for “how to make wet dog food”:

Google search results for "how to make wet dog food"

This guide directly promotes v-dog’s product to make wet dog food. So people who search the query will be introduced to its brand and potentially buy its product to make their own wet dog food at home.

And there you have it—three examples of blogging for e-commerce that’s working right now. With that, let’s talk about how you can start your own blog.

Seven steps to start and grow an e-commerce blog

In my 10+ years as a professional SEO and freelance writer, I’ve worked with over a dozen e-commerce stores to help them grow their website traffic. I’ve also run several of my own e-commerce websites.

In that time, I’ve distilled what works into an easy-to-follow seven-step process:

1. Do some keyword research

I never start a blog without first doing keyword research. Not only does this make coming up with blog topic ideas much easier, but it also ensures that every blog post you write has a chance to show up in Google search results and bring you free, recurring traffic.

While we wrote a complete guide to keyword research, here’s a quick and dirty strategy for finding keywords fast:

First, find a competitor who has a blog. Let’s say you’re selling dog food just like v-dog—if I search for “dog food” on Google, I can see some of my competition:

Google search results for "dog food"

At this point, I look for relevant competitors. For example, Chewy and American Kennel Club are good competitors for research. But I’ll skip sites like Amazon and Walmart, as they are just too broad to get relevant data from.

Next, plug the competitor’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and click on the Organic keywords report to see the keywords its website ranks for on Google:

Organic keywords report for chewy.com

In this example, it has over 700,000 keywords. That’s way too many to sort through. Let’s add some filters to make things easier:

  • First, set the KD (Keyword Difficulty) score to a maximum of 30 to find easier-to-rank-for keywords.
  • Then we can exclude brand name keywords using the “Keywords” dropdown, set it to “Doesn’t contain,” and type in the brand name.
  • If the website has /blog/ in its blog post URLs, you can also set a filter in the “URL” dropdown to “Contains” and type “blog” in the text field. In Chewy’s case, it doesn’t do that, but it does use a subdomain for its blog, which we can search specifically.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Ahrefs keyword filters

In the case of chewy.com, this only shaved it down to 619,000 keywords. That’s still a lot—let’s filter it down further. We can apply the following:

  • Minimum monthly search volume of 100
  • Only keywords in positions #1–10
  • Only show keywords containing “dog,” since my example website only sells dog food, not all animal food

Here’s what it looks like with these new filters applied:

Filtering down Ahrefs' Organic keywords report

Now I can find some more related keywords like “what to feed a dog with diarrhea” or “can dogs eat cheese.”

Data for keyword "what to feed a dog with diarrhea"

In addition to picking interesting keywords, you can also get an idea of how to become a topical authority on the topic of dog food by searching “dog food” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Overview for "dog food," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This keyword is extremely difficult to rank on page #1 for. However, if we go to the Related terms report and set the KD to a max of 30, we can see keyword ideas that are still relevant but may be easier to rank high in the search results.

List of keywords related to dog food

Go through and click the gray + sign next to any keywords you may want to target to add them to your list of potential article ideas. 

2. Create templates for future blog posts

One of the first things I do when I create a new blog is to establish a repeatable template that I use for every post. Typically, it looks something like this:

Blog post template example

It has breadcrumb navigation to help with SEO and navigation, the article title and the date it was last updated, then a short intro with an image on the right to make the lines shorter (and easier to skim). Finally, I include a clickable table of contents to help with navigation, then get into the article.

Within the article itself, I will use headers (H2s) and subheaders (H3s) to make my content easier to skim and to help Google understand what each section is about.

You can make templates for every kind of post you plan on creating—such as list posts, ultimate guides, tutorials, etc.—and reuse them for every post you ever create. It’s a huge time-saver.

While you’re at it, you should also create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that you go through for every article. This could include writing guidelines, what to do with images, formatting, tone, etc.

3. Outline your article

I never dive into writing an article without outlining it first. An outline ensures the article is well structured and planned before you start writing, and it bakes SEO right into your writing process. It’s another big time-saver.

Typically, you want this outline to include:

  • Potential title or titles of the article
  • Target keyword
  • Brief description of the article angle
  • Links to competing articles on Google for research
  • Headers and subheaders, with brief descriptions of the section as needed

Here’s a look at part of an example outline I’ll either send to my writers or write myself:

Content outline example

I wrote a guide to outlining content, which you can follow here for the full step-by-step process.

4. Write, optimize, and publish your post

Next up, it’s time to write your article. As you write more articles, you’ll find what works for you—but you may find it easier to fill in the sections then go back and write the intro once the article is finished.

Here are a few writing tips to help you become a better writer:

  • Ditch the fluff – If a word isn’t needed to bring a point across, cut it.
  • Keep your paragraphs short – Two to three lines per paragraph is plenty, especially for mobile readers where the screen width is shorter.
  • Use active voice over passive voiceHere is a guide for that.
  • Make your content easy to skim – Include photos and videos and make use of headers and bulleted lists to share key points.

Once you’ve written your article, do some basic on-page SEO to help it rank higher in search results:

  • Ensure your article has one H1 tag – The title of the article.
  • Have an SEO-friendly URL – Include the keyword you’re targeting, but keep it short and easy to read.
  • Link to other pages on your site using proper anchor textHere’s a guide for that.
  • Ensure your images have alt text – This is the text Google uses to read what the image is about, as well as what is shown to readers if the image can’t render.

Finally, publish your post and give yourself a pat on the back.

5. Add product promotions, email opt-ins, and internal links

Before you promote your content, there are a few things you can do to squeeze more ROI from it—namely, you should add a way for people to either push them through the funnel toward purchasing a product or subscribe to your email list. I’ll give an example of each.

First, Solo Stove wrote an article titled “Ambiance Is A Girl’s Best Friend,” where it promotes its tiny Solo Stove Mesa as a way of improving a space’s ambiance: 

How to promote your products in a blog post

Beyond directly promoting your products in the articles, you can also add email opt-ins that give people a percentage off their orders. You may lose a little money on the initial order. But once you get someone’s email address, you can promote to them again and get multiple orders from them.

For example, Primary sells kids’ clothing and uses this email pop-up to promote money off its products after you spend a certain amount of time on its website:

Email opt-in pop-up offering a discount on first order

Just make sure your discount code only works once per unique IP address. You can learn more about how to do that here if you use Shopify.

Finally, when you publish an article, you should make it a point to add internal links to your new article from older articles. 

This won’t be as important for your first few because you won’t have a ton of articles. But as your blog grows, it’s an important part of the process to ensure your readers (and Google) can still find your articles and that they aren’t buried deep on your site.

Refer to our guide to internal linking to learn more about this step.

6. Promote your content

At this point, your content is live and optimized for both conversions and search engines. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.

We have an entire guide to content promotion you should read, but here are some highlights:

  • Share the article on all of your social media channels
  • Send the article to your email list if you have one
  • Share your content in relevant communities (such as relevant Reddit forums)
  • Consider running paid ads to your article

There’s a lot more you can do to promote a piece, including reaching out to other blog owners. But I won’t cover all of that here.

The other important piece of promoting your content is getting other website owners to link to your new articles. This is called link building, and it’s a crucial part of SEO.

There are many ways to build links. Some of the most popular include:

Link building is an entire subject on its own. If you’re serious about blogging and getting search traffic, it’s a crucial skill to learn.

7. Scale your efforts

The final step in blogging for e-commerce is scaling up your efforts by creating repeatable processes for each step and hiring people to do the tasks you yourself don’t need to be doing.

You can hire freelance writers, outreach specialists, editors, and more. You can put together a full SEO team for your business.

If you’re not in a place to start hiring, there are still things you can do to squeeze more output from your time, such as creating the SOPs I mentioned earlier.

Slutgiltiga tankar

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your e-commerce store’s traffic and sales. It costs less than traditional paid advertising and can continue to provide a return long after a post has been published.

This guide will hopefully help you start your e-commerce blog and publish your first post. But remember that success with blogging doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes three to six months on average to see any results from your SEO efforts. Keep learning and be patient.

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SEO

The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

Looking to launch a successful digital marketing campaign for your business?

How do you select the best SEO keywords to expand your brand’s reach?

What can you do to determine the most effective ways to allocate your marketing budget?

Facing these tough decisions can put you on your heels if you’re not equipped with the right information.

Luckily, there’s a new way to leverage your company’s data to estimate your ROI and take the guesswork out of your next campaign.

With a simple mathematical formula, you can predict the amount of traffic and revenue you’ll generate before even setting your strategy in motion – and you can do it all in just five steps.

Want to learn how?

Join our next webinar with Sabrina Hipps, VP of Partner Development, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis at CopyPress, to find out how to analyze specific keywords and forecast your SEO results.

Not too fond of math? Don’t worry – we’ll provide access to free tools and a downloadable calculator to help automate this process and save you time.

Key Takeaways From This Webinar: 

  • Learn how forecasting your SEO can help you build better campaigns and choose the right keywords.
  • Get step-by-step instructions to predict revenue and website traffic for your next SEO campaign.
  • Access a free handout, resources, and online tools that will save you time and supercharge your content strategy.

In this session, we’ll share real-life examples and provide guidance for the decision-makers within your organization to start getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

By better understanding the market potential of your product or service, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and effectively maximize your ROI.

Sign up for this webinar and discover how you can secure a sufficient marketing budget and use SEO keywords to forecast the results of your future content campaigns.



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