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Gated Content vs. Ungated Content: When to Use Each

When building out a plan to grow your business through digital marketing, you’re going to need to include a way to capture leads once visitors land on your website. For better or worse, the internet is powered by a certain kind of digital currency. No, I’m not talking about Bitcoin, I’m talking about email.

Whenever you fill out a form on a website and give out your email address, you’re exchanging your email address for information. Your email address is the digital currency that allows you to transact with a website for educational content–this is how marketers generate leads online from website visitors. The content behind these forms are what marketers call gated content.

Watch On-demand: Check out this webinar to learn how you can implement content marketing into your strategy ➢

What is Gated Content?

Gated content is educational content that is so valuable to website visitors that they’re willing to give up their email address in order to get it.

Sounds like a good deal, right? If you give up your email address, you get a copy of an eBook for free. You get the eBook, and marketers gain the ability to contact you as well as learn more about you—your business, your goals, and your challenges. What could be the downside?

Search Engines and Gated Content

Unfortunately, gated content doesn’t help to drive search engine traffic as Google can’t crawl content that you’ve placed behind a form. Think Lord of the Rings, “You Shall Not Pass.” You’ve spent hours creating a great piece of content that your audience will love just to find out that it won’t help with SEO. So clearly we’ll have to make a tradeoff, right?

you shall not pass

While gated content is the lifeblood of inbound marketing, it does have its downside—Google can’t crawl content that is hidden behind your web form–I know, gasp! This is why they call it gated content. From Google’s perspective, this makes sense, if searchers aren’t able to find the content they’re looking for on Google, then it makes for a bad-user experience for searchers.

It reminds of my days doing research in college, I’d search for industry reports while doing market research, but would quickly find that the search results led me to pages that provided only a brief preview of the information I was looking for. To gain access to the full report, I’d need to pay for it.

Like most college students, I didn’t have $900 to shell out for secondary research data, so I found myself frustrated with the results and went back to the drawing board. Thankfully, there were tons of search results so after a few pages of clicking, I found the information I was looking for.

Related Post: How to Create Content That Sticks ➢

When Does It Make Sense to Use Gated Content?

While organic traffic to your website is great for your page views, it doesn’t help you understand who your visitors are or if they come back to engage in any of your other content.

Because of the vast amounts of information available on the internet, clients and candidates are more informed than ever before—typically viewing more than 5 pieces of content before making a buying decision. For better or worse, creating content that visitors want to engage in is the only way to generate and nurture leads from your website.

By creating gated content that your audience is interested in like salary guides, or how-tos, they’ll gain valuable information and insights from the content and you’ll be able to reach out to them in the future with updated information and new content—a win-win for both sides. But therein lies the problem, Google can’t crawl gated content, so we still need to provide content that is crawlable by Google to drive new traffic and help searchers find your website.

When to Use Ungated Content

Since search engines aren’t able to crawl your gated content, it can be a bit of a balancing act between when and when not to use gated content—the answer lies in your goals. If you need to drive more organic traffic to your website, then it doesn’t make sense to gate the content. This is why you don’t typically see company blogs, websites, or social media posts hidden behind a form—you want Google to bring you traffic, if Google can’t find you, you won’t benefit from search traffic.

Related Post: 5 Content Marketing Mistakes – That Give Competitors the Edge ➢

Can Gated Content Drive Organic Results?

If you notice your website is driving a lot of organic traffic, but you’re not getting enough leads from the content that you are creating, it is time to implement some longer-form pieces of content that will help your audience move further along in the buyer’s journey.

There is an exception to this rule, but it’s a bit trickier to pull off. In a recent study conducted by HubSpot, they found that gating html pages that are crawlable by Google actually increased organic traffic and conversion rates. Remember that gated content is important for generating leads, but typically does not benefit your organic traffic.

To learn more about how content marketing and when to use gated content to grow your business, check out our recent webinar recording.

Content Marketing Webinar

coworkers together on redesigning website plan

Redesigning Your Website? Why You Need to Work with an SEO Firm

Why Do I Need an SEO Firm?

When redesigning your website, it is vital to take SEO into consideration. If your website isn’t easy for Google to crawl, doesn’t provide a simple UX, and portray trust to your customers, no amount of keyword optimization or SEO magic is going to help you improve search engine rankings, grow your online presence or increase online leads/ revenue.

To ensure your new site will resonate with your targeted audience — and to save yourself from costly headaches down the road — SEO needs to be integrated into your website redesign strategy from the beginning.

SEO is not just about optimizing page titles and on-page content, it’s about all the factors that help you improve your search-engine rankings and online presence, and YOUR WEBSITE EXPERIENCE is #1.

You can partner with a website design/development agency, but without an experienced SEO company/specialist you’re going to have to make significant changes after your new website has been created.

What is SEO?

SEO is anything that impacts potential links, any input that engines use to rank pages. Anything that people or technology does to influence those ranking elements is what the practice of SEO is about.

– Rand Fishkin, Moz

Related Post: How Long Does it Take for SEO to Produce Results? ➢

Your Website Redesign & SEO

While you may want to try and save money by pausing your retainer with your SEO partner during your website redesign, you’re likely going to end up paying more in the long run because of the significant changes that will probably need to be made from a website UX perspective. Changes include: adding CTA’s, URL/folder structure, keyword optimized URLs, H1 vs H2 title tags, internal linking, content that builds trust with readers, etc.)

Myself, along with other digital marketing and SEO experts can’t emphasize enough the importance of incorporating SEO into the redesign of your website:

“If you don’t have SEO in mind from the initial strategy session, you’re going to lose what you took so much time and effort to build. Everything from the structure of your website to the meta description of your website pages is important and should be taken into consideration.”

-Laura Hogan, OverGo Studio

“All too often, when we’re brought in for SEO work on a redesign, it’s often late in the process, such as when the site is being coded or even totally complete. The advice that usually needs to be passed on at this point will most likely cost the company much more in design, coding, and more.”

-Jeff Ferguson, Fang Digital Marketing

Like many small-to-mid-sized business owners, you might wonder why your digital marketing firm is talking about your website’s UX. The overall design experience of your website, as well as its mobile friendliness, is a ranking factor for Google. Plus, in order for SEO and PPC to be effective in helping you grow your business and generate leads, your website has to provide a great UX to visitors and establish trust.

Related Post: Mobile Optimization vs. Mobile Friendly: What’s the Difference? ➢

 “SEO is neuropsychology. SEO is conversion rate optimization. SEO is social media. SEO is user experience and design. SEO is branding. SEO is analytics. SEO is product. SEO is advertising. SEO is public relations. The fill-in-the-blank is SEO if that blank is anything that affects any input directly or indirectly.”

 -Rand Fishkin, MOZ

Related Post: What is SEO? – Beyond the Keywords ➢

Isn’t My Website Good Enough?

‘Good Enough’ won’t cut it when it comes to your website’s UX

A few reasons why having a good UX matters:

  • A poorly designed website can impact the trust users have in your business.
  • A poorly designed website can deter visitors from buying your products or services.
  • A poorly designed website can impact if users will share your content.


If you choose to hire a web-design company or freelance designer for your small to mid-sized business, you should be sure to also choose an individual or SEO firm to partner with during the redesign process. They will help ensure SEO best practices will be properly integrated into your new website from the beginning. This will save you time, and money, down the road.

woman looking at iphone

Mobile Friendly vs. Mobile Optimization: What’s the Difference?

All mobile–optimized websites are mobile–friendly, but not all mobile–friendly websites are mobile–optimized.

The reality is: We have all been inundated with reasons and stats about why a mobile website is so important for the continued success of businesses. However, with all that information comes a lot of mobile-related terminology. But what does all that terminology mean and how does it impact your website? Terms such as mobile-ready, mobile-responsive, mobile-friendly, mobile-first, mobile-optimized, and more! Let’s take a look at each term one at a time.

Related Post: Understanding Your Company’s Digital Needs: Is It UX or Digital Marketing? ➢

Mobile-Friendly vs. Mobile Optimized

Mobile Friendly – Mobile-friendly is the bare minimum mobile design strategy you should have to engage your mobile visitors. While mobile-friendly websites will work for mobile users, these websites were designed for desktop users and are typically slimmed-down format of the desktop version.

A smaller version of your desktop website may fit in a smartphone screen and can be functional, but it’s not designed to maximize user experience, improve your rankings on Google, or convert mobile traffic into leads or purchases.

Mobile Optimized – A mobile-optimized website is designed and built using a mobile-first approach and will reformat itself for mobile users.

Mobile users navigate, read, and act differently on your website than users viewing the desktop version. So why wouldn’t you provide them with a different and mobile-optimized version of the site?

The goal of a mobile-optimized website is to make the website as frictionless as possible for the mobile user.

Mobile users are seeking the quickest, most efficient way to answer their questions. (i.e. do you sell x product? how much does it cost? Do you offer y service? Where are you located? Etc.)

Why do I need a Mobile Optimized Site?

The stats: Almost half of U.S. smartphone users are spending 5 hours per day on mobile devices, according to new data released by analytics firm Flurry. And “browsing the internet is amongst the most popular activities on smartphones”, according to Counterpoint a Technology Market Research Firm.

The frequency of mobile usage emphasizes the importance of mobile websites for businesses. For any business to be successful in today’s online (and predominately mobile) market, it’s vital to have a website that responds effortlessly on mobile devices and provides a seamless user experience.

It’s all about Google: Last October (2017), Google started rolling out its mobile-first index. This update means that Google will serve users different results on mobile than it does on desktop for the exact same search. Additionally, the update factors how a website performs on mobile devices before determining a websites placement within the search results.

In a nutshell, for businesses/organizations to continue prospering in the digital age, and for them to show up in search results, they need to have websites that maximize the mobile experience for users. Thus, building a website with a mobile-first approach is becoming more and more vital.

What can I do to Optimize my site for Mobile?

Design features of a mobile-optimized website can include:

  • Single column layout
  • Easy, simple navigation (that is “thumb” friendly with large touchpoints) especially for critical contact information
  • Reduced graphics that don’t interrupt the quest for critical information
  • Formatted content for maximum readability
  • Fewer number of features overall (minimalist, uncluttered design) (i.e. CTAs)

What about my Small Businesses Mobile Website?

As a small – mid-sized business should my company/ organization discuss a mobile optimized version of our website? Will investing in a mobile optimized website bring a measurable return?

These are excellent questions only you, or someone with access to your Google Analytics can provide. What percentage of your site visitors are on mobile devices? This should be one of the first things you look at, and can give you unparalleled insight as to whether or not you need a mobile optimized site.

If you’d like to learn more about your websites current performance and how you can improve the performance/ traffic coming to your site…feel free to reach out to us online!

Free Mobile Optimization Tools

To see how the mobile version of your website performs or to get ideas of how you can improve the performance of your mobile site, check out one of the FREE mobile website optimization tools below.

phone with Google search on the screen

Google Analytics 101

For a brand to succeed in today’s digital landscape saturated with competition, knowing their digital audience and how they react is a must. The best way to achieve this goal is through web analytics.

Web analytics can help any brand – big or small – understand how their audience enters and behaves on their site. Analyzing this data, brands can tailor a marketing strategy geared toward their audience, allowing them to achieve their specific business objectives.

Related Post: How to Build Your Brand Through Digital Marketing ➢

Google Analytics Interface

Once you select the desired site, you’ll land on the reporting dashboard, as seen in the snapshot below:

  1. Reports Menu: An Overview of the key categories of your Google Analytics report.
    The Google Analytics report is categorized into four main parts:
    Audience Report –> what are the characteristics of users visiting your site?
    Acquisition Report –> how do you acquire users? How many? From where?
    Behaviors Report –> how do users behave on your site?
    Conversion Report –> do users take a desired action on the site?
  2. Auxiliary Menu: Option to save, export data into a spreadsheet, share data and intelligence (insights from Google).
  3. Time-Period (Date Range): The date range selector is at the top right of every page. By default, Google Analytics will show data for the past 7 days. Click the arrow next to the existing date range to open the selector. Once you’ve selected a new date range, click “apply” to update your report.
  4. Graphs and Tables: This area will show graphs and tables of the metrics from the report you choose from the reports menu.

Now let’s break down the four main categories.


The audience report gives you a quick overview of your website’s overall performance, including the number of sessions, users (both new and returning), page views, average session duration, bounce rate, user locations, device information, and the operating system used by your users. Below are the most useful reports from the audience category:

Demographics: The demographics report will show the age and gender of users. This report is not enabled by default.

GEO: The GEO report will show traffic segmented by language or location (country, state, city).

Behavior > New and Returning Visitors: This report provides information about the total number of visitors your website receives and breaks it down further into new vs. returning visitors.

Technology > Browser and OS: This report provides information about what browsers and operating systems your site’s visitors have used.

Mobile > Overview: This report provides information regarding the device people have used to access your site (desktop vs. mobile vs. tablet).


Up next is an overview of your website’s top channels generating traffic. These include direct traffic, organic search, referral, social media, display advertising, email and paid search (i.e. AdWords). Below are the most useful reports from the Acquisition category:

Channels: This section provides information regarding the different traffic mediums such as organic, referral, paid, social and others. Which channel has the best conversion rate and why?

Referrals: The referrals report provides information about the segment of your web traffic that arrives through another source, such as a link on another website.

 AdWords: This report provides information about your current and past AdWords campaigns. What is your best performing campaign? Which campaign has the highest bounce rate?

Related Post: PPC vs. SEO: Which One Should I Focus On? ➢


What good are analytics if you can’t track behavior (still good, but that’s not the point)? Fortunately, that’s not a concern you’ll have because it just so happens to be that the behavior overview report reveals what pages people visit on your website and what actions they take while visiting. It also provides information about user behavior flow, pageviews, bounce and exit rates, page speed insight, site search, and events. Below are the most useful reports from the behavior category:

Behavior Flow: The behavior flow report visualizes the path user’s travel as they go from one page or event to the next. This report can help you discover what content keeps users engaged within your site, and also identify potential issues with content.

Site content > All Pages: This report provides information about what the most visited web pages of your website are. Are your most important pages being viewed?

Landing Pages: The landing page report provides information about the first page people visit when they land on your site. These pages (outside the homepage) are mostly reached via organic search. What is your most viewed landing pages and how can you mimic this success?

Exit Pages: The exit page report provides information about the last page people visit before they leave your site. Is the user getting stuck? Do these pages need calls to action to push the user further down the sales funnel?

Site Speed: The site speed report provides information about the time it takes for your site’s pages to load. It also provides suggestions you can make use of to improve your pages’ average load time.

Site Search: The site search report provides information about the search queries that visitors use to find products or pages on your site. Is there a common theme a new page or FAQ section can solve? Keep in mind that you’ll need to enable site search functions to make use of it.

Events: Events are user interactions with your site’s content. Events provide information regarding your visitors’ activities such as downloads, mobile ad clicks, gadgets, Flash elements, AJAX embedded elements, and video plays. We suggest events being set up via Google Tag Manager.


You can’t forget conversions. These include form filling, product sales, or any other activity that achieves a business objective. For monitoring purposes, the conversion goal overview report reveals the status and completion of goals. Each goal has to be manually set up.

Learn how Parqa can help positively impact your business’s online presence

Glossary of Terms

Session/traffic:: A session is when a user visits a website and spends time browsing through pages and then leaves.

Direct Traffic: visits from users who either type the URL in directly or reach the website via bookmarks. Links in work email will work as a bookmark link.

Organic Traffic: visits from organic searches (Google, Bing) and not from paid (ads).

Referral Traffic: visits from links on other sites.

Social Traffic: visits from known social websites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIN)

Email Traffic: visits from email with URLs tagged correctly with tracking parameters.

Pageviews: How many times a web page has been clicked on and loaded.

Unique pageview: aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session.

Unique visitor: This term refers to a user who visits your website more than once within a specific time period (e.g. a month).

Average session duration: The average time users spend on a page. Google Analytics measures this by calculating the time between one page being viewed and clicking on another page on your website. This means that if someone spends 20 minutes thoroughly reading a blog post and then leaves the site from that page, Google Analytics will not record that time.

Goal: Goals can be set up in Google Analytics to track conversions. They relate to a quantifiable action that your website visitors can take that you deem a success. For example, buying a product, signing up to your newsletter, or downloading a PDF are all goals.

Conversion: This is when a user does something that you want them to do (goal) such as purchasing a product, completing a contact form, etc.

Goal conversion rate: This is the percentage of visits on a site during which the user completes one of your goals (e.g. buying a product).

Bounce rate: Percentage of users who visit a page on your website and leave.

Custom reporting: Google Analytics has the option to create custom reports based on the metrics and dimensions you’ve selected. Custom reports present the information you have selected in a way that works for you.

Exit page: The last page a user views on your website.

Filters: A means of controlling or changing the data that appears.

Events: Events are user interactions with content that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load. Downloads, mobile ad clicks, gadgets, Flash elements, AJAX embedded elements, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to track as Events

Landing page: This is the page that users first see during their session, also known as an entrance page.

Percentage of new sessions: The percentage of overall users that were first time users to your site.

man reviewing a whiteboard

New Site Launch SEO Checklist


6 Step Pre-Launch Checklist

Keyword Content map

Before you go through your SEO checklist for your new site, make sure you map out the entire structure of your website in excel outlining the architecture of the website.

URL > Level of Depth > Keyword of Focus > Page Title > Meta Description

1. Accessibility

Can crawlers get to all pages. Screaming Frog is a great tool.

  • Duplicate Content?
  • Thin Content?
  • Broken Links?
  • Broken Pages?

Is content accessible to all browsers? Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari. Use a browser checker.

Do Pages load fast from everywhere? Google Speed Test.

Is the user experience (UX) enjoyable for everyone? Can ask family, friends, employees to conduct an informal usability test on the website. Five Second Test or UsabilityHub are great resources for formal testing.

2. Create a 301 redirect strategy

Create an index of top pages on the site.
Use analytics data to help develop a strategy for top content.
Determine if there will be new pages, where pages can be eliminated and what pages should be recreated.
Individually map old URLs to new URLs, organized by site architecture.
If a page is being eliminated, find the most relevant page for a 301 redirect.
This may be THE most important step in the entire redesign process in terms of retaining traffic and rankings.

3. Set Up Important Services and tracking

  • Google Search Console
  • Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Google Analytics
  • Raven / Moz / Hrefs / SEMRush
    • Track your rankings, set up regular crawls, find competitive opportunities, potential link-building opportunities etc.
  • Retargeting and Remarketing – Even if you don’t want to pay now and you’re not going to use any of the services, go ahead and put the retargeting pixels from at least Facebook and Google onto your website, on all of your pages, so that those audiences are accessible to you later on in the future.
  • Brand Alerts – The cheapest option is Google Alerts, which is free, but it’s not very good at all. If you’re using Moz Pro, there’s Fresh Web Explorer alerts, which is great. is also good.

4. Schema, Rich Snippets Opengraph etc.

After initial page optimization are there other content and image opportunities?
Rich Snippet opportunities?
Open Graph opportunities?
Resources available for Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing.

5. Benchmark current metrics 

Home Page Authority
Domain Authority
Number of pages indexed in Google


Launch Checklist:

Launch architecture audit 

  • Are pages properly 301 redirecting from 301 redirect strategy?

Try Gsitecrawler to check your server result codes.

  • Are titles, meta descriptions and H1s correct and unique?
  • Were Google and Bing Webmaster Tools installed properly?
  • Was Google Analytics (or another analytics software) installed properly?
  • Were passwords/noindex, nofollow and robots.txt disallow directives removed?
  • Are the new drop-downs crawlable? How about the rest of the content on the site?

(While there are many tools to check crawlability, you can use the Fetch and Render feature in Google Search Console.)

Annotate the site launch in analytics software

This will be a helpful note in the future as a benchmark for increases/decreases in traffic and conversions – an easy reference should anyone ever question why the site is doing so well all of a sudden!

Submit your new XML sitemap in Webmaster Tools

Related Post: How Long Does it Take for SEO to Produce Results? ➢


Post-Launch Checklist:

Number of pages indexed 

The number of pages indexed will likely drop off post-launch. Once 301s are picked up, this number should climb back up. Be sure to check that there aren’t duplicate pages being indexed either.

Should pages indexed remain low, something could be wrong with the implementation of 301s or crawlability of the new site. If duplicate content issues crop up, develop a plan to remove the duplicate pages either through 301s or the canonical tag.

Home Page PageRank, Home Page Page Authority & Domain Authority

HP PageRank, HP Page Authority and Domain Authority should remain constant throughout.

You won’t notice a drop in these metrics right away, as it will depend on Google and Moz updates, but a drop could indicate an internal linking issue page to the home page. Highly unlikely, but still good to monitor just in case.

Google Search Console Errors

GWT errors will begin to climb and then diminish as you assess and take care of them. Be sure to clean up 404 errors and 301 redirect them to the most appropriate pages. 404s are inevitable during a redesign, as it’s near impossible to catch every page on your website when planning you 301 strategy.


You will also see rankings take an initial dip while the engines are picking up your 301s and assessing the new pages. Rankings could be down for 1-3 weeks, possibly more, so plan a redesign during your slow season or low traffic period.

Analytics data – Learn more about Parqa’s Web Analytics & Reporting Services ⇾

Organic traffic per week –
This will drop and then return, but could indicate that you’re missing out on the long tail if you don’t see numbers return to normal.

Organic traffic post-launch compared to pre-launch –
Similar to monitoring rankings, you want to know how much traffic you’re missing out on and make sure it returns.

Top content driving traffic post-launch compared to pre-launch –
If you see that there is content that drove traffic and is now bouncing, you may want to consider adding this content back to the site.

Related Post: Understanding Your Company’s Digital Needs: Is It UX Or Digital Marketing? ➢


Next Steps:

Once the site launches, you should see traffic and rankings take an inevitable dip, as the above case study illustrates; however, within 2-4 weeks (depending on the crawl rate of your site), you should see everything return to normal. If traffic and rankings do not recover, walking backwards through the process should point you in the right direction and careful monitoring of the above metrics should help pinpoint where an issue may be.

Related Post: Top 5 Questions Business Owners Have About Digital Marketing ➢


modern office with coworkers communicating

Hire a Marketing Agency or Keep It In-House? What You Need to Know

In today’s marketplace, how you promote your business to the world is crucial. Where does one even start? There are a few different options on how to achieve a successfully marketed business – doing it yourself with the help of services like HubSpot or Hootsuite, hiring a single marketing professional to sit in-house, or hiring a marketing agency. How does one decide? What’s best for the business? Here’s a look into each of these options:


Doing it yourself:

Pro: This is the cheapest option – but without time or professional training in marketing this can quickly shift from a cost effective route to an expensive route. Running social media accounts and doing email marketing for small businesses is realistic, and having some presence is better than having no presence at all.

Con: They say time is money, when one spends time trying to market a business rather than recruiting or selling, then time isn’t being spent efficiently or within one’s wheel house. Taking on marketing while trying to juggle the rest of the work load will only lead to something falling through the cracks or not getting the attention it deserves.

Related Post: Top 5 Questions Business Owners Have About Digital Marketing ➢


Hiring a Marketing Professional:

Pro: Recent college graduates are a cost effective way of taking marketing in-house. Young, eager to work, and hungry, these young professionals bring enthusiasm and energy to your business. In-house marketers allow for streamlined processes and development of strategy along with having that “go-to” person on staff.

Con: Having a single staff member in-house handling marketing duties usually means a sacrifice in certain skill sets. An ideal marketing team is well versed in social media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay per click, email marketing, and writing. It’s difficult to find a person that is an expert in all these areas, and under most circumstances it’s far too much to ask of one individual to be the expert in all of these things. The workload could quickly overwhelm an employee leading to a high turnover rate.


Hire a Marketing Agency:

Pro: The right agency acts as a partner and has your company’s business objectives in mind. Working together as a team, the agency and your business can see results. An agency gives you access to all the facets of marketing needed in today’s competitive environment, from social media strategy and implementation to SEO and email marketing, an agency has a team waiting to work with businesses.

Con: Working with an agency could be more expensive than hiring one employee. An agency typically has a fewer number of hours to spend on your account when compared to hiring one employee or even doing it yourself in some cases. However, these fewer hours are spent more efficiently and with the proper topic expert, which you can’t guarantee with the other two solutions.

Related Post: 4 Ways to Build an Effective Relationship With Your Marketing Agency ➢


Which is right for you?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every business has different needs that warrant a different solution. Hiring an agency is a low-risk solution that alleviates the cons of going at it alone or hiring an in-house employee while providing all the benefits such as a team with diverse knowledge on all of today’s online marketing channels.


desk with paperclips pencil and coffee

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO: What’s the Difference?

The difference between Black Hat & White Hat SEO refers to the techniques used when trying to improve a website’s search engine ranking.

Black Hat SEO:

Focuses on utilizing techniques and strategies to deceive search engines into ranking their particular websites higher on search results.  It’s typically used by those looking to see immediate & quick results, rather than a long-term investment.  Often times Black hat SEO focuses on only search engines and not so much a human audience. Black Hat techniques that are seen as deceptive and violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines include:

  • Keyword Stuffing: “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.
  • Hidden Text: i.e. using white text on a white background, setting font size to 0, hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph, etc.
  • Link Farming: Links intended to manipulate PageRank1  or a site’s ranking in search results (i.e. buying or selling links that pass PageRank, excessive link exchanges (“Link to me & I’ll link to you”)
  • And More

While these techniques can provide quick and immediate SEO results – and may seem appealing in the short run -consequences can result in your site being banned from a search engine (most likely Google) and or ranking penalties.  This means people won’t be able to find your site organically, defeating any short lasted traffic/sales/leads you may have gained from Black Hat techniques.

“Black hat SEO focuses on search engines and not so much a human audience.”2

White Hat SEO:

White Hat techniques target human audiences rather than simply search engines.

Techniques and strategies typically utilized in White Hat SEO include: conducting keyword analysis and keyword research, rewriting meta/page titles and meta descriptions to speak more specifically about what the page is about, writing and creating quality content for HUMAN READERS, internal backlinking and natural link building, just to name a few.  However, probably the most important White Hat SEO technique is creating quality content.

White Hat SEO is a long-term investment and takes time to build and see ROI, however the pro is that the results last a long time.

Related Post: How Long Does it Take for SEO to Produce Results? ➢

“Creating quality content may be time consuming, but it will be well worth it in the long run. […] The more content-rich your site is, the more valuable it will appear to the search engines and human visitors/ customers/ clients.”

Related Posts:

1 PageRank – (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results, and is a way of measuring the importance of website pages. IT IS NOT THE ONLY ALGORITHM USED BY GOOGLE to order search results

2 & 3 Quoted from Unamo University – online marketing resource center

marketing strategy plan on desk

6 Signs You Need a Content Marketing Strategy

You’re a smart, experienced individual who understands the value of marketing; you’ve put in the time to blog, post on social, send emails, and help your team become thought leaders, yet your digital marketing efforts aren’t moving the dial. So why aren’t you getting the results you had been promised by digital marketing? The reality is that without a solid strategy in place, digital marketing becomes mere trial and error. You can’t reap the benefits of digital marketing by aimlessly churning out content without a solid strategy. To benefit from content and get results, you have to do it right; otherwise it can work against you and give your competitors the edge.

Related Post: 4 Ways to Make Your Content Strategy More Authentic ➢

Here are six signs you need to create a content strategy before you do any digital marketing. If you’re doing any of the following, it’s time to strategize.

1. Posting Random Content/Making It Up As You Go

Working as a digital marketer for the past few years has taught me that if you are coming into the office and creating your topic on the fly, you’ve already lost. It’s easy to fall into that trap—we’ve all done it—but carving out some time at the beginning of your content journey will save you countless hours and dollars down the line. You wouldn’t jump into a car and head out on a road trip without looking at a map would you? You’ll run out of gas before you get there, or worse, you’ll get so lost, you’ll give up on trying to find your destination. To avoid scrambling to find new ideas each month, you need a content calendar and schedule of ideas planned out in advance. Which brings me to the second sign you’re in need of a content strategy…

2. Posting Inconsistently

There are many symptoms of purposeless content, but the biggest tell is not publishing consistently. Business owners are very busy and when it comes to posting content, let’s face it, it seems like a great idea in the moment, but then that conference comes up, or a new sales lead often takes priority. Publishing content consistently takes more than just sticking to a strict regimen of pushing out content; it takes a well-thought-out plan and resources put in place to stick to that plan.

3. Your Content Efforts Aren’t Generating Leads

This one is pretty simple. If you’re making a lot of noise with your content, but you aren’t generating any solid leads or sales from that content, then it’s time to take a look at the kind of traffic you are driving. Remember, 97% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy, so it’s not enough to just get them to notice your content, you need to have a strategy behind that content to make sure that it’s as effective as it can be.

4. You’re Not Offering Rich Content

Blogging and posting to social media sites is a great way to generate traffic, but once a visitor comes to your site, how do you turn them into a lead without providing some sort of content like an eBook, webinar, checklist, etc. By providing rich content that your visitors find valuable, you are helping build trust with your visitors, positioning yourself as a consultative leader, and helping them through the buyer’s journey. In an age where “everything is online” and buyers are more informed than ever, it’s critical that you include rich content offers in your content strategy.

5. Your Content Isn’t Resonating With Your Audience

This type of marketing doesn’t motivate your reader to do anything. Content has emerged as one of the most effective ways to build your business’s brand and voice. But if you want your content to be effective, you need to understand what your potential customers are feeling and how they want to feel. Essentially, you have to appeal to the emotion of your prospects, not just the logic of what you do. If you’re in a rut and not seeing results from your content, it’s time to get back to the human element of what you do and make an emotional connection.

6. Your Marketing and Sales Goals Aren’t Aligned, or Worse, You Don’t Have Marketing Goals

Businesses with highly aligned sales and marketing teams achieve an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth. There’s no doubt that content can boost your brand awareness and improve public sentiment towards your company and its product or service offerings. But if you’re not tying content efforts back to sales and revenue, it can be difficult to motivate your team members to invest the proper amount of effort into content. Without a content strategy to align your marketing and sales efforts, it will be difficult to understand the ROI of your content. To know if you’re getting a return on your content investment, you need to figure out how much you’re affecting the business’ bottom line.

Related Post: How to Create Content that Sticks ➢


Above all, my point is that there’s truly no shortcut to building out your marketing funnel, growing your traffic, and generating leads from your website. Simply pushing out content without a plan is not enough and, unfortunately, can actually work against you if customers walk away with a bad taste in their mouth after reading it. With thousands of businesses out there vying for recognition and attention online, building awareness and customer loyalty through meaningful engagement is key to getting noticed. Quality content creation lies at the heart of these efforts. At Parqa, our inbound marketing approach aligns your business and marketing goals so that you can convert more prospects into customers and grow your business online.

man on Google Analytics

How Long Does It Take for SEO to Produce Results?

When it comes to digital marketing, people ask me this question a lot: “how long will it take for SEO to produce results?” No matter what industry your business is in—whether your company is looking to create or improve their digital presence—this is an all too familiar question that everyone wants to know the answer to. Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple.

Over the past decade, SEO has evolved significantly. It now better reflects a website’s overall quality and the relevance of user’s searches, while simultaneously penalizing websites that utilize older, black hat SEO tactics that used to provide quick results—for example, low-quality link building or keyword stuffing.

Nowadays, the success of your online campaigns and the time it takes to see results can vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • The size of your SEO project(s)
  • How long your website has been around
  • If you’re currently involved in any SEO efforts
  • How much content is on your website
  • What market you’re targeting (and its saturation/ competition)
  • And most importantly: what your ultimate goal is

With so many factors at play, you need to look at SEO as an investment—not a short-term quick fix.

“SEO that generates results for your business is not a strategy that can come to fruition overnight, despite what many SEO firms and specialists may claim.”

Producing quality results takes time. SEO should be considered a long-term marketing strategy that requires thoughtful planning, cross-departmental cooperation, and a results-driven approach.

With that being said, there is a plausible scenario for what your SEO efforts might look like during the initial months and the results you might expect from its implementation.

Related Post: What is SEO? – Beyond the Keywords ➢

Initial Steps—Planning the SEO Strategy (0-2 Months)

These first few months are mostly dedicated to planning, and it’s unlikely you’ll begin achieving any noticeable results to your SEO rankings or bottom line. Depending on the size of your business, this stage can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete. This planning process includes:

  • researching relevant keywords
  • benchmarking your competitors (keywords, traffic, site performance, and online marketing initiatives)
  • auditing the performance of and content on your existing website
  • getting a better understanding of your ultimate goals

SEO Strategy Implementation (3+ Months)

After the planning process, the next step is to begin the implementation. This stage has an open-ended timeline as SEO is an ever-changing strategy that requires constant monitoring and optimization of content. As your SEO strategy matures, revisions and corrections may be needed to accommodate for new opportunities.

Stage 1 Addressing technical site & SEO issues

During this time you’ll be working on fixing the technical issues on your site that affect your search engine ranking.

Stage 2 Begin execution of long-term content marketing strategy

This includes blogging, writing, and optimizing content for product category pages, and service pages (what we call ‘$$$ pages’). A strong content strategy is likely one of the most important elements to include in your SEO efforts as it can help drive your website to the top of search engine rankings.

NOTE: You may start seeing an increase in traffic within a few weeks of publishing great content, but remember that SEO is an ongoing approach.

Related Post: SEO vs. PPC: Which One Should I Focus On? ➢

Realistic Timeline for SEO Results (7-12 Months)

While your keywords will likely start performing better prior to the 7-month mark, in all reality, 7-12 months is likely how long it will take before you start experiencing any impactful results from your SEO efforts. Google and other search engines have gotten smarter over the past few years, and they can no longer be tricked by content that’s stuffed with keywords or doesn’t make sense. Google is looking not only at your content, but also at your reputation. Is what you’re saying reputable? Do you have a history of great content? Do you have high-quality links? The more of these questions you can answer “yes” to, the better your search ranking.

Why Partner With an SEO Firm?

While you can’t take shortcuts on your way to profitable SEO, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. If you want to go about SEO the right way and potentially see results more quickly, it’s smart to partner with an SEO firm. The best SEO companies will save you months of research and implementation time by using their industry experience and expertise. Many times an SEO firm will have worked with a similar client in your industry and can leverage that experience to deliver better results for you. They can also give you a clear timeline on when you should see specific results and how they’ll deliver those results.

SEO: A Long-Term Marketing Tactic with Strong ROI Potential

It’s easy to get impatient when it comes to SEO, but success by any standard will rarely come within the first three months. If you quit after just a few months because you’re not seeing results that justify the cost, you’ve essentially just thrown away your money due to unrealistic expectations. SEO is a long-term investment—one that requires at least a budget for 6-12 months. But if you give it enough time, it’s one of the smartest long-term marketing strategies around for growing your business. Partnering with an SEO firm can help you develop a realistic timeline and see solid results that deliver a strong ROI in the long-term.

Related Post: Top 5 Questions Business Owners Have About Digital Marketing ➢

two women smiling while working

Are You Sharing Your Niche Industry Insights With Future Clients and Candidates?

When you’re a staffing firm business owner or executive recruiter, you have gained an indescribable amount of knowledge in your area of expertise. You might think of your area of expertise as “recruiting,” but if you’re a specialized recruiting firm, or run a specialized desk, your expertise goes far beyond the realm of recruiting, and into that of whatever industry you recruit within. If you’re a life sciences recruiter, you know more about life sciences than most simply because you spend all day talking to companies seeking talent and candidates within the life sciences industry.

Here’s an example. One of Versique’s recruiters specializes in demand generation recruiting…it’s a highly specialized form of digital marketing, and because he’s constantly having conversations with people in this space, he’s become a subject matter expert in his arena. So what does this provide him with? It gives him the ability to have insightful and beneficial conversations with his clients and candidates…and also those he wants to have as clients and candidates.

I challenge you to think about what areas you are a subject matter expert within.

Literally, take 10 seconds right now and think through the different topics you could speak intelligently about that would hold the interest of your future clients and candidates. Now, what can you do with that knowledge that will attract qualified client (and candidate) conversations to you?

Blog. Post it to your website. Post it to your social media (yes, even if you only use Linkedin—that’s one of the best platforms to attract business clients). Send an email out to people you want to do business with in the future.

There are all sorts of fancy ways to do all of this, too—from content calendars to social media scheduling…but that takes time, and you don’t have time. So then what? Do you put the idea away, chalk it up as something you’ll do when you have more time?

Just start somewhere.

It doesn’t have to be epic. It doesn’t have to have a set process. It just needs to be relevant, and it just needs to reach your audience. Thankfully you’re in the business of selling—selling great companies to top candidates, and selling top candidates to great companies. Now it’s time to sell YOU. Just start with an idea…

Need help taking your content creation to the next level, and implementing a process that will increase visits to your website? Contact Us to start the conversation. It’s less costly than you might think, and it brings amazing credibility and inbound traffic to your business. If you could bring in clients without pounding the phones, would you?

Let’s start the conversation.

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