Aztek Blog
Aztek is a web design, web application development, and digital marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio who blogs about those very same topics.

How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

You did it. You wrote an insightful and interesting blog post for your company. And honestly, that's the most important, and sometimes most difficult, step. However, many times businesses feel they wasted their efforts writing a great blog post to find hardly anyone read it. Making sure you keep some SEO best practices in mind can help ensure your great content is seen.

Below are eight steps to write an SEO-friendly blog post.

1) Define your target audience.

As simple as it sounds, it's sometimes easily forgotten. We see too often people who write about what they know or about their company news. If they truly knew their target audience, they would know that these topics don't resonate with them. Defining your audience before you start, will keep you focused on the right content. As a starting point, learn how to create personas then make these even more specific to your blog.

2) Brainstorm topic ideas.

I think this step is necessary before starting keyword research. You will feel more comfortable writing about something you are familiar with. Don't try to force a topic just because there's search volume around a keyword phrase. To get started brainstorming, answer these questions about your business:

  • What are some common questions your customers ask?
  • What is the biggest problem that your customers have?
  • What is a key process or solution you explain to customers daily?

Ask your sales or customer support team for their perspective. Then you can have a running list of ideas to pull from throughout your editorial calendar.

3) Find out the actual demand for that topic.

This is where keyword research comes into play. There’s plenty of keyword research tools, but sometimes the best place to start is simply Google. I look for two things: competition (who is ranking for this topic on the first page) and suggested searches (to generated new ideas). I tend to have multiple tabs open when doing keyword research. I will then turn to a tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Google’s Keyword Planner to confirm if people are actually searching for this phrase.

If you are struggling with pretty tough SEO competition (i.e., Forbes or New York Times with high authority), then you may want to research long-tail keyword phrases. A long-tail keyword is usually more than two words and a much more specific phrase. An example of this would be optimizing this post for simply 'SEO.'

This research can be done with any of the tools listed above, but I would also recommend checking out Answer the Public. This tool will give you plenty of ideas on the questions and prepositions commonly searched around your topic. Then you'll want to check search volume and competition to see if it will actually drive traffic and if it's possible for your blog to show up in the SERPs. After all of this research, settle on a few keyword phrases that you would like to focus on for your post. I'd recommend selecting two or three, but remember, it's the topic that matters the most.

3) Find out the actual demand for that topic.

This is where keyword research comes into play. There’s plenty of keyword research tools, but sometimes the best place to start is simply Google. I look for two things: competition (who is ranking for this topic on the first page) and suggested searches (to generated new ideas). I tend to have multiple tabs open when doing keyword research. I will then turn to a tool like Moz's Keyword Explorer and Google's Keyword Planner to confirm if people are actually searching for this phrase.

If you are struggling with pretty tough SEO competition (i.e., Forbes or New York Times with high authority), then you may want to research long-tail keyword phrases. A long-tail keyword is usually more than two words and a much more specific phrase. An example of this would be optimizing this post for simply 'SEO.'

This research can be done with any of the tools listed above, but I would also recommend checking out Answer the Public. This tool will give you plenty of ideas on the questions and prepositions commonly searched around your topic. Then you'll want to check search volume and competition to see if it will actually drive traffic and if it's possible for your blog to show up in the SERPs. After all of this research, settle on a few keyword phrases that you would like to focus on for your post. I'd recommend selecting two or three, but remember, it's the topic that matters the most.

4. Optimize your blog post.

On-page optimization isn't dead. But don't overdo it. Content (and context) is still king. There are best practices that can help you out when trying to drive organic traffic. Try to include keyword mentions or variations of your topic keyword throughout the post and avoid keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the overuse of a keyword phrase where it would seem awkward to the readers. Google and your readers will definitely take notice.

As for keyword optimization, the most important areas include your title tag, meta description, URL, and header tags. Your URL should be the shortened version; try to keep it simple. Header tags (i.e., H1, H2, H3) help with readability and breaking up content as well as a good place for keyword mentions if it makes sense. As a reference, Moz has a list of on-page SEO factors that you can check before you make your blog live.

Pro tip: Your blog should include or have its own XML sitemap. Make sure it's dynamically created and submitted to Google. If you don't have the tools to do this, then create one and submit it through Search Console yourself.

5. Add relevant internal and external links.

Don't just link to yourself. Remember the goal is to be helpful and interesting to your defined target audience. If it's relevant, link to your other blog posts or internal pages, to encourage readers to learn more. Also, if you think another website or article could help your readers – link to it! Mentioning these other companies doesn't deter your readers away from you. It validates that you are trustworthy. You can also use these mentions to help support your case and promote your blog (which we will talk about in the last step).

6. Enhance your content with visuals.

Videos, images, and infographics all support your initiative for your blog to resonate with your audience and show up in the SERPs. Images are great for sharing on social and explaining your writing. Just don't forget an alt tag – these are somewhat outdated when it comes to SEO, but still explains to Google what the image is.

Since skimming often happens, images, infographics, and videos offer an easier way for readers to digest your post. It's also another place for you to capture traffic. Think Google Image or Video search rankings.

7. Review content for web readability.

Research has shown that site engagement impacts SEO. Your blog post should be easy to read with shorter paragraphs, simpler sentences and shareable pieces. The previous step to include images and videos should help with this as well. Breaking paragraphs down with steps or header tags can also help. Follow up by measuring visitor engagement in Google Analytics. Look at metrics like time on page and bounce rate. If you notice an extremely high bounce rate, you may want to consider revising your content to match visitors’ intent.

8. Share and promote your content.

Don't forget to promote yourself and encourage others in your company to share your content. Change your copy per social channel and don't be afraid to share it more than once. People tend to check their social media feeds at different times. You can also mention others you included in your article so they can read, share and comment.

I hope these steps help you get your blog content seen by your audience. Are there any steps we missed? Tweet us and let us know @aztekweb.

4 Traits of a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

The numbers show that the amount invested in content marketing strategy is projected to rise to over 300 billion dollars by 2019. Once again proving that content marketing is here to stay.

To help make sure you are on the right track, we put together four traits that every successful content marketing strategy has. With these, you’ll better understand how to engage your target audience, how to measure success, and how to communicate this approach with your team.

1. You become a target market expert.

In a survey completed by the Content Marketing Institute, research stated that only 9% of B2B marketers believe their organization's use of content marketing is "very effective."

If you are one of those marketers looking to take your content marketing to the next level, it is important to make sure you have done the following for your own content marketing strategy:

  • Outline a business case
  • Establish target audience and objectives (what are you helping your target audience achieve)
  • Develop a content strategy (voice, types of content, site, and channels)
  • Define goals and set up proper tracking

Putting something like this together at first may not come easy. But, the time and money saved long term is well worth it. More importantly, having the ability to understand your target audience, their needs, and pain points is vital.

2.You now look at data differently.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, states it perfectly when talking about the importance of data: "Data really powers everything that we do." Yes, it is important to know demographics and develop personas. But, what about those bottom line hard numbers? Metrics like:

  • How many people are searching for your product or service online?
  • Of those people, how many are you actively engaging with?
  • When engaging with them, how many convert to leads?
  • Finally, of those leads, how many become customers?

If you are struggling to answer any of these questions for your business, this is a big problem. When your goal is to impact your target audience through relevant content, you must start with understanding what they are searching for. Fortunately, with awesome tools like Google AdWords, Brightedge, etc., you're able to analyze high volume keywords that align well with your business.

It's important to also note how these numbers affect goals and tracking within a website. Understanding search volume for keywords allows you to set realistic goals when it comes to engagement and traffic. Over time, if you stay persistent with tracking these numbers, you will set your business up to see consistent results month after month.

3. You start to realize that conversions are not the end all be all.

Let's be honest. In the perfect world, a business would be able to provide value, promote their product or service, and complete a sale all within one touch point. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons (hint: the internet), these types of sales are becoming harder and harder to come by. Nearly 60 percent of the customer journey being completed before wanting to speak with sales. This means the content you provide before your customer is even looking to buy is more important than ever. Staying top of mind takes mapping out your buyer's journey. This will allow you to then select channels to promote your content and start to track each channels' success.

After having a better understanding of which types of content you need, you must also track its impact. Not all content is created to produce sales or qualified leads. This is especially to keep in mind when establishing tracking metrics.

Take, for example, a company blog or industry-broad YouTube video. This should be measured on engagement and conversation, rather than sales or lead generation. Reason being, these are created to provide industry knowledge, not necessarily to generate sales or leads. On the other hand, client testimonials should be heavily measured on qualified leads or conversions. To give you a more in-depth understanding of how this can work for you, learn more about creating a predictable lead generation model.

4. You now understand the importance of sales and marketing alignment.

I never quite understood how sales and marketing, who align around the same goals, could struggle to work together. Whether it deciding what content to create or what a qualified lead is, there is one thing for certain. If you want to maximize growth through content marketing, it’s going to take a team effort from sales and marketing. Having this conversation can, at first, be a little uncomfortable. To show proof why sales and marketing alignment is important, look no further than a study called "Sales and Marketing Alignment: A Primer on Successful Collaboration" by the Aberdeen Group. It found that marketing and sales teams who are organized and aligned see an average of 32% year-over-year growth, compared to less aligned groups who see a 7% decrease. This further proves the impact aligning these two parties can have on your content marketing success.

So how do you go about fixing this for your business? For starters, Content Marketing World wrote an article underlining a few key guidelines companies should consider addressing a lack of sales and marketing alignment. They are:

  • Set clear overarching goals
  • Have transparency in regards to expectations one side has for the other
  • Create content that aligns with those goals
  • Make sure to follow-up on qualified leads in a timely matter (cough...sales)

After looking at these goals, it's easy to see how putting together a solid content marketing strategy and communicating in the process can improve alignment between sales and marketing.

The reward is in the process

It is important to reiterate that this process takes time and constant collaboration. But if you are a business that wants to be a thought leader, it's crucial that you make content marketing a priority. Happy writing!

Defining Your Core Customer: The Key To a Successful Digital Presence

Image of magnet attracting people

The most important thing that you need to do when designing a digital presence is to determine and understand your core customer.

If you do a quick Google search you'll see references to core customers that typically tie to customer or buyer personas. Personas are a standard way of trying to help define your core audience. Everyone has their own version of personas, but typically they consist of demographic information, goals, challenges, etc.

More Than Demographics

Just knowing the gender, age, and income of your audience will not help you get more sales. There's something more to making a purchase that goes a little deeper.

In The Inside Advantage: The Strategy that Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business by Robert Bloom and Dave Conti, the authors suggest looking at your audience from a slightly different perspective.

Companies should describe their audience in a way that will enable them to really get to know them and their ultimate needs. The authors believe that knowing your customer - fully understanding his or her needs, preferences, and prejudices - is vital to creating a robust and effective growth strategy for your business. Since your digital presence is a part of your growth strategy, this naturally translates on how you go about creating your digital presence.

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2017 Digital Trends: What to Watch in Web Design, Development & Digital Marketing

2016, it was nice knowing you, but we are onto better things in 2017 (see: Cleveland Cavs Championship #2). While some of the items in the list below we started to see this year, we believe they will continue to be even more important in 2017. If these ideas are not on your list of digital strategies, you may want to reconsider.

Video: It’s a(live)!

While video has been a necessary asset in every digital marketer’s toolbox for a while, it will only continue to grow in 2017. Cisco predicted that over eighty percent of internet traffic will be video by 2020. Video advertising spend alone is expected to grow thirty-one percent next year (Forbes). Facebook continues to dominate as the leader in online video consumption. However, Twitter has teamed up with Periscope, and Pinterest has launched its own promoted video service this year.

The same content marketing rules apply to creating video content. Make it digestible, entertaining and educational. Also, be sure to tell the story through visual imagery without sound. Nearly eighty-five percent of Facebook’s 30-second video views are without sound. There’s also a methodology behind running video ads on social platforms. Today’s consumers know how to filter out advertising, so the more relevant, the better. Especially as video advertising becomes more saturated, we will see marketers focus on micro-targeting to show only the most appropriate ads to their defined target audience.

Okay Google, what do we do about voice search?

It’s the time of the year when everyone’s newest technology from Christmas day is unboxed, set up and ready to use. You probably know at least one person who was gifted the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Amazon Dot. Microsoft predicts that fifty percent of all mobile queries will be from VoiceSearch in 2020. This changes the game for SEO strategy. As this Moz blog on SEO trends recommends, marketers will have to pay attention to Google quick answers and ranking #0.

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How to Get Started with Google Analytics

Do you know if your website is serving your customers correctly? Are they finding what they need or quickly looking elsewhere? And how exactly are they even getting to your website, anyway?

You may already know that Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool that allows website owners to analyze all of this information. The question is: have you used it to its full advantage? Are you using the data available in Google Analytics to optimize your website and make tweaks to your digital marketing plan? After all, wouldn't you want to know if the valuable dollars you're putting into digital marketing are creating any return on investment? Of course you would. So why isn't everyone taking advantage of a free marketing tool that will let you know exactly what your target audience is doing on your website? The problem is Google Analytics provides a lot of information for marketers with too little time. So, take a deep breath, let's break down the basics of where to start for you G.A. beginners out there:      

1. Identify Your Business Goals

Is it an e-commerce site and your goal is revenue from your site? Are you focusing on lead generation? Pinpointing why your website is important to your overall business growth will allow you to narrow down what data is important to you. For example, if you're looking to have your customers make a purchase on your website, but you see that a high number of visitors abandon the checkout process and never complete their purchase.This may mean that your checkout process is too lengthy or confusing for buyers and deserves a second look. In Google Analytics terminology, you may want to look at e-commerce conversion rate, sessions to transactions, or funnel visualization. As for lead generation, you would want to set up goals to track form completions properly, so you can monitor the quality of traffic you’re driving to your site. 

2. Educate Yourself 

Keeping the business goals in mind from step #1, educate yourself. Google Analytics offers a great in depth free course. And here are a few other resources that our Google Analytics wizards have found to be really helpful:

3. Build Dashboards to Show Your Most Valuable Data


For those starting out in Google Analytics, one of the most daunting tasks is determining which reports will provide you the most value. As you become more familiar with the tool (see #2), you may want to take some time to create custom dashboards. And it’s much easier than you think. I would start with using the templates Google Analytics provides and make updates based on your business goals. Ask yourself, what are your most important metrics of success? What is great about these dashboards, is you can set them up to send to anyone’s email address on a consistent basis. I would recommend definitely including widgets for the following and getting more granular as you go:

  • Overall Sessions
  • Sessions by Channel
  • Sessions by Landing Page
  • Goal Completions
  • Goal Completions by Source / Medium
  • Transactions and/or Revenue
  • Transactions and/or Revenue by Source / Medium

Google Analytics Dashboard

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3 Tips: How to Use Content to Create Better UX

Great websites start with great content — content about your company, content about your products, and content about your team will attract the viewers you want. Without well-structured content and a captivating message your design and user experience (UX) is conjecture at best.

First things first: content

Designers and front-end developers are often asked by clients to create beautiful websites, apps or software; a reasonable request and one that can lead to great visual results. It's also one that can produce blank templates and decoration rather than a cohesive user experience. There is nothing inherently wrong with putting together simple 'templated' sites or apps, but your results with this method are severely limited.

(via: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tyger_lyllie/593557424/sizes/o/

Remember, content without a strategy affects your user experience no matter how well the site is designed.

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How to Use the Trademark Symbol to Protect Your Intellectual Property on the Web

You don't have to use an entire pile of Trademark symbols...Really.

As a business, you want to protect your intellectual property on the Web, especially on your own website. Oftentimes, that involves with the use of a trademark symbol on a product name or logo. But many businesses are not sure which symbol to use, when to use the symbol, or how many times to repeat it. To assist you in understanding the proper use, our good friends at the Law Firm of Brouse McDowell have shared some pointers on trademark use. More...

5 Content Marketing Expert Tips To Enhance Your Effectiveness

You guys, how are there so many smart people?

Image of group of smart people working on technology

It feels like just yesterday we were at Content Marketing World 2015 talking with experts about being honest (Doug Kessler, Insane Honesty), being authentic (Rajiv Chandrasekaran & Howard Shultz, Starbucks & Veterans), and being human (Kristina Halvorson). So how could we possibly top that?

With Legos.

And laughter.

And insight.

But most importantly (as the experts reminded us) with people, community, and quality content.

5 Tips from Content Marketing Experts

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Slowing Down In the Fast World of Content

I'm Seeing Orange!

New friends! World class speakers! All the orange food you can imagine! Content Marketing World 2016 was a whirlwind of excitement. But as the excitement winds down and I begin writing my first blog post, I keep circling back to one theme: slowing down.

Image of Content Marketing World Logo

Many marketers ignore slowing down, favoring instead to put out as much content as possible as fast as they can. But as a content strategist, slowing down spoke to me. Slowing down to focus on the point and purpose (the strategy) of the content is important. When helping clients evaluate their content and constructing a plan to move forward, it's important to make sure the focus is on the one person that matters: the user.

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Seven Tips to Help Make the Web Accessible for Everyone

As a developer, it feels like I spend more time working with forms, menus, and grids on a website than I do using them. The more time I spend working, the easier it is to get bogged down with the way things work in a certain environment.

My development environment is set up with a 1920x1080 resolution, the latest version of Windows, the latest browser updates, and a strong internet connection. It's easy to take these things for granted. However, there's another more important factor that often gets taken for granted - me.

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