Unicorn Marketing and Your Business

If you work in the digital marketing industry, unicorn marketing has been an it-phrase for the last few months. Popularized by Larry Kim and his Content Marketing Moneyball webinar, a content unicorn is a key piece of content that’s been:

  • successfully shared
  • engaged with
  • ranks high on Google
  • meets important metrics like high CTR, ROI, and conversion

Unicorn content marketing is about throwing away everything you think you know about content marketing and dealing with the data. Instead of attempting to meet arbitrary quality guidelines, the theory of unicorn marketing posits that your best performing content is your quality content and that you should reuse it and repurpose it.

With a successful unicorn marketing strategy, you and your content team can take advantage of high-performing content, learn how to spot a unicorn, and think long-term about your content strategy. Utilizing unicorn marketing services can lead to viral articles that drive traffic to your site, have high click-through rates, and ultimately drive leads.

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What is Unicorn Content?

Unicorn content is that blog post, webinar, video, or another piece of content everyone is talking about. It’s a piece of content that performs in the top 1-3% of your site and usually delivers most of your traffic. Unicorns are not only traffic drivers; they’re the best-performing content pieces in many ways. They usually have higher social engagement, clickthrough rates (CTR), and conversion rates than your donkeys (the rest of your content). The top 10% of your content will, on average, have a That’s why finding and cultivating your unicorns is so important.

In content marketing, we’ve tried to define quality content by many unrelated metrics: length, spelling and grammar, readability scores, expertise, and even more obtuse values. But unicorns are quality content. Quantity begets quality. You’ll find your unicorns in a hill of donkeys by producing hundreds of pieces of content and finding what works well. There aren’t boxes to check off to create quality content, and most of your blogs and videos won’t perform well. It’s all about finding your unicorn content and capitalizing on it.

What Do You Once You’ve Found a Unicorn?

Once you’ve found unicorn content, it’s time to use it. When you find high-quality, top-performing content on your site, you’ll “want to sound the unicorn alarm,” as Larry Kim says. Promote the content through your social media channels, and repurpose it into different forms, such infographics, videos, and SlideShare decks. If it’s something temporary, like a Webinar or Facebook Live video, you can always use it again for a different audience. While it’s not possible to predict what will succeed, you can reuse what does perform well in a new context to increase its chance of exploding.

One common trait found in unicorn content is the use of stories that evoke emotion. Use happiness, surprise, affirmation, and fear to craft your unicorn content marketing. With a consistent publishing strategy, careful data analysis, and valuable information for your readers, you can produce more unicorns.

unicorn marketing

What Does This Mean for My Content Strategy?

Overall, content marketing goals for your business should remain the same. Even while using a unicorn content marketing strategy, consistency is key. Keep writing, learn from your metrics, and invest in your high-performing content. Look at your data after several months and find what’s working—use your statistics. It’s not always possible to predict what will be popular, just try to create the spark that will help any piece of content succeed, whether it turns out to be a donkey or a unicorn.


Are you having trouble writing high-performing content that maximizes ROI? Leverage Marketing’s content team knows how to turn a herd of donkeys into a blessing of unicorns. Contact us today to start your journey to better content.  

Debunking Myths About Writing and Blogging for SEO

“Blogging” sometimes earns an eye roll from business owners. This is probably at least partially because a lot of business blogs have a reputation for being:

  • Woefully neglected
  • Run by a cadre of proofreading-averse interns
  • Run by someone who has read about the importance of blogging for your business, but who doesn’t know quite how to execute for maximum effect

The reason that a lot of company blogs are unloved often has something to do with the fact that businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to execute a great blog strategy, and without a great strategy, blogging doesn’t always demonstrate a lot of value. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Blogging is just as much about building your site’s SEO value as it is about engaging your customers. Blogging and SEO are a match that is meant to be, and neither is quite as good without the other involved. If you’re pursuing some SEO tactics on your site but not blogging, you’re missing a huge opportunity to expand your SEO work, and if you’re blogging without an eye to SEO, you’re not getting all the value out of your blog that you could be.

With all this confusion about how blogging and SEO are actually related, a lot of myths about blogging for SEO have begun floating around in business’s collective consciousness—hence the spread of intern-run company blogs. Don’t fall prey to these myths: get the full scoop on how blogging does actually help SEO.

Myth #1: Blogging for SEO reasons is a waste of resources – search engines don’t care about my business’s blog.

Contrary to what you may think, search engines care a lot about what you’re blogging about or if you’re not even blogging at all.

Search engines are a lot like your customers—they’re more likely to trust information from sources that look authoritative. Think about it; if you were shopping for something, would you rather buy a product from a site with no product description, or would you rather shop at the well-organized site with lots of helpful information?

Search engines would rather serve up a site that’s full of useful info for searchers. This is a simplified explanation of a concept known as “authority”, and it’s one reason why blogging is important to the long-term prosperity of your site. Blogging is a straightforward method of building up your site’s stock of useful info, which helps make your site look like an industry authority, no matter what your industry is.

Blogging also helps SEO by building up the amount of information on your site that other sites could link to. This is one of the ways that search engines determine which sites should rank highest in search results. If there are lots of different relevant and trustworthy links pointing back to your site, Google is going to see you as an authority and will grant you higher rankings in the results pages because of it.

creative blog conceptMyth #2: Blogging is only for companies with “fun” offerings – nobody’s going to read our blog, ever.

People have questions about pretty much everything, even boring stuff. I don’t get really excited about filing my taxes, but I still have questions about it that I turn to Google to answer—which a lot of big companies know, and why they spend time and money writing blog content that targets confused taxpayers like me who are looking for answers. I can almost guarantee that your product or service isn’t more boring than taxes, and even if it is, that probably just means there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it.

This is where blogging, SEO, and content marketing all need to work together to achieve results. Even if you answer tons of relevant questions and impart lots of relevant info in your blog, your content is still going to be hard for people to find without a great SEO-focused keyword and content promotion plan. That’s a big and multi-faceted topic that doesn’t quite fit into this post, but we write a lot about this kind of stuff on our blog.  We can also just do all this hard work for you, because we know you have plenty of other things to do besides trying to learn how to write the perfect blog post for a business.

Myth #3: Blogging isn’t necessary if you’re doing other SEO stuff.

Run your business however you want, but if you focus solely on product and service pages, you’re missing the benefits of an SEO-focused blogging effort. Why? Well, like trying to scratch an itch on the middle of your back, there are just some search queries you can’t target with your top-level site content.

For example, pretend you have a website for your llama rescue ranch. Obviously, your homepage, “About Us” page, and other key pages on your site will target search queries such as “llama ranch” and “llama rescue”. But think about a long question query like “what do llamas eat”.  This search query gets 500+ searches a month, not a lot of other sites are trying really hard to rank highly for it, and it’s relevant to your industry. You can’t really target that query on your homepage without sounding awkward, but you shouldn’t just give up on those 500 searchers a month that could be learning about your ranch, either. Why not write a blog post for your business that targets this query?

Sure, maybe those searchers aren’t actually looking to visit a llama rescue ranch today—but maybe they’re really into learning about llamas, and they didn’t even know your llama rescue ranch existed until they read your blog post. That’s a future visitor you just ensnared with the power of blogging for SEO.

Myth #4: We should use every single blog post to directly promote our offerings.

Promotional blogging for SE) mythThis is a myth best busted by putting yourself into a non-digital scenario. Say you want to buy a car but have very little idea what you’re looking for, which model or features you want, or even what your budget is. You’re just kind of scoping out the market—you’re not even sure you’re going to get a new car. Then you head to a used car dealership to just walk around and look at the selection of cars for a bit, and the salesman pops out and says, “I CAN SELL YOU THIS CAR FOR $5,000 LESS IF YOU BUY THIS CAR RIGHT NOW, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!”

That’s essentially what you’re doing to potential customers when you try to make every blog post into a big promotional sales pitch. It’s a version of a bait-and-switch technique, in that you’re working to draw in a reader who is likely just seeking information or tips, and then you try to close a sale with someone who isn’t even close to ready to buy. By doing this, you’re practically asking visitors to bounce from your site.

Let the main product or service pages on your site be the sales pitches. If you want to use your blogging for long-term SEO impact, spend your time more wisely by giving readers answers and information and a call to action that will either keep them on your site, or will stick your brand name in their mind or in their browser’s bookmarks bar. That way, when they’re actually ready to buy something, they’ll know and trust your site, and they’ll come to you first.

Myth #5: Blogs don’t ever convert readers into customers.

There’s a nugget of truth to this SEO blogging myth: blogs aren’t good at converting customers right on the spot. If you are expecting your blog to immediately turn casual readers into paying customers, you are going to be disappointed, no matter how good your call to action is.

Most people aren’t going to enter your site for the first time through a blog post and slide right into the checkout process or lead form fill, and it’s a little unfair to expect them to. Think about it – how many times have YOU done that? We’re willing to bet it’s not many.

We get it: you want to pursue marketing activities that deliver immediate ROI and boost results sooner rather than later. But blogging for SEO benefit is a long game—and there are a LOT of perks to running a long game. While a reader may not make a purchase or submit your full form after reading one blog post, think about what DOES happen when someone hops onto your site for the first time via a blog post.

  1. They see your brand name.
  2. They get a sense of what your site offers, and associate your brand name with that offering.
  3. They may feel some level of affinity for your brand for answering their question, providing them with information, or offering a solution to their problem.
  4. They could sign up for your newsletter, download your eBook, or perform another action that allows you to keep their contact information and convert them down the line.
  5. They could share the post with other people, extending your reach and repeating the cycle.

Advertising agencies are literally paid thousands of dollars just to get companies’ brand names in the consumer’s mind. A good SEO-driven blogging strategy accomplishes this, and you don’t have to pay for an ad on a billboard or stick your logo on the rear end of a bus. Sure, following a bunch of SEO blogging tips and strategies is going to take some of your time and resources, but the reason why blogging is important for your business is because it is a sustainable method of building your site’s authority and bringing in first-time visitors. Show me a bus sticker that does that.


Still not convinced blogging for SEO is worth your time? We get that you don’t want to put money into something that doesn’t give back. That’s why our team has become experts at squeezing every drop of SEO value out of your blog. Get in touch with the Leverage Marketing team today and let us do the lifting with your blog for a while.

11 Essential Influencer Marketing Facts and Statistics

Influencer marketing is a phenomenon of modern marketing that places expert consumers in the role of consultants for buyers looking to make informed purchase decisions – and the power of influencers is growing every day.

Influencer marketing is the management of exchange relationships between service and product providers and trusted consumers with authority over a target audience.

Social media, one of the main mediums for influencers to flex their marketing muscle, has a white-knuckle grip on the youth of the early 2000s. Over the past 10 years, social media has built an entire digital world in which millennials socialize, create, and consume. The majority of their interactions and decisions happen online, and now they are reaching the age at which they are making and selling products and services. The wise marketer should pay attention to the growth rate of influencer marketing and track the statistics that can help craft a successful influencer marketing strategy and campaign.

To get you started and thinking about influencer campaigns and research, we’ve dug up some surprising influencer marketing statistics:

influencer marketing facts and statistics infographic

74% of people trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions

Three out of every four customers trust the opinions on social media, including friends, family, and influencers, to help them make the right decision about a product or service. If you’re not working with influencers, you could be losing those customers to your competition.

49% of people rely on influencer recommendations

That’s nearly half of all potential customers. Influencers build trust by creating a memorable brand and creating useful and relevant content. When consumers feel safe with influencer recommendations, they follow them and purchase those products.

In 2016, influencer marketing surpassed print marketing

According to Google Trends, the following three marketing channels deserve your attention:

  • Video marketing is still the most promising marketing channel
  • Influencer marketing is moving in on video marketing
  • Print marketing is falling behind in effectiveness

“Influencer marketing was rated as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing.” – Tomoson

Customers are blocking ads

47% of customers have reported that they use ad-blocking technology when browsing. Only 14% of people can remember when they last saw an ad and what it promoted. The power is shifting to the influencers – real people with real opinions.

75% of marketers claim to have allocated money for influencer marketing

Unless you’re already actively enticing influencers to try your product or service, your competition has you beat. Marketers know that influencer marketing is a top contender for marketing channels – it’s time to hop on board with social networks and influencers.

Businesses make, on average, $6.50 for every $1.00 spent

Tomoson found data that backs a huge return-on-investment for marketers and companies who use influencer marketing. At an average of $6.50 in revenue for every single dollar spent, the risk is, at least for now, well worth the reward.

Marketers spent $25,000 – $50,000 per influencer marketing program in 2016

Linquia’s deeper research found that spending on influencers has increased, as well. Most budgets for influencer marketing fall within the $25,000 – $50,000 range, which matches the external marketing budgets of small-medium sized companies.

Instagram has 700 million users

And a majority of those users are in the 16-24 year age range. Connecting with youth through social media outlets like Instagram enables access to a wealth of consumers, most of whom are endlessly hungry for consumer goods.

40% of Twitter users made a purchase based on a tweet

At least one purchase based on a tweet at such a high percentage means influencers do, indeed, have the ability to affect the decision-making process for customers. Engagement with influencers over Twitter has the potential to drive sales for goods that have previously been unavailable.

64% of brands are on Snapchat

Plus, they are reaching 301 million active users per month. Though Snapchat requires more creative marketing than most social channels because of the nature of the application, it also yields instant influence in the hands of powerful influencers who market across channels.

67% of marketers promote content with the help of influencers

That 67% goes beyond the 75% of marketers who have just set aside a budget. 67% of marketers are actively engaging with influencers and striking deals to promote products and services using their hard-built trust.

If you haven’t started looking into influencer marketing, take the time to get familiar by logging into your social accounts and exploring the accounts of users with large followings. Observe their words, actions, and photos, then start imagining how they can use those tools to promote your or your client’s products and services.

It’s not too late to get on board and start an influencer marketing campaign. Develop a strategy that includes some of your industry’s top influencers, and show them how useful and valuable your product or service is. If you have questions, talk to the masters of marketing at Leverage Marketing, and check out our Guide to Planning Your Digital Marketing Budget eBook to make sure you’ve got room in your budget to sway those influencers today.

5 Content Marketing Lessons from Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us this week, and everyone’s heads are swimming with thoughts of turkey, stuffing, and cranberries. But beyond being a time for a holiday feast or shopping blitz, Thanksgiving provides marketers with valuable lessons. So, while you are home with family—look to our tips for what to get out of the holiday.

Let’s take some of the lessons you need to pull off a successful Thanksgiving and apply them to an effective content marketing campaign. Make sure your Turkey Day is fruitful in more ways than eating cranberries—learn how to be a better marketer.

thanksgiving marketing words

Start Your Planning Early

For Thanksgiving, it can take weeks of planning to pull off a successful meal and please everyone at the holiday table. You need to start finding recipes, buying groceries, and organizing where family members are going to stay far in advance. Without the proper precautions and planning, a well-organized Thanksgiving can turn into a screaming WWE match between grandma and your Uncle Carl–with mashed potatoes ending up on the ceiling.

On the other hand, when you successfully have your recipes planned, cook dishes in advance, and figure out how to separate contentious family members, your Thanksgiving will be peaceful and harmonious (minus an occasional political argument). This goal is achievable, but it takes hard work to get there.

Content marketing works the same way. Plan your company’s content on a monthly or quarterly basis, but leave time for the unexpected (like Aunt Myrtle bringing her five cats), and you’ll reach your goals. With a combination of detailed planning and the ability to adapt to changes on the fly, your content marketing will be more successful.

Create a Mix of (Content) Dishes

Just like the variety needed for your Thanksgiving menu, you need a mix of content to engage your audience. You can’t only serve a turkey and potatoes for Thanksgiving; you need multiple sides and a delicious dessert. So, too, with marketing: create e-books, videos, podcasts, blogs, and other content pieces that are right for your company and audience.

Remember that serving the same thing to your guests (or your audience) isn’t going to keep them coming back. Variety is the spice of life. Different content types and exciting new side dishes are what keep your buyers and family coming back to the table.

You Can’t Do It Alone

Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Between all the cooking, cleaning, and keeping the family at peace, it can be exhausting. But part of the fun of Thanksgiving is getting the whole family together, having interesting conversations, and learning about everyone’s lives. Take advantage of family and friends coming to your Turkey Day Dinner to delegate. Have other people bring sides, do the dishes, or even help you with the turkey.

Content marketing is similar in certain respects. It’s stressful to try to do everything by yourself. Source articles on specific content from colleagues in those fields and use your resources wisely. By delegating correctly, you’ll put less stress on yourself and put out better products in the long run. Working together, much like with the Pilgrims and Native Americans, results in a better outcome. Just treat your co-workers (and Thanksgiving guests) better than the colonists treated their new friends.

Be Grateful and Keep Giving

At the Thanksgiving table, it can be difficult to remember the spirit of the holiday when there’s a food fight or political argument taking place. Do your best to make everyone feel comfortable, even if it means satisfying someone you don’t agree with, or fixing up food for vegetarians or vegans. Thanksgiving is about giving to everyone, even those you wouldn’t usually tolerate.

In content marketing, it’s important to remember that you’re targeting your content to your specific audience, or your buyer personas. It’s easy to think, “me, me, me” and talk about your company solely–when you need to focus on the target audience’s concerns. They don’t want to know how amazing Cousin Gracie’s mashed potatoes are; they want to see the recipe for mashed potatoes—and eventually eat them.

Create content that your audience can use to further their goals, and you will guide them along a path to purchase your product—give them what they want, and maybe they’ll give back by buying what you sell. Just like your unappreciative relatives.

Ignore the Negative and Push Forward

thanksgiving marketing fight

Thanksgiving can be a difficult time to be around family. They can be callous, insensitive, and just plain rude. Perhaps you don’t have the job they wanted you to have. Maybe you’re single, or your relationship is taboo. Don’t sweat it. Many families love to criticize, and for some, it’s just a way of expressing love.

Their opinions matter, but you shouldn’t let their disapproval goad you into doing something you don’t want to or changing your path. No matter what actions you take, someone will dislike it.

With content marketing, you will also face negativity. You might get emails saying your articles are garbage and your product is far inferior to your competitor. There’s no way to make everyone like your brand or product. Even the biggest companies in the world have a niche—even if it’s close to 2 billion people (e.g., Facebook). Write content the same way you live your life—with authenticity. By bringing your voice and personality to your brand and content, you’ll attract a broader audience that cares deeply about what you sell.

Get Ready for Thanksgiving Marketing

Now that you have some tips on how to improve your Thanksgiving marketing strategy, it’s time to get started. Make sure you’re prepared for your family and the upcoming holiday season with more ideas from Leverage Marketing.


Leverage Marketing’s content marketing team knows how to talk turkey. We’ll work with you to develop a content strategy that you’ll be thankful for!

How to Use Visual Content in Your Marketing

In the world of digital marketing, visual content is:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Charts & Graphs

You use visual content in marketing by selecting and designing it to enhance the communication of your message – and we know how critical that message can be to the success of your enterprise.

Using visual content and imagery in marketing should be a practice in helping every possible customer or client understand what your business offers, how it can help him or her, and how he or she can get it.

concept image of logos of companies teaming up for profit Learn how to maximize the effectiveness of your imagery with our visual content marketing strategies.

Don’t Fear Images

Our brains process visual content and text in two contrasting ways. Though it may not seem like it, parsing the meaning of language is a work-heavy procedure, especially when compared to the brain power necessary to find meaning in an image.

We figure out images an impressive 600,000 times faster than we figure out text. They also evoke stronger emotional responses and elicit action more often than pure text. We tend to only read about 20% of the text on a webpage – but with the help of images, we can understand large concepts and remember them more easily than we would by reading about them.

Imagine the concept of the Leverage Marketing team giving you the gift of free marketing knowledge. We’ve wrapped it up in a blog and we’re handing it to you, here and now, obligation-free and with the hope that you’ll use it to better your business. How would you represent that concept?

Mouse-over below to see our version of the concept.

hands holding purple gift box for free marketing knowledge concept

The way to engage with images is by assigning a purpose to each image. Every photo or illustration you choose to use should be able to drive home a point and leave a lasting impression. Creating custom images is the best way to ensure that there is meaning behind each image, but if you don’t have the resources to do so, then don’t be afraid to invest the time necessary to search for and acquire only the most relevant images.

There are four common types of images we use in visual content marketing:

Standard Images

purple fruit watermelon representing standard images

These are the images you see pasted into pages and blogs to enhance the consumer experience. They can range from memes to photographs and tell a part of the story that can’t be communicated through text alone.

Icons

female testimonial icon

Icons are miniaturized, simplified versions of full-sized images. An icon is a representative or symbol of something. In much the same way that an image represents an idea from text, an icon represents an idea from an image.

Screenshots

green leverage computer with facebook screenshot

To make it easier to describe complex computer issues or processes, smart marketers use screenshots. These are still grabs from your computer screen that share with the viewer everything viewable to you on your monitor – or, with a little editing, the parts that you want the viewer to see.

Infographics

leverage infographic kit example

Infographics are the capstones of images. They combine the features and storytelling power of different types of images to create a fully-realized graphics and marketing experience. Often, they also include text to ensure that viewers have access to the complete body of information.

Tips for Using Images and Graphics in Your Visual Content Marketing Strategy

There’s more to beginning to use images than just including them in your next content piece. Try these tips to make sure your images are helping you reach your marketing goals:

  • Don’t treat images like filler content – If you start adding non-relevant images just for fun, you’ll quickly raise your page’s load time too high with content that doesn’t contribute to your message… and probably confuses your viewer.
  • Be careful of file size – 200 kilobytes should be your absolute maximum, with few exceptions, but you should aim to keep almost all of your images 100 kilobytes or below to keep load times rock-bottom.
  • Tie in image appearance – A rowdy mix of illustration styles and random photos, with and without borders, and with wildly varying color schemes and value ranges is a heavy burden on your professional credibility. Use your brand’s colors as a base for your images. Pick a category, such as photos or illustrations, along with a consistent style, such as flat design or matte painting, for reliable results.

Did you notice that most of our graphics use our brand colors? That’s how you pull your imagery together!

Start Making Videos

You can’t stop video from becoming more and more relevant. Most of what you consume on social media is now either images or video – text has taken a seat way, way behind visual media.

hit play video with leverage colored treesGeneration Z youth, born between 1995 and 2012, now spend about 10 hours a day online between all of their available devices. 70% of this demographic watch over two hours of videos on YouTube alone every day.

If you want to capture their attention (and the attention of those outside the Gen Z demographic) then you have to start making and outreaching videos now. But beware – producing video is so much more than talking into a phone camera.

Record, edit, and post videos like these to start driving website visits and page views:

  • Weekly broadcasts
  • Influencer interviews
  • Testimonials
  • Customer service videos

Think of creative ways to use the videos – we’ve suggested some unique video ideas before that you might want to check out. You can:

  • Add videos to blogs
  • Post videos on your social media channels
  • Share videos with influencers
  • Use videos to enhance service & product exploration

Make and Use a YouTube Account

Google is the most widely used search engine, and they already own YouTube. It’s a win-win to create a YouTube account to host your videos, because Google has the greatest access and integration with its own service.

If you let Google-owned YouTube host your videos, you’re much more likely to rank highly for your target keywords in organic search – and that’s a smart visual content marketing strategy. Just don’t forget to embed your YouTube videos in relevant areas on your site and social media channels.

Integrate Charts & Graphs When Possible

Build ‘em in Excel, Piktochart, Canva, or Adobe Illustrator – whatever creative program you have access to, use it to create visually appealing graphs and charts.

You can embed Google Trends graphs directly into your content.

OR you can build your own Excel charts – and they actually look all right!

shopping interest excel chart in green

Seeing an astounding statistic in text is one thing, but watching bars and lines rise and fall gives you a physical sensation of the impact of statistics, a power tool in visual content marketing. In marketing, graphs and charts drive home information as well as emotion – and can sometimes call your audience to action.

Tailor Your Visual Content Marketing Strategy Directly to Your Audience

If you’re selling to millennials, push video on social media. If you’re targeting 30-50 year old professionals, employ engaging infographics and interviews with influential industry leaders. Each demographic consumes in a different way, but they all have one thing in common:

Everyone consumes visual content.

Leverage Marketing provides visual content marketing services from strategy to execution. Connect with us today and get moving on a graphics and marketing plan to increase traffic and qualified leads!

Writing Great Content for SEO: Your Questions Answered

Let’s be honest: running a business is hard work. With all the things you’re juggling, The LAST thing you want to worry about is how Google is reading your site. That’s Google’s problem, right?

Unfortunately, throwing your offerings up on the World Wide Web and crossing your fingers isn’t going to cut it, which you probably know if you’re reading this article. You’re going to have to take some specific actions to drive traffic to your site.

Adding content to your site is one of those specific actions. But how does one even begin to create content that makes sense to search engine, sells to customers, and doesn’t ruin the user experience of your site?

Luckily, our team at Leverage Marketing has helped more than a few sites build out content that boosts search engine optimization efforts and helps businesses communicate their brand voice effectively. We’ve collected some of the common questions we are asked about SEO-optimized content so you don’t have to be in the dark.

Why Do I Need Content for SEO?

The answer is simpler than you think. Basically, search engines (like customers) need to know what you’re offering – you’re not going to rank #1 on Google if Google can’t tell what you’re selling. Thanks to this little bit of reasoning, when you search for “computer monitor”, you don’t have to weed through 20 pages of lawnmowers and blenders to find a site that sells computer monitors. Seems really obvious, right? That’s why we need words on websites – Google reads words just like you and me.

Here’s a fun fact: Google has begun to understand not only the words we type into the search bar, but the context and meaning of searches as well. In other words, Google is learning what the searcher’s intent is when they type in a query. That’s a big reason why it’s important to create great content, instead of just slapping a bunch of keywords onto a page. Google is trying to understand your site in the way your customers do, and Google, like your customers, demands high-quality content.

How Much Content Do I Need Per Page for SEO?

There’s no true one-size-fits-all answer to this question. To help search engines figure out what your site is all about, you’ve got to give them something substantial to work with. That means on all the major (and sometimes minor) pages of your site, you should consider having some decent content for Google to dig its robot claws into.

There’s a good way to figure out how long your content really needs to be. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does the reader need to gain/learn/acknowledge from this page?
  • What questions might potential readers have when getting to this page? What if this is the first page on your site they see – is there enough info for them here?
  • What unique information can you offer on this page to give your reader a richer experience?

Once you’ve told the reader what they need to know, answered their questions before they have a chance to ask them, and offered all the information that makes the user experience on your site great, that’s probably a good stopping place.

Really try to get inside your user’s head here. You may assume that everyone knows all the basics about waffle makers, and that they don’t need to be informed of the differences between non-stick and stainless steel when they visit your product category page, but that just isn’t true for every single visitor – some people are looking for info that you should be providing. And don’t forget to tell them why they should buy from your site instead of your competitors’, or what your free shipping deal is, or how they can join your loyalty club for 15% off. There is almost always a reason and a way to add valuable content to a page – and if there isn’t, you might want to consider why that page even needs to exist.

Finally, remember that you are adding content for your users, not for search engines. Sure, adding good content will help your site’s performance, but that’s because Google and the other search engines are seeking out sites that best fit searchers’ queries. If your site ranks #1 for a keyword but your users aren’t finding what they need and are bouncing back to the search results page, you can safely bet that you won’t stay in that #1 spot for long.

What Are Some SEO Content Best Practices?

key to content for SEOWhen you’re creating content for your site, keep in mind a few things that will improve both your user’s experience and your rankings:

  • Do: Add a few keywords. What does your user type into Google when looking for this page? You’ll want that phrase in your content, too.
  • Don’t: Participate in “keyword stuffing.” If your content is unreadable because it has so many keywords stuffed into it, you’re going to provoke the ire of search engines, who correctly read this practice as spam.
  • Do: Put at least some of your content near the top of the page. You want your content to be one of the first things a search engine (or a user) reads.
  • Don’t: Put ALL of your content at the top of the page. Don’t sacrifice your user experience for SEO – make sure your users can find what they’re looking for.
  • Do: Make sure your content is readable and accessible to all users. Choose easily-readable fonts and font colors, and take advantage of features such as the alt attribute for photos, so that every user can understand your site.
  • Don’t: Stick your content in places where search engines can’t get to it. Search engines often struggle to read text within images and JavaScript.

Can I Do SEO Without Content?

Sure, knock yourself out. But just know that your results aren’t going to be anywhere near as great as they’d be by implementing a supporting on-page SEO effort.

Off-page SEO tactics, such as link building (gaining links from other reputable sites on the web), are certainly very important to growing your site’s authority, visibility, and ranking over time. However, only performing link building efforts while leaving your site sparse on content is sort of like going to a Halloween party as one member of a group costume. Sure, going to the party as a salt shaker is fine, but the costume makes a lot more sense with another person going as a pepper shaker. So yeah, you might see results from link-building alone, but if you want to really get the most out of your efforts, just tell Google what you’re selling.

What About Hidden SEO Content?

Hidden content SEO bad practiceI get it – you don’t want to mess up the aesthetic of your site with a bunch of boring words. Why can’t you just make all those words the same color as your background or stick them somewhere in your code where your users don’t see them but search engines do?

Short answer: don’t even think about it. Search engines view this kind of behavior as spammy and deceptive, so it won’t give you the long-term rankings boost you’re looking for. It will probably even earn you a big demotion that buries your site on the 25th page of Google. Fun stuff!

And really? You have no way to work in content that offers a better experience for your users in any part of the page? If your site isn’t designed to incorporate content or inform users… what’s the point?


Still stuck on how to make SEO content work for your brand and your site? The Leverage Marketing team has all the savvy to help both users and search engine bots fall in love with your site. Check out our Content Marketing offerings, or just sign up for our newsletter for a regular dose of digital marketing knowledge.

8 Things to Look for in Your Content Marketing Agency

Hiring a content marketing agency requires a lot of trust. You’re partnering with marketers who are going to create content on behalf of your business, and you need to feel confident that those marketers will do your brand justice. To find a team of content specialists you trust with your brand voice, look for the following eight qualities.

Experience Across a Variety of Industries

healthcare, retail, and tech icons representing diverse industries

There are advantages to working with a content marketing agency that focuses on one industry. The agency will already be deeply familiar with the industry, and it won’t take long to bring them up to speed with your business. However, there’s also a risk that the agency will fall into a rut of producing the same type of content over and over again, never distinguishing your company from your competitors.

On the other hand, content teams that have worked with a wide variety of clients have demonstrated an ability to adapt their tone and strategy as needed. They’re more likely to bring a fresh perspective to your marketing and may present ideas you’ve never considered.

To find out if the content marketing agency you’re vetting is versatile, check their website for testimonials or case studies from other clients. Ask to see samples of their work for several different industries. If their samples include a variety of content types, such as infographics and videos, that’s even better.

A Team of Avid Researchers

The content writers you hire need to unabashedly love doing research. They may not know a lot about your industry at the beginning of the engagement, but they should work to get so familiar with your business that they’re basically an extension of your in-house team. In addition to becoming well-acquainted with your products or services, they also need to research your audience thoroughly. They should uncover audience insights to help them create content that resonates with the right people at the right time.

The Ability to Harness Your Brand Voice

microphone representing brand voiceA good content specialist will master your brand voice so that all content from your company sounds consistent. They may familiarize themselves with your brand voice by reading existing content you’ve provided and by interviewing members of your team. They should be good at asking questions that elicit insightful answers from your team and other interview subjects. Additionally, they need to be good listeners. They should be able to distill what you and your team have told them into a clear brand story.

Finely-Tuned Communication Skills

The last thing you want is a content marketing agency that drops off the map once you begin an engagement, resurfacing once a month to deliver content assets without comment. Even if you like the idea of a hands-off approach, you probably still want to know that you can reach your content team when you have an idea to share and that they’ll factor your ideas into their strategy.

When you interview content specialists, ask them how often they will meet with you and what kind of response time you can expect from them if you reach out between meetings. Find out what kind of collaboration tools they use so that you can exchange ideas.

An Enthusiasm for Teaching—and Learning

 

graduation cap and books representing content marketing educationIs your agency so enthusiastic about content marketing that they want to share what they’ve learned with the world? Look at the content they’ve produced for their own business—are they keeping up with trends in digital marketing and making sure their audience stays informed? Evidence of this might include a regularly updated blog with well-researched posts, a video library, downloadable white papers, or webinars.

Commitment to the Full Content Marketing Process

If all you’re looking for is someone to write content for your business, you could hire a freelancer or two. If, however, you want content that meaningfully contributes to your business goals, you should work with an agency that performs market research, develops a strategy, produces content that aligns with that strategy, and then promotes the content to maximize its impact. Your agency needs to understand that content marketing doesn’t just mean churning out a few blog posts and calling it a day.

Collaboration Across Departments

Content marketing shouldn’t exist in a silo. In many cases, your content strategy can be enhanced with search engine optimization, social media marketing, and paid search—and your agency should make recommendations when your business can benefit from multiple services. Ideally, your content writers should have experience with SEO and should know how to tailor their content to both readers and search engines.

Tracking and Reporting Capabilities

analytics graph representing content marketing reporting

Your agency should never produce content just for the sake of it: they must follow a strategy that aligns with your marketing goals. They need to look at more than just vanity metrics like page views; they should be able to show you how their efforts tie into downloads, purchases, lead generation, and other conversion metrics that matter to your bottom line. Your content team should also be transparent. Make sure they can walk you through how they measure results and what different metrics mean.

Are you currently vetting content marketing agencies? We’re biased, of course, but we think you should contact Leverage to learn more about our content marketing services. We’d love to talk to you about how we can grow your business with high-quality content.

Biggest User Experience Problems with Ecommerce Sites

This post was originally published in early 2017, but we’ve updated it with new information to reflect current trends in ecommerce user experience design.

Designing an ecommerce user experience that pleases the customer is hard. Besides creating a gratifying ecommerce layout design, you need to craft a seamless experience from landing page to purchase. We’ve created a list some of the common failings ecommerce sites fall into–and your site should attempt to avoid. By focusing on your ecommerce UX and avoiding these pitfalls, you can succeed.

ux problems infographic 2

Limited and Missing Product Info

Website users want straightforward information. They want sufficient details that explain what your product is and how it can help them. Your ecommerce site should have multiple pictures of each of your products from various angles, presented excitingly. Don’t use stock images either; customers prefer images you’ve created or photographs that were taken expressly for your product. Follow this advice, and you can be successful on your site, and have images ready for Google’s Shopping Platform, newsletters, and more.

Lack of Mobile Optimization

It’s impossible to ignore mobile–it’s growing and becoming a larger segment of ecommerce activity each year. People shop from their phones and tablets a significant amount of the time, especially around the holidays. Your ecommerce website should be responsive and easy-to-use on mobile, with large buttons and a simple checkout process. Developing your site for mobile can lead to increased conversions and draw in new customers.

Long or Confusing Checkout Process

A quick check out process is integral to the success of your ecommerce site. If your check out takes too long and isn’t smooth, it can dissuade buyers and lead to abandoned carts. A one-page checkout, with multiple options for payment–including the option to sign in with Google, Amazon, or PayPal can increase your conversion–and success.

Bad Site Search

You hopefully already have a site search function for your ecommerce site–but how well does it work? It should include filters and advanced functionality to help your customers find what they need. Give them options to search by category or feature. Purchasing and enabling quality software will make the search process easy and functional for your customers.

Missing Contact Information

This piece of advice is simple–don’t hide your contact information. You should provide multiple forms of communication: phone, email, chat; the best methods for your ecommerce website. The more expensive the products you’re selling, the more easily reachable you should be. Place this information prominently in your header or footer and include easy links to a contact us page.

Engaging Content: Videos, Etc.

To create a successful ecommerce site, you need to engage your buyers. That means creating exciting content for them to watch or read, including videos, infographics, case studies, and original information about your products. Your content should enhance the user experience, explain your products, and reinforce why your company is the right choice for the customer.

Poor Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a vital aspect of ecommerce and ignoring it can be the downfall of any ecommerce site. A successful ecommerce site allows customers to share items they wish to or have purchased. Social sharing can result in additional conversions, and by making this process easy, you can increase your web presence as well.

Creating a seamless user experience for your ecommerce customers is one of the keys to your success.  Avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on ecommerce UX design will ensure your product shines and customers return to your site and recommend you to others. By following these ecommerce UX best practices, you can see increased conversions and higher revenue over time.


If you’re looking for some help with the user experience on your ecommerce site, Leverage is here to help you. We have experience working with ecommerce businesses and can tailor an approach to your company. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

Enhance Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy with Leverage Learning

95% of Americans make an online purchase at least once a year, and 80% have made at least one online purchase in the past month. And, as the Washington Post recently put it, about a third of consumers now buy something online at least as often as they take out the trash (once a week). As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, it may seem like there’s never been a better time to own an ecommerce business.

However, growth-focused ecommerce businesses still face plenty of challenges, especially when it comes to attracting shoppers (who may be inclined to start their search on Amazon) and converting those shoppers into paying customers.

Build Your Ecommerce Marketing Knowledge

At Leverage Marketing, we want to help online businesses address these challenges with actionable ecommerce marketing ideas. We’ve been doing this for years with our digital marketing services, and now we’re taking what we’ve learned and sharing it in a free educational email series called Leverage Learning: Ecommerce.

The goal of Leverage Learning: Ecommerce is to help online business owners find digital marketing ideas to reach more customers and increase sales. The series is broken into 11 lessons on the following subjects:

 

content marketing for ecommerce email preview

  1. Branding
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. UX Web Design
  4. Content Marketing
  5. Influencer Marketing
  6. Facebook and Instagram Marketing
  7. Paid Search Advertising
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Online Customer Service
  10. Mobile Marketing
  11. Measuring Success in Google Analytics

 

When you subscribe, you’ll receive a new email lesson twice a week until you’ve received the full series. The emails offer best practices for ecommerce marketing, quick tips that business owners can implement right away, and recommendations for free or low-cost tools to streamline marketing efforts.

If you’re ready to use digital marketing to drive sales for your ecommerce business, you can subscribe to our Leverage Learning: Ecommerce series by clicking here.

SEO for ecommerce email preview

And if you enjoy this series, stay tuned: we’ll be releasing our Leverage Learning: Content Marketing series next!


As always, we’d love for you to contact us if you have any questions about our Leverage Learning series or the digital marketing services we offer!

Mobile Shopping: The New Norm

We originally published this post back in 2016. Since a lot can change in the online marketing landscape in a year, we’ve updated it for 2017.

Throughout the last decade, mobile and online shopping has been on the rise, pushing brick-and-mortar businesses to compete harder for their share of consumers’ dollars. During the 2017 holiday season, eMarketer expects ecommerce sales to grow 15.8%, with total retail growth limited to 2%. The National Retail Federation (NRF) believes overall retail growth will be around 3.7-4.2% in 2017, while online retail will grow 8-12% alone. It’s clear that mobile shopping on smartphones and tablets, rather than brick and mortar shopping, is the new norm.

In the United States, consumers are increasingly using their smartphones more hours during the day for shopping, social media, and other activities. Mobile ad spending is on the rise, as marketers realize they need to target mobile consumers even more than through traditional advertising avenues. As mobile data and the online shopping industry grow, vendors and retailers will need to come up with innovative ways to target consumers.

As fewer consumers purchase laptops or rely on them as a primary device, tablets and smartphones will increasingly become the primary devices for purchasing, with 31 million US Internet users only using a mobile device to go online in 2016.

mobile online shopping

Amazon and Walmart

Comparing two retail giants—Amazon and Walmart—shows the chasm widening between online and brick-and-mortar sales. Amazon posted $82.7 billion in sales for the last 12 months, while Walmart, with its massive physical presence, only posted $12.5 billion. With ecommerce juggernauts like Amazon driving more sales through programs like Amazon Prime, online sales will continue to eclipse traditional brick-and-mortar options, and the online shopping industry will grow.

Both these companies are working hard to break into each other’s markets, with Walmart strengthening its ecommerce skills and Amazon its brick-and-mortar abilities. Walmart has purchased Amazon, however, announced its intention to purchase organic food giant Whole Foods and has been opening up retail bookstores in NYC and other locations. These two massive companies make it clear that ecommerce is the future, but brick-and-mortar isn’t dead either.

Demographics: Who Shops Mobile?

New data shows that younger buyers, especially those with smartphones, are more likely to use mobile devices for shopping compared to older consumers. In a 2016 Bronto survey of over 1000 people, 65% of adults ages 18-24 say they use their smartphones for shopping, as do 63% of those ages 25-34, and 58% of those aged 35-44, with the numbers dropping significantly as age increases. 35-44-year-old people are more likely to purchase on tablets, with younger consumers not using those devices as frequently. As age increases over 44, these numbers decline.

What these statistics suggest is that most mobile commerce growth is driven by the 18-34-year-old segment of the population, with less push from older American adults. As an increasing number of millennials accrue wealth and enter the workforce, mobile sales will continue to grow and overtake online sales from computers and eventually brick-and-mortar entirely.

Online shopping growth, especially on mobile, is a force that will only increase as the conveniences of shopping from your home and online-only deals eclipse any advantages brick-and-mortar stores retain. Millennial shoppers are pushing this evolution, and the next generation will only further it.smartphone graph new

Conclusion

Consumer trends suggest that mobile sales are the new norm. Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are convenient to use and able to fit in your pocket, and retailers are providing seamless app experiences for purchasing on their platforms. Tablets are also a significant part of this growth, to a lesser extent, among adults in the 35-44-year old range.

Mobile commerce growth is inevitable, and it will overtake brick-and-mortar. The only question is when. With giants like Amazon reporting close to $100 billion in annual sales and growing, retailers and advertisers must pursue solutions to engage with mobile consumers in innovative ways. While brick and mortar stores are still relevant for the foreseeable future, Walmart and similar large retailers must continue to adapt to stay in business.

At Leverage Marketing, we employ pioneering techniques to further your company’s digital marketing efforts We can help your ecommerce business create a mobile-friendly design that adapts to smartphone and tablet design. Learn more about our web design services and contact us today.

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