Over the last year alone, I’ve published a minimum of three blogs per week here at Quick Sprout. Some weeks it was even more, at times with multiple posts per day.
If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now, you know that everything I produce is long-form content—just like the post you’re currently reading.
This means it falls somewhere in the 1.800-3,000+ word range. I’m not writing quick 500-word pieces for the sake of publishing at a high rate.
Over the years, I’ve covered lots of in-depth topics about content marketing, website optimization, conversions, SEO, and other related subjects. But today I want to share with you a seemingly small and subtle SEO hack that can drastically improve the performance of your content.
I’m referring to heading tags.
Some of you might be more familiar with these than others. I’m sure some of you even use them in your posts, whether you realize their SEO value or not.
I use heading tags in everything that I publish, including this post that you’re reading right now.
In fact, you’ll see them throughout the post as we continue. I’ll make sure to bring attention to them so you know exactly what I’m talking about. So follow along this guide to see how you can improve your content with heading tags.
What is a heading tag?
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here. So far in this guide, I’ve used two heading tags:
H1 for the title at the top of the page (How to Use Heading Tags to Get More Search Engine Traffic)
H2 for this subsection (What is a heading tag?)
There will be several more used throughout the guide as well.
By definition, these are HTML tags that specify headers on a website. Let me break that definition down for you even further.
HTML (hypertext markup language) is the language used to create pages on websites. Tags are the code that tells a web browser how the content should be displayed on the page. There are six types of heading tags; H1-H6.
Each tag can be ranked from highest to lowest in the order of significance, which is clearly illustrated by the size.
You can add these tags to your content before you publish your work.
Here at Quick Sprout, we use WordPress. But I don’t typically write my blogs directly in that platform. I work in Google Docs, just because I think it’s more user-friendly for writing long-form content.
Whether you’re using Docs, Microsoft Word, or another platform to produce content, you’ll be able to find those header options in the menu bar. Here’s what it looks like in Google Docs:
It’s very straightforward.
The options for H4 and higher won’t appear until after you add H3 tags to your content.
Here’s what the tags look like if you’re working directly in WordPress.
Again, it’s about as straightforward as it gets.
You can verify that the headers are applied properly into your content by viewing the source code of a page. In WordPress, just switch from the visual editor to the text editor to see the HTML code.
You can also view the source code of any page, even after it’s been published.
I’ve pointed out the different headers above. I’m sure you’re used to seeing content like this (especially on Quick Sprout).
Now, you might look at this and just think the font is larger. All of the main text is written in size 11, the title is size 20, and the subheader is size 16. While this might be the case, it’s not that simple.
Changing the size of the font alone doesn’t equate to a heading tag.
If you check the source code of the page, you’ll see what I mean.
Right click on any web page to see the source code. In fact, you can do it with what you’re reading right now. Then just click “view page source” and it will bring you to the source code. Here’s what that looks like for the Beginners Guide to Online Marketing.
Finding those h tags in the source code is like a needle in a haystack. So use “command + f” to your advantage. Then just search for h1, h2, h3, etc…
I pointed out the tags to make it obvious.
As you can see, H1 tags were used for the title, and an H3 tag was used for the first subheader on the page.
SEO value for heading tags
Now let’s get into how heading tags are connected to SEO. By the way, here’s another heading tag (above) that I used for this subsection.
There has been a debate for quite some time amongst SEO experts about how much of an impact heading tags actually have on SEO.
You can’t compare their value to things like domain authority or backlinks, but heading tags still play a factor in your search ranking. That’s because they make it easier for search engines to read and interpret your content.
If you just have big walls of text without subheaders, it’s going to be difficult for bots to know what your page is about.
This can be compared to your overall website architecture as well.
Just like your homepage and top-level content have a hierarchy that makes it easy for crawlers to index pages, the heading tags explain the importance of topics on the page.
Without headers, you’re relying on search engines to take all of your text at the same face value, which won’t help your search ranking.
John Mueller, the senior webmaster trends analyst at Google was quoted saying that Google uses H tags to understand the structure of text on a page.
They’ve been in business for over 40 years, but in the digital era, they struggled to rank in search engines for their keywords. After analyzing the website, it was clear that there was plenty that could be improved upon.
One of the things that they changed was adding H1 and H2 tags to the site.
The purpose of this was to improve the visibility and make the content more SEO friendly; simple, right? Take a look at the results of this tactic.
The changes had a huge impact on their search results.
After the heading tags were added, the company held the top ranking spot for two of their targeted keywords. They held a top three position for five of their top keywords.
As you can see from the chart, they jumped hundreds of ranking spots.
Now, all of this can’t be attributed to the header tags alone. They also removed dead links and fixed some navigation issues. But the heading tags definitely played a huge role in their success.
How heading tags impact user experience
In addition to the SEO benefits of heading tags, adding these to your site will also help improve the user experience.
As a result, you’ll get more traffic to your site, frequent repeat visitors, and people will stay on your site for longer stretches of time. This simultaneously adds more SEO value as well.
How can heading tags benefit visitors on your website?
For starters, it just makes your content cleaner and more organized. 43% of people say that they skim blog posts. You need to make your content easy to skim by adding headers.
Take this post you’re reading now as an example.
Let’s say you already knew what heading tags were before you started reading. You may not think it’s necessary to read the first section. It would be very easy for you to skip over it because the tags are clear.
But if I eliminated all heading tags from the post, it would create a large wall of text that is extremely difficult to read. Here’s an example to show you what I mean.
This content is not scannable, and it’s just one excerpt of several pages in the same format.
Now, let’s look at another example, only this time with heading tags used by Conversion XL.
This is much easier to scan, and it’s visually appealing.
Now, is it possible to get this same effect just by making the font bigger and bolder? Sure, but why wouldn’t you take advantage of the header tags to get the SEO benefits as well?
In case you’re wondering if these are actual heading tags or just larger font, I checked the source code to prove it.
As you can see, they used H2s and H3s for this part of the post. Although it’s not pictured in this screenshot, an H1 tag was used for the title.
Heading tags best practices
Now that you know why you need to add heading tags on your website, I’ll go through some of the best practices to follow.
Each best practice on my list is going to have a heading tag as well. You’ll see what I mean as you continue reading.
Only use one H1 tag per page
H1 tags should be saved for the title.
By default, the title of your post should automatically become an H1. But you can view the page source code and the text editor to verify that.
If for some reason that’s not the case, you can always add it in yourself.
The idea here is that the H1 tag is the most important. Adding more than one will not only be less visually appealing, but it could potentially confuse crawlers when they’re indexing your content.
Use natural keywords in headers
When possible, you’ll always want to have keywords in your headers.
However, it’s a common misconception that every heading tag needs to be stuffed with keywords. That’s just not the case.
As with all of the content you create, the text needs to be natural and readable. If you can get some keywords in there, that’s great. If not, don’t try to force it.
A great resource for finding keywords to put in your headers is Google. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and look for related searches.
Let’s say you were writing a blog post about the benefits of yoga. Here’s what those related searches look like.
These keywords could be potential H2s or H3s of your post.
You wouldn’t put “benefits of yoga Wikipedia” in one of your headers, because that’s not natural and doesn’t make sense. But things like yoga benefits for men, benefits of yoga in the morning, or how to maximize yoga benefits would all be appropriate.
Use heading tags generously
Some people will tell you to use heading tags sparingly, but I think that’s another misconception.
I’m not saying you should have them every other line, but use them as you see fit. If a post calls for three, then use three. If it calls for 10 or 20, then use 10 or 20.
In most cases, the longer a post is, the more heading tags you can use.
Here’s another quote from John Mueller at Google. He says you can use as many heading tags as you want.
Again, I’d still stick with just one H1 tag. But for H2, H3 (and so on), use as many as you need.
In most cases, I don’t find it necessary to go beyond H3 or H4. SEO aside, I think that’s too complex for the reader. So find other ways to organize your content instead.
You could always use bold or italics to emphasize something, as opposed to getting all the way to H6.
Heading tags are a subtle, yet powerful, SEO hack.
In addition to showcasing important content to search engine crawlers, they also make it easier for website visitors to consume content on your page.
I highly recommend adding heading tags to your content. As you can see from this blog, I use them all of the time.
So use this post as a reference for implementing heading tags and following the best practices.
SEO goes far and beyond keyword research and building backlinks. There is also a technical side of SEO that will largely impact your search ranking.
This is an area where your robots.txt file will become a factor.
In my experience, most people aren’t too familiar with robots.txt files and don’t know where to begin. That’s what inspired me to create this guide.
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a robots.txt file?
When a search engine bot is crawling a website, it uses the robots.txt file to determine what parts of the site need to be indexed.
Sitemaps are hosted in your root folder and in the robots.txt file. You create a sitemap to make it easier for search engines to index your content.
Think of your robots.txt file like a guide or instruction manual for bots. It’s a guide that has rules that they need to follow. These rules will tell crawlers what they’re allowed to view (like the pages on your sitemap) and what parts of your site are restricted.
If your robots.txt file isn’t optimized properly, it can cause major SEO problems for your website.
That’s why it’s important for you to understand exactly how this works and what you need to do to ensure that this technical component of your website is helping you, as opposed to hurting you.
Find your robots.txt file
Before you do anything, the first step is verifying that you have a robots.txt file to begin with. Some of you probably never came here before.
The easiest way to see if your site already has one is by putting your website’s URL into a web browser, followed by /robots.txt.
Here’s what it looks like for Quick Sprout.
When you do this, one of three things will happen.
You’ll find a robots.txt file that looks something like the one above. (Although if you’ve never taken the time to optimize it, then it probably isn’t as in-depth).
You’ll find a robots.txt file that’s completely blank, but at least set up.
You’ll get a 404 error because that page doesn’t exist.
Most of you will likely fall into the top two scenarios. You shouldn’t get a 404 error because the majority of websites will have a robots.txt file setup by default when the site was created. Those default settings should still be there if you’ve never made any changes.
To create or edit this file, just navigate to the root folder of your website.
Modify your robots.txt content
For the most part, you normally don’t want to mess around with this too much. It’s not something that you’re going to be altering on a frequent basis.
The only reason why you would want to add something to your robots.txt file is if there are certain pages on your website that you don’t want bots to crawl and index.
You need to get familiar with the syntax used for commands. So open up a plain text editor to write the syntax.
I’ll cover the syntax that’s most commonly used.
First, you need to identify the crawlers. This is referred to as the User-agent.
This syntax above refers to all search engine crawlers (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.)
As the name implies, this value is speaking directly to Google’s crawlers.
After you identify the crawler, you can allow or disallow content on your site. Here’s an example that we saw earlier in the Quick Sprout robots.txt file.
This page is used for our administrative backend for WordPress. So this command tells all crawlers (User-agent: *) not to crawl that page. There’s no reason for the bots to waste time crawling that.
So let’s say you want to tell all bots not to crawl this specific page on your website. http://www.yourwebsite.com/samplepage1/
The syntax would look like this:
Here’s another example:
This would block a specific file type (in this case .gif). You can refer to this chart from Google for more common rules and examples.
The concept is very straightforward.
If you want to disallow pages, files, or content on your site from all crawlers (or specific crawlers) then you just need to find the proper syntax command and add it to your plain text editor.
Once you’ve finished writing the commands, simply copy and paste that into your robots.txt file.
Why the robots.txt file needs to be optimized
I know what some of you are thinking. Why in the world would I want to mess around with any of this?
Here’s what you need to understand. The purpose of your robots.txt file isn’t to completely block pages or site content from a search engine.
Instead, you’re just trying to maximize the efficiency of their crawl budgets. All you’re doing is telling the bots that they don’t need to crawl pages that aren’t made for the public.
The crawl rate limit represents how many connections a crawler can make to any given site. This also includes the amount of time between fetches.
Websites that respond quickly have a higher crawl rate limit, which means they can have more connections with the bot. On the other hand, sites that slow down as the result of crawling will not be crawled as frequently.
Sites are also crawled based on demand. This means that popular websites are crawled on a more frequent basis. On the flip side, sites that aren’t popular or updated frequently won’t be crawled as often, even if the crawl rate limit has not been met.
By optimizing your robots.txt file, you’re making the job of the crawlers much easier. According to Google, these are some examples of elements that affect crawl budgets:
Pages that have been hacked
Infinite spaces and proxies
By using the robots.txt file to disallow this type of content from crawlers, it ensures that they spend more time discovering and indexing the top content on your website.
A search engine crawler will spend more time, and therefore more of the crawl budget, on the left website. But the site on the right ensures that only the top content is being crawled.
Here’s a scenario where you’d want to take advantage of the robots.txt file.
As I’m sure you know, duplicate content is harmful to SEO. But there are certain times when it’s necessary to have on your website. For example, some of you might have printer-friendly versions of specific pages. That’s duplicate content. So you can tell bots not to crawl that printer-friendly page by optimizing your robots.txt syntax.
Testing your robots.txt file
Once you’ve found, modified, and optimized your robots.txt file, it’s time to test everything to make sure that it’s working properly.
In order to do this, you’ll need to sign into your Google Webmasters account. Navigate to “crawl” from your dashboard.
This will expand the menu.
Once expanded, you’re going to look for the “robots.txt Tester” option.
Then simply click the “test” button in the bottom right corner of the screen.
If there are any problems, you can just edit the syntax directly in the tester. Continue running the tests until everything is smooth.
Be aware that changes made in the tester do not get saved to your website. So you’ll need to make sure you copy and paste any changes into your actual robots.txt file.
It’s also worth noting that this tool is only for testing Google bots and crawlers. It won’t be able to predict how other search engines will read your robots.txt file.
Your robots.txt file needs to be named “robots.txt” in order to be found. It’s case-sensitive, meaning Robots.txt or robots.TXT would not be acceptable.
The robots.txt file must always be in the root folder of your website in a top-level directory of the host.
Anyone can see your robots.txt file. All they need to do is type in the name of your website URL with /robots.txt after the root domain to view it. So don’t use this to be sneaky or deceptive, since it’s essentially public information.
For the most part, I wouldn’t recommend making specific rules for different search engine crawlers. I can’t see the benefit of having a certain set of rules for Google, and another set of rules for Bing. It’s much less confusing if your rules apply to all user-agents.
Adding a disallow syntax to your robots.txt file won’t prevent that page from being indexed. Instead, you’d have to use a noindex tag.
Search engine crawlers are extremely advanced. They essentially view your website content the same way that a real person would. So if your website uses CSS and JS to function, you should not block those folders in your robots.txt file. It will be a major SEO mistake if crawlers can’t see a functioning version of your website.
If you want your robots.txt file to be recognized immediately after it’s been updated, submit it directly to Google, rather than waiting for your website to get crawled.
Link equity cannot be passed from blocked pages to link destinations. This means that links on pages that are disallowed will be considered nofollow. So some links won’t be indexed unless they’re on other pages that are accessible by search engines.
The robots.txt file is not a substitute for blocking private user data and other sensitive information from showing up in your SERPs. As I said before, disallowed pages can still be indexed. So you’ll still need to make sure that these pages are password protected and use a noindex meta directive.
Sitemaps should be placed at the bottom of your robots.txt file.
That was your crash-course on everything you need to know about robots.txt files.
I know that lots of this information was a little technical, but don’t let that intimidate you. The basic concepts and applications of your robots.txt are fairly easy to understand.
Remember, this isn’t something that you’ll want to modify too frequently. It’s also extremely important that you test everything out before you save the changes. Make sure that you double and triple-check everything.
One error could cause a search engine to stop crawling your site altogether. This would be devastating to your SEO position. So only make changes that are absolutely necessary.
When optimized correctly, your website will be crawled efficiently by Google’s crawl budget. This increases the chances that your top content will be noticed, indexed, and ranked accordingly.
There are tons of tools on the web to help you with finding keywords related to your business, but Google Keyword Planner is arguably the most powerful.
The best part about this tool is that it’s completely free for anyone to use. All you need is a Google Ads account.
It’s also worth noting that the primary purpose of the Keyword Planner is for PPC advertising.
But with that said, you don’t need to spend any money on ads to do your keyword research with this tool. The only thing you won’t be able to access is the exact monthly search volumes for specific keywords. As you’ll learn shortly, you’ll still be able to see an average range, but Google will only show exact volumes when you run an ad campaign.
I’m assuming that most of you already have a Google Ads account. If not, it’s very easy to set up. So go ahead and do that as soon as you’re ready to proceed.
Then just follow along this guide to learn how you can take full advantage of the Keyword Planner for bringing your SEO strategy to an elevated level.
Google Keyword Planner features
Before we dive too deep into the specifics, it’s important for you to understand exactly what the Keyword Planner can be used for.
As I said before, this tool is designed with PPC ads in mind. So about half of what you’ll see is going to be geared toward running a successful paid search campaign. These are some of the top benefits of Google Keyword Planner:
Find new keywords using words, phrases, websites, and categories.
Discover search volume trends and historical data of different keywords.
See performance forecasts for keywords based on your budget and average bid prices.
Narrow your results based on geographic location, language, and date ranges.
Filter results by average monthly searches, competition level, organic impressions, ad impressions, suggested bids, and organic average position.
It’s worth noting that some of these features are only available if you sync your Google Ads account with your Google Analytics account.
For our purposes today, we’re going to stick to the features that focus on finding keywords that you can use to improve your on-page SEO strategy.
Discover new keywords
The first thing you should use the Keyword Planner for is finding new keywords. This is very straightforward.
Once you know what keywords are related to your site, brand, niche, or a specific campaign, then you’ll be able to use those keywords to improve the content and on-page SEO of your website.
So log into your Google Ads account and navigate to the Keyword Planner.
From your Google Ads dashboard, click on the “tools” icon in the top right corner menu bar. This will expand the menu, showcasing an additional five categories.
Now select “Keyword Planner” from the planning list on the left side of the expanded menu.
Next, you’ll be presented with two options.
Find new keywords.
Get search volume and forecasts.
For now, just select “find new keywords.”
Next, it’s as simple as entering keywords into a search bar and letting Google take care of the rest for you. Although it seems simple, this is probably the most important step of the entire process.
The Keyword Planner tool is extremely advanced, but it can’t provide you with valuable keywords unless your initial search terms lead it in the right direction.
A great benefit of this search bar is that it allows you to enter words, phrases, and a URL that’s relevant to your business. To get the most out of your searches, I recommend taking full advantage of the search options at your disposal.
Here’s a look at an example of what a search would look like if I was conducting keyword research for content here at Quick Sprout.
As you can see, I used some single words like “SEO,” two-word phrases like “content marketing” or “ecommerce conversions,” and even some three-word phrases like “small business marketing.”
I also included a link to the Quick Sprout homepage to give the tool a better understanding of the content related to our site.
This is much better than just adding “marketing” to the search bar without adding anything else.
Analyze the search results
Once you begin your initial search, you’re going to get lots of information thrown at you. Do not be overwhelmed or intimidated by this. We’ll eventually narrow down the results.
Again, if you’re not planning to run any PPC campaigns, you can ignore some of this data.
First, let me show you how to read and interpret the results.
There’s a couple of things I want to point out right away.
The Keyword Planner generated 4,403 keyword ideas based on my initial search. By default, the results that you’re going to see are based on the last twelve months of search data. But you can play around with that to see how the data changes if you view those keywords over a longer or shorter period of time.
Before you get new keyword ideas, the Keyword Planner shows you results for what you’ve already searched for.
The only columns you’re going to want to look at are average monthly searches and competition.
Ad impression share, top of page bids, and account status are all for pad ad campaigns.
As you can see, the average monthly search ranges are pretty broad. For example, it says that the search range for “SEO” is from 100,000 to 1 million.
There is a big difference between 150,000 searches and 950,000 searches, which both fall into that range. But the only way to get the exact data is by running an ad.
The competition data is crucial.
High competition keywords are going to be more challenging to rank for since more people are running paid ads for these words and phrases. But maybe you can try to gain an advantage over your competitors by taking steps to outrank them organically.
Some of you might have more success with low competition keywords. It all depends on your priority and the keywords in question.
By looking at the search results above, the term “social media marketing” has a high competition level, while “link building” is low. Let’s keep this information in mind as we continue.
Now it’s time to analyze the keyword ideas based on the keywords that we searched for.
Here are the top 12 keyword ideas, sorted by keyword relevance.
I highlighted some of the suggestions to give you an idea of how you should be approaching this process.
All of the keywords on the list are useful and worth incorporating into your content. But you need to find ways to prioritize them.
Low competition keywords with high search volumes might seem like the easiest for you to rank for. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
For example, look at the data for “social media.”
It has a high search volume and low competition, so it must be a home run—right? Not necessarily.
Since that topic is so broad, it will be tough to rank for. That’s probably why people aren’t spending money on PPC campaigns to rank for that term.
On the flip side, “social media manager” at the bottom of the screenshot has a high search volume and high competition level, making it a challenging keyword to rank for.
Now let’s take a look at the keyword ideas that I boxed.
Digital marketing agency
Both of these have high search volumes and medium competition levels. Ranking organically for these keywords won’t necessarily be easy, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Even though a term like “web marketing” has a lower search volume, it’s still in that 1,000 – 10,000 range, and has low competition. I boxed that as well because it’s related to the two other terms we’re discussing.
You could potentially use these three terms to conduct a new search that’s more specific. But we’ll get into that shortly.
Before you get into anything more complex, you should experiment with filtering the results.
Organize the keyword ideas by low competition, high competition, low search volume, and high search volume.
Narrow your search
Now that you’ve taken some time to sort your list of keywords, you’ve probably realized that 4,400+ keywords are too much. Lots of these keywords won’t be used by you.
So you’ll want to narrow the results to make sure that you’re only seeing ones that are the most relevant, and will actually benefit your SEO strategy.
The easiest way to do this right away is by changing one of the filters from “broadly related ideas” to “closely related ideas.”
As you can see, this filter alone cut the search results in half.
So scroll through and get more keyword ideas using the new results. Use the keywords on this list to help you create new searches that are highly relevant.
Refer back to what I did earlier.
I took SEO company, digital marketing agency, and web marketing from that initial list of ideas. Here’s what the search results look like for those keywords combined with the Quick Sprout URL.
Those new terms combined with the closely related filter yielded 296 keyword ideas.
This list is much more reasonable for you to manage.
As I mentioned earlier, you can also narrow your results by locations, language, and search networks.
For example, let’s say you have a local business that has retail locations scattered across New England. You don’t need to get data on the entire United States.
Instead, you can just focus on those six states in New England.
With that said, this feature is definitely more beneficial for those of you who will ultimately run PPC campaigns. In this case, you can choose to only target users who are searching in that region.
But it’s still worth seeing how the competition and search volume changes if you adjust the location.
With each list of ideas, you can download the information as an excel spreadsheet as well.
In my opinion, this makes it easier for you to keep notes and organize the data in a way that aligns with your SEO plan and content strategy.
Just look for the “download keyword ideas” button at the top right corner of each page.
View keyword forecasts
Head back to the main keyword planner page that we landed on earlier.
Only this time, we’re going to select the other option; get search volume and forecasts.
We previously saw the search volume when we were discovering new keywords. It showed us data from the past 12 months.
Maybe you changed around the date range and saw something different.
While the Keyword Planner tool won’t show you projected search volumes for the future, it will show you a forecast for your keywords if you decide to run a PPC campaign.
Based on those three keywords that we looked at most recently, Google projects that a PPC campaign would get 20,000 impressions and 280 clicks for $580 per month. The average search position would be #3.
This is not an ideal forecast. But it’s not awful either.
Personally, I wouldn’t proceed with it. But this decision is completely up to you.
You can use this tool to give you a better idea of how certain keywords will perform. If you can find a way to get 20,000 monthly impressions organically using these keywords, it will be better than paying for it.
But you might see forecasts that are worth pursuing based on the keywords, projections, and the budget that you’re willing to allocate for paid keywords.
Now that you have your list of keywords, it’s time to enhance your website’s on-page SEO.
Decide which keywords you want to prioritize, and then produce content that will help you rank for those terms. Write blog posts and guides. Create images, videos, and infographics. Produce content that’s a combination of these.
Focus on your title tags, header tags, and internal linking with exact-match keywords.
You can refer to my complete guide on SEO for more information on how to do this. There’s a section in here for on-site SEO that will help you out tremendously.
Start experimenting with Google Keyword Planner. Since it’s free to use, it can’t hurt to try.
Once you get familiar with navigating and searching, you can use this guide as a reference to help you find keywords that will be easier to rank for.
Now I’m going to teach you how to create an expert roundup. What’s the difference between these two?
Rather than trying to get your link featured on another site’s roundup post, you’re going to create content on your own website using expert opinions.
At the end of the day, this will have similar advantages to getting featured on a link roundup. Creating expert roundups will still help you build backlinks, boost your website traffic, and add plenty of SEO value.
Why are expert roundup posts so great?
Here’s the thing. Not all of you have a well-known name or platform, especially if you’re just starting out as a blogger. That’s OK. We’ve all been there.
I’m not saying this to sound rude or harsh, but why should someone take your advice?
You might know what you’re talking about, but nobody knows that. If you’re an up and coming blogger, getting experts featured on your blog will give people a reason to visit your site and consume your content.
Here’s an analogy.
Let’s say you’re an avid golfer and you want to start giving people golf lessons. But if nobody knows who you are, they have no reason to listen to you, even if you’re offering excellent tips and advice.
Now let’s say you can get Tiger Woods to attend one of your golf camps. People will definitely listen to him since he’s a household name and arguably the best golfer on the planet. His presence at your golf lessons will get people to come and ultimately validate your legitimacy. You’ll get even more exposure if Tiger Woods promotes your golf lessons by telling people that he’ll be there.
You can apply this same analogy to your blog posts. Only instead of one expert, you’re going to get dozens to share their opinions.
So how do find these experts and get them to participate? I’ll explain everything you need to know in this guide.
Why expert roundup posts are so effective
Let me take a minute here to reverse the roles for a second.
Hypothetically speaking, pretend a blogger reached out to you to participate in their expert roundup. They value your opinion and want to share it on their website.
When their post gets published, you’d share it—right? Absolutely.
These posts get a ton of traffic since the experts who are part of the roundup will eventually share the content as well.
Brian Liang wrote created this post about blog promotion, which is ironically related to the topic that we’re discussing right now.
He got 40 experts to share their marketing advice. All he did was ask them one simple question.
What can bloggers and marketers do to be more effective when promoting their content?
This is a question that so many people can relate to, and will be eager to hear the advice of experts in the industry. All different types of experts answered the question.
By getting people from different niches to participate, it increases the exposure even more.
So, how did this post perform? Check out this information from the backlink checker at Ahrefs.
It has 342 backlinks from 95 referring domains.
If you look back to the first screenshot of the blog itself, you can see that it has more than 4,000 social media shares as well.
Expert roundups generate a ton of traffic.
That’s because everyone who participates will, at the very least, throw the link up on their social media platforms. As an industry expert, they most likely have large social followings. You might even get backlinks and your link shared with their email subscribers.
Since a roundup that contains insight from a wide range of experts is such a valuable piece of content, it has a greater chance of being shared by other people as well, even if they weren’t one of the contributors. It might even end up on a link roundup.
The fact that all of these experts were willing to participate and be part of something on your website shows a lot about who you are. Industry leaders won’t do this for just any average Joe.
Plus, the backlinks you’ll get from major websites will boost your domain authority.
Roundup posts help you build strong bonds and relationships with influencers. This is a great networking opportunity for you.
These experts are building links with your roundup. Whenever you introduce an expert, it’s common practice to say who they are with a link to their website. So they benefit from the exposure as well. They might even ask you to write a guest post for their website or something like that in the future.
Another top benefit of a roundup post is that it adds a new perspective to your content. You get to switch it up instead of publishing the same thing over and over again.
Find industry experts
Obviously, you can’t write an expert roundup without the help of experts.
Don’t expect these people to come to you and say, “Hey! On the off chance that you create an expert roundup, I’d love to be included in it.”
That’s unrealistic. Instead, you need to get out there and find them.
The easiest way to do this is by looking for other expert roundup posts. So use Google to your advantage.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you want to create a roundup about blogging mistakes. Just run a search for something along the lines of “blogging mistakes expert roundup.”
19 blogging experts talk about their mistakes in this post.
There is a table of contents that includes a list of the bloggers and the amount of money that their blog generates each month.
Use this list as a resource. It’s up to you to prioritize which experts you want to contact.
You could just make a list of all of them, or go for the big ones who make $50k, $100k, or $400k per month.
Creating a spreadsheet is the best way to stay organized. The list should include:
Name of expert
In the status column, you’d put notes like, “Sent email on 5/14 — waiting for reply,” or something like that.
Don’t stop building your list of experts with just one post. Here’s another top post from that same Google search.
This similar blog shares the opinions of 17 experts.
So between these two posts alone, you’ve got 36 potential experts to reach out to. Continue adding to the list. Eventually, you’re going to narrow it down.
Don’t just take their “expert” label at face value.
You need to check out their websites, credentials, and metrics like domain authority. Look at how frequently they publish content. View their social media pages to see if they’re willing to share content from other websites.
Make sure they’re a good writer and have a strong following.
If you see someone on your list that’s an expert, but they don’t have lots of social media followers, don’t publish content frequently, and have a site with a low domain authority, you don’t need to prioritize them. You may ultimately decide not to reach out to them or include them in your roundup.
Send your pitch
Once you have your list of experts compiled, it’s just a matter of finding their contact information, which should be pretty straightforward.
Rather than just submitting a general inquiry on a website form, it’s always better to try and get their personal email address.
For example, we’ll look at Adam Connell from Blogging Wizard as an example, since he was the first expert in the post that we were just talked about. I went to his website and navigated to the contact page.
This page shows an email address.
Normally, I wouldn’t like that because it’s so general. However, since this is Adam’s website, I’m confident that he’ll receive the message.
The page also states that all email inquiries need to start with “Hey Adam” to ensure it’s not a spam message. As you can see from this page, you could also reach out to him via social media.
Your outreach messages should be very concise. For this example, you could say something like:
I’m doing an expert roundup post on my website [link to website] about blogging. Could you please answer this question for me?
“What was the biggest struggle or hurdle that you had to overcome as a blogger?”
Thanks in advance for the help. I really appreciate it! I’ll include your name, brief bio, and a link to your website in the roundup as well.
After you send the message, update your spreadsheet with notes so you can keep track of managing your communication with all of these people.
Don’t go overboard and ask them for more than they’ll be willing to deliver. As you can see from the example, all I did was ask one question. So the response can be as long or as short as he’d like it to be.
If you ask an expert to send you a 2,500-word case study, don’t expect a response.
Follow-up with emails if you haven’t heard back after a week.
Hey! I know you’re busy but I just wanted to follow up with you on this question again. Do you have a rough idea for when you’ll be able to answer? No rush. I just want to plan accordingly. Thank you!
A follow-up message like this increases the chances that they’ll participate.
Top elements of an expert roundup
Now that you’ve reached out to the top experts in your niche, it’s time to go through their responses and start writing your roundup post. If you want the post to be successful, it needs to have the following elements:
A great question
The responses given by the experts will only be as good as the question you ask them. If you ask them a yes or no question, don’t expect a high-quality response. On the flip side, if you ask for their life story, it’s going to be too long and unappealing to the readers.
Instead, look for questions that will actually add value and help people who are looking for insight. Review blog comments, forums, and Google related search suggestions to get inspiration for crafting the perfect question.
Don’t make your expert roundup to sound like an average “how-to” post or guide. Let everyone know that this post is different.
Here’s an example of a roundup written by Ian Blair at BuildFire.
The title is great because it’s very clear. Readers know they’re getting advice from 32 different experts. They also know exactly what the post is going to be about.
Expert roundups are long. So you need to make sure the post is formatted properly so it’s easy for readers to navigate.
Let’s say your blog has 25 experts answering a question. Realistically, people aren’t going to read all 25 responses. Your headers need to be clear so that anyone can scroll through and view the answers from specific experts.
Images are another great way to break up the content and make your blog more reader-friendly. Consider using a picture of each expert with their name and bio.
We saw this with one of our example posts earlier.
Your work isn’t done once the roundup has been published. Now it’s time to make sure that the post performs at a high level.
For starters, you’ll want to share it on all of your distribution channels (as with all of your blog posts). But you’ll also want to make sure the experts in your post do the same thing.
Don’t expect these participants to be refreshing your website every day waiting for the post to go live. Let them know that the post has been published and send them a link. The best way to do this is with a “thank you” message.
You might also want to consider asking top experts for an exclusive interview. This type of content can be used for your YouTube channel or podcast. Plus, it strengthens your relationship with them and increases the chances that they’ll consider you for guest posting opportunities.
Expert roundups and link roundups are not the same things.
However, both of these strategies can help you drive traffic to your website, build backlinks, improve brand awareness, and increase your authority.
In my experience, experts are willing to participate in these roundups because they get increased exposure as well. So it’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
You just need to make sure that you find the right experts, ask them the right question, and promote the blog properly to ensure that it performs at the highest possible level.
So keep this guide as a reference for creating epic expert roundup blog posts on your website.
The most extensive and comprehensive introduction to online marketing that you’ll find anywhere.
Why We Wrote this Guide? Online marketing moves at the speed of light. To keep up, you need a strong foundation with the judgment to think critically, act independently, and be relentlessly creative. That’s why we wrote this guide — to empower you with the mental building blocks to stay ahead in an aggressive industry.There are plenty of guides to marketing. From textbooks to online video tutorials, you can really take your pick. But, we felt that there was something missing — a guide that really starts at the beginning to equip already-intelligent professionals with a healthy balance of strategic and tactical advice. The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing closes that gap.
Who This Guide Is for? We wrote this guide for an audience of first-time marketers, experienced entrepreneurs and small business owners, entry to mid-level candidates, and marketing managers in need of resources to train their direct reports. Most of all, we want you to walk away from this guide feeling confident about your marketing strategy.
How Much of this Guide Should You Read? This guide is designed for you to read cover-to-cover. Each new guide builds upon the previous one. A core idea that we want to reinforce is that marketing should be evaluated holistically. What you need to do is this in terms of growth frameworks and systems as opposed to campaigns. Reading this guide from start to finish will help you connect the many moving parts of marketing to your big-picture goal, which is ROI.
1. Be Laser Focused on Your Customers
Your customers, prospects, and partners are the lifeblood of of your business. You need to build your marketing strategy around them. Step 1 of marketing is understanding what your customers want, which can be challenging when you’re dealing with such a diverse audience. This guide will walk you through (1) the process of building personal connections at scale and (2) crafting customer value propositions that funnel back to ROI for your company. Get Started
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You can have the most amazing web storefront, blog, or product in the world, but if you’re not getting traffic, your business’s growth strategy will fall flat. This post will walk you through some of the most common free and paid traffic acquisition frameworks for bringing visitors to your website. Get Started
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Traffic acquisition is only half the marketing equation. You need to invest the time in building a strategy for driving sales. Conversion optimization is the practice of (1) converting first-time visitors into customers and (2) converting first-time customers into repeat buyers. This post will teach you how. Get Started
6. Build Audience Connections with Content Marketing
Content marketing is more than just blogging. When executed correctly, content including articles, guides (like this one), webinars, and videos can be powerful growth drivers for your business. Focus on building trust and producing amazing quality. And most of all, make sure that you’re capturing the right metrics. Create content to generate ROI. Measure the right results. This guide will teach you how. Get Started
7. Find Customers with Paid Channel Advertising
Paid channel marketing is something you’ve probably come across in some form or another. Other names for this topic include Search Engine Marketing (SEM), online advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. Very often, marketers use these terms interchangeably to describe the same concept — traffic purchased through online ads. Marketers frequently shy away from this technique because it costs money. This perspective will put you at a significant disadvantage. It’s not uncommon for companies to run PPC campaigns with uncapped budgets. Why? Because you should be generating an ROI anyway. This post walks through the basics of how. Get Started
8. Amplify 1:1 Connections with Email Marketing
Email marketing has a bad rap. Why? Because in the majority of cases, it’s spammy. When executed correctly, email marketing can be incredibly powerful. The trick is to prioritize the human-to-human connection above the sale. Balance automation with a personal touch. This post will teach you how. Get Started
9. Drive Incremental Sales Through Affiliate Marketing
It’s hard to believe that the Internet is now multiple decades old. Affiliate marketing has been around since the earliest days of online marketing. It’s a great solution for businesses that are risk-averse or don’t have the budget to spend on upfront marketing costs. Use affiliate marketing to build a new revenue stream for your ecommerce or B2B business. Get Started
10. Get Found with SEO
Search engines are a powerful channel for connecting with new audiences. Companies like Google and Bing look to connect their customers with the best user experience possible. Step one of a strong SEO strategy is to make sure that your website content and products are the best that they can be. Step 2 is to communicate that user experience information to search engines so that you rank in the right place. SEO is competitive and has a reputation of being a black art. Here’s how to get started the right way. Get Started
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You’ve launched an amazing product or service. Now what? Now, you need to get the word out. When done well, good PR can be much more effective and less expensive than advertising. Regardless of whether you want to hire a fancy agency or awesome consultant, make sure that you know what you’re doing and what types of ROI to expect. Relationships are the heart and soul of PR. This guide will teach you how to ignore the noise and focus on substantive, measurable results. Get Started
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Your social media strategy is more than just a Facebook profile or Twitter feed. When executed correctly, social media is a powerful customer engagement engine and web traffic driver. It’s easy to get sucked into the hype and create profiles on every single social site. This is the wrong approach. What you should do instead is to focus on a few key channels where your brand is most likely to reach key customers and prospects. This post will teach you how to make that judgment call. Get Started
13. A Quick Note on Mobile
Most businesses aren’t optimized for the mobile web, and that’s a problem. We operate in a cross-platform world. Smartphones and tablets are taking over. If you’re not optimizing your site for mobile visitors, you are likely losing money. Learn how to craft a data-driven mobile approach. This guide will help you learn the ropes. Get Started
Quick Sprout has everything you need to become a world-class digital marketer. We’ve included it all below.
Threat this page as a syllabus, start at the top and work your way down.
When you get to the end, you’ll know more about digital marketing than most CMOs that we’ve worked with.
Digital Marketing 101
Before you start getting into the tactical stuff, get a strong foundation. The principles from these guides will improve every marketing project you pursue. Considering how fast channels and tactics change in digital marketing, the best way to stay ahead is to have a firm grounding in all the core principles. That’ll help you take advantage of tactics and new channels as they develop.
Blogging is a huge component of digital marketing. We’ve used blogging to drive millions of visitors be month, build email lists of 700,000 people, and get 8,000 leads/month for a B2B SaaS business. Nothing scales and has the profitably like blogging.
Blog posts aren’t the only way to build traffic and audiences, there’s so many types of content it’s hard to keep track. While it sems overwhelming at first, that also means there’s tons of options. And where there’s options, there’s opportunity.
No channel has the immediate impact like email marketing. Whenever I’m trying to come up with a way to get a ton of people to act right away, we go straight to our email list. Once you’ve built one, it’s an absolute goldmine.
In order for your website content to rank, it needs to have links.
All too often I see sites spending too much time focusing on building backlinks that they end up neglecting their internal linking strategy. Don’t get me wrong; getting links from other websites is crucial for your SEO value as well.
But with that said, at the end of the day you technically don’t have control over what goes on another website.
That’s not the case with internal linking. You, and only you will have complete control over your internal links.
Let’s start off with the basics. What exactly is an internal link? These are links that connect two pages on the same domain. Internal links have several different purposes and benefits.
First of all, they make it possible for users to navigate through a website. For example, how do you get from your site’s homepage to a contact page or about page? Through an internal link.
Internal links help establish a hierarchy for your website’s architecture. They spread ranking power and page authority (also known as “link juice”) around your website.
On the surface, internal linking is a simple concept. However, just because you have internal links on your site, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll benefit from higher search rankings and site traffic. That’s why I created this guide.
I’ll explain the proper way to apply internal links on your site from an SEO perspective.
Define your site structure
The content and pages on your site need to have a hierarchy that’s logical. Otherwise, you’re just going to end up with a bunch of random and unrelated pages in the eyes of Google.
When search engines rank websites, the crawlers use the site architecture to determine how important pages are contextually to figure out which content is the most relevant.
The more clicks it takes to get from the homepage to another page on your site, the less powerful that page will be. So you need to use internal links to create a shallow depth, meaning you want just one or two clicks (three at the most) to navigate anywhere on your site.
As you can see from this site map example, the architecture is broken down into just three tiers of content.
Your homepage and top-level content pages will have the highest page authority. The further you get away from the homepage, the lower the authority will be.
So if it takes ten clicks to get from your homepage to your blog, then internal linking between blog posts isn’t going to add much SEO value, since there isn’t enough link juice to pass between pages. Google won’t recognize those pages as important when your site is being crawled.
On the flip side, logical site structures with a shallow depth will not only add SEO value when your site is being indexed, but it will also improve the user experience.
Website visitors will have an easier time navigating and finding what they’re looking for, which will ultimately reduce your bounce rate and help improve traffic as well.
Keep producing content
Once your website structure has been optimized, you don’t get to just sit back and relax. You need to continue producing high-quality content on a regular basis.
By creating more content, you’re also adding more linkable assets on your site.
This makes it easier for you to put in as many links as possible, and build these links at scale. Ultimately, this will improve your overall internal linking strategy.
So what types of content should you produce? There are plenty of options to consider.
“How to” guides
These are just a handful of options for you to consider. Take a look at the benefits of having more content to use for internal linking from a technical perspective.
This data from Search Engine Land explains how Google crawlers view pages with lots of inbound internal links.
Pages that have a higher number of internal links get crawled on a more frequent basis. This gives your content a much higher chance of ranking.
According to this research, a page with 200 dofollow links coming from other sources on the same domain is 12 times more likely to be crawled compared to a page with zero internal links.
But if you only have 50 content pages on your site, you’ll never be able to accomplish this at scale. Content is king, and will continue to be a driving force behind all of your SEO strategies moving forward.
In fact, 66% of bloggers are publishing content at least several times per month. Of that 66%, 2% are publishing daily, and an additional 2% are posting more than daily.
In order to gain an advantage, you’ll want your publishing frequency to fall closer toward that end of the spectrum. Just make sure your quality isn’t compromised when the quantity increases.
Use relevant contextual links
Google’s algorithm is so advanced that it can detect the relevancy between content pages. So don’t just add a random internal link to any page on your site and think that it’s going to get the job done.
For example, let’s say you run a website about extreme sports and thrill-seeking activities.
You’ve got a blog post about skydiving, and another blog post about mountain biking. Should you link the two pages? The connection between these topics is not very relevant, and it will be challenging to add a link contextually.
Instead, you could have an internal link to a post about how to transport your mountain bike within a guide about mountain biking safety. The relevance between these two pieces of content is much higher.
Take a look at the two internal links that I put in the introduction.
The first one is about building domain authority, and the second one is about ways to build backlinks on a regular basis. Both of these are highly relevant to the subject of the main blog post. Anyone who is reading this post would benefit from navigating to either of those other pages.
Do you notice anything else about the way I set up these internal links?
They’re very natural. In fact, if the hyperlinks were removed, the wording could stay the same and nothing would change in terms of the flow or context.
I usually write my blogs first, and then add internal links at the end during my proofreading and editing process, as opposed to trying to force in certain links while I’m writing.
This is easy for me because I have so much content on my site to choose from, which relates back to our previous discussion point.
Here’s something else you can take away from the example above. Only part of the sentence is linked.
I’m not linking full paragraphs or adding links on every single line or sentence. This approach is unnatural and it makes it challenging for people to read.
The idea here is to add internal links that will actually add value to the reader. If they navigate to one of your internally linked pages, they’ll spend more time on your site. This also adds SEO value.
I’m not sure if you noticed, but I used an internal link in this post that you’re currently reading before I put in the last screenshot.
This fits into everything I’ve been talking about. As a reader, if you’re interested in improving your search engine traffic with internal links (the post you’re reading now), then there is a good chance you’d benefit from the page about donation links (the internal link above).
The two posts are related to one another, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to add a link.
A common mistake that I see websites make all of the time is that they link to the wrong pages.
For example, let’s say you have a comprehensive guide on a specific topic. That guide shouldn’t have an internal link back to your homepage.
Your homepage already has a higher page authority. Plus, that link doesn’t really add any value to your audience. Google knows this.
Instead, you should be taking steps to improve the strength of your internal pages that are deeper in the site. This will ultimately improve your website’s overall SEO value.
While some of you might be able to read German, I personally can’t speak a word of it. But since the site’s architecture is logical, it’s easy to follow what’s going on here.
None of these internal links are linking back to the top tier pages on the website.
The homepage isn’t the only top-level page you should avoid linking to. Another common mistake that I see, especially with new websites, it overlinking to the “contact us” page. They end every post with a CTA like “call us” or “send us a message” and then add the link. Don’t fall into this habit.
Another way to improve your deep linking strategy is by updating old content with new links. There are several benefits to this tactic.
First of all, an older and more established page on your site will likely have a higher page authority, since it’s already been indexed by Google. So by adding a new internal link, you’re creating a relationship with a page that isn’t as established, therefore passing along some link juice.
Updating old content also means that the page will be seen again by Google’s crawlers. When the page gets indexed after an update, there’s a good chance that it can boost the SERP ranking as well.
Plus, adding new links adds value to your readers.
You don’t want your old content to just collect dust and die because it’s becoming irrelevant. The best way to approach the update is by adding a few lines at the beginning of the page, detailing the changes.
From here can simply add new information contextually, throughout the post. Then just put new internal links into these sections.
Create pillar pages
The concept of pillar pages is a more recent way of thinking when it comes to internal linking.
It’s often referred to as different things like pillars, silos, or topic clusters. No matter what you call it, these are all basically the same idea.
Pillar pages essentially double down on the concept of relevant links, which we discussed earlier. HubSpot has a great visual portrayal of how this works.
This is also related to your site’s structure, which we’ve already covered as well.
But pillars are much more in-depth than just your traditional hierarchy. The key below makes it easier for you to understand the graphic above.
Your pillar pages become the foundation for where you build topic clusters.
The pillar will cover everything and anything related to the topic or keyword that you’re trying to rank for. Then it links out to each cluster content page, which is essentially subtopics of the main pillar.
Pillar pages are more broad, while clusters are detailed and specific.
For example, let’s say you create a social media marketing page as pillar content on your website. Clusters of this topic would be things like:
Facebook marketing guides
Getting sales with Instagram shoppable posts
Generating leads on Twitter
Growing your YouTube channel
Driving conversions with live video
Here’s an example of recent pillar page that we published here at Quick Sprout.
The topic (aka pillar) is about paid marketing.
There is so much that can be discussed on this subject. Where could I possibly begin? Rather than trying to cover everything there is to know about paid marketing in one post that’s 50,000 words, I simply mention the subsections, and then link to more in-depth guides.
PPC for B2Bs
Case study on paid ads
All of these are the supporting cluster pages. Creating pillars makes it easier to follow all of the other best practices that we’ve covered in this guide.
All internal links are not created equally. Don’t just put them on your website randomly without any reason, or you’ll end up doing more harm than good.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re site’s structure is clearly defined with internal links that make sense for navigation purposes. Your content pages need to have a shallow click depth for this to work properly.
Don’t slack on content creation. Internal linking is only as good as the content you produce.
Make sure your internal links are relevant between pages, and make sense contextually within your content. The best way to internal link is with deep linking principles.
Adding pillar pages to your site will tie all of these tactics together.
I use internal links in everything I produce. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve even got some throughout this post. So use this guide as a reference to drive more search traffic to your site with internal links.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to build brand awareness organically without spending a dime.
But as you and I both know, the world we live in is far from perfect. There comes a time when every business needs to start running paid advertisements.
However, just because you’re paying for ads it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be successful. I’ve seen countless businesses blow their marketing budgets on unsuccessful campaigns because they didn’t have the right strategy.
The first piece to any successful advertising campaign is choosing the right platform. YouTube is arguably the best network for running ads. Here’s why.
More than 1.9 billion users visit YouTube each month. Those people are watching a billion hours of video each day.
According to Alexa, YouTube is the second most popular website in the world, second only to Google. Furthermore, the users spend an average of 8 minutes and 42 seconds using the platform each day. That’s just 42 seconds less than Facebook’s daily average. YouTube has an average of five daily unique page views per user as well.
YouTube was the most popular iOS mobile app of 2018, ranking ahead of other giants like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Google Maps, and Gmail.
The advertising statistics on YouTube are just as impressive.
Users who watch at least 30 seconds of a YouTube ad are 23 times more likely to subscribe to that brand’s channel, watch more videos by that brand, share a video, or visit the visit. People are ten times more likely to take these actions, even if they are just exposed to YouTube ad.
In short, YouTube is continuing to grow in popularity with no signs of slowing down. Ads on this platform have exceptional performance metrics.
Now that you understand why you should be advertising on YouTube, it’s time to learn how. I’ll explain everything you need to know about how to run ads on YouTube in this guide.
Step #1: Create a YouTube channel and Google Ads account
Let’s begin with the basics. Before you can proceed, you need to have accounts set up on two platforms.
I’m assuming the majority of you already have these in place. If that’s the case, you can skip over this. But for those of you who don’t have one, the other, or both, this will be your first step.
Step #2: Upload your ad
Once your profiles are set up, simply upload your video advertisement to YouTube.
From your YouTube dashboard, look for the little video camera icon in the top right corner. If you click on it, a menu will pop up with two options.
Select upload video, as I’ve highlighted above, to land on this screen.
From here, you can also decide who can see your video. These are the options:
This is completely up to you. If you want to keep your ads separate from the content that you share on your channel, keep it private. Alternatively, if you want to use your channel content as an ad, go with public or scheduled.
I think private is better because it gives you the option to run targeted ads without uploading irrelevant content to your channel. It’s easier to control things this way, and you can always change the privacy settings after the video has been uploaded.
Step #3: Create a new campaign
Now you’re going to navigate away from YouTube and head over the Google Ads. From here, you’ll be able to start a new campaign.
Select “campaigns” from the menu on the left side of the screen.
Once you’re on this page, you can start a new campaign by clicking the plus sign or new campaign. Both of these have been highlighted in the screenshot above.
Step #4: Select your goal
Technically, this an optional step. Google Ads will give you the option to proceed without choosing a goal, but it’s definitely in your best interest to do so.
These are your options:
Product and brand consideration
Brand awareness and reach
By selecting a goal, Google Ads will automatically suggest campaign settings that will be optimal for your ads. Video advertisements will be available for all of these choices, except for app promotion.
Step #5: Choose your campaign type
Now you have to pick what type of campaign you want to run. This selection determines where your ads will be displayed.
Obviously, for our purposes here today, you’re going to choose the video option.
As you can see from what I’ve highlighted above, this type of campaign will reach users on YouTube.
Step #6: Select an ad format
Now you’ll have to choose how your ad will be run. Your options will vary based on the goal you chose back in step #4.
Here’s a more detailed description of your options:
TrueView advertisements — These ads come in two forms; in-stream and discovery. The in-stream ads play before a video starts, and can be skipped after they’ve been played for a certain amount of time. Discovery ads appear in the search results.
Non-skippable in-stream advertisements — As the name implies, these video ads cannot be skipped. These are either played before an ad starts, or in the middle of videos that are longer (usually 10 minutes or more). In this case, they’re called “mid-roll” non-skippable ads.
Bumper advertisements — Bumper ads are just six seconds long, and appear right before a video starts playing. The time limit restricts what you can do, but this format can be part of your overall YouTube advertising strategy.
Sponsored cards — These ads are shown in the form of a pop-up with a CTA. They start as a small icon, and expand when clicked. Since the cards are small, they aren’t very intrusive the user, and don’t interfere with the video they’re watching.
Overlay advertisements — Overlays are extremely straightforward. They are basically banner advertisements that show up at the bottom of the screen. These can advertisements can be text or images.
Display advertisements — Display ads are shown on the right side of YouTube pages above the list of suggested videos. This is another format that does not require a video ad.
You’ll also have the option to set up ad sequencing. This is the process of showing a series of video advertisements to a singular person. Each video in the sequence will be assigned a step or number, so they are shown in the proper order to an individual over time.
Ad sequencing can be used for TrueView in-stream advertisements, bumper ads, or a combination of the two.
Step #7: Configure your campaign
It’s likely that you’re going to run more than campaign on YouTube. So this step is a crucial component for staying organized.
Now is your last chance to change your goal before you proceed. You’ll also be naming your campaign so you can access it to adjust the settings and monitor the performance.
For our purposes today, I just named it “YouTube Test” as an example.
Next, you’ll determine your budget and bidding strategy for the advertisement.
You can set your budget two ways. Either the total amount that you’ll spend for the duration of the campaign (as shown above) or a daily amount that you want to spend.
There are six different options for bidding strategies.
Maximum CPV — cost per view.
Maximum CPM — cost per 1,000 times the ad is displayed.
Target CPM — average cost per 1,000 times the ad is displayed.
Viewable CPM — cost per 1,000 times ad was viewed (at least 50% of ad is on the screen for two seconds or more).
Target CPA — automatic bids based on an action, billed at the CPM rate.
Maximize conversions – automatic bids set up by Google to give you the highest number of conversions to fit your budget.
I recommend experimenting with as many bidding options as possible to see what gives you the best return on your investment. When in doubt, you can always set up target CPA or maximize conversions to let Google Ads automate things for you.
During the campaign configuration process you’ll also be able to customize things like:
This is the first part of customizing who will see your campaigns. Next, you can break this down even further by choosing the people you want to reach. You’ll have options like:
Interests and habits
Previous interactions with your business
You’ll want to make this as specific as possible to ensure that your ads are reaching the right audience. The last thing you want to do is waste money on a campaign that’s being shown to the wrong person.
In addition to selecting who will see your ads, you also have the ability to choose what types of videos your advertisements will be shown on.
So conduct keyword research that’s related to your brand, as well as what your target audience will be searching for. Google Ads can generate keyword ideas for you if you enter a related website along with the products or services that you’re marketing.
Each topic will also have subcategories to narrow the results even further. For example, if you choose arts and entertainment, you’ll be able to pick subtopics like:
Comics and animation
Events and listings
Visual art and design
Again, this entire process is designed to make sure your ads are associated with related videos and being shown to relevant audiences.
Step #9: Paste your video ad URL
I know it seems like a while ago, but remember back in step #2 when I had you upload your ad to YouTube? Now it’s time to circle back there and copy the ad URL.
You’re going to paste it into this section of Google Ads:
That’s the final step of the process.
The last thing you’ll do from here is approval the details and then your ad will start being run on YouTube.
For those of you who have never advertised on YouTube before, this entire process can feel a bit intimidating or overwhelming.
But as you can see from the guide I’ve created, the entire process can be broken down into just nine simple steps. If you already have a YouTube account and Google Ads account, the first step is already completed.
The reality is this; YouTube is king when it comes to video content.
This platform is still rising and popularity and people all over the world are consuming billions of hours of video content on a daily basis. We’re beginning to reach the point where business can’t afford to compete if they don’t have an active YouTube presence.
If you’re going to run paid ads, you might as well do it on a platform like this one. The fact that everything is run through Google Ads makes it easier for you to customize your campaigns to ensure that they’re reaching the right audience.
You’ll be able to successfully advertise on YouTube with ease if you simply follow the step-by-step process that I’ve outlined above.
Link building can become a time-consuming process. Sometimes you spend hours exhausting all of your strategies and still fall short of your benchmark target.
This can be extremely frustrating.
Yet other times, certain pieces of content seem to effortlessly attract links. Before you know it, you might have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of backlinks for one post without even putting in too much effort.
Wouldn’t it be great if that was the case for all of your content? Fortunately, the possibility is more realistic than you might realize. That’s why you need to learn how to create link bait posts.
What is link bait?
Some of you might have created link bait in the past by accident, without fully understanding what you were doing. Don’t worry; this is a good thing.
In short, link bait is content that’s specifically designed to build links. The idea here is that any blogger, journalist, or influencer in your industry would feel obligated to share your link because the information is so valuable.
Creating link bait content will do wonders for your website.
First of all, this will benefit your website visitors by providing them with high-quality content. But once you start building links at scale with link bait, your site traffic will continue to rise and your search ranking will skyrocket as well.
Here’s something else to keep in mind. If you spend more time creating link bait content, you can spend less time trying to build links. All of your links will start to come organically.
This is much better than producing mediocre or sub-par content and then wasting your efforts trying to build links that nobody wants. I’ll show you everything you need to know about creating predictably popular link bait posts in this guide.
Link bait best practices
In my experience, all link bait content typically has certain characteristics in common.
With that said, you don’t necessarily need to apply all of these best practices to each post. But you can use these elements as a reference to help you come up with ideas and decide which direction you’re going to take whenever you produce new content.
Why should someone view or read your post?
If it’s nothing but fluff and long blocks of text that’s stuffed with keywords and designed strictly for SEO purposes, it’s not actually providing value to anyone. This type of content won’t go viral or become link bait.
Instead, you need to ask yourself two questions before you create anything.
Who benefits from this content?
How will this content help those people?
If you’re unable to answer these questions, then it’s probably not worth continuing in that direction. But when you’re able to use these questions to guide you throughout the process, it adds great value to the audience.
Value means going the extra mile. Don’t just tell someone why a certain idea works. Show them by using a case study with statistics and examples.
Then other websites will be able to use those figures a reference. Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about.
Here’s a backlink for Quick Sprout.
The article above talks about the best times to post on Facebook. So the author used a study from one of my old posts to validate their point.
My original content was valuable because it included statistics and research. If I just said, “I think you should post to Facebook on Wednesdays,” it doesn’t provide any value.
But since I took the time to create a link bait post, other sites used it as a reference without me having to go out and ask for the link.
This is common with the majority of the posts here at Quick Sprout. Just look at what happens when you search the web for “according to Quick Sprout.”
I get links like this all of the time.
For those of you who are still unconvinced, just take a look at these metrics from the backlink checker tool at Ahrefs.
Quick Sprout has more than 2.2 million backlinks from over 24,000 referring domains.
Trust me, I didn’t go out there and ask webmasters for backlinks 2 million times. The majority of this happened organically with link bait because all of the content on our blog provides so much value.
Even if you’re a blogger and a master with words, you still need to use visuals to spice up your content.
Here’s the thing. Large blocks of text in paragraph form just won’t get read. In fact, 73% of readers skim through articles as opposed to thoroughly reading them.
So if your posts aren’t reader-friendly, nobody has a reason to link to them.
But adding visuals breaks up the content and makes it easier for people to skim. Plus, visuals grab attention and add value.
Take a look at this research about blog posts from Orbit Media.
Images ranked highest as the most common element found in blog posts for the past five years in a row.
That’s because people are more drawn to visuals.
According to HubSpot, 32% of marketing professionals say that visuals are the most important type of content for their brands, which was the number one response in the survey.
Furthermore, content with visuals gets up to 94% more views compared to posts with just text.
This is definitely a recipe for increasing your chances of creating content that will ultimately turn into link bait. There are plenty of ways to add visuals to your posts.
These are some analytics from a post about racial tolerance in America. The article has been linked to more than 6,000 times.
This is a great example because the post itself doesn’t make any racist claims or anything like that.
Instead, it analyzes data, which refers back to one of our previous points about adding value. The study examined derogatory language from state to state based on Twitter locations. All of the data is shown in graphs, which adds visuals to the piece.
Based on everything we’ve discussed so far, this is a recipe for a predictably popular post.
First and foremost, every piece of content that you produce needs to related to your niche. If you’re a fashion blogger, you shouldn’t be posting video tutorials about how to surf.
The timing of your posts needs to be relevant as well. Nobody is interested in hearing the same news story that broke six months ago. If you’re too late to the party, then sites won’t have a reason to use your link as a reference unless you find some type of new and valuable information.
On the flip side, if you’re the first to report something, then you essentially become the source. This is one of the best ways to create link bait.
As you can see, this post is approaching 4,000 backlinks.
Comprehensive guides will always perform well because it’s easier for you to include all of the common features in a link bait post.
In addition to the value and visuals, you can also find ways to stimulate certain emotions while prioritizing relevance and timing.
We briefly talked about infographics earlier when we covered visual content. But it’s definitely worth mentioning again on its own.
As we previously discussed, images are the most popular element included in blog posts.
This means that bloggers and journalists need to find images on the web. Most of them aren’t going to take the time to create original content. It’s much easier to just find an infographic online and cite the source with a backlink.
So if you can create infographics that people will use to enhance their own content, you’ll be able to build tons of backlinks at scale.
Just make sure that your information is always accurate and up to date, which is when the relevancy factor comes into play.
If you’re using a study from 2011 to create an infographic in 2019, it’s not going to become link bait. But if you update your study and infographics each year, you’ll become an authoritative source for information.
Videos, images, and gifs
Again, these are more examples of visual content.
Depending on the type of website you have, some of these formats will be more beneficial to you than others.
For example, if you’re a photographer, you’ll definitely want to share your original photos. Then other sites can use them as a reference (similar to infographics) which will build backlinks.
But that’s not necessarily a winning strategy for everyone.
Let’s say your website is more serious and professional, you’d be better off creating video tutorials of how to do something that’s related to your niche.
This isn’t necessarily the most common type of link bait, and it won’t be something that’s relevant for all of you.
But with that said, you can build tons of backlinks with interactive posts like a quiz or calculator.
For example, let’s say your website is in the real estate industry. You could create a home mortgage calculator tool. Now other websites can use your tool as a reference since it’s much easier than building their own.