Moving into 2016, your website needs to be mobile-ready. There are three types of accepted options for a mobile site in Google’s eyes: responsive design, being set up on a mobile subdomain or use dynamic serving. Google also now ranks websites higher that apply SEO for their apps. So if you have an app, make sure you are taking the time to implement application SEO.
2. Microsoft Ad Intelligence Tool (Excel Add-on) – This is a PPC keyword research tool and Excel add-on for Bing Ads. This tool requires a Bing Ads advertising account.  Once installed, the tool is available as a new tab in your Excel workbook.  You can discover new keyword ideas by entering the URL of your website or list of keywords.  The tool also gives traffic and bid estimates on your keywords, which allows you to determine the cost to advertise on Bing/Yahoo. There’s also some interesting demographic and geographical information available.
Granted, transitioning to HTTPS is easier said than done, and requires a multi-step process. When the Atlantic, a highly-regarded, well-established media organization, decided to move to HTTPS in early 2016, the transition was complex. First, content had to be scanned individually, then ported over and checked for compatibility. The process was repeated with ads, and once compatibility and security were ensured, the website slowly went live in order to guard against traffic loss and unforeseen errors.
We may be referring to a line of products or a single product, but whatever the case may be, we need to know what makes our company different in order for any strategy to work. This will strongly impact the types of outreach that will make sense, the type of audiences we will want to cultivate, the type of keywords we will be tracking, and much more.
Product images. If you think images don't play a role, think again. When many consumers search for products in the search engines, not only are they looking at the "Web" results, but they're also looking at the "images" results. If you have quality images of that product on your site -- and the files' names contain relevant keywords -- these images will rank well in search engines. This avenue will drive a lot of traffic to your site, as potential customers will click on that image to find your store.
You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because they might not be useful to users if found in a search engine's search results. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages, Google Search Console has a friendly robots.txt generator to help you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you'll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files13.

For example, we regularly create content on the topic of "SEO," but it's still very difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic on this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword -- and potentially the same search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you're reading right now), and other subtopics within SEO.
Electronic services refer to interactive network services.[38] In the electronic service, the interaction between the customer and the organizations mainly through the network technology, such as using E-mail, telephone, online chat windows for communication. Electronic services are different from traditional services and they are not affected by distance restrictions and opening hours. Digital content marketing through electronic service is usually served together with other channels to achieve marketing purposes including face-to-face, postal, and other remote services. Information companies provide different messages and documents to customers who use multiple search engines on different sites and set up access rights for business groups. These are some channels of digital content marketing.[28]
Content gaps – make an inventory of the site’s key content assets, are they lacking any foundational/cornerstone content pieces, non-existent content types, or relevant topic areas that haven’t been covered? What topics or content are missing from your competitors? Can you beat your competitors’ information-rich content assets? Useful guides on Content Gap Analysis:

For example, assume your search ad generated 5,000 impressions in one day, of which 100 visitors have come to your site, and three have converted for a total profit (not revenue!) of $300. In this case, a single visitor for that keyword is worth $3 to your business. Those 5,000 impressions in 24 hours could generate a click-through rate of between 18-36% with a #1 ranking (see the Slingshot SEO study for more on potential click-through rates), which would mean 900-1800 visits per day, at $3 each, or between 1 and 2 million dollars per year. No wonder businesses love search marketing!
For example, we regularly create content on the topic of "SEO," but it's still very difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic on this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword -- and potentially the same search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you're reading right now), and other subtopics within SEO.
But Google has championed machine learning as its future and seems 100 percent focused on growing this segment of the algorithm. Going forward, SEO practitioners will need to be proactive and invest in analyzing data and understanding search behavior across a variety of search and social platforms. This way they can develop the type of content that will motivate and influence user/search behavior which will in turn influence rankings and traffic.
To understand the importance of digital marketing to the future of marketing in any business, it’s helpful to think about what audience interactions we need to understand and manage. Digital marketing today is about many more types of audience interaction than website or email... It involves managing and harnessing these ‘5Ds of Digital’ that I have defined in the introduction to the latest update to my Digital Marketing: Strategy, Planning and Implementation book. The 5Ds define the opportunities for consumers to interact with brands and for businesses to reach and learn from their audiences in different ways:
A long-term plan identifies and organizes all the initiatives and campaigns over the course of a year where content will need to be created. Simply identifying your plan will help you create content more easily and on a consistent basis. In this lesson, you'll learn how to create realistic goals for your audience, also known as buyer personas, perform an audit that will help identify content needs and gaps to build a helpful, relevant journey for your personas, as well as how to create your content compass by mapping out your content creation roadmap.
If a member of your target audience who is looking for your topic landed on these same search results, what would they do? Would they immediately try again and search for something else? In other words, are the high ranking pages relevant to you, your brand and your content? If not, you’re in the wrong neighborhood. Go back and consider different phrases.
Prioritizing clicks refers to display click ads, although advantageous by being ‘simple, fast and inexpensive’ rates for display ads in 2016 is only 0.10 percent in the United States. This means one in a thousand click ads are relevant therefore having little effect. This displays that marketing companies should not just use click ads to evaluate the effectiveness of display advertisements (Whiteside, 2016).[42]
Case studies, also known as testimonials, are your opportunity to tell the story of a customer who succeeded in solving a problem by working with you. A case study is perhaps your most versatile type of content marketing because it can take many different forms -- some of which are on this list. That's right, case studies can take the form of a blog post, ebook, podcast ... even an infographic.

You mentioned: "many times clients have already done this work.  Ask them for copies of their market research reports when you start a project.  It will save you a ton of time and effort!"  We do this with most of our clients, like you said we have found that around 75% of the have some kind of Market research done, that saves you a lot of time and helps setting up the right SEO Strategy. 
Once you've been regularly publishing content on your own site for a while, it might be time to start thinking about distributing your content on other sites. This could mean repurposing content into new formats and publishing them on your blog, creating original content specifically for external sites -- such as Medium -- or publishing website content on various social networks.

Use your keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you should create. Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with how many different products, offerings, and locations your business has. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.
Then, use a local directory management service, which carries out the painstaking, tedious work of scanning countless local directories, interacting with data aggregators, and correcting any old information. The best of these are Moz Local and Yext, which can help you avoid any glaring inconsistencies that can hurt your revenue stream, or even worse, trick Google’s algorithms into thinking that you’re a different business entirely.

The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.


In order to engage customers, retailers must shift from a linear marketing approach of one-way communication to a value exchange model of mutual dialogue and benefit-sharing between provider and consumer.[21] Exchanges are more non-linear, free flowing, and both one-to-many or one-on-one.[5] The spread of information and awareness can occur across numerous channels, such as the blogosphere, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and a variety of other platforms. Online communities and social networks allow individuals to easily create content and publicly publish their opinions, experiences, and thoughts and feelings about many topics and products, hyper-accelerating the diffusion of information.[22]
It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
Expert roundups have been abused in the Internet Marketing industry, but they are effective for several reasons. First, you don’t have to create any content. The “experts” create all the content. Second, it is ego bait. Meaning, anyone who participated in the roundup will likely share it with their audience. Last, it is a great way to build relationships with influencers.

Nowadays, it is much more common to see internet users access more video content compared to blogs and images. This means that video content has  now become more important than ever, with other users having the tendency to search on Youtube before even going to Google. When it comes to the amount of searches, Youtube is already the second largest search engine, and your website would surely benefit with having some video content.
From top to bottom, on-page content and its metadata should be optimized to inform search engines as simply as possible why each page of your site exists and what you are hoping users get from it. And as algorithms evolve to understand human search behavior, they become smarter at ranking content in search engine results pages (SERPs) in a way that serves users the best content every time.

The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product."[20] Content on the blog included how to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interview and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." Popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."[21]
The process of optimizing a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. SEO requires an understanding of how search engines work, what people search for, and why and how people search. Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines. It is a combination of technical and marketing.
If you own, manage, monetize, or promote online content via Google Search, this guide is meant for you. You might be the owner of a growing and thriving business, the webmaster of a dozen sites, the SEO specialist in a Web agency or a DIY SEO ninja passionate about the mechanics of Search : this guide is meant for you. If you're interested in having a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to our best practices, you are indeed in the right place. This guide won't provide any secrets that'll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
By using Internet platforms, businesses can create competitive advantage through various means. To reach the maximum potential of digital marketing, firms use social media as its main tool to create a channel of information. Through this a business can create a system in which they are able to pinpoint behavioral patterns of clients and feedback on their needs.[30] This means of content has shown to have a larger impingement on those who have a long-standing relationship with the firm and with consumers who are relatively active social media users. Relative to this, creating a social media page will further increase relation quality between new consumers and existing consumers as well as consistent brand reinforcement therefore improving brand awareness resulting in a possible rise for consumers up the Brand Awareness Pyramid.[31] Although there may be inconstancy with product images;[32] maintaining a successful social media presence requires a business to be consistent in interactions through creating a two way feed of information; firms consider their content based on the feedback received through this channel, this is a result of the environment being dynamic due to the global nature of the internet.[29] Effective use of digital marketing can result in relatively lowered costs in relation to traditional means of marketing; Lowered external service costs, advertising costs, promotion costs, processing costs, interface design costs and control costs.[32]
Website owners recognized the value of a high ranking and visibility in search engine results,[6] creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase "search engine optimization" probably came into use in 1997. Sullivan credits Bruce Clay as one of the first people to popularize the term.[7] On May 2, 2007,[8] Jason Gambert attempted to trademark the term SEO by convincing the Trademark Office in Arizona[9] that SEO is a "process" involving manipulation of keywords and not a "marketing service."
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!

To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect32 from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel="canonical"33 link element if you cannot redirect.
When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer's need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc.[5][6] Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
Really great article. In some cases when you are creating strategies there are many SEO companies that focus more on finding link building opportunities rather than actually create visual assets or other link earning content. Do you think more emphasis should be placed on creating these assets first based first on understanding hot topics or refining a customers pain points?
Google is the most popular spider-driven search engine. Its database currently has about 4 billion pages indexed and is known for finding the most relevant information. When Google spiders the Web, it finds sites by traveling through links. The more sites that link to you, the more important the engines believe your content to be. You should focus on getting many important sites to link to your site. You can do this in many ways: submit to online directories, exchange links with business partners and industry-related sites, or participate in Link Building.
We still seem to have PageRank as an important ranking factor from Google, but have been told that Google is using a machine learning approach called RankBrain. The focus of this RankBrain approach is to help the search engine understand the meaning of queries better, and provide answers that (still) focus upon meeting the situational and informational needs of searchers.
One great tool to see how your competition has changed is Wayback Machine, which allows marketers to access petabytes of archived web pages. By sifting through Wayback Machine’s extensive database, you can track the evolution of your competitor’s brand and web presence, taking note of factors such as changes in UX design or differences in copy from one web version to the next.
Keyword research is the first step in the SEO copywriting process and an essential part of any SEO strategy. Before you write your website content you need to think about which search terms you want to be found for and this means getting inside people’s heads to find out which words they use when searching. Then you can use these exact terms in your content so that you start ranking for them. This is keyword research and this ultimate guide will take you through the many steps involved.
The reliable source of traffic and leads from your evergreen content will give you the flexibility to experiment with other marketing tactics to generate revenue, such as sponsored content, social media advertising, and distributed content. Plus, your content will not only help attract leads -- it will also help educate your target prospects and generate awareness for your brand.

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.
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