That’s a Wrap: MozCon Virtual 2020 Day Two Recap

Posted by cheryldraper

Wow! What a crazy ride MozCon has been this year. In case you missed it, we were able to double the number of attendees and include over 2,800 people.

Not only were we able to include them, we were also able to see their families, pets, and home offices. It was an unusual experience for sure, but one we won’t be forgetting any time soon.

As always, the speakers served up some flaming hot content (including an actual movie). We can’t wait to share some of these takeaways with you!

Britney Muller — Accessible Machine Learning Workflows for SEOs

Britney started off by assuring everyone that they absolutely can use machine learning. She knows this because she was able to teach her dad how to use it!

Let’s jump right in.

Basically, machine learning can be used for a lot of things.

Britney suggests starting with a notebook in Colaboratory for increased accessibility. She showed us to do the basics like upload, import, and download data before jumping into the fun stuff:

  • Using Google NLP API to extract entities and their categories from URL
  • Using Facebook’s Prophet data for time-series predictions
  • Keyword research using Search Console Data and a filtering function

Honestly, we were surprised at how easy she made machine learning look. Can’t wait to try it ourselves!

Izzi Smith — How to Be Ahead of the (CTR) Curve

Not all clicks are created equal! While you may want as many clicks as possible from the SERP, there’s a specific type of click you should be striving for — the almighty long click.

“What is a click without the intent to be there?”

Google’s patent clearly states that reactions to search results are gauged, and short interactions (clicks) can lower rankings while longer interactions (clicks) can lead to higher rankings.

Are you ready to track your clicks and get to work? Good! Izzi broke it all down for you:

  1. Pull your data from Google Search Console, specifically by using their API.
  2. Know what you are looking for BEFORE getting into the data.
  3. Look for these patterns:
    1. Performance-based core update impacts — decrease in positions and impressions
    2. Identifying Irrelevant rankings — large impression spike (with low CTR) then a sharp decline in impressions
    3. Losing SERP feature — a sharp decrease in CTR and a decrease in impressions

Izzi, you’re a rockstar! We can’t wait to go play with all of our data later.

Flavilla Fongang — How to Go Beyond Marketing for Clients: The Value of a Thriving Brand Ecosystem

Flavilla is a true gem. Instead of focusing on the top of the funnel, she focused on how we can keep customers coming back.

She told us that “business is like love”. You don’t want to move too fast. You don’t want to move too slow. You have to add value. You have to keep things exciting.

Flavilla challenged us to find what makes us remarkable:

  • Can you offer a unique experience?
  • Can you create a community?
  • Can you offer integrations?
  • Can you partner with people to bring something new?

Really sit down and think about why you started your brand and reflect on it. If you build a brand people come back to, you’ll have far less to worry about.

Brian Dean — How to Promote Your Content Like a Boss

We finally did it! We got Brian Dean to speak at an SEO conference.

If you don’t know him by now, you haven’t been searching hard enough. Brian is a master of content creation and marketing.

It wasn’t always that way, though. Brian’s first blog never took off because he spent more time creating content than he did promoting it. Once he realized just how important promotion was, he went all-in and ended up reaping the benefits.

This year, he finally shared with us some of his Jedi-like promotion tactics.

He shared multiple tips for each of these strategies, but here is a quick summary:

  • Social sites hate it when you post links. Instead, tease the content with a “hook, lead, summary, link, call-to-action”.
  • Ask journalists or bloggers if they’d be interested in reading your pieces, but do so before you publish it to take some pressure off.
  • Actually personalize your outreach by mentioning something on the contact’s site.
  • Boost Facebook posts with ample engagement to audiences who have interacted with previous posts.

Just implementing one of these tactics could change the way your content is received by the internet. Who knows what could happen if you implemented all of them?

Joy Hawkins — Google My Business: Battling Bad Info & Safeguarding Your Search Strategy

Not everyone does local SEO, but if you do (or if it ties into what you do at all) you’re going to want to buckle your seatbelt.

Joy showed us some of the insights she was able to pull from a large study she did with her team. They had noticed a major discrepancy in the data between Google My Business and Google Search Console, and wanted to get to the root of it.

Joy shared some major findings:

  1. Google My Business “views” are a lot of different things (not just the traditional impressions we’re used to tracking).
  2. Mobile searches don’t show website icons in the local pack.
  3. The search queries that show up in GMB are different from the ones that are shown in Search Console.
  4. Explicit intent does not always mean higher intent than implicit intent

If you work in local search, Joy wants to challenge you to move away from views and Search Console impressions. Instead, focus on the search data that GMB provides for keywords and on click data in Search Console.

Michael King — Runtime: The 3-Ring Circus of Technical SEO

In true Michael King style (with a ton of flare), he showed us just what’s possible at a virtual conference and blew our minds with technical SEO awesomeness.

We watched “Jamie” get through the three rings using slick techniques.

There were so many of these, friends!

The thing is, all of this has been out there and accessible, but as Mike says in Runtime, “Doing things the same way everyone else does them is going to get you everyone else’s results. Do things your own way.”

Dana DiTomaso — Red Flags: Use a Discovery Process to Go from Red Flags to Green Lights

The idea of discovery is not a new one, but Dana came ready to shine a new light on an old tactic. Most of us do minimal research before agreeing to do a project — or at least minimal compared to Dana and her team!

These are just a few questions from Kick Point’s discovery process:

  • If there were no limitations, what would you want to be able to say at the end of this project?
  • Which of these metrics affects your performance report?
  • What does your best day ever look like?
  • What didn’t work last time?

The discovery process isn’t just about talking to the client, though, it’s about doing your own research to see if you can find the pain points.

As always, Dana shared some true gems that are sure to make our industry better.

David Sottimano — Everyday Automation for Marketers

David brought us automation greatness all the way from Colombia! There were so many practical applications and all of them required little to no coding:

  • Wit.ai for search intent classification
  • Using cron for scheduling things like scraping
  • Webhooks for passing data
  • Creating your own IFTTT-like automation using n8n.io on Heroku

We got to see live demonstrations of David doing each of these things as he explained them. They all seemed super user-friendly and we can’t wait to try some of them.

Oh yeah, David also helped us build and release the Moz API for Sheets!

Russ Jones — I Wanna Be Rich: Making Your Consultancy Profitable

Most businesses fail within their first five years, and that failure often comes down to business decisions. Now, Russ doesn’t enjoy all of this decision-making, but he has learned a few things from doing it and then seeing how those decisions affect a business’s bottom line.

The number one way to become more profitable is to cut costs. Russ looked at cutting costs by having fewer full-time employees, renting/owning less space, making leadership changes, and cutting lines of service.

When it comes to actually bringing in more money though, Russ suggests:

  • Adding new service lines
  • Raising prices
  • Automating tasks
  • Acquiring new business

At the end of the day, Russ boiled it down to two things: Don’t be afraid to change, and experiment when you can — not when you must.

Heather Physioc — Competitive Advantage in a Commoditized Industry

SEO is not dead, it’s commoditized. A strong line to start off a presentation! We can always count on Heather to bring forth some real business-minded takeaways.

First, she helped us understand what a competitive advantage actually is.

Then, it was time to go through her competitive advantage framework.

As we went through this framework, Heather assigned A LOT of homework:

  • Examine your brand: What do you do? Who do you serve? Why? Find the patterns within the answers.
  • Write a brand statement.
  • Activate your advantage: How can you live it fully? What things can’t you do in support of your purpose? How will you know you’re putting it to work?

She mentioned a lot of great tools throughout her presentation. Get a list of those tools and access to her slides here.

Wil Reynolds — The CMO Role Has Been Disrupted: Are You Ready for Your New Boss?

Have you ever thought about who holds the fate of the CMO in their hands? Wil started out by explaining that the CEO, CFO, and CIO actually have far more power over marketing than we give them credit for. While they all know that data is what will make their businesses successful, they also hold keys to our success: budget, IT teams/implementations, veto authority.

The issue we face isn’t that we don’t know what we are doing, but more so that we don’t know how to communicate it.

How can you show up to talk the talk and walk the walk? Use your data, and use it to give the customers a voice at the table (something all executive teams are attempting to achieve).

Wil’s team has done an amazing job simplifying and documenting this process for all of us in search. If you haven’t yet, we highly suggest checking out their blog.

That’s a wrap

Folks, this was fun. We’re so happy that we could bring people together from all over the world for two days during this crazy time.

While there weren’t any Roger hugs or fist pumps, there were still lessons learned and friendships made. It doesn’t get any better than that. We hope you feel the same.

If you were able to attend the live conference, we would love to hear your thoughts and takeaways! Be sure to take time to reflect on what you’ve learned and start plans for implementation — we want to see you make a difference with your new knowledge.

Until next year, Moz fans!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Introducing the Moz API for Google Sheets

Posted by DaveSottimano

We’ve officially released the Moz API for Google Sheets and want to take you on a quick feature tour.

This Google Sheets add-on allows users to gather Moz URL metrics easily without using code directly in a Google Sheet and provides a few extra functions to help you manipulate data.

In the past, if you wanted link metrics for hundreds of URLs, you either had to enter them manually one at a time, or you needed technical expertise to use the LinkScape API. So, I built this free Google Sheets add-on, and now you can pull link metrics for those URLs in seconds, no coding required.

Here are a few use cases for the Moz API for Sheets add-on:

  1. Get Moz Spam Score in metric to assist toxic link analysis (paid plan required).
  2. Get domain authority and page authority in bulk to help you assess the quality of sites for link outreach, domain valuation, and more (available with free and paid plans).
  3. Use built-in custom formulas to parse URLs, save URLs to the Wayback Archive, etc., all without having to write complicated nested formulas or use regular expressions.

Here’s what you can expect as output from the add-on:



The only thing you’ll need to get started is a Google account and Mozscape API credentials (a free plan is available).

Important limitations:

  1. The free plan will allow the collection of domain authority and page authority for 200 URLs at a time, at a rate of 10 URLs per 10 seconds.
  2. The paid plan will allow all metrics for 10,000 URLs at a time with no rate limiting.

Once you have the add-on installed, you’ll need to enter your Mozscape API credentials to activate the tool. From there, simply select your metrics and add in your URLs to get the report working.

The formulas tab

There are a few helpful custom formulas that come with the add-on. Simply click on the “formulas” tab at the bottom of the add-on to see them. As you type any of these formulas, a help file will pop up to guide you.

For example, use the =PARSE_URL formula to quickly parse URLs into the root, path, anchor, and more without having to write novel-length formulas or remember difficult regular expressions.

Stuck? Click on the “help” tab to display additional information.

 

That’s it! We hope you enjoy the add-on and we welcome your feedback.

P.S. A massive thank you to Britney Muller and Cyrus Shepard for giving me the opportunity to build the add-on and being incredibly patient/helpful during the process.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Testimonial link building: Using real experiences for success

30-second summary:

  • Link building is one of the most crucial yet most difficult aspects of SEO but testimonial link building can solve that problem for you.
  • Testimonial link building is seen as a great way to harness this raw strength of positive experiences by customers. 
  • Giving a testimonial to a company you have availed service from or purchased from can be a great way to get a link back to your site.  
  • It’s such a simple and straightforward method, which may be one of the reasons why your business should implement testimonials and reviews into your link building strategy. 

In this analytical age, brands are competing on the minutest details. Targeting the right keywords, creating campaigns targeting the right demographic, coming up with effective CTAs, and all those technicalities. However, amidst all that, there is still an element that cannot be measured using an existing tool. That’s where testimonial link building comes into the picture.

Word of mouth from customers can end up making or breaking all the efforts brands put in their campaigns. You as a brand can do everything right but a negative experience by a customer can create negative brand equity that’ll be hard to shed. In the same way, positive word of mouth can boost up your sales manifolds. This why testimonial link building is seen as a great way to harness this raw strength of positive experiences by customers. 

Continue reading below to learn what exactly is testimonial link building, how to get started, and what rules you need to abide by during the entire process. 

What is testimonial link building?

In laymen terms, testimonial link building is using a positive comment from customers that have used your service or product and featuring them on your website. At its core, testimonial link building is meant to provide genuine positive word of mouth for website owners in exchange for a link. In the end, everyone’s happy and it helps brands grow and gain brand recognition. 

There are some finer details involved too such as relevance. Think about it, if you’re a software company, do you want a testimonial from a café from a completely different country? Relevance is key. Just like textual content, you can’t overdo the use of testimonial link building as it’ll end up hurting both parties instead of helping them. There’s no perfect recipe for success in testimonial link building apart from ensuring clarity and relevance. 

Jayson Demers, CEO of Email Analytics says testimonials really fruitful strategy to build links,

“With every testimonial, you will receive Search Engine Crawlers will recognize that your site has an authority” 

Perfection on those true fronts will yield great results for both parties. So, how does it work, and more importantly, how do you get started? Continue reading below to learn more. 

How to build testimonial links 

Without beating around the bush, the whole process boils down to 5 crucial steps that anyone can follow. These are as follows: 

1. Create a target list of products/services

This is where you’ll need to do the most homework. I’d advise you to keep your range of targets as wide as possible but avoid venturing into irrelevant fields. 

Some other things to keep in mind include targeting solution-based products and services. The potential customers looking at this are already at a high engagement point and they’re more likely to convert. I’d also advise making sure you target products and services that you’ve actually used. It would be futile to skip this part as it is a legal requirement. You can still choose to move ahead with this but it’s unlikely any product or service will entertain your testimonial requests if you’re not an existing customer.

Jay Eckert, Founder of Parachute Design also recommends using testimonials for your services,

When you write honest reviews for products or services you are using, it is ultimately benefiting your website’s exposure and visibility in the form of backlinks or through Brand mentions”  

2. Find their contact information 

Once you’ve identified the best possible leads, it’s time to start contacting them. Again, this step requires a lot of elbow grease, so bear that in mind. However, some extensions and tools can help you in this regard and make your job a little easier. 

For instance, ’FindThatLead’ is a tool that  allows you to find your target’s contact details almost at a click of a single button. Just enter the domain you’re targeting and it’ll provide you the details of the right person to contact for your request. Some other similar apps include Hunter.io and Voila Norbert. 

3. Pitch your testimonial via email

This is a crucial part that a lot of people mess up. This is the point where you pitch your testimonial, do not send your testimonial. There is a clear difference between the two and it could save you a lot of time. 

You’re supposed to pitch the idea of giving them a testimonial on the site. While nothing is stopping you from writing up a testimonial and sending it to them, if they reject it, you’ve wasted all that hard work for nothing. 

Write a short and to-the-point email to pitch your testimonial and how it can add value to their overall site. 

4. Write a relevant testimonial

Once you’ve received a green-light to go ahead with a testimonial, you can start working on it. The intent of each testimonial matters a lot, so you must understand what the site owner’s intent is. For instance, if they’re a no-profit organization, they don’t want to sell anything but rather raise awareness. Similarly, a start-up would want to encourage a maximum of new customers. 

Tailor your testimonial based on what the intent of that testimonial on the site is supposed to be. 

5. Create a video backing up that testimonial 

Okay, fair disclaimer, this last step is more of a bonus step. You can skip it if you want but I’d advise against it. There’s a pearl of old internet wisdom to be skeptical of everything you see on the Internet. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you’re someone that’s looking at these testimonials, how do you know they’re real. Yes, they all sound convincing and they have the verification mark guaranteeing they’re real customers. However, there will still be an iota of doubt in their minds. This doubt can be the obstacle between a potential customer converting into an actual customer. You can use video or visual testimonial as well. 

Laws and regulations to consider

Even though testimonials present a tremendous opportunity to sell your product and service using your previous sales’ as proof, there are some strict guidelines on how you need to present them. 

The Federal Trade Commission has an entire set of laws on how businesses can use endorsements and testimonials in their advertising. I wouldn’t go as far as to call these to be stifling but they do require some strict criterion to be followed. The entire document can be found and studied here. 

But in case you’re looking for a short rundown of what this means, there are three things you need to be careful about when using testimonials. 

The context needs to be clear. You can’t throw in a testimonial that was given to you for a different version of the service or the app for instance. If you still want to use that testimonial then you’ll have to specify the details. This is primarily why on the App Store when reading reviews for apps, you’ll find reviews marked “review for a different version” 

In case the testimonials were for quid pro quo, you can still use them but you’ll have to provide all customers full disclosure. This means any behind the scenes deals to prop each other up by brands is a big no-no. 

This should go without saying, but all testimonials you choose to use must be genuine. If found guilty of cultivating fake testimonials, your brand can face heavy fines depending on which state you’re in. Steer clear of quantities when it comes to testimonials and focus on delivering quality and earning genuine, organic testimonials that you can use.

The post Testimonial link building: Using real experiences for success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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MozCon Virtual 2020: Top Takeaways from Day One

Posted by cheryldraper

Today marked day one of the first-ever MozCon Virtual! Even though we weren’t together in person, it was so exciting to get the best people in the industry together again.

So much of the day was different from what we expected six months ago, but the one thing we can always count on from our speakers is a MASSIVE amount of value. We’re talking insights, game plans, cheat codes — you name it, we’ve got it — and this year was no different.

Let’s get to it.

Sarah Bird — Welcome & State of the Industry

It’s always inspiring to hear from our fearless leader. Sarah hit on some of the changes that we’ve seen this year and how they’ve affected both us as people and us as an industry.

Sarah also laid out her thoughts on major SEO trends for 2020.

In closing, Sarah reminded us that we rise and fall collectively and that in the end, the world is our work. In difficult times we must all come together.

We’re all so happy to be able to create this virtual experience and allow for everyone to have something (somewhat) predictable to look forward to for two days.

Andy Crestodina — Thought Leadership and SEO: The 3 Key Elements and Search Ranking Strategies

Andy started off by walking us through the three key aspects of thought leadership: personal brand, taking a stand, and proving expert insights.

Then, very kindly, Andy laid out exactly what to do to fulfill each aspect.

Expert Insights

  • Create original research
  • Write books
  • Share novel ideas

Take a stand

  • Have a strong opinion
  • Don’t shy away from controversy
  • Inspire others

Build a personal brand

  • Have a social following
  • Be cited by others
  • Be influential

This presentation was 163 slides of actionable insights. It’s definitely one that we’ll have to watch a few times over!

Shannon McGirk — Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns

Shannon came to set us straight: we aren’t showing the full picture when it comes to Digital PR, and it’s quite toxic.

She started out by showing a few of her own tweets and pointing out that she rarely, if ever, shares anything about campaigns that don’t “go viral”.

Shannon explained that we talk about Digital PR campaigns as if the majority of them are “huge wins”. The reality, however, is that most of our campaigns will be steady performers and the huge wins are actually just anomalies.

How we talk about campaigns:

How campaigns actually perform:



Aira put out a state of digital PR study and found that most campaigns only got between one and 20 links. When Shannon broke down the numbers for Aira, they were consistent: about 17 links were gained per campaign!

What do we do about this? Shannon challenged us to take as much time looking into what didn’t work as we do looking into what did work.

Using a custom made success matrix, Shannon and her team were able to spot the trends for both “successful” and “not successful” campaigns and implement plans accordingly.

Her parting strategy:

  1. Take off the pressure of “virality” and focus on steady performers and fails.
  2. Realize that steady performers can consistently impact weighty SEO KPIs.
  3. Use the success matrix to review campaigns and catch trends early.

Robin Lord — Whatever You Do, Put Billboards in Seattle: Getting Brand Awareness Data from Google

Wow! Our minds are still blown from this presentation. Robin took us through some extremely valuable workflows for collecting and analyzing data.

When it comes to determining the success of your “brand,” the numbers aren’t straightforward. There are a lot of data points to take into consideration. In fact, Robin started off by asking us if we used multiple datasets, collected data on our competitors, and got granular. Needless to say, many of us knew we were in for a ride.

Honestly, this presentation was so jam-packed with information that we had a hard time keeping up! Thankfully, at the end of his presentation, Robin laid out step-by-step instructions on how he collected, compiled, and analyzed all of this data.

Alexis Sanders — The Science of Seeking Your Customer

Determining your audience is about more than demographics and affinity data; it’s about truly understanding your audience as people.

Alexis took us through four questions we should try to answer when defining our audience:

  1. What’s the key information?
  2. What are they like at their core?
  3. How do they choose products?
  4. What’s their relationship with technology?

She even provided a list of free and paid resources that anyone can use to collect this information.

Alexis also explained that audience research is not something that happens only once (at the beginning of a campaign), but instead should inform the entire customer journey.

Her parting words encouraged us to learn fast and become in-tune with the constant change, instead of always trying to guess correctly!

Phillip Nottingham — How to Build a Global Brand Without a Global Budget

The marketing funnel is broken, we all know that. But if we aren’t focusing on getting people to work down a funnel, what are we working towards? Building our brand. Right. Well, how do we go about doing that?

Phil blew our minds with insights on how he helped Wistia change their mindset when it came to creating “brand awareness.” The first step was to stop calling it brand awareness and instead call it brand affinity.

Building an affinity to a brand means spending time with a brand. A KPI that usually gets lost in the mix of impressions, clicks, etc.

In his presentation, Phil breaks down the exact method he used with Wistia to get people to spend as much time on the site watching four videos as they did reading all 1,170 blogs.

Greg Gifford shared a great summary slide here:

Dr. Pete — Moving Targets: Keywords in Crisis

We were so thrilled to have Dr. Pete back to speak at his NINTH MozCon this year. While this year’s conference was unlike any other, his presentation was just as insightful.

Dr. Pete talked all about spotting trends. Nothing about this year could have been predicted. There was no way that hair salons could have predicted that “how to cut hair” was going to be an opportunity keyword.

However, there is still a way to capitalize on these opportunities as we spot them.

Dr. Pete showed us exactly how we can use tools that we’re familiar with, and a few that we might not be familiar with, to spot trends and turn them into opportunities including Google Trends, Pinterest, Twitter search, and even Boing Boing Store.

There were some real gems in this presentation!

Needless to say, Dr. Pete has officially gone nine straight years impressing MozCon.

Francine Rodriguez — Let It Go: How to Embrace Automation and Get Way More Done

2020 has really come out swinging. Francine voiced exactly what we were all thinking: “that’s enough!”

We have enough to worry about, do we really need to keep adding to the list?

When it comes to search engine marketing, there are a lot of moving parts and it can be excruciating to try and keep up with it all. There is a solution though: ROBOTS! (Someone call Roger!)

Google is constantly learning, so why not let them leverage their new knowledge?

Francine walked us through the different areas of PPC automation:

  • Bidding
  • Ad copy
  • Smart campaigns
  • Keyword matching

If you’re looking for a great example of letting go and embracing automation, Microsoft Ads is a good place to go. They allow you to import all of your Google Ads right into Microsoft ads so they can start running right away.

Rob Ousbey — A Novel Approach to Scraping Websites

What do we even say about this presentation? Rob is one of a kind.

If you take a look at the #MozCon feed on Twitter, you’ll notice far fewer people live-tweeting — that’s because they were busy taking notes!

Rob showed us how he scrapes websites (including the big G) in seconds using a few lines of code. He walked us through every piece of code needed to scrape G2, Google, and even Google’s Lighthouse tool.

He wrapped it all up by showing off exactly what he did to integrate Lighthouse data into Moz Pro’s SERP analysis.

Again, this is going to be one of those presentations that you have to rewatch multiple times. Or maybe even at half-speed!

Ross Simmonds — Designing a Content Engine: Going from Ideation to Creation to Distribution

We closed out day one with the Coolest of Cool.

Ross came in hot with some Disney references to make us think.

Disney movies — where do the storylines usually come from? Other stories!

In recent years we’ve seen Disney “revise” their previous movies to make them fit today’s world. And actually, some of the original Disney movies were “remixes” of Shakespeare’s plays.

Ross loves his four Rs (revise, remix, remove, redirect), and this year he gave us even more actionable plans.

This closing session really encouraged us to put on our “Sherlock Homeboy” hat and get curious about what others are doing, and how we can do it better.

A few places to find inspiration for innovation that Ross mentioned:

  • Your favorite website’s site map
  • Wayback machine for industry leaders’ sites
  • Wikipedia

There’s so much to do

For now, we’re calling it a day and getting some rest because we get to do it all again tomorrow!

If you want to access the speaker slides, you can sign in with your Moz Community credentials and download them on this page.

If you did join us today, what was your favorite session? Your biggest takeaway? We can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy

30-second summary:

  • A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction between you and your customers. Proper customer journey mapping can make a huge difference in conversions and help you create a more customer-centric marketing strategy.
  • Customer journey mapping starts with identifying your user personas. This way, you’ll know exactly which customer segment to market.
  • Next, you identify and map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. This will help you learn and later predict customer behavior and buying decisions.
  • Chief content writer, Connie Benton guides you through the customer journey mapping process outline with some great examples and tools to help you.

When it comes to building a robust marketing strategy, most beginner entrepreneurs have nothing to start off with except expert advice they find on digital marketing blogs, let alone the idea of customer journey mapping. While this alone will last you a long way, ultimately, you’re borrowing experiences from somebody else’s business, not building on your own. This is why large corporations spend so much on big data and analytics. 

But it’s not just the corporations that do that. According to OnePath, 67% of SMEs spend over $10,000 a year on analytics. Why do they pay this huge price?

The answer is simple. You can only go this far using somebody else’s analytics. At some point, you should start gathering and interpreting data yourself. Without this, you can’t possibly expect to understand your thousands of clients.

If you’re looking for a point where you can start, you can postpone getting into behavioral segmentation and other advanced analytics, and follow a strategy that can yield great results on a shoestring budget. Create a customer journey map. Here’s all the information and tools you’ll need to create one.

How to create a customer journey map

A customer journey map (CJM) is exactly what it sounds to be. A map of the path that a customer makes from their decision to make a purchase or any other action, to successfully making it. Here’s an example of what it looks like from the NNGroup.

Customer journey mapping chart

Source: NNGroup

You can create a customer journey map for most processes that involve customer decisions and use this map for different purposes. A detailed map of going from the latest stage of the sales funnel to making a purchase can be used to improve conversions. A map of making purchases after the initial conversion will help you increase customers’ lifetime value.

For now, we’ll concentrate on the basics and look at how to create a general customer journey map that covers a customer’s path from being interested in your product to making a purchase. It will help you improve your overall marketing strategy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to set the frame of the customer map, where it should start and where it should end. Since we’re making a general map that covers the whole funnel, let’s set the start at being interested in the market, and the end at making the first purchase.

The most important thing, though, is to find the right path to trace. Most businesses have different types of clients that have different journeys. Let’s start by defining your user personas.

1. Define user personas

Needless to say that a user looking for online shopping websites will differ from someone in search of the best online business ideas. That’s why defining user personas is so important for successful customer journey mapping. 

Before you trace the customer’s journey, you need to have an idea of who’s making that journey. To do this, you need to know at least these four core data sets about your customer:

  • Demographic information (for example, age, gender, country)
  • What problems do they solve with your product
  • What do they value from the product
  • Where do they get information

With these points, you’ll be able to learn more about the customers themselves and their journey. Here’s how you can gather this information.

Tools to use

  • Sign-up forms
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Analytics
  • Pop-up surveys (Hotjar or similar)
  • Email surveys (MailChimp or similar)

You can easily gather the most basic demographic information on your leads with the sign-up form. When they’re registering on the website or grabbing a freebie, ask them to fill a bit more than their email address, and you already have a decent database. While you’re at it, you can also gather employment information, which is extremely helpful if you run a B2B company.

If that’s not an option, gather that data with Google or Facebook analytical tools. You can also get an insight into what your users are interested in by looking up Affinity Categories in Google Analytics.

Most likely, you have not one but several main demographics. Look for the largest age and sex groups and run Affinity Category reports on them. You may find that say, men and women in their 30s that buy from you have different interests on average.

The answers to why people buy from you and what do they value the most can only be inferred from user surveys. Do it via pop-ups or send surveys to your newsletter subscribers.

That said, these are just the basic tools that will cover most needs. Feel free to use any advanced analytics tools at your disposal.

2. Identify touchpoints

Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to begin tracing their path towards the purchase. You’ll need to track the touchpoints they have with your brand as they go through every step of the sales funnel.

Asking them how they ended up on your website may not be the perfect idea as a lot of touchpoints will be forgotten before the purchase. Here’s how you can do it more efficiently.

Tools to use

  • Google Analytics
  • Lead scoring software (HubSpot or similar)
  • Sign-up forms

Let’s start by looking at the off-website touchpoints. These are the touchpoints that lead a customer to your website: social media, ads, blog articles in Google search, and other similar online portals. You can gauge these easily by looking at where the traffic comes from in the Google Analytics panel.

Don’t forget to add UTM markers to different links you leave around the web to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

You can also get an approximate picture by including a question like “How did you find us” in your sign-up forms. However, this only shows the bottom of the funnel, and won’t provide the full picture.

The idea behind it is to award more points to actions that lead to conversion. You can use this system to first track what actions do lead to a conversion.

This way, you’ll know what set of actions a potential buyer performs on the website. The other method to learn is to use the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ in Google Analytics.

This tab lets you take a goal from your campaign and see what actions did a person who ended up converting did on the website. This shows you the majority of the on-site customer journey.

3. Draw the map

Now you know who your customers are and what set of actions do they perform before making a purchase. All you have left to do is to actually draw the customer journey map.

You can do it whatever way you want, just make sure it will always be handy for future use.

Tools to use

  • Drawing tool of choice: A piece of paper, an online mindmap, Photoshop, or any such platform that you’re comfortable using

Start with defining the user persona for the map you’re drawing. Since different user personas may have different journeys, you may need to draw several maps.

For now, let’s assume your customer is a 25 to 35-year-old male or female who owns an online store and is looking for SaaS software to help run it. Let’s call them Jessie since it’s a good gender-neutral name.

Start with what drives Jessie to make the purchase. Point out their motivation in this search. Then, track their behavior off-site. Maybe they search for the product reviews online or see several ads before they finally click on one of them.

Follow their path on your website based on the data you received from website analytics, and end the journey on their first purchase. Make sure to state how many users leave at a certain touchpoint and do not covert further.

In the end, you’ll have something like this.

Example - Customer journey map

Source: Digital.gov

How to improve marketing strategy with CJM

There you have it,  you’ve successfully created your first customer journey map. Now, let’s dig into how you can use it to improve your marketing efforts.

1. Search for insights

No customer journey map is complete without the insights, or potential opportunities for improvement, as noted in the map above. Gather your team if you haven’t already, and brainstorm the opportunities for improvement that you can infer from the map.

There’s no single way to go about it and it all depends on the situation you have on the map. For instance, if you see that a particular touchpoint has a conversion rate far below the rest, it’s probably something you should address.

Do more research on it, come up with a hypothesis as to why it underperforms, and try to improve it.

2. Improve messaging

Your customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a huge factor in how they decide what company to stick with. If you find that what your customers are looking for is not what you advertise, it’s a clear sign you should improve it.

3. Focus tangential interests

If you’re doing content marketing, your findings from the ‘Affinity Categories’ could be of good use. Some users can discover your product while reading articles on topics connected to it. For instance, Jessie’s journey to discovering a SaaS tool they need may have begun from reading an article on SMM.

Look up the data on affinity categories, and you can add a few more topics to your content marketing arsenal.

4. Focus on high-converting channels

While we’re on the topic of content marketing, customer journey mapping also allows for figuring out what marketing channels work best. Look at what channels are the most prevalent in the first half of the customer journey and figure out why they work best.

From then on, you have two options. You can either try to fix the channels that do not bring you enough customers or double down on the ones that already bring you the best ROI.

5. Improve on-site conversion

CJM provides some of the best analytics on the on-site actions of your customers. This gives you an opportunity to see what exactly are your customers doing on the website before they convert and improve the whole process.

This goes far beyond just improving the touchpoints you have. You can also change your on-site conversion strategy and add new touchpoints.

For instance, you may notice that people who grab freebies or attend webinars convert much more than regular visitors. You may start including these converting assets in pop-ups, or on the bottom of your blog posts.

If the issue is that your sales reps can’t keep up with the number of customers, you may need a sales funnel software to automate some of the tasks and work with bigger loads.

Improve every business aspect with customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize so much data about your customers and their path to conversion. Create a map that reflects how customers really do, not what you think they’re doing, and you can see all the mistakes your business does in attracting them further to conversion. Gather the data continuously and update the map to see how customer behavior changes, especially during unusual situations like a pandemic.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can improve most business processes that involve customers taking a set of actions towards a goal with a customer journey map. All you have to do is to set another frame and go through every process in this guide again.

This way, you can improve anything from increasing viewership on your blog to reducing customer churn.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.

The post Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Marketing strategies during COVID-19 times

30-second summary:

  • If a site has never been promotedthere have been no SEO audits and there are a lot of errors in codethen link building will not help.
  • If the company is set up to work in messengersit can receive subscribers – even without the support.
  • SMM is less about direct sales and more about building a link between user and brandand content plays a primary role in this.
  • The main task now is to build an approximate plan to get back to the world and maintain feedback with clients and the team.
  • In this article, we discuss marketing strategies during COVID-19 on the lines of contextual advertising, SEO, email, social networks, and more.

Not everyone was as lucky in the pandemic as mask manufacturersfood delivery companiesZoom, and othersThe offline business had to decideeither to quickly move all the work online or limit the business in all directionsIn this article, we will discuss marketing strategies during COVID-19. 

Simply moving to the Internet is not enough: you need to understand what you are doing, and under the influence of coronavirus, marketing strategy is changing rapidly. I am going to explain what happens with contextual advertising, SEO, messengers, email, and social networks.  

You’ll find out:

  • How the demand structure in these channels is changing, 
  • How to work with them now, 
  • Whether marketing can be paused without affecting the company, 
  • Which marketing strategies are best to choose, even if there’s a shortage of money. 

PPC marketing in COVID-19 times

The trend in the PPC is as follows due to the decline in demand in general, we can see a decrease in demand in search, and search advertising subsidies in particular. Previously, PPC search and product advertising was the main source of sales. People were looking for something in search, saw ads, and bought. Context has always been an auxiliary marketing tool – creating demand, brand, remarketing. 

But nowadays, the trend returns a little, if you look at last month’s stats, banner ads and videos have become the main source of traffic from advertising. This is due to the fact that people are using streaming services, watching movies, TV series, courses, and there are banner ads everywhere. 

If we talk about conversions, then again, in most cases there is a fell. I would even say that the conversion has not fallen, but lengthened. In the past, a person coming from an advertisement would buy a simple product at once, and a more complicated product in a few clicks.  

Now, this funnel has lengthened. It became even more important to work with email, chatbots, maintain communication with other advertising channels. 

If in some areas the decision-making period was three-to-four days, it could grow to two-to-three weeks. I assume that this is due to the decrease in purchasing power because many people are on vacation or without work. Those who have money are not in a hurry to spend it, because it is not clear what will happen tomorrow. Even those who have an intention to buy something started to buy less. 

Conclusion 

Advertising is greatly reduced, due to this decreases the advertising competition. The click is cheaper and you can get cheaper traffic. And if you are ready to work with these long conversion leads – you can get them cheaper than before. 

SEO in COVID-19 times 

In most cases, organic traffic drops. And the positions of the site may be good, but the traffic is falling heavily. Demand has decreased in SEO, but again, it depends on the subject. In some niches demand has increased – someone was selling masks and antiseptics, and he had no demand but then suddenly got it. And there is, for example, tire fitting there is no change in demand because people need to retrain the car anyway. There’s no drop in demand. 

Traffic is falling in everything that concerns business services – if you take, for example, furniture for private use, the demand has not fallen much. And for offices, demand has fallen to almost zero, even those who have ordered before, stopped doing it.  

If now there is no need for “burning” clients, business is on pause, it is better to invest at least minimal in SEO, in social networks, in maintenance, and stop contextual advertising.  

How can your business save money while working on SEO? 

There are free sites, directories, where you can go and place links for free. If there is no money, this way you can optimize a good part of the budget. 

If a company does not work with content, you can follow this direction. This is a conditionally free tool – even if you don’t write it yourself, you can hire a copywriter at growyourstaff, conditionally it is not so expensive. Content can help SEO a lot, and it is much cheaper than buying links and working with technical optimization. 

If a site has never been promoted, there have been no SEO audits and there are a lot of errors in code, then link building will not help. If the site had been worked with before, now you just need to reduce budgets, you can buy fewer links or look for cheaper and free sources.

Pay more attention to the content – by publishing new articles you cover more keywords, more search queries. For example, if you sell laptops, then write “how to clean a laptop”, “how to pick up a laptop for games” and so on. A person looking for information – gets into an article, read advice, can subscribe to the mailing list, social networks, become your regular customer. It is possible in this way to reduce the budget for SEO. 

Messenger marketing and COVID-19 times

Being in a situation of forced closure, some businesses could not afford to keep their marketing budget at the same level. Accordingly, some suspended the work with messengers, as with any other channels generating leads. The reason was not even that the companies had no money left. But also the fact that there is nothing to sell and no one to sell due to quarantine if the business is related to offline services. 

Is it worth stopping the activities in messengers at all, if the company is very tight with money? If not, then how to reduce budgets for this channel with minimal damage?  

The work with messengers is divided into several categories. In terms of generating leads, traffic, and conversion, it is the same as in targeted advertising and other lead gen channels. If the business closes, it makes no sense to generate hot leads.

But the messengers themselves can be used in many different ways. For example, the funnel does not have to sell quickly. It can be long and work for involvement, heating, work not only with potential clients but also with existing ones. It makes sense to maintain such a funnel whether the business is working now or not. When the company opens its doors again, it will be able to sell to the same people – no one has forgotten about them, they have been communicating and maintaining relationships throughout this period – it is important. 

If the company is set up to work in messengers

The company may continue receiving subscribers – even without support, even in suspended advertising campaigns. However, as a budget cut, it is possible to suspend work with the contractor. In such a situation, this is a normal solution. In a few months, nothing should break. Thus, it is possible to cut the budget through new developments, testing, active generation of leads. 

SMM in COVID-19 times 

It’s bad for those who are affected by an offline fall. If offline is closed, the whole company has stopped working, and SMM too. For example, they somehow manage the account themselves, they only have enough strength for some content activity. And advertising – nobody simply comes to them, and they cannot work, and they do not maintain advertising. 

Those who are forbidden to work, and who can not accept clients in the office, reduced to almost zero advertising in social networks and other sources. And someone, on the contrary, increased, like VR clubs. They launched a new service – previously there was an offline point, which is now closed, and the equipment is idle. They’ve set up a rental service and are actively developing it. 

What are the changes in campaign traffic that continue working during quarantine? 

In some campaigns, traffic has increased, but this is due to the fact that the auction has been released. On Facebook, the current price of a click has dropped several times – simply because many competitors have left. The price is going down, the number of clicks is going up, and the traffic is going up accordingly. 

In general, somewhere it has increased, somewhere it has decreased. Now it all depends on the area in which you work. If you can reformat online painlessly enough, you’ll have some minimal reductions, there will be growth. 

Is it possible to save money on social networking?

In general, it is better not to reduce the number of posts, and make them better in quality. If the budget for advertising has decreased, then focus on the content. 

SMM is less about direct sales and more about building a link between user and brand, and content plays a primary role in this. If you lose content, the connection is broken.

In paid promotion it is possible to save on what does not bring results right now – it can be reduced. In terms of conversions now everything should be actively connected to analytics. You look through the analytics – does the campaign bring you additional conversions after the transition and application. If the results are down dramatically, you should turn it off. 

And the content takes a little time, especially if the company initially approached it correctly – there is a content strategy, a content plan, and so on. If it’s all there, there’s nothing stopping you from giving it all to one employee who’s sitting at home at a remote location to write according to a ready-made plan. If there is a strategy, there is nothing difficult about continuing to write, and it is not so expensive. 

Email marketing during COVID-19 times

At the moment the main task of the channel is to keep in touch with the client and not to give false hopes. Therefore, the only dynamics that are important to us are the unsubscribe rate and the remaining amount of “live” users. For example, these are openings in the last 60 days. 

I would advise not to stop and not to panic, the situation will somehow be solved and the brand will either resist or not. The main task now is to build an approximate plan to get back to the world and maintain feedback with clients and the team.

Stop everything – it’s like stopping a blast furnace, it’s easier to build a new one than the old one to run. So it is definitely worth reducing the volume, stopping the retention, and reviewing the basic onboard messages. 

It is important that customers know that you are alive and in control of the situation on your side. Therefore, informational digests and regular alerts when you update the situation shouldn’t be stopped. We all have already learned how to wash our hands and listen to all the CEOs, so if you have something specific – then write about it necessarily.

Evelina Brown is an internet marketing, trainer, and founder of marketing courses expert who has been involved in brand development and creation since 2012.

The post Marketing strategies during COVID-19 times appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Tips and tools to combine content marketing and PPC

30-second summary:

  • Many businesses opt for content marketing because organic traffic is free. But, this strategy makes them miss a great opportunity to grow fast because combining SEO-optimized content with PPC speeds up the lead generation process.
  • Online businesses need to know specific use cases for content marketing and PPC to assess the value of the strategy.
  • Less than half of small businesses (45%) invest in PPC.
  • PPC and SEO content marketing can bring in more leads by capturing more quality traffic with more effective keyword optimization of blog content, lead magnets, and landing pages.
  • To get the most value from content marketing and PPC, businesses need to master keyword research, searcher intent, and the consistency between the landing page and ad optimization.

As someone who primarily engaged in SEO and content writing for small businesses, I didn’t really care about PPC advertising.  

Maybe because of people like me, only 45% of small businesses invest in PPC 

I thought that the best way to bring high-quality leads was with super optimized content, so paid advertising was the realm of bigger companies. That’s the mindset of many small business owners. With teeny tiny marketing budgets, they have to choose between SEO/content and PPC. 

SEO/content often becomes their choice, especially of those with interest in content creation and a lack of real marketing experience.  

SEO was my preferred choice, too, and I saw PPC as something secondary. 

Boy, was I wrong about this!

After a couple of projects involving PPC promotion, my view of the strategy completely changed. No, they didn’t change how I thought about SEO, but they showed how amazing the results could be if you combine the power of both strategies. 

To all SEO specialists still not using PPC and the other way around, here’s what you’re missing.  

1. More effective content thanks to PPC-tested keywords

Developing a content strategy is one of the most complex and important tasks for any SEO specialist. They use keyword research tools, PPC tools, Google Search Console results, and other methods to find those precious keywords used by customers.  

When they find the keywords they think are good for targeting SEO/content marketing, they begin a slow process of creating content. I wrote oh-so-many blog articles, eBooks, checklists, reports, and other content to find out the keywords that attracted the most conversions.  

All of this takes a lot of time.  

In fact, to write a super effective blog post, you need more than six hours 

Time required to invest per blog postSource: OrbitMedia 

When you’re done with writing the draft, there’s also proofreading, editing, making visuals, and keyword optimization. To cut a long story short, you might need a few days to complete a good article that can bring quality organic traffic.  

But that’s not the end of that road.  

Google, too, needs some time to index the article and rank it. In fact, it might take between two and six months to rank in the top 10.  

That’s a bit much, agree? 

To top it all off, the keywords you’ve chosen for your content might not the best ones to target. If you make this mistake, you’ll have to learn your mistakes and start all over again (welcome to the world of SEO content writing, folks). 

Is there a way to speed this time-consuming process up? Yes. It’s PPC.  

It can get you in front of the audience and allow you to test your keyword ideas much faster. If you have content to test, use PPC ads, and equip them with the keywords.  

Get them out there and see what people respond to best. You can have some great results as early as a few days, which is pretty much impossible with SEO/content marketing.  

Another great news is that you can run A/B testing. This means running ads featuring different keywords for the same content piece. If one performs much better than the other, update the content with the more popular keywords.  

So, the takeaway here is that running PPC campaigns for content is a much faster way to test keywords. Start by finding keywords with research tools and make some ads, and you’ll be more likely to discover how your customers look for businesses like yours.  

Related:  

  • Keyword Research Tools for Content Marketing 
  • 10 useful tools for writing compelling content for SEO 

2. More leads from lead magnets

In content SEO, we often create lead magnets 

They are content pieces like reports, white papers, eBooks, webinars, videos, and other valuable content that people need to sign up to access.  

You’ve seen tons of them before. A common example is a banner promoting an industry report with an irresistible CTA on a blog. It says that you need to provide your email address and name to access it instantly.  

Click on that CTA, and you’ll go to a landing page with the lead capture form.  

Like this “The Ultimate Agency Guide to Video Marketing” landing page, where everyone can download a guide with helpful tips on video marketing.

Example of lead magnets landing pages

As you can see, the content is offered in exchange for some data. Not a bad deal of a guide packed with useful instructions for businesses.  

Unsurprisingly, many content producers often turn to lead magnets for quick lead generation.  

Ozan Gobert, a senior content writer at Best Writers Online said, 

“Lead magnets work well for both B2B and B2C businesses aslong as they have some value for customers. You can generate some high-quality leads with them, as they typically attract those interested in insights and tips inside.” 

If a blog has thousands of visitors every week, then there might not be a need for PPC promoting lead magnets. But is that true for your blog? 

Many people think they can manage without the ads (I was one of them). Basically, it’s because they think that great content will “sell” itself. 

Despite what they might think, not so many blogs are that successful in attracting visitors. In fact, more than 90% of web pages don’t get any organic search traffic from Google.

Ahrefs stats on PPC and content marketing

As you can see, only about 1.3 percent of web pages out there get decent traffic. Just for that tiny share, promoting a lead magnet with PPC advertising might not be necessary every time. 

Obviously, the situation is very different for the rest.  

If your website doesn’t have a lot of visitors, too, then creating lead magnets might be pointless. They’ll just sit there only to be discovered by a few people per week.

Not good because you need more leads.  

If you wish that there was a way to get more people to pay attention to, there is actually a way.

And it’s PPC, of course. To get some emails, you need a well-crafted PPC campaign that leads people to the landing page where they can sign up to receive the content.  

You can try to bring people with keyword-based ads promoting the lead magnet. If you choose the right keywords, the ads have a much greater chance to attract leads than SEO alone.  

This is how it works: PPC does the job bringing in visitors, the content converts them into leads by having them complete the capture form.  

To increase the chance of people signing up, the value of content is critical. But, the visual appeal is also a major consideration. You need tools for creating visual content like images, graphics, and infographics to add to your lead magnets.  

3. Better marketing campaign performance thanks to a smart keyword use

Many businesses out there don’t realize they can bring much more quality traffic to their websites if they focus on best-performing keywords in both SEO, content marketing and PPC.  

Much more traffic.  

When an SEO/content marketing specialist and a PPC marketer share a list of relevant keywords, they can decide how to divide them to: 

  • Target the most promising keywords together to bring the most traffic 
  • Identify the keywords that are the most difficult for SEO and target them with PPC and the other way around
  • Define which search queries to focus on with each lead acquisition strategy

Ultimately, the cooperation between the PPC and SEO teams can result in a much more effective keyword strategy. In turn, this strategy could attract more traffic to your websites. 

Important note

To make content keyword optimization work, you need to master searcher intent or purchase intentPut simply, searcher intent is the reason behind a search query.  

For example, the query “Samsung a10 review” implies that the searcher is looking to do some research but has not made the decision yet. If they search Google for “buy Samsung a10 cheap”, then they might be ready to buy.  

Each intent defines how you should create content. It matters a lot for SEO because Google’s goal is to provide its users with the most relevant results.  

Dive Deeper: Tapping into Google’s Algorithm for Searcher Intent. 

4. Create landing pages that convert more visitors

A landing page is the heart of any PPC marketing.  

But, in many cases, PPC specialists aren’t the best persons to write the copy for it. By engaging content and SEO specialists and having them work with PPC folks, you can create a keyword optimized copy that also appeals to the readers.  

For example, PPC specialists can provide keywords and ideas for optimized headings and subheadings for attracting traffic. In turn, content writers contribute by creating a copy that’s easy to read and entices the visitors to act.  

So, the collaboration of PPC and SEO/content teams can result in campaign landing pages that generate clicks and converts.  

A good way to start doing PPC campaign landing pages is to create a checklist to cover all bases. This checklist can include images, copy, sign up options, etc. 

Know more: Studying the anatomy of a successful high-conversion landing page

SEO and PPC: Two are better than one

I’m not exaggerating when I say that SEO and PPC are a marriage made in heaven. I am positive that these points described in this article prove that.

Don’t make a mistake I made by neglecting the power of PPC advertising. Combined with SEO and quality content, you can greatly increase the quality of your traffic.

If you’d like to try them together, feel free to start by doing PPC ads for your best-performing blog articles. The results you’ll see will definitely impress and inspire you to try more. Thanks to this article, you’ll know your next steps.

Ana Mayer is a project manager with 3+ years of experience. She likes to read and create expert academic materials for the Online Writers Rating writing review website.

The post Tips and tools to combine content marketing and PPC appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn’t all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you’ll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.

It’s what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.

This is a really, really big deal. It’s something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you’re looking to get this deal.

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

You’re going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, “Okay, your competitors are here, and you’re currently here and this is why,”and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.

☑ Emphasize quick wins

I almost didn’t put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to…

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

You don’t want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can’t deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they’ve done in the past, what agencies they’ve worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.

☑ Prioritize your terms

So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, “Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?” Really important to think about as you go in.

☑ Flinch!

This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, “Oh, is that the best you can do?” It’s super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, “Nice flinch.” But it does tend to help you get better deals.

So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It’s so funny.

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

The words “fair” and “comfortable” do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can’t argue with fair. “I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair.”

You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.

☑ Never be the key decision maker

I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they’re the CEO.

They are this. You don’t have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.

Tips for negotiation newbies

So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, “I can never go on my own. I can never do these things.” I’m from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.

☑ Power pose!

I’m not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there’s a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.

Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.

☑ Walk the walk

You’ve got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.

☑ Good > perfect

Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It’s totally normal, but it’s good to acknowledge that it’s so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.

Take inspiration where you can find it

I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy’s old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They’re so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people’s reactions piece by piece that they brought out.

So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, “Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you’re leaving.”

They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone’s business. It just shows that you care, and you’re able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.

☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money

One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.

It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.

So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

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Five Google Trends charts that show the impact of COVID-19

30-second summary:

  • The world is now starting to open back up and we are marketers are adjusting to how we can be effective in this new reality.
  • Search data can help inform the strategic decisions around store locations, hours, payment methods and so much more so that your business can make smarter and more informed decisions on how to be successful.
  • As marketers struggle to grasp the magnitude of changes, Jason Tabeling highlights five Google Trends that can serve as immediate insights.

We all already know that the impact that COVID-19 is having on the world. We have all been under stay-at-home orders for about 90 days. The world is now starting to open back up and we are marketers are adjusting to how we can be effective in this new reality. It’s really hard to grasp the magnitude of changes that are occurring around us right now and it will take some time and perspective for us to truly understand. Search data is a powerful tool that can help us understand how consumers are feeling and reacting to situations. Here are five Google Trend charts that I think help us zoom out a bit and understand some trends that I believe will change the way we operate forever.

1. Retail vs Digital businesses

The world of traditional retail is changing forever. Here is a comparison between Instacart and Whole Foods. Now I know you can say Whole Foods is really Amazon and ecommerce, but that’s sort of the point. Every business is a digital business even if those particularly aren’t owned directly by Amazon. Quickly each business has had to move to a digital model and as you can see from this chart Instacart had a massive surge, has since tailed off, but has significantly closed the gap on Whole Foods. Instacart and other like businesses (Ex. Chewy or Doordash) now have a customer base that is much more comfortable in a digital world and won’t be going back.

Google Trends - Retail vs business

2. Store hours

If and when a store is open is a big deal during COVID-19. Many stores, restaurants, and other businesses were forced closed. Some were deemed essential, and as states re-open are deciding when they should open. This leaves consumers searching to find out how their favorite shops are responding.

For businesses and marketers, this makes keeping your Google My Business (GMB) and other Location Data Management sources (Facebook, Yelp, Apple Maps) up to date. Knowing consumers are seeking information and relying on this information to take action is key. Google has even created new tags like, “Temporarily Closed” to help businesses communicate with their customers easier. Making sure this data is accurate and up to date has always been important and is just magnified by the uncertainty this situation has created for all businesses and consumers.

Google Trends - Store Hours

3. “Contactless”

Check a Google Trends chart for anything “contactless” and you will see a very similar graph. The growth of all things contactless has spiked, delivery, payments, and pickup. This further accelerates the digital revolution. Cash has always been dirty, and in these times people are especially cautious. According to Times article paper money can transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days. This data point, plus all the CDC and WHO recommendations make anything contactless of interest for consumers.Google Trends - Contactless

4. “Curbside”

Curbside is very similar to “Contactless.” Both demonstrate the new ways consumers want to interact with brands. Having this type of pickup option allows consumers the ability to shop with their favorite brands, but not take the incremental risk of going inside the store. Consumers are looking for ways to continue with some sort of normal behavior, get out of their house, and not have to wait for shipping.

Best Buy for example had a curbside pickup at 100 stores in December and quickly accelerated to all 1,200 stores during the pandemic. Much like Contactless, curbside wasn’t even a term consumers were using until recently and we don’t expect it to go away any time soon.

Google Trends - Curbside pickup

5. Remote work

The way people approach their jobs has been forever changed. As you can see from the chart below remote work has been steadily growing since 2004, but has reached a peak over the last few months. This is especially interesting when comparing it to unemployment searches, which is a very sad side effect of the economy shut down. I’m hopeful that for those of us in digital marketing we can see this as a growth opportunity for talent across the country and world to work together to help make marketing stronger for these brands. To help them drive into a digital age that was a differentiator just 90 days ago, and has now been rushed into mandatory status for survival.

Conclusion

So much of our world has been changed forever. It is our job as marketers to help leverage the tools at our disposal. This is especially true for search engine marketing. Where we have the ability to understand how customers are thinking about our brands and the experiences they expect from us just be understanding how they search. This data is not only helpful for search campaigns but business strategy as well. Search data can help inform the strategic decisions around store locations, hours, payment methods and so much more so that your business can make smarter and more informed decisions on how to be successful.

The post Five Google Trends charts that show the impact of COVID-19 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How audience insights can improve your campaign’s bottom line

30-second summary:

  • Cross-reference what businesses think their target audience is versus their current reality through Google Analytics .
  • Create mock-up personas that you can target your campaigns towards. 
  • Identify key outlets and niches for where your audience consumes media beyond the narrow focus of the business.
  • Blueclaw’s Online PR Campaign Manager shines a light on how audience insights can catalyze your campaign results for good.

When we build marketing campaigns, we use a number of metrics to measure success, from the extent of coverage and links to the shift in keyword rankings in the SERPs. However, this ultimately glosses over the real purpose of any campaign – how it improves the bottom line.  

Again, this can be interpreted in a myriad of ways from CTR to sales. In this case, we’re going to focus on how getting the campaign in front of the right audience is an important piece of the puzzle in determining success. 

1. Identifying your audience

When identifying your audience, there should be a two-pronged approach. Firstly, there is the audience, or customer, as identified by the brand. As in any business, the brand will have spotted an opportunity in the market and target their products towards that audience. However, this does not necessarily marry with whom their audience ends up being online.  

This can be due to the fact that clientele has changed since the business’s inception while the product has not, or it can be that the strategy is not targeted enough. So the best way to identify the audience is to look at the available data to create a mockup of who you should be marketing towards.  

The Google Analytics way

One way to do this is, of course, through Google Analytics. Through GA you can go to audiences and filter through to create a picture of where the user is coming from. Their age, gender, and location can all help to identify the nature of your campaign, media targets, etc., as well as helping your client adapt their own messaging and better target their core customers. 

The manual way 

Another way to identify the audience is a little more manual. Does the client have email newsletters or other databases of leads? Can you sort through to help build some mock-up personas that can help tailor your own marketing efforts? Use all that is available (and that your client is willing to share) in order to ideate and build campaigns that will lead to those conversions.  

2. Targeting that audience 

We’d all love for content to go viral. But sometimes, no matter the number of links generated, you still have missed a trick. A campaign always needs to make sense for a brand’s messaging as well as have an element of making it newsworthy. How else would you get links? 

And while we answer many of these questions, we may not always take a very focused approach to outreach in the hope of hitting those link/coverage KPIs. Sometimes we put too much emphasis on the quantity versus the quality of those links.  

Example one: Coverage choices

For instance, a link in a trades magazine could mean exponentially more to a client than if they were to get massive coverage (without a link) in a national newspaper. Why? Because at that particular moment in time, your campaign has attracted the attention of the right audience and is more likely to generate a lead or revenue than that one piece of coverage in a national paper.  

Example two: Hazy messaging

Or as another example, in the past year, I’ve worked on a couple of campaigns that went viral and gained links internationally. Amazing, right? Yes, but how did it actually improve the bottom line? Well, in the case of one campaign. Not at all. The reasons for that were two-fold, the messaging was a little hazy for the target audience and the target market didn’t really even cover the story. While the international coverage wasn’t anything to sniff at with the likes of GQ, The Daily Express, and more covering the story, it failed to get traction in the US.  

The other campaign, Film Franchise Showdown, the messaging was better because it targeted the correct audience. For an iGaming client, the audience will invariably skew male and younger, but not too young. The piece would appeal to that audience in other areas where they consume their news. With coverage in not only national newspapers but also places of entertainment like Comicbook.com and Screen Rant, we’ve still managed to get to them even if the location metric is still something we could improve on.  

In both of these examples, the biggest takeaway was the value of targeting the right locations versus the value of wide appeal. If your message falls upon deaf ears and doesn’t improve visibility and sessions, then you’re obviously missing a trick. 

3. Finding where your audience lives

We’ve mentioned some metrics that you can use to target and identify the audience, but that misses one more element. Where does that audience live? What sort of media do they consume? It’s important to attribute characteristics to the audience you have in mind? 

In building new campaigns, you’re not only thinking about creating something new and newsworthy, but also wondering if it appeals to the customer. Selling software to a CEO or decision-maker of a business is much different from selling software to the average individual looking for something of personal use. Where they consume their news will also differ and you want to make sure that you can reach the right customer, not just any customer.  

So rather than a blanket approach to an outreach where anyone who covers tech is included, fine-tune that media-list. And even before you get to that point, what about the actual crux of the idea? Can you be more light-hearted to appeal to a wide audience? If you’re going after the average Joe to download your app, what are some of his interests that are adjacent to your product but not on the nose? Can you explore other niches and angles within that idea? Are these other niches areas where your customer can still be found? 

Using tools like Facebook Audiences, BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, and Majestic, you can further identify if your niches and target media is valid and even find more targets to add to your list. You can refine the demographics of your audience to make sure they get your message. You can’t attract customers if they don’t see your client, right? Get your client in front of their customers and you’ll see the uplift soon enough.  

What’s next

Once you’ve highlighted the needs of your audience and where you can find them, you’ll be able to develop content marketing strategies that not only appeal to them but that will also deliver the conversions necessary for the business. Most importantly, you will have the data not only back up the strategy, but also a metric to follow moving forward to see the impact of your messaging.  

Natalia Sketchley is an Online PR Campaign Manager at Blueclaw, and is responsible for managing and executing digital PR campaigns for ecommerce, tech, travel, and igaming brands.

The post How audience insights can improve your campaign’s bottom line appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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