Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

How Hubspot is doing Inbound Marketing? Part1 – Blog Marketing

// December 3rd, 2012 // No Comments » // Digital Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Inbound Marketing specialists do what they preach, do they? I decided to do a bit of research on this and who other than Hubspot to follow and see if they really do follow the principles of Inbound Marketing themselves. So, on what parameters should I start checking their Inbound marketing practices.

The three most important pillars of Inbound marketing are Blogs, Social Media and Organic Search. So let us see how Hubspot is doing on these front.

Blogging:

To start with I visited Hubspot Blog. A couple of Best practices that they preach and I found they follow:

    Content Creation and Frequency of Blog Postings-
    Best Practice: Decide on the topics and set your content calendar in advance to make sure you have fresh and, goes without saying, interesting information for people to come back again and again. Consistency in posting your content is the key in Blog Marketing. Ideally, one post a day should be perfect. It obviously depends on the industry vertical, but I personally feel there shouldn’t be information overload, which today is a growing concern. Hubspot has consistently posted one or more posts every day.

    Frequency of Blog Posts on Hubspot Blog

    Click on the image to see the enlarged view


    Along with keeping it consistent, they make sure their posts are interesting and users are encouraged to comment. How do they do that?? – by using titles/topics like:

  • Questions: How to / Why a Marketer or Enterprise / What’s new with…
  • Numbers: Top 5 Reasons or 10 Critical Factors or 7 Advanced Techniques or 16 Most important things…
  • Using most news making keywords in your industry e.g., Hubspot uses – Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter / LinkedIn / Inbound Marketing /…
  • Other important factor under your content creation strategy is to stick to the Blog Topic and just don’t go about writing about Britney Spears coz that might attract some visitors.

    Content Promotion -
    Best Practice: Content Creation is not of much use if its not reaching to its due audience. So the question is, how would you promote your content on a daily basis? The least you can do is automate Social Sharing and Email to subscribers. Hubspot has gained a huge following with consistent 360 marketing + building subscriber base which they leverage to the fullest to promote their fresh content. I am sure there is a lot of engagement that they gain out of the content promotion… one thing that am not sure of is how is the lead generation out of this engagement, coz most of the content sharing on social hemisphere is happening via fans/followers and is happening from quite some time. So do all the content generate good leads that add value to bottom line or does it just satisfy the Happy Brand Building factor.

    email-automation

    Internal Link Building is important but you got to know how many links are not too many. Link to text ratio per SEO standards is one link for every 125-150 words.

    Call to Action: Strategically placed
    Best Practice: Rule is to align content with the relevant offer CTAs or vice versa just to make sure you have conversions in other words you are generating leads out of your well written content. I randomly checked a couple of Blog Posts at HubSpot Blog and realized that they are rotating their offer CTA’s (Free eBook Downloads) at two positions – Top of the blog post and at right side bar – and that is at many times not relevant to the content of the blog post. Break the rule coz in the internet space there is no one set rule that works. They are rotating their best performing and the latest per the trend information/offers as eBooks. Makes sense isn’t it?
    Some Blog Design Must Haves -

  • Images/Infographics: Mix your content with Text/Images/Infographics/Videos/Presentations to make it more interesting – 10 on 10 to Hubspot on this
  • Long Posts are not liked much: I personally don’t agree. If the topic demands that kind of exhaustive content we can surely put things in place accordingly. What we can do to keep the interest on is to mix the post with some graphics/videos etc and if it still requires more may be divide the post into two parts (Part1 / Part2…) which I am going to do with this post. Hubspot keeps the Balance
  • Custom 404 Error: Everyone knows what this is and the use of the same… but on Hubspot Blog, its interesting. They have a default page with interesting set of contents in front of you as 404 Error landing page.
  • Subscription: Two ways of accomplishing this and Hubspot is increasing its subscriber base by both RSS Feed Subscription and Sign-up for Regular Updates (as another CTA)
  • Other important functionalities: To make your blog user friendly add: Search Box, Header, Footer, Tags and Pluggins like ‘Most Read Articles’ & ‘You might also like’ are good to provide easy navigation…

Hence, this is proved that Hubspot is practicing exactly what they preach when it comes to Blog Marketing… the first pillar of Inbound Marketing for Hubspot is standing strong!

My next post is going to be about the second pillar of Inbound Marketing and that is – Social Media Optimization / Marketing.

Internet Marketing

// September 18th, 2012 // No Comments » // Wiki

Internet Marketing is nothing but various ways to drive traffic (internet users) to your website or a specific webpage (Landing page with current offer). Various internet marketing channels / traffic sources are:

  • Search Engines
    • Search Engine Optimization – SEO
      1. SEO – On-page Optimization
      2. SEO – Off-page Optimization
    • Search Engine Marketing – SEM or Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Display Advertising
    • Banner Advertising
    • Pop-ups and Pop-under Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Blog Marketing
  • Social Media
    • Social Media Optimization (Increase followers/fans and keep them engaged, build communities/groups)
    • Social Media Marketing (Paid Advertising on Social Media)
    • Social Publishing (Publish your content – Videos/Presentations/Survey Reports/White-papers etc.)
    • Social Bookmarking
  • Question and Answers Sites
  • Please feel free to add more…

Website Redesign

// September 8th, 2012 // No Comments » // Digital Marketing, SEO

Can you imagine a business without a website in today’s world? Yes, there are not tens or hundreds but thousands of businesses in the old areas of any big city in India. Jam packed streets having array of shops, all with small entrances but when you get in you see a different world. These markets make millions of business everyday, I will not be surprised if someone tells me that it could be in billions. Anyway, here we are not considering those businesses coz they don’t really need a website. Reason is simple, these are old city markets and don’t need advertising.

We are going to talk about businesses that need advertising. So you have a website? A few reasons why would one need to redesign a website:

  • Your website looks like its made in the year 2000?
  • Your business has changed over a period and the website has not been updated?
  • Have got a lot of broken links on your site and visitors are lost when they land on your website?
  • Are you planning to shift to a content management system?
  • Is it just a part of rebranding exercise?
  • Or, is it just that you are bored with the current look and feel and now want to give it a fresh look?

Website-Redesign

Whatever may be the reason, your Inbound Marketing starts from Website Design or Redesign stage. As its a long and tedious process, there are few basic parameters of online marketing that you need to take care to make sure its a success and not really realize at the end of it that you have to do it again. To list down all in order:

  • Check your current SEO status – Number of total and unique visitors / bounce rate / keywords ranking / Average Visit Duration / Page Views / Page per Visit – This is to make sure you measure your success from the point where your new site comes up.
  • Take back up of all the live pages – To make sure you don’t lose out on the content.
  • Take back up of the pages that have most inbound links – To make sure you don’t lose out on visitors.

Above is about what is to keep from the old website. Now let’s talk about some preparatory tasks required before you go about structuring / designing your new website.

  • Customer behavior is evolving fast—and companies that don’t adapt are going the way dinosaurs once were gone. The hyper-connected consumers, Generation 3.0, are changing the way we do business and our society as a whole is changing as Global market. Start digging information about their browsing patterns, surfing time of the day, what they surf internet on, trends affecting their likes/dislikes, social connections, what are they looking for etc. You will get clear idea about your prospect’s persona.
  • Do a bit of research on your competition. This is not to get influenced by their design elements but to understand what they are doing and what you can do differently.

Now that you have all the required information in hand… start redesigning (aesthetic-driven) and realigning (purpose-driven) your website. A few technical stuff to be taken care:

  1. Page Size: Keep the average web page HTML size upto 33 kb. Pages heavier than this can lead to slower than average load times, lost visitors, and decreased revenue particularly if you do not use HTML compression. A few steps to reduce HTML size include using CSS layouts, external style sheets, and moving javascript to external files.
  2. Page Compression Status: You should compress your HTML to reduce your page size and page-load time – this is again for the same cause, help your site retain visitors and increase page views. Consider using GZIP to compress your HTML. If you were using compression, you could be compressing your HTML size to 8.64 kb, that is, by 75% to further reduce page loading time.
  3. Libwww-perl Access: Botnet scripts that automatically look for vulnerabilities in your software are sometimes identified as User-Agent libwww-perl. By blocking access from libwww-perl you can eliminate many simpler attacks.
  4. Page Caching Check: Cached pages serve up static html and avoid potentially time consuming queries to your database. It also helps lower server load by up to 80%. Caching most visibly benefits high traffic pages that access a database, but whose content does not change on every page view. Common caching methods include Alternative PHP Cache, Quickcache, and jpcache. Caching mechanisms also typically compress HTML, further reducing page size and load time.
  5. Inline Styles: Make sure you are not using inline styles. Repeated use of inline styles leads to unnecessary code bloat and slower page loading. Use an external CSS stylesheet instead.
  6. Inline Javascript: If you are using javascript repeatedly throughout your site, consider moving it to an external file to speed page loading. This will also make your code easier to maintain.

A few other important factors to keep in mind while you redesign your site:

  • Make sure your call to actions are in place
  • Make sure the site structure is per your business focus areas
  • Make sure that you’v got easy navigation for users to move around the site
  • Have 301 Redirection in place for you famous old pages
  • Have On-Page aspects of SEO taken care – Meta tags (Title/Description/Keywords) | Heading tags | Image – Title and Alt tags | Anchor texts

Wow, if all of the above is taken care, you have got a kickA$$ start to Inbound Marketing Journey…

SEO On Page Optimization Basics – Part1

// September 6th, 2012 // 1 Comment » // Digital Marketing, SEO

Search Engine Optimization of your website / product or service pages is the primary step in the Inbound Marketing Plan of Action. You got to start working on this right at the time of redesigning and restructuring your website. Am sure no marketer today has any doubt about why SEO is necessary at all. If you still have any, lets check out this latest Survey report from WebMarketing123.com. According the survey, SEO continues to be the most effective Lead Generation Channels for both B2B and B2C marketers. Taking the heads-up from the report on the objective of todays B2B and B2C marketers to further understand the importance of SEO among other Online Marketing channels:

  • For B2B marketers, lead generation is the top objective, and SEO is twice as effective as PPC (Pap-per-Click) or SMM (Social Media Marketing) for this purpose.
  • For B2C marketers, boosting awareness and reputation of their brands and products has doubled in importance since 2011, overtaking online sales as the top objective for digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Lead Generation Channels 2012

Click Image to get the enlarged View!

This makes it clear that for most marketers, SEO remains the primary source of traffic. As discussed in the last post, SEO starts from the very first step of inbound marketing plan, website design. You got to fix all the on-page SEO aspects when you are designing or re-designing your website. This might include:

  1. Page size and load time
  2. URL Analysis to check Broken Links if any
  3. Check redirects to be 301
  4. Custom 404 Page, to keep the audience in-site
  5. Remove Duplicate Content

Now that you have your new website live (or fixed your old website) per above parameters, there are other on-page SEO aspects that needs to be taken care. But before we get into that, we need to do something very important. We go back to the same approach of asking a few questions to self:

  1. Who is your target audience? (define and segregate them into different categories – age, gender, geographical location, education level and household income)
  2. What do these people search for? (come up with as many keywords, phrases and combinations of all that can be used by a prospect from a specific category, to search information related to your products/services. There are tools available that can be helpful in coming up with the Keyword list giving you relevant searches on a keyword. Brainstorm internally – Ask your team members and internal subject matter experts the same question and get a list from them.)
  3. Which are the best among the list of Keywords? (Once you have finalized the set of keywords, do the Keyword Analysis to find out – Impact Factor, Query Popularity and Query Competition Index check)
  4. Which search engines are preferred by the targeted audience?

By being able to answer all of the above you have equipped yourself with the most important arsenal required to win digital marketing war. You have already done one phase of this research about your target audience from specific category to understand their buying behavior, browsing patterns, surfing time of day, what they surf internet on, their likes, dislikes etc while re-designing the website… Important thing to do after the research is to make a list of KWs (One word, Two Words, Long tail Keywords, etc.)

With this chunk of info in hand, by now you will have clear understanding of your prospect’s persona. Next step is to understand how a search engine works, so that you will know how to get your website’s content plus codes to be written and placed to make sure you get the combination right. Combination? – what Prospects look for and how a search engine makes your and other’s business listed in front of them.

Check out my next post, when I tell you in and out of a search engine… :) till then let me know what you feel about the Inbound Marketing ABC, we are exploring…

B2B Inbound Marketing

// August 15th, 2012 // 2 Comments » // Digital Marketing, SEO, Social Media

All of us know that there is a paradigm shift in today’s Marketing. The shift is from traditional approach of going outbound, to being more inbound in nature with the use of technology. The challenge is more in B2B Marketing circle compared to B2C. The obvious reasons being: the value of a B2B deal is higher hence the sales cycle is longer which makes it a multi stage process; there are generally more than one decision makers and in most cases they are well informed subject matter experts. To add to all of the above, there is nothing called impulsive buying in B2B space for a marketer to make it a mass campaign.

This change is further confirmed by a study done by DemandGen, clearly showing today’s B2B buyer is more informed and empowered.

B2B Buying Behavior Change

As you see it, going outbound (the green part) is thinning. In all other cases buyers are doing their homework, are well informed and are getting in touch with the service providers themselves. Hence, it becomes imperative to be visible and to be found.

With these practical challenges in B2B marketing hemisphere and with ever changing marketing game, what are those basic formulae that today’s marketer should be following? I personally like this approach of questioning self. So, lets start by asking some basic but critical questions to ourselves. As a B2B marketer, whether your prospects found you or you approached them, before you initiate the conversation, be ready to answer if your prospect asks you:

  1. Who you are? (Prospect dint find you/your top guys on LinkedIn)
  2. What is your company into (Prospect dint find Company ‘s link on first page of Google???)
  3. What’s your company’s services (Your website is not easy to go through. Ah damn! that’s so basic)
  4. Who are your company’s partners (not so well known in the industry)
  5. Who are your company’s customers (someone is talking about you as Tier3 vendor in one of the forums / communities)
  6. What’s your company’s reputation (your ex-employee is talking bad about the work culture on social platforms)

Imagine where your sales pitch goes after falling nose down on all or any of the above queries posed by your prospect. Are you prepared??

So now, when you know it is imperative to be found whether or not you are going out to sell, there are things to be taken care from a marketing point of view. This is termed as ‘Inbound Marketing’.
Because Inbound marketing has been a proven concept, everyone is working on making their business easy-to-be-found. Now the Inbound marketing game is more than being visible, its all about earning the attention of your prospects and engaging them in the conversation.

The question is, what are those magical techniques that can do the dual magic of being found and earning attention.

Inbound Marketing Techniques:

  1. Website: Well Designed/Developed
  2. Search Engine Optimization: Optimizing WEBSITE content and codes
  3. Business Blogs: Creating Thought Leadership
  4. Social Media Optimization: Engage prospects on Social Platforms
  5. Digital Asset Creation and Distribution

Step by Step Process of Creating Long-Term Inbound Marketing Plan:

  1. Keyword and Competitor Analysis – Finding Killer Keywords and Putting Them to Work for you. Know how to find keywords and phrases that your target audiences could use to find your business.
  2. Fixing Website – Content + Codes + Call to action + Navigation + On-page SEO – Optimizing your site to make search engine bots love it, even if you think you’re doing “just fine” without it.
  3. Off-page SEO Plan post Penguine/Panda updates – Giving Away Content Will Build Your Business. Your overall search presence can be influenced by your online social interaction, online pressrooms, targeted blogging, and link branding.
  4. Content Strategy for Blog Marketing – Would you be the one to break news about changing trend?
  5. Conversation Plan for Social Media Engagement – your social activity can influence where your site or blog ranks on search engine result pages (SERP).
  6. Digital Asset Creation around Service portfolio – (Whitepapers/ Presentations/ Videos / Infographics / Case Studies / eBooks / Webinars…)
  7. Use Marketing Automation Tool to manage conversations and leads – Be on top of the execution coz this is not a day’s or a week’s activity. It takes months to start getting quality back links and create brand ambassadors

In my next set of posts, I’ll be explaining each of the Inbound Marketing Techniques along with some cheat sheets required at each of the above steps in the B2B Marketing Plan.

Do let me know, if you agree with me that the whole inbound marketing game is no more about just being found…