If you’re a little business owner, you have possibly heard at least one person recommend that you simply learn SEO (search engine optimization) and implement an online strategy for your business. After all, most of the people initial look at the net – either on their smartphones or computers – to search out any business or service.

You understand that you need a website and that it requires a bit work for it to show up on the search engines. so you spend your time – maybe outsource the process – and build a basic website for your business. maybe you use a pre-made guide to get the website up and running.
Then, not much happened.
It turns out that, despite your best efforts, the website isn’t “optimized” enough.
You perceive that, but you didn’t need to deal with all that “SEO stuff.” From everything you heard, search engine optimization takes an excessive amount of time, is too technical, and doesn’t guarantee significant results. so why bother?
A lot of little business owners feel this way. They hear about how necessary it's, but still, hesitate to get started on their own or rent an agency.
Let’s take a glance at a few aspects of SEO that build newcomers hesitant about embracing and using it:

1.  It’s Not a Magic Formula

If you think that SEO is the magic potion for immediate online success and profit, you’ll be sorely disappointed and frustrated. SEO is valuable to your business’s profitability, but it will take time before you’ll see a return on investment (see below for more details on that).

In business, every strategy and the campaign must yield measurable, significant ROI. If it is something that won’t help grow your business, you won’t do it. Because the ROI from SEO is slow in arriving, many small business owners feel that SEO doesn’t have any significance and therefore they relegate it to a lower priority.

Those new to SEO will pour a lot of time and money into it and are often frustrated by the lack of results. This makes many business owners reluctant to begin an SEO campaign and to stick it out for the long haul.

The results will eventually come if the strategy is done right. They just won’t be immediate.

SEO is an invaluable strategy for one’s business and should not be ignored. Be patient and look for logical processes, not magic.

2.  It Takes Too Much Time

Those new to SEO think that this kind of online marketing strategy is a long, complicated process that includes many parts. While there are a lot of factors to consider when optimizing your website, they don’t need to be all done at the same time.

Similar to point #1 above, those new to SEO are also often reluctant to start a pricey and time-consuming SEO strategy when it appears that all the work and effort is done in vain. Again, be patient.

There are a couple options for busy business owners tackling SEO. The first option is to hand over all the SEO tasks and responsibilities to a digital marketing agency. When you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, of course, you can delegate the entire process to an SEO company. This way, you can spend your time running your business while the agency runs the online campaign.

|Consult with a pro about developing your company’s SEO strategy.|

The other option is to tackle the SEO yourself. Don’t start off trying to do it all, but piecemeal it a little bit at a time. You’ll save money and learn about SEO, but you’ll spend a lot of time in the process.

3.  SEO is Too Technical

Many small business owners new to SEO have this idea that SEO is a complicated, technical process that is done by a web developer or a “smart computer nerd.” They feel unqualified to implement SEO, or even attempt to learn it.

Many elements of SEO, however, can be done by virtually anyone. You don’t need a background in technical computer networking or development. Basic SEO is easy to learn and only takes a few hours of learning. When your company is young and you’re new to SEO, it is best to only focus on implementing a few, simple, fundamental SEO elements and tactics.

There are many technical elements to it, too (we’ll get to those in a moment), and many small businesses are worried that agencies will try to overwhelm them with a ton of industry-specific terms and strange claims.

Don’t let that worry you, though. Just explain your concerns and ask plenty of questions, and a good agency will walk you through every part of the strategy.

4.  The Punishment and Penalties

If you’re pursuing SEO yourself, you’ll inevitably hear of Google’s SEO penalties. It is true that there are a lot of potential penalties out there for the unwary. And if you’re doing SEO on your own you may read about a foolproof method to achieve rankings, just to find out a month later that this is one of the things Google absolutely despises.

We understand that you may be concerned about this kind of thing, which is why it’s so important to build strategies around the known best practices. This is another reason why many small businesses prefer using agencies for this work – as long as they have a long history of providing effective strategies that don’t risk the wrath of Google.

5.  Their Brand May Appear Gimmicky

Some business owners are reluctant to begin and implement an SEO strategy because they believe doing so would make them look gimmicky. This is usually because they’ve read about or seen instances in which SEO is used as a questionable strategy to earn and buy traffic.

While SEO in the past had earned a bad reputation for being just that: a cheap, gimmicky way to cheat the search system and buy traffic, it has since changed. SEO now aims to provide web users valuable information, not merely tricking search engines.

It’s easy to fixate on many of these old tactics, and if you know what you’re looking for, you can spot the SEO tactics on a website. But, in general, the best SEO practices have moved away from the formulaic processes. The technical aspects of SEO should remain in the background. The writing and the design the design, though, should be more directly related to the user experience.

6.  Getting Traffic but Not Customers

One of the widely talked about aspects of SEO are keywords. Keyword research and targeting is a common tactic that is immediately initiated when you start up a new campaign. If you’re doing this on your own, you may immediately run into the vast number of relevant keywords and feel a bit overwhelmed with the possibilities.

How do you decide which ones to focus on for your SEO strategy?

Learning about keyword analytics and coming up with buyer personas can help you get an idea which words your website is already ranking for and which ones searchers are using to find your website. You can also identify keywords based on volume, relevance, and level of competition.

The more that you analyze your site and find patterns in keywords, the quicker and easier it will be to identify keywords that target the audience that is ready to convert from normal traffic to paying customers.

7.  SEO’s Complexity

You were probably a little surprised when you first found out about all the factors that are taken into account to rank websites. In fact, it is estimated that there are more than 200 factors Google considers when ranking websites (and some say that “200” is just a convenient round number and that the actual number of ranking factors is much higher).

How can you possibly tackle all of them? The apparent complexity of SEO is often enough to scare away business owners who don’t want to take the time and effort to deal with it all. Or, they may go the other way and begin to fixate on a single ranking factor, sure that it is key to their ultimate success and let the others  

Some business owners are content with learning about and implementing a few basic SEO strategies for their websites. This is a good start, but the full power and potential of SEO will never be fully realized.  

While large companies with huge budgets may be able to deal with these complexities all at once, smaller companies can focus on slowly implementing more elements over time. The slow-and-steady approach may not seem as spectacular, but you can build your rankings and customer base over time.  

It is understandable that you may be hesitant and leery of taking the time and effort and making the investment in SEO. If you’re new to SEO, these fears are common. Knowing what to expect from an SEO strategy beforehand can help calm some of those fears.

SEO does take time, money and effort. The fears that SEO is too complicated, technical, gimmicky and involve possible penalties are common misconceptions people new to SEO have. Once you learn more about SEO yourself, you’ll become more comfortable and confident to implement your own strategy or work closely with an agency.

Facebook advertising is a big and growing business: companies spent more than $9 billion on Facebook ads in the second quarter of 2017 alone. That’s an increase of 47 percent (Nearly $3 billion) from the same period in 2016.

Why advertise on Facebook?

At last count, more than two billion people were using Facebook. And those users are highly engaged with the content posted on the network: More than 800 million people like something on Facebook every single day.

Of course, when it comes to getting the biggest bang for your advertising buck, too large an audience can actually be a bad thing. After all, you only want to pay to expose your brand to people who might be interested in doing business with you. Fortunately, Facebook offers multiple layers of targeting, so you can focus your Facebook ads on exactly the right audience for your business to maximize ROI.

We’ll get into the specifics of targeting Facebook ads later on in this post, but for now keep in mind that Facebook’s huge, global audience combined with the ability to target your ad by demographics, location, interests, and behaviors allows you to access the exact people who are most likely to want to buy your products or services.

Need more convincing? Consider this: 95.8 percent of social media marketers worldwide said Facebook provides the best ROI of all social platforms.

With your competitors already seeing meaningful results from Facebook ads and increasing their spend, it’s high time to develop a Facebook advertising strategy of your own.

Types of Facebook Ads

Facebook offers 10 campaign objectives based on what you want your ad to accomplish. For each of those objectives, you can choose various ad formats based on your chosen goal and target audience.

Before we dig into some specific Facebook ad examples and the technical requirements for each format, let’s take a quick look at how the different types of Facebook campaigns align with business goals:

  • App installs: Encourage installations of your mobile or desktop app.
  • Brand awareness: Introduce your brand to a new audience.
  • Conversions: Get people to take a specific action on your website (like subscribe to your list or buy your product).
  • Engagement: Expose a post to a wide audience to increase the number of Likes, comments, shares, or photo views; increase your number of Page Likes; promote an event.
  • Lead generation: Get new prospects into your sales funnel.
  • Reach: Expose your ad to as many people in your audience as possible.
  • Product catalog sales: Connect your Facebook ads to your product catalog to show people ads for the products they are most likely to want to buy
  • Store visits: Drive customers to brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Traffic: Drive traffic to a specific webpage.
  • Video views: Show your video to a large audience to increase brand awareness.

Facebook ads: Guidelines and examples

Now that you understand the various Facebook campaign objectives, let’s explore the various Facebook advertising formats.

Photo Facebook ads

  • Facebook ad specs: One image plus text
  • Campaign types: All except video views
  • Facebook ad image sizes: 1200 x 628 pixels
  • Text limit: 90 characters
  • Headline text limit: 25 characters

Note: Since Facebook doesn’t want people’s newsfeeds to be filled with text-heavy images screaming for attention, you need to keep your text overlays to less than 20 percent of your image.

Video Facebook ads

  • Facebook ad specs: One video plus text
  • Campaign types: All
  • Facebook ad image sizes (thumbnail): Minimum width 600 pixels; match length to video aspect ratio
  • Text limit: 90 characters
  • Headline text limit: 25 characters
  • Facebook ad dimensions: Video aspect ratio of 16:9 (full landscape) or 1:1 (square) for all objectives; other aspect ratios available for specific campaign types
  • Maximum video length: 120 minutes

Video ads can create massive engagement—if they’re done right

Slideshow Facebook ads

  • Facebook ad specs: A video automatically created from up to 10 still images
  • Campaign types: All except post engagement and product catalog sales
  • Facebook ad image sizes: 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Text limit: 90 characters

Facebook Carousel ads

  • Facebook ad specs: Up to 10 photos or videos plus text
  • Campaign types: All except post engagement and product catalog sales
  • Facebook ad image sizes: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Text limit: 90 characters
  • Headline text limit: 40 characters (for images) or 25 characters (for video)
  • Maximum video length: Two minutes combined

Facebook Collection ads

  • Facebook ad specs: A mobile-only ad format that showcases multiple products or features
  • Campaign types: Conversions, traffic
  • Facebook ad image sizes: 1200 x 628 pixels
  • Facebook ad dimensions: Video aspect ratio of 16:9 (full landscape) or 1:1 (square)
  • Headline text limit: 25 characters
  • Maximum video length: 120 minutes

Facebook Canvas ads

  • Facebook ad specs: An immersive ad format incorporating text, up to 20 photos, and video
  • Campaign types: Brand awareness, conversions, engagement
  • Facebook ad size: Fullscreen
  • Facebook ad image sizes: 66 x 882 pixels (header); 1080 x 1920 pixels (full-screen image)
  • Text limit: 500-character text bock


Facebook Lead ads

  • Facebook ad specs: A pre-filled lead form that makes it easy to connect people with your business
  • Campaign types: Lead generation
  • Facebook ad image sizes: 1200 x 628 pixels
  • Headline text limit: 45 characters
  • Button text limit: 25 characters

Maserati USA used lead ads to collect 21,000 leads, resulting in sales of 127 vehicles.


How to advertise on Facebook: Placing your ad

If you already have a Facebook business page you can go the Facebook Ads Manager to create your Facebook ad campaign. If you don’t yet have a business page, you’ll need to create one first.

Step 1: Choose your campaign objective

Choose your campaign objective based on the most important metrics for your business and your goals for this particular ad.

Keep in mind that for conversion-oriented objectives you can pay per action, but for exposure objectives, you will pay for impressions.


Step 2: Target your audience

Remember: Effective targeting is key to maximizing ROI—and there’s no shortage of ways to target your audience on Facebook. In addition to targeting by location, gender, and online behaviors, you can hone your audience based on the following:

Connections: You can target people who are either connected or not connected to your Facebook Page. If you want to reach a new audience, under Detailed Targeting, chooses select “Exclude people who like your Page.” If you want to promote an offer or new product, select “People who like your Facebook Page” to reach people who already know your brand.

Custom Audiences: You can build your own audience of people who have already interacted with your business on or off Facebook. Facebook has a good step-by-step guide on how to do this.


Lookalike Audiences: This lets you target people who are similar to your existing most valuable audiences.

As you make your selections, keep an eye on the meter on the right side of the page, which indicates the breadth of your audience selection, and the estimated daily reach chart.


Step 3: Set your budget and schedule

Next, you decide how much money you want to spend on your Facebook ad. You can choose a daily or lifetime budget, then set the start and end dates if you want to schedule your ad in the future, or choose to place it live right away.


You can get into pretty fine detail about how you want to spend your money using the advanced budget options.


Keep in mind that running your ad on a schedule may be the most efficient way to spend your ad budget since you can choose only to serve your ad when your target audience is most likely to be on Facebook.

Step 4: Create your Facebook ads

One option is to promote an existing post. If you would prefer instead to create a new ad, first choose your ad format, then enter the text and media components for your ad. Making sure you conform to the Facebook ad image sizes mentioned above for each format.


Use the preview tool at the bottom of the page to make sure your ad looks good for all potential placements (mobile, desktop news feed, right column, and so on). When you’re happy with your choices, click the green Confirm button to submit your order, then wait to get an email from Facebook notifying you that your ad has been approved.

Facebook ads best practices

Keep these important strategies in mind to make the most of your Facebook advertising efforts.

Experiment with audience targeting

Start with a narrow audience and then broaden it slowly by adding one interest category at a time. For example, you could start with an audience specifically interested in “Napa Valley wine tours” and then broaden after a few weeks, adding “wine tasting,” “food and wine,” and so on. That way, you’ll have a good idea of what’s moving the needle.

If you have a local business, you can target your audience by postal code. This is also helpful if you know a particular city or neighborhood converts well.

Rotate your ads regularly

“Ad fatigue”—or reduced engagement—can occur when people see the same ad too many times. Rather than bombarding your audience with the same ad over and over, switch it up so they are exposed to different elements of your brand offering. Facebook recommends switching your ad once every one to two weeks.

Test everything

Facebook ads are a perfect venue for learning what resonates best with your audience, from ad format to image style to hashtags to the length of copy and tone of voice. Since testing is such an important topic, we’ve got a whole guide on how to do it.

Use Facebook Pixel

A Facebook pixel is a small piece of code that can have a big impact on your Facebook advertising campaigns. Once you place the code on your website, it will allow you to track conversions, remarket to people who have viewed a product on your website, and create lookalike audiences.

Include a call to action

You know what the goal of your Facebook ad is—but do your viewers? Including a call to action (CTA) ensures that the people who see your ad understand what the next step is in developing a relationship with your company.

Use top-notch photos and video

You know what’s a turnoff?  Blur photos Or jumpy videos that make you feel motion sick. Your words are important, sure, but your visuals are what will first grab viewers’ attention and create the first impression.

Make sure you comply with the Facebook ad image sizes for each format, specified above, for the best results. These free stock photo websites can help you source high-quality images to use in your ads.

If you sell a product, Facebook recommends that you try using photos showing people using and benefitting from your product, rather than an image of the product all by its lonesome.

Facebook advertising campaign ideas

Rare to go, but not sure what you should promote your Facebook ads? We’ve put together three campaign strategies to get you started.

Facebook advertising strategy 1: Collect an email

Unless you’re a marketing magician, it’s pretty hard to get people to buy from you the first time you wave to them in a Facebook ad.

For products that take longer to sell, email is your best friend. Facebook makes it pretty simple to collect new email leads. With software such as MailChimp, you can send out automatic emails (say, one email every few days). This helps you build trust and introduce people to your brand before you pitch your product.

STEP 1: In Facebook Ads Manager, choose “Lead Generation” as your campaign objective.

STEP 2: When you create your lead form, choose fields that align with the fields on your email list. Keep it simple: first name, last name, and email address.


STEP 3: Use the tool Zapier to automatically send email sign-ups from your Facebook campaigns to your email provider, such as MailChimp.

STEP 4: Do a quick test to make sure data is passing between Facebook and MailChimp.

STEP 5: Launch your ad campaign and watch the emails come rolling in. If you want to get more sophisticated, you can set up a custom automated email sequence in your email provider for Facebook leads. Below is a quick email strategy to use. You can sequence these emails a few days apart:

Facebook advertising strategy 2: Convert a proven piece of content into a video ad

Every brand has a few killer pieces of content that drive the lion’s share of traffic each month. Adapting that content into a short video aimed at Facebook audiences can be a great way to repackage top content for Facebook ads.

STEP 1: Distill the key ideas from your content piece into a few key points you can express in a few words each, or think about ways to convey the same key messages through your visuals. Make sure your call to action matches your video content.

STEP 2: Use one of these social video tools to create your video, or create a slideshow video ad in Facebook Ads Manager.

STEP 3: In Facebook Ads Manager, select “Video Views” as your campaign objective. Upload your video directly to Facebook and push the campaign live.

Facebook advertising strategy 3: Drive a direct sale

If you have a good product, there’s no reason why Facebook can’t generate direct sales. But when asking for a direct sale, you need trust—so if you’re an unknown brand with an untested product, it’s probably best to test the first two Facebook advertising strategies first.

If you’re confident that people will buy your product directly from a Facebook ad and you have a proven product with sales, test this strategy and be sure to measure your results.

STEP 1: In Facebook Ads Manager, select “Conversions” as your campaign objective.

STEP 2: Next, Facebook will ask you which type of conversion event you want to track, such as adding products to a shopping cart or adding payment information. Since you’re trying to drive a direct sale, select “Purchase.” You’ll need to install a Facebook Pixel to track a visitor from your Facebook ad all the way through your shopping cart process to purchase.

STEP 3: Create your ad with a simple and clear copy. What do you offer and how is it different? Give people a reason to buy from this specific ad. For example, maybe you bundle another product as a freebie or include a training webinar. You want people to stop what they are doing and click on your ad to your shopping cart.

STEP 4: Wait and track. Give your campaign at least two weeks before making any changes to copy or creative. Depending on your traffic volume, this should give you enough data to make an educated decision about what’s working, or what changes you might want to test.

Each and Every day, more and more people think to launch their online or e-commerce stores, but almost instantly they met with more inquiries than answers.

What are the pros and cons of Shopify vs. WordPress?

What platform should I use?

Will I have to pay any fees?


Like with other things in life, the precise answer to whether you should proceed with Shopify or WordPress is this: It depends…

I know you dislike that answer as much as I do, but hold on, with the precise answer out of the way, we can now focus on the useful one.

So let’s jump into the issue and see when it’s beneficial to use Shopify over WordPress, for whom it’s performing to be a better solution, and why would you even consider Shopify (or WordPress) in the first place.

We analyzed and compared WordPress and Shopify in all the possible perspectives to help you decide between them.

#1. Ease of Use – Which One Is Faster?

Shopify is one of the fastest e-commerce platforms supported by a strong back-end team. Your online shopping store developed on Shopify’s e-commerce platform will load faster as compared to any other web store.

Customers are paying particular attention to the speed of running a website as quick loading website save their time and energy.

WordPress e-commerce platform or Woocommerce require a well-coded website to stand in competition with Shopify on the ground of speed.

Therefore, while using a self-hosted e-commerce platform base for your online shopping store requires a qualified and experienced web designer.

Enthusiastic and committed web developer can keep a check that your online shopping store is working at its peak potential level at all times.

#2. Cost Of Operating In WordPress Vs Shopify

While commencing a small online shopping store, budget performs an essential role in the decision of spending on resources. Although Shopify wins over WordPress in speed, its charges lose out to WordPress balancing the game.

After developing your online shopping store with WordPress, you can sell as many products as you want with no transaction costs. WordPress generates an attractive banner with “Free” flashing over it.

Shopify charges monthly fees for operating your online shopping store and a commission on every transaction. Additionally, if your transactions are done from credit cards, there is an extra fee charged for it.

WordPress website might not give your customers the fastest loading online shopping store, but it will raise your profits bypassing Shopify’s fees.

#3. Creating A Customized Online Shopping Store, WORDPRESS Vs SHOPIFY

WordPress online shopping store is simple to customize. You can add new buttons, customize looks and create a better experience for your e-commerce visitors.

On the other hand, Shopify’s e-commerce platform comes customized which’s hard to modify.

Shopify looks good as it comes but for re-arranging, editions, or any change on the website you need complex coding.

While WordPress is the best e-commerce platform compared to any other leading e-commerce platforms for simple Customization.

Side-By-Side Comparison



Blogging website with WooCommerce extension

Designed as an eCommerce platform

Users must hunt support from online forums and other users

Users have access to Shopify’s support team

Must be hosted on another website with own security

Hosted, secure platform

Low costs

Low costs (monthly plan fee, the transaction fee)

Useful for blogging and SEO

Can build a blog as needed, but the focus is on eCommerce

Limited selection of themes, many of which cost money

Broad selection of themes, many free

Best for small or medium-sized businesses

Suitable for small or medium-sized businesses


Shopify Vs WordPress Vs WooCommerce: The conclusion?

If you are a small business owner with additional disposable income and less time to dedicate to building a website, it might be a better choice to go with Shopify.

Additionally, Shopify might be the best choice for local businesses that are not looking to develop their services beyond their surrounding market.

But if you have a custom integration that you require to get your business to work and are on a modest budget, you will require taking a look at WooCommerce and WordPress as your alternative of choice.

For winning fame among users that are looking for your solution, the SEO options cannot be beaten by the WordPress and WooCommerce tools.

Off page SEO refers to techniques that can be used to improve the position of a web site in the search engine results page (SERPs). Many people associate off-page SEO with link building but it is not only that. In general, off Page SEO has to do with promotion methods – beyond website design –for the purpose of ranking a website higher in the search results.

Let’s take it from the beginning…

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the term used to describe a set of processes that aim in optimizing a website for search engines. SEO is important not only for getting high quality visitors from search, but it’s also a way to improve the user-friendliness of your website and increase its credibility.

Search engines are using complex algorithms to determine which pages to include in their index and the order they show these pages in the search results.

SEO is the way to ‘speak’ to search engines in a language they can understand and give them with more information about your website.

SEO has two major components, On Page and Off Page SEO.

On Page SEO

On Page SEO refers to settings you can apply on your website so that it is optimized for search engines. The most important On-Page SEO tips are:

  • Having optimized titles and descriptions
  • Proper URL Structures
  • User friendly navigation (breadcrumbs, user sitemaps)
  • Optimized internal links
  • Text Formatting (use of h1,h2,bold etc)
  • Image optimization (image size, proper image names, use of ALT tag)
  • User friendly 404 pages
  • Fast loading pages
  • Mobile Friendly pages
  • Top quality fresh content (This is always the most important SEO factor!)
  • External links (no broken links or links to ‘bad’ sites)

You can find out more details about all the above tips in the SEO Tips for beginners article.

Off Page SEO

Unlike On- page SEO, Off-page SEO refers to activities you can perform outside the boundaries of your website. The most important are:

  • Link Building
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Social bookmarking

We will examine these in more details below, but first let me explain about the importance and benefits of off-page SEO.

Why is Off-Page SEO important?

Search engines have been trying for decades to find a way to return the best results to the searcher.

To achieve this, they take into account the on-site SEO factors (described above), some other quality factors and off-page SEO.

Off page SEO gives them a very good indication on how the World (other websites and users) perceive the particular website.

A web site that is high quality and useful is more likely to have references (links) from other websites; it is more likely to have mentions on social media (Facebook likes, tweets, Pins, +1’s etc.) and it is more likely to be bookmarked and shared among communities of like-minded users.

What are the benefits of ‘off-site SEO’ to website owners?

A successful off-site SEO strategy will generate the following benefits to website owners:

Increase in rankings – The website will rank higher in the SERPs and this also means more traffic.

Increase in PageRank – Page rank is a number between 0 and 10 which indicates the importance of a website in the eyes of Google. It is the system invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google founders) and one of the reasons that Google was so successful in showing the most relevant results to the searcher.  Page rank today is only one out of the 250 factors that Google is using to rank websites.

More exposure – Higher rankings also means greater exposure because when a website ranks in the top positions: it gets more links, more visits and more social media mentions. It’s like a never ending sequence of events where one thing leads to another and then to another etc.

Link Building

Link building is the most popular and effective off-Page SEO method.  Basically by building external links to your website, you are trying to gather as many ‘votes’ as you can, so that you can bypass your competitors and rank higher.

For example, if someone likes this article and references it from his/her website or blog, then this is like telling search engines that this page has good information.

Over the years webmasters have been trying to build links to their websites to get higher rankings and they ‘invented’ a number of ways to increase link count. The most popular ways were:

Blog Directories – something like yellow pages but each entry had a link pointing to a website.

Forum Signatures – Many people were commenting on forums for the sole purpose of getting a link back to their website (they included the links in their signature).

Comment link – The same concept as forum signatures where you would comment on some other website or blog in order to get a link back. Even worse, instead of using your real name you could use keywords so instead of writing ‘comment by Alex Chris’,  you wrote ‘comment by How to lose weight’.

Article Directories – By publishing your articles in article directories you could get a link (or 2) back to your website. Some article directories accepted only unique content while other directories accepted anything from spin articles to already published articles.

Shared Content Directories – Websites like hubpages and infobarrel allowed you to publish content and in return you could add a couple of links pointing to your websites.

Link exchange schemes – Instead of trying to publish content you could get in touch with other webmasters and exchange links. In other words, I could link your website from mine and you could do the same.

In some cases you could even do more complicated exchanges by doing a 3-way link: I link to your website from my website but you link to my website from a different website.

Notice that I used the past tense to describe all the above methods because not only they do not work today, you should not even try them.

If you try to ‘trick’ search engines by building artificial links, you are more likely to get a penalty rather than an increase in rankings (especially when it comes to Google).

The birth of black hat SEO

Link building was an easy way to manipulate the search engine algorithms and many spammers tried to take advantage of this by building link networks which gradually lead to the creation of what is generally known as black hat SEO.

Google has become very intelligent in recognizing black hat techniques and with the introduction of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird (that’s how the Google Algorithm releases are called), they have managed to solve the problem and protect their search engine results from spammers.

Of course there are still exceptions but they are doing advances in every new algorithmic release and soon enough none of these tricks will work.

To “follow” or “nofollow”

In addition to the above and in order to give webmasters a way to link to a website without passing any ‘link juice’ (for example in the case of ads), search engines introduced what is known as the “nofollow” link.

This is a special tag you can add to a link (for example: “<a href= rel=”nofollow”>Some Site</a>) that tells search engines not to count the particular link as a ‘vote of trust’ to the referenced website.

This was done so that you can link to other websites from yours without taking the risk of being caught for selling or exchanging links.

As a rule of thumb, you should add the nofollow tag on all your external links (within your pages) that go to websites you cannot trust 100%, to ALL your comment links, to ALL your blogroll links and to ALL banner ad links.

What is a good link?

So, if the above links are not useful, what is a good link?

First, you should understand that link building it’s not only a matter of quantity but it is a matter of quality as well.

In other words, it no longer matters how many links are pointing to your website but it is more important from where these links are coming.

For example, a link from a normal blog does not have the same ‘weight’ as a link from New York Times or a link from Matt Cutts blog (former head of Google Quality team) is not the same as a link from my blog.

The obvious question is, how to you get these links?

If you ask Google they will tell you that any links pointing to your website has to be natural links. Natural links are exactly what their name implies. A website owner or blogger likes another website or blog and naturally adds a link to his/her blog.

Does this happen in reality or is it another myth?

It certainly does but you have to try really hard to get to this point. Take for example this blog, there are many incoming links because other webmasters find the content interesting and I also link to other sites in my articles because I find their content interesting and want to inform my readers about it.

This is natural link building, a link has more value from the reader’s’ point of view rather than the search engine’s point of view.

The best way to attract links is to publish link worthy content that other people would like to link to.

Chapter 12 of the Complete SEO Guide describes in a step-by-step approach how to approach link building and how to to get high quality links from premium websites that can make a real difference in your rankings.

If natural links are what I have just described above, in which category do all other links belong?

They belong in the category of artificial links and by adopting such techniques you increase the risk for getting a manual or algorithmic penalty by Google.

Is guest blogging a valid way to build links?

Guest posting can be a valid way to get links back to your website provided that you don’t do it just for links and that you don’t overdo it. You can read these 2 articles to get a complete picture as to when to accept guest posts on your blog and when to guest post on other blogs.

Social Media

Social media is part of ‘off-site SEO’ and if you think about it, it’s also a form of link building. It should be noted that almost all of the links you get from social media sites are “nofollow” but this does not mean that they do not have any value.

Social Media mentions are gaining ground as ranking factors and proper configuration of social media profiles can also boost SEO.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is not as popular as it used to be in the past but it is still a good way to get traffic to your website. Depending on your niche you can find web sites like,, and (to name a few) to promote your content.


Off-page SEO is as important as on-site SEO. If you want your SEO campaigns to be successful you have to do both. When thinking about link building don’t take the easy way, but try to get links from hard-to-get places. The more difficult is to get a link, the more value it has.


It’s a noisy marketplace. How are you optimizing your online presence to make your voice heard? It starts with ensuring you are up to date on on-page SEO basics to provide peak performance for your website and visibility for your target audience.

Over the past few years, the on-page “rules” have changed drastically as Google tries to ensure they’re delivering the best results. Now, a standard search result page shows pages that don’t necessary have the exact match query—or keyword—in their title tag or meta description.

Now, we’re dealing with ranking algorithms that include Hummingbird, Panda, RankBrain and semantic importance within the page. Google is getting smarter. Your on-page strategies must be too. 

What is On-Page SEO?

If you type “on-page SEO” into Google, Moz will tell you—through a featured snippet—it is “the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO which refers to links and other external signals.”

It takes into account all aspects of the webpage that, when added together, will improve your rankings in the search results. As Google becomes more sophisticated, one of the major factors influencing on-page optimization is relevance. How relevant is your page to the query? That’s how you have to think when you’re developing the page.

Think of these tasks as a benefit to your end user. You have about eight seconds to influence a visitor to interact with your website. The more interaction and engagement, plus the longer your users stay on the site, the better their experience.

If you put effort into these categories and strategies, you’ll see a boost in traffic and a rise in your search presence. Once you understand everything that goes into your on-page SEO efforts, conduct an analysis of your site to see how the anatomy of your page is performing.

Meta Tags

Perhaps the most vital aspect of your on-page SEO efforts is the implementation of tags. Some are not as useful to SEO as they once were, but if written and utilized optimally, will improve your traffic.

Meta tags are used to provide search engines with information about your page. To achieve high rankings, it has to do with relevance and user satisfaction, but including custom meta tags will influence users and increase your click-through-rate.

Title Tags

There are multiple tags on your page. The most important is your title tag. The title is what users see in the search engines for both organic results and paid ads, and the words that appear at the top of each tab in your browser.

The title tag outlines what the page is about. When ranking web pages for particular queries, Google looks at the title tag and compares that to the rest of the content on the page.

If you’re working in HTML, the code for the title tag looks like this:

<title>Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO</title>

However, the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast allows you to create a custom title tag within the platform. Keep your title tags descriptive and short. Google recently increased the character limit for page titles to 70 characters before showing ellipses.

Best practice is to ensure you stay below the character limit so your titles display properly. You can use Snippet Optimizer to simulate how your title and meta description will appear in SERPs.

Use your title tag to stand out from your competitors, appealing to your visitors. Make sure all the pertinent information is included, including your keywords and location for local businesses.

While it’s recommended to use your core keyword within the title, Google is shifting toward relevance and semantics in the results. Users aren’t blindly clicking on the first result, reading the titles and descriptions to find the best answer to their query.

Meta Descriptions

The meta description conveys what users will find on the page. While not a direct ranking factor, search engines read the meta descriptions to determine the page’s topic and the audience that will find value.

A well-written meta description can generate a competitive advantage in the search results, creating a higher click-through rate with a greater chance of conversions.  While there is a possibility that Google will omit the custom description and pull an excerpt of the content on the page, it is recommended that you fill in the meta description for every page of your site.

The best way to check which pages are missing a meta description is to run your website through Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. It shows you every URL under your domain, the meta description, and its length.

Earlier in 2016, Google extended the length of descriptions for both desktop and mobile. For desktop, users will see up to 200 characters, while on mobile they’ll be shown up to 172 characters. To appeal to users on both devices, keep your description between 165 and 175 characters.

Clearly outline what users will find on the page. Add your brand name and sprinkle in a keyword or two if they don’t sound forced. Think about synonyms and other terms that will get the point across.

This is the first interaction many visitors have with your brand. Make it welcoming.

Think of the meta description as your organic ad text. 

Tell users what’s in it for them to click through to your site. Include an offer or call to action to entice a click. You’ll also see some websites show multiple site links to direct users to the page they’re looking for. My company, Digital Agency, has multiple pages you can click on to find out more about the agency.

To find success and steady traffic to your site, it starts with your title and meta tags. Once you get the clicks, it’s up to your user experience and quality content to maintain engagement.

Heading Tags

Your landing page or blog should include multiple heading tags, from the h1 down to a potential h6. The most important is the h1. You should never have more than one h1 tag on any page. Include multiple h2’s or h3’s as users scroll down the page. These are used as subheadings.

Use the headings to represent the different sections of the page. You’ll notice the impact from both an SEO standpoint and a usability standpoint.

SEO Factors

As an SEO factor, complementing the title of the page with the words used in your heading tags should provide users with a clear view of what the page is about. The search engine algorithm compares the section of content underneath each heading tag to establish relevancy.

Your headings should be used to structure the page. Make sure the content supports the heading.

The primary keyword of the page should be included somewhere in your h1 tag. Avoid skipping the h1 on a page, as it lets both your visitors and Google understand its subject. Many blogs, especially those in WordPress, automatically include the title of the blog post as an h1. Make sure to look at the HTML version of the page to ensure the h1 tag is present.

When it comes to headings, there are factors you want to avoid to maintain your presence in the search engines, notably stuffing unnecessary keywords in the tags.

Don’t use the same h1 tag on multiple pages of your site. This can have harmful effects on your SEO as Google won’t know which page to rank for a query containing that heading.

The Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress helps you understand how strong each page is. It analyzes on-page factors to help ensure your page is fully optimized. An added benefit, it alerts you of any issues with the page title, Meta description, headings, images, content, and more.

Usability Factors

For landing pages and some blogs, keep in mind that your users are not reading the entire page. They’re scanning and browsing quickly, looking for a section that answers their questions or provides value.

Headings and subheadings split up the page, making the presentation look cleaner.

Subheadings help users navigate throughout the page. If you’re changing the subject or discussing a different aspect of the service, use h2s. If you break it down further and need a sub-sub-heading under an h2, use an h3 tag.

Headings should not be overlooked. They hold more weight on the page than a standard paragraph <p> tag or a bolded word. Always be sure to keep your readers in mind when writing headings. They shouldn’t sound—or read—like your forcing a keyword for the sake of further optimizing the page.

URL Strings

When it comes to writing URL strings, they should be short, concise, and easily readable. How can we create the perfect URL string?

When analyzing the length of URLs, Ahrefs found that shorter URLs tend to rank better. The study looked at the length of the URL and a number of folders. They counted each root domain as one folder, and each backslash after the root as another folder.

  • (Folders = 1)
  • (Folders = 2)
  • (Folders = 3)

The report concluded that URLs with fewer folders tended to rank better, as well. Rand Fishkin of Moz said more folders can “create a perception of depth for both engines and users, as well as making edits to the URL string considerably more complex.”

From interior product or service pages to blog posts, the way we write URLs is an SEO practice that you must consider. Each word in your URL should be separated by a hyphen (-) and not an underscore (_).

When you have two pages displaying almost the same content or information, set up a 301 redirect or canonicalization tag (rel=canonical) to the stronger page. This avoids duplicate content and shows Google which page to rank.

Keep your URL short. The shorter the URL, the easier it is to share or embed while creating a better user experience. You want your readers to quickly identify what your page is about without seeing numbers, categories, symbols, or a mixture of everything included in the string.

Utilize your primary keyword in the URL. Like other factors of on-page, don’t let your URL string sound unnatural or forced with keywords. Try to make it around five words, clearly outlining the information your users will find.

Don’t leave your visitors left wondering what’s on the page before they click. The title, meta description, and URL should make it clear.

User-Friendly, Authoritative Content

As Google crawls your page, they’re looking to match user intent. Your content should clearly explain what product or service you’re offering, or the exact topic of your blog.

The internet is cluttered with content, and it’s important that you ensure yours is unique. One of the most common sayings you’ll hear in the world of SEO and content marketing is “content is king.” In fact, SEO and content marketing do a lot of overlapping.

They complement each other. Content involves the use of words—keywords—and writing for human value while still appeasing the search engines. This is what makes the foundation of SEO and the vast majority of your on-page.

Think of content as having a conversation with your readers. Are they going to be interested or entertained? Or are they going to be bored and leave your site?

When you create content, it must prove you’re an authority in your field. The best content speaks directly to your customers, shows them the value you offer and entices them to read further or contact your company.

To improve your on-page and SEO to increase your traffic, content must solve a user’s problem while being well-written without spelling or grammatical errors. Be careful not to run into any problems by failing to adhere to the major Google algorithm updates.

Be Aware of the Google Algorithm

To help weed out the websites that achieved high rankings with spammy, keyword stuffed, and thin content, Google unleashed the Panda algorithm in February of 2011, updating it regularly. If you still have low quality and thin content, your website won’t be found online.

Jennifer Slegg wrote an informative and definitive guide to understanding the Panda algorithm. She quotes a Google spokesperson as saying, “At the end of the day, content owners shouldn’t ask how many visitors they had on a specific day, but rather how many visitors they helped.”

Now, Panda is a core ranking signal, and you’ll receive a boost in rankings if you are consistently meeting the expectations of your users. While continuing to roll out and update, make sure you focus on creating quality content that is optimized for a high-volume keyword and is written with the user in mind.

As we move into the age of artificial intelligence, SEOs and marketers have been trying to figure out the effects of Google RankBrain. The machine learning system was implemented around the spring of 2015, and has become the third highest ranking factor.

Search Engine Land answers frequently asked questions regarding RankBrain, where they attest it is part of the Hummingbird algorithm. The main point you have to consider, which has been said time and time again, is to write in natural language. That’s the best way to “rank” under RankBrain.

In the article, Danny Sullivan says, “RankBrain is mainly used as a way to interpret the searches that people submit to find pages that might not have the exact words that were searched for.”

RankBrain was put into place to help determine how to rank queries there is no historical data for. It has since evolved and is used in almost every query to affect the rankings of most searches, so be sure to optimize your content for the ranking signal!

For best practice, answer user’s questions in the least amount of time as possible. Google is garnering the ability to learn user intent and return the best results, especially with the rise of voice and natural language searches.

Look at the long-tail queries and use a conversational approach to your content. While keywords play a significant role with your on-page SEO, Google is using semantics more and more to deliver the best user experience.

Keyword Targeted Content

While you must maintain a user-friendly and authoritative tone, the focus keyword is still of vital importance. Like with your Meta tags, you will either outline meta keywords for a product or service page that is targeting multiple queries, or a single focus keyword for blogs.

All of this is available in WordPress pages and posts. But why is targeting a keyword important? Using them correctly will directly affect the return on your digital marketing investment. The more you understand about keywords, the better you will strategize with your marketing.

Always make sure you’re providing the most value for your brand by targeting keywords that have search volume.

To get the most of your on-page, perform keyword research and be confident your company can convert for the targeted terms. There’s nothing worse than appearing first in the results for a query that leads to zero conversions.

Use Google Ad Words Keyword Planner to see search volume, or analyse what your competitors are targeting with SEMRush. The Keyword Planner offers you similar variations of your keyword that you can include on the page for further optimization.

Through content marketing, employ keywords strategically.

Think about the types of keywords and what will work best for your company.

  • Informational Keywords: A term like “on-page SEO” when a user wants to learn more about a topic.
  • Transactional Keywords: Words targeting users looking to buy a product or service. Typically include adjectives like “best” or “top” and are more long-tail.
  • Location-Based Keywords: When users are looking for a local business or physical location.

To determine the relevance for a particular query, Google looks at LSI keywords, or synonyms for the searched keyword. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, determining patterns within the terms, topics, and concepts of a page.

When writing long-form content, you can include LSI keywords more naturally. According to Bruce Clay,

“In latent semantic indexing, Google sorts sites on the frequency of a variety of terms and key phrases linked together instead of on the frequency of a single term.”

The content shouldn’t have just one focus keyword. Your goal with on-page SEO should be to rank for all synonyms and related queries.

Back to the term relevancy. Though your focus keyword may have 50,000 monthly searches, your page can rank higher for the similar query that only has 1,000 monthly searches.

Write content that will drive traffic from many related queries. The goal is to generate clicks and use the factors of your on-page to increase conversions.

Internal Links and Outbound Links

Links carry the most weight in your SEO. Earning links from quality sources and authority sites strengthens the domain, while linking internally throughout the site benefits the user experience and enhances your SEO.

The actual practice of earning links is part of your off-page SEO strategy. Use additional content marketing, email outreach, and other creative ways to build links back to your site. Backlinko has published an all-inclusive guide to link building that offers value when you’re starting your link building campaign.

Focusing on the page, internal linking to other pages of your site will strengthen the keywords and enable Google to determine where to rank a particular keyword. Linking internally—between service pages and blogs—helps improve the crawl ability of your site, showing Google the site’s most important pages.

If you include a new link on your homepage, it becomes easier for Google to see that you’ve updated your site with fresh content than crawling the entire site for the new material.

The benefit of internal links is giving your audience further options to stay on your site. The more engagement to relevant pages, the more Google takes notice. Don’t put an internal link in every sentence, but include multiple links per page to bolster your SEO.

Optimize Your Images

When you’re adding images to the page, it benefits the user experience. But, you can also help your SEO strategy by optimizing the image. Make your top targeted keyword the alt text and create a title that is unique, but stays applicable to the image. The featured image of this article has a unique title and the alt-text of what this post is about.

Optimizing the alt tags gives Google another indication of what your page is about. The alt tag should be used to describe what’s on the image, so we’re back to relevance again. It won’t make sense to have a picture of a Hummingbird with the alt tag “panda.”

Here’s the value of the alt tag. Think about when the image won’t load, what will the user see? The alt tag. Don’t stuff your keywords into alt tags. Make sure they fit with the image and make the picture relevant.

As Yoast says, “The image should reflect the topic of the post, or have illustrative purposes within the article, of course.”

Images play a crucial role in conversions. For SEO purposes, make sure they’re scaled correctly. The larger the image, the longer your page will take to load. Scale the image appropriately and make sure it shows in the smallest possible size.

We’re living in a visual world, and while content is the most important, make sure your images are capturing attention, as well.

Mobile Responsive

For your page to be found relevant and your on-page SEO to improve, your website needs to be mobile-friendly and responsive in 2016 and beyond. Responsive websites provide the same experience with your brand no matter what device they’re using.

There are multiple benefits to making your website responsive and appeal to mobile users. You’ll see a positive ranking signal thanks to the 2015 Mobile Algorithm Update that continues its aim to provide the best results.

Over 50% of users are spending their time browsing and searching on mobile devices over desktops. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to understand how a Googlebot is viewing your page.

To continue to provide users with the fastest and best experience, Google started showing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in the search results. Mainly beneficial for news outlets and articles, these pages load instantly and are easily identified with a lightning bolt symbol. The faster the load time, the more appealing it is for mobile users. You can learn all about AMP and its impact on your SEO in this article by Search Engine Journal staff member Anna Crowe.

Remember that when users access your website or blog, chances are they’ll be on their mobile device. You can check to ensure your website is mobile friendly through Google’s test tool. If your site is not mobile-friendly, Google will outline what you can do to fix the issue.

You’ll satisfy your customers with its functionality, making your website more relevant.

Site Speed

In today’s technology age, speed is essential. We don’t want to wait. If a page isn’t loading right away, we find another website that will. Are you helping or hurting your user’s experience?

Nearly half of all mobile users will leave a site if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds. found that fast-loading websites are significantly more likely to rank in Google.

Keeping visitors happy increases your conversion rate. According to an info graphic from Kissmetrics, 58% of mobile users expect your mobile site to load as fast, if not faster, than the experience seen on a desktop.

Optimize the site and take care of underlying factors that will shed some seconds off the page load time. Look at your site and see if there is anything slowing down the speed.

  • Leverage Browser Caching
  • Optimize Plugins & Images
  • Use GZIP Compression
  • Switch to Faster Hosting
  • Clean Up HTML & CSS Coding
  • Eliminate Ads
  • Minimize Redirects

According to a report from Radware, image compression and optimization are vital factors in the speed of your website. The study says that images hold 50 to 60% of the total weight of the page. If your image files are too large, they could be dragging down the site’s performance.

There are tools you can use to ensure the performance of your site is up to your—and your visitors—standards. If you have a Google Analytics account, you can look at your site speed under the “Behavior” tab in the left sidebar.

Other tools that provide performance tips and feedback on page speed, along with suggested fixes, include:

  • Page Speed Insights
  • GTMetrix
  • Pingdom Website Speed Test
  • Mobile Website Speed Testing Tool

The faster your website loads, the more engagement you’ll receive. Once all other on-page SEO factors are in place, focus on minimizing the load time. Your customers will prefer your site to others.

The Perfectly Optimized Page

From the top down, make the use of your website seamless. From the appearance of the page to the backend technical aspects to the optimized meta information, the perfectly optimized page incorporates all aspects.

Digital marketing is about communicating with your audience. Guiding them to make a decision while educating yourself on what aspects are benefiting your search presence. It boils down to this:

  • Relevance
  • Quality Content
  • Properly Written Meta Tags
  • Links
  • Marked Up Structured Data

Ensure you’re providing Google with the right signals. Implement custom meta tags, title tags, headings, and always write quality content. Provide your visitors with the information they want, and learn how they interact with your site through analytical tracking.

That goes into the technical side of SEO, away from the techniques and optimization strategies included on the page.

When everything is in place, look into your Google Analytics and Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) to see how your site is performing.

As search engines cache and crawl your page, are they running into any crawl errors? This could hinder your performance. Crawl errors include broken links, dynamic pages, 404s, errors in the robots.txt files, sitemap errors, and more.

Using some of the SEO tools and resources I have outlined in SEJ’s Beginners Guide to SEO, you can test the performance of the site and see if you have any crawl errors. This means that some pages are not accessed easily by the search engine bots. Google lets you address and update the health of your entire site.

Your goal is to generate conversions. Implementing these on-page SEO tactics will set a strong foundation that informs Google and entices your users.

The perfectly optimized page creates a memorable user experience and strengthens your brand.  

It will increase traffic, improve your search engine rankings for the most relevant keywords to your business, and drive leads.


The term "white hat SEO" refers to SEO tactics that are in line with the terms and conditions of the major search engines, including Google.

White hat SEO is the opposite of Black Hat SEO. Generally, white hat SEO refers to any practice that improves your search rankings on a search engine results page (SERP) while maintaining the integrity of your website and staying within the search engines' terms of service. These tactics stay within the bounds as defined by Google. Examples of white hat SEO include:

  • Offering quality content and services
  • Fast site loading times and mobile-friendliness
  • Using descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags
  • Making your site easy to navigate

Examples of black hat SEO, by contrast, include purchasing links or using deceptive cloaking techniques. Any tactics that are considered deceitful or harmful for consumers would qualify as black hat. Black hat tactics are extremely risky and, as Google's algorithms evolve, less and less likely to work.

Why Are White Hat SEO Techniques Important?

Failure to engage only in White Hat SEO practices can get your site banned from Google and other search engines.

As the number one search engine, Google is visited by billions of people per day, and each visit presents the potential for your site to be discovered by a new user.

Google is an undeniably powerful source of traffic to your website, and being banned can result in a drastic drop in website traffic and even business. Consider all the work that goes into your website and then think about what it would be like to be banned from the internet's most commonly used search engine. What's worse, once you're banned from Google, there is no guarantee that they will ever re-list you. A lifetime ban from Google would have tremendous consequences.

Why risk it? Check out a complete description of Google-approved SEO techniques at Webmaster Guidelines. Google's Webmaster resources are the go-to place to learn Google white hat SEO practices.



Should You Implement White Hat SEO Methods?


Definitely! Implementing White Hat SEO practices is the best way to create an ethical, sustainably successful website and business.

Here are some of the steps you should follow to make sure your SEO methods are strictly white hat.

Offer Quality Content and Services

Create high-quality content that meets your visitors' needs and helps solve their problems. Use SEO keyword research tools to discover the most relevant keywords that your site content should be optimized for.

Then focus on using those keywords in great content, such as how-to articles and videos, that match the intent of the keyword and your end user.

Use Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Meta Tags

Follow best practices when creating meta descriptions for each page on your website to help search engines and users discover your content.

Make Your Site Easy to Navigate

Be mindful when organizing your site's Information Architecture. Sites that are easy for users to get around tend to perform better in organic search results too.


Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.

Appearing in search results is vital for business growth, but there’s a right and wrong way of doing search engine optimization. The dark art of black hat SEO is the wrong way. Black hat SEO seeks to game search engine algorithms, rather than solve for the user. Instead of earning the right to rank highly on search engine results pages black hat SEO uses shady tactics to get you there. Sustained use of black hat SEO techniques is likely to damage your presence in search engines rather than improve it.


If you are new to the search space, the purpose of search engines like Google is to provide the best results when someone completes a search. They want people to have a great search experience and ensure the results they provide do not include spam. They do this automatically through algorithms or manual actions that aim to recognize and penalize those engaging in black hat SEO.

Search engine algorithms have gotten more sophisticated over time, which is why you should avoid black hat SEO at all costs. White hat SEO is a much better method of doing search engine optimization. It’s a more ethical approach that abides by the terms and guidelines set out by search engines. White hat SEO consists of creating quality content and a better overall user experience for people visiting your site.

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO

Black hat SEO goes against the guidelines set by search engines and manipulates them to gain higher rankings. It can lead to being wiped completely from search results or gaining a lower position. White hat SEO is a more ethical way of doing SEO by creating quality content and a good user experience.

This article will explain what black hat SEO techniques involve so you can make sure to avoid them when devising your organic search strategy.

Black Hat Techniques in SEO

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of filling your content with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate where the page ranks on search results pages. Adding multiple variations of keywords where they add no value creates a bad experience for users. It may also cause your page to rank for irrelevant queries.

Google explains keyword stuffing as:

  • Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value.
  • Blocks of text listing cities and states a web page is trying to rank for
  • Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.

Here’s an example of keyword stuffing for a website selling outbound marketing software:

“We are in the business of selling outbound marketing software. Outbound marketing software is what we sell. If you are thinking of getting outbound marketing software get in touch with one of our outbound marketing software consultants.”

I think you’ll agree, that sounds like a broken record. It’s pretty easy to spot and Google will be able to tell that the content sounds unnatural.

You may have heard the joke “an SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”. This joke is about keyword stuffing and it is another perfect example of the practice. The words are all similar to each other, but they are of no value as they don’t even string up a sentence.

You can do keyword research to find out what people are searching for but overusing these keywords in your content is not a good idea. Rather than filling your content with irrelevant keywords, concentrate on creating useful content that focuses on topics over keywords.


Cloaking involves showing one piece of content to users and a different piece of content to search engines. Websites practicing black hat SEO will do this in order to make content rank for a variety of terms irrelevant to their content. Spam websites will often do this to try and avoid a search engine bot finding out the spam content they serve to users.

Tailoring your content to different groups of users is acceptable. For example, you might shrink the size of your website when someone visits from a mobile device. You might also change the language of a page based on the country someone is visiting from. A publisher like Forbes or Inc might change the ads that appear on a page in order to fund their content. These examples are completely acceptable. As long as you are not just changing the content that appears for search engine crawlers.

While there is no hard and fast rule to determine what's acceptable and what’s not, my best advice is to ask yourself, does what you intend to do solve for the user? If it does, then it’s acceptable. You should treat search engine bots that crawl your site the same as any other user.

If you are curious to find out how Google sees your website you can use the fetch as Google tool and compare this to what users see.

Sneaky Redirects

A redirect involves sending someone to a different URL than the one they initially clicked. Black hat SEO uses redirects outside of the purpose they are intended for. Along the same lines as cloaking, this might include redirecting a search engine crawler to one page and all other users to another page.

Another example is redirecting a highly authoritative page with lots of backlinks into another irrelevant page, just to boost its position in search results. A 301 redirect passes the majority of authority from one page to another. This means someone practicing black hat SEO could use redirects solely for the purpose of manipulating search results.

Redirects should only be used for the purpose they were designed. This might be in the event you change website domain or consolidate two pieces of content. It’s also acceptable to use JavaScript to redirect users on some occasions. Take for example, LinkedIn redirecting you to someone's full profile when you are logged in, rather than show you the public version of a users profile when you are logged out. Sneaky redirects, on the other hand, should be avoided. They violate the guidelines of search engines such as Google and Yandex.

Poor Quality Content

Poor quality content that’s of no value to the searcher is also a common practice in black hat SEO. This includes content scraped from another website either by a bot or a person. At one point search engines like Google weren’t good at recognizing content that had been copied from other websites. The Google Panda update in 2011 resolved this issue. Many sites with duplicate content took an instant hit in search rankings. Since then, Google has gotten much better at recognizing duplicate and low-quality content.

Adding invisible keywords to your content is also a prohibited practice. Some websites that engage in black hat SEO do this by making the text the same color as the page background. This means the page may appear in search results for those invisible keywords, even though there’s no visible content about them on the page. When a user clicks on the result thinking it’s going to be about the topic they searched for, they don’t find any of the content they were looking for as the keywords are invisible. If you’re solving for the user, there should be no need to hide content on your website.

The “bait and switch” is another black hat means of misleading search engines. This involves creating content surrounding a topic you want to rank for. Once the page is ranking in results for this topic, the content is swapped out for something else. This creates a negative experience for searchers as the content they click-through to see no longer exists. These practices trick users and search engines and they are not a good way to do SEO.

Writing original, quality content is an important part of white hat SEO. Not only is it required to avoid a penalty from search engines, it will also set your website apart. Creating high-quality content builds trust with your target audience and turns visitors into customers.

Paid Links

Search engines like Google strictly ban the buying and selling of links. They state on their website that “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” This includes sending a website free products in exchange for links. If you’re not sure of what’s an acceptable exchange, Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s webspam team recommends looking at FTC guidelines.

You should avoid paying any other site to link to your content. Google asks users to tell them about instances of people buying or selling links. They state they will penalize both buyer and seller of links once the practice is detected.

If you’re reading this having purchased links without realizing this is a black hat SEO tactic, you should have them removed as soon as possible. You can also use the disavow links tool if you can’t get webmasters to remove the links.This tells Google to disregard the paid links when calculating your Pagerank.

Abusing Structured Data/Rich Snippets

Structured data is also known as rich snippets and schema. It allows you to change how your content is displayed on search engine results pages. It makes your content stand out from competitors and also gives you more real estate on results pages. You can add structured data to a page displaying a podcast, recipe, book among other products and services. Reviews schema markup is probably one of the most popular types of structured data.

Black hat SEO involves providing inaccurate information in structured data to fool search engines and users. For example, someone practicing blackhat SEO might award themselves five stars from a fake review site and add structured data so they stand out on search results pages. This is a very risky practice as search engines like Google encourage users to report websites misusing structured data. 

This should not put you off marking up truthful, accurate information on your web pages. In fact, I highly recommend adding structured data the white hat way. We added review markup to HubSpot product pages and saw a 10% increase in clicks to those pages.

You have nothing to worry about, if you provide truthful information that is helpful to users. Google has documented the rules around adding structured data to your website and also have a helpful tool for testing your structured data.

Blog Comment Spam

As the name suggests, this black hat technique involves including a link to your website in blog comments. This practice happens less often nowadays as search engines like Google updated their algorithm to discount any links in blog comments. Most authoritative blogs now make links in blog comments nofollow by default. This means search engines like Google do not follow the link nor does it the link pass any authority.

Despite the decline in the number of people engaging in the practice, you’ll still find a bunch of people on Fiverr advertising blog commenting services. Blog commenting, with links to your website is a spammy way of getting links to your website and we highly recommend avoiding the practice.

If you own a publication, forum or community that allows comments you need to take care to ensure that your comments section can’t be spammed by either bots or people. Search engines like Google will demote or completely remove pages containing spam from the search results. Using anti-spam tools like Google’s free reCAPTCHA tool is one way to mitigate the risk of spam user generated content.

Link Farms

A link farm is a website or a collection of websites developed solely for the purpose of link building. Each website links out to the site or sites they want to rank higher on search engines. Search engines rank websites by looking at the number of links that point to the website, among other factors. Black hat SEO exploits this by using link farms to inflate the number of backlinks a particular site has.

Link farms often have low-quality content and lots of links. The links normally contain the keyword they want the site to rank for in the anchor text. Search engines like Google can easily detect link farms and using them should be avoided. Instead, you should use white hat SEO tactics like creating amazing content, graphs, data, interviews or any other content that allows you to acquire backlinks naturally over time.

Private Blog Networks

A private blog network (PBN) is a bunch of authoritative websites used solely for link building. They are similar to link farms in that they both aim to exaggerate the number of links pointing to a website. Each PBN site links to the site they want to boost in the search results but do not link to each other.


Black Hat SEOs wanting to build a private network will normally buy expired domains that have already built up authority. They’ll write content similar to what already existed on the domain before it expired and add links to their own site. They hope that search engines won’t notice they’re controlling a network of websites and rank their main website mucher higher in the search results.

Search engines have gotten clever at spotting PBNs and your site could be hit with a severe penalty if you are using PBNs to improve your search presence. Rather than put effort into spinning up fake websites focus on creating quality content under your own domain. Keeping your content under one roof means your site will be highly authoritative as everyone will link to the one domain.

Examples of Black Hat SEO

Groupon’s Bait and Switch

Groupon was accused of doing a bait and switch by San Francisco Comprehensive Tours. The tour company ran a one of promotion with Groupon but the voucher website continued to advertise the promotion on Google long after it had ended. When searchers clicked on Groupon’s page there was no discount to be found as the content had been swapped out. This bait and switch happened in a PPC advertisement but they often happen on organic results too.

J.C. Penney’s Black Hat Links

J.C. Penney ranked at the top of search results for a vast number of keywords from “skinny jeans” to “home decor”. The retailer’s exceptional performance in search results was perfectly timed around the holiday season. This outstanding performance in search results was thanks to black hat SEO link building techniques that slipped under Google’s radar.

Just over 2,000 backlinks were discovered by Doug Pierce. These links contained anchor text with the very keywords J.C. Penney wanted to rank for on search engines. Many of the links were found on websites of no relevance to J.C. Penney. The topics of these websites ranged from casinos to cars. J.C. Penney claimed no responsibility for the links that were found in an interview with the New York Times.

Google confirmed the actions of J.C. Penney went against their webmaster guidelines and revealed that they also had violated webmaster guidelines on three previous occasions. J.C. Penney received a Google penalty that saw them drop down close to seventy positions on Google for terms such as “living room furniture.”

Sprint’s User Generated Spam

In 2013 a user called Redleg x3 posted on Google’s Webmaster Centralforum explaining Sprint got a notification from Google warning of user-generated spam on their website. Google’s Matt Cutts commented on the thread saying he could see the majority of spam had been removed from the website. He explained the company should “...try to catch the spam a little faster or see if there are some ways to make it a bit harder for the spammers to post a large amount of messages on the community pages.”

Forbes Selling Links

Someone appearing to be from Forbes posted on the Google Webmaster Central forum seeking help with a link violation notice. The notice asked Forbes to remove unnatural links from their site’s content.

Google’s Matt Cutts commented in the thread that he had confirmed multiple times that paid links that pass PageRank. Cutts recommended that Forbes remove the paid links that pass PageRank to have the penalty reversed. TechCrunch reported that Forbes began to remove the paid links back in 2011 after receiving the penalty.

Google Chrome’s Paid Link

Even Google messes up their own SEO from time to time. On one occasion they included a follow link in a sponsored post about Google Chrome. This falls under black hat SEO as the link was included as part of sponsored content that was paid for by the company.


Why You Should Avoid Black Hat SEO

While black hat SEO is not illegal, it does violate webmaster guidelines set out by search engines. In other words, it’s still against the rules. This means if you engage in black hat SEO, you must be willing to get hit with a nasty penalty as punishment. Getting a penalty from search engines will cause your website to drop down in the search results or worse, it could be removed completely. This means your website will gain less traffic and ultimately, fewer customers.

Search engines have gotten better and better at spotting black hat SEO techniques. Nowadays getting caught for practicing black hat SEO is pretty much unavoidable. Black hat SEO does not solve for the searcher nor does it solve for the search engine. While you may see short-term gains from black hat SEO over time search engines will pick up on your black hat ways damaging your presence in search.

The Blurred Lines of Grey Hat SEO

You won’t find grey hat SEO in the middle of a Robin Thicke song, but you will find it somewhere in the middle of black and white hat SEO. If there’s an SEO tactic you find hard to categorize as black or white hat SEO, then it’s probably a grey hat technique.

What is Grey Hat SEO?

Grey hat SEO consists of slightly shady SEO tactics. While they are not against search engines prohibited practices, they are slightly unethical and could be banned in the future.

Grey hat SEO threads close to the line of black hat SEO. Grey hat tactics are normally not listed in webmaster guidelines as prohibited practices but they are a little dubious. Many grey hat practices have become black hat practices over time, once search engines found out about them.

How To Avoid Black Hat SEO

There’s no doubt black hat SEO is a risky business that’s not worth engaging in. Here are best practices to avoid black hat SEO:

  • Treat the searcher and search engines the same way. Avoid “cloaking” or tricking search engine crawlers by redirecting them to another page. You should always focus your efforts on solving for the searcher and create a great user experience from search engine to site.
  • Write only good quality original content that avoids keyword stuffing. Never scrape, duplicate or reword content that belongs to others. Google’s content guidelines and our content creation kit may be helpful.
  • Abide by the rules when adding structured data to your website. Ensure any schema markup you add is accurate and not misleading to users.
  • Never buy or sell links and remember, it’s not just money that’s considered a black hat exchange. Providing free products in exchange for links is also prohibited. If you are unsure if an exchange might be unethical lean on the FTC endorsement guidelines and consult this detailed blog post about paid links from Google.
  • Avoid setting up a private blog network for the purpose of getting links. Differentiate your website and content so people link to you naturally rather than fake it till you make it. That never ends well.
  • Stay up to date on webmaster guidelines so you can avoid black hat tactics prohibited by search engines. Here are the webmaster guidelines for Google, Yahoo and Yandex.

Don’t make your next search “how do I get rid of a Google penalty?” If you need to question whether something is black hat or not, it probably is. A white hat SEO strategy is a much better approach to search engine optimization. In the long run, it will pay dividends and you can sleep at night knowing you’ll never see a dip in your rankings due to a nasty penalty. So for the love of search engines, never do black hat SEO. After all, they are the ones that keeping us SEOs in the business.


When it comes to marketing a brand or business, one of the most debated subjects is what kind of strategy would work to meet organizational goals. In digital marketing, website traffic is among the top priorities of any company, and a ton of research goes to identifying the best strategy that can significantly boost traffic.

Two of these strategies are Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Because they’re both capable of directing audiences to a website to increase its visitor count, they are the most common methods to employ. But with the shifting tides on what strategy brings the most traffic referrals, which should you choose to invest in?

To fully understand where each strategy stands, and which can bring you the best results, it’s important to define where the lines are drawn between them.

Prime View defines (organic) SEO as the “grandfather of digital marketing.” Before social media, one of the best ways for a site to rank was through SEO, and optimizing a website requires attention to several vital aspects, such as backlinks, meta-tags, and authentic content.

On the other hand, social media marketing uses social media sites to gain direct traffic to a website by building and cultivating a social presence, whether through paid ads or more natural means of communication and community-building.


Despite both aiming to direct traffic to a website, SEO and social media marketing do have certain distinctions between them.

Speed of Execution

  • Social gets the word out and obtains responses quickly.
  • A search takes longer to produce equivalent results.


  • If you manage to create viral content, you stand a chance of reaching the population cap of the platform you use.
  • The reach of search is set by the number of people who search for specific keywords.

Type of Content

  • Social media is the perfect platform for content that elicits emotions.
  • Informative content, such as how-to articles and industry research is better served by search.

Content Format

  • Image, photos, and videos are great for social media.
  • Textual content, such as blogs, listicles, news and PR posts, etc. are perfect for search.

Target’s Purpose

  • Social media users are more likely to share but less ready to buy.
  • Searchers have a specific purpose in mind for searching and are more likely to act on an offer.

Work Required

  • Social media takes a lot more constant and consistent work to sustain the hype.
  • A search takes some effort to set up initially but will carry itself even when unattended.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Social media relies primarily on measuring engagement.
  • Search is more attuned to traffic and click-through information.

Considering these differences, what then are the strengths and weaknesses between the two that you should consider?

Social Media


  • The most cost-effective way to gain traffic. Setting up a social media profile is 100% free, and even a small budget on boosting posts or launching social media ads can give you traffic.
  • Social media will start sending targeted traffic to your site once you set up an ad.
  • Peer recommendation is on your side. People can see what their connections are liking and sharing, which bring these posts to their attention.
  • There are fewer algorithm changes. That’s not to say that there haven’t been changes in specific platforms, most notably Facebook, that have negatively impacted businesses, but it’s less of an occurrence.
  • Finding out where you went wrong through your Insights is usually more clear-cut.


  • Contrary to popular belief, social media also is highly labor-intensive and requires continuous effort. The engagements you’re getting can die out as quickly as they came.
  • Likes, comments, and shares don’t equate to traffic. Some users tend to engage with posts without necessarily checking the site.
  • Social media’s site referral traffic rates are dropping. Shareaholic and both report that search has regained the lead over social for traffic referral in early 2017.




  • Being the top search results for queries and keywords is a surefire way of telling audiences that you’re one of the most reputable sources out there. You build a lot more trust because even Google says you’re that good.
  • Search engine algorithms are usually stricter and more experience-driven. This makes sure that you’re giving your audience an easy-to-use and readable website.
  • People use search engines first when they’re looking for something. According to a report by Econsultancy, 61% of consumers use search engines to help them in product research before making a purchase.
  • You are not limited by time or budget when it comes to staying a relevant search if you keep up with your SERP rankings.
  • Search is now overtaking social on website traffic referral. found that Google Search accounts for twice as many referrals (44% of all external referral volume) as Facebook (22%). Meanwhile, Shareaholic reports that, in 2017, the top 6 search engines drove 34.8% of measures site visits as opposed to the 25.6% for the top 13 social networks.


  • SEO is a slow burner. It can take months or years before your website makes it to the top of the SERPs.
  • Google regularly changes its algorithms. It can come out of nowhere and drop your rank by a worrying margin. Google also doesn’t outright confirm many of its algorithm updates, which can confuse marketers.
  • It’s often difficult to figure out exactly where you’re going wrong, how much money SEO is bringing you, or what strategies will help you improve your rankings.

Which Should You Choose?

  • Both strategies have their strengths and weaknesses, but most marketers nowadays agree that it’s vital to use them both. SEO will make sure that your content can be read by search engines, while social media will help you get your content in front of more people faster.
  • Shout Me Loud, however, also notes that it may come down to what content you’re delivering with what’ll work better for you. Serious, text-based content may fare better with SEO. Content about the latest news will reach your audiences faster with social media.
  • In the end, it’s never wise to just put all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. While statistics gathered by Marketing Charts show SEO as the most viable strategy, you can still take a gamble with social media for maximum reach.


Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build your own online shop with Shopify.

I’ll cover all the basics and bit more, so you could get your online store up and running ASAP.

Let’s get started…

How to Set up Your Own Online Shop with the Help of Shopify

Signing up with Shopify and starting your store couldn’t be any easier and they even offer a 14-day free trial to get you going.

To launch your Shopify store, you must sign up for an account.

1. Sign Up with Shopify

To start, visit Use the signup form to start creating an account.

Enter the required details and then click the ‘Create your store now' button.

Your store name needs to be unique or Shopify will ask you to choose something else.

After this initial screen, you’ll be asked for a few more details, these include your name, address, country and a contact number.

You will also be asked if you have products and, if so, what you aim to sell. If you’re just trying out Shopify to see if it works for you, you can select ‘I’m just playing around’ in the Do you have products? dropdown, and ‘I’m not sure’ in the ‘What will you sell?’ section.

Once complete, click ‘I’m done’.

2. Start Setting Up Your Online Shop

After you’ve signed up you’ll be directed straight to your store admin screen. Now you are ready to start customizing your store’s look, uploading products and setting up payments and shipping.

3. Choose a “Theme” or “Layout”

Shopify has its own official theme store. These themes are all guaranteed to have full support from the designers so you know your store is in good hands.

All themes come with a comprehensive list of modifications you can make without having to touch a line of code. The premium themes come with more modifications, but that’s not to say you can’t achieve a great looking site with a free one. These changes are outlined in the next section.

If you want to make wholesale changes to a theme, there are very few limitations on what can be achieved by accessing the HTML and CSS. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any coding experience. Shopify has an international team of design agencies they call ‘Shopify Experts’ that you can hire to fully customize your site.

To find a theme that suits your needs we recommend the following:

1. Browse the Theme Store

Log into Shopify and visit the Shopify Theme Store at Here you’ll find over 180 theme variations to choose from, including a good selection of free ones.

You can filter by paid or free, industry and by features. You can also sort themes by price, popularity, and most recent.

2. Check the functionality and reviews

Once you’ve found a theme you like, click on the theme’s sample image. You’ll be given more information about the theme, such as whether the theme is responsive/mobile ready among other features.

Scroll down to read some reviews to find out what e-tailers using the theme think of it.

3. Preview the theme

To see the theme in action, click View Demo. You’ll see this below the green ‘Preview Theme in your Store’ button.

If the theme comes in a range of styles, you can also view demos of the different styles by clicking on them.

4. Get the theme

Once you’ve found a theme you like, click the green button.

Shopify will ask you to confirm that you want to install the theme.

Click Publish as my Shop’s Theme.

Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure it’s the right theme for you. You can always change your mind later.

After the theme has installed, Shopify will let you know and will give you the option to Go to your Theme Manager. Click this.

Your theme manager shows published themes (the one you installed or activated most recently) and unpublished themes below (previously installed themes).

4. Edit Shopify Settings

The majority of Shopify themes allow you to make simple changes that can massively change the appearance of your store, so you can rest assured knowing you won’t end up with a website that looks like a clone of thousands of other stores.

On your admin screen, select ‘Themes’ from the left-hand navigation menu. On this page you will see your live theme in a box at the top, in the top right-hand corner of that box will be two buttons. The first one is of three dots, which gives you some basic settings changes. One of these allows you to make a duplicate of the theme. We highly recommend you do this in case you make some changes you don’t like, then you can delete the duplicate and start again. The second button says ‘Customize Theme’. If you click that you will be taken to a page that controls all the basic functionality of your store. This is a great time for you to have a thorough play with the settings and test out all the features so you can find out what your site is capable of.


Changing colors in your theme

The most common features will include:

  • Uploading logos
  • Uploading slides to a homepage carousel
  • Adding related item functionality to product pages
  • Choosing how many items appear on each line of the collection pages
  • Colour schemes
  • Font choices.

Some themes will also allow you to reposition elements on pages such as showing product images on the left, right or center of the page. You can also choose whether you want to display social like/tweet/pin/+1 buttons.

5. Add Your Products to The Store

From the bar on the left select ‘Products’. You will then see a blue ‘Add a product’ button in the top right-hand corner of the page. Especially look at those that will help with SEO such as name, description, and URL. Also, include as much detail about variants as possible to help inform customers about your items.

This is also the screen where you upload product pictures. Once the images are uploaded you can rearrange them so don’t worry about uploading them in any particular order.

Product images can make a sale so make sure you show your products off to their best and highlight any special or unique features with close up photos. To keep your store looking tidy we suggest you keep all images the same dimensions. Unless of course, you plan to make your collection pages look like a Pinterest board.

Once everything is filled out always remember to click the ‘Save product’ button in the top and bottom right-hand corners.

Set up collections (a group of products)

A collection is any group of products that have some feature in common that customers might look for when visiting your store. For example, your customers might be shopping for:

  • Clothes specifically for men, women, or children
  • Items of a certain type, such as lamps, cushions, or rugs
  • Items on sale
  • Items in a certain size or color
  • Seasonal products such as holiday cards and decorations.

Products can appear in any number of collections. Usually, you would display your collections on your homepage and in the navigation bar. This helps customers find what they’re looking for without having to click through your whole catalog.

Manual and automatic collections

When you add a new collection, you can select how products should be added to it. These are the two options:

  • Manually -
You add and remove products in a manual collection individually.
  • Automatically -
You can set up selection conditions to automatically include products that meet certain criteria.

Payment gateways

A payment gateway allows you to take payment from your customers via your website. The price and commission rate is important, but it’s also important to see what features they offer. Not all payment gateways are created equal.

You need to look at the following when choosing the right payment gateway for you.

  • Transaction Fees

When you take a payment, some gateways will keep a small percentage or flat fee (or sometimes both) for letting you use their service. Compare these based on what your anticipated sales are.

  • Card Types

You need to know what types of card are accepted by your chosen Payment Gateway. All accept VISA and Mastercard, while most accept American Express. Paypal is also popular for online payments.

  • Offsite Checkout

Some gateways will take the payment on their own servers via their own form. This means the customer is taken away from your checkout and they pay on the form provided by your payment gateway. They are then redirected to your confirmation page once the customer successfully pays. This allows you to have a bit more control of the checkout process. Now you can circumvent Shopify’s limitations in that they don’t let you customize the checkout other than with CSS.

Payment gateway transaction fees are added on top of Shopify’s own transaction fees. However, as of November stores based in the US and UK can use Shopify Payments. Depending upon your Shopify plan, you can save on these extra costs. Relative to your plan you will receive these highly appealing rates.

  • Basic 2.4% + 20p
  • Professional 2.1% + 20p
  • Unlimited 1.8% + 20p

Depending on how many transactions you make every month it could be worth upgrading to take advantage of these savings.

If you live in the US or UK your store will automatically use Shopify Payments. To complete this, click the ‘Complete Shopify Payments account setup’ button found in Settings > Payments. If you wish to use a third party gateway you can use the ‘enable payment gateways’ link on the same page.

6. Get Your Online Shop “LIVE”

Before your site can go live you need to add a few more details about your company and how you plan to make deliveries and pay tax.


Make sure all your business information is filled out on this page. Also, make sure to make use of the Google Analytics feature. This can prove to be an invaluable source for tracking your store visitors.


  • Go to the Products page of your admin
  • Click on the name of a given product.
  • Scroll down to the section called “Inventory & variants”.
  • Click on the edit link next to your Product Variant to open a dialog window.
  • Make sure the checkboxes next to Charge taxes and Requires shipping are checked if you need to include these with your products.
  • Some stores won’t need to charge taxes or shipping on products like digital goods. On the other hand, a T-shirt store will likely need to charge both.
  • If you are planning to ship your product to customers, make sure to enter the product’s weight in the appropriate field.


If your shipping rates are too narrow, or you don’t give enough options, you may lose out on some sales. Shopify will only calculate a shipping rate for your customers based on the rules that you define in the Shipping page of the admin. To make sure you won’t lose any sales:


  • From your store admin, go to the Settings > Shipping page.
  • In the “Shipping rates” section, look to see if you have set a weight-based shipping rate and adjust it according to your product’s specifications.

Test your order system

To test your system you can simulate a transaction using Shopify’s Bogus Gateway.

To use the Bogus Gateway:

  • From your store Admin, click Settings, then Payments to go to your Payments settings
  • If you have a credit card gateway enabled, deactivate it before continuing. (Click Edit, then Deactivate, then confirm your deactivation.)
  • In the Accept credit cards section, click Select a Credit Card Gateway to open the drop-down menu.
  • Scroll down the list to other, then click (for testing) Bogus Gateway.
  • Click Activate (or Reactivate, if you’ve used the Bogus Gateway before).
  • Go to your storefront and place an order as a customer would. At checkout, enter the following credit card details instead of genuine numbers:

Testing a real payment gateway with a genuine transaction:

  • Make sure you’ve set up the payment gateway you want to test.
  • Make a purchase from your store as a customer would, and complete checkout using genuine credit card details.
  • Cancel the order immediately, to refund yourself and avoid paying transaction fees.
  • Log in to your payment gateway to make sure the funds went through.

Is this free?

Yes – just be sure to cancel and refund the order soon after you place it.

If your billing cycle hits after you’ve placed the test order but before you cancel it, the transaction fees will appear on your bill. You can still cancel after paying your bill to Shopify, but you’ll receive the refund as a transaction credit on your account. You can use transaction credits to pay future transaction fees.

7. Consider Buying a Domain Name

To get your site live you’ll need a domain name. You have two choices for this. Firstly you can buy a domain from Shopify and it will be added to your store automatically. This saves you time, especially if you have no knowledge of hosting a website. These domains typically cost $9-$14 USD per year. Your second option is to purchase a domain from a third party such as GoDaddy. These domains start from $1.99 USD a year. The downside is that you’ll have to redirect the DNS records yourself which can seem daunting at first.

Here are the steps to put your new Shopify store live on a third party domain name.

  • Add the new domain in Shopify

In the Shopify admin, from the left-hand navigation go to Settings and then Domains and add your domain name using the ‘Add an existing domain’ button.

  • Update DNS records

Login to your domain registrar and make the required changes.

  • Remove any storefront passwords

Otherwise, no one will be able to access your site even once it’s live.

  • Set as primary if relevant

Whilst in Settings > Domains, you can choose your main domain by using the drop-down at the top of the screen:

Ensure that you also check the ‘Redirect all traffic to this domain’. This means that traffic to all other domains will be directed to your primary domain. This is crucial for good SEO.

  • Adding other domains 

You can repeat steps 1 and 2 with other domain names you own. All domain names will redirect to the ‘Primary’ domain, which you can change at any time with the ‘Set as primary’ option next to each domain name.

Note that the number of domain names you own has no influence on SEO.



And that is all there is to it. In theory, you can have a great looking, unique and fully-functioning store in less than half an hour without having to be a web expert. This way you can spend most of your time marketing your product rather than having to maintain the site.

In regards to customization, Shopify allows almost every aspect of their templates to be altered in some way. You can also change the functionality of most parts of your site. On top of this, they also have the largest app store for added functionality. Comparatively, Volusion only has one template that can only have minor changes made to it.

The only real downside is not being able to fully customize your checkout. Shopify restricts access to this page for security reasons. However the checkout comes fully responsive, so it will work perfectly for customers shopping on mobile devices.

Shopify is a fast growing eCommerce platform, offering businesses the opportunity to set up an eCommerce store at affordable rates -- about 160% below the average for eCommerce platforms! If you’re looking to start building your very first business, Shopify is an easy solution.

For Shopify, the more you pay for monthly fees, the less you have to pay for processing fees. When you’re trying to decide on your Shopify plan, the key is finding the optimal plan based on your sales and transaction numbers. And with four plans ranging from $29 to $1,500 a month, offering a wide variety of features ranging from gift cards to personalized support contacts, there’s definitely an option for every type of business.


Basic Shopify

The Basic Shopify plan is a good fit for smaller businesses that are just starting out, as it’s the cheapest Shopify option with a monthly subscription fee of $29.

However, it comes with the highest credit card rate processing fee of 2.9%. As the name suggests, the Basic Shopify plan doesn’t include some of the more sophisticated features like gift cards, reports, and abandoned cart recovery. Even then, the Basic Shopify plan is still a great place to start, because as your business grows, you can always move on to higher plans.


The Shopify plan definitely works well for growing eCommerce businesses that are looking to scale up their operations, as it includes gift cards, reports, and abandoned cart recovery. These features that enable business owners to sell more through gift cards, while also offering them the opportunity to recover lost revenue through abandoned cart recovery. In addition, having access to reports provide you with valuable insights into the purchasing habits of your customers to help you make better business decisions.

You’ll also enjoy savings on credit card rates with a lower processing fee of 2.6%.

Advanced Shopify

If you’re considering the Advanced Shopify plan, there’s a high chance you have a large, established company and you’re looking to grow your business even further. With the advanced report builder, you’ll be able to build custom reports that you can filter by dimensions to show you the biggest opportunities for your business when you’re looking for new openings to scale up your business.

A bigger advantage is the real-time carrier shipping information that ensures you offer customers carrier based shipping prices at the checkout. Having this information can help prevent cart abandonment since one of the most common reasons for cart abandonment comes from the customer encountering unexpected costs.

In addition to this, you’ll have the lowest processing fees at 2.4%.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus is the equivalent of a bespoke enterprise level eCommerce solution. It also takes the strain of order management off your shoulders as you won’t have to worry about incurring any transaction fees.

In addition, you’ll also have a dedicated project manager, an account manager, personalized support contacts, negotiated Shopify Payments rates, and early access to beta features.

I liken a non-ranking website to owning a pimped-out sports car that won’t start. It looks great, but if it doesn’t move you from Point A to Point B, then you are going nowhere fast. So, bear with me as I take this analogy a bit further. Why is your website not ranking in Google?


More than likely, one of the parts is not functioning as it should. You see, a website is a complex machine of integrated elements. When one goes down, it affects overall performance. Sometimes, it just leaves you stranded in the woods where no one can find you.

The good news is that most ranking problems require nothing more than a quick website tune-up.

5 Tools to Fix a Website Not Ranking in Google

A good mechanic needs tools and so does anyone needing to repair a website not ranking in Google. Luckily, some of the best tools out there are free and easy to use.

#1 – Google Search Console

Have you ever called the cable company to report an outage and then realized somebody unplugged the cable box? Rather embarrassing isn’t it. To eliminate the obvious, Google Search Console is a good place to start. There you can find out if Google has even found your site.

  • Has it been crawled?
  • Did Google index your pages?
  • Are there redirect errors?

I highly recommend you set up an account, verify your site, and monitor your crawl results. At first, it may seem a bit “technical” but here are some basic things you should be able to check.

Review your crawl errors. They could be the reason your website is not ranking in Google. Fix them or contact your web developer for help.
See if Google has indexed your pages. Not every page or image submitted will be indexed, but most if nothing is showing, you probably have found your problem.

If you are still unsure if Google has found your website, go to the search bar and type in your company name. Your website should pop up but if it doesn’t then try entering If you still can’t find your site, then Google has not crawled it.

Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to fix every little thing that shows up in the Google Search Console. What you are looking for are large, obvious problems keeping your website from ranking in Google.

#2 – Duplicate Content Checker

We assume that none of you knowingly plagiarize another site’s content, but what about your own? Google does NOT like duplicate content, so they ignore it. If your site is image heavy, with very little content, then you need to make sure that whatever text you do have on your landing pages is unique from the rest of your site.

Copyscape is a great place to compare two web pages to see if they are duplicate content. Opinions vary widely within the industry as to what percentage you need to be under, but I’ve found that anything under 70% is fine as long as it is contained within my own website.

Do not copy another website’s material. You run the risk of having your entire site shut down. It’s just not worth it.

#3 – Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

With the majority of people moving to mobile searching, Google has changed its ranking process to favor mobile-friendly sites. If your site does not load well on tablets or phones (and as well – we mean fast), then you may find your website not ranking in Google, even searching from a laptop.

Run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and see how it scores. Fix any problems that pop up and see if that improves your ranking.

#4 – SEO Analyzer

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) determines how Google categorizes your site. The keywords you place within your text helps search engines establish the relevance of your site to a user’s search. The more relevant your material, then the higher you rank in the search results. A more in-depth discussion of SEO is found in our 4 Minute SEO Crash Course. Once a month they crawl your website and return any errors that might affect SEO. Also, there is their keyword analysis tool that lets you see the most prevalent phrases on any given page.

If you have a WordPress site, then you definitely want to install the Yoast plugin. By following their recommendations, you can eliminate a good number of SEO issues.


#5 – Backlink Checker

Every time an outside source links to your content, it gives your website a small boost in rank. If you fixed all your functionality issues and properly optimized your content, then you may just need to promote your website. Time, content, and promotion are what cause a site to rank in Google. Use the Backlink Checker from Small SEO Tools to see how many URLs point back to your website.

You can increase your backlinks by promoting your website on social media or joining industry forums. Develop an email campaign that shares links to your articles and landing pages. Encourage people to share or bookmark your material. This link should help a website not ranking in Google.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor tool that enhances the work of graphic designers. This tool revolutionized the scenario of raster graphics and is considered as the benchmark of graphics editing. The very literal usage of the term “Photoshop,” as a verb denotes its global popularity and significance. Regular updates in the form of innovative and user-friendly ideas help this editing tool to be at the forefront of graphics editing.

Adobe Illustrator

Similarly, as the name denotes, Adobe Illustrator is another editing tool by Adobe Systems in the form of a graphics editor tool. Adobe Illustrator helps graphics editors to produce interactive images. This graphics editor tool is software to enhance the interactive aspects of images produced with the help of modern computing. Generally, this graphics editor tool (Adobe Illustrator) is generally considered as a companion tool of the former tool (Adobe Photoshop). Still, there are several differences between these graphics editor tools and some among the same are mentioned and discussed below.


  • Adobe Photoshop, the graphics editor tool, is basically used to make essential changes in images for better visual appeal. But, Adobe Illustrator is generally known as software to supplement or support Adobe Photoshop. This may be due to the popularity of Adobe Photoshop and to fix some basic errors. The image created with the help of this graphics editor tool (Adobe Photoshop) is basically known as Raster.
  • Adobe Illustrator discards the usage of pixels and instead makes use of vector graphics as the basic element of graphics editing. To be specific, measurement related to mathematical calculation plays the most important role in providing the images/graphics content with accuracy and visual appeal. In the case of Adobe Photoshop, images are formed with the help of pixels to make changes in images or content. But this may not be visually appealing for someone who considers that traditional mode of altering images by brush. To be specific, a square-shaped group of color pixels may trick human eyes and can hinder human perception of images or content. This may not be a serious problem, but a closer look at an image created or altered with the help of Adobe Photoshop can reveal the pixels.
  • Adobe Illustrator can be used to make images larger with high accuracy. This type of image/graphic can be easily created with the help of Illustrator because vector graphics allows the target image to sustain its primary quality. When an image formed with the help of Photoshop needs to change, it immediately becomes a copy because the real image is already altered. To be specific, images created in this graphics editing tool can be most useful and perfect in fixed sizes. But when it is enlarged, pixels will get distorted and the visual appeal of the image will suffer.
  • Similarly, this tool is user-friendly because there are several filters to enhance the target image’s visual appeal. Besides, special effects and tools to make essential changes within images is another peculiarity of Adobe Photoshop. Image size does not represent the quality and visual appeal of an image/graphics with the help of Illustrator in general. One can see that Photoshop is a complete package for a photographer, graphics designer or even a newbie who is interested in graphics editing. To be specific, the person who creates images with the help of Adobe Photoshop can enjoy full control over the end product because he or she can enlarge the image and make essential changes by making use of available tools within this software.
  • A modification is a nightmare for those who depend upon Illustrator because provisions for modification are limited within this tool. In short, both the software programs are created for photo/graphics editing, but technical aspects, functioning, output, visual appeal, etc. are different.

The Beginner's Guide to Creating a Logo for Your Website or Blog


The current era of logo design began in the 1870s with the first abstract logo, the Bass red triangle.
Your logo is the visual representation of your brand—and everything it stands for. At a glance, it should reflect your brand’s personality and promise. Ideally, it will be memorable and stand out from the crowd. Consider iconic logos such as the Nike swoosh, Apple Computer’s simple apple or Target’s red bullseye. What comes to mind when you think of each one?

This guide was developed to help small business owners with no design experience understand how to create a logo. You’ll learn about the processes necessary to transfer your ideas onto paper, find out how to spot flaws in your concept and enable your primary idea to grow until it reaches a satisfying level of quality.

Although this may be new ground, you’ll probably learn a lot and enjoy the experience. So, let’s start from the beginning.

What is a logo?
A logo works much like your name. When you were born, your parents gave you a name that, over time, you infused with personality. Now, when people hear your name, they immediately think of you. And when people talk about you, your name evokes certain emotions and characteristics.

Whenever the name comes up, people immediately think “that funny party guy who has a deep voice” or “that blonde girl who has a quirky laugh and always dresses well.”

In the same vein, a logo is a symbolic representation of your brand identity. It carries vital information about who you are and what you do and causes people to feel a certain emotion. For example, BMW is associated with precision, quality vehicles and prestige, as many company executives drive their sedans. Nike is associated with high-level sports performance and durable shoes.

Why are logos important?
Logos give businesses an identity, but you need to understand why that is so important. The branding process has many different stages and elements. The design and proper usage of your logo are a big part of it.

Your job is to make sure people connect the dots and recognize your brand the second they see the logo. If that works, your marketing efforts will be much more effective. The fact is, most people build an emotional connection with the brands they’ve had positive experiences with, based on their history and personality.

When targeted consumers see your logo, they need to instantly recognize it and connect it with your brand values. Why is this important? Because approximately 65 percent of consumers said shared values attract them to a brand and to the specific products or services you offer. They also revealed that shared values help make your brand more memorable. The very next time they think about something related to your niche, your brand name and logo should be the first images that pop into their minds.

Your audience should be able to differentiate your logo from a series of different brand logos on a shelf and choose your product based on the fact that they associate it with quality, cost-effectiveness or any other characteristic that you want to be known for.

Principles of an effective logo
For you to successfully create a logo, there are some principles you need to be aware of. As a beginner in the world of logo design, you’ll need to train your mind so that it can adopt a creative thinking process that will enable you to come up with unique designs. You should be able to do this if you understand the following principles:

Simplicity is the key
Designers constantly overdo it when it comes to logos. But the most popular logos are striking in their simplicity. Nike and Apple are great examples: everyone on the planet recognizes these logos and their mottos. Obviously, there’s a thin line between overdoing and underdoing it, and this might be your biggest challenge when designing a logo.

It needs to be unique
In a sea of companies, the last thing you need is a generic logo design that looks like everyone else’s. Sure, there are some popular design features for any niche, but you need something with a unique style—features that people relate to your brand specifically.

It needs to be recognizable
You need to get inside the mind of your target audience, find out what they like and desire, and develop your design accordingly. The logo should stand out and be easy to recognize, even from a distance. Obviously, a lot of research needs to be done here but it will be worth your while.

Flexibility is very important
The logo should be recognizable regardless of size or the medium it is represented in. It needs to work both in color and black and white, on billboards and business cards, in a corner of a web page viewed from a smartphone, and on keychains and mugs. Logos that are overly complex don’t translate well into smaller formats.

It needs mirror a business’ personality
It’s possible to come up with a great logo that just lacks the right spirit. An excellent example would be to use playful colors and a cartoonish font when creating a logo for a serious law firm—that’s a big no-no. However, there are many different mistakes you can make in this process that are not as obvious, which is why it’s quite important for you to clearly define your business.

Different types of logos
Now that you’re familiar with the basic principles, it’s time to find out what types of logos there are, so you can become familiar with your options. Different types of logos can help you achieve maximal personalization and find just the right tone.

A common mistake laymen make is thinking that a logo needs to consist only of design elements rather than plain text. This is far from the truth. It’s possible to create a timeless design by using a word, a single letter or an abbreviation. The beauty of this approach lies in different fonts and possibilities that are practically limitless.

Symbols are fun and memorable. A symbol can be anything from a small green leaf that signifies eco-consciousness to a specific animal, geometric shapes or even something completely abstract. Many symbols are recognizable worldwide, and while some of them incorporate other well-known symbols from the past, or were inspired by them, a lot of the best ones were created from scratch.

The obvious problem here is that you won’t be the first person to remember a certain connotation between a symbol and a particular business niche, and it’s very likely that you’ll end up with a concept that already exists if you don’t do your homework.

If you decide to combine symbols with text, you’ll have even more options for your design. There are many interesting examples of how powerful a combination of symbols and words can be in the world of logos. But there’s a problem you need to avoid. This type of logo can easily be overdone—with so many options, it can be difficult not to cross that thin line we mentioned earlier. Staying aware of our first principle—simplicity—will keep you on the right track.

The logo design process
Everything we’ve mentioned so far is a bit theoretical, but now it’s time to see the exact steps you need to go through before you can come up with a final version of your logo. A light bulb appearing above your head along with a brilliant idea in your mind the minute you start working on it is a possibility, but also highly unlikely. Any creative process needs to be divided into clear steps, so that you can be as efficient as possible.

Create a brief, or creative guidelines, to cover the end goals and problems that need to be addressed

Before you start working on the logo, you need to define what you are trying to convey, who your target audience is, what common problem you will be solving and what makes your brand different from the competition. You essentially want to clearly define your value proposition and crystalize your brand philosophy.

Here’s an efficient list of questions you should have in front of you during this process:

What are my goals?
Who I am trying to present via a logo?
Who is my target audience?
What makes me better than my competition?
What does my brand stand for?
Talk with your business associates and employees, or family members if you are starting a family business, and make sure you know how you want others to view your company.

In-depth research
The next step is to start looking at the market, other companies in your niche and even what consumers are saying on forums and social media. Your logo needs to be market appropriate, tailored to suit the preferences of your target audience and initiate an emotional response. Simultaneously, it must be consistent with your own brand values and the type of image you wish to portray. Creating an ideal customer avatar helps a lot during this stage.

Armed with insights from your research, you can begin to narrow your ideas down to the specific type of logo you think would work best, such as one of the three mentioned in the previous section. You can also start to think about the colors, fonts and symbols you can use, and the emotion you want to convey. It’s best to focus on one or two characteristics that you’d like showcase through your logo, such as “elegant and modern” or “young and adventurous.”

Finding inspiration and exploring different ideas
This is the point where you sit down with your business partners, friends or family members, make lots of coffee and start brainstorming. While you’re doing your homework, make sure that you expose your mind to different sources of inspiration — having a staring contest with a blank page in front of you can hardly do any good. You can look at pop culture, art, history, mythology, something from your past that has great emotional value, an inspirational quote from a book or movie, or create a play on words based on your company name. It will keep you motivated and focused throughout the whole process if you take several short breaks.

Creating several coherent digital draft versions
Once you have a good idea what you want to accomplish and have found several elements you wish to incorporate, you can begin to sketch out different ideas on paper. You don’t need great drawing skills for this process, just create rough images. There are three main options here: you can create rough freehand drawings to give a professional designer an idea of what you want, use computer software and online tools to put together a few drafts or just outsource the project completely, but more on that later.

Evaluating and tweaking the design
The primary concept you come up with should be treated as a tree that has just been planted—you need to give it space to breathe and grow. When you are designing your own logo, it’s best to share your ideas and rough sketches with friends and family, or even with potential customers on social media, and get some feedback.

Producing samples and selecting a design
When you have created several design options that work best, it’s time to crystalize them. At this point you can choose one or two designs that everyone likes, and create one or two variations, changing small things like font, color, proportions or the positioning of some of the elements. You also should test your concepts in black and white, and in color, and see if they work in a range of sizes. After this is done, it’s time to seek more feedback. When you’ve determined which of these variations seems to get the best response, it’s time to move on to the final phase.

Tools and methods for creating a logo
There are a lot of great user-friendly tools and cost-effective services you can use to create a logo, depending on your needs, budget and skill level. Even if you have no previous experience with logo design, you can create some rough drafts that will give a professional designer a good starting point. Here are the three most popular routes that you can take.

Be easy on yourself if you’re a beginner.There are many different websites that can help you come up with decent design quickly. Free tools can offer some decent variety and help you create a serviceable design, or just give you some good ideas that you can expand upon. Some sites offer pre-made designs that you can mix and match, customizing elements like size, font and color. Some designs offer even more freedom for customization. These don’t require much skill and are generally best for small companies with very tight budgets.

Free Tools
If you have time on your hands and want to create a logo by yourself, the next three tools will be very helpful. Each of them is a great tool that’s very efficient and most importantly—free to use.

Online Logo Maker
With over one million users, this software is capable of providing you with a first-hand experience in the world of logos. The huge collection of images from a lot of different categories make it simple to use and you can create your own logo within minutes. You should be aware that the interface of this tool is not that great, which is the only major disadvantage of Online Logo Maker. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to create good symbolic logos using this software.

Logoaster will enable you to browse through several hundreds of logos until you find the one perfect for you. After you enter your company name and select the type of business activity you do, you’ll be able to start your quest—once you select a logo, Logoaster will provide you with a variety of options, like adding text or changing colors, to customize and personalize it. The only thing left is to download it and you may do so in raster and vector formats, but first, you need to know the difference between the two formats.

Paid Services
For those who want a custom design based on their own ideas and research they’ve gathered, and are willing to pay a reasonable price for it, We the LassoART Designs will help you get the best logo which defines your brand on a very good price.
Contact Number +91-9098233796

E-commerce seems to be eating up the retail world right now.

We’re seeing longtime brick-and-mortar retail brands closing or going bankrupt that we never would
have expected to see disappear ten years ago.

Take Toys”R”Us for example. After more than 60 years in business, they are liquidating and closing all
of their remaining U.S. stores.

On the other hand, the digital world is an exciting place to be, with business owners starting their very
own digital brands and competing in the digital marketplace.

Most brick and mortar stores have been forced into creating an online presence.

But it isn’t always easy to hit it big online. You have to know what some of the trade secrets are if you
want to make it to the top.

Here are the five most important factors for success in e-commerce that you can’t afford to ignore.

First, let’s talk about why so many e-commerce businesses struggle in the first place.

Why many e-commerce businesses struggle
There are many common reasons for the e-commerce struggle, and stores in different industries will face
different hardships.

But there are some general battles that all e-commerce businesses have to fight.

Around 80% all e-commerce businesses fail. And there are three common reasons why customers are
likely to leave you in the dust:

Customers don’t know how to use your site
Product value isn’t clear
Navigation is difficult
Have no fear. The solution to solving these problems may be simpler than you think.

For starters, people aren’t judging your business initiatives or products on their own merits. Customers
simply want what they want when they want it.

And sometimes, their expectations can be pretty high. Especially online.

If you have too many shipping options on your site, you’ll deter customers who want their products

As many as 80% of American shoppers say that shipping price and speed are very or extremely
influential in determining where they shop.

That’s why you should offer fast and free shipping when you can, like apparel brand Shongolulu, which
offers free shipping on orders that are $30 or more.

shongolulu free shipping

When customers don’t have to pay for shipping, they’ll be more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase
that they can’t touch, feel, or try out because there’s less risk involved.

Customers don’t want to wait forever to get what they ordered, either, so if you’re willing to provide free
shipping, choose a fast option.

At the beginning of 2017, the National Retail Federation speculated that online retail would grow 3x
faster than the rest of the retail industry, with mobile e-commerce sales soaring.

forecast of mobile share of united states ecommerce sales

The rise of online shoppers has also shortened consumers’ patience. Online shoppers are looking for

They don’t want to deal with difficult return policies or long waits for orders.

Aside from long wait times and tricky shipping options, struggling businesses fail to take the following
into account:

User Experience
But the good news is that starting an e-commerce business in 2018 is perfectly doable. And so is taking
each of these factors into account, which can help you stand out from competitors.

The first step is building your brand with some great values behind it.

1. Your brand is your purpose
Your e-commerce business has a brand at the core of its identity, whether you know it or not.

To find out what it is, you have to think about what you do and why you do it.

Your brand embodies a set of values related to your business’s central endeavors. Some older brands
aren’t aging well, because they don’t really have a clear mission.

Or they do, but they don’t disclose it.

In 2017, Enso’s World Value Index analyzed 150 brands according to how Americans identify their
purpose and how well their purpose aligned with customer values.

2017 world value index

The research also looked at the extent to which each company motivates brand advocacy and purchase.

The results were vastly different for different demographics. Baby Boomers rated Newman’s Own to be
number seven on the list, while millennials rated the company to be number 81.

The brand could lose it’s allure if they fail to appeal to millenials since their generation is much larger
than the Baby Boomers and three times the size of Generation X.

And by 2019, millennials are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers are America’s largest generation
yet, according to the Pew Research Center.

projected population by generationAAA, Pfizer, and Samsung were also ranked much lower by
millennials than Boomers:
AAA: millennial rank: No. 92; Boomer rank: No. 26
Pfizer: millennial rank: No. 136; Boomer rank: No. 65
Samsung: millennial rank: No. 74; Boomer rank: No. 19
The bottom line? Deviating from your brand hurts your message.

And when you hurt your message, you hurt your brand. Your brand persists on your customers’ unique
perceptual map.

car brands mapping

They build assumptions about your brand’s identity based on interactions with your company, and they
aren’t likely to forget their first impression.

This means that they remember you when choosing to make another purchase. How they remember you
impacts how they will review you.

As many as 31% of consumers are likely to spend 31% more on products and services from businesses
with excellent reviews, while negative reviews can drive away 22% of customers.

A whopping 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Dissatisfied customers are more likely to share bad stories to friends & family than satisfied customers
are likely to share good stories.

While happy customers might tell a few friends, unhappy customers will tell even more.

That means you’ll have a whole lot more “anti-referrals” on your hands than positive recommendations.

When you aren’t establishing your brand as the go-to, your competitors are.

In the digital era, your competition is no longer confined to the shop across the street.

If a stronger brand offers the same type of product that you do, they will gladly eat your market share.

That’s why you need a unique selling proposition, or USP, to win them over.

The point of a USP is to differentiate your product. The value of your USPs only come into play after
your prospects enter your funnel.

When your brand is weak, competitors with better brands will absorb customers. Marketing is more
effective in conjunction with a strong brand.

Good marketing takes the brand’s voice and extends it outward to reach qualified leads.

If the brand doesn’t expand its core identity, it will struggle to reach its target audience.

And saturation from marketing campaigns may expose weak spots on a poor brand’s armor to a higher
volume of people.

That’s why you always have to match good marketing with brand values.

You’ll need to do some SEO, too.

2. SEO brings in traffic
Google is sort of like an usher that decides which websites get to mingle near the top of the organic
search engine results.

But with constant algorithm updates, it can be pretty hard to keep up.

google algorithm timeline

The Fred algorithm update, which launched on March 8, 2017, targets websites violating Google’s
webmaster guidelines.

Most sites affected are ones with low-quality posts that were created solely to generate ad revenue.

So if you have any of these posts on your site, you could risk messing up your current rankings (or worse
– losing high rankings altogether).

Review Google’s Search Quality Guidelines regularly and avoid posting too much content that is ad-

If you do show ads or affiliate content on your site, make sure that the pages you run them on are
relevant and high-quality, like this Buzzfeed post sponsored by Adidas:

buzzfeed adidas post

If you try and trick Google into thinking your page is about something valuable but it’s really just
scattered with affiliate links, you’ll risk your rankings.

Landing pages with relevant keywords will receive a higher Google ranking and be more likely to show
up during relevant searches, too.

Keyword research can help you learn how to position your page content.

Use a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to get started. Just enter a keyword to
uncover related words to target for.

ubersuggest export list

Remember that your brand is also a keyword. Highly qualified traffic will be searching for your brand
name, so you want to rank for that.

But if you “hack” SEO to bring additional, potentially unqualified traffic to your site, you won’t like
what happens next.

The idea of SEO is to give searchers the most qualified results for their queries. Pages that use
exploitative or lazy tactics get penalized by Google.

All in all, SEO is something worth spending extra time strategizing around. Use this beginner’s manual
to get started.

Once you’ve mastered SEO, turn your attention over to user experience (UX).

3. Customers love a great user experience
If you want to funnel traffic toward a desired action, like making a purchase, you need to optimize UX.

If site visitors get confused, they’ll leave. Site navigation should always be easy.

On your website, you have to make it clear what your business does. For example, Scott’s makes it clear
that they sell lawn care products.

scotts lawn care products

Reinforce what your brand does on your site. What’s obvious to you might not be obvious to someone

How did they get to this landing page? Why is the landing page content relevant? Use a clear, concise
call to action.

get the secret now call to action copy

You should also make sure the shopping cart is easy to view and access. The checkout process must be

Nobody wants to deal with a checkout process that makes purchasing your product harder than it needs
to be.

Embed interactive content into your website (if appropriate). This includes:

Animated images
Always use A/B testing to figure out what works best.

Employ a tool such as Unbounce to weigh 2 or more page designs against each other for effectiveness in
maximizing sales.

unbounce ab test centre

Pick whichever design version wins.

highrise male female ab test

Don’t forget to optimize UX for mobile, too, since more and more consumers are shopping over mobile
in 2018.

Ensure that your print is large, that load times are three seconds or less, and that the mobile version of
your site is easy to navigate via touch.

Basically, the mobile version of your site shouldn’t look exactly like your regular website.

mobile page design before and after

If you want to succeed in the e-commerce world, you have to be transparent with your customers, or
they might not trust you.

4. Transparency builds trust
One of the easiest ways to come across as transparent is to make your contact information visible right
on your website.

Your traffic should be able to find your email address and phone number at the bottom or top of every
page on your site.

hustle kindness contact info

You can also add a “Contact Us” page, like this one from Tune:

contact us page from Tune

That way, customers will know how they can get in touch with you (and that you’re a real business with
a real address).

When it comes to charges, be upfront. No one likes hidden fees. Ever.

If you charge extra for shipping and handling, make sure that this is communicated to prospects before
they reach the checkout page.

offer details free shippingDon’t forget to give prospects outstanding product information, either.
Your product isn’t what’s bouncing traffic, which is good news. In fact, your product could be the best
solution to your customers’ problem.

The bad news? Your product’s value isn’t translating.

Web visitors don’t have a physical store location to experience. Instead of getting to play with your
products, they only see whatever information is available.

Quality of product information and attached images can make-or-break your sales pipeline.

Give a thick description of your product pages. Don’t forget to highlight key benefits, like Apple.

apple imac description

And make sure your product is priced competitively.

An overpriced product may be perceived as not offering utility equal to its price. An underpriced
product may be suspicious or appear less valuable than similar products with higher prices.

Don’t price your item for more than you would pay as a customer. Or for more than your product is

Drive that worth by sharing testimonials and reviews on your website, like Carbon 6 Rings.

carbon6 reviews

If you want to find e-commerce success, you’ll need engaged website visitors. Here’s how to get them.

5. Boost overall engagement
The easiest way to boost engagement with your store is to use organic social media outlets to promote
your brand in real time.

Luckily for you, I have guides on how to boost engagement on just about every platform:

Instagram – How to get started with Instagram
YouTube – How to get started with YouTube
Facebook – How to get started with Facebook
LinkedIn – How to get started with LinkedIn
Pinterest – How to get started with Pinterest
Content marketing matters. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 42% of B2C content
marketers consider themselves to be “very committed to content marketing.”

If you haven’t already, build a blog about your industry and product lines.

Help your customers by sharing useful information or earn new prospects by answering their queries,
like Patagonia.

the cleanest line patagonia blog

You could even write blog posts about product development updates. Did you just schedule a new
product launch on the calendar? Write about it.

Tell your customers why the new product is useful, what the features of it are, and when it will be

This will create interest in the new item before it even launches.

Blog content boosts engagement because it helps build backlinks. And every time your website is linked
to, you gain brand awareness.

Now that you’ve established a strong brand, a fantastic user experience, relevant content and customer
transparency, you can begin actually spending your ad budget.

Try spending some of your ad budget on direct mail advertising or social media advertising. Choose
wisely between the two, though.

Out of all paid advertising options, social media is the least expensive. With direct mail, you will spend
an average of $57 for every 1,000 people you reach.

The amount spent to reach 1,000 people for social media advertising? Only $2.50.

cost of different marketing channels

Promote a few of your tweets or create some sponsored Facebook or Instagram ads.

You can also build a community from your brand. People tend to bond with others who have the same
interests as them.

Your customers will probably want to connect with others who love your products (and company) just
as much as they do. And they’ll probably promote what you’re selling for you.

Allow them to connect by building a “forums” or “community” section of your website.

Shoot for something similar to NikeTalk, a forum site where Nike customers can post and comment on
their own content.

niketalk message board

Another great way to build engagement is to host some events. What’s the harm in throwing a party for
some added PR?

Host a product launch party to let people try out your new stuff. You could even host a party they can
bring their dogs to, like Structure Winery’s Wine for Wags event.

wine for wags eventIf you’re an online-only store, host your event in a public space, like an events
Create a hashtag related to your event, add it to your Facebook calendar, and send out invites to your
followers. Drumming up some interest is as simple as that!

At the event, encourage users to share their own photo with the tag or post your own images to social
media, like this post from Heritage Agents.

heritage agents instagram
Center the entire event around your brand. Be sure to have your products out for sale during the event.

Talk with customers about what your products can do for them and how they can make their lives better.
Hand out business cards with your website URL and social media handles.

Just because your website is located online doesn’t mean that you can’t boost overall brand engagement
by meeting customers in person.

If you want to sweeten the pot, you could even give away a few items as door prizes or as trophies for
interactive “contests” during the event.

The days of brick and mortar stores dominating the entire world of retail are long gone.

The digital landscape is here to stay, making online stores the best place to sell.

But making it big online is a lot harder than it seems. And tons of e-commerce businesses struggle to
stand out in such a saturated crowd.

Customers who don’t know how to use your site, hidden shipping costs, unknown product value, poor
navigation, and more are to blame.

Luckily, you can take control of your e-commerce store’s success.

First, understand that your brand needs to stand for something, and you need to let people know exactly
what that is.

Your brand’s values should align with customers’ values, serve a purpose, and support ethical

SEO brings in traffic, so you have to work on optimizing your rankings. Do some keyword research and
add in keywords on your site to pull in more customers.

But don’t try and cheat the system, or Google might penalize you, which could lead to a decrease in

Customers love awesome UX. Make it clear what you’re selling and add in CTAs so that you can funnel
people through your site’s pages.

Optimize your site for mobile users, too.

Build transparency by adding contact information to your site, disclosing any additional fees or shipping
costs before checkout, and embedding customer reviews.

This helps to build trust with shoppers.

Don’t forget to boost overall engagement rates. Get active on social media, create a blog with valuable
content or product updates, or run some paid ads online.

Build a “forum” or “community” section on your website where users can come together or host some
events to draw out a crowd for a good time.

Promote your event beforehand (and during) to create interest. Be sure to center the event around your
brand and your products.

When was the last time that you searched for someone on Facebook and were shocked to discover that
they didn’t have an account?

It’s probably been a while.

We’ve all had that happen, but it’s pretty rare. Nearly everyone is on Facebook nowadays.

With so many people in one place, Facebook presents a huge opportunity for businesses to reach out
and connect with potential customers.

But unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as it once was. You and I both know that the reach of organic
content is decreasing.

Facebook changed their algorithm in January in a major way.

They made it so that people would see more personal content in their news feeds and less public content
like posts from businesses, brands, and the media.

This is where Facebook Ads come in.

Paying for ads is becoming increasingly important if you want to reach your target audience.

But spending money doesn’t guarantee success. You could spend good money on Facebook Ads and still
struggle to get results.

But if you’re going to invest in Facebook Ads, you want to make sure that you know what you’re doing.
And a great place to start is your targeting.

That’s what I’ll talk about in this post.

I’m going to show you 21 ways to improve the performance of your Facebook Ads by simply fixing your

First, let’s talk about why targeting is so important and how it can dramatically affect the results of your
ad campaign.

Targeting can make or break a campaign
Targeting the right people with the right message is the key to a successful ad campaign.

Are you familiar with the traditional sales funnel?

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Customers at each stage of the funnel are looking for something different.

If you target someone in the “know” stage with a sales call to action, you will fail.

If you target someone in the “trust” stage with an informational message, you’ll still probably fail.

Targeting is not simply figuring out the general demographics of your audience.

If you get any of a wide variety of traits wrong, you won’t yield the results you want, no matter how
amazing your ad looks.

If you send the perfect message to the wrong audience, they won’t click it.

Not only that, but Facebook’s Relevance Score has shown that the better you are at targeting the right
ad message to the right audience, the lower your cost per click will be.

facebook ads relevance score vs cpc 1
AdEspresso decided to test this measure.

They targeted two different audiences and ran the exact same ad to both of them.

The results were dramatic.

The one with better targeting had a lower cost per click and gained four times more clicks!

So here’s the takeaway for you:

Proper targeting will not only make your ads more successful, but it will also lower your overall cost of
running them. This improves your ROI and boosts your bottom line.

You need to fix your targeting before you fix any of the other issues your Facebook Ads may have.

Now, I’ll show you 21 ways to improve your targeting so you immediately see better results from your
Facebook Ads.

1. Start with a combination of basic demographics
When you’re setting up an ad, the first thing Facebook will ask you to do is select the location, age, and
gender of your target market.

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Selecting only these three targeting options is a huge mistake. It will make your audience far too large.

That doesn’t mean that you should ignore them, though. Don’t be so focused on the advanced options
that you skip past the basics.

Facebook offers free courses on how businesses can use their targeting options.

If you check out their advertising course options, you will notice that there are several basic courses to
help you build a solid foundation.

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They recommend that you take these courses before you get into the more advanced targeting classes.

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Make sure you narrow down all three basic fields for every ad you create. This should be your first step
for audience targeting.

Even if everyone from the ages of 18 to 65 could use your product, you shouldn’t try to speak to
everyone with the same ad.

Every time you make your ad too broad, you set yourself up for failure.

2. Target your audience’s interests
Trying to target your ideal customer just based on demographics like age and gender isn’t going to cut it.

That’s why you need to be very specific with your targeting.

If your target audience is too large, your click-through-rate will be low, and your ads will fail.

The best way to narrow down your audience is by defining the interests of your ideal customer.

Make sure you narrow your focus as much as possible.

One of the best ways to do this is with the “but no one else would” trick.

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The way to do this is by selecting a specific interest that no one other than an avid fan would have.

If you want to sell to golfers, don’t choose Tiger Woods. He’s so popular that even non-golfers may be

Bubba Watson is a far better choice. Only serious golf enthusiasts would know him and like him.

There are thousands of different interests you can choose to target with Facebook Ads.

Simply go into your ad settings and find the “Interests” section.

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Type any possible interest into the search box and it will populate suggestions for you.

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This gives you a description of the interest and how many people on Facebook currently share it.

But selecting a single interest will still result in far too broad of a target group.

Over 850,000 people are interested in me alone. That may be flattering, but it isn’t useful as a target

You need to either select multiple intersecting interests or combine this targeting with at least one of the
other methods below.

For example, this Dr. Pepper ad is targeting three intersecting interests:

College students
People who like college sports
People who like soft drinks
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You can see that they’ve perfectly targeted the visuals and messaging in the ad to their chosen market.

Had they used one of their other ads, like this one, it probably would have failed.

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Make sure your ad message suits the interests of the audience you’re trying to target.

3. Find people already looking to buy your product
Whether you find it creepy or not, Facebook can generally tell if you’ve been online searching to buy

If you sell a high-end product, this is an excellent way to target customers.

73% of consumers research a product online before purchasing.

The purchase consideration window is not very large though. For most products, you have a week or less
from the time a customer starts shopping until they buy.

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Even for products worth more than $500, 54% make their decision in less than a week.

By the time two weeks have passed, 75% of people have made their purchase.

Facebook can identify your ideal customers who are already in the looking-to-buy stage and instantly
target your ad to them.

This means even if they haven’t heard of you yet and have only been researching on competitor sites,
you have a chance to steal them away before they make up their mind.

Since most consumers make up their mind based on price, a targeted Facebook Ad offering a discount
could be enough to persuade them to purchase from you over the competition.

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How do you do this?

Within Facebook Ads, there is a section called Behaviors.

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You can try typing in ideas and see what is suggested or you can browse.

There are a ton of different purchase options to choose from.

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Even within folders, there are subfolders so you can narrow it down as much as possible.

If you sell modern, high-end furniture, target the purchase behavior for ‘modern sofa’ rather than ‘sofa’
or ‘furniture.’ Then create the ad specifically focused on your modern sofas for sale.

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4. Target people by their income level
Do you have a high-end product that is typically only bought by people making over $100,000 a year?

Is your ideal customer a broke college student?

If your service or product is targeted to people of a specific income level, then your ads should be
targeted the same way.

Facebook allows you to target consumers through 30 different financial behaviors. This helps make sure
that the people seeing your ad are the ones who will be able and willing to buy it.

Under the Demographics section, you can target by Income, Net Worth or even Liquid Assets.

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How does Facebook know my income?

Well, it doesn’t. Not exactly.

They use a host of third-party data, combined with general demographic, household, and other
information they have to come up with an approximation.

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It won’t be perfect for every person, but it doesn’t have to be.

Targeting by income will still be massively more effective than trying to target everyone.

Imagine you’re selling engagement rings.

What’s more successful?

Creating one ad showing a mid-range ring and trying to connect with everyone looking to buy a ring?

Or targeting low-income men with your most affordable rings and targeting the most affluent guys with
your largest, priciest diamonds?

With the first technique, you’re likely going to lose both audiences, even though they’re both in the
market to buy an engagement ring.

Here’s an ad for affordable homes targeted at low-income consumers:

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5. Focus on where your audience works
Does your product or service appeal to people in a particular industry or occupation?

In the demographics section, you can narrow down your audience by work categories.

Aleja Seabron, Social Media Manager, agrees that proper planning, including knowing what your target
audience does for a living is “by far the best thing you can do to ensure you are spending your ad dollars

First, browse by demographics, and then select work.

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Now you can search for a specific employer or job title or you can search by industry.

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You’ll notice that the amount of people in each industry pops up on the side.

Most of these are way too large to be effective on their own.

There are almost 10 million business and finance professionals on Facebook.

That’s way too broad to be a good target market. Combine it with other options to improve your
audience, or narrow it down by choosing specific job titles within the industry.

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You can also target by office type. If you’re trying to reach startups or small business owners, this option
can be very useful.

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Here’s an example of an ad targeted to construction professionals:

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6. Target home ownership
Facebook allows you to target people based on whether they own or rent their home.

Not only that, but you can narrow it down to whether they are a first-time home buyer or not.

You can find this under the demographics section.

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You can even choose home type:

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Why does this matter?

This is obviously a great way to target ideal customers if you’re a realtor.

But what about the rest of us?

Well, knowing if someone is renting or owning can be useful for companies selling insurance, large
appliances, home-care services, and a wide range of other things.

First-time home buyers are also likely to be shopping for everything that needs to go in that new home,
from kitchenware to a living room set.

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Julie Van Ameyde, Marketing Consultant at Simply Social LLC shares:

My students and clients ask me all the time what is the most important thing to finding success with
Facebook Ads. I tell them it is: Targeting, Targeting, and Targeting! Facebook allows us to do what most
other forms of advertising do not: the ability to hone in our target market. Whether it is by
demographics, location, interests or behavior make sure you know your perfect client.

7. Group your audience by their level of education
Knowing the education level of your target market helps you customize everything from tone to the
language of a campaign.

It’s also important if your product is suited for people with a certain level of education.

If you’re a school offering Master’s Degree programs, you want to target people who already have a

Education is under the Demographics section.

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You can also narrow down by field of study, specific school attended, or undergrad years.

This one can be particularly useful if your service is aimed at recent graduates.

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Is your product for experienced professionals?

Choosing a graduation year further in the past can help you target people who have been in the
workforce longer.

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68% of all Facebook users have a college education.

If your ideal consumer has a secondary education, Facebook has a lot of potential for reaching them.

Just make sure you target your ads so you’re not wasting money showing them to the other 32% of the
population who aren’t your ideal customers.

8. Decide if your ads are ethnic
If you live in the US, you have the option to select an ethnic affinity.

You can find this option in the Demographics section.

rab ethnic affinity targeting
America has a rich and diverse background with people from many different ethnicities.

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If your product or service is more popular with a particular ethnicity, this option can help you target the
right ad to the right group.

Keep in mind, that if you’re targeting an ethnicity, and your ad has people in it, they should be of the
same ethnicity.

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9. Target people with children
Under Demographics, you can choose to target people based on their parental status and the age of their
child or children.

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You can also specifically target moms.

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These options are useful whether you’re selling kids’ products or services specifically for parents.

This is also great for products and services that are meant to be time-savers or stress-relievers.

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Parents are known to have larger budgets for many household items such as groceries.

Research shows that they also take their children’s interests into account when making the family or
household purchases.

This means, knowing what demographic their child fits into and targeting to the kid’s interests can
improve ad results.

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10. Search out people who love to travel
Facebook Ads gives you the ability to select your audience based on their travel behaviors.

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You can select from any of the following options:

All frequent travelers
Business travelers
Currently traveling
Frequent International Travelers
Returned from trip 1 week ago
Returned from trip 2 weeks ago
Used travel app (1 month)
Used travel app (2 weeks)
Of course, travel providers are the obvious choice for this.

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But these options are useful for tons of other businesses too.

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For example, consider the following:

People who are frequent travelers may be either well-off or in a job that requires travel
Business travelers are an ideal market if you have a B2B business
Commuters may be more interested in products that help pass the commute time, such as e-books and
mobile apps
People who are currently traveling near you are the perfect audience if your product or service is
directed at tourists
11. Focus your ads on people with similar political beliefs
Facebook Ads allow you to target people based on their political beliefs, as long as your ads are for the

Political options can be found under the Demographics section.

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You’ll notice the bottom options are all self-reported.

This means Facebook can only target the people who have voluntarily chosen to put their political views
in the About Me section of Facebook.

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This can be helpful if your product or service relates better to one typical political view over another.

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57% of consumers are more likely to buy from or boycott a brand because of its stance on a social or
political issue.

In other words, targeting those who align with you politically, and avoiding those who won’t, should
immediately increase your ad performance.

12. Target couples who have an anniversary approaching
Under demographics there is a Life Events option:

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Within this category, you can find the anniversary choices.

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You can choose to target people with an anniversary in the next month or the next two months.

If you’re trying to target people ready to buy a present, this is a good option to select.

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Anniversaries and holidays are huge events for retailers.

Valentine’s Day alone was predicted to rake in close to $20 billion in consumer spending this year.

13. Search out friends of people celebrating a milestone
Another great way to find people ready to buy presents is to seek out friends of people who are about to
celebrate something.

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Whether it’s birthday presents, housewarming gifts for people who recently moved, or baby shower gifts
for people who are expecting, you can select it here.

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14. Focus on people who are in a long-distance relationship
Another option under the life events category is a long-distance relationship.

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As you can see, there are millions of people currently in long-distance relationships.

If you sell gifts with fast delivery, this can be a great market when combined with upcoming celebrations,
anniversaries, or holidays.

Imagine realizing you forgot to send your partner something for Valentine’s Day and you suddenly see
an ad promising same-day delivery of flowers.

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People in long-distance relationships spend more money on travel, events, and restaurants than other

If your product or service falls into one of those categories, this is a worthwhile group to target with your
Facebook Ads.

15. Target people who are currently away
Other life events that may be worth targeting are people who are currently either away from their family
or away from their hometown.

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Facebook can tell by location data whether someone is currently away.

This is similar to targeting those in a long-distance relationship.

People who are away from home spend more on food, whether it’s through restaurants, hotels,
recreation sites, vending machines, or schools and colleges.

It can also be used to target people who might be looking to change a career, or are homesick and
wishing they could find a cheap travel option to visit.

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16. Promote to new hires
Life events can always be triggers to shop and a new job is no exception.

You can target people who just started a new job under the life events section.

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A new job could mean a raise and therefore more disposable income.

It could also mean a new dress code and a need to buy new professional clothes.

It’s important to dress for success, whether it’s for an interview or a new job.

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This is also a good potential market if you offer professional or personal improvement courses and

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17. Target buyer profiles
Similar to purchase types (#3 above), this is another way of targeting shoppers who are likely ready to

Buyer profiles are found under the Behaviors section.

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These people are considered to be strongly aligned with the given profile based on their activities and

Using this option can help you target people most likely to buy your type of product.

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If you’re not sure what your ideal customer’s buyer profile is, there are tools that can help you figure it

A good place to start is Facebook’s own free Audience Insights tool.

18. Search for people in expensive homes
Under demographics, select Home.

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Then choose Home Type, followed by Home value.

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Now you can select from a range of home prices to target your ideal customer.

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This can be a great alternative from targeting by income if you want to target people able to afford
luxury or high-end products.

People may have no income if they are a stay-at-home parent or are retired.

But they could still have a significant amount of disposable income and be the decision maker when it
comes to large purchases.

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Combining home cost with location can make this targeting even more specific because people in the
most expensive homes generally choose to live in one of the United States’ “power markets.”

19. Target gamers
Gaming is a huge market, and there are multiple ways to target gamers with Facebook Ads.

The first option is found under Buyer profiles. Simply select Gamers.

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A second option is under Digital activities. Here you can select Console, Canvas, or Facebook gamers.

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There’s also a third option, which you can find under the interests section.

Beneath the Consumer electronics drop-down, you can select Game consoles as an interest.

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You can target one of these or all three to see which performs better.

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Combine this target with age to get the best sales results.

Gamers under 35 are much more likely to pay to download a game.

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20. Focus on a good cause
Are you a non-profit organization?

Maybe you’re partnered with one or your business supports one.

If you have any affiliation with a charity, focusing on people who support it can be a smart advertising

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3 out of 5 Americans expect businesses to lead the way in improving society and the environment.

This means that 60% of people are very conscious of the brands and businesses they buy from.

Target people who are interested in the same causes that you support.

You can find people who donate to or support charitable causes under the Behaviors section.

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21. Target mobile phones
Under Behaviors, you can choose to target people based on which device they use to log into Facebook.

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If your product or service is related to cell phones or tablets, particularly if it’s only supported on either
Android or Apple, then this is a good way to narrow your audience.

People are very loyal to their phone brands and operating systems.

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Over 90% of Android users are unlikely to switch to an iOS system.

This means if you’re selling an Android-related product, you should immediately exclude iOS users
from your targeting.

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It also tells you that people will most likely be viewing your ad on mobile, so make sure it’s mobile-

Facebook Ads can work extremely well for your business.

You can even build a six-figure business in 90 days using them.

If you don’t see the results from your ads, start narrowing down your target audience with the options I
walked you through today.

There are a ton of combinations you can choose from to perfectly define your target market.

Don’t worry about going too narrow. Your market and ad need to be specific and perfectly-matched if
you want to see results.

Remember, there are billions of people on Facebook. You can narrow down your focus to only a tiny
portion of them and still be raking in the profits.

Facebook Ads are very effective when done right. As long as you understand your ideal target market,
and use these methods to reach them, you will see the ROI for your ads improve in no time.

Search engine marketing (SEM) has become a business necessity over the last decade. No brand in today’s world can possibly hope for visibility without it, something that can seem extremely daunting to unknowledgeable business owners. Throw in the fact that the SEM landscape is constantly evolving and you have a recipe for serious marketing anxiety. Help yourself navigate this ever-changing horizon with Google AdWords, specifically some of the most essential AdWords tips for 2019.

Review The Latest Smart Features
Google AdWords’ latest update brought with it plenty of “smart” features, some of which can be confusing to advertisers who are still learning why AdWords is relevant to their brand. If you are unsure what features (such as the Smart Campaign) can do for your brand, review them with your SEM team (or lone expert) to determine what works for your business and how to use these features effectively. This is especially important considering not every update will be automatic.

Don’t Sacrifice Quality…Ever
It may sound a little trite, but the importance of generating quality content is greater than ever. Google actually rewards campaigns that draw high-quality leads and ranks these campaigns accordingly. Remember to research your target market in depth and think about what types of ads your demographics want to see to create highly-detailed campaigns both Google and your consumers will love.

Switch Your Keyword Focus
Voice searches such as Ok Google and Siri have dramatically changed the keyword game. No longer are keywords limited to one, two, three, and four words since voice searches often include full sentences such as “What dentist offices are near the sports stadiums in Philadelphia?” Known as long-tail keywords, incorporating these options into your advertising strategy helps your consumers find your brand in yet another way while giving them answers to their questions.

Keep Precision In The Forefront
Your target market groups must be precise–very, very precise. Broad campaigns are simply a waste of money in today’s marketing world because users click on ads they don’t end up following through on. Avoid this issue entirely (or at least as much as possible) by performing exhaustive research on each target group–the more narrow each group is, the better–and the less money you will spend for no reason.

Take Advantage Of User Signals
User signals, or the results of how users interact with your ads, influence both Google Rankings and Google Ads. They have a serious impact on Quality Score because a user who clicks on your site and leaves without making a conversion can result in a lower score. And, while you certainly cannot control the actions of everyone who visits your ads or site, there is still plenty to discuss with your SEM manager to increase conversion rates.

Experiment With Ad Text Expansions
Google Ads now offers a third headline option. These headlines work with your ads’ second descriptions to provide your target audience with more information about your brand. They also increase ad uniqueness to further pique consumer interest. And while the success of the third headline option is yet to be determined, it is still something worth looking at and experimenting with. You could easily open your brand up to an entirely new subsection of your target market.

Develop A Remarketing Strategy
Remarketing, or targeting consumers who click on ads but do not buy or do anything else in the conversion category, has earned its place in the search engine pantheon. It provides interested consumers who refrained from making purchases for any reason with gentle reminders about why your brand rocks. Those with incentives, such as discounts or free gifts with purchase, give these consumers the push they need to become loyal brand followers. Use Google Ads to remarket your ads and reap the results.

Do The Online-To-Offline Thing
Another SEM strategy that has earned its rightful place in the aforementioned pantheon over the last few years is the online-to-offline tactic. Let’s say a consumer wants to find the nearest vintage clothing boutique to his or her location and uses a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to find said boutique. After reading about your boutique and what makes it so appealing, the person decides to visit your store and possibly buy something. Google has honed in on this concept and now provides inventory lists so customers know whether items they want are available. The ability to show what your store has available is a wonderful thing you should take full advantage of, as it helps consumers see your brand as convenient and customer-oriented.

Keep Up With Your Cost Per Click (CPC) Numbers
The recent push for quality combined with more brand competition than ever before has made monitoring your cost per click (CPC) numbers a must. Focus on the cost per click of your keywords so you are not spending money on those that are not performing well. Cost per click is an invaluable tool, especially for emerging brands who do not have loyal followings yet but need constant reviewing to provide the most benefits. CPC ranking values have tripled among Google AdWord agencies, so keep a close watch.

Once upon a digital time, shopping ads were known as Product Listing Ads (PLAs). They solidified their place in the ROI pantheon thanks to providing businesses with that coveted extra visibility resulting in extra revenue and increased brand loyalty. If you are preparing for your next shopping ad campaign, you are probably wondering whether to go with Bing or Google. Which is best for your advertising needs depends entirely on your goals, and sometimes it helps to advertise on both. With that in mind, let’s dive into the pros and cons of Bing and Google Shopping to help refine your next marketing campaign.

A Brief History
In 2007, Froogle was renamed Google Product Search. This early version of Google Shopping was free and featured PLAs. By 2012, Google Product Search was Google Shopping, a service that advertisers had to pay for. In 2006, MSN adCenter launched, and six years later was renamed Bing Ads. In 2013, Bing Product Search was introduced.

Google shopping ads pop up in many more countries than Bing ads, including Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czechia, Denmark, New Zealand, France, Taiwan, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Russia, Japan, Austria, Malaysia, Italy, Norway, the Philippines, Chile, Switzerland, Portugal, India, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the UK, and the US. Bing ads appear in the United States, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, and only in English.

The Feed Factor
The Google Shopping feed requires considerable optimization to perform at its best, including a laundry list of required fields and optional fields–24 and 21 total, respectively. Google Shopping accepts text (.txt) and XML (.xml) formats, and three importing options including feed uploading to Merchant Center and importing from a supported e-commerce platform. Bing offers one importing option–the feed uploading to Bing Merchant Center, and numerous accepted formats, including .txt, .zip, .gz, .gzip, .tar.gz, .tgz., and, XML files. Bing also includes six required fields only, including Product ID, brand, category, and product type, all of which must match exactly with Google’s required fields if you are syncing the feeds.

The Market Share Factor
Google reigns supreme in regards to market shares. Its current search market share for desktop is 77.43% compared to Bing’s 7.31%. It dominates mobile and tablet domains as well at 96.01% versus Bing’s 0.84%. Additionally, Google’s market share keeps growing, whereas Bing’s numbers stay about the same from month to month. Other search competitors do virtually nothing compared to Google’s meteoric rise.

The Demographic Factor
Google may be the obvious winner in terms of market shares, but surprisingly that is no reason to write Bing off. Why? Demographics. Who you are targeting plays a significant role in whether Bing and Google or just Google are what your brand needs. Google’s users love mobile, with the search engine enjoying 11.095 billion monthly searches from 1.17 billion unique monthly searchers. The specifics of its user data is not as widely available as Bing’s, which features 5 billion monthly searches from 160 million unique monthly searchers. Bing offers significantly more information on who is using their search engine, for example, 51% are female, 44% are married, and 1/5 reside in the U.S. South Atlantic. Some 40% are between 35-54 years old and 1/3 have a household income of $100,000+.

So, while Bing users may be less inclined to use mobile, their spending power is well worth noting and will pay off if yours is a high-end brand.

The Ad Format Factor
Shopping ad format may also influence your decision to use Bing over Google, or both together. Google’s product listings appear in four places on a desktop:

Image search
Top of SERP
Right side (next to search results)
Google Search Partner websites
They also appear in the image search, top of SERP, and in the shopping tab on Mobile. All feature a white background and clean photo format for easy shopping. Bing ads, in comparison, appear in two places on a desktop:

Right side (next to search results)
Top of SERP
As well as two places on mobile:

Image search
Top of SERP
The Ad Metrics Factor
When it comes to Return on Advertising Spending (ROAS), Bing may be the clear winner. This naturally depends on your advertising strategy and target audience; however, it is extremely possible to increase your revenue by way of Bing. Google Shopping is limited to the Campaign or Account level, whereas Bing now offers search query data at the product level. Google does not offer this important resource, only the ability to view product level search queries. Bing’s available and accurate data tells you whether a specific product is the reason for certain non-converting queries.

Wrapping Up
Now that you have learned a little about the key differences between Bing and Google Shopping, you may have a clear idea of which suits your marketing interests. You also may decide to use both if you have the budget. If you decide to sync the two to reach a wider audience, remember to rename your Google columns to match Bing’s feed format. Also, remember that any custom Google labels will not be recognized by Bing. Keep in mind that you need to update your tracking parameters and include the Bing category. It is also a good idea to fill in the merchant, or product type, category to better organize and classify your products.

Importing Google Shopping campaigns and related inventory information takes almost no time if you have your Bing account set up. Your Google category may take as long as three days to appear on Bing once it’s uploaded.

At LassoART Designs, we make your business our business. Contact us today to learn how we will customize and refine your ad campaigns to increase your ROI, revenue, and brand awareness. Facebook ads, display ads, and Pay Per Click (PPC) are just some of the many services we proudly offer.

Automation is kind of the dream, right? It’s why services like Amazon’s subscription option are so popular, and why there are so many solutions rolling out daily to help us streamline everything from our meal planning to bill paying. We all have too many tasks and not enough hours in the day, after all, and perhaps no one knows this more than business owners and marketers.

Marketers and advertisers are all about efficiency, and the opportunity to streamline a campaign through automation sounds pretty appealing…especially if it has benefits like supposed automatic optimization or you’re managing an endless number of campaigns as is.

There are actually 8 different types of automated bidding strategies that you can choose from when it comes to Google Ads and each one prioritizes different results and actions. Some of these strategies can be great options for certain businesses or advertisers, but sometimes the automated campaigns come with big drawbacks.

In this post, we’re going to discuss each of the automated bidding strategies available in Google Ads and how to choose the strategy that’s right for each individual campaign you create.

What are Automated Bidding Strategies?
Automated bidding strategies allow you to hand the wheel over to Google, at least when it comes to what you’re bidding and what you’re bidding on. Instead of a manual bid, where you can set a specific limit for how much you’re willing to pay per click for any given click from a user who sees your ad, the automated strategies are going to be set by Google.

Their algorithms will automatically set bids based on the likelihood that your ad will get the click or conversion and they’ll calculate this information based largely on what they know about the specific user, including:

The device they’re using
Their demographics
Time of day the search is made
Their operating system
Automated bid strategies are goal-driven, meaning that they’re optimizing for a specific action, like clicks over conversions or vice versa. They’re designed to help advertisers who are worried about not bidding high enough, but by focusing in on likelihood of action, they also reduce the chance of spending too much on users who have absolutely zero intention of purchasing from you.

Automated bids are unique for each auction. They’re also updated as Google’s algorithm learns more over time based on user actions. That being said, they track changes over time, not immediately, so if there are any drastic changes in the marketplace, you’ll have to take over.

Some marketers prefer manual bidding because it gives them more control. They might know that they don’t want to spend more than $2.24 on a single click, ever. If this sounds like you, manual bidding is a good option. If not, though, keep reading to look at the different types of automated bidding strategies and see if they’re right for you.

Target CPA

The Target CPA bidding strategy focuses on driving as many conversions as possible at your target cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Though some bids will cost more or less than your target cost, they’ll average out to ensure that you’re staying where you need to overall. This is one strategy that gives you some good control over your bidding, allowing you to set a specific target CPA. This bidding strategy can work well when you have an average CPA you want to stay near (but not necessarily under for every click you get). Before choosing this, have a good idea of what you can spend in order to maintain profitability when getting a sale, factoring in everything that can lead to a rise in costs or loss of ROI. Some things to consider for this one:
It requires conversion tracking to be enabled on your account. Check out how to install the pixel here.
In order to get good results, it’s important to have some history of conversion data from Google Ads first, or this bidding strategy may not do you a ton of favors at first because it hasn’t “learned” yet. If you can, have at least 2o conversions within the past 30 days before using this strategy or know that the first two weeks could be a “learning” period.

Target ROAS

When using the Target ROAS strategy, you’re having Google set bids to maximize the conversion value as much as possible, maximizing your potential return on ad spend (ROAS). This bidding strategy can only be applied to a single campaign instead of multiple campaigns (which are also known as “portfolio” bidding strategies). This strategy is similar to target CPA, but the above allows you to use it as a portfolio bidding strategy and this focuses exclusively on ROAS while the other looks at the acquisition value outright.
Your ROAS is the conversion value you’d like to get out of every dollar of ad spend you invest, telling you the return on ad spend you’re getting. If you want to make $4 in sales for every dollar spent on your ads, the ROAS would be 400%.
Here’s the catch, though. The conversion tracking concerns that apply to the Target CPA strategy apply here as well. There will be a learning curve, which can be expensive and frustrating to watch for a week or so.

Maximize Clicks

This bidding strategy is self-explanatory: it will work to get as many clicks on your ad as possible, going through your daily budget to make this happen. You can set a bid limit, which is nice as it ensures that you won’t end up blowing your budget on a few clicks, and this strategy can be used as a portfolio strategy.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind with this conversion type:
It’s almost always a good choice to set that bid limit so that Google doesn’t go through your budget in a way you won’t be happy with. Clicks are good, but not if they cost too much.
This can be a good bidding option if you want to drive traffic to your site or a specific landing page.
We recommend this most for audiences who currently have a strong conversion history on your campaigns and you want to step traffic up further.
Google Ads will sometimes aggressively spend here to chew up your budget. They want to get you those clicks, but again, this can come at a cost, so keep the bid limits reasonable.

Maximize Conversions

Maximize conversions is going to be similar to the above bidding strategy, but the focus here will be entirely on getting conversions instead of just clicks. Google will go through your budget quickly to get you those conversions whenever possible.

You’ll notice, however, that unlike the above bidding strategy, this one doesn’t let you set a bid cap. Here’s what you need to know:

The inability to set a bid cap is a hard hit for advertisers. There’s a huge risk that Google can burn through your ad spend with too-high CPCs that get you some results, but not at a price that’s profitable.
Conversion tracking must be enabled for the algorithm to be able to correctly optimize for conversions.
This bidding strategy is typically not one I’d recommend, because while it can yield a lot of actions, it does so at the discretion of a huge financial risk.

Target Search Page Location

This bidding strategy prioritizes ad placement, letting advertisers bid on either the top of the search page or on the first page of results. You get to pick which location you want to prioritize. This is a portfolio-only bidding strategy, which means it can be applied to multiple campaigns.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when choosing this bidding strategy:
The ability to have your ad show up in the right place is an advantage, especially in searches for high-value but very competitive keywords where ad rank can be crucial.
The idea behind this bidding strategy is that Google will automatically up your bid when necessary to get those high-visibility results. Make sure that this is worth it before you choose it, and if so, keep a close eye on those 

Remember that the higher your ad location and ad rank, the higher your CPC or CPA may become. Again, watch your CPCs because high ad placements are no longer worth it if you literally can’t afford them.

Target Outranking Share

Keeping up with the pattern we already have going, this bidding strategy is similar to the one directly above it because it focuses on the placement of the ad instead of the value or cost of a certain action. This strategy, however, prioritizes not just good placements but actually outranking very specific competitors.
Let’s say you are a small shoe company and you’re sick of Nike dominating the traffic. You can enter in their domain name as the one you want to outrank, and hopefully take control of that first-place ad result for “running shoes” and “cross trainers.”
These are the highlights for this campaign:
There’s the option to set a bid limit. Do this. Big names have big budgets, and you don’t want to go broke trying to keep up.
You can try to outrank specific competitors who are continually stealing some of those high-value keywords. If you can afford to watch your CPCs increase so that you can snag some of those sales, full steam ahead.

Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC can be applied on its own, but it can also be applied to other bidding strategies, too. It stands for “enhanced cost-per-click,” and while it’s similar to manual bidding, it allows Google to adjust your bid—even if you’ve set it manually. Google will adjust the bid depending on the likelihood for a sale, increasing it if the likelihood is higher and decreasing it if lower.
Here’s the information you need about the strategy:
It does have a history of helping to boost click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates, but it often comes at the cost of a higher CPC.
This limits the ability to set proper bid caps, allowing Google to make the final decision. This can result in major loss in profitability, which isn’t a risk most businesses want to take.

Target Impression Share

This is a relatively new bidding strategy that prioritizes bidding to reach a target percentage of the impression share.
Impression share tells you what percentage of searches you’re appearing in that you were capable of showing up in based on targeting and keywords. Sometimes a low impression share is at least partially the result of low bids and this strategy can help you combat that. The higher the impression share, the more people are seeing your ad and the more chances you have at a click or conversion.

Here’s what you need to know about this bidding strategy:

The ability to set a maximum CPC is, once again, valuable. Use it, because you don’t need to chew up your entire budget to simply get more impressions that may not even convert.
You can prioritize for different page locations, including Top of the Page and Anywhere on the Page, allowing you to decide if you only want to bid on impressions at the very top of visibility.
Impression share simply means having your ad show up more often. That’s all it’s optimizing for, not specific actions.
Should I Use Automated Bidding Strategies?
The idea of automation is alluring for sure, but most advertisers are still preferring to opt for manual bidding instead. There are a few reasons for this, including:

It lets them increase bids on specific terms or ad groups that are particularly high value, and thus increasing the likelihood of improving ad rank (and results) for those ads.
It prevents their CPC from running away from them and squashing their chance at profitability. Who cares if you’re getting conversions, after all, if your’e doing it at $15 a click and you can only afford to spend $10?

Automated bidding strategies can be useful in some circumstances, but in many cases you’ll benefit most from sticking with manual bidding and making sure that your campaigns are optimized in other ways and with strong, high-value and high-intent keywords.

While many advertising agencies prefer to be as in-control of the bids as possible (and thus typically opt for manual bidding on the majority of the campaigns they run), there is a time and place for certain automated bidding strategies. They can save you time and help you optimize your campaigns for certain results, which is a good thing at face value.

Just make sure that the time saved is worth whatever sacrifice you could be making when you give up control in the form of a manual bid, and to keep a particularly close eye on those campaigns.

Struggling to choose the bidding strategy that’s right for you? We can help you manage all aspects of your PPC campaigns, all the way down to the bidding strategies (automated or not). Get in touch to see how we can help.
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