This is a guest post from Jaren Nichols, Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks, online accounting software for small businesses. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Growth and marketing work together, but are not the same. Especially with the popularity of “growth hacking,” there has been some confusion about how marketing and growth strategies work. The truth is, growth and marketing are different, but they are working towards the same goal.
Moving through the Funnel
Consider the marketing funnel.
In order for someone to discover your product, you need to create awareness. No one will be able to make a purchase from you, if they do not know you exist.
Your initial marketing techniques make it easier for a prospect to find you and start their journey through the funnel. However, the very shape of the funnel implies that not everyone who takes the bait will make it all the way down to the narrow stem.
We all know that not everyone who hears about you will become a customer. But, if they have heard of you, then inbound marketing has done its job.
Of course, the work of marketing is not finished yet.
Aside from inbound marketing, there are important tools like content marketing and product demos that help persuade your potential customer to purchase. But here in the middle of the funnel, growth serves a better purpose.
Narrowing your Vision
Marketers and growth marketers have a different focus. Growth “hackers” don’t replace marketers, they just play separate roles at separate points in the purchasing process.
As explained, the job of the marketer is to bring awareness to as many people as possible. This is how you get the word out—marketing sees everyone.
Growth, on the other hand, doesn’t see everyone. Growth only cares about the people who are already in the funnel moving towards a purchase.
This is one of the key differences between marketing and growth. Marketing has broader vision, while growth is more narrow.
Monitoring growth—and using these tests and feedback to inform product improvement—is how you improve marketing strategies and help your potential customer move further into consideration and closer to loyalty.
Growth is all about tracking tiny differences in customer engagement and product satisfaction—and then doing something about it.
In the growth stage of marketing, A/B testing and technical experimentation are key. Compare web page formats, test ad copy, vary your welcome email and then track consumer response. A 1-2% difference in customer engagement should matter to you. Take advantage of any positive increase and implement those changes immediately.
Growth transforms your business using unconventional marketing strategies and out-of-the-box marketing experiments. Most of the time, you are inventing these strategies for yourself. While you can google “growth hacking strategies,” you are more likely to find the returns you’re looking for when you take a risk. Know that sometimes this risk-taking will fail or will only work for a short amount of time.
This kind of risk-taking & adjustment-making is what distinguishes growth from marketing. Both marketing and growth care about conversion, but growth is willing to do a lot of trial-and-error to make those conversions happen.
Specifically when looking at inbound marketing and growth hacking (the two variants of each category that tend to be the most confused and interchanged), we see differences in time frame.
Inbound marketing strategies take time to establish and see returns in the long-term. Growth hacking, on the other hand, implements quick, short-term strategies that will bring returns in the immediate future.
The trial-and-error strategies you’ve employed should be tracked and changed quickly. Try a new, improved, innovative strategy each time—keeping what works and quickly ditching what doesn’t.
Growth keeps moving forward at lightning speed, evaluating errors and moving to alternate ideas. Marketing is slow-and-steady, but still does it’s job.
Growth is a sprint, while marketing is a marathon.
Growth Aids Startups
Another difference between growth and marketing is that they don’t always apply to the same businesses. For example, early in the life of a startup, the broad focus of a traditional marketer may not be useful. Since the thing startups care most about is growth, a marketer may not be necessary.
As a startup, our company depends on growth strategies, more than we depend on marketing. We do still have marketing strategies in place.
Most recently, we sent out a survey on recent tax cuts and used the results to create a blog post that increased general awareness for our brand. While this kind of marketing still works, we have employed more hyper-focused strategies in order to improve growth.
One example of a growth strategy we’ve employed is an A/B test at the bottom of the funnel — the step just before conversion to a paid plan for our software. The test we ran helped us determine whether it was more effective to ask a user for their credit card before or after they a 30-day free trial.
As a quick aside — there’s lots of free advice out there on this exact question, but remember that your product, like ours, is unique. Even if you find statistics that point you one way or the other, that type of science has its limitations — as useful as averages are, they don’t represent your unique product and circumstance.
We divided up traffic randomly, requiring some people to add their credit card before the free trial and some people to add it afterwards.
We ran the experiment for about two months, making sure that we saw the entire journey a couple times through, and using statistical analysis software (MixPanel and Google Optimize, in this case) to help us determine at what point our results were statistically significant.
Remember to expect and build in the cost of some technical challenges when you run your own experiments — for example, to truly divide traffic we had to present a different experience across both our marketing website and inside our app (each of which run on different tech stacks on different servers), and that experience had to be consistent based on if the user saw the A or B version.
That took some fairly sophisticated technical setup, but was worth it to know that we were gathering truly valuable data.
It turned out, that for us, getting the credit card information after the trial actually had higher conversion overall.
Again, remember, that was the result for us! In order to know what works for your product, in your market, you’ll need to run your own experiments.
Better Product = Better Growth
One thing that marketing and growth have in common is that they both depend on a quality product to succeed. There is no way to hack growth for a bad product.
To improve quickly, you should invite feedback from the minute you start production and then, implement those changes right away. Create something unique, intelligent and powerful—growth will happen and marketing will succeed.
Remember, marketing and growth should be working hand-in-hand to your benefit. They are different, but when used well, they build on each other. Marketing is the foundation, and growth allows you to get the most out of it.
If you’re part of the world of SEO marketing, you probably know about anchor text. Anchor text is crucial for effective SEO and content marketing.
But recent changes have made the anchor text game more complicated than it once was. Over the past several years, Google updates have changed the best ways to use anchor text.
Using a good anchor text strategy is critical to getting the most out of your website and having an effective online presence.
Let’s talk about what you need to know to take advantage of modern anchor text.
What is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the text in a link that you can see and click on.
So for example, this is the anchor text for the url https://www.gingermarketinghq.com/. When you highlight a word or phrase and click “add hyperlink” in a word processor, the word or phrase that you’ve highlighted is the anchor text.
Pretty simple, right? But why does it matter?
Simply put, anchor text still plays an important role in SEO and has an effect on where your website will show up in search rankings.
Most people will click on one of the first few Google results, so of course you want your website to appear near the top whenever possible.
Since part of Google’s algorithm involves backlinks, using anchor text effectively will help with that goal.
How has Anchor Text changed?
Once upon a time, building anchor text was easy. All you had to do was pick a keyword and make sure that your anchor text linked to your website. Even if you used exact match for all your anchor links, you would still show up high in search results.
Simple and effective.
However, that all changed with the 2012 Penguin update. Google caught on to people over-using anchor links and artificially link building.
In this case, over-doing optimization actually backfired in some cases. If all of your anchor links used the same word or phrase, you could now be penalized.
There was a period of time when SEO's became overly cautious, worried about using any anchor text at all for fear of a penalty.
But, many now agree that it is still an important part of SEO and can't be ignored. The only thing that has changed is that we have to be a bit more varied with the anchor text we use.
So, what to do?
Using anchor text effectively in 2018 & 19 means avoiding the use of keywords exclusively. Nowadays, you will need a mixture of different anchor texts types to avoid being penalized.
One of the safest and most effective types of anchor text currently is branded anchor text. This is especially popular with big companies, and will be discussed below along with the other types of anchor text.
Categories of Anchor Text
There are many different types of anchor text. Incorporating anchor text from these different categories will allow you to avoid being penalized in the search results. These are the categories you need to know.
There are a few key categories in this graphic - then read on to discover them all!
The 12 Categories Of Anchor Text
1. Keyword – This anchor text is an exact match for one of your keywords or phrases. This was the sort of anchor text that worked so perfectly before the 2012 Penguin update. For example, if you wanted to show up when people searched for “guest posting” you would use that phrase as your anchor text.
2. Page Title – This anchor text is usually a blog post title. It might also be the actual SEO title. You can link to another page on your site this way.
3. Keyword Plus – This anchor includes one of your main key phrases plus other non-keyword phrases with it. For example, ie “this guest posting article here” where “guest posting” is the main key phrase you’re incorporating.
4. Brand Plus Keyword – This anchor is similar to keyword plus, but includes your brand name in addition to the keyword rather than simply a random non-keyword phrase. So it could be “ginger marketing link building service” where Ginger Marketing is the brand.
5. Partial Keyword – This anchor contains just a part of your key phrase. If your key phrase is “link building”, a partial keyword anchor could be “if you’re building”.
6. Brand – This is just your brand name as the anchor text. This one is quite important and popular with big brands. If your brand goes by a few different names, like “Ginger Marketing” and “GM”, both of those phrases would count as brand anchor words.
7. Natural – This anchor has no reference to any keywords or brand. These are often calling for readers to click that link for a particular reason. This is commonly something like “click here” or “this post”.
8. Full URL – This anchor is the full URL of the page being linked to as the anchor. For example, “https://www.gingermarketinghq.com/”.
9. WebsiteName.com – This anchor is similar to the full URL without the “http://www.”. It is your URL written in this format: “gingermarketinghq.com”.
10. Home URL – This anchor occurs on inner pages. For these, even though the link points to an inner page the home URL is the anchor text. So the actual text the reader sees is the URL for the homepage of the website, but when they click on it they are directed to an inner page, like a blog post.
11. No Text – This anchor is commonly associated with image links that have no alt text. Lots of big brand are using this method. Instead of having a keyword or phrase, the link is through an image.
12. URL with www’s – This anchor is the URL written without http://. It would look like “www.gingermarketinghq.com”. This is the version of the URL that most people naturally type in to their web browser.
Optimum Anchor Ratios
Effective use of anchor text for SEO does not stop with knowledge of the different categories. You’ll need to decide what percentage of the different types you’re going to use.
Just like modern anchor text won’t be effective if it’s all keywords, it’s best not to make all of your anchor text any one category. Rather, you can use a range of categories, with emphasis on Brand, Natural, and URL Anchor.
Here is an example of what the anchor text profile for a homepage should look like.
● 80%-95% of your links should fall in the Brand, Natural and URL Anchor category. If that seems like a lot, it’s because those are the categories that are most important for high search engine ranking.
● Up to 10% of your links should fall in the Key Phrases Mixed Into Anchor category. While they’re no longer the end all be all, key phrases can still be helpful.
● Up to 5% of your links should fall in the Exact Match Anchor category.
Following this breakdown will get you effective SEO for your homepage.
This profile is not the same across the board, however. The strategy for an inner page should be different.
Here’s the breakdown for an inner page.
● 35%-45% of your links should fall in the Brand, Natural and URL Anchor category. Notice that that’s significantly different from what you want a homepage to look like.
● 40%-50% of your links should fall in the Key Phrases Mixed Into Anchor category.
● Up to 20% of your links should fall in the Exact Match Anchor category.
To help you further with your anchor text, try using this anchor text suggestion tool by Linkio for anchor text tailored to your brand and the type of page you are building.
5 Step Anchor Text Audit And Actions
Keeping up with anchor text is an important step for SEO. As search engine algorithms continue to advance-- and with them, best practices for anchor text-- it may be time for a self audit to make sure that your website is using anchor text to its best effect.
Good use of anchor text can make or break search engine rankings and, with them, the success of a website. Read below for 5 steps to identify the split of anchor text categories for both a homepage and an inner page, plus how to easily improve your anchor text profile.
1. Brush up on the anchor text categories
Anchor text is the clickable text that links to another webpage. To use anchor text effectively, it’s important to be familiar with the different categories of anchor text.
Although there are many categories, the big ones we’ll be discussing are:
Brand- the anchor text is the name of your brand or company
Natural- the anchor text is incorporate into the normal flow of the article, usually included in a call to action like “click here”
URL- the actual URL is written into the article, so the reader clicks on the exact URL they’ll be directed to
Exact Match- the anchor text is the exact keyword or key phrase that you want to incorporate, for example “anchor text audit”
Key Phrases Mixed into Anchor- the anchor text uses key words or phrases like the previous category, but incorporates them into longer phrases, for example “an anchor text audit is important”
2. Take stock of the anchor text on the current page
Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll want to take stock of what anchor text you’re using now, and what categories it falls into. You can do this by simply reading through the page you’re wanting to audit, or by using an SEO tool like Moz or Cognitive SEO.
3. Know the most effective split
Now you know what your page looks like currently, but how should it look ideally?
For a homepage, you want 80-95% of your links to be Brand, Natural, and/or URL. Then up to 10% should be Key Phrases Mixed into Anchor and finally up to 5% should be Exact Match.
For an inner page, you’ll want 35-45% Brand, Natural, and/or URL with 40-50% being Key Phrases Mixed into Anchor. Then you can have up to 20% be Exact Match.
4. Use a Generator
Onwards and upwards! Now it’s time to think about how you can put your newfound knowledge to use in order to optimize your anchor text.
For inspiration that’s specific to your brand and the type of page you’re working on, consider using an anchor text suggestion tool like this one from Linkio.
Although of course not all of your anchor text should involve a key phrase, for the percentage of it that does it’s still important to use the best keywords for your website.
5. Make a Change
You’ve got the knowledge, the know-how, and even some fresh keywords and phrases to work with. Put all that to use as you make a change to your existing anchor text.
If you’re focusing on editing an existing website, resist the temptation to edit the exact match keywords first. While important, your first priority should be on branding.
Focus on getting your brand anchor text incorporated first, along with the natural and URL anchor text. Then follow up with some edits to the keywords. This will help prevent overemphasis on keywords, which can negatively affect search engine rankings.
Good luck! And let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Director Of Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)