10 Best HTML and CSS Courses (Free & Paid)

Posted by on May 10, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Best HTML and CSS Courses (Free & Paid)

HTML and CSS represent two of the most important programming languages for the web. With an HTML and CSS course, you can learn everything you need to know about web coding and start developing sites for clients. The question is, which lessons will deliver the best results? We reviewed and rated a number of top-rated […]

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Outrank in organic search with these 5 SEO tactics

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Outrank in organic search with these 5 SEO tactics

Outrank in organic search with these 5 SEO tactics

Not all SEO tactics are created equal. In fact, many SEO teams spend time working on issues that rarely move the needle.

If you want to generate impression share, drive clicks and bring intent-driven traffic to your site, you need to learn and implement these five core SEO tactics today. 

To learn more, register today for “Outrank in Organic Search with These 5 Core Tactics,” presented by Strategic SEO Solutions.

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12 Best Programmatic Advertising Platforms to Use in 2022

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 12 Best Programmatic Advertising Platforms to Use in 2022

12 Best Programmatic Advertising Platforms to Use in 2022

Programmatic advertising platforms solve a problem for both publishers and advertisers.

For publishers, they help maximize advertising revenues by auctioning ad space to millions of advertisers worldwide. For advertisers, they expand reach and leverage data to target very specific audiences.

When done well, this means more profit for both groups, and who doesn’t like that?

What Are Programmatic Ad Platforms?

Programmatic ad platforms provide a real-time marketplace for buying and selling ad space. They link the millions of publishers to the marketers looking to place strategic ads across the internet.

All of this happens in the blink of an eye:

A visitor arrives on a website.The publisher captures the impression and relevant data on the website visitor.Advertisers bid on the impression.The highest bidder places their ad.

You need some powerful software working in the background to make all this work. This is where programmatic ad platforms come in. The types of platforms are broken down into four categories: demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, ad exchanges, and data management platforms.

The supply-side platforms work for the publishers, collecting data and serving it to the ad exchanges. The ad exchanges then serve this information to demand-side platforms that work on behalf of advertisers, creating an auction for each ad impression.

Collecting data on each ad impression allows publishers to sell ad space to the highest bidder, and allows advertisers to be extremely targeted with their advertising (here’s how you can identify who to target).

This has been an extremely successful formula as spending on programmatic advertising has pushed well past $155 billion a year and continues to grow.

Benefits of Using Programmatic Ads Platforms

Why do advertisers love programmatic ads platforms?

huge reachdetailed targetingefficiencyflexible and scalable

There are many benefits, but the most crucial is the ability to scale. The best programmatic advertising platforms give you instant access to millions of publishers around the world, allowing you to reach your target audience wherever they are.

This is one of the reasons 76 percent of marketing professionals are using programmatic advertising to some extent.

Reaching out to all the different sites manually would take a lifetime, but with programmatic advertising, it happens in real-time.

Of course, not every publishing site serves your target audience, so one of the most important elements of programmatic ads platforms is the ability to reach an extremely targeted audience in real-time. These platforms run ads on a huge scale, collecting a lot of data that is leveraged to improve ad performance.

When you work with a programmatic ads platform, you’re able to set specific parameters for where you serve ads and who you serve them to. This is a huge advantage.

In fact, 73 percent of marketers believe audience targeting is the most effective tactic for programmatic advertising.

Access to so much data also allows you to become more efficient. Everything happens in real-time, so you’re not working on outdated information or paying for ads based solely on historical trends. You’re making a specific bid for that exact impression using a highly attuned algorithm, taking your efficiency to a new level.

Lastly, the instant nature of programmatic ads platforms makes them easily scalable. You have no long-term agreements with publishers, so you can adjust your ad spend according to your needs.

Say you want to run a quickfire sale. You can use programmatic advertising platforms to immediately boost your reach while reaching the exact audience you specify.

Types of Programmatic Ads

There are five key types of programmatic ads:

1. Display ads: Ads placed in the header, footer, and sidebar of a publisher site.

2. Video ads: These ads appear in a video, either before the video begins (pre-roll), during the video (mid-roll), or when the video ends (post-roll).

3. Social ads: Ads are automatically served on social media using the platform’s data.

4. Audio ads: Ads served in audio content such as podcasts.

5. Native ads: These are ads that follow the form of the content they’re shown in, for example, in content ads, or a promoted listing on Amazon.

When shown on a publisher site, all of these types of programmatic ads tend to be referred to as display ads, but in the programmatic ads platforms, there is a difference.

Most advertisers look to use a mixture of these formats, but you can adapt your approach to fit your target audience.

12 Best Programmatic Advertising Platforms

Programmatic advertising is everywhere and nearly every advertiser is using it, even if we don’t realize it. While your mind might be drawn to a few well-known big players, there are lots of programmatic advertising platforms out there, each with its specialties.

Here’s a look at the 12 best programmatic advertising platforms.

1. PubMatic

PubMatic offers comprehensive solutions for both publishers and marketers, making it a complete programmatic ad platform.

Features include a private marketplace of high-quality ad inventory, a wide range of ad formats and channels, powerful real-time analytics, and fraud-free program refunds to protect against fraudulent activity.

With over 1.2 trillion ad bids per day, PubMatic is certainly popular, and its excellent supply of high-quality ad spots is frequently cited.

2. MediaMath

MediaMath is well known for its end-to-end campaign management and omnichannel ad campaigns, and it’s trusted by over 3,500 advertisers.

It’s particularly good at data integration, allowing advertisers to reach their most valuable customers through the MediaMath audience feature. With ad options for display, native, video, audio, and Digital Out of Home ads, every base is covered.

Known for great service and support, the MediaMath team is there to help marketers get the most out of their campaigns.

3. Google Ad Manager

Google Ad Manager is a massive programmatic advertising platform working on the supply-side to monetize publishers’ content.

Nearly 75 percent of ad impressions served in the U.S. are through Google Ad Manager, which makes it a powerful partner for reaching your audience, no matter where they hang out online.

The great thing about Google Ad Manager is it’s incredibly easy for publishers to get set up and start serving ads. It offers good tools and analytics, but it’s not always known for providing the best value (RPM).

4. Adobe Advertising Cloud

Adobe is a huge name in software and also provides one of the best programmatic advertising platforms in Adobe Advertising Cloud.

It specializes in connected TV, video, display, native, audio, and search campaign ads to offer advertisers a complete solution. With a focus on people-based marketing and inventory management, it’s a great tool to maximize return on your budget.

The user interface does take some learning, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a great platform to help you maximize your return on ad spend.

5. War Room

War Room brings together the power of advanced programmatic technology and human insights to deliver search, display, social, video, native, audio, shopping, and even Metaverse advertising.

With access to over 90,000 premium ad networks, it has something to offer advertisers of all sizes.

6. AdRoll

AdRoll is powered by 15 plus years of data collected from working with over 120,000 brands. It’s quick to set up and easy to use, offering high-quality ad templates to help you get started immediately.

One of the key benefits of AdRoll is its solid audience targeting, with options for contextual, lookalike, demographic, and interest-based campaigns.

It prides itself on maximizing returns for businesses of all sizes, from global corporations right down to the one-person marketing teams.

7. Amobee

Amobee brings together different types of programmatic ads to create a complete advertising campaign. With ad options for TV, connected TV, digital, and social, advertisers can engage their target audiences in a truly omnichannel strategy.

With a great understanding of how people consume content across different platforms, Amobee can help advertisers to coordinate their campaigns to achieve maximum results.

8. SmartyAds

SmartyAds’ programmatic ads platform offers a full stack of services for both advertisers and publishers. Its core aim is to simplify advertising, allowing businesses to prioritize who they trade with.

For advertisers, it’s an excellent tool to improve CTRs and boost conversions, while it also helps publishers achieve higher yields and fill rates, and improve engagement.

SmartyAds has over 500 million monthly impressions in North America alone, so it’s a popular option for both advertisers and publishers.

9. Criteo

Criteo works largely on the supply side, helping publishers to create more revenue from their content.

It works with social media, video, display, web, and mobile ads to help small publishers monetize their content. Using large-scale purchase and intent data and the power of AI, it improves ad returns for over 685 million daily active users.

10. Xandr

Xandr is responsible for 6.7 billion ad impressions daily and works with over 193,000 brands. It offers both demand and supply services and functions as an ad exchange for a variety of different ad types.

One of the most impressive features of Xandr is its incredible data, which allows advertisers to enhance their buying strategies. It offers an easy-to-use interface and has all the tools advertisers need to optimize campaigns.

11. Lotame

Lotame is primarily an ad exchange, helping advertisers connect with consumers across browsers and mobile CTV.

It offers excellent audience management tools, using data to onboard, analyze and model customer segments. Using publishers’ data, the platform enriches audience segments, allowing advertisers to buy off-the-shelf segments to optimize their marketing reach.

Lotame prides itself as being future-proof in a cookieless world, which is a great selling point for today’s businesses

12. The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk is an ad exchange that allows publishers to sell targeted ad space to advertisers around the world. It’s an ideal platform to collect, manage, and activate data all in one place.

A key feature of The Trade Desk is its ability to use lookalike modeling to help advertisers reach new, targeted audiences to expand their market share.

With access to high-quality audiences from a vast list of data providers, it’s a highly rated programmatic advertising platform.

Programmatic Ad Platforms Frequently Asked Questions

Is Google Ads a programmatic ads platform?

Google ads is a programmatic ads platform working on the demand side. It provides a platform for advertisers to bid on advertising space in real-time, creating an auction and awarding the impression to the best bid.

Does Facebook have a programmatic ads platform?

Facebook offers a demand-side programmatic ads platform much like Google Ads. It sells advertising space in real-time, creating an auction for each impression.

How do programmatic ad platforms work?

Programmatic ad platforms bring together the publisher selling advertising space and the advertiser who wants to buy that ad space. They facilitate real-time auctions where advertisers bid on each impression, taking a cut of the winning bid and paying out the remainder to the publisher.

How much do programmatic advertising platforms cost?

Programmatic advertising platforms take a commission on the sale of each impression. This is usually between 10 and 20 percent.

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Conclusion: Programmatic Ads Platform

Programmatic ads platforms are an essential tool in modern advertising. They create a bridge between publishers and sellers, allowing both parties to negotiate a price for ads in real-time.

By collecting data from thousands of websites, these platforms allow advertisers to target detailed audiences and ensure they spend ad budgets on the right ads.

The world of online advertising is constantly changing, so working with a good programmatic ads platform is a great way of future-proofing your marketing and staying a step ahead.

What’s your experience with programmatic ad platforms? Are there other platforms you love that didn’t make the list?

How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing (For Real)

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing (For Real)

Affiliate marketing helps you earn money online by promoting other people’s products and services. It is a great way to generate passive income after the initial effort of getting people to see your affiliate offers. I know from experience that beginners find it difficult to understand how to make money from affiliate marketing. There are […]

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Link building from a holistic SEO perspective

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Link building from a holistic SEO perspective

Link building isn’t easy. That doesn’t mean it’s rocket science. It means it takes a lot of work if you do it right. Link building done the wrong way can backfire, resulting in a ban from Google altogether. In this post, I’ll discuss our ideas about getting more backlinks: link building from a holistic SEO perspective.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about link building strategies and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!

How does a link help your page to rank well?

First, let’s discuss why link building is important for SEO. A link to your site helps its ranking in four ways:

It adds value to the receiving page, allowing it to improve its visibility in the search engines.It adds value to the entire receiving domain, allowing each page on that domain to improve its rank ever so slightly.The anchor text of the link and the surrounding copy indicates the website’s topic to the search engine and more specifically the receiving page.And obviously, people click on links, resulting in so-called direct traffic.

The value of a link for the receiving page is determined in part by the topic of the page the link is on. A link from a page with the same topic as the receiving page is of more value than a link from a page about an entirely different topic. Also, a link from an article is worth way more than a link from a sidebar or a footer. In general, the more links there are on a page, the less each individual link is worth.

Link building’s bad reputation

Link building has got a somewhat bad reputation. Once people noticed that backlinks from other sites resulted in higher rankings, they began to abuse this. They got links from sites that didn’t have any topical relation with their own site. In other cases, people bought links from other sites.

These shady links polluted the search engines. That is why Google started giving penalties to companies that bought links or used links from non-related websites (Google Penguin update was all about this). If you got a penalty from Google, it was serious: your site would disappear from the search results.

This bad reputation of link building comes from companies who were a bit too enthusiastic about shady link building techniques and got penalties from Google. Does this mean you shouldn’t do any link building at all? Of course not! Link building in itself is not a bad thing. If you do it the right way, you’ll reap all the benefits it offers.

Read more: Link building: what not to do? »

Link building is about reaching out

Link building is – or should be – an outreaching activity. That means you have to contact people and ask them to write about and link to your website. Usually, you will get better results if you contact people personally. This means writing emails and press releases, making phone calls, and talking about your product. And don’t forget about social media. Platforms such as Twitter have made it easier to reach out to specific people and businesses. If your products and content are good, there will be people who are interested to write about them. Most bloggers and journalists need content, so presenting your products to them could very well make them happy too!

Dofollow vs nofollow links

As mentioned above, backlinks can add value to your website and help your content to rank better. But not all links are the same. There are dofollow and nofollow links. To website users, they look the same. Actually, links are dofollow by default. But you can make a nofollow link by inserting a small piece of code, called an attribute, that tells search engine bots not to follow that link.

According to Google, nofollow links don’t pass any value to the website being linked. So to get the full benefits of link building, you should aim to get dofollow links. This is called ‘link juice’ by many people in the SEO field. Also, it’s a common practice nowadays to nofollow all external links. If you’re asking someone to link to your website from theirs, it’s good to ask them to remove the ‘nofollow’ attribute so both of you can get values from the link. If they don’t want to, that’s also fine. You might not get the ‘link juice’, but your site still gets mentioned on their site. It’s good for branding, and you’ll receive some traffic to your site. There are still some (indirect) benefits regardless.

Link building as part of a holistic SEO strategy

Holistic SEO means you’ll do everything to make your website the best: you should show high-quality information, provide an excellent user experience, have the fastest website and so on. Link building will get easier if your website offers a great experience, just like your products and/or services. Because it’s far more likely that people are willing to write about and link to a great site.

Link building should feel like a normal marketing activity and not like a trick. Do remember that link building should generate links that get your target audience to your site. After all, they are the people that will read your posts, subscribe to your newsletter or buy your products. Your target audience will make your business thrive.

Keep reading: 6 steps to a successful link building strategy »

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So you think you’re a martech genius?

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on So you think you’re a martech genius?

Marketing is more complex than ever. And its evolution is accelerating. Agile, automation, blockchain, attribution… web3, DMP, CDP, DKIM… the metaverse…

Keeping up is essential. Are you? Test your martech IQ with our fun and informative 10-question quiz!

Once you’re done, share this quiz and challenge your friends!

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Google now allows virtual food brands to have Google Business Profiles

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google now allows virtual food brands to have Google Business Profiles

Google now allows virtual food brands to have Google Business Profiles

Google has updated its Google Business profile guidelines page under the “guidelines for chains, departments & individual practitioners” to allow virtual food brands to be listed with “conditions.”

One of the more popular virtual food brands is MrBeast Burgers, a popular YouTube creator has deals with local burger shops to sell his own branded burgers but MrBeast does not have any official burger shop or workers. You buy virtual branded food items made by the local shop. Joy Hawkins said with these updated guidelines “Mr. Beast would be allowed listings and should set them up as service area listings (without an address).”

Updated guidelines. The updated guidelines now say “virtual food brands are permitted with conditions.” It goes on to write out those conditions:

Co-located food brands offering pick-up

Food brands that are co-located each must have permanent separate signage. They should display their address only if they offer pick-up to all customers.Delivery-only brands (no-pick up option) out of shared kitchens must hide their address and add service areas to that specific brand to avoid confusing their customers.

Delivery-only food brands

Delivery-only brands (i.e. those operating out of virtual kitchens) are permitted if they have distinct branded packaging and a distinct website.Multiple virtual brands operating out of one location are permitted, but are subject to additional verification steps.Delivery-only brands must add their service areas and hide the address on their business profile to avoid confusing their customers.If there is a partnership where a food brand has authorized the virtual kitchen as a verified provider of the food, the virtual kitchen may manage each authorized brand’s business profile once the authorization is confirmed.The facility that houses the delivery-only brands, i.e. Doordash Kitchens, is permitted to have its own separate business profile. Only someone affiliated with the facility can claim and verify this profile.

Virtual food brands in local search. Yes, MrBeast Burgers, a virtual food brand, does indeed show up in Google local search results:

Why we care. So now Google is allowing virtual food brands to have listings in Google Business Profiles and thus Google Maps and local search results. If you have any clients that offer virtual food brands or you run your own, you can now technically show up in the local search results in Google Search and Google Maps. This is even when the address is technically not listed and there is no physical presence of that business outside of another business slapping on a new label on the product.

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Why SEO is a great investment, not just a cost 

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Why SEO is a great investment, not just a cost 

Why SEO is a great investment, not just a cost 

Companies make investments all the time. The intention of any investment is to fund something now that will deliver a return later.

So why is the investment not there for an acquisition channel like SEO?

My theory:

Investments in SEO are compounding in nature. It can be difficult to “see” the results of increases in traffic and revenue because the growth is much more visible when measured over time, often up to a year later.  

But who wants to return to leadership 12 months later saying, “Hey, look, we did it!”

Alas, that’s the nature of organic results. They take a while to produce.

This article will discuss some of the main inputs that drive organic growth, as well as the kinds of outputs to expect. Specifically, how SEO needs investments in:

People: Building teams to develop and oversee the SEO strategy that drives business results. Content: Creating and optimizing content that’s supported by a strong, technical foundation that drives the consumer’s journey and decision to trust and transact with your business over another. Tools: For SEO and content practitioners alike. In the same way a sports team needs a ball and equipment to play, tools are needed to find the many micro-optimizations that drive the macro impact.  

A huge misconception: SEO is “free” 

There’s no such thing as “free traffic.”

Earning consistent, quality web traffic is not free. It never has been.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a startup, enterprise brand or a company of some other type or size.

What matters is getting the best possible ROI.

That requires investing in the components that contribute to traffic growth.

Another huge misconception: SEO ‘just happens’

At its core, SEO is a long-term strategy. SEO requires an ongoing investment.

Results are realized over time as the amount of improvements compounds.

Just having a website full of content or products to sell won’t make organic traffic magically materialize.  

The reality: any traffic acquisition strategy, especially one involving growing organic traffic, requires funding.

People are needed to manage the strategy and daily operations. Writers are needed to create and optimize content. Engineers are needed to code and release improvements to the technical architecture of a website.

Practically every team in an enterprise organization touches the website or app, which means they need to be aware of how to help contribute to SEO efforts (and not unknowingly harm them). 

SEO involves multiple teams and it works best with continuous improvements. 

SEO that delivers real business value requires an ongoing, intentional investment in people, content and tools.

Organic traffic is a sustainable source of customer acquisition. SEO becomes your unfair, competitive advantage once your website outpaces its competitors.

What is an SEO investment?

At a minimum, resources for SEO teams look like this: people, content, and tools.

Businesses can choose to go “all in,” investing in building the team internally, or externally using agencies and consultants, or fund a mix of both.

The only “correct” answer here is what works for the business.

Let’s look at each. 


In many ways, the biggest asset a business has is its people. In SEO that means bringing on knowledgeable search engine professionals to manage the ins and outs of maintaining a website (or a group of sites).

This can range from one subject matter expert to, ideally, a team of SEOs each with a specialized skill set or unique experiences they bring to the table (think of any superhero movie where they combine their powers).

Since the success of SEO relies on the coordinated outputs of multiple teams, the investment can also include staffing people on complementary teams who are copywriters, engineering resources, strategists, web analysts, data scientists, product managers and UX professionals. 

Alternatively, if the team is not in-house, the investment costs can go toward outsourcing the work to an agency or specialized consultants. The key here is that there is a team of subject matter experts who create the right SEO strategy for the business based on its resources. They prioritize the work and collaborate with different teams to make periodic releases of SEO improvements. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention the acquisition of knowledge. In a dynamic field like SEO and digital marketing, it’s important for a business to also carve out a budget for continuous learning and development (L&D) for your SEO team.

That can mean anything from supporting their leadership development (e.g., online courses, regional SEO meetups and industry conferences that offer learning and networking opportunities). 


The investment in content can take a few forms – from hiring an internal SEO content strategist to oversee a team of writers to outsourcing the work to an agency or consultant.

Bottom line: no matter how SEO content teams are structured, the key to success is having the capability to upload and publish optimized content on the website. 

It’s uncommon for a single SEO, who is dedicated to running the day-to-day SEO operations, to also be able to consistently write and publish content (those are called unicorns).

It’s also unrealistic to expect a single person to produce content at scale for a business of any size. That kind of output takes a dedicated team of specialized writers working from an editorial calendar.

Websites can’t rank without great, relevant content. This is why this type of investment is key for businesses operating online. 


Physical writers and SEOs need tools for content creation, optimization and performance tracking.

The costs involved here? It largely depends on what the business needs and where the gaps are.

It could be volume: how many pages will be published and at what rate? How big is the team that needs access to the tool (some charge by number of “seats”). There’s also varying levels of cost with the software tools themselves ranging from basic keyword and URL rank tracking to enterprise level with more robust data for large websites that need crawling and analysis capabilities at scale. 

There are so many options for teams of all different sizes and budgets. If you’re a marketer making the decision on tools for your teams and resources, it’s best to self-educate and self-evaluate the best approach for the business.  

Paid vs. earned media (or: investing now vs. later)

I find it shocking that companies are willing to spend millions of dollars on paid advertising each month, but then think $10,000 is a bit too much for SEO

— Eli Schwartz (@5le) January 9, 2022

Paid search and SEO (earned media) are among the two biggest traffic acquisition investments that both basically require funding of people, content and tools.

Many feel the investment in both channels should be more equally distributed. However, the reality is the results are produced in different timelines.

Money that goes toward a paid search campaign generates a more immediate result because campaigns can be managed daily – even hourly – which is why SEM often gets a bigger share of the budget. The ROI for an SEO investment is realized over a longer timeline; it can be months or years before a page (or pages) of optimized content are indexed by search engines and start ranking well enough to drive measurable visitors to a website.  

Think of the investment timeline in this way; you have a garden and want to grow tomato plants. To get the garden to produce that vegetable you must do all the things involved with growing that type of plant which inevitably will take a certain amount of time. 

But if you need tomatoes tomorrow, you would need to buy a fully developed tomato plant and plant it in your garden. That’s Paid Search. 

So if you want tomatoes tomorrow, and if you haven’t been properly tending to your garden, they won’t be there because gardens don’t produce immediate results. That’s SEO.  

Using this example, one can see it’s not sustainable for a business to be overly reliant on a channel like paid search to drive customers to its website. The budget will eventually run out or you will get priced out of the market in a bidding war. 

SEO cannot deliver immediate results like paid search because it doesn’t operate that way. But SEO is like a garden that will bear an abundance of fruit year after year, as long as it’s properly cared for season after season. 

Investing in an SEO team  

Google made more than 5,000 changes to search just in 2021.

That alone is reason enough to have an experienced team overseeing every aspect of SEO. 

Say you’re a director or manager and tasked with growing your SEO team. You have to look at your internal resources and what kind of expertise the business needs.

Maybe it’s an e-commerce site where a technical SEO with e-commerce experience would benefit the business. Maybe your business needs to double down and update its content.

Find whatever type of SEO skills and experience is needed for the business. 

The point is that every company will need a different mix of SEO skills.

A bare-bones in-house SEO team at the enterprise level and estimated salary range (USD) looks something like this: 

Director of SEO: $150,000+Senior SEO Manager: $120,000+SEO Product Manager: $120,000+Technical SEO Lead: $120,000+Content SEO Lead: $110,000+SEO Analyst: (specializing in data science and mining the company data for insights) $150,000+Platform specialist: (enterprise sites are built on solutions at scale like Salesforce or they’re bootstrapped together; what matters is that you have an SME that can make technical changes to the site based on the platform it’s on) $150,000+

Remember, you can’t just build the team and not equip them with the right tools. A great football team isn’t just made up of only players – you also need different types of coaches, equipment and gear, training facilities and more.

This is why SEO is considered a long-term investment. Hiring talented and experienced individuals to oversee and improve upon the content and technical architecture of a website is an investment that requires upfront funding and pays dividends later. 

It’s similar to the investment involved in owning a home. A homeowner needs to proactively set aside a budget for home improvement projects and general upkeep of their property. Doing proper repairs over time means when the house is on the market, it’s attractive to a buyer and will sell for top dollar thereby netting a return for the homeowner.  

In the same way that it is financially more prudent to upkeep a property over time than it is to do a full rehab, a business needs SEO professionals to look after and improve upon the website as a whole. 

SEO is profitable: the ROI of SEO

The main SEO KPIs are traffic and revenue. 

How much can SEO increase traffic? That can be tricky to pin down because it depends on a number of factors related to output like:

How often are you releasing improvements to your site? What kind of improvements are they? Are they ones that will move the needle?

As a starting point, one way to approach this calculation is to frame it like this: take the baseline of your existing level of yearly organic traffic (from your traffic source, like Adobe or Google Analytics). From there, ask “what does a 1% improvement look like?” And, subsequently, “if we did nothing, what would a hypothetical 1% decline in traffic look like?”

That’s your  +/- baseline where you can then extrapolate up to 5% in either direction as an estimation of improvement or decline in site visits.

For context: “doing nothing” means releasing no technical SEO improvements or updates to existing content or publishing new content.

Important: Doing nothing can sometimes cost more than a marginal investment in SEO. 

Measuring the ROI of an SEO investment

SEO should be more widely viewed as an investment because it doesn’t yield direct results for dollars spent from day one.

Think about the reason it’s considered financially sound to invest money into a 401K account, is that the expectation is that the funds will grow over time and be greater when you need them in the future. That happens because of continued investment in the fund and compound growth.  The same is true for SEO. 

Savvy marketers know Search is an attribution channel that grows over time as improvements are made to the site. 

“Search is a critical part of website traffic, as can be seen clearly from almost any Google Analytics account you might look at,” says Krista Seiden, Founder & Principal Consultant, KS Digital. “Whether it’s last click attribution or a multi-touch path to conversion, organic search is a key driver for a majority of businesses out there, and therefore, an important reason to invest in the channel itself.” 

Content optimizations are another measurable SEO investment that requires funding up front and pays dividends down the road. Let me explain. 

Most marketers should be familiar with the stages of the buyer’s journey:


It turns out that customers seek out different types of content based on where they are in the process of their evaluations. The key is to meet the customer’s search intent with your content.

This fantastic illustration from Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media highlights what types of content a business would need to have in order to attract, inform and convince someone to buy their product:  

Now, think about how many types of content your business has, or doesn’t have, from each section on that list. When was the last time that content was updated? What content is missing that you’d need to create that would make your offer more competitive? 

Let’s say you do a content audit on your site and determine you don’t have any how-to content.  Hypothetically, it might cost $500 to $1,000 to get a 1,500-word article written and published on your site so that when people search for something like “how to replace an LG water filter” you have an article that can appear at the top of the SERPs. 

If done well, the article is comprehensive about the topic, relevant for a number of terms people are searching for and maintains its ranking on the first page of Google for months if not years. The result is that the initial, one-time cost to create the article contributes to multiple sales thereafter.  

That, in a nutshell, is how investing in content optimization delivers value year after year.  

SEO Investments based on business size

Now let’s look at how it can be profitable at different levels. Take this with a grain of salt; these are ballpark estimates for the sake of evaluating what an SEO investment breakdown could look like based on annual revenue and company size.

Startup, SMB

Headcount: 5-50 full time employeesAnnual Revenue: <$50M Rough SEO Investment: $1-$5K/month, $60K/yr.Revenue from SEO channel: between 2-5%

At the startup and small business level, an investment in SEO is best once a product market fit has been determined. Most startups are in need of acquiring paying customers quickly. Once there’s stability from customers and recurring revenue, SEO can come in and improve upon the existing site content and performance to help cast a wider net thereby amplifying the product and attracting more prospects. 

Most small businesses should invest in SEO but they often don’t because it’s expensive and there often isn’t anyone besides the business owner to update the website. Investing a small amount in SEO services will help drive foot traffic to retail locations.

Agencies and/or specialized consultants in the local SEO space are great resources because they can often shoulder the resource load to make the website mobile-friendly and optimize the content for things like Google Maps and a Google Business Profile listing. 

For SMBs hiring an SEO should be like hiring a trusted, licensed professional to do your taxes. It’s not something every business owner can or needs to do on their own. Hire an expert that will look out for your SEO needs as it relates to your business.   

My recommendation for SMBs would be to start allocating at least $1,000/month towards SEO services. Take it out of your advertising or marketing budget for 3 months and see what you can get done.


Headcount: 50-250 full time employeesAnnual Revenue: $50M-$1BRough SEO Investment: $10-$20K/month, $240K/yrRevenue from SEO channel: between 5-10%

Mid-sized businesses should invest in SEO because it’s a more cost effective way to acquire customers long term and they to benefit the most from SEO investments because they typically have some resources to afford supporting their in-house SEO lead with external agency services and/or consultants. At this level, an investment in SEO can mean the difference between being able to drive efficiencies at scale and pull ahead of competitors or being left behind. 

At mid-size companies and agencies it’s usually the marketing team’s responsibility to oversee the website. An SEO specialist can be part of that team but, still both technical and content resources can be scarce.

The midsize level is where SEO can really grow a business. But without a knowledgeable expert that’s overseeing the technical aspects of your site and optimizing your content for what real people are searching for that relates to your business, you’re missing out. 

Enterprise organizations

Headcount: 1,000+Annual Revenue: 1M+Rough SEO Investment: at least $1M/yearRevenue from SEO channel: between 5-20%

At the enterprise level, SEO results rely on investment in addition to consistent outputs of multiple teams. Enterprise SEO is more about establishing processes so that different cross functional teams can each improve upon the technical aspects like architecture, internal linking and crawl and index efficiencies.

On the content front, it’s about partnering with internal brand and content teams to write and publish content optimizations at scale that deliver a better user experience than competitor sites. 

Large sites often require more than fixing issues flagged in an SEO audit. Because SEO is inherently a cross functional discipline, if a business wants to be able to thrive off of its organic traffic, it requires strategic oversight to prioritize and collaborate internally across many different teams delivering on the SEO work; product, engineering, QA, delivery managers, content, UX, and design teams just to name a few.

“[To] see SEO results you need more than SEO investment – SEO relies on product, technology and content. It’s a hybrid, complex domain that is interdependent on other resources, teams and outputs.”

– Tom Critchlow in his email newsletter SEO MBA

SEO success depends on cross-functional teams, especially the outputs of engineering and content. If you cannot publish code or content, don’t expect to see your SEO traffic improve. 

The Benefits of SEO

Even a small investment in maintaining a website’s performance, content and user experience can accumulate over time to provide the business with a return, year after year.  

SEO is always a great investment because humans are naturally curious; we’re always searching for ways to solve our problems, new places to eat, directions to where we’re going–we are engineered to ask questions and that handy, mobile device in our pocket that’s connected to the internet 24/7 is ready to answer any and every query. 

Here are some key SEO statistics:

93% of the time, an online session begins by searching keywords on a search engine.

As of 2021, 53% of all website traffic (worldwide) clicks on organic results.

Google alone processes more than 40,000 keyword searches every single second. That’s over 3.5 billion searches in a single day and 1.2 trillion per year!

16-20% of keywords searched on Google in any given day have never been searched before.

These compelling stats point to the fact that search isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

In addition to curious humans, another benefit of investing in SEO is that it addresses many of the same challenges associated with the need for making websites easier to navigate for the percentage of the population that has a disability. This practice is known as accessibility.

It’s not a 1:1 match but there are many principles of technical SEO that also translate into enabling those that must navigate websites with a screen reader (data shows 8.1 million Americans have a vision impairment) to have a better user experience. 

On top of that, SEO with accessibility labels used in the QA automation process makes things even more efficient since those labels make testing automation easier. That’s a nice win for multiple in-house teams contributing to SEO and driving business value. 

SEO Tactics to invest in 

Page speed 

In 2022, the North Star of investment is improving website speed and performance according to measurements from Google known as Core Web Vitals (CWV). These are aspects that help a website load quickly for both search engines and users.

Many teams are organizing around: 

LCP (largest contentful paint): loading the heaviest assets first so the rest seems seamless. CLS (cumulative layout shift): minimizing the elements that “jump” or move around the screen while it loads. FID (first input delay): the time when users first interact with the page and can accomplish what they came to do.

Fundamentally, your website pages should load quickly. Speed became a ranking factor in July 2018 and it’s what users expect. But speed alone won’t result in increased traffic. 

Relevant and authoritative content 

Improving content (either updating existing content or pruning underperforming pages) is one of the best investments for SEO dollars.


Google is getting better at determining user intent. Which means it’s table stakes to stay on top of your content making sure it’s helpful, accurate and relevant. 

It’s worth investing in overhauling your content to improve your E-A-T signals


The generic searches that occur at the top of the funnel (TOFU) is largely where SEO is most efficient for enterprise businesses. Big brands can usually afford a larger budget for paid search but over time it benefits the business greatly if the amount of incoming, new visitors arrive at the website due to the efforts of a strategic, ongoing investment in well-written, relevant content. 

Technical SEO outputs

This relates to the velocity, or speed, at which engineering and product teams can collaborate with SEO teams to fix the technical aspects of the site. A consistent level of output will contribute to a healthy and strong technical foundation.

Generally speaking, if a site goes 6 months or more without releasing any technical improvements it’s at risk of losing meaningful rankings and therefore traffic because it’s not able to be as competitive online against other teams who are focused on testing and learning to improve upon the SEO results they’re seeing. 

A few reasons not to invest in SEO

Let’s say you’re a:

Startup that hasn’t found a product market fit. You’re an affiliate site only trying to generate revenue. Keep reaching out to influencers… You’re under the illusion link building is the only way to go. Have fun with that. You have a target number of users to hit for investors which means you should look to paid search to acquire customers quickly, then use SEO to keep them. If your business has limited engineering resources or none at all. SEO relies on partnerships with engineering and content teams and their frequent output. When you can’t afford to pay a knowledgeable consultant or agency for their services. Worldwide, SEO providers charge $112.22 on average per hour and 50% of SEO providers worldwide have a monthly retainer minimum under $3,000 per month.

For SEO to deliver, it requires investment and collaboration   

Make no mistake: SEO is two things. It is work and it is worth it!

Ever hear the saying “Anything worth having is hard or requires work?” The same is true for SEO.

A site that loads quickly, is secure for processing transactions, and has relevant and helpful content –those are the table stakes that need looking after in order to be competitive online. 

The fallacy that organic traffic “just happens” and doesn’t cost anything is flat out wrong. It takes a level of investment to develop organic traffic into a meaningful marketing channel furthermore driving a sustainable return. 

A steady flow of organic traffic is one of the strongest foundations a business can have.

SEO investments are worth it because every human on the planet searches for products, services and information to make their lives easier. Your business needs to be the solution at the top of customers’ consideration list.  

It’s crucial for businesses to invest in SEO because it’s a discipline that’s uniquely designed to optimize the technical aspects of a website for search engines so that real humans searching online are able to find it when looking for great products and solutions. 

Remember, the ROI of SEO is not immediate; it compounds over time. Whereas paid search is either on or off. When your budget for PPC ads runs out, what then?

SEO is a channel that will always deliver. You just have to keep investing.

The post Why SEO is a great investment, not just a cost  appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How to gain insider expertise as an outside SEO vendor in 4 steps

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to gain insider expertise as an outside SEO vendor in 4 steps

You’re an expert in SEO, but when you engage with a new client, you aren’t an expert in what they do. But you do need to learn fast.

Hopefully, the client is a subject matter expert with tens of thousands of experience hours under their belt. As an SEO agency or consultant, you do not need their level of expert knowledge.

But you do need to know what they are saying. In most cases, you need to gain some level of insider expertise if you’re going to earn their trust and make a real difference in their business.

To do that, you need to:

Get to the heart of why the business stands out in the marketplace.Get into the mind of the customer to gain an intimate understanding of their needs.Know what makes the website tick.Understand the competition, their edge and their SEO strategies.

Let’s look closer at each of these steps that will take you from novice to expert in no time.

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1. Client research 

To learn about your new client, your primary and most available resource is the people running the client’s business. Your client will be a treasure trove of expert information, from the executives to the customer service call reps.  

Start your expert learning process with an in-depth discovery interview with those who oversee the business’s marketing, product development and customer service. You may do this on the project kick-off call, or you might break it up into a series of calls with different folks in the company.

Conversations with customer service can be extremely valuable. Knowing what’s important to their customers can help you make recommendations on everything from content holes to site navigation. Answering common questions is one way to create compelling SEO content for a website.

Regardless, you need to create a template of questions for your client research. You want to make sure that you ask every new client about their business and what they do.

Get intimately familiar with their products and/or services. You can even ask them to onboard you like they would a new hire.

2. Customer research 

It’s important to know everything you can about the people your client sells to or interacts with. After all, a good SEO strategy is all about being able to reach these people with the right messages on the web.

A good place to start is to create audience personas with the client. Even better if they already have them. Knowing the audience will set you up for the next step in customer research: keyword research.

I like to say that to catch fish, you need a few things: the bait the fish are eating, to fish where the fish are and hungry fish. Personas help quite a bit. BTW, many people think they have personas well defined… like:

Highly intellectualAdvanced degree, hopefully, PhDRespectedExtremely theoreticalCurious to a faultCan invent when called upon“White hair” studious

So beyond defining personas, keyword research is an important exercise in getting to know how the audience you are targeting searches for what you have to offer. This is a cornerstone of your SEO strategy; you want to show up for those searches in the search results with the best information possible.

3. Website research

A good SEO strategy is only as good as the website. So you need to understand the state of the client’s website and what could be hindering search engine rankings. Usually, the best way to do this is through an SEO audit. 

There are several levels of SEO audits out there, but the best SEO audit is an in-depth technical audit. This takes many hours (ours can take over 100 hours) but offers the most thorough look at a website from the technical back end to on-page optimization and beyond.

And beware, free tools are exactly that, and they often waste time focusing on things that do not matter. 

“Any SEO tool will spit out 10s or 100s of ‘recommendations,’ most of those are going to be irrelevant to your site’s visibility in search. Finding the items that make sense to work on takes experience.”

– Google’s John Mueller

4. Competitor research 

SEO is about beating the competition in search results. And to beat them, you should know:

Who they are.What they are doing right and wrong with their SEO strategy. 

That’s why competitor research is critical. And there’s quite a bit to it.

Start with your target keywords and then analyze who shows up for them on Page 1 in Google. 

In competitor research, you might look at:

The market competition to assess your strengths and weaknesses against theirs.The online competition, including everything from on-page and off-page factors to link profiles to the technical health of their websites to the content and much more.What keywords they rank for and the extent of content on their site. Often, this exercise identifies keyword gaps on your client’s site.

Spying on your client’s competitors is one of the best ways to improve your client’s SEO strategy and how you present the client online.

Rinse and repeat

Even as you go from novice to expert on your client, there’s always going to be more to learn.

Establish a process for staying up to date and keeping the listening channel open. Or else your SEO strategy could get stale.

And invite feedback from your client so you stay on top of their evolving needs.

The post How to gain insider expertise as an outside SEO vendor in 4 steps appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Google’s Responsive Display Ad go vertical for a better mobile experience

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google’s Responsive Display Ad go vertical for a better mobile experience

Google’s Responsive Display Ad go vertical for a better mobile experience

The popular automatic display ad type Responsive Display Ads (RDAs) will be undergoing a major transformation in the second half of this year. RDAs have been the default display option since 2018 and these new enhancements are geared toward a better mobile offering for advertisers.

Portrait images and videos now welcome. The versatility of RDAs has the ability to flex images to display on mobile devices, but Google will allow for portrait images and videos to be used.

RDA using a horizontal image (left) vs RDA with new portrait image (right)

Previous options required a landscape or a square image while using machine learning to fill in the gaps for mobile ads. This new upgrade should be a welcomed option as it gives advertisers more control over their mobile appearance.

Auto-generated vertical video. If you are an advertiser that doesn’t have vertical videos handy, Google will now be able to help create those assets for your RDAs. Google is leveraging machine learning to use existing assets to create vertical video for campaigns.

Google is using “machine learning to speed up the design and iteration process, you can deliver engaging display ads faster than ever.”

If you are an advertiser that has tight branding/brand standards, you may want to view automated vertical videos before testing, as some advertisers have been dissatisfied with auto-created videos within Performance Max campaigns.

Image uncropping, powered by machine learning. A unique addition coming to RDAs is the ability to “uncrop” images via machine learning. Google said this “automatic improvement lets your products shine by seamlessly expanding to fill the available space.”

RDA using different images in the current state (left) vs RDAs using the uncropping technology (right)

As you can see in the sample image, this does look to be a big improvement with big bold images and less white space. This shouldn’t be a problem if all ad sizes are uploaded, but it should help those advertisers who are missing sizes. 

Creative inspiration. If you are an advertiser looking for inspiration with your assets, Google has a new home for you. Creative inspiration is a filterable tool that allows you to surface some of the best ad creative from around the globe.

The filtering includes a helpful “Ad Format” option to allow for browsing by ad type. 

For more information on the improvements, see the full release and stay tuned for more after the May 24 Google Marketing Live event.

Why we care. Google said its advertisers see “2X more conversions, on average, when adding a responsive display ad to an ad group with a static display ad.” This additional image size and vertical video support should allow advertisers to deliver more specific messaging by device.

The filterable additional creative inspiration center is a nice touch for advertisers looking for new ideas. Additionally, the uncropping of images should help advertisers with a hodgepodge of image sizes in their ad groups. These tools should be warmly welcomed by advertisers everywhere.

The post Google’s Responsive Display Ad go vertical for a better mobile experience appeared first on Search Engine Land.