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What I Found After Experimenting with Google Discover for Two Months

Posted by Moberstein

I’m completely fascinated by Google’s Discover Feed. Besides the fact that it serves highly-relevant content, it also seems beyond the reach of being gamed. In a way, it almost seems beyond the reach of pure SEO (which makes it downright tantalizing to me).

It all made me want to understand what makes the feed tick.

So I did what any sensible person would do. I spent the better part of two months running all sorts of queries in all sorts of different ways to see how it impacted my Discover Feed.

Here are my ramblings.

My approach to analyzing Google’s Discover Feed

Let me explain what I did and how I did it, to both give you a better understanding of this analysis and point out its gaping limitations.

For five days a week, and over the course of two months, I executed all sorts of user behavior aimed at influencing my Discover Feed.

I ran queries on specific topics on mobile, searched for other topics on desktop… clicked on results… didn’t click on results… went directly to sites and clicked… went directly to sites and didn’t click anything, etc.

In other words, I wanted to see how Google reacted to my various behaviors. I wanted to see if one behavior influenced what showed in my Discover Feed more than other behaviors.

To do this, I searched for things I would generally never search for, went to sites I would normally never visit, and limited my normal search behavior at times so as not to influence the feed.

For example, I hate celebrity news and gossip with a passion, so I went to every day (outside of the weekends) and scrolled through the site without clicking a thing. I then recorded if related material (i.e. celebrity nonsense) ended up in my Discover Feed the next day.

I recorded all of my various “web behaviors” in the same way. I would execute a given behavior (e.g. search for things related to a specific topic on mobile, but without clicking any results) and record what happened in my Discover Feed as time went on.

Here’s a breakdown of the various behaviors I executed along with the topics associated with each behavior. (For the record, each behavior corresponds to a single topic or website so I could determine the impact of that behavior on my Discover Feed.)

Allow me to quickly elaborate on the behaviors above:

  • These are all topics/sites that I am in no way interested or involved in (particularly self-help car repair).
  • When I clicked a YouTube video, I watched the entire thing (I mean, I didn’t actually watch half the time, but Google doesn’t know that… or do they?)
  • When I visited a site, I did scroll through the content and stay on the page for a bit.
  • A search for a “segment of a topic already existing in Discover Feed” means that the overall topic was something that regularly appeared in my feed (in this case, NFL football and MLB baseball). However, the subtopics, in this case the Cowboys and Marlins, were topics I never specifically searched for and did not appear in my feed. Also, the data for these two categories only reflects one month of experimentation.

All of this points to various limitations.

Is it possible that Google sees a topic like entertainment news as more “Discover-worthy” than sewing? It is.

Is it possible that going to a site like Fandango during a pandemic (when many theaters were closed) influenced Google’s decision to include or exclude things related to the topic matter dealt with by the site? It is.

What if I didn’t skip the weekends and executed the above every single day. Would that have made a difference? I don’t know.

I’m not trying to portray any of the data I’ll present as being overly-conclusive. This is merely what I did, what I found, and what it all made me think.

Let’s have at it then.

How user behavior impacted my Discover Feed

Before I dive into the “data”, I want to point out that the heart of my observations isn’t found in the data itself, but in some of the things I noticed in my Discover Feed along the way.

More than that, this data is far from conclusive or concrete, and in most ways speaks to my unique user-profile. That said, let’s have a look at the data, because there just may be some general takeaways.

As I mentioned, I wanted to see the impact of the various online behaviors on my Discover Feed. That is, how frequently did Google insert content related to the topics associated with each specific behavior into my feed?

For all the times I went to how often was there content in my feed related to Japanese news? For all the times I searched for and watched YouTube videos on lawn care, how often did Google show me such content in Discover?

Survey says:

Here are some of the most intruding highlights reflected in the graph above:

  • Watching YouTube videos on mobile had no impact on my feed whatsoever (though it certainly did on what YouTube ads I was served).
  • Watching YouTube videos on desktop has little impact (in fact, any insertion of “sewing” into my feed was only as a topic card which contained no URL).
  • Searching on Google alone, without clicking a result, was ineffective.
  • Visiting a desktop site and clicking around was very effective at filling my feed with “cooking” content, however the same was not true on mobile.

Watching YouTube videos (desktop) about sewing was only successful in getting Google to include the topic in its “Discover more” cards.

I want to emphasize that when I say things like “YouTube mobile watches had no impact”, I don’t mean that as a general statement. Rather, such a statement is only aligned with the way I engaged with YouTube (one video watch per day). Clearly, and as is obvious, if you watch a large number of YouTube videos around one topic in a short time, Discover will pick this up.

I did, in fact, test this.

I gave my kids free rein at various moments to take my phone and watch a large number of videos related to specific topics (surprisingly, they were happy to oblige and to watch vast amounts of YouTube).

I have twin 9-year-old boys. One watched an obscene number of YouTube videos and executed an insane number of searches related to airplanes and flight simulators. I am still awaiting the day where my feed stops showing cards related to this topic. Here’s my search history to prove it:

The other little fellow watched videos about the weather and animal behavior that results from it for a few hours straight (hey, it was during the height of quarantine). That same day, this is what I saw in my feed:

You don’t need me to tell you that if Google thinks you’re going gaga over a specific topic, it will throw said topic into your Discover Feed posthaste.

My goal in all of this was not to see what is the quickest way to get Google to update the topics it shows in your Discover Feed. The point in my methodology was to see if there was one type of behavior that Google seemed to take more seriously than another vis-a-vis inserting new topics into my Discover Feed.

To that, Google did react differently to my various behaviors.

That doesn’t mean I can make many conclusions based on the above data. For example, Google clearly saw my going to and clicking on an article each day as a strong signal that “cooking” deserves to be in my Discover Feed.

Google was apt to think of my behavior of visiting and clicking an article each day as an endorsement for wanting “cooking” content in my Discover Feed.

At the same time, Google completely ignored that behavior on mobile. Each day I went to and scrolled through an article. Yet, not once did Google include anything even remotely related to Japanese news in my feed.

I suspect that the topic here was too far removed from overall search behavior. So while it was reasonable for Google to assume I wanted cooking-related material in my feed, the same did not hold true for topics related to Japan.

I think this is the same reason why the topic associated with my visiting a site on desktop without clicking anything made it into my feed. The topic here was celebrity news, and I imagine that Google has profiled this topic as being one that is highly-relevant to Discover. So much so that Google tested including it in my feed at various points.

Despite never clicking on an article when visiting each day, Google still flirted with showing celebrity news content in my Discover Feed.

That said, there is some reason to believe that desktop behavior has more of an impact than mobile user behavior.

The case for desktop Discover Feed dominance

About a month into my little experiment I wondered what would happen if I started searching for and clicking on things that were segments of topics that already appeared in my feed.

Deciding on these segments was quite easy. My feed is constantly filled with material on baseball and American football. Thus, I decided to search for and click on two teams I have no interest in. This way, while the topic overall was already in my feed, I would be able to see the impact of my behavior.

Specifically, on desktop I searched for things related to the Dallas Cowboys, clicking on a search result each time. Similarly, I did the same for the Miami Marlins baseball team on mobile.

Again, in both cases, content specific to these teams had yet to appear in my feed.

Here are the results of this activity:

Over a 30-day period, I found 10 instances of content related to the Dallas Cowboys in my feed and 6 instances of content about the Miami Marlins.

Again, just as in the first set of data I presented, a disparity between mobile and desktop exists.

Is this a general rule? Is this based on my particular profile? I don’t know. It’s just an interesting point that should be investigated further.

I will say that I doubt the content itself played a role. If anything, there should have been more results on mobile about the Marlins, as I was very much caught up in the World Series that was taking place at the time of my activity.

What does this data actually mean?

There are so many factors at play, that using any of the data above is a bit “hard.” Yes, I think there are some trends or indicators within it. However, that’s not really what I want you to take away from all of this. (Also, is it such a crime to consume data solely because it’s interesting to see some of what’s going on?)

What do I want you to take away, then?

As part of my data analysis (if you’ll even call it that) I looked at how long it took for a behavior to result in Discover Feed inclusion. Surprisingly, the numbers were pretty consistent:

Discounting the 31 behavior instances around my “Search Desktop No Click” activity (e.g. searching for all things related to “fishing” but clicking on nothing) to impact my feed, Google picked up on what I was doing fairly quickly.

Generally speaking, it took less than 10 behaviors for Google to think it should update the topics shown in my feed.

That’s really the point. Despite the normal things I search for and engage with both regularly and heavily (things like SEO, for example) Google took this “lighter” yet consistent behavior as a signal to update my feed.

Google was very aware of what I was doing and acted on it pretty quickly all things considered. In the case of “food/cooking” content, as shown earlier, Google took my behavior very seriously and consistently showed such content in my feed.

Forget which behavior on which device produced more cards in my feed. The fact that it varied at all is telling. It shows Google is looking at the type of engagement and where it happens in the context of your overall profile.

Personally, I think if you (yes, you, the person reading this) did this experiment, you would get different results. Maybe some of the trends might align, but I would imagine that would be it.

And now for the really interesting part of all this.

Diving into what was and what wasn’t in my Discover Feed

As I’ve mentioned, the data is interesting in some of the possible trends it alludes to and in that it shows how closely Google is watching your behavior. However, the most interesting facets of this little project of mine came from seeing what Google was and was not showing day-in and day-out.

Is Google profiling users utilizing the same account?

The first month of this study coincided with a lockdown due to COVID-19. That meant my kids were home, all day, for a month. It also meant they watched a lot of YouTube. From Wild Kratts to Woody Woodpecker, my kids consumed a heap of cartoons and they did so using my Google account (so I could see what they were watching).

Wouldn’t you know, a funny thing happened. There was no “cartoon” content in my Discover Feed. I checked my feed religiously that month and not once did I notice a card about a cartoon.

Isn’t that odd?

Not if Google is profiling my account according to the devices being used or even according to the content being consumed. All signs point to Google being well aware that the content my kids were watching was not being consumed by the one using Discover (me).

This isn’t a stretch at all. The same happens in my YouTube feed all the time. While my desktop feed is filled to the brim with Fireman Sam, the YouTube app on my phone is a mixture of news and sports (I don’t “SEO” on YouTube) as my kids generally don’t watch their “programs” on my phone.

The URLs I visited were absent from Discover

There was one other thing missing from my Discover Feed and this one has enormous implications.


Virtually none of the URLs I visited during my two-month experiment popped up in my Discover Feed!

I visited the Food Network’s website some 40 times, each time clicking and reading (pretending to read to be fair) an article or recipe. By the time I was nearing the end of my experiment Discover was showing me some sorts of food/cooking related content every day.

Through all of that, not once did Google show me a URL from the Food Network! Do you like apples? Well, how do you like them apples? (Cooked slowly with a hint of cinnamon.)

This was the general trend for each type of behavior that produced new topics in my feed. I visited a few websites about car repair, Google threw some cards about the topic in my Feed… none of which were sites I visited.

The only time I saw the same site I visited that appeared in my Discover Feed was ESPN for some of the sports queries I ran and which I visited every day. However, I think that was entirely accidental as both sites are top sources of content in their spaces.

Yes, some sites I visit regularly do appear in my feed in general. For example, there were some local news sites that I visited multiple times a day for the better part of a month so as to track COVID-19 in my area. I freely admit it was a compulsion. One that Google picked up on.

In other words, it took a heck of a lot for Google to think I wanted that specific site or sites in my feed. Moreover, it would seem that Google doesn’t want to simply show content from the URLs you visit unless the signal otherwise is immense.

This leads me to my next question…

Is Discover really an SEO issue?

What can you do to optimize for Google Discover? It’s almost an absurd question. I visited the same site every day and Google still didn’t include its URL in my feed. (Again, I am aware that certain behaviors will trigger a specific URL, my point is that Google is not as apt to do so as you might think.) It all points to a certain lack of control. It all points to Google specifically not wanting to pigeon-hole the content it shows in Discover.

In other words, you can’t create content specifically for Discover. There’s no such concept. There’s no such control. There is no set of standardized “ranking signals” that you can try to optimize for.

Optimizing your images to make sure they’re high-quality or ensuring they’re at least 1,200 pixels wide and so forth isn’t really “optimizing” for Discover. It’s merely making yourself eligible to get into the ballpark. There is no standardized path to actually get on the field.

The entire idea of Discover is to offer content that’s specifically relevant to one user and all of their various idiosyncrasies. The notion of “optimizing” for something like that almost doesn’t compute.

Like with optimizing your images for Discover, all you can really do is position yourself.

And how does one position themselves for inclusion into the Discover Feed?

One of the sites that kept popping up in my feed was This makes sense as I was searching for things related to the Dallas Cowboys and clicking on all sorts of results as a consequence. However, in my “travels” I specifically did not visit Yet, once Google saw I was interested in the Cowboys, it was one of the first sites I was served with.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see why. What other site is more relevant and more authoritative than the official site of the franchise?

If you want your site to be included in Discover, you need to be incredibly relevant and authoritative on whatever it is your site deals with.

That means investing time and resources into creating unique and substantial content. It means crafting an entire strategy around creating topical identity. After all, the idea is to get Google to understand that your site deals with a given topic, deals with it in-depth, and deals with it often (i.e., the topic is closely related to who you are as a site).

That sounds a heck of a lot more like “content marketing” than pure SEO, at least it does to me.

A cross-discipline marketing mind meld

Discover, to me, is the poster child for the merging of pure content creation and SEO. It speaks to the idea of needing a more abstract understanding of what a sound content strategy is, in order to be effective in the “Google-verse.”

It’s perhaps a different sort of motion than what you might typically find in the world of pure SEO. As opposed to diving into the minute details (be it a specific technical problem or a specific aspect of content optimization), Discover urges us to take a more holistic approach, to take a step back.

The way Discover is constructed advocates for a broader approach based on a meta-analysis of how a site is perceived by Google and what can be done to create a stronger profile. It’s almost the perfect blend of content, marketing, and an understanding of how Google works (SEO).


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The Who, What, Why, & How of Digital Marketing

With how accessible the internet is today, would you believe me if I told you the number of people who go online every day is still increasing?

It is. In fact, “constant” internet usage among adults increased by 5% in just the last three years, according to Pew Research. And although we say it a lot, the way people shop and buy really has changed along with it — meaning offline marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be.

Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means you need to meet them where they are already spending time: on the internet.

Enter digital marketing — in other words, any form of marketing that exists online.

At HubSpot, we talk a lot about inbound marketing as a really effective way to attract, engage, and delight customers online. But we still get a lot of questions from people all around the world about digital marketing. So, we decided to answer them. Click the links below to jump to each question, or keep reading to see how digital marketing is carries out today.

So, how do you define digital marketing today?

A seasoned inbound marketer might say inbound marketing and digital marketing are virtually the same thing, but there are some minor differences. And conversations with marketers and business owners in the U.S., U.K., Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, I’ve learned a lot about how those small differences are being observed across the world.

There are a few major benefits to digital marketing. Let’s dive into four of them, now.

1. You can target only the prospects most likely to purchase your product or service.

If you place an advertisement on TV, in a magazine, or on a billboard, you have limited control over who sees the ad. Of course, you can measure certain demographics — including the magazine’s typical readership, or the demographic of a certain neighborhood — but it’s still largely a shot in the dark.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, allows you to identify and target a highly-specific audience, and send that audience personalized, high-converting marketing messages.

For instance, you might take advantage of social media’s targeting features to show social media ads to a certain audience based on variables such as age, gender, location, interests, networks, or behaviors. Alternatively, you might use PPC or SEO strategies to serve ads to users who’ve shown interest in your product or service, or who’ve searched specific keywords that relate to your industry.

Ultimately, digital marketing enables you to conduct the research necessary to identify your buyer persona, and lets you refine your marketing strategy over time to ensure you’re reaching prospects most likely to buy. Best of all, digital marketing helps you market to sub-groups within your larger target audience. If you sell multiple products or services to different buyer personas, this is especially helpful.

2. It’s more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods.

Digital marketing enables you to track campaigns on a daily basis and decrease the amount of money you’re spending on a certain channel if it isn’t demonstrating high ROI. The same can’t be said for traditional forms of advertising. It doesn’t matter how your billboard performs — it still costs the same, whether or not it converts for you.

Plus, with digital marketing, you have complete control over where you choose to spend your money. Perhaps rather than paying for PPC campaigns, you choose to spend money on design software to create high-converting Instagram content. A digital marketing strategy allows you to continuously pivot, ensuring you’re never wasting money on channels that don’t perform well.

By and large, digital marketing is a more cost-effective solution, and provides you unique opportunities to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

For instance, if you work for a small business with a limited budget, you might try investing in social media, blogging, or SEO – three strategies that can give you high ROI even with minimal spend.

3. Digital marketing lets you outrank bigger players in your industry.

If you work for a small business, it’s likely difficult for you to compete with the major brands in your industry, many of which have millions of dollars to invest in television commercials or nationwide campaigns. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to outrank the big players through strategic digital marketing initiatives.

For instance, you might identify certain long-tail keywords that relate to your product or service, and create high-quality content to help you rank on search engines for those keywords. Search engines don’t care which brand is biggest — instead, search engines will prioritize content that resonates best with the target audience.

Additionally, social media enables you to reach new audiences through influencer marketing. I don’t personally follow any big brands on social media, but I do follow influencers who will occasionally showcase products or services they like — if you work for a small-to-medium sized company, this could be a good avenue to consider.

4. Digital marketing is measurable.

Digital marketing can give you a comprehensive, start-to-finish view of all the metrics that might matter to your company — including impressions, shares, views, clicks, and time on page. This is one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing. While traditional advertising can be useful for certain goals, its biggest limitation is measurability.

Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real time. If you’ve ever put an advertisement in a newspaper, you’ll know how difficult it is to estimate how many people actually flipped to that page and paid attention to your ad. There’s no surefire way to know if that ad was responsible for any sales at all.

On the other hand, with digital marketing, you can measure the ROI of pretty much any aspect of your marketing efforts.

Here are some examples:

Website Traffic

With digital marketing, you can see the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real time by using digital analytics software, available in marketing platforms like HubSpot.

You can also see how many pages they visited, what device they were using, and where they came from, amongst other digital analytics data.

This intelligence helps you to prioritize which marketing channels to spend more or less time on, based on the number of people those channels are driving to your website. For example, if only 10% of your traffic is coming from organic search, you know that you probably need to spend some time on SEO to increase that percentage.

With offline marketing, it’s very difficult to tell how people are interacting with your brand before they have an interaction with a salesperson or make a purchase. With digital marketing, you can identify trends and patterns in people’s behavior before they’ve reached the final stage in their buyer’s journey, meaning you can make more informed decisions about how to attract them to your website right at the top of the marketing funnel.

Content Performance and Lead Generation

Imagine you’ve created a product brochure and posted it through people’s letterboxes — that brochure is a form of content, albeit offline. The problem is that you have no idea how many people opened your brochure or how many people threw it straight into the trash.

Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where it’s hosted, and you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you’re also generating qualified leads when people download it.

Attribution Modeling

An effective digital marketing strategy combined with the right tools and technologies allows you to trace all of your sales back to a customer’s first digital touchpoint with your business.

We call this attribution modeling, and it allows you to identify trends in the way people research and buy your product, helping you to make more informed decisions about what parts of your marketing strategy deserve more attention, and what parts of your sales cycle need refining.

Connecting the dots between marketing and sales is hugely important — according to Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate, compared to a 4% decline in revenue for companies with poor alignment. If you can improve your customer’s’ journey through the buying cycle by using digital technologies, then it’s likely to reflect positively on your business’s bottom line.

At this stage, digital marketing is vital for your business and brand awareness. It seems like every other brand has a website. And if they don’t, they at least have a social media presence or digital ad strategy. Digital content and marketing is so common that consumers now expect and rely on it as a way to learn about brands.

Long story short, to be competitive as a business owner, you’ll need to embrace some aspects of digital marketing.

Because digital marketing has so many options and strategies associated with it, you can get creative and experiment with a variety of marketing tactics on a budget. With digital marketing, you can also use tools like analytics dashboards to monitor the success and ROI of your campaigns more than you could with a traditional promotional content — such as a billboard or print ad.

How does a business define digital marketing?

Digital marketing is defined by the use of numerous digital tactics and channels to connect with customers where they spend much of their time: online. From the website itself to a business’s online branding assets — digital advertising, email marketing, online brochures, and beyond — there’s a spectrum of tactics that fall under the umbrella of “digital marketing.”

The best digital marketers have a clear picture of how each digital marketing campaign supports their overarching goals. And depending on the goals of their marketing strategy, marketers can support a larger campaign through the free and paid channels at their disposal.

A content marketer, for example, can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new ebook the business recently created. The company’s social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business’s social media accounts. Perhaps the email marketer creates an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company. We’ll talk more about these specific digital marketers in a minute.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common digital marketing tactics and the channels involved in each one.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is the process of optimizing your website to “rank” higher in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives. The channels that benefit from SEO include websites, blogs, and infographics.

There are a number of ways to approach SEO in order to generate qualified traffic to your website. These include:

  • On page SEO: This type of SEO focuses on all of the content that exists “on the page” when looking at a website. By researching keywords for their search volume and intent (or meaning), you can answer questions for readers and rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) those questions produce.
  • Off page SEO: This type of SEO focuses on all of the activity that takes place “off the page” when looking to optimize your website. “What activity not on my own website could affect my ranking?” You might ask. The answer is inbound links, also known as backlinks. The number of publishers that link to you, and the relative “authority” of those publishers, affect how highly you rank for the keywords you care about. By networking with other publishers, writing guest posts on these websites (and linking back to your website), and generating external attention, you can earn the backlinks you need to move your website up on all the right SERPs.
  • Technical SEO: This type of SEO focuses on the backend of your website, and how your pages are coded. Image compression, structured data, and CSS file optimization are all forms of technical SEO that can increase your website’s loading speed — an important ranking factor in the eyes of search engines like Google.

2. Content Marketing

This term denotes the creation and promotion of content assets for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, and customers. The channels that can play a part in your content marketing strategy include:

  • Blog posts: Writing and publishing articles on a company blog helps you demonstrate your industry expertise and generates organic search traffic for your business. This ultimately gives you more opportunities to convert website visitors into leads for your sales team.
  • Ebooks and whitepapers: Ebooks, whitepapers, and similar long-form content helps further educate website visitors. It also allows you to exchange content for a reader’s contact information, generating leads for your company and moving people through the buyer’s journey.
  • Infographics: Sometimes, readers want you to show, not tell. Infographics are a form of visual content that helps website visitors visualize a concept you want to help them learn.

Want to learn and apply content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page.

3. Social Media Marketing

This practice promotes your brand and your content on social media channels to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads for your business. The channels you can use in social media marketing include:

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Instagram.
  • Snapchat.
  • Pinterest.

If you’re new to social platforms, you can use tools like HubSpot to connect channels like LinkedIn and Facebook in one place. This way, you can easily schedule content for multiple channels at once, and monitor analytics from the platform as well.

On top of connecting social accounts for posting purposes, you can also integrate your social media inboxes into HubSpot, so you can get your direct messages in one place.

4. Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC is a method of driving traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked. One of the most common types of PPC is Google Ads, which allows you to pay for top slots on Google’s search engine results pages at a price “per click” of the links you place. Other channels where you can use PPC include:

  • Paid ads on Facebook: Here, users can pay to customize a video, image post, or slideshow, which Facebook will publish to the newsfeeds of people who match your business’s audience.
  • Twitter Ads campaigns: Here, users can pay to place a series of posts or profile badges to the news feeds of a specific audience, all dedicated to accomplish a specific goal for your business. This goal can be website traffic, more Twitter followers, tweet engagement, or even app downloads.
  • Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn: Here, users can pay to send messages directly to specific LinkedIn users based on their industry and background.

5. Affiliate Marketing

This is a type of performance-based advertising where you receive commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website. Affiliate marketing channels include:

6. Native Advertising

Native advertising refers to advertisements that are primarily content-led and featured on a platform alongside other, non-paid content. BuzzFeed-sponsored posts are a good example, but many people also consider social media advertising to be “native” — Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, for example.

7. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation refers to the software that serves to automate your basic marketing operations. Many marketing departments can automate repetitive tasks they would otherwise do manually, such as:

  • Email newsletters: Email automation doesn’t just allow you to automatically send emails to your subscribers. It can also help you shrink and expand your contact list as needed so your newsletters are only going to the people who want to see them in their inboxes.
  • Social media post scheduling: If you want to grow your organization’s presence on a social network, you need to post frequently. This makes manual posting a bit of an unruly process. Social media scheduling tools push your content to your social media channels for you, so you can spend more time focusing on content strategy.
  • Lead-nurturing workflows: Generating leads, and converting those leads into customers, can be a long process.You can automate that process by sending leads specific emails and content once they fit certain criteria, such as when they download and open an ebook.
  • Campaign tracking and reporting:Marketing campaigns can include a ton of different people, emails, content, webpages, phone calls, and more. Marketing automation can help you sort everything you work on by the campaign it’s serving, and then track the performance of that campaign based on the progress all of these components make over time.

8. Email Marketing

Companies use email marketing as a way of communicating with their audiences. Email is often used to promote content, discounts and events, as well as to direct people toward the business’s website. The types of emails you might send in an email marketing campaign include:

  • Blog subscription newsletters.
  • Follow-up emails to website visitors who downloaded something.
  • Customer welcome emails.
  • Holiday promotions to loyalty program members.
  • Tips or similar series emails for customer nurturing.

9. Online PR

Online PR is the practice of securing earned online coverage with digital publications, blogs, and other content-based websites. It’s much like traditional PR, but in the online space. The channels you can use to maximize your PR efforts include:

  • Reporter outreach via social media: Talking to journalists on Twitter, for example, is a great way to develop a relationship with the press that produces earned media opportunities for your company.
  • Engaging online reviews of your company: When someone reviews your company online, whether that review is good or bad, your instinct might be not to touch it. On the contrary, engaging company reviews helps you humanize your brand and deliver powerful messaging that protects your reputation.
  • Engaging comments on your personal website or blog: Similar to the way you’d respond to reviews of your company, responding to the people who are reading your content is the best way to generate productive conversation around your industry.

10. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing refers to a marketing methodology wherein you attract, engage, and delight customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can use every digital marketing tactic listed above, throughout an inbound marketing strategy, to create a customer experience that works with the customer, not against them. Here are some classic examples of inbound marketing versus traditional marketing:

  • Blogging vs. pop-up ads
  • Video marketing vs. commercial advertising
  • Email contact lists vs. email spam

11. Sponsored Content

With sponsored content, you as a brand pay another company or entity to create and promote content that discusses your brand or service in some way.

One popular type of sponsored content is influencer marketing. With this type of sponsored content, a brand sponsors an influencer in its industry to publish posts or videos related to the company on social media.

Another type of sponsored content could be a blog post or article that is written to highlight a topic, service, or brand.

To learn more about sponsored content, check out this blog post.

1. Lego’s Rebuild the World Campaign

This is a great example of a digital marketing campaign because it says something about the brand. In this campaign, Lego takes a stance on important global issues as a way to connect with its audience.

In this day and age, it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to discuss global issues and show align with their customers in that way. The major play with this campaign is to help share the brand’s story and messaging.

Given that 89% of customers shop from brands that share their values, this was a good move for the toy brand.

2. Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign

This is one of my favorite digital marketing campaigns. In the Dove Real Beauty campaign, Dove had a forensic artist draw women as they saw themselves and then as strangers saw them.

This is an excellent example of what marketing content will look like when you know your audience intimately. By knowing its audience of real women, Dove was able to start a movement. In fact, this video has over 68 million views on YouTube.

The powerful video barely mentioned the product, but inspired women around the world.

3. Jennifer Lopez’s #InTheMorningChallenge

In this social media campaign, Jennifer Lopez created a dance challenge to promote her new song. With this challenge, fans would do the same dance in their pajamas and in dress up clothes.

This was a successful social media campaign as the video had over 13 million views and over 5,000 posts.

Using social media is a great way to engage your audience and get them to participate with your brand one on one.

4. Always’ #LikeAGirl Campaign

This is another digital campaign that focuses on emotional marketing. With this campaign, Always wanted to teach girls and young women how to be confident and take back the phrase “like a girl.”

Again, this isn’t a campaign where the product is mentioned much, but that isn’t the point. The point of this digital campaign was to inspire its audience. With that message, they could reach even more people, increase brand awareness, and show their audience that the brand aligns with their values.

What does a digital marketer do?

Digital marketers are in charge of driving brand awareness and lead generation through all the digital channels — both free and paid — that are at a company’s disposal. These channels include social media, the company’s own website, search engine rankings, email, display advertising, and the company’s blog.

The digital marketer usually focuses on a different key performance indicator (KPI) for each channel so they can properly measure the company’s performance across each one. A digital marketer who’s in charge of SEO, for example, measures their website’s “organic traffic” — of that traffic coming from website visitors who found a page of the business’s website via a Google search.

Digital marketing is carried out across many marketing roles today. In small companies, one generalist might own many of the digital marketing tactics described above at the same time. In larger companies, these tactics have multiple specialists that each focus on just one or two of the brand’s digital channels.

Here are some examples of these specialists:

SEO Manager

Main KPIs: Organic traffic

In short, SEO managers get the business to rank on Google. Using a variety of approaches to search engine optimization, this person might work directly with content creators to ensure the content they produce performs well on Google — even if the company also posts this content on social media.

Content Marketing Specialist

Main KPIs: Time on page, overall blog traffic, YouTube channel subscribers

Content marketing specialists are the digital content creators. They frequently keep track of the company’s blogging calendar, and come up with a content strategy that includes video as well. These professionals often work with people in other departments to ensure the products and campaigns the business launches are supported with promotional content on each digital channel.

Social Media Manager

Main KPIs: Follows, Impressions, Shares

The role of a social media manager is easy to infer from the title, but which social networks they manage for the company depends on the industry. Above all, social media managers establish a posting schedule for the company’s written and visual content. This employee might also work with the content marketing specialist to develop a strategy for which content to post on which social network.

(Note: Per the KPIs above, “impressions” refers to the number of times a business’s posts appear on the newsfeed of a user.)

Marketing Automation Coordinator

Main KPIs: Email open rate, campaign click-through rate, lead-generation (conversion) rate

The marketing automation coordinator helps choose and manage the software that allows the whole marketing team to understand their customers’ behavior and measure the growth of their business. Because many of the marketing operations described above might be executed separately from one another, it’s important for there to be someone who can group these digital activities into individual campaigns and track each campaign’s performance.

Inbound Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: Which Is It?

On the surface, the two seem similar: Both occur primarily online, and both focus on creating digital content for people to consume. So what’s the difference?

The term “digital marketing” doesn’t differentiate between push and pull marketing tactics (or what we might now refer to as ‘inbound’ and ‘outbound’ methods). Both can still fall under the umbrella of digital marketing.

Digital outbound tactics aim to put a marketing message directly in front of as many people as possible in the online space — regardless of whether it’s relevant or welcomed. For example, the garish banner ads you see at the top of many websites try to push a product or promotion onto people who aren’t necessarily ready to receive it.

On the other hand, marketers who employ digital inbound tactics use online content to attract their target customers onto their websites by providing assets that are helpful to them. One of the simplest yet most powerful inbound digital marketing assets is a blog, which allows your website to capitalize on the terms which your ideal customers are searching for.

Ultimately, inbound marketing is a methodology that uses digital marketing assets to attract, engage, and delight customers online. Digital marketing, on the other hand, is simply an umbrella term to describe online marketing tactics of any kind, regardless of whether they’re considered inbound or outbound.

Does digital marketing work for all businesses?

Digital marketing can work for any business in any industry. Regardless of what your company sells, digital marketing still involves building out buyer personas to identify your audience’s needs, and creating valuable online content. However, that’s not to say all businesses should implement a digital marketing strategy in the same way.

B2B Digital Marketing

If your company is business-to-business (B2B), your digital marketing efforts are likely to be centered around online lead generation, with the end goal being for someone to speak to a salesperson. For that reason, the role of your marketing strategy is to attract and convert the highest quality leads for your salespeople via your website and supporting digital channels.

Beyond your website, you’ll probably choose to focus your efforts on business-focused channels like LinkedIn where your demographic is spending their time online.

B2C Digital Marketing

If your company is business-to-consumer (B2C), depending on the price point of your products, it’s likely that the goal of your digital marketing efforts is to attract people to your website and have them become customers without ever needing to speak to a salesperson.

For that reason, you’re probably less likely to focus on ‘leads’ in their traditional sense, and more likely to focus on building an accelerated buyer’s journey, from the moment someone lands on your website, to the moment that they make a purchase. This will often mean your product features in your content higher up in the marketing funnel than it might for a B2B business, and you might need to use stronger calls-to-action (CTAs).

For B2C companies, channels like Instagram and Pinterest can often be more valuable than business-focused platforms LinkedIn.

What types of digital content should I create?

The kind of content you create depends on your audience’s needs at different stages in the buyer’s journey. You should start by creating buyer personas (use these free templates, or try to identify what your audience’s goals and challenges are in relation to your business. On a basic level, your online content should aim to help them meet these goals, and overcome their challenges.

Then, you’ll need to think about when they’re most likely to be ready to consume this content in relation to what stage they’re at in their buyer’s journey. We call this content mapping.

With content mapping, the goal is to target content according to:

  1. The characteristics of the person who will be consuming it (that’s where buyer personas come in).
  2. How close that person is to making a purchase (i.e., their lifecycle stage).

In terms of the format of your content, there are a lot of different things to try. Here are some options we’d recommend using at each stage of the buyer’s journey:

Awareness Stage

  • Blog posts. Great for increasing your organic traffic when paired with a strong SEO and keyword strategy.
  • Infographics. Very shareable, meaning they increase your chances of being found via social media when others share your content. (Check out these free infographic templates to get you started.)
  • Short videos. Again, these are very shareable and can help your brand get found by new audiences by hosting them on platforms like YouTube.

Consideration Stage

  • Ebooks. Great for lead generation as they’re generally more comprehensive than a blog post or infographic, meaning someone is more likely to exchange their contact information to receive it.
  • Research reports. Again, this is a high value content piece which is great for lead generation. Research reports and new data for your industry can also work for the awareness stage though, as they’re often picked-up by the media or industry press.
  • Webinars. As they’re a more detailed, interactive form of video content, webinars are an effective consideration stage content format as they offer more comprehensive content than a blog post or short video.

Decision Stage

  • Case studies. Having detailed case studies on your website can be an effective form of content for those who are ready to make a purchasing decision, as it helps you positively influence their decision.
  • Testimonials. If case studies aren’t a good fit for your business, having short testimonials around your website is a good alternative. For B2C brands, think of testimonials a little more loosely. If you’re a clothing brand, these might take the form of photos of how other people styled a shirt or dress, pulled from a branded hashtag where people can contribute.

1. Define your goals.

When you’re first getting started with digital marketing, it’s critical you start by identifying and defining your goals, since you’ll craft your strategy differently depending on those goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you might want to pay more attention to reaching new audiences via social media.

Alternatively, perhaps you want to increase sales on a specific product — if that’s the case, it’s more important you focus on SEO and optimizing content to get potential buyers on your website in the first place. Additionally, if sales is your goal, you might test out PPC campaigns to drive traffic through paid ads.

Whatever the case, it’s easiest to shape a digital marketing strategy after you’ve determined your company’s biggest goals.

2. Identify your target audience.

We’ve mentioned this before, but one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is the opportunity to target specific audiences – however, you can’t take advantage of that benefit if you haven’t first identified your target audience.

Of course, it’s important to note, your target audience might vary depending on the channel or goal(s) you have for a specific product or campaign.

For instance, perhaps you’ve noticed most of your Instagram audience is younger and prefers funny memes and quick videos — but your LinkedIn audience tends to be older professionals who are looking for more tactical advice. You’ll want to vary your content to appeal to these different target audiences.

If you’re starting from scratch, feel free to take a look at How to Find Your Target Audience.

3. Establish a budget for each digital channel.

As with anything, the budget you determine really depends on what elements of digital marketing you’re looking to add to your strategy.

If you’re focusing on inbound techniques like SEO, social media, and content creation for a preexisting website, the good news is you don’t need very much budget at all. With inbound marketing, the main focus is on creating high quality content that your audience will want to consume, which unless you’re planning to outsource the work, the only investment you’ll need is your time.

You can get started by hosting a website and creating content using HubSpot’s CMS. For those on a tight budget, you can get started using WordPress hosted on WP Engine, using a simple them from StudioPress, and building your site without code using the Elementor Website Builder for WordPress.

With outbound techniques like online advertising and purchasing email lists, there is undoubtedly some expense. What it costs comes down to what kind of visibility you want to receive as a result of the advertising.

For example, to implement PPC using Google AdWords, you’ll bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google’s search results for keywords associated with your business. Depending on the competitiveness of the keyword, this can be reasonably affordable, or extremely expensive, which is why it’s a good idea to focus building your organic reach, too.

4. Strike a good balance between paid and free digital strategies.

An digital marketing strategy likely needs both paid and free aspects to truly be effective.

For instance, if you spend time building comprehensive buyer personas to identify the needs of your audience, and you focus on creating quality online content to attract and convert them, then you’re likely to see strong results within the first six months despite minimal ad spend.

However, if paid advertising is part of your digital strategy, then the results might come even quicker.

Ultimately, it’s recommended to focus on building your organic (or ‘free’) reach using content, SEO, and social media for more long-term, sustainable success.

When in doubt, try both, and iterate on your process as you learn which channels — paid or free – perform best for your brand.

5. Create engaging content.

Once you know your audience and you have a budget, it’s time to start creating content for the various channels you’re going to use. This content can be social media posts, blog posts, PPC ads, sponsored content, email marketing newsletters, and more.

Of course, any content you create should be interesting and engaging to your audience because the point of marketing content is to increase brand awareness and improve lead generation.

6. Optimize your digital assets for mobile.

Another key component of digital marketing is mobile marketing. In fact, smartphone usage as a whole accounts for 69% of time spent consuming digital media in the U.S., while desktop-based digital media consumption makes up less than half — and the U.S. still isn’t mobile’s biggest fan compared to other countries.

This means it’s essential to optimize your digital ads, web pages, social media images, and other digital assets for mobile devices. If your company has a mobile app that enables users to engage with your brand or shop your products, your app falls under the digital marketing umbrella, too.

Those engaging with your company online via mobile devices need to have the same positive experience as they would on desktop. This means implementing a mobile-friendly or responsive website design to make browsing user-friendly for those on mobile devices. It might also mean reducing the length of your lead generation forms to create a hassle-free experience for people downloading your content on-the-go. As for your social media images, it’s important to always have a mobile user in mind when creating them, as image dimensions are smaller on mobile devices and text can be cut-off.

There are lots of ways you can optimize your digital marketing assets for mobile users, and when implementing any digital marketing strategy, it’s hugely important to consider how the experience will translate on mobile devices. By ensuring this is always front-of-mind, you’ll be creating digital experiences that work for your audience, and consequently achieve the results you’re hoping for.

7. Conduct keyword research.

Digital marketing is all about reaching targeted audiences through personalized content — all of which can’t happen without effective keyword research.

Conducting keyword research is critical for optimizing your website and content for SEO and ensuring people can find your business through search engines. Additionally, social media keyword research can be helpful for marketing your products or services on various social channels, as well.

Even if you don’t have a full-time SEO strategist, you’ll still want to conduct keyword research. Try creating a list of high-performing keywords that relate to your products or services, and consider long-tail variations for added opportunities.

8. Iterate based off the analytics you measure.

Finally, to create an effective digital marketing strategy for the long-term, it’s vital your team learn how to pivot based off analytics.

For instance, perhaps after a couple of months you find your audience isn’t as interested in your content on Instagram anymore — but they love what you’re creating on Twitter. Sure, this might be an opportunity to re-examine your Instagram strategy as a whole, but it might also be a sign that your audience prefers a different channel to consume branded content.

Alternatively, perhaps you find an older web page isn’t getting the traffic it used to. You might consider updating the page or getting rid of it entirely to ensure visitors are finding the freshest, most relevant content for their needs.

Digital marketing provides businesses with incredibly flexible opportunities for continuous growth — but it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

I’m ready to try digital marketing. Now what?

If you’re already doing digital marketing, it’s likely that you’re at least reaching some segments of your audience online. No doubt you can think of some areas of your strategy that could use a little improvement, though.

That’s why we created Why Digital Marketing? The Essential Guide to Marketing Your Brand Online — a step-by-step guide to help you build a digital marketing strategy that’s truly effective, whether you’re a complete beginner or have a little more experience. You can download it for free here.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in September 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from

The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words

Editor’s Note: Spam filters have become much more sophisticated than the subject line triggers listed in this post. For a more up-to-date guide to email marketing, check out our free guide to creating email newsletters people actually read here.

Writing the subject lines for your emails can be one of the most stressful steps of email marketing. Is it engaging? Too short? Too long? Too boring? Will people click ‘delete’ because of it? Or will they open it? Will it even get to them, or will it trigger SPAM filters? It’s the last of these concerns that we’re here to help with today. 

SPAM filters can be triggered for a variety of reasons, causing your email to skip recipients’ inboxes and land straight in their SPAM box. One of easiest ways to avoid SPAM filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email’s subject line. Trigger words are known to cause problems and increase the chances of your email getting caught in a SPAM trap. By avoiding these words in your email subject lines, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting beyond SPAM filters.

Next time you sit down to write an email subject line, consult the exhaustive list below and make sure you aren’t using any words that will get you in trouble. In fact, you might want to bookmark this list so you can refer back to it every time you craft an email subject line. Back off, SPAM filters!

Email Spam Words to Avoid


As seen on Buy Buy direct
Buying judgments Clearance Order
Order status Orders shipped by shopper


Dig up dirt on friends  Meet singles  Score with babes


Additional Income Be your own boss Compete for your business
Double your Earn $ Earn extra cash
Earn per week  Expect to earn  Extra income
Home based Home employment Homebased business
Income from home Make $ Make money
Money making Online biz opportunity Online degree
Opportunity  Potential earnings  University diplomas
While you sleep  Work at home  Work from home

Financial – General

$$$ Affordable Bargain
Beneficiary Best price Big bucks 
Cash Cash bonus  Cashcashcash
Cents on the dollar  Cheap Check
Claims Collect Compare rates
Cost Credit Credit bureaus 
Discount Earn Easy terms 
F r e e Fast cash For just $XXX
Hidden assets  hidden charges Income
Incredible deal Insurance  Investment
Loans Lowest price  Million dollars
Money Money back Mortgage
Mortgage rates  No cost No fees 
One hundred percent free  Only $  Pennies a day 
Price Profits  Pure profit
Quote Refinance Save $
Save big money Save up to Serious cash
Subject to credit They keep your money — no refund!  Unsecured credit
Unsecured debt US dollars Why pay more? 

Financial – Business

Accept Credit Cards Cards accepted Check or money order 
Credit card offers  Explode your business Full refund 
Investment decision  No credit check  No hidden Costs
No investment Requires initial investment Sent in compliance
Stock alert  Stock disclaimer statement  Stock pick 

Financial – Personal

Avoid bankruptcy Calling creditors Collect child support
Consolidate debt and credit Consolidate your debt Eliminate bad credit 
Eliminate debt Financially independent Get out of debt
Get paid  Lower interest rate Lower monthly payment 
Lower your mortgage rate Lowest insurance rates Pre-approved
Refinance home  Social security number  Your income


Acceptance Accordingly Avoid
Chance Dormant Freedom
Here Hidden Home
Leave Lifetime Lose
Maintained Medium Miracle
Never Passwords Problem
Remove Reverses Sample
Satisfaction Solution Stop
Success Teen Wife


Dear [email/friend/somebody]  Friend Hello


Ad Auto email removal  Bulk email
Click Click below Click here
Click to remove  Direct email  Direct marketing 
Email harvest  Email marketing  Form
Increase sales  Increase traffic  Increase your sales
Internet market Internet marketing Marketing
Marketing solutions  Mass email  Member
Month trial offer More Internet Traffic Multi level marketing
Notspam One time mailing  Online marketing
Open Opt in Performance
Removal instructions Sale Sales
Search engine listings Search engines Subscribe
The following form This isn’t junk  This isn’t spam 
Undisclosed recipient Unsubscribe Visit our website
We hate spam  Web traffic Will not believe your eyes 


Cures baldness  Diagnostics Fast Viagra delivery
Human growth hormone Life Insurance Lose weight
Lose weight spam  Medicine No medical exams
Online pharmacy  Removes wrinkles Reverses aging
Stop snoring  Valium Viagra
Vicodin Weight loss Xanax


#1 100% free 100% Satisfied
4U 50% off Billion
Billion dollars  Join millions Join millions of Americans 
Million One hundred percent guaranteed  Thousands


Being a member Billing address  Call
Cannot be combined with any other offer  Confidentially on all orders  Deal
Financial freedom  Gift certificate Giving away
Guarantee  Have you been turned down?  If only it were that easy
Important information regarding In accordance with laws Long distance phone offer
Mail in order form  Message contains Name brand 
Nigerian  No age restrictions  No catch 
No claim forms  No disappointment  No experience 
No gimmick  No inventory  No middleman
No obligation No purchase necessary No questions asked
No selling No strings attached No-obligation
Not intended  Obligation Off shore
Offer Per day Per week
Priority mail Prize Prizes
Produced and sent out  Reserves the right Shopping spree 
Stuff on sale Terms and conditions The best rates
They’re just giving it away Trial unlimited
Unsolicited Vacation Vacation offers
Warranty We honor all  Weekend getaway 
What are you waiting for?  Who really wins?  Win
Winner  Winning  won
You are a winner! You have been selected  You’re a Winner!


Cancel at any time  Compare Copy accurately 
Get Give it away Print form signature
Print out and fax  See for yourself Sign up free today 


Free Free access  Free cell phone 
Free consultation  Free DVD  Free gift
Free grant money Free hosting Free installation 
Free Instant Free investment  Free leads 
Free membership  Free money  Free offer 
Free preview  Free priority mail  Free quote 
Free sample  Free trial  Free website 


All natural All new Amazing 
Certified Congratulations  Drastically reduced 
Fantastic deal  For free  Guaranteed
It’s effective Outstanding values  Promise you
Real thing Risk free Satisfaction guaranteed 

Sense of Urgency

Access Act Now! Apply now
Apply Online  Call free  Call now 
Can’t live without Do it today Don’t delete 
Don’t hesitate For instant access  For Only
For you Get it now Get started now 
Great offer  Info you requested Information you requested
Instant limited time New customers only 
Now Now only Offer expires 
Once in lifetime  One time Only
Order now Order today Please read 
Special promotion  Supplies are limited Take action now
Time limited Urgent While supplies last 


Addresses on CD Beverage Bonus
Brand new pager  Cable converter  Casino 
Celebrity Copy DVDs  Laser printer 
Legal Luxury car  New domain extensions 
Phone Rolex Stainless steel 


Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Reblogged 1 year ago from

PPC trends, event-speaker partnerships, and Russia cracking down on Twitter; Thursday’s daily brief

Plus, why you should automate more PPC tasks

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

Google Is Retiring tCPA and tROAS Bidding Strategies

Google is retiring Target CPA and Target ROAS bidding strategies, instead layering a tCPA and tROAS threshold with Maximize Conversions and Maximize Conversions Value respectively.


Reblogged 1 year ago from

On-page SEO: a handy checklist to tick off in 2021 and beyond

30-second summary:

  • On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages and content for search engine crawlers
  • It involves a lot of moving parts, so it’s easy to forget some elements or tweak them incorrectly
  • This quick checklist will help you keep all the various on-page SEO elements on track

On-page SEO is basically a set of techniques and best practices for your web pages to make them more search-engine friendly and thus, boost your rankings.

Now, as you know, keywords are at the heart of nearly everything on-page SEO. But on-page optimization involves a lot of elements — not just keywords — so it’s easy to overlook some of them.

To make it easy for you to ensure all your pages are correctly optimized for the best possible rankings, here’s a handy checklist to tick off.


Review the URLs of all pages on your site to ensure they’re concise rather than long and complex. Shorter URLs tend to have better click-through rates and are more easily understood by search engine crawlers.

Include your page’s primary keyword in the URL, remove filler (aka stop) words like “the”, “for”, and “to”, and keep it under 60 characters.


Your website is likely brimming with images, and that’s a good thing as images contribute significantly to improving both user experience and rankings. They make your content more easy-to-consume, engaging, and memorable, and when optimized correctly, help you drive more traffic to your website.

To optimize your images for on-page SEO, here are a couple of things to ensure:

Image filename and alt text

Google bots can’t “see” images like humans. They need accompanying text to understand what the image is about. So, write a descriptive filename (“blue-running-shoes.jpg” instead of “82596173.jpg”) and alt text (which helps in case the image fails to load for some reason) for every image on your site, including keywords in both.

Alt text also helps make your website more accessible, as screen readers use the alt text to describe images to visually-challenged users. In fact, it’s prudent to test your website’s accessibility to ensure you don’t ever have to cough up big bucks for ADA lawsuit settlements.

Image file size

Page speed is a major ranking signal for both desktop and mobile searches, and bulky images slow down your site’s load speed. So make sure to compress all images to reduce their size — ideally under 70 kb.

Titles and meta descriptions

See to it that you’ve included your main keywords in the front of the title tags of all pages. Ensure the length of your title tags is under 60-65 characters and no longer than 70 characters, otherwise, it may get truncated in the SERPs.

Also, the title should be the only element wrapped in the H1 heading tag. In other words, only one H1 tag per page that’s reserved for the title.

For meta descriptions, just ensure you have written a keyword-rich and inviting meta description that is relevant to your user’s search intent. Keep it under 160 characters for all your pages. If you don’t, Google will pick some relevant text from the page and display it as the meta description in the SERP, which isn’t ideal for SEO.

Page load speed

Speed is a major ranking factor you just can’t afford to overlook. If your pages take anything over two to three seconds to load, your visitors will bounce to a competitor, and achieving first page rankings will remain a dream.

Thus, verify that:

  • Code is optimized with minified CSS and JS
  • There are no unnecessary redirects
  • You have compressed all images
  • You’ve enabled file compression and browser caching
  • Server response time is optimal

Regularly review your site speed using PageSpeed Insights to find out the exact areas that can be improved.

Links – internal and external

Ensure you have a proper linking strategy that you always follow. Both internal and external links play a role in your on-page SEO.

External links

Citing external sources and having outbound links is crucial for building credibility in the eyes of both Google crawlers and human visitors. However, make sure that you’re only linking back to high-quality websites and reliable sources.

Plus, ensure there are no broken (“404 not found”) links, as they hurt SEO and user experience. In case you may have a lot of site pages, it is best advised to create an engaging and easy-to-navigate 404 error page. This will help you retain site visitors and help them find relevant content/actions.

Internal links

Make sure to strategically interlink pages and content on your website. This helps crawlers to better understand and rank your content for the right keywords.

Internal linking also helps to guide visitors to relevant pages and keep them engaged.


All your blog posts and website copy play a pivotal role in on-page optimization. Besides ensuring your target keywords are sprinkled judiciously and naturally throughout your content title, URL, subheadings, and paras. Here are a couple of things to get right.

Structure and readability

Verify the structure of content on all pages. Make sure you’ve used keyword-optimized headings and subheadings – H1, H2, H3, and so on, to build a logical hierarchy, which improves the readability and crawlability of your content.


Studies suggest that longer, in-depth posts perform better than shorter ones when it comes to Google rankings. So, strive to have a word count of 2,000+ words in every piece of content.

Comprehensive, long-form content will also serve your audience better as it likely answers all their questions about the topic so they don’t have to look for more reading resources.

Over to you

With each new update to its core algorithm, Google is fast shifting its focus on rewarding websites with the best user experience.

But nailing your on-page optimization which ties closely with UX will continue to help you achieve top rankings and stay there. And so, keep this checklist handy as you work on your SEO in 2021 and beyond.

Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He can be found on Twitter @belanigaurav.

The post On-page SEO: a handy checklist to tick off in 2021 and beyond appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

Why You Should Delete a Bunch of Your Email Subscribers Right Now

You built up your list of subscribers. Now it’s time to remove a bunch of them. Because a clean email list can work wonders. 

In fact, cleaning your email list can improve three key metrics: deliverability, open rates and click rates. The better these metrics, the more successful your email marketing campaign will be.

That’s because a smaller list of engaged subscribers — people who actively read and interact with your content and brand — are more valuable than a larger list of subscribers who never open your content.

In fact, lists with numerous inactive email addresses typically have higher rates of bounces, spam complaints and unsubscribes than ones that don’t.

Plus, when you continue to send emails to people who don’t open them, internet service providers — like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo — penalize you. Do this often enough, and your emails may end up in their spam folders, which decreases deliverability to people who actually want to read your content.

So, yeah, email list hygiene is important

Want to succeed with email marketing? List cleanup is non-negotiable.

A healthy, well-maintained email list is the foundation for any successful email marketing program. If you’re spending the time and effort on your campaigns, you want to make sure you get results.

Unfortunately, the average email list depreciates over time – nearly 25% a year, according to MarketingSherpa. This is due to a combination of things: bounces, unsubscribes, email address changes. And if you’re not bringing in subscribers at the same rate as they leave, it can feel like your business is taking a hit.

How often should I clean my email list?

How often you should clean your email list will vary from company to company, and list to list. 

But a good rule of thumb is every six months — and definitely not longer than a year.

Or, if you want to keep your list squeaky clean year round, try cleaning your list every 3 months. 

How to clean your email list

Ready to say good-bye to inactive subscribers? Clean your list in 5 simple steps. 

Step 1: Think quality over quantity

A big list certainly seems impressive. There are dozens of blog posts and case studies out there touting strategies to go from 0 to 10,000 subscribers in no time. But not all of these list-building tactics are legit – buying an email list, for example, might get you subscribers, but it won’t get you the results you’re looking for.

Why? Because these subscribers never opted-in to receive your emails. They don’t know who you are and they most likely have no interest in buying what you’re selling – be prepared for your emails to go straight to the spam folder. Plus, if you’re using a reputable email service provider (like AWeber), purchased lists are totally off limits.

Wouldn’t you rather have a smaller, curated list of ideal subscribers who are super excited to read your emails? This would certainly bring joy to your email list – and your open rates.

Don’t give up on growing your list just yet! Check out this video for list building ideas that won’t harm your sender reputation and our free online list growth course to learn how to grow your list fast.

Step 2: Commit yourself to letting go

Letting go of clutter is hard to do. The same can be said for your subscribers. Cleaning up your list means having to part with subscribers that you spent time and money to acquire.

Keeping your goal in mind is a great way to stay focused. Are you sending to attain more sales? Readers? Connections? The people on your list should be the ones who help you achieve that goal.

Keep in mind that not only will a clean list mean more attentive readers, but your deliverability and open rates will improve, too. Talk about a win-win!

Step 3: Imagine your ideal subscriber

For us, the ideal subscriber is someone who looks forward to seeing your latest newsletter hit their inbox, engages with your newsletters, clicks through to your offers and shares your emails with friends. While these are the people you want to see on your list, you might find that there are different characteristics and traits among your specific audience.

Having a visual ideal for the type of people you want to send to plays a huge part in how you plan your email strategy. These personas will make sure your content, cadence and promotional strategy are all in check.

A good way to identify these subscribers is by sending out a survey. Ask questions about the type of content they’d like to receive and how frequently, as well as what they expect from your emails. With the feedback you receive, you can learn a lot about your list.

Step 4: Identify your inactive subscribers

Inactive subscribers are people who signed up for your email list, but haven’t opened any of your emails in a long time – or possibly ever. And we always seem to make excuses for keeping these people on our lists.

There are lots of reasons why these perfectly valid subscribers go dark: they no longer need your products or services, they don’t have time to check all of their emails or maybe they just aren’t interested. Sometimes people sign up for a one-time incentive offer but have no intentions on purchasing from you again.

Fortunately, your inactive subscribers aren’t too hard to spot. Simply take a look at your subscriber stats to see who opens your emails and who doesn’t. People who open but don’t click aren’t necessarily a lost cause – they’re showing some interest in your brand, but maybe the content doesn’t completely resonate. It might be a good option to segment them out from those who don’t engage at all, and follow up with more targeted content.

Cleaning up your list from inactives isn’t easy. It’s hard to part with your subscribers! Before you remove these people from your list, try running a reactivation campaign to give them a second chance and increase engagement. If they still aren’t opening your emails, it’s time to let go.

Step 5: Spark some joy

Email marketers can take a page from Marie Kondo’s playbook — that is, her New York Times #1 best-selling book (and popular Netflix show), The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Rather than give a laundry list of items to throw away, she encourages us to focus on what we want to keep.

Keep your list healthy and maintained by delighting your subscribers with relevant content. After all, these are your ride-or-die subscribers. You should be showing them as much attention (if not more) than your prospects.

Need some ideas for reigniting the spark with your subscribers? Try employing one of these tactics:

Send subscribers a special promo code or discount offer

promo code or discount engagement

Share helpful tips or hacks for using your product or service (bonus points for GIFs)

share helpful tips for engagement

Ask for feedback with a customer survey

Survey email eample

Reward customers who frequently purchase from you with a loyalty program

loyalty program email

But before you delete, try a re-engagement email campaign first…

Try a re-engagement email campaign to win back inactive subscribers before you clean your email list. It’s a lot less work to reach out to a current subscriber than it is to add a new one. 

1. Take a closer look at your inactive subscribers

How did they sign up? If, for instance, they subscribed after signing up for a free eBook or webinar, their interest may have waned after they received their freebie. Look at the content you covered in the incentive you offered – can you send them similar content again?

2. Segment your list based on activity

Now it’s time to separate the active from the inactive. As mentioned earlier, you may want to take one extra step by segmenting the totally inactive from the semi-active, or those who have opened your emails but haven’t clicked your links.

3. Reach out to your inactive subscribers

There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Send a survey asking what they’d like to see from you in the future.
  • If you already have an idea of what kind of content they want, send them related content.
  • You can try sending them a freebie – an eBook, checklist or another electronic download – to remind them of your value.
  • For those who have opened your emails but haven’t made a purchase from you, a coupon might be the nudge they need.

For any reactivation message, keep these things in mind:

  • Your message should be super compelling and remind your subscribers why they signed up in the first place.
  • Your value proposition should align with the “What’s in it for me?” rule.
  • Make your subject line pops – remember, these are people who haven’t opened an email from you in a while.
  • Let readers know how they can reach you on other social sites. If a reader checks Facebook more than email, it makes more sense for them to stay in touch with you there.

4. If the inactive subscribers still aren’t biting, it’s time for a cut-off email

Send a message to those who were unresponsive to your reactivation email asking them to reconfirm their interest in your mailing list. Remind them about all the valuable content they’ll miss out on from you.

5. Remove those inactive subscribers

At this point, you’ve given your inactive subscribers plenty of chances to reconfirm their interest in your list. It’s time to say goodbye! It might hurt at first, but inactive subscribers can only hurt your email marketing. Here’s why:

  • They skew your email analytics in terms of opens rates and click throughs, hurting your deliverability and preventing you from getting an accurate picture of your emails’ success – and that negatively impacts your entire campaign.
  • You’re better off having a small list of active subscribers than a large list of dead email addresses.
  • It’s the best way to ensure the overall health of your email list.

Reactivating your inactive subscribers is one of the best ways to reinvigorate your email marketing performance.

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to delete inactive subscribers 

If your inactive subscribers still aren’t biting after a re-engagement campaign, it’s time to say goodbye. 

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to delete inactive subscribers for all AWeber customers.

(Not an AWeber customer yet? Create your FREE account today!)

1. Hover over the Subscribers tab and click Manage Subscribers.

AWeber Subscriber Management

2. Click the Select Option drop-down menu.

How to find unengaged subscribers

3. Click No Opens from the select field options.

4. Now, click the blank field to the right of No Opens and choose the date you’d like to search by. This will allow you to find all your subscribers who have not opened a message since that date. For instance, if you want to see who hasn’t opened your message in the last 30 days, choose a date 30 days ago.

No email opens in 30 days

Be sure to include another search term by clicking the + button. Choose Date Added, and date is before. Then pick the same date. This will ensure that newer subscribers who may not have gotten to your messages yet won’t be lumped together with the rest of the long-time inactives.

Deeper segmentation

5. Click the Search button, then scroll down to see the list of subscribers who haven’t opened your messages since the date you chose.

6. To delete these subscribers, check the Erase box in the upper left of the list of subscribers to mark them all to be deleted, then click Delete to remove them from your list permanently.

How to delete inactive subscribers

7. If you have multiple pages of subscribers, you can repeat this process to remove them all.

Make a mistake? Don’t worry: AWeber’s award-winning customer service team can restore deleted addresses within 30 days. But you should always download your original list into a CSV ahead of time just to keep a record.

So fresh, so clean.

There’s nothing better than the feeling of a clean email list. Have you employed some of these tactics in your email marketing strategy? What kind of results did you see?

Let us know in the comments or share your own ideas for keeping a healthy list!

Additional reporting by Jill Fanslau, Olivia Dello Buono, and Kristen Dunleavy.

The post Why You Should Delete a Bunch of Your Email Subscribers Right Now appeared first on AWeber.

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