Content Retargeting: A Marketer’s Guide to Getting Started


Retargeting is a paid search marketing strategy whereby website visitors are identified and remarketed to using search or social media ads. In other words, retargeting is a way to reach specific audiences who’ve already shown interest in your business. As online marketing methods converge and we find new and creative ways to stay connected with our audience, retargeting is something every content marketer should do.

SEO has always been an effective lead generation tool for my company, though we identified a need to better connect with the website visitors we were drawing in. The WordStream blog has about half a million visitors each month and has seen a compound monthly growth rate of 8.4% over the last six years, so we certainly weren’t hurting for traffic! A few years ago, however, we noticed a few problematic issues:

  • Low visitor engagement, demonstrated by metrics showing just 1.9 pages per visit, average visit duration of a paltry 1 minute and 34 seconds, and an incredibly high new visitor ratio of 79.2%.
  • Very low conversion rate (under 2%).
  • Too few branded searches — in fact, only 3% of our site visitors were explicitly looking for our brand.

Our issues were not really all that unique — data from Forrester shows that96% of website visitors just don’t convert to a lead or sale. So how do you recapture the interest of these previous visitors and continue to nurture them?

For us, the answer was retargeting.

The Retargeting Process

Basically, site visitors are tagged, then targeted with banner ads for a specific period of time on other websites. These ads might appear on Facebook, Google’s search results pages, or any website that is part of the advertising network in which you participate.


This is a great chance to get back in front of people who have already expressed an interest in your content, with messaging that reflects this familiarity with your brand. Retargeting can help you to:

  • Reconnect with people who bounced from your site or even abandoned a cart.
  • Increase brand recognition and recall.
  • Encourage repeat site visits and boost engagement.
  • Increase the effectiveness of your SEO and content marketing tactics.

We chose the Google Display Network for our retargeting campaigns, simply because of the massive network size.

With over 2 million sites in its network plus AdMob mobile targeting, Google’s network is unrivaled in sheer size and scope. In fact, the average marketer using Google’s Display Network for retargeting is able to connect with 84% of the people tagged, 10-18 times per month.

Getting Started With Retargeting

Inbound marketers inherently understand audiences — which is critical to your success in retargeting. Creating different audiences allows you to adjust your bidding strategy and ads for the different types of people you want to reconnect with.


At WordStream, we first identified a few key segments (as shown above):

  • People who visited our blog
  • People who visited our homepage
  • People who visited one of our free tools
  • People who visited anywhere else on our site

It’s safe to assume that on their first visit, these people were looking for different types of information. Why would we now assume they’re all the same and one type of message will draw them all back in?

Audience segmentation also allowed us to bid with various levels of aggression, depending on what we knew about the level of intent of each type of visitor.

For example, a person who used our AdWords Grader tool shows far greater intent as a business lead than a person who read a post on our blog — in the former case, we know for sure they are a) using AdWords and b) looking for help.

Next, you need to decide how long you want to remarket to these people. We initially went with a period of 30-60 days, which some might consider a bit overboard. We tested, though, and that was what worked for our campaign.

Retargeting Tips and Takeaways for Marketers

By now, I hope you understand the “what” and the “why” of retargeting for marketers. Now, how do you go about optimizing a campaign? Well, there’s a handful of ways you can do this:

  • Use ad formats that accomplish two important things: Drive a call-to-action and improve brand recall through creative branding and images.
  • Keep A/B testing with different ad creative to find the most memorable copy and image combos that drive the greatest CTR (aim for 0.4% or higher).
  • Leverage the data you already have at your disposal for more precise targeting (i.e. blog category visitors). You can tell which information category interested a group of visitors, so use that insight to target them with relevant ads.
  • Allocate your budget to retargeting. I actually think it’s kind of crazy to spend the kind of money we do on SEO and content marketing without then retargeting! You might not capture their undivided interest the first time, but you maximize the value of each marketing tactic when you are able to bring a visitor back.
  • Test, test, test, and measure. Understand which metrics matter to your brand before you set out on your remarketing journey, so you’re able to clearly and accurately gauge campaign performance as you go.

Retargeting has been an incredible tool for us — within 20 months, WordStream saw:

  • A 50% increase in repeat site visitors.
  • A 300% increase in engagement (as measured by time on site, which is now approaching 5 minutes per visit!).
  • A 51% increase in website visitor-to-lead-form-submitted conversions.

So marketers: Are you using remarketing to market the content that you produce? Why or why not? If you have tried it, were the results? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


SEO 101: The 5 Parts of Your Site You Should Keyword Optimize

Sketch netbook computer screen business concept with seo word

SEO can sometimes feel like it stands for “Something Extremely Obscure,” especially for busy marketers who just don’t have the time to sit down and figure it all out. There are endlessGoogle algorithm updates to stay on top of to ensure we’re always showing up in search results for our target keywords, but as marketers, we don’t always have time to keep up with those ever-changing rules.

But there’s good news! There’s one simple rule of thumb that remains a tried-and-tested technique for SEO success: optimizing your website with relevant and targeted keywords. By having a well-optimized site, you’ll start to see results like an improved quality of visitor, higher conversion rates, and in the end — more closed customers.

My colleague Rachel Sprung wrote an awesome blog post recently about how to research what keywords you should be using in your inbound marketing, which is a great place to start. For this article, I’m going to talk about how to add those keywords to your website once your research is complete. This article is appropriate for anyone just getting started with SEO, or adjusting their keyword strategy.

Start With a Site Audit

Once you’ve identified the keywords you’re going to target, you need to start adding them to your site. The methodology I’m outlining is one to keep with you as you add new site content in the future — but is also good for a one-time SEO overhaul.

The first step in this process is to identify which pages should target which phrases. This is a good time to do an audit of your site pages, which will surface any other issues you may have, like duplicate content. (You can learn more about why duplicate content is bad for your SEO and how to fix it in ourSEO video tip series here. The experts over at Dejan SEO will bring you through the steps of performing your own SEO site audit.) But if you’re looking for the quick and dirty, here’s what you can do:

  • Export all your site pages into an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Sort by the most frequently visited pages.
  • Decide which keyword category each one falls into, and add that category into a column beside the page name.
  • Add another column in your spreadsheet to add more specific keywords that you want to add to that page. Keep in mind that they must be relevant to the content on that page, as well as terms your target audience would be searching for.

Here’s an example of what this might look like:


Once you’ve completed this process for all of your pages — or at least the most important ones if you have a ton of pages — you can jump into your site to start adding keywords.

Start Adding Keywords to Your Site

When optimizing your site for new keywords, you need to include those keywords on your site. (Duh, right?) Here are some of the most important places to optimize for your chosen keywords on your site:

  • Titles
  • Descriptions
  • Headings and Content
  • Image file names
  • URLs

If you haven’t optimized these sections of your site in the past, you have some work to do — but make your life easier by starting on the pages that get the most traffic. Then, as you create more pages, be sure to optimize as you go.


Titles are shown in the browser tab and search results, and have a direct impact on searcher clickthrough rates (CTRs) and search rankings. When writing a title, try to keep it below about 65 characters, and include one of your target keywords or phrases so it’s easier for searchers to identify that your results are relevant to other query.


Descriptions are also shown in search results and can help increase CTR — but remember that nowadays, they don’t have a direct impact on rankings. They exist to tell searchers why they should click on your result. Use one of your target keywords or phrases in your meta description so they know your content is relevant to their query, but make it attractive to the viewer, too. This is great real estate for selling the benefits of clicking through to that page’s content.

Bonus: You can use this cool tool from Dejan SEO to preview what your search result would look like before deciding on what description to use.

Headings and Content

It’s important to use your keywords in your headings and content, as visitors are much more likely to stay on a page if they can see the terms they had searched for on it. However, it’s critical you use these keywords naturally — so write for readers first, not search engines.

Using keywords in your content is also used by Google as a ranking factor, so doing this can help improve your SERP placement. Although you should include keywords in multiple locations across your site, you should also avoid over-using keywords for the sake of SEO. If they’re used too frequently, it can appear manipulative and result in your site being demoted in search results. And hey, no one wants to read content like that, anyway.

Image Titles and Alt Text

You can also look at including keywords in a natural way in your image titles and alt text. This seems minor — and it isn’t going to impact your search rankings as much as other things on this list — but it helps Google find your site in image searches, improves accessibililty for people with poor vision using screen readers, and is also used as a minor search ranking factor.

Again, rather than adding keywords to image titles and alt text for the sake of SEO, try and be as accurate and descriptive as possible with your images.


It’s a good idea to include keywords in your URL if they accurately describe the page contents. This is particularly important for businesses that do a lot of blogging — there’s a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its own unique URL.

But beware — search engines will penalize exact match domains that are keyword stuffed. So if you’re thinking of starting up, think again. Keep it to, and you should be fine.

Avoid Search Penalties

There are a couple of things you should also avoid when optimizing your site for keywords, so be careful of the following sketchy SEO practices some people (mind-bogglingly) still use:

1) Never hide keywords. Whether by using the same color background as you do for the text, hiding them behind images, or off to the side using CSS. (I know, I can’t believe I have to say it.) Doing this is not approved by search engines and can result in penalties, and just simply won’t be effective.

2) Avoid keyword stuffing. Avoid stuffing keywords in titles, headings, descriptions page content, and URLs. This appears spammy and is not approved by search engines.

3) Don’t force keywords where they don’t belong. This isn’t quite the same as stuffing a lot of keywords into a post. This is more about not forcing a keyword in — even if it’s just one — if it doesn’t belong, contextually. (Note: If you can’t figure out a place to put a keyword in a piece of content, it’s often a sign the content isn’t that well-aligned with what your personas need, anyway.)

You’re a busy marketer with a lot of things on your plate. SEO need not fall to the bottom of your priority list because of a lack of knowledge, or worse — fear you’re doing it wrong. The most important thing to consider is your visitor’s user experience. Think about them first, and search engines second, and you’ll be alright.