Creating in-depth content is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Here’s a guide to ensure your long-form content efforts pay off.
There are many questions about content length in SEO and what ranks the best.
While Google says there’s no specific word count they recommend, some studies have shown that long-form content tends to rank higher than short-form.
If you’re interested in writing long-form content, you probably want to make sure it’s going to rank, get read, and convert so you create an ROI for your effort.
What is long-form content?
Most consider long-form content to be over 1,000 words. It’s a content piece that goes in-depth, offers extra value for the reader and includes more research, insights, and information than a quick read.
Long-form content should leave the reader feeling comfortable with the subject and as if their questions have been answered and they know what to do with the information or how it applies to them.
What should you include in long-form content?
You want to create content that helps your reader. Think about them and what they need or want to learn from this piece. What questions do they have?
It’s your responsibility to anticipate their questions and answer them in your work. If you’re unsure what questions they have, then think about what you want to ensure they know.
Use the following guide questions to identify which information is most important to help them get to the next stage:
What do they need to know?
Why do they need to know it?
What can they do with the information?
What baseline information should they know to make this make more sense?
What if they don’t have that baseline knowledge already?
How does this information impact them?
What’s their next step?
Don’t write a bunch of unnecessary fluff to try to hit some word count.
You must ensure you’re providing value and helping your ideal customer so they want to consume more of your content.
If you get them to the site but find nothing of value, they’ll be less likely to stay or return another time.
Write to tell a story and provide value rather than writing to an arbitrary word count. Your content will be better in the long run.
Where do you start when creating long-form content to rank, get read and convert?
To start, make sure there’s a conversion path for your reader. Your content pieces need to tie to your products or services to drive revenue and conversions.
If you’re answering questions for your potential customer and providing helpful information, they’re more likely to convert if you offer a solution to their issues. Be helpful, and link to additional information that might help them move to the next step.
If you have an opt-in that ties to this content piece and is the next step for them, offer it in your work. You’re helping them and building your email list at the same time.
If you want your content to convert, you need to make sure there’s a conversion path. Everything you write needs to somehow tie to your core products and services.
I teach my students to choose content pillars that link to their products and services and write about topics related to those subjects.
Creating a long-form content piece and ranking at the top of Google is great, but if it drives irrelevant traffic, it won’t convert, and that’s a waste of your efforts.
How do you make sure your long-form content ranks?
We all know we have no control over the Google ranking algorithm, but we also know how it works and what’s most important from an optimization standpoint.
First, verify there’s search demand for your topic idea, choose a keyword (or keywords) you can rank for, write for your audience, and finally, optimize your content piece.
Make sure there’s interest in your topic
Start by making sure there’s an audience for your content piece.
It may seem like a great idea to you. However, if no one is searching for information on the subject, it’s unlikely that you’ll get much traffic due to low demand.
That said, search volume is not the most critical factor in choosing a keyword, and we’ll talk more about that.
Brainstorm the topics you think you want to cover, and then go to Google and see what’s there today.
Who’s written on the subject you’re considering using for your content piece?
Is there already information on the topic?
Do you have a new angle, new insights, or something more to add to the conversation?
If not, this might not be the best topic. Search the topic and see what shows up in Google Suggested Search.
Is there something closely related to your topic that Google suggests, or are there questions related to it in the People Also Ask section?
If you see your topic idea in either of those places, that’s good because it means there’s interest in your potential topic.
Once you know your topic is viable, use your favorite keyword research tool to identify the keyword or keywords you want to target for this new long-form content piece.
Long-form pieces can rank for multiple keywords a bit easier than short-form pieces just due to the length of the content piece.
Choose your keywords wisely. Look for a primary keyword with good search volume and the ability for your website to rank on Page 1.
Choose your keywords
Go to Google and see who’s currently ranking on Page 1 for the keyword you’re considering using as your primary one.
Are the websites similar to yours?
Are they more prominent brands or companies?
How in-depth are the articles?
Can you provide additional insight or value (not just more words) than the sites currently ranking?
If you see other websites similar to yours and content pieces that you feel aren’t as in-depth or are missing information on the topic you want to write about, then you’re probably making a good choice in your keyword selection.
Choose the keyword with the highest search volume that your website has the best chance of ranking for and is the word your Ideal Customer uses when searching for information on this subject.
How to make sure your content gets read
Now it’s time to write. Go back to your brainstorming notes.
What information do you need to include to answer your readers’ questions?
Be sure you have that information. Sort it in a way that it’s easy to follow and understand so your reader wants to continue.
A long-form content piece is a time commitment for someone to read.
Thus, you must provide value, insights, statistics, and things that are unique from something else they might have read on the subject before – or they won’t continue reading.
Format your piece in a reader-friendly way. This is especially important with longer pieces. Consider:
Using bullets and lists – white space is your friend.
Using headers (suitable for SEO and your reader).
Breaking your text up into small, easy-to-read chunks.
Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.
It’s better to have many small paragraphs broken up with bullets and numbers than big blocks of text.
People will shy away from reading a piece if the content isn’t formatted in a reader-friendly way.
Your final step is to optimize your content piece
Use your keyword in all of your SEO elements. Make sure it’s in the first paragraph of the copy, which it should be since your keyword is closely tied to your content topic. In most instances, your keyword will be in the title of your piece.
Add your keyword to your URL, image file name, and header tags, and use it throughout your copy.
Focus on providing value, being helpful, and offering information your ideal customer needs rather than how often you use your keyword. You’ll use it naturally by concentrating on your reader.
Done right, long-form content is worth the investment
Long-form content can be a significant time investment. It takes longer to write in-depth pieces than quick bites or short-form.
However, the payoffs can be great. Long-form pieces often rank higher in the search results than short pieces.
And if you’re creating content with an audience, you can rank for and tie to your business, bring relevant traffic to your website, and hopefully, get the conversion.
It’s worth testing long-form content if you haven’t done it yet. Not every piece you write has to be long, but those most important to your business should be longer and more in-depth.
If you are interested in original article by Rachel Lindteigen you can find it here
Downplaying doorway pages can get you dinged. Here’s how doorway pages emerged, what Google thinks of them, and tips to avoid penalties.
I have an admission: I once created “doorway pages” on a large scale.
In my defense, this was years before Google existed. And, it was not considered spam in those days.
Doorway pages might seem like a nebulous concept for some marketers to grasp. Since Google announced that creating such pages was considered illicit practice, there has been some confusion.
However, such mixups are just as wrong as cloaking in SEO. So read on, and I will explain what doorway pages are, how to watch for them, and what to do about them.
What are doorway pages?
Google defines doorways as:
“…sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. They lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”
They also cite the following examples as doorways:
• Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query • Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page • Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s) • Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
The early days of doorway pages
Doorway pages seemed like a mystical, magical thing back in the earliest days of search engines.
This is partly because, in the advent of the commercialized/public internet, everyone thought that website visitors would only enter your site via the homepage.
Essentially, visitors would only arrive and enter through the “front door.” This idea led people to obsess over the design of homepages, while the rest of the website was often nearly an afterthought.
Thus, as search engines absorbed and reflected webpages, it suddenly felt like reaching some high stage of Buddhist-monk-level enlightenment to realize that a website could now have many “front doors” through which visitors would enter.
I did not know what doorway pages were when I thought I invented them circa 1996/1997. Search engines grew first out of curated directories of links, but once pages began being spidered, things changed fast. I had been tasked with increasing traffic to one of Verizon’s biggest websites at the time.
I recognized that the site’s homepage could not be particularly optimized for ~8,000 business categories and ~19,000 cities. I realized that individual pages should be spawned, each optimized to rank for business categories, cities, or combos of both.
I named my pages “portals” because the whole process seemed almost magical. I was following nearly mystical ritual-like designs in optimizing the pages and experimenting. I imagined I was virtually teleporting people who had a search need for “restaurants in springfield” or “doctors in bellevue” into our website where I would match them up with precisely what they wanted.
Despite the lack of any guide or formula that talked about such doorways at scale, many others came up with similar solutions, seeking to expand content to match up with growing varieties of user queries in search engines.
My “portal pages” skunkworks project was a clear success, although it would be some years further before leadership in the company recognized the value and allowed me to deploy the concept beyond my pilot research project.
The rise of doorway pages in search results
When doorway pages were first added to the list of spam practices, there was some degree of hubbub about them, with heavy emphasis expressed by Googlers reinforcing that the use of doorways was contravened.
Not as much has been said about the topic in the years since. Google appeared to be increasingly circumspect about the imposition of penalties related to the practice and other quality rules.
The lack of attention brought to doorway pages seemed to cause some marketers to believe that they are not a big deal.
The typical rationalization is: “Amazon does it, and Google SERPs are full of Amazon, so…”
Often, these folks employ doorway pages on their own websites.
There has been a spike in lawsuits involving doorway pages in the last six years. I first wrote about this in 2017, “Initial Interest Confusion rears its ugly head once more in trademark infringement case,” where I mentioned an older lawsuit where watch company Multi Time Machine sued Amazon for hosting a search results page for “mtm special ops watches” (and other similar keyword searches that could be related to the watch company’s marks).
Amazon hosted the “MTM special ops watches” page, but only showed search results for other competing products.
Multi Time Machine contended that this could confuse consumers expecting MTM products, which was therefore an infringement.
That suit was eventually dismissed as the court determined that no “reasonably prudent consumer” would be confused about the Amazon page that presented products that would be considerably underpriced for MTM watches.
In yet another case (“Bodum USA, Inc. v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc.”), French press coffee maker manufacturer Bodum sued their former retail partner Williams-Sonoma under similar circumstances.
Williams-Sonoma had sold Bodum products for a time but eventually discontinued selling them, opting instead to manufacture their own branded French press coffee makers.
However, the Bodum search results page on the Williams-Sonoma.com website continued to be maintained, only it now presented Williams-Sonoma products and not Bodum’s.
Thus, the circumstances, including accusations that the products themselves were confusingly similar, were arguably much more confusing than in the Multi Time Machine/Amazon case.
The Bodum v. Williams-Sonoma case settled out of court, with Williams-Sonoma adding a disclaimer to their web results, “We do not sell Bodum branded products.”
I subsequently spoke with the CEO of another company that formerly sold their products through Williams-Sonoma. In a similar sequence, the latter also dropped them, began featuring their own, competing products, and maintained a search results page that used (and ranked for) the dropped company’s brand name.
In Google’s recent overhaul of its Webmaster Guidelines, including renaming them to Google Search Essentials, Google could have easily avoided this category if they were no longer a concern.
Instead, the newly updated Spam Policies section page promotes Doorways to the second-listed contravened practice, right after Cloaking. Google also added another example of Doorways as well.
Google’s take on doorway pages: A brief history
Doorway pages were against the rules very early in Google’s 20-plus-year history. I could find reference to doorway pages in Google’s rules as far back as June 2006 (although I think there may have been a rule in place a little before that):
In a session at the first SMX Advanced conference in 2007, Google’s former head of web spam Matt Cutts was asked for more descriptive guidelines.
Just a few days later, Vanessa Fox announced on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog that they had expanded on the guidelines, providing more examples, among other things.
“Doorway pages are pages specifically made for search engines. Doorway pages contain many links – often several hundred – that are of little to no use to the visitor, and do not contain valuable content. HTML sitemaps are a valuable resource for your visitors, but ensure that these pages of links are easy for your visitors to navigate. If you have a number of links to include, consider organizing them into categories or into multiple pages. But in doing so, ensure that they are intended for visitors to navigate the sections of your site, and not simply for search engines.”
“Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination. Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users.”
In 2015, Google saw fit to post an article on the Google Search Central Blog, further highlighting what Google disliked about doorway pages and announcing a specific “ranking adjustment” (read: a core update that would penalize doorway pages).
“Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”
At their best, doorway pages could be an effort to provide navigation between search engines’ results pages and the most granular content within a website. If one had a limited crawl budget, such pages could provide collecting pages for many granular-level, individual website pages.
But, at their worst, doorway pages could inflate a site’s indexed pages by thousands and millions of pages, lending little value between the various ones and seeking to enable the site to appear for many more searches than the site merited.
Jennifer Slegg’s analysis of the doorway pages ranking adjustment announcement at the time was that it was most likely focused on improving the quality of local search queries and mobile search results.
Indeed, local business directory websites had tried to index their webpages for all category and location combinations. (This was what my early doorway pages were, before the anti-doorway rules got instituted, as I worked for Verizon’s Superpages – one of the largest of the early online yellow pages.)
That said, there is cause to think that local directory sites somewhat get special treatment from Google (as I will describe shortly in the “Types of doorway pages” section below).
Barry Schwartz outright called the “adjustment” a “doorway page penalty algorithm.”
The automated penalty likely made many realize that doorway pages were considered a serious violation of Google’s guidelines.
Websites had been penalized for this in the past, but many believed that if their sites were not currently penalized, then what they were doing was okay in Google’s eyes.
This irrationally founded belief was proven untrue as the doorway page penalty rolled out.
Seven years later, a whole younger, fresh set of organic search marketers have forgotten that doorway pages are a serious violation, just as some did in the past.
This can happen as an oversight in some instances. Other times, SEO marketers can get progressively bolder and more ambitious about expanding indexable pages to the point where they have crossed a boundary. By then, Google detects doorway pages and dings them pretty sharply.
While having even one doorway page is considered against Google’s rules, in truth, doorway page infractions are determined by scale.
Having a few may not cause issues, but a large ratio of them versus meatier pages is far likelier to be detected, resulting in a negative outcome.
Types of doorway pages
Spammy city/region pages
This corresponds to Google’s example of “[h]aving multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page.”
For instance, imagine a law firm in a small state like New Hampshire:
Creating pages targeted to “[legal specialty] in [city name]” with all identical templates having just the city name replaced on each page.
The pages all funneling users to a “Contact Us” page.
It would begin to look pretty spammy and repetitive if done for the roughly 234 towns in New Hampshire.
But, also imagine this sort of thing done with over 19,000 incorporated cities and towns in the United States.
There is cause to think that local businesses for large metro areas implementing this (i.e., targeting the roughly 88 cities of greater Los Angeles or the more than 200 cities of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex) could incur a penalty, particularly if the business did not have a physical address in each targeted city, which would qualify it for having such pages.
Here is an example of a doorway page used by a current international business directory (name redacted).
There are clearly some caveats to Google’s algorithmic rules around defining spammy city/region types of pages.
One can perform a search right now and see local business listings pages from major directory websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages appearing in the top search results for a huge number of business category keywords combined with local city names (e.g., “accountants in poughkeepsie, ny”).
Sites like neighborhoods.com and nextdoor.com are doing great. If the page shows high-quality, valuable information about each city a website targets, it likely won’t be considered a doorway page. This is a key criterion that many seem to miss when assessing whether doorway pages are policed by Google.
Now, if you display a page like “Attorneys in New York City”, but the page merely has links to listings for all the boroughs, that would qualify as a doorway page.
If a user seeks “attorneys in nyc” and clicks on a page that does not contain listings for “attorneys in nyc” but merely links to other pages, then that would be a very poor user experience.
But, if they clicked on the page and got listings of attorneys, that would not fit in the model of being a doorway page per se.
You can understand this by searching for “attorneys in nyc.” You will see on the first page of search results listings from Justia, FindLaw, Cornell University attorney listings, Yelp, the New York City Bar Association, Martindale-Hubbell, and Expertise.com.
Google does not refer to “microsites” in their guidelines, but this is what the tactic used to be called.
Google’s current rule states, “Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query.”
The concept of microsites was employed more when SEOs noticed that Google seemed to give ranking preference to websites incorporating the keyword in the domain name.
Imagine if Target.com pursued this. They sell over 3,000 types of products based on their sitemaps file.
Creating a “subwebsite” for each type of product with links back to their main website to conduct a purchase would have been massively irritating. It would also be largely unnecessary because Google can fully show their existing category pages in search results.
This is an attractive idea for website operators who think this will be a shortcut to successes they failed to achieve by insufficiently optimizing their existing websites.
I have argued with CEOs before about this very thing, telling them that “to successfully employ a microsite, you must market it equivalently to your main website – promote it, advertise it, use social media with it, etc – don’t do it, because nobody markets microsites sufficiently when they create dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of them!”
You can create a special promotional website for a few things, but you better treat them pretty close to complete, standalone websites to achieve good rankings.
A unique, keyworded URL is insufficient in itself. This is not a shortcut to across-the-board high rankings.
Indexable internal search results pages
Google has stated for many years now that they do not want to index a website’s search results pages as this could be an infinite set of pages, considering all the many keywords that could be used to conduct a search on a website. Search-results-in-search-results is an irritating user experience.
This is perhaps the most confusing aspect of Google’s guidelines because there are a few ways to define “search results” on websites.
Category pages or item listings pages on some websites use website/database search functionality to display these types of pages.
Google’s SEO Starter Guide states:
“Avoid: Letting your internal search result pages be crawled by Google. Users dislike clicking a search engine result only to land on another search result page on your site.”
However, there are differences between allowing one’s category pages to be indexed (of a limited number and very specific) vs. having many variations indexed for category-type keywords that display substantially identical pages.
This can happen with ecommerce websites when marketers create category pages including every variation of product options. Ecatalog software often supplies “faceted” navigation options that produce such pages. Here’s an example:
Micro SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 9 or less megapixels
SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 9 or less megapixels
Micro SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 9 or less megapixels
SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 9 or less megapixels
Micro SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 9 or less megapixels
SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 9 or less megapixels
Micro SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 10 to 11 megapixels
SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 10 to 11 megapixels
Micro SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 10 to 11 megapixels
SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 10 to 11 megapixels
Micro SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 10 to 11 megapixels
SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 10 to 11 megapixels
Now, some websites have such a breadth of content that they might be able to produce such pages without running afoul of a doorway page assessment.
But many websites may display virtually identical content on such pages or display only a single product listing – which would have been served better by only having the product page itself indexed.
In yet more egregious cases, some websites have set up things such that when consumers conduct searches on their websites, it will automatically produce indexable search results pages for each of those queries.
This can result in loads of pages indexed with only the keyword name changing, while the contents of the pages are substantially or wholly similar to others on the website.
This is the case for those Williams-Sonoma pages where an indexed search result for “bodum coffee makers” might be the same content as for a “French press coffee makers” category page.
Even more concerning, blindly generating pages from users’ search results can create pages featuring keywords that are no longer relevant to the website. In other words, spam and, put in another way, potential trademark infringement.
In one lawsuit I worked on, an online retailer allowed thousands and thousands of pages generated by users’ search queries on the site to be indexed, including for major brand names that the website did not carry, such as Nike, Versace, Burberry, Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Chanel, Eddie Bauer, and more.
An even greater number of pages were indexed from the website, focused on keyword phrases that would produce substantially similar to identical search results pages:
“size 17 jeans”
“jeans size 17”
“black rip jeans”
“black rips jeans”
“black ripped jeans”
“black ripped jean”
“ripped black jeans”
“black jeans men”
“black jeans mens”
Imagine these sorts of keyword phrases multiplied hundreds and thousands of times over, and you get the picture. Huge scale, duplicate content, and spammy.
Any website with substantial content and search functionality that uses the GET method can end up with indexed internal search results.
I had a client circa 2007/2008 whose business model was creating a sort of curated search results pages that got de-indexed by Google overnight when this rule was promoted.
Substantially duplicate content propagated via keyword variations
You can already see how this could work in the example above where pages were indexed for an online retailer under multiple, highly-similar keywords, and the pages would have identical content.
There may be some level of plausible deniability where SEO software paired up with Shopify or other online shopping software can result in more and more user-generated search queries getting indexed as pages.
But, some websites have sought to programmatically create alternate versions of content pages using synonyms, keyword research APIs, AI, or some human editors. The page’s content could be published on multiple pages, each titled and headlined with different keywords.
Many thin content websites have done this very thing in the past, and it likely does not work well in Google these days.
Unsure? How to avoid a doorway ‘ding’
You may wonder if you are at risk of having your website “dinged” by Google for having doorway pages. If you *know* you have doorway pages, eliminate them in favor of focusing on pushing the quality and promoting your other content pages.
If you are unsure if you have what Google would consider doorway pages or want ideas on how to fix them, read on for some recommendations.
There has long been the suggestion that Amazon gets away with doorway pages because they have loads of PageRank. Therefore, Google displays many of Amazon’s doorway pages where other websites would not.
With 135 million pages indexed and ranking for top product name queries across the board, Amazon is indeed in a unique position. Google can – and does – take the position that providing users with what they seek is the first and foremost priority.
So if the site is desired/expected in the search results, Google might allow infractions to pass to maintain the page in the search results where consumers can find it. That does not mean that Google likes doorway pages, however.
But, I do not think Amazon’s pages are particularly doorway pages.
Generally, if you click on an Amazon listing in Google’s search results for a product, you will find what you are looking for. Those can be category listings pages or specific product pages.
But, you see pictures, typically, of what you are looking for, and the results are pretty satisfactory. This is a key determinant.
Doorway pages are typically:
A sort of interstitial between Google’s search results and the actual destination pages users are seeking.
Duplicated across many similar keywords.
Are even spammed at keyword combinations with the content of the pages bearing little relation to what the user is specifically seeking.
The takeaway is not that “Amazon gets away with Doorway Pages”. The takeaway is that “Amazon provides a very satisfactory experience for searchers by delivering on the promise of the keyword targeting of their pages.”
Here are some tips for reducing your risks of a doorway “ding”.
Simply remove doorways from the index
Google suggests using robots.txt, but I have another take.
A robust internal link hierarchy is valuable for SEO, as that can help ensure Google finds and indexes the site’s granular content.
For this reason, perhaps the quickest fix is to add a robots meta tag to those pages with a “noindex” directive, along with the “follow” directive to keep the links on the page getting crawled.
Keep internal search from generating pages
It is true that you can mine your internal website search data to discover keywords that your users may be using to find your type of content.
You should still use that as a guide for creating new content, modifying existing content, or introducing other pages related to the top-searched terms.
But do not let your internal searches automatically transform into pages of search results that search engines can index.
Doing so will put your site squarely on an increasing curve of cookie-cutter-templated pages that will generate levels of duplication, pages with low value, and open you up to possible spam-hacking exploits.
You should human-curate the pages added to your site, so stop the uncontrolled flow of pages created each time users type word combos into your search forms.
You should also consider tech modifications if your internal search URLs are indexable because it is natural for users to share page URLs with others. This can result in user-generated external links growing over time until you involuntarily have a large set of doorway pages.
You may need to set all those robot meta tags with noindex directives or disallow them in robots.txt.
Alternatively, you could switch the search functionality to only work with the POST method, revoking the ability for full URLs to be bookmarkable/indexable.
Redesign your category pages to be richer
Category and subcategory pages do not have to be mere navigational lists of links to deeper pages. You can display top items from the categories on the page along with navigational links deeper.
Informational text content could be included, as well as videos and preview snippets and links to related blog posts. Highlight the newest items, recently-updated content, top-sellers, or endorsement blurbs.
In short, you want to transform what have been essentially linking pages for search engines into pages that are simultaneously highly usable and useful for end users.
Make core content pages more relevant for alternate keywords
If you are using doorway pages to try to have content that appears for many related keyword phrases, you are using only one SEO method.
Instead of doorways, you can judiciously add one or two other keyword phrases onto the page itself if you add them in a natural way that reads well for users. Do not go overboard, or you will run afoul of Google for keyword stuffing.
Another option is to create external links pointing to the main page for any given topic, using alternate keyword phrases for the link text. Again, avoid going overboard with too many and do not resort to external link building to accrue the links.
You could write posts on your website’s blog or in articles to link the alternate keywords’ text back to the main page for the topic.
Do away with doorway pages
Doorway pages have now been a contravened practice for about two decades.
Google’s recent update to Search Essentials increased the prominence of doorway pages in the contravened spam policies section. They also added an example among those long present.
This indicates that doorway pages continue to be considered a bad practice and every bit as severe as the other black hat SEO practices that are risky, wrong, and unethical. Otherwise, Google would have used the opportunity of updating the section to revoke the doorway guidelines.
Despite some level of rationalization and confusion on the part of the search community, doorway pages will continue to remain a bad practice.
It could penalize your website (or a portion of it) such that the pages are buried far down in the search results or even de-indexed entirely so that they cannot be found for any search.
Alternative optimizations can provide perceived benefits associated with doorway pages and reduce or avoid the conditions that can cause them.
Stick with contemporary SEO best practices and avoid involvement with doorway pages. You’ll see your organic search rankings program grow and benefit without the risks of getting on Google’s bad side.
Managing doorway pages (by eliminating them) has further benefits as well. You’ll do away with potentially significant legal liability associated with the practice.
If you are interested in original article by Chris Silver Smith you can find it here
Want to deliver great marketing strategies and tactics that activate your Gen Z audience? Here’s the why, what and how of marketing to Gen Z.
For the longest time, the most frequent question I was asked was, “How do we reach millennials with marketing?”
Now, the wheels are turning, and the primary goal of many marketers is to reach a new, content-hungry generation of consumers. And the question is: how do we target our marketing to Gen Z?
Gen Z, or “Zoomers,” is a pretty unique group of young adults and teens.
For one, they have never known life without the internet.
For another, they bring tremendous spending power to the table.
Let’s take a look at how we can use available research, surveys, and data to improve our marketing strategies and campaigns in order to resonate with the next biggest generation: Gen Z.
Is Gen Z Hard To Market?
Typically, businesses want to reach the largest audience for the best return, right?
Well, Millennials might be the current largest group of consumers, and Baby Boomers have the most money to spend, but Gen Z’s power is growing.
A recent Bloomberg report shows that these young students and working professionals have $360 billion in disposable income.
This figure is only going to increase.
Marketers are wrestling with the best ways to market to Gen Z so that they can get them to buy, as traditional marketing methods aren’t working.
However, this is proving tricky, as Gen Z gives attention and spends money differently from previous generations.
What Is Generation Z?
Gen Z is the collective of people born between 1997 to 2012. That makes the oldest in this generation in their mid-twenties and the youngest about to become a tween this year.
The next generation after Gen Z is called Generation Alpha.
Zoomers are truly digitally native. They’ve been online since childhood, using the internet, mobile phones, social networks, and even shopping from a young age.
Super comfortable with research and data collection, they have no problem switching from online to offline universes.
They are also the most educated generation yet.
How Is Marketing To Gen Z Different Than Other Generations?
Well, they differ quite a bit, actually.
First, we need to understand what matters most to each generation.
This is often formed by the big events that happened in their formative years.
For example, while status is the most important for Gen Xers (born 1960–79), Millennials (born 1980–94) are all about authentic experiences.
So, what matters most for Generation Z?
According to research from McKinsey, the main driver for this generation is the search for truth.
Once marketers understand that Gen Z is very comfortable searching for information and cross-referencing data sources in their quest for truth, they will understand what content to produce to reach them.
A Few Extra Insights Into Gen Z’ers
Zoomers Are Loyal
That’s right! They are not as fickle and easily swayed as we first thought.
In fact, a report by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation revealed some interesting trends around Gen Z and brand affinity.
59% of respondents say they trust the brands they’ve grown up with.
46% of Zoomers cited having “a strong connection or loyalty” to a brand.
66% stick to buying from a favorite brand for a long time.
This shows that they want to – and can quite capably – build and keep relationships with the brands they connect with.
For this reason, it is so important for brands to foster their Gen Z customer base.
Zoomers Influence The Whole Family
This is true simply because the majority of Gen Z’ers are not yet fully independent adults and still live with their parents.
However, they do generate an income and influence how the family spends, particularly food and beverages (77%), furniture (76%), household goods (73%), travel (66%), and eating out (63%).
You can’t simply say, “We market to Generation Z,” and that is that.
You need to do the work to deeply understand who your target audience is: what their challenges are, what they enjoy doing, what they like, what repulses them, and, more importantly, what they expect of you.
So, this is the first step in marketing to Gen Z: Get to know your audience.
However, that is true for all generations, and not just Gen Z marketing strategies, which is not what this piece is about. We want to explore how brands can reach Gen Z in particular.
The best way to reach them is on social media and to align yourself with their progressive approach to life. Here’s how.
1. Create Channel-Specific Content
By this, I mean there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to multi-channel marketing.
Marketers often replicate one campaign and burst it across multiple channels.
But there is a better way.
Create content that you share on TikTok with the TikTok audience in mind. The same for LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TV, etc.
These audiences are not even remotely the same.
In fact, Generation Z prefers brands that know how to use each social media platform uniquely, just as they do.
Instagram for aspirational posts.
Snapchat for everyday moments.
TikTok for fun and trending challenges.
Twitter for news.
LinkedIn for career-focused content.
You need to fit in with the online social community you are posting on if you want your paid or organic content to be a success.
2. Keep It Short
Tailor content that caters to a brief attention span.
Generation Z enjoys platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram that favor short videos.
Also, remember to make content that is mobile-optimized.
3. Use Video – A Lot
This point follows from the previous one.
This mobile-first generation devours video on their smartphones.
While this is no secret, it is tremendously effective for reaching this generation that grew up on YouTube and now TikTok.
4. Champion Authenticity
It is of vital importance that your brand tone, voice, and personality exude authenticity and credibility.
Show the people and values behind the brand.
Invest in building long-lasting relationships.
Why? Generation Z prefers brands that are authentic. Also fun.
Use bloopers, behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with staff, and anything that can help foster a human connection.
Consider how most TikTok videos are filmed on personal devices rather than expensive gear or carefully produced videos.
Even if your budget is huge, you still need to keep it real.
5. Be Transparent And Accountable
This is because Zoomers are after the truth, remember?
So, your brand’s credibility is really important to this generation of consumers.
The great news is that if you do make a mistake, they have open arms for you when you take responsibility, are transparent, and are accountable to change.
6. Go To The Influencer
I know you know this.
But I want to suggest a slightly different approach.
Rather than just paying the influencer as a distributor of your goods, position the influencer as the center of a strategy all on its own.
The influencer still holds sway in this generation.
A recent report shows that 24% of Gen-Z women and 16% of men are guided by influencers when it comes to purchasing decisions.
This is done commercially with great success with live-stream shopping, particularly in China.
Influencers are a must-have in your marketing budget. They bring the community you want to reach.
No scripts, just authentic, transparent, and fun.
7. Invite Gen Z To Participate In Your Marketing
Novel, right? Just don’t send your PR team to ask.
As long as it’s genuine, real, and fun, you can ask if they will be interviewed on camera.
You can ask if you can share their tweets or comments about your product.
Get your best Gen-Z customers or Gen-Z employees to reach out to them for this.
Whether good or bad, this kind of transparency creates real and lasting bonds.
8. Get Everyone To Create
Take advantage of platforms like TikTok that encourage content creation, engagement, and interaction.
If you can start a hashtag, a trend, or a challenge, like the Coca-Cola challenge, you get incredible exposure.
Or, join an existing hashtag and ride the wave.
9. Be Fun And Adventurous
Keep it fun.
I know that Zoomers are very in touch with socioeconomic and environmental challenges, but the escape afforded by social platforms means they are drawn to fun content.
Don’t avoid creating content that is adventurous and fun-spirited.
10. Leverage User-Generated Content
Given their quest for truth, I find that user-generated content (UGC) often gets the best results with a Generation Z target audience.
What does this look like in your campaign?
Use pictures of real people and real customers rather than a photoshopped stock image.
Why is this good for business? Well, a recent survey shows that close to 80% of people cite UGC as a reason to buy.
When prompted to pick between a user-generated travel photo vs. stock travel, 70% of Gen Z say they’re most likely to trust a company more when it uses photos of real customers in its advertising.
11. Don’t Abandon Omni-Channel Marketing
Yes, we know that Gen Z loves their phones.
However, they also love brick-and-mortar stores.
In fact, three times as many Gen Z’ers say they shop in a real retail store compared to online.
So, you need to reach Zoomers at all their watering holes: social media, YouTube, email, streaming, etc.
Need more proof?
According to a report from Pitney Bowes and the CMO Council, 88% of Zoomers actually prefer a blend of digital and physical marketing.
The most important takeaway from all of this data is that Generation Z is not some secretive entity. There is a vast amount of data that reveals what they prefer when it comes to marketing and spending.
The best way to reach them is to use platforms and tools wisely, with thought, and with clear intent
Regardless of how you do it, you need to consider your strategy for marketing to Gen Z consumers.
Their number, influence, and spending power is growing by the day.
Members of Generation Z are loyal and want to build relationships with authentic brands that stand for something.
Here’s to successfully marketing to Gen Z when you make use of the insights that are readily available to you to guide your strategies.
If you are interested in original article by Alex Macura you can find it here
Instead of making hasty and costly marketing decisions, learn how to position your brand to survive and thrive over the long haul.
It’s hard not to be anxious about the macroeconomy right now.
Unless you’re a brand marketer in a thoroughly recession-proof industry or an agency marketer with a portfolio of clients in recession-proof industries, you’re working against an undercurrent of stress and performance pressure.
These emotions may help some marketers achieve hyper-focus. But they’re also leading many to make hasty decisions that run counter to the short- and long-term health of their businesses.
In this article, you’ll learn some common mistakes marketers make and more thoughtful alternatives that will position brands to survive and thrive over the long haul.
Mistake 1: Cutting instead of reducing
You’ve likely heard that marketing is a flywheel.
What that means, especially with major platform algorithms’ self-learning capabilities, is that cutting spend implies a hard reset that will have last ramifications well beyond the time it takes to turn campaigns back on.
What to do instead
Wherever possible, keep the lights on in campaigns you know are providing results. If you need to reduce spend:
Understand that you’re in good company.
Take a deep breath and start by dialing back (but not cutting altogether) where you’ll see a less immediate impact.
If you can’t clearly see opportunities within specific campaign segments, you may need more precise segmentation:
Top of funnel, middle of funnel or bottom of funnel at the campaign level.
By objective at the ad set level.
This will help you assess where performance is relatively poor and eligible for reductions.
Mistake 2: Cutting without referencing account history
It’s an especially tough time for startups. Without a lot of benchmarking data, they’re unable to reference past account history for smarter budget reductions.
There are fewer excuses for more established brands not to dig into the history of account performance (especially if the history goes back to other frenetic times, like the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic), but I’ve seen it happen.
What to do instead
If you are a startup and don’t have a helpful archive of performance data, but you dohave an agency running your account, lean heavily on them to pull insights from similar accounts they may have had in the past. (Make sure you’re involving your agency in any big decisions, of course.)
If you have a more established set of accounts, go back at least to your 2020 data to analyze:
How you reallocated budget then.
What worked in the short and long terms.
What had lasting effects (good or bad).
This will give you a good strategic starting point for product or service campaigns that remain relevant to your business.
Mistake 3: Cutting without referencing CRM data
I’ve seen this a lot over the years and not just in recessions: marketers who react to surface-level metrics without understanding actual business impact make poor budget decisions.
A B2B brand throws more budget at a source of cheap CPLs instead of understanding which source is driving the most qualified leads that evolve into opportunities.
An ecommerce brand reduces budget for their highest-CPA audience without realizing that the audience in question carries an average LTV 50% higher than other audiences.
In times where spend reductions are widespread, kneecapping your most valuable audiences, segments or campaigns may achieve your immediate budget goals, but it’ll crater your revenue over the long term.
What to do instead
If you haven’t synced your marketing data with your CRM data, it’s high time to get that nailed down.
At the very least, make sure you have an understanding (on the B2B side) of which channels are driving your most qualified leads (which you can keep track of on a simple Excel sheet if you’re waiting on dev resources) so you can prioritize other areas for spend reductions.
Mistake 4: Cutting new campaigns prematurely
In today’s algorithm-heavy marketing world:
Campaigns need time and data to optimize.
Tests need enough time to return statistically significant results.
Early indicators are not the full picture and shouldn’t be all the information you need to make your decisions.
What to do instead
Rather than panicking and cutting, rotate in fresh creative and messaging while adjusting bidding types. Go through all the usual optimization options you normally would, and resist the urge to cut without understanding the true performance ceiling of your campaigns.
In B2B, where data density takes longer to build, set some higher-volume growth indicators that will return information more quickly.
Even CTR can be a decent proxy metric to start with (as long as you react to high CTR/low conversion scenarios by optimizing the weak point in your funnel).
Mistake 5: Going blind to opportunity
While it may feel like a worst-case scenario for many marketers, the likelihood is that at least one of your competitors is in poorer shape – which means they may be leaving market share and/or lower costs on the table for you to grab.
(If you’re working for a recession-proof brand and have a full budget on hand, this is relevant to you as well, since you may see lower CPMs and CPCs in your social channels once the election and holiday seasons have elapsed).
Yes, many of us are on the defensive for good reason. But spending all of your energy on preservation means you might miss out on opportunities to expand.
What to do instead
Make sure you’re paying attention to weekly cost trends so you can quickly identify (and jump on) any market softness.
Keep close tabs on industry news, particularly concerning platforms you haven’t yet tested, that indicate any general downward cost trends making those platforms more viable.
The other thing to watch for is emerging trends and market shifts that you can address in your campaigns. If your traditional ideal customer profile (ICP) is developing new pain points:
Make sure your marketing addresses those.
Communicate the developments to your executive team so they can consider shifting any offers accordingly.
Above all, do your best to approach your campaigns with an eye toward the long term, which will help keep you from spending all of your time and money on sheer survival tactics.
Great marketers emerge from recessions
You may notice that every one of these mistakes should be avoided at all times, not just during economic upheaval.
There’s a reason for the adages about great marketers emerging from recessions.
Whether the recession forces you into good new habits or you brought good habits that helped keep your company ahead of the curve, the foundations of great marketing persist.
Keep them top of mind as you wade through the news cycles and tough internal meetings.
If you are interested in original article by Laura Schiele you can find it here
Any metric outside of revenue is a vanity metric to leadership. Learn how to optimize for what drives pipeline and revenue in advertising.
Marketing departments once believed it was a sales issue if the sales team couldn’t work the leads from marketing.
Today, this is no longer the case.
Optimizing for leads or marketing qualified leads (MQLs) is great, but optimizing for what drives pipeline and revenue is better.
Marketers exist in a new age where it’s no longer satisfactory only to drive leads alone.
With the available technology and data today, we can do much more than identify hand-raisers to help companies spend their marketing dollars more efficiently and drive revenue.
Just because a channel generates leads doesn’t mean those leads bring value later in your sales funnel.
When you understand where customers are bringing in revenue vs. where they may need more nurturing before converting, you can create a more holistic media strategy to generate qualified leads that will churn out more income than lead volume alone.
Below are three must-haves for revenue optimization.
1. Tight-knit tracking
Tracking is essential for reasons that go well beyond reporting.
In this new age of artificial intelligence, it’s vital to feed machine learning the data that will make it do what you desire.
Platforms like Google optimize the data you provide, making it a powerful tool or your worst nightmare.
Accurately tracking your efforts plays a significant role in your advertising strategy’s success.
Integrating third-party data sources, like Snowflake and Salesforce, with your paid media reporting helps decrease the optimization time against a deeper funnel event, such as MQL, sales accepted lead (SAL) and revenue.
Nonetheless, offline conversion tracking in Google is great for seeing what campaigns drive down-funnel metrics like SALs and closed/won leads. If you’re attributing revenue to these conversions, that’s even better.
If your B2B advertising team is doing lead generation in Google without visibility into where they are going down funnel with offline conversion tracking, they are doing it wrong.
. Understand the customer base
Marketers should know how users from different channels perform once they are in your sales funnel.
For example, if your average Google search lead value is 4x higher than a lead out of Facebook, how can you use that to prioritize your spending and channel goals?
Understanding your average time to close or how long it takes the lead to turn into revenue will help you only to further optimize toward revenue.
With that said, marketers should avoid reactivity with a down day or week if it can take up to a couple of months for a user to move through the sales funnel.
For example, if it takes two months for a lead to close, you need to give a new campaign or channel at least that long before making abrupt cuts if you aren’t seeing initial revenue.
Seasonality is also a critical factor to consider. Understand and prioritize the best time of year to capture your high-value users.
Create a plan to warm up those audiences earlier in the year and then nurture them post-initial conversion to move them along the sales funnel.
Targeting the right audience also helps you assign pipeline value to optimize revenue. Having an ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind for your targeting is an underrated piece of the puzzle.
Knowing what kind of people will be buying your product is paramount to getting your advertising efforts right.
For B2B, you should know their job titles, pain points, tasks and anything that will indicate if your product would make their lives easier. You should also be aware of your sales team’s lead disqualification criteria.
Will your sales team throw out leads from businesses that don’t meet a revenue threshold?
If so, don’t waste your marketing dollars on those disqualified leads when you can target revenue on other strong advertising channels.
3. Understand the lifetime value of customers
Teams optimizing for revenue should understand the value of their customers through customer lifetime value.
How can you optimize for revenue if you don’t know who your most valuable customers are?
Understanding the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer base and your customer acquisition cost (CAC) allows you to perform an LTV:CAC ratio analysis to get the complete picture of how your channel mix is affecting your advertising efforts.
Say Google is driving significant lead volume but at a .5 LTV:CAC. It might be time to dig a little deeper into Google to see how you can improve Google’s revenue-generating efficiency.
Generally, you’d like to see at least a 3:1 LTV:CAC when measuring this.
If you are having trouble calculating the LTV of your customers, Hubspot has a great article that can help you with this initial step.
CMOs are asked to demonstrate the value of every dollar put into marketing.
Leads are quickly becoming a metric of a bygone age where marketers could simply pat themselves on the back for a well-done job.
Today, any metric outside of revenue is a vanity metric to senior and executive leadership outside of marketing, making every dollar to customer acquisition and improving the bottom line.
Give the platforms the data they need to find the highest-value customers.
By doing so, you’ll empower the optimization of every effort for the success and growth of your organization, giving your CMO a few extra hours of sleep at night.
If you are interested in original article by Madalyn McConnel you can find it here
Since then, this platform has diversified its service offering to become a powerhouse for serious content marketers.
BuzzSumo offers content discovery, research, monitoring, and influencer insights. The influencer option could exponentially increase the odds of virality for your content marketing efforts.
By navigating to the “top sharers” section, you can pinpoint influencers that have shared articles that may correlate to topics you have written and reach out to the influencers to share your article to expand your content reach.
3. Outbrain – Best For Native Content
Outbrain was one of the leading pioneers of native content and has gained tremendous market share over competitors.
Today Outbrain provides 344 billion monthly content recommendations in over fifty-five countries. Getting started with Outbrain does not involve a significant cost investment.
To begin a campaign on the Outbrain network, you can set a campaign budget of $20 and a CPC (cost per click) price point of 0.03 cents.
Considering how rapidly you can expand your content marketing reach and strategically retarget users once they have navigated to your site makes Outbrain a no-brainer, pun intended.
4. Patreon – Best For Content Membership
Patreon offers a premium membership model to content creators.
Monthly pledges from patrons have provided content creators with a consistent way to provide quality content while making a living.
Founded in 2013, Patreon quickly became the go-to platform for content creators to establish a loyal fan base.
Content creators span several focus areas, which include videographers, Podcasters, Writers, artists, and musicians.
If you are a content creator that wants to earn a living without starting a blog, Patreon is the way to go.
5. Contently – Best For Content Scheduling
Scheduling content distribution is easy with the help of Contently. You can easily plan times and dates to distribute content across several platforms.
A feature called Storybook uses proprietary technology to provide a predictive model of which topics will have the most significant impact.
Additionally, Contently provides SEO recommendations and checks the voice and tone of the content. One of the most powerful features Contently provides is access to the premium creative network.
It can be a hassle to vet writers when you are just starting.
Contently has created a premium network of writers you can leverage. Many of these writers have published articles for The New Yorker, Wired, and The Financial Times, among many other established publications.
Contently also provides access to videographers and designers to help create more impactful content through the premium creative network.
If you are looking for an enterprise content marketing platform Contently is a top contender.
6. Scoop.it – Best for Content Curation
Scoop.it is a cloud-based content management platform that discovers and researches content via the web and social networks. Over 30 million web pages are crawled from Scoop.it.
You can quickly scale your curated content needs by leveraging the WordPress integration to publish content directly to your site.
Leveraging curated content will help establish trust and add additional value to your audience while highlighting your specific industry expertise.
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