SEO Expert Survey: Traffic, Budget, and Time Trends

Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals say most of their clients had an increase in traffic to their websites in the last year, according to recent research from Search Engine Journal.

The report was based on data from a survey of 1,241 SEO professionals who worked directly with clients through an agency (875) or as a freelancer (366).

Some 41% of SEO pros say their clients’ websites had a slight increase in traffic over the past 12 months, and 23% say the traffic increased a lot.

SEO professionals say the most common monthly SEO budget range for their clients is between $1,000-$5,000.

Average monthly SEO budget

Some 39% of SEO professionals say their clients’ budgets have increased a little over the past 12 months, and 24% say they have stayed the same.

Changes in SEO budget

SEO professionals say they spend most of their time on keyword research, optimizing on-page elements, and analytics.

Time allocated to SEO tasts for agencies and freelancers

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 1,241 SEO professionals who worked directly with clients through an agency (875) or as a freelancer (366).

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12 Boosts for Speeding Up Your Content Campaign Delivery [Infographic]

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Brand-to-Demand: A Powerful Approach for Marketers [Infographic]

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Growing and Changing: The Evolution of the Podcast Audience

The size of the podcast listening audience in the US has increased in 2021 after flattening in the second half of 2020, with growth driven by lighter listeners and at-home listeners, according to recent research from Nielsen.

The report was based on data from a Nielsen survey conducted in May 2021 among adults age 18 and older in the United States.

Some 49% of the podcast audience in the US is now made up of lighter listeners (people who listen to podcasts between one and three times a month, on average), up from 39% in August 2018.

Half of podcast listening in the US now happens at home, up from 40% in August 2018.

Podcast growth resumes thanks to home listening

Podcast listening growth is occurring across all age groups, the researchers found.

Some 20% of podcast listeners in the US are now age 55+, up from 16% in August 2018.

Podcast growth across all ages

Comedy is the most popular podcast genre across almost all age groups, as well as among both men and women.

Top podcast genres by age group

About the research: The report was based on data from a Nielsen survey conducted in May 2021 among adults age 18 and older in the United States.

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These Five Tactics Will Help You Outrank Your Competitors on Google


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One of the best ways to beat your rivals is to look at what they’re doing and improve on it.

It’s not always easy to figure out what your competitors are up to, though. Where do you begin your search? Is it the same process for old and new sites? What is the best way to do a competitor analysis?

To outrank your competitors on Google by using their own strategies against them, try the following actionable and repeatable competitor analysis methods. They should do the trick.

1. Analyze competitor keywords

Other companies have already ranked on Google for services or products similar to yours. So why not look at the keywords they’re ranking for?

You can spot the keywords that everyone in your industry is trying to rank for by using Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. It’s possible to filter based on location, commercial value, purpose, and search volume.

Third-party keyword analysis software can also help you with your keyword strategy. SEMRush and Ahrefs are go-to tools for finding out which keywords your rivals are using. You can fine-tune your keyword research even further with their help.

Make a list of your rivals in a spreadsheet with their main internal sites, including the homepage. You can manually go to any of those pages and open the source code to check out the title, metadata, headings, and content. That allows you to quickly find out the keywords your biggest rivals are using to push traffic to their websites and landing pages.

Jot down your rivals’ keywords and put them into the spreadsheet.

Now your marketing and on-page SEO experts can customize your content and pages around those keywords.

2. Write high-quality, informative content

Creating amazing content that both your current and future customers want to read is one of the most important things you can do to outrank your competitors on Google.

Look at what’s ranking well on Google and social media to get a clear understanding of what people want. Focus on creating content that satisfies users’ search intent—that is, content that assists users in achieving what their goal was when they typed the query into Google search.

Ensure that you’re providing useful information in your content, and try to answer questions thoroughly. It’s simple enough to find subjects you may like to discuss in more detail by using Google’s People Also Ask boxes and related keywords.

3. Master on-page SEO

On-page SEO, which includes the elements on your site that influence your search engine results, is another important aspect of how to rank on Google. On-page SEO is affected by a variety of factors:

  • Title tags should identify the page’s subject and include keywords.
  • The meta description for each page should explain what it’s about. Meta descriptions appear on the pages of search engine results (SERPs).
  • Headings divide your content into parts and include keywords.
  • URLs should be simple to read and descriptive, and, if possible, they should include your keywords.
  • Alt tags that identify the image’s content in a few words should be added to all photos.
  • Loading speed is considered by Google when rating websites, because users expect pages to load quickly.
  • Internal linking among the pages of your website gives users a direct path to the details they need. Keep an eye out for broken links.

4. Build backlinks

There’s no better strategy that will allow you to outrank your competitors on Google than backlinking.

Your on-page approach will take you only so far in improving your organic rankings. To go a step further, create backlinks. Look at the number of backlinks your rivals have to a particular page that is outranking yours; you’ll get an idea of how many backlinks you’ll need.

It’s not easy to create backlinks. Google will reward backlinks from websites with a high Domain Authority (DA), so it’s critical to prioritize quality over quantity for backlinks.

Create excellent outreach materials to aid in the acquisition of high-quality connections. Infographics, blog posts, and video production are all excellent examples of outreach that can result in backlinks.

Always keep an eye out for opportunities to create links on related websites. CRMs and software tools that help with SEO and SEM are also available.

5. Optimize your page speed

Page speed affects your SEO rankings in the same way it affects your PPC campaigns. Suppose you notice that competitors are outranking you for keywords for which you have the same number of backlinks, domain authority, keyword density, or on-page variables. In that case, it’s time to take a look at your mobile and desktop page speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for checking your website speed and figuring out what factors are slowing it down.

Text compression, server response times, unused CSS, and off-screen images are potential issues that could be the culprit behind your slower loading speed.

* * *

Following the tips in this article will set you up for success in outranking your competitors on Google. However, applying the right tactics is not a one-and-done thing. You have to keep at it and track the current marketing trends to maintain your top spot.

More Resources on How to Outrank Your Competitors on Google

How to Structure Your Content for Organic Google Rankings: A Proven Process

The Top Google Search Rank Factors According to SEO Experts

How to Rank at the Top of Google Search Results (Even If You’re Not No. 1)

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12 Key Benefits of Influencer Marketing for Brands [Infographic]

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MarketingProfs provides thousands of marketing resources, entirely free!

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Intent Data's Signals: Cracking the Code, Part 1

Sometimes the information we need to make the best decisions is hidden in plain sight. But without the ability to first gather that information, and then to decipher it, it’s useless to us.

That was true during World War II, when the top-secret German information that the Allied Forces needed to prevent imminent attacks was being transmitted across the airwaves. With teams of people intercepting those messages and tipsters providing additional signals, Allied forces had no shortage of valuable data at their fingertips.

The problem was that Germany had encrypted its signals with a seemingly unbreakable code, dubbed Enigma, making it unintelligible and unusable to anyone who didn’t have the key to decode it.

So, even though the Allies were able to amass mountains of signals and information, they didn’t know what all that data meant.

Code breakers worked day and night to understand the information they were gathering, but human power just couldn’t cut it. It wasn’t until the British codebreaking team at Bletchley Park created Colossus—the world’s first electronic computer—that the messages were finally decoded and the meaning of all that gathered intelligence became clear. Allied forces could finally act on the invaluable information in front of them.

Missed Intent Data Signals in B2B

I see something similar happening in business (though with much smaller stakes, obviously): The information we need to succeed is often right in front of us, but we marketers either fall short in amassing data or, if we do collect it, we struggle to extract meaningful insights that can be made actionable.

For B2B marketers, the signals we’re looking for are buyers’ behaviors that signify intent to buy. Those signals happen all the time—when people search the Web, engage with us or our competitors, download content, attend webinars… the list goes on.

Seeing those signals and understanding their meaning is essential to engaging with the right customers, at the right time, in the right way.

But just as the Bletchley Park codebreakers found, amassing a signal and decoding it is not always as simple as it seems.

In the first part of this two-part article series, we explore what those signals are, how they’re gathered, and which ones are worth paying attention to. In Part 2, we’ll delve into all the ways those signals can be put to use to transform B2B marketing and selling.

The signals we talk about in a B2B environment are called intent data, and they come in three forms: first-, second-, and third-party. Each is important, and in each category some signals are more relevant than others.

What is first-party intent data?

Any data collected from activity on a property or asset you own is called first-party intent data. When a potential customer clicks a link on your site or opens an email you sent, those are first-party intent signals. This type of intent is sometimes thought of as engagement, since people are engaging with your brand and your content.

Of course, some of those signals are more meaningful than others. For instance, a visitor who downloads a bunch of whitepapers may just be researching for a blog post. And someone who repeatedly visits your pricing page could just be a competitor gathering competitive intel.

So it’s important to have first-party intent data at your fingertips, including from visitors who don’t raise their hands by filling out a form or signing up for your communications.

The best intent data providers can shine a light on anonymous activity on your website—and cut through the noise to reveal usable insights.

What is second-party intent data?

Second-party intent data is a less-talked-about source of intelligence, but it’s still important. These insights come from sites you don’t own, but their content and conversations are about your company.

Think of review sites, such as TrustRadius, Capterra, and G2. Knowing that someone is researching your company, your category, or even your competitors can be an interesting signal. It may or may not indicate intent to buy, but it’s a piece of data that can add to your overall understanding of a potential customer’s buying journey.

It’s smart to source and use this type of intent data.

What is third-party intent data?

Third-party intent data encompasses the research being done elsewhere on the Web—not on your site and not on a review site. It includes specific keyword and topic research that you know to be significant signals from the prospects most likely to purchase your product.

Third-party intent data is important at all stages of the customer journey. But it’s particularly important early on because it points you toward potential customers who may not have even visited your website yet. That’s the stage when they’re educating themselves on the problem they have and the solutions that exist—and that’s when you want them to start thinking about your brand.

Without third-party intent data, there’s no way to know that activity is even happening, which means you’re missing out on an entire universe of unknown buyers. But, although third-party intent data can uncover very important information, separating the wheat from the chaff is more difficult than for first- or second-party intent data.

The best third-party intent data providers, however, will weed out the irrelevant information and focus on signals that are proven to indicate an intent to buy.

Where Is B2B’s Colossus?

With first-, second-, and third-party data, we have the information we need to better understand our customers (present and future). But we need to be able to decode all those billions of pieces of data and turn it into intelligence we can use. In other words, we need our own version of Colossus.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about the technology that can turn intent signals into meaningful intelligence—and real-life actions that can transform the way B2B companies market, sell, and grow revenue.

This article is written by Latané Conant, CMO of 6sense, a leading AI-powered account engagement platform.

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How to Meet Customers' New Expectations With Tried-and-True Customer Service Best-Practices


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By now, the observation that COVID-19 has drastically changed how we interact is old news.

However, it’s never a bad idea to incorporate best-practices into your B2B marketing strategy, and marketers can learn a lot from how customer service professionals have adapted in the last year and a half.

Those insights can help marketers meet new customer expectations and build long-lasting customer relationships.

Thanks to Zoom, many of us have met each other’s kids, partners, and pets, so there’s no going back to business as usual. The use of technology we’ve adopted will persist, as we’ve already seen. When B2B marketers shifted to digital outreach to generate leads, they rose to the challenge using new channels.

So, what happens next?

As always, customers are driving the transformation, and their experience during the pandemic raised expectations for hyper-personalized outreach. Changing customer expectations and new regulations designed to protect consumer privacy require B2B companies to rethink how they contact customers and build long-term relationships.

Tips for Adapting to New Customer Expectations

The shift in customer expectations, as well as the long-term nature of the change, were emphasized by a recent Gartner report on B2B buyer demand for digital options. B2B customer expectations for a rich virtual experience are informed by their experience as consumers, the report notes, which makes embracing customer service best-practices a no-brainer.

Here are a few tips that can help marketers use the best of customer service best-practices for their own engagement strategies.

Personalize, but don’t generalize

Although it’s true that customers expect hyper-personalization in digital outreach, concerns about privacy are on the rise, too; at the same time, customers don’t like to be pigeonholed.

That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Customers expect you to know who they are and where they are on their customer journey. That requires data and segmentation so you can reach them on the right channel at the right time. But it’s risky to make assumptions or rely on stereotypes—particularly those that are based on demographic information.

Instead, review the data from a different angle so you can recognize what makes your prospects and customers unique. Gather your cues from requests and purchasing behavior to make sure you’re addressing their specific needs.

Be fun, be real, be seamless—and lead with your company values

After the deprivations we’ve endured over the past year and a half, people are understandably hungry for fun. Digital outreach that is experiential and interactive is a good idea in this environment, and technology can help you be more conversational and responsive to customers and prospects.

Also, people are more interested in doing business with brands that align with their own values, so lead with your values in an authentic and relatable way. Meet customers where they are (email, text, social media, etc.), and make sure they get a seamless experience across every channel you use to communicate with them.

Don’t kid yourself—consent applies to you, too!

All human relationships between equals are based on consent, and that includes the relationship between B2B marketers and prospective or current customers. Use every opportunity to ask customers for permission to continue an open-ended conversation, and find out which channels they prefer to use.

If a customer reaches out for service or a prospect requests information, ask them to opt in for future conversations, and respect their preferences. People do business with people they trust. Getting customer consent and carrying on the conversation via their preferred platforms can help you build lifetime value and reduce churn.

Continuing Your Customer Connections

The pandemic dialed up the humanity and authenticity of communications with customers and prospective buyers. As the pandemic recedes, it’s important to not downgrade the connections marketers have built. Because customers drive interactions, we can’t reset the calendar to 2019, anyway. Changes in customer expectations are here to stay, which means hyper-personalized, thoughtful communication is table stakes.

Lead with the company’s values as professionals; give your current and prospective customers a reason to want to do business with your brand. Just as a customer service professional authentically connects with those who need help or support, marketers, too, can be their authentic selves and make conversations with B2B prospects and customers a fun and interactive experience.

It will be critical to build and maintain trust in a post-pandemic environment where digital outreach still dominates but the customer experience is more important than ever. Marketers can build trust by treating people with respect, which includes managing customer consent and communication preferences effectively.

B2B marketers who figure out how to do that will thrive not just this year, but in the years to come.

More Resources on Customer Expectations

Customer Journey Maps for Marketers: Understand and Exceed Expectations | MarketingProfs Master Class

Consumer Psychology: Five Tips for Creating Positive (and Reasonable) Expectations

The 4Es of Video: How to Align Your Marketing Content Strategy With Buyer Expectations

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Working From Bed: The State of Home Workspaces in 2021

Nearly two-thirds of people who are working from home say they have worked from their bed, according to recent research from CraftJack.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in June 2021 among 1,520 Americans who currently work entirely or primarily from home.

Some 65% of respondents say they have worked from their bed and 68% say they have worked from their couch.

Only 32% of remote workers say a dedicated home office is the space they work from of most often.

Some 91% of remote workers say they have made an effort to improve their home workspace during the pandemic: 57% say they have bought a chair and 51% sayi they have bought a desk.

How remote workers have improved their home workspaces

Some 64% of remote workers say they have made an effort to improve their background for video calls and 63% say they have spent money to improve how they look on video calls.

How remote workers have improved background for video calls

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey conducted in June 2021 among 1,520 Americans who currently work entirely or primarily from home.

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Voice-of-the-Customer Data: The Key to Human-Centered CX


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As more business goes digital, B2B companies are adopting B2C-style personalization strategies, and more business buyers expect consumer-style purchasing experiences. However, the requirements and strategies for B2B personalization differ from B2C personalization.

B2B personalization requires less personal information and more data about the customer’s role, business goals, and industry. B2B personalization also involves more refined segmentation than a typical B2C program, which is why many B2B marketers use account-based marketing (ABM) strategies to support their personalization programs.

  • Gartner describes ABM, which targets specific groups of company contacts with personalized marketing and sales messaging, as a way for B2B sellers to “execute personalization at scale.”
  • Nearly half (47%) of marketers surveyed by DemandGen said they use ABM to make sure they’re targeting the right stakeholders at companies they want to do business with.

That said, to be truly effective, B2B personalization and ABM programs need customer feedback—also referred to as voice-of-the-customer data—to create a human-centered customer experience (CX).

Human-centered CX can yield the kind of data that B2B companies need to achieve their ABM goals because it goes beyond site analytics and behavioral data to take the opinions and feedback of customers into account.

How can a human-centered CX strategy help your business?

A human-centered approach can help your company stand out and stay competitive.

There’s a growing emphasis on ABM strategies in B2B marketing: A full 61% of respondents to the previously cited DemandGen survey said they planned to spend more on ABM in the year ahead. B2B organizations will have to keep up with the improved CX that ABM, coupled with voice-of-the-customer data, can provide.

Voice-of-the-customer data can also help close the gap between customer expectations for personalization and the reality of what companies offer.

A whopping 85% of B2B customers said they expect sales reps to show that they understand their customers’ business, and nearly the same percentage (84%) said they are more likely to buy from companies that understand their customers’ business goals, Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Customer report found. However, 57% of those B2B buyers said sales reps frequently don’t understand their customers’ business.

Where can you get voice-of-the-customer data?

One of the most popular ways to collect voice-of-the-customer data is by conducting surveys that collect Net Promoter Score and other information via email, text, or website form. You can also run focus groups with customers to find out what they think of your CX, products, and service delivery, and what they need or want that you don’t offer yet.

Social listening tools can round up mentions of your brand and products by customers and prospects on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, reddit forums, blog posts, and review websites. That kind of feedback can help you understand customers’ pain points and get a sense of your brand’s reputation across social channels.

You can also collect and analyze the feedback customers share with your customer service and field service employees.

At the individual level, it’s important to have a process for employees to share what customers tell them. At the departmental or organizational level, speech analytics software can review word choices, tone, and emotion in customers’ speech when they call your service center, thus revealing customer satisfaction trends, problem areas, and potential solutions.

Finally, each one-on-one conversation your sales team has with customers can give you valuable insights into not only the customers’ business needs and goals but also their individual preferences in how they want to be contacted and how they prefer to make buying decisions, along with other details that can help you build a successful, highly targeted and empathetic ABM program.

How can you create human-centric B2B campaigns?

Using ABM, your marketing and sales teams can develop an ideal customer profile and use it to identify prospects that match it. From there, voice-of-customer data can help you understand what those prospective customers do, what their goals are, and what they need from vendors.

Then you can create improved individual experiences:

  • More effective email messaging: For example, in outreach to new B2B prospects, industry-specific personalization is more effective than company-specific personalization. B2B buyers expect vendors to be well-versed in their industry.
  • Smarter retargeting through social media and display ads: When you understand your prospects’ industry and specific goals, you can tailor your ads to fit the context of their needs and online activity.
  • Personalized website experiences: Customize landing pages for your ABM targets and display the most relevant products or services when those targets visit your sales portal.

* * *

Although personalization can give B2B buyers the B2C experience they want and ABM can help vendors deploy personalized strategies at a scale that makes sense for their sales goals, listening to customers and acting on the information they share leads to a human-centered experience.

By integrating voice-of-the-customer data into your ABM, you’ll start the conversations and build the relationships that lead to sales and growth.

More Resources on Voice-of-the-Customer Data

How to Use Voice of the Customer in B2B to Improve CX and Increase Engagement

Data Troubles: What If You’re Trying, But You Still Don’t Know Much About Your Customers

Qualitative Research: Even More Important in the Age of Big Data

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