The Whiter the Hat the Higher the Ranking





As an above-the-board white hat SEO, you don’t get to polish your badge every morning. You don’t get nickel-plated six-shooters. And you don’t get a pair of spurs.



But you can rest assured that all is well in the land of Google for your website. You won’t have any drops in ranking you intentionally created. And you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that if anything happens, it’s all Google’s fault.

But what does it mean to be a white hat SEO? How do you ensure your efforts are in line with Google’s policies?

Below you’ll find a few white hat SEO techniques that will increase the likelihood you won’t get a penalty from Google.

1. Focus on UX

SEOs tend to obsess over everything but user experience. And it’s a backward way to approach SEO.

Google, on the other hand, wants their users to have a great experience online. If the search results they provide don’t lead to a great experience, they’re failing at their job.

Thus, Google created a few filters to weed out bad user experience. And they don’t just detect junk code, but things like poor loading times, bounce-rates, etc.



Your goal as designer, should you choose to accept it, is to improve on customer loyalty and satisfaction. You do this through utility, pleasure in interaction, and ease of use.

To do this, you must first figure out what the user wants. This is called intent. Then you must figure out how to create navigational paths through your site that satisfy this intent.

After creating a user experience plan, you must test your site with actual users. Find a set of friends who would be willing to spend 20 minutes browsing through your site.

Give them tasks. If you run a storefront, ask them to “buy” something. If you run a blog, tell them to simply navigate from one blog to the next.

Then give them a quick survey.

2. Be Mobile

As an outdoorsman, I’m constantly frustrated with national and state land agencies. They build the worst websites sometimes. And then I’m constantly playing the “pinch and zoom” game with their sites cause they refuse to go mobile.

It’s tiresome, and my fingers get tired. Don’t tire out the fingers of your users.

This section could meld with user experience and it almost should go without saying, but you don’t know how often I come across non-mobile-friendly sites.

It makes your website seem out of date. And even if you have current information on your non-mobile-friendly site, I will still go looking for a date stamp somewhere to see if the information is current.



This has as much to do with SEO and ranking as it does with user experience and trust. If users don’t trust your site because it’s not mobile friendly and it feels out of date, how much more do you think Google will value your site?

They really won’t. Google has been doubling down on mobile for quite some time now because, guess what, Google makes and maintains a mobile operating system. They want people on mobile devices.

If you’re not mobile-friendly, your SERPs will tank. It’s that simple. Unless you’re the government, and for somereason that .gov domain protects them.

3. Schema For a Bonus

Google has an approved way of improving your HTML tags. It’s a Schema tool and seriously few people are actually making use of it.

It’s really simple to add HTML tags to your website. You simply go to Schema.org, nab the tags, and paste.

The tags you want will create an enhanced description in the search results. These are known as “Rich Snippets.”

These help users understand what kind of content they’re clicking on before they click. It can help your search result stand out. And if it stands out, gets more clicks, then Google might deign to rank you a bit higher.

Schema markup doesn’t just help users. It helps Google as well. It’s like putting a label on packed boxes for a moving company. They’ll know what’s inside the boxes and where to put them without having to go searching through your stuff.

4. Links, Links, and More Links

You might be yawning at this point. Links seem so old-hat by now. But us SEOs will never cease to harp on link-building until Google stops considering links (which will most likely be never).

The internet is a network, after all, and you’ve got to prove to Google you’re connected. Plus, if you’re not getting content linked back to, how do you know it’s even useful to anyone?

One of the best ways to get link-back is by building a small data-base of information on your site. Having a resource center for you niche will be highly useful for users as long as the content is fresh and up to date.

Anybody looking for specific information can quickly flip through your resources and link back to it in an article.

5. Claim Your Business Listing No Matter What

While we spend most of our time on the digital front, a physical location still sends a message of authenticity. Google lets anyone with a mailable physical address list their business.

You could use your home address and create a business listing on Google. And to boot, it makes you seem local. Google is going hyper-local and you might be able to improve your SERPs if you at least seem like a local business.

White hat SEO is really about organic results. Those who focus on white hat operate under the assumption that you can’t fool Google, so why not maximize with what’s above board.

3 Successful Ways to Get More People Sharing Your Content on Social Media (For Webmasters and Blogger) 2018

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When it comes to social media marketing, exposure is the name of the game. Having high-quality content is great, but it means nothing if there’s no one actually reading it. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that brands and businesses from all over the world are doing everything in their power to increase their exposure on social media. At this point, there are a variety of ways that you can do this. And while certain tactics, like using social media ads or relying on organic traffic, can certainly be helpful, there’s nothing quite like word of mouth to get people talking about your product or service.



The average consumer today is more likely to do business with you if there are other people willing to vouch for your business.

Just take a look at the data that Impact found, analyzing the importance of word-of-mouth marketing.

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Social Media Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool, but it’s difficult to get because it’s so reliant on what others say about you.

One of the easiest ways to get this type of validation is by getting your audience to share your posts and content on social media.

Of course, getting them to actually do that is easier said than done.

The average consumer isn’t likely to stand by a product or service unless they truly believe in it. Before you ask people to share, you first need to be sure that your content is worthy of sharing.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to ask your audience (both directly and indirectly) to share your content.

I’ll be the first to admit that this can be tricky, especially since every brand on social seems to wrap their posts up with “don’t forget to like and share this!” these days.

Standing out on social is going to directly influence how much exposure you gain through this method.

That’s why  I’ve put together a list of my favorite original ideas to increase sharing on social.

If you use the same tactics as everyone else, you’re going to end up with the same results and the same exposure.

I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to put in a bit more effort if it means having a more successful social media marketing strategy.

By the time we’re done here, you’ll be on the path to increased social media engagement and exposure.

Use influencers properly

For whatever reason, business owners (and certain pockets of the social media marketing world) seem to think that the use of influencers is some type of fad.

Honestly? I’m not sure that those people are looking at the big picture.

When you look at the role that celebrities have played in the world of marketing, it’s no surprise that social media influencers as we know them today have become so popular.

Consider for a moment the life of the modern consumer.

They most likely grew up listening to ad after ad on the radio or TV. They’re used to brands leading them on with inaccurate advertising.

The celebrity endorsements they’re familiar with typically involve an athlete or movie star talking about a product they don’t believe in or would never use.

It’s pretty depressing, right?

Then suddenly, the Internet came along and changed the way consumers interact with advertisements.



More specifically, they don’t have to interact with that many anymore. Ad blockers mean they only see a fraction of the ads they used to deal with.

Music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music market their premium services as ad-free listening experiences because they understand how much people dislike annoying ads.

The reality of the current advertising market is that the only hope you have is providing a compelling piece of content and hoping for the best, right?

Wrong.

Social Media Tactics

Tactics like the celebrity endorsements still work — they’ve just become significantly more targeted now.

Instead of trusting a vaguely familiar face for advice on what kind of headphones to buy, people are more likely to take their cues from an industry professional with a strong reputation.

Why? Because authenticity matters, especially when you expect to develop the level of brand loyalty necessary for a consumer to consistently share your content.

Social media influencers, or micro-celebrities as they’re sometimes called, are perfectly suited for the needs of the modern consumer.

For starters, they’re not just random recognizable icons. They tend to have a history with their audiences that puts other celebrities to shame.

Take your typical YouTuber. Aside from the content they post on their channel, they usually have at least one other method for engaging with their audiences.

Sometimes it’s a vlog channel that shows behind-the-scenes content or just snippets from their daily lives. Other times, it’s a personal Instagram account with completely unique content.

The point is that influencers aren’t just powerful because of the content they produce. They’re impactful because audiences feel a deeper connection with their brand and what they represent.

Speaking of the content they produce, it’s worth noting that it’s infinitely more targeted than most celebrities.

When a movie star does a commercial for a watch or car, no one expects them to be an authority on the industry in question.

But when you’re dealing with influencers on social media, you can bet that the person plugging that product knows a thing or two about the industry.

If you’re looking to understand the influencer scene on platforms like YouTube, look no further than Casey Neistat.

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Here’s Casey Neistat teaming up with Samsung to promote the Samsung Galaxy.

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And that actually leads me to my final point about influencers.

You’re not just investing in the size of their following or their brand recognition on the platform. You’re gaining exposure to a targeted audience.

When a random celebrity promotes a phone or a camera, you’re banking on their star power.

When Casey Neistat promotes your phone or camera, you’re banking on the size of his audience and the faith that his audience has in him.

Don’t just hire as many influencers as possible. Quality and relevancy are the order of the day when deciding who to work with to promote your brand.

If you manage to choose the right influencers for your brand, you’ll be amazed at the level of validation your brand will receive.

And why does that matter?

Because an increase in validation today means there’s a higher chance that your brand’s content will be shared on social tomorrow.

If you want that audience to share your content, there’s no better way to convince them your content is worth sharing than having their favorite influencer stand by your brand.

Contests, coupons, and UGC

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a big fan of keeping things simple and direct.

With that in mind, I’ll introduce my second method for getting more shares on social media: embrace the giveaway format.

Embrace the giveaway format.

I’m sure there are some people who’ll read this and completely dismiss the idea of giving anything away for free.

I can hear it already. “I’m trying to run a business here, Neil! I can’t just afford to give away free stuff!”

Listen, I get it. And if you can get the kind of exposure you want without having to resort to creative tactics, more power to you.



But if you’re struggling to increase the amount of exposure you get, a contest can be a great way to pump up your social media shares.

Mind you, the prize doesn’t have to be something enormous. It all depends on how you want to approach the process.

Just take a look at Gary Vaynerchuk’s Instagram page to get a better understanding of what I mean.

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His #60secondclub rewards people who’ve turned on their notifications for his content by giving them a free book or T-shirt for commenting.

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You could offer a single major prize for the contest to keep things simple.

Offer several small prizes to reassure your audience that there’s a chance they’ll win.

Mix these two approaches together by offering every sharer a small discount code with a major prize at the end of the contest for one random person.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Increasing your social media shares

If you’re really looking to increase your social media shares, you can combine the contest tactic with user-generated content (UGC).

A surprising portion of Airbnb’s most engaging images on their Instagram page are actually UGC.

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For those of you who need a quick refresher on UGC, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Content that your audience puts together, which you then use as promotional material.

The only real problem with UGC is the fact that it’s a marketing strategy that relies almost entirely on your audience’s willingness to create content.

In other words, if they don’t feel compelled to create anything, you can expect a barren wasteland of content during your campaign.

Sounds like it’s high-risk, high-reward, right?

Social Media Solution

The solution that most businesses use is trying to come up with a compelling idea and promising to share the best content on their official social media platforms.

And while you should definitely still focus on those solutions, incorporating the content into your UGC campaign all but guarantees it’ll be successful.

The actual execution of your UGC can vary, obviously. All that matters is that the activity is compelling or engaging in some way.

Here’s a look at the Starbucks Red Holiday cup, which they use to encourage consumers to creatively customize and share with their friends.

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Create a UGC marketing campaign with a contest where the only way to enter is by sharing their UGC on social media and you’ll be one step closer to increasing your online authority.

CTAs and social media share buttons

If you really want people sharing your content on social media, you need to understand the concept of friction.

At its core, friction is the thing that gets between your user’s actions. There are plenty of definitions for friction, but what’s important for you to understand is that it’s the enemy.

Anything that gets between your audience and the actions you want them to take is going to end up being something you want to get rid of.

The harder it is for your audience to take action, the less likely they are to take it.

If you want to increase the chances that your audience will take a particular action, try to remove as much friction as possible between where your audience is and where you want them to be.

Enter the call-to-action (CTA).

 

A truly efficient CTA revolves around your ability to guide your readers and ask them to do something specific. The more specific the ask, the more likely they are to actually do it.

The beauty of the CTA is that it doesn’t just have to focus on sales. There are few different types of actions that brands want their consumers to take.

Sales are obviously one of them, but there are other types of conversions like e-book downloads and email newsletter sign-ups that benefit your business without directly contributing to sales.

For the purposes of our example, we’re going to talk about a CTA that’s all about getting users to share your content on social media.

In order to pull that off, your CTA should be a few things.

  • Concise
  • Clear
  • One step

By ensuring that your CTA is straightforward and not convoluted, you end up with a CTA that clearly shows your audience what their next step should be.

I’m also a firm believer in the one-step CTA because multiple steps tend to complicate things unnecessarily.

Since this is about content, it’s likely that your CTA will be at the end of your blog content or video content.

No matter which you’re using, keep in mind that your CTA is more about making a value proposition than it is about presenting people with an ad.

 

People are going to need a reason to share your content. It can be something as simple as, “share this with someone thinks they’re always right,” or, “share this with any of your friends headed to college”.

CTAs may not be subtle, but they’re the solution to friction when it comes to increasing social media sharing.

Another important tool that you should be using to increase the number of shares you get on social media is the social media share button dashboard.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited pages that ask for social media shares at the end of their articles only to find that they don’t have any social media share buttons on their page.

This is one of the easiest ways to encourage people to share your content on social. The buttons basically remove any of the barriers between the user and the action.

Conclusion

If you’re worried about getting more shares for your content on social media, it’s important to understand what makes people share content.

Typically, it’s going to be 1 of 2 reasons. Either they were compelled by your brand or they were compelled by the content itself.

Assuming you’re already making content that’s compelling enough, the question then becomes, “How can your brand encourage people to share your content?”

Well, they can start by leveraging the social proof that comes from aligning with industry influencers.

Appealing to a targeted audience is definitely going to help increase your social media shares.

But you can go beyond that. Recognize that offering value via contests and giveaways is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your audience has a reason to share your content.

If you’re really feeling ambitious, learn to combine UGC and contests to end up with a campaign that’s as unique as it is compelling.

Make sure that you’re addressing the basics of social media sharing by providing your audience with easy-to-follow CTAs and a panel of social sharing buttons to reduce friction.

Getting people to share your content on social is 50% the content you produce and 50% the way you promote that content through your own social media platforms.

What’s your favorite method for encouraging social media sharing?

 

 

10 AdWords Extensions You Should be Using (But Probably Aren’t) 2018 for Online Marketing, Webmasters and Bloggers

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So, you’re running a Google AdWords campaign. And your results are varied at best. One day, your PPC efforts might bring in a decent chunk of leads, but another day it falls dormant. What gives? Why is it working one day and not another? Well, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to your successful or flailing Google AdWords campaign. I want to talk about one of the ways that you can give your failing PPC budget a better chance. As you probably already know, search engines represent a wealth of lead-, traffic-, and revenue-generating potential.



And Google is the best of them.

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And you can only leverage that potential if you optimize your AdWords campaigns to rake in impressions, clicks, and leads.

Otherwise, you’re sending your budget to the trash can.

Luckily, there is a way you can increase the effectiveness of your PPC ads.

And it revolves around using the best AdWords extensions that Google has to offer.

What are AdWords extensions?

AdWords extensions are just a fancy way of saying, “The stuff that you can change, add, and alter about your AdWords campaigns.”

Different extensions do different things.

With some, you can add reviews or a call button.

With others, you can add a discount or brief testimonial.

That’s why, when you search on Google for something, you often see sponsored results that look different from each other.

You’ll see results like these.

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Or maybe you’ll get results like these.

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Can you see the differences?

The reason shy different results look different is that the marketers behind the scenes are leveraging different AdWords extensions.

Some of them are doing it well, while others aren’t doing it quite so well.

But how can you ensure that you’re in the former category rather than the latter?

You need to make sure that you use the right extensions for your business.

You want to use the ones that raise your click-through rate, lower your cost per click, and increase your ROI.

In case you’re still not convinced, here’s one more reason that you should consider using AdWords extensions, even if you’ve never done it before.

Why should you use them?

Budgets are tight.

All around the Internet, digital marketers are struggling to (1) get enough budget to do all the things they want to do, and (2) get the best ROI possible with their current budgets.

And it’s no surprise.

You, the marketer, know that you need to please your boss. But you also need to please and appeal to your target market.

Otherwise, you won’t bring in sales.

That’s a difficult spot to be in.

Just consider that 28% of marketers listed securing enough budget for their efforts among their top business challenges.

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In other words, you need to make the most of the budget you have.

That includes your SEO budget, your content marketing budget, and, for our purposes, your AdWords budget.

But you can only make the most of your AdWords budget if you’re at least somewhat familiar with all of the extensions they offer.

And that’s exactly why you’re here.

So without further ado, here are ten extensions that you should be using but probably aren’t.

1. Sitelink extensions

The first extension you should know about is the sitelink extension.

These little beauties are additional links that sit under your primary result link.

They go to other popular pages on your website — maybe your blog, special offers, menu, reviews, or pricing page.

Whatever the case, you can use these extensions to encourage users to choose where they’d like to go instead of having them visiting your homepage or landing page when they click on your result.

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These are particularly useful when someone searches for your brand name on Google.

Think about it.

When someone searches for “buy email automation software,” you already know what they’re looking to do, so you don’t need the additional links.

But when someone searches for your brand name, what are their intentions? There’s no way to know. Your guess is as good as mine.

So, having additional links in your AdWords result allows searchers to navigate your website quickly from the SERP.

When I searched for “Domino’s,” for instance, this came up:

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And when I searched for “MailChimp,” this was the first result:

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By using the sitelink extension, you allow users to quickly and easily get where they want to go on your website.

Because, when people type in your brand name, they want to go somewhere on your website.

It’s best to let them do that quickly.

2. Call extensions

Imagine that you’re waiting in the car with the baby while your spouse shops.

But you’re planning to get dinner at the local pizza joint afterward.

Now, you’re browsing on your phone in the car. You type your favorite pizza place into Google, and the first result is the one you want.

But there’s a problem. You don’t see a phone number.

So you go to their website and look around. But after a few long moments, you get sick of searching and decide to get pizza from somewhere else.

That pizza place just lost a sale. But they wouldn’t have if they had been using the call extension on their AdWords campaign.

It looks like this.

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And that call button isn’t just important for local food places.

It’s important for any business that offers customer support or sales via phone.

Which are most businesses.

Here’s what the extension looks like on a real estate advertisement.

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By adding that button, you tell customers that you’re just a phone call away, which builds trust and makes you feel more approachable.

Without it, you’re sure to frustrate certain prospects.

But you might do more than just frustrate them. You could even lose their attention altogether.

The point is, if you don’t have this extension, you run the risk of frustrating prospects and customers before they even contact you.

We’ve all gotten angry trying to find a hidden phone number.

But the call extension will avoid that by putting your phone number front-and-center.

3. App extensions

Do you offer an app for your business?

Today, having an app is practically a must for any serious SaaS or e-commerce company.

MailChimp, Shopify, and Amazon all have native applications for their services and products.

And the reason is that browsing on an app is often easier than browsing on a mobile website.

App designers create native applications so they’ll function smoothly on the device, instead of just fitting the device like mobile websites.

That’s a noteworthy difference.

Even mobile websites can sometimes get tricky to navigate.

But navigating a native application is almost always a breeze.

If you do have an app, you might want to consider using the AdWords app extension. It looks like this:

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Here’s another example:

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And the popularity of native applications isn’t just my opinion. The data backs it up.

51% of people buying products on their smartphone use an app rather than a website.

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It’s hard to blame them. Since the app is so much easier to use, buying on it is practically instinctual.

For that reason, you should consider using this extension if you have a dedicated application for smartphones.

Your visitors, leads, and customers will prefer using it.

4. Review extensions

Few things in the marketing world are as powerful as customer reviews.

When someone says they like your product or service, other people want to like it too.

It sort of says, “This product is amazing! Everyone loves it, and you will too!”

A review is a way of assuring the visitor that they’re going to love your product or service before they even buy it. And they’re important because everyone looks at reviews.

That isn’t just marketing speculation.

It’s science.

When consumers are looking to make a purchase, 64% of them seek out customer reviews to support their decision.

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And 77.3% of buyers in a study claimed that reviews impacted their decision.

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But how does all of that information apply to AdWords extensions?



Well, the review extension allows you to add a short testimonial to your AdWords advertisement. It gives searchers the review they’re craving upfront.

Review extensions look like this:

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You don’t have to wait until people click on your website to leverage the power of social proof.

You can exploit its power right in the search results.

That means that you’ll get more clicks, traffic, leads, and conversions.

5. Callout extensions

If you’re a marketer, then you’re probably familiar with the power of callouts in advertisements.

You know, the part where you say, “Calling all women frustrated with their makeup” or “Are you sick and tired of having to vacuum your carpet?”

I know. It sounds kind of like an infomercial.

And that’s because it is.

But infomercials and QVC have used this strategy for a long time for one reason and one reason only:

It works.

And you can leverage it with the callout Adwords extension.

The extension looks like this:

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Or it’ll look something like this:

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You can use the extension to say a variety of different things.

You can use it to describe the kinds of products you offer, promote a special deal you currently have going, or call out your specific target market.

In other words, who is your target market, and how can you grab their attention quickly?

If you tell them all that, you won’t just win their attention. You’ll win their click.

6. Structured snippets extensions

The structured snippet extension offers another opportunity for you to tell searchers what your business sells.

And the more chances you get to do that, the better.

The reality is that a lot of times when people see your result, they don’t know who you are, what you’re there for, and how you can help them.

A structured snippet can solve that problem if you use it correctly.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

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The purpose of this snippet is to explain to customers the kind of products, styles, or services you offer.

You can quickly list a few different options that visitors will have if they click through to your website.

Ask yourself this: what exactly is it that you offer? Is it email marketing software, clothing, sunglasses, or CRM software?

Whatever it is, include those details in your structured snippet.

That way, searchers will know who you are and what you offer before they even visit your website.

Here’s what a Walgreens advertisement looks like for example.

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After all, if people know who you are and what you offer, you won’t only get clicks. You’ll get the right clicks.

7. Location extensions

It’s probably pretty obvious to you what the AdWords location extension does.

Still, tons of businesses don’t use it.

A lot of online businesses and SaaS companies think that because they are online, they don’t need to provide their address.

But that’s not necessarily true.

After all, when you’re considering working with a new business, you want to know that they aren’t scamming you, right?

Including your address in your AdWords result is a great way to show the legitimacy of your business. That means that people are more likely to trust you and your company.

Your business turns from something ambiguous to something personal and tangible. And I don’t know about you, but I’m far more comfortable buying from a business that feels real.

It’s really simple to include your address on your result, and it’s well worth the trust that you’ll build with searchers.

Here’s what a desktop result looked liked like when I search for “verizon near seattle.”

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Here’s what a mobile result looks like for T-Mobile.

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Even if your business isn’t local, including your location on your AdWords result will likely increase the trust people have for you.

It’s a must for serious business owners and marketers.

8. Offer extensions

I’m willing to bet that you’ve experienced the power of discounts.

You’re familiar with how people flock to the clearance section of your digital store or how you get more conversions on days that your service is 20% off.

The truth is simple:

People love discounts.

They love the opportunity to save money on awesome products or services.

And who can blame them?

We all like to save money.

But what you might not have thought about is that offering discounts can make for a great AdWords strategy.

And you can use the offer extension to do so, just like this:

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But just in case you’re not convinced, consider that everyone from the ages of 18 to 64 who abandons their online shopping cart is more likely to buy those products if they receive a follow-up discount.

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People love saving money.

And, ironically, you can make money because of it by offering a discount on your PPC ad with the offer extension.

9. Social extensions

Few things in this life are for sure:

Death, taxes, and social media.

OK, I added the last one.

But with the rising power of social media, its influence isn’t something to take lightly.

Consumers and business people alike use, trust, and leverage social media for their own benefits.

But did you know you can use social media to enhance the effectiveness of your PPC ad?

In fact, the social extension allows you to do just that.

Unfortunately, you can only connect it to your Google+ account. But that’s better than nothing, right?

Here’s what it looks like.

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Here are a few more examples.

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If you have a particularly high number of followers or likes on your business’s Google+ account, then it would definitely be worth your time to include this extension.

It might just add the extra bit of incentive that browsers need to click on your ad.

After all, you’d hate to lose a click to competitors who are already doing this, right?

10. Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension

OK, you caught me. This extension isn’t technically an AdWords extension.

In fact, it’s actually a Chrome extension for AdWords.

But it’s well worth your time to hear about. It’s called Keywords Everywhere.

Here’s how it works.

Once you’ve installed the extension, whenever you type a search into Google and hit enter, you’ll see the average search volume for those exact keywords and the average cost per click for any AdWords campaigns surrounding those keywords.

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This is incredibly useful because, often, the most difficult part of choosing which keywords to target with your AdWords budget is determining the volume of the search and the average cost per click.

Keywords Everywhere immediately gives you both of those things.

With it, you can quickly find out which keywords will be most worthy of your time and budget rather than trying and failing to find which keywords are most effective.

Conclusion

Few things in your life are as frustrating as an unpredictable AdWords campaign.

One day, it brings in leads. Another day, it doesn’t.

But mostly, it doesn’t.

Luckily, your problem might require a simple solution:

Adding the right extensions to your advertisements.

In particular, you should consider adding the sitelink, call, app, review, callout, structured snippet, location, offer, and social extensions. Then, for your AdWords research, consider using the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension.

Though the marketing world is often unpredictable, you don’t have to bow to that flailing campaign.

Instead, control what you can with the right AdWords extensions and drive clicks, leads, and conversions like never before.

Which AdWords extensions do you find the most useful for increasing your click-through rate?

 

 

 

How to Increase Website Traffic by 250,000+ Monthly Visits (For Webmasters / Blogger Only) 2018

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I have to admit the number of estimated website traffic to your website or blog was a lie. The number is actually larger… but I thought you wouldn’t believe me. The accurate, true-to-life title I should have used is “how to increase website traffic by 500,000 monthly visitors”… because that’s what we achieved.



And we did it for our clients not once…

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Not twice…

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but three times in the past 24-36 months.

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To be fair, by no means are we the only ones responsible for these lifts. Each of the above three are big, highly-visible companies with talented marketing teams.

But the numbers above directly represent the SEO increases in the past 24 to 36 months… numbers which we were specifically hired to help increase, and are strong contributors to.

And to be even fairer, since these numbers are only organic traffic, they also omit other impacts like social, referral and direct traffic, which we also helped increase.

As a team of ten that achieved that (now twelve), I’m pretty proud of those numbers. More importantly, I’m proud of the process behind them: a repeatable, achievable strategy that anybody can accomplish, even at a smaller scale.

As long as you implement the process appropriately and put in the work to get there, this kind of growth is achievable.

How to Replicate

So… how do you do it? What’s the process?

In summary, you can achieve this growth by repeatedly creating and promoting top or middle-funnel content that ranks for keywords with significant volume, that also tie back to bottom-funnel landing pages that are pushed up through the connective effects.

In this post, I’ll give you the step-by-step rubric we use to identify the right pieces to create, what to promote, what not to promote, and how to make sure your content will rank well every time.

We’ll lift the lid on the internal process on how to get more traffic we’ve been heads down creating, iterating on and implementing for our clients—which has already created massive impacts, but for you, can be used in its almost-perfected form.

All the techniques, all the strategies, all the lessons learned—all in one post. 

How to Increase Website Traffic

The Skyscraper Technique is a four-step process popularized by Brian Dean that unveils a clean, straightfoward path to building a massive audience. The steps are:

  • Step 1: Find link-worthy content around a topic with search volume
  • Step 2: Make something even better
  • Step 3: Reach out to the right people to generate the links needed to rank
  • Step 4: Repeat with a new topic

Brian uses the metaphor of a skyscraper for this technique to elicit the idea that to stand out in a city, you need to build the biggest skyscraper. Nobody cares about the 8th biggest skyscraper—they only care about the tallest.

So, in summary, your job as a content creator is to create the biggest, baddest content out there—and then tell people about it.

Misinterpretations of the Technique

I fully believe in Brian’s idea, and it’s an immensely effective method of building your business, and hitting that 250,000+ increase goal. However, the technique is not without its critics—and I believe this is due to how Brian simplified the concept.

In essence, if you read the post on the Skyscraper Technique, Dean essentially says that in creating the best thing for a given keyword, and then building a ton of links to the page based on that quality, you’ll have enough for that page to rank. This isn’t always true.

Tower

The element that’s left out is the need for domain authority. If you’re starting from scratch and going against CNN, The New York Times and Business Insider, 40 links to a single page won’t be enough. You’ll need more combined authority in order to outpace them, even if their pages don’t stack up to yours.

It’s possible to build best-in-class content for a keyword, generate 40 links, and then keep building similar content like it to eventually get that page ranking #1. But that’s not the fastest growth model—and most businesses would like to see the revenue and benefit from ranking other pages in the interim.

Enter Keyword Opposition to Benefit (KOB) Analysis.

KOB Analysis, combined with the Skyscraper Technique, is the completion of your business-building equation.

How to Use KOB Analysis

What a KOB analysis does that the Skyscraper Technique doesn’t, is also consider revenue potential in combination with competition.

By looking at competition early, we can understand in advance if we are capable of ranking, even if our domain authority is low.

By looking at revenue potential, we can understand in advance that if we do rank, we’ll actually generate some business benefit from the activity—and not just rank for something without any buying intent.

A smart content strategy starts with the highest benefit content you can actually rank for, first, and then builds from there.

And after enough time, effort, and subsequent rankings, you can then consider creating the Empire State Building.

The KOB Equation for Content

Originally popularized by Todd Malicoat, KOB analysis can have many different forms and levels of complexity. For the purposes of this analysis and your own implementation, we’ll keep it relatively simple.

KOB

Breaking it down, Traffic Cost is SEMRush’s way of showing the hypothetical value of a page. Traffic Cost estimates the traffic a page is getting by estimating clickthrough rate (CTR), and then multiplying it against all the positions it ranks for. From there, it looks at what others would be willing to pay for that same traffic using Google AdWords’ CPC.

This gives us an estimated Traffic Cost, which is a strong estimator of the real value of a page. We use page-level traffic cost, and think less about individual keywords, because keywords are becoming less relevant due to Google becoming increasing intelligent at determining topics because of their recent Hummingbird update.

Given that, what we really need to do is grab the page ranking #1 for the main keyword, dump it into SEMRush, and then see what other keywords that page ranks for—showing the true “topic value” of that keyword set.



If we only use a single keyword, we almost certainly sell ourselves short.

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Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool gives us a quick snapshot of the competition on a given keyword set, to allow us to determine Difficulty. Although we can’t really glean topic difficulty at this given time, grabbing the difficulty of one of the biggest keywords is a pretty good indicator of the entire topic set – so we’ll do that.

Although Traffic Cost is a great metric to start with, and scales well throughout a team of beginners, it is suggested you modify those numbers appropriate to your own business. Not every topic will be valuable to you, and it’s possible some topics will be even more valuable than the metric listed.

Proceed as appropriate.

KOB Analysis Example

To give an example of this process in action, let’s look at the keyword “content marketing.” Inputting it in Moz’s keyword difficulty tool, we get back the following data:

kob-analysis

Editor’s note: Moz has shifted away from their previous difficulty score to a new tool, Keyword Explorer. It has its own difficulty metric that’s slightly different from what’s laid out here. AHREFs and SEMRush also have their own scores. Really, what tool you use is up to you/personal preference/assessment of accuracy, but there are several options for determining SERP difficulty.

At this surface level, it’s easy to see that yes, the keyword is extremely competitive, and also, that a lot of people search for this keyword each month.

But we’re missing some inputs—namely, what’s the potential value of each of those visits, and also, does this topic have lots of other long-tail that make it a much bigger keyword?

We uncover this using SEMRush and the search results. Go to Google, and grab the number one result—or whatever result you think you are capable of creating 10x content for. In this case, that result is the “What is Content Marketing?” page from CMI.

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We then input that URL into SEMRush to get the breadth of the opportunity available, and also, a guess about the value based on what other people are bidding on similar traffic.

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In this case, we see that the estimated traffic to the page is 13,300 visits a month, based on 1,100 keywords. That would have been a lot of missed long-tail if we had just settled on the singular keyword.

Using their estimated traffic*CPC equation, we see that the estimated value of ranking #1 for “content marketing” and other keywords in the topic area is $228,000 per month.

Once we have the traffic cost number, we divide it by the keyword difficulty, 76%, to get the KOB score. In this case, our KOB score is 300,000.

Out of context, that score means nothing. We need to do more research, and build a topic database we can utilize to appropriately prioritize the content we create.

Suffice to say, though, this keyword is an extremely valuable one. However, its difficulty means it’s not something most companies (including our own) can get even close to ranking for in the short-run.

We need to ladder up to taking a shot at it, even with amazing content—because we won’t be able to sniff page one without more domain authority. We’ll get to that soon in our upcoming section on choosing the right topic.

Scaling Keyword Research

Now that you know how to identify and properly value a topic, it’s time to aggregate as many topics as possible that make sense for your given vertical.

The SEO world has always been focused on keywords, so the idea of doing topic research is a somewhat novel concept. However, it can easily be done, it just takes a few extra steps. Here are a few hacks we’ve learned to quickly build a list of top-and-mid-funnel topics.

SEMRush’s Page Analysis

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SEMRush has a relatively new feature that allows you to quickly see the highest-trafficked pages for a given domain. It’s a bit buried, so can be easy to miss, but it’s a no-brainer shortcut to quickly unveil the topics with massive traffic. Unfortunately it doesn’t immediately give you traffic or traffic cost, but one extra step will solve that for you.

We like finding the big publishers in our clients’ verticals and then opening up this feature in SEMRush—it’s a quick way to uncover topics we think we can replicate—and improve—as a method of building valuable traffic.

Don’t limit it to publishers, though—you should actually do this for any competitor or business worth a salt in your space—it’ll open up a wealth of opportunity you might miss otherwise.

Keyword Planner’s Ad Group Ideas

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Although initially intended for bidding purposes, Google’s ad group ideas nicely mimic topics, and can give you a decent snapshot of the true potential of a given group. Don’t rely on the average monthly searches, though—use the same process mentioned above to build on Google’s initial research to get a more accurate snapshot.

A Video Walkthrough of the Process

If video is more your thing, I’ve created a tutorial walkthrough showing you some of the basics of the keyword research process.

 
 

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Building from There—Hard Work

In my experience, good keyword research, beyond the above quick hacks, basically comes down to hard work. Get creative, grab lots of different keyword variants, use phrase match to grab a massive list of relevant terms and crop from there, and etc.

That’s not to say there isn’t lots of more detailed, in-depth resources on the topic to help you build on your list. I can go on from there, but it’s slightly outside the scope of this post to do so. If a keyword research newbie, I recommend checking out some of the following articles, which go into more depth on the topic:

KOB Research Process Example

So, what does this process look like? What should your spreadsheet of research contain? To fast-track your learning, we’ve created a 100-topic research set for a hypothetical vertical—our own.

Click the below image and you’ll see a list of 100 topics, including traffic cost and traffic numbers, we built out for our own content marketing business. You can copy the spreadsheet and clear out the data to make it pertinent to your own business.

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You might think I’m kinda crazy giving out that competitive research for free, but honestly, I don’t think it matters. Research is one thing, but past the research—as you’ll see in the 5,000+ other words in this guide, execution is everything.

With your research in hand, it’s time to start segmenting the content you need to create, and then prioritizing appropriately.

KOB is a great metric that helps nudge lower competition, high benefit terms higher on your list, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically pick the highest KOB topic. That would be “SEO” on ours, and with a difficulty of 86%, it’s not something we’ll be in a position to rank for even three years from now.

What you need to do from here is establish a baseline based on the authority of your domain, how good your content is going to be, and also, where in the funnel your content fits.

To give you an example, our domain authority is currently a mediocre 41 due to not putting a lot of emphasis on it in the past. For that reason, we want to (almost) automatically scratch off any keyword with a difficulty higher than 70%—we just can’t rank today. Even the 60% range as a starting point is gutsy, but it’s achievable if the content is good enough.

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On the flipside, if your domain authority is in the 60s or 70s, your analysis isn’t about whether or not you can rank – you instead are trying to determine what keywords you can rank for without promotion, a nice luxury to have. In the 40s, you most likely don’t have that ability – every topic will require cold outreach in order to see the first page.

This baseline can vary on a few different variables, such as your topic authority. If you own Flowers.com and all your content and likes thus far have been about flowers, you can probably stretch for a higher difficulty term.

On the converse, if you’re a flower company trying to create more general lifestyle content, you might need to inflate the difficulty to make up for a lack of perceived authority.

Content Layering 101

Content layering is the most powerful part of this process, and one of the pieces of this strategy that many haven’t realized the power of.

If you can create content that generates links, ranks well, and layers directly on top of one of your landing pages, you’ll not only see the value of that additional traffic, there’s also a strong certainty you’ll push your more commercial landing page to #1 as well.

Confused? Let me show you an example.

Before buying a snowboard, you probably want to know what size makes sense for your frame. Therefore, you’d probably search for something like “snowboard sizing” or “snowboard sizing chart.” These two searches are right before the purchase—but not directly commercial.

As a snowboard provider, if you could get content in front of the end user in that position, there’s a stronger-than-normal chance they’d buy from you.

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Evo does exactly that. They have a nicely done guide that ranks for pretty much every keyword in this set.

But the value here doesn’t just lie in the normal marketing purchase funnel stuff you’ve probably read a million times before. The power lies in the additional SEO benefits that come from layering a page like this on top of their core landing page.

Creating this page does the following things to help Evo rank for “snowboards”:

  • When people then search “snowboards,” they are more likely to click Evo due to the brand awareness that was just generated. The CTR increase may lead to a later reranking based on perceived (and real) brand authority. You might not have a massive brand, but you can generate similar signals with layering.
  • Generating links to this page (that links to the landing page) may increase topic authority/funnel relevancy to the landing page. Nothing groundbreaking, but there’s no doubt that increasing your authority through links, and more content around the subject, may impact the bottom-stage ranking as well.
  • Enables them to get landing page links in the outreach process. Although this is something Evo didn’t actually do, it is possible to get landing page links in the outreach process due to the semantic closeness. We go more in-depth on this strategy on our post on how to get landing page links with blog content.

When these three things are combined—particularly part one, you can push many bottom-funnel landing pages higher. We’ve seen it happen—time and time again.

Imagine ranking for a snowboard sizing page that gets you 8,100 monthly searches, that then pushes you to one for terms that get you 38,000 – like in Evo’s case.

Imagine doing that for wakeboards as well, and seeing 1,900 searches from that mid-funnel set, which powers you to #1 for wakeboards and 13,200 more visits.



Imagine doing that for every product in your product line. One by one. Layer by layer.

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That’s how you see 500,000 increases in web traffic.

In simpler terms, Evo, and many businesses like them, benefit from many mid-funnel terms that exist in their space. If you can create middle-funnel content that ranks #1, it’s a strong lock you can level up your bottom-funnel to #1 as well.

Content Layering Alternatives

Unfortunately, not every business has topics that so easily layer on top of sales pages. Top of funnel is further out, more abstract, and a little less likely to have the CTR effect layering does.

For example, in a business like ours, it’s unlikely any term we could rank for would have a significant CTR impact on any agency or services related term. Therefore, it’s less likely we can create content that will have the multiplier effect that Evo is lucky enough to have.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t still pursue top-of-funnel content. But unlike Evo, it’s integral that you find ways to massage people through the funnel – such as email marketing, or latching them onto social accounts.

This isn’t anything new—what’s interesting and integral, though, is the how you pick those top-funnel terms.

The topic selection decision tree looks something like this:

Distilled, this means that we generally are searching for topics we think have an outreach market, especially at the top of the funnel. Links are still super important, not just in getting those pages to rank, but also to help boost the domain authority as a whole.

Since not every topic is inherently linkable, there’s some finesse to selecting the right concept. I get into more depth in the above post on outreach markets, but also walk you through some topic selection analysis in the video below.

 
 

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If we can generate links to something top-of-funnel, not only do we benefit in getting that page to rank, but we also boost the other bottom-funnel pages – creating a micro-effect comparable to what we saw Evo encounter above.

Therefore, if all else is equal in terms of time/effort/KOB, we want to select the content we can generate links to, as that’s the fastest path to the sharp incline Evo incurred – especially in overall revenue.

Of course, we are always thinking about cost/value/likelihood we can upgrade the best content in the vertical—it is almost always the case that the low competition content, although lower benefit, also doesn’t need the same content quality the high competition terms do, so we can sometimes capture more benefit at a faster velocity by hitting those terms earlier.

A Final Option: Keywordless Linkbait

If you don’t have much middle funnel, and you don’t have much top funnel, you might find yourself in the unfortunate bucket of folks that only have one area remaining – the bottom. For these people, searchless linkbait is what’s required to move the needle traffic wise.

By searchless linkbait, what I’m implying is that “linkbait” can be achieved – and should be aimed for, with topics that actually have search volume. I disdain keywordless linkbait. We still do it, but when we do, we’re almost always doing it with low cost, high reward pieces that are done with strong confidence in success.

The best, most powerful content in the world is keyword-driven linkbait. No, you probably can’t generate viral content from most search-driven pieces, but the value from those pieces will almost always be higher. And you can still generate 40-100 links for these, which will move the needle for your bottom funnel in the exact same way.

It is these keyword-driven linkbait pieces that will almost solely power massive traffic increases. Keywordless linkbait won’t do it. It has a place, and it has value for the right business, but it’s not what we put our heart behind.

The play by play on how to create linkbait is slightly beyond the scope of this article. I suggest the following pieces for more detail on linkbait best practices:


Hopefully you now have some comfort with researching and choosing topics that make sense for your business. Now comes the hard part—actually creating the content.

You see, not only do you have to create content around a topic, it’s also recommended that you create content that’s 10x better than the competition. Simply being two to three times better may not be enough to get yourself recognized.

You’d probably ignore a 1.25x better version of Facebook, right? You’d really need a 10x option to pull you away.

The same thought process applies to content, and also, appeasing the search engines. Don’t bet on your 1.25x piece winning the race—make it a no-brainer initiative that not even an imperfect search engine could mess up.

The following infographic summarizes all the best practice data that separates most 10x content from the 1x content. Combine it all, execute like hell, and you might even end up at #1.

Now that you’ve got your 10x content, it’s time to tell people about it. Without this piece of the process, it’s almost impossible to drive traffic to your website of any significant volume.

Outreach has a lot of depth and complexity—but to operate at 80% of operational efficiency—plenty if you’ve got amazing content, it comes down to finding the right targets, and sending the right emails… at a good speed.

These are all the tools you’ll need to get to that level:

  • Link Prospector – Identify targets who may link to you using advanced search queries at scale, which are combined to create a prospect list.
  • OpenSiteExplorer / Majestic / Ahrefs – Identify who is linking to other content like yours, and reach out to them.
  • Link Miner – Identify broken links on other people’s pages. By telling them the links are broken, you’ll add value/give them a reason to correct the page and add your link.
  • BuzzStream / Other CRM – Long term, you’ll want to collect information on your targets, develop relationships, and make sure bigger teams don’t reach out to the same prospects.
  • TextExpander – Allows you to quickly paste outreach templates using text shortcuts for quicker efficiency.
  • Voila Norbert – The most efficient method of finding emails on the market using only the prospect’s fire name, last name, and website address.

Once you’re all tooled out, you’ll need outreach templates. From there, you’ll really only need two templates to get started—one for cold suggestions and one for broken link building.

For any sites without an existing page your content fits into, the cold outreach template is best.

Cold Outreach Template

SUBJECT: ASSET FOR WEBSITENAME: DESCRIPTION

BODY: Hey NAME,

Thought you might might like this ASSET for WEBSITENAME BECAUSEREASON.

You can see it here: HTTP://WWW.URL.COM/ASSET

If you like it, would definitely appreciate if you considered sharing it. Cheers!

For companies with existing, evergreen link pages, you’ll want to use the broken link building template. It is not suggested you use this on old blog posts, only pages webmasters will still update.

Broken Link Building Template

SUBJECT: Broken links and suggestion for WEBSITENAME

BODY: Hey NAME,

I was checking out your PAGENAME page and noticed a few broken links, specifically LINK1 and LINK2. Thought you’d like to know! COMMENT ON PAGE

I also wanted to suggest a resource I think you might like. It’s ASSET DESCRIPTION.

You can see it here: HTTP://WWW.URL.COM/ASSET

If you like it, would definitely appreciate if you considered it for your page. Cheers!

If you’re new to outreach and the above recommendations don’t ring a bell, I’ve also recorded a video walking you through how to write pitch emails, email finding, and the tools as well.

 
 

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I’ve been doing link outreach for seven years. I think I’ve seen a lot.

I don’t do outreach as much anymore, but I still do on occasion just to stay in touch, and get a feel for how things are changing. Just recently I got my hands dirty, did some outreach, and thought of something new.

That’s why I was so excited by a new strategy that increased our output by 21%… almost overnight.

If you’ve ever needed to generate links to your content, you know the power of link roundups. Links of the week, “the best links of the day/month/etc,” are very powerful methods of getting links… because they’re so low friction for publishers.

There are a few tools that exist that allow you to find these posts. Link Prospector (a tool that uses several Google queries to uncover the most and creative Google queries) and the free-version, Google, are amongst the most powerful.

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One of their weaknesses, though, is that you still can’t be certain they will identify all of them. Some of these link roundup posts, unfortunately, have some really weird names. For example, “Friday Finds,” “What I’m Reading,” and “Positively Present Picks.”

What? How can we possibly identify names like these at scale?

The answer comes from leaning on the high authority publishers in your space. If you can find publishers who put out really high quality content with frequency, but not too much frequency (5x a week is the perfect amount), and have a strong domain authority (normally 70-90) you’ll have a goldmine of roundups at your fingertips.

To find these, I suggest putting the domain into BuzzSumo, and then sorting shares by the past month. You’ll get the most popular content, which definitely will correlate with the highest likelihood of being included in a link roundup.

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A good example of this is Moz, the blog of note in the SEO space. If I dump Moz into BuzzSumo, I’ll see Rand’s predictions for 2016 is the most shared post of the past month.

From there, you’ll want to get a glimpse of the most recent links to that post. Recent links are the most likely to be low friction roundups.

Take the URL found from your authority publisher and put it into your link tool of choice – my preference being Moz’s same tool, Just Discovered, because it’s most likely to get us links in the quickest fashion. Look at the links to that post, and that post only.

For these high authority sites, you’d get a lot of noise otherwise—so looking at recent posts, and recent posts only, is what’s most likely to give you good results.

If we do this for Rand’s post, we see the fruits of our labor—posts we would have likely never found otherwise.

… and more.

Imagine having a really good SEO post you recently published that doesn’t have quite the visibility Moz has. You can use this process for Moz, and other blogs like it, to uncover lots of these link roundups you never could have found otherwise.

You won’t just get four links to reach out to… you’ll likely have ten plus new ones… all of which will likely have a ~50% conversion rate, assuming your links are actually good enough to be included.

Do this for your search-driven content—especially the content likely to do worse from a links perspective—to create a well-rounded strategy that pushes most of your content above the fold on the first page of Google.

One issue with this process—and the numbers, is sustainability. There’s no lock that your rankings will hold. Your content could get outdated. Your rankings could fluctuate.

That’s true, but it’s possible to avoid it. This comes from content maintenance, an often overlooked, and also stupidly easy, part of the content marketing mix.

Publishing a blog post does not mean you are banned from ever updating it again.  

In 2013, there was a trend of fake-updating your post timestamps to create an artificial sense of freshness that would benefit you in the search results. Google got called out for this.

It seems like its been toned down slightly, but the effect is still there. People click more recent posts, more often. As they should. This in turn enables more recent posts to benefit from engagement, hypothetically helping them rank higher. Turnover-heavy SERPs are littered with fresh posts.

The wheel turns.

However, this doesn’t mean there’s a dichotomy between manipulation and really old posts. You can update your timestamp, tell users they didn’t come out yesterday, and not be a complete liar.

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Enter this example from Brian Dean. Brian keeps a lot of his posts updated, but he doesn’t fake that the posts came out last week. He includes “Last Updated,” which goes a long way towards communicating that the more-outdated parts of this post have been changed, and you can trust the rest.

This way, if you see a post published last week and it mentions something from 2014, you won’t be jarred. You won’t auto-bounce-back to Google and never trust that site again. You’ll see the difference, and not hate Brian—as long as he actually updates his content.

We’ve adopted this. On our small site, we increased website traffic by 79%. On Anthony Nelson’s test of a much larger one, he saw a 66% web traffic lift.

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It’s a simple solution. You can do the same thing on your WordPress site by replacing a single code snippet in your theme’s template. If you’re comfortable modifying code, then this tutorial from wphacks.com is easy to follow.

Track your topics, update your content at a pace that makes sense for the idea, and you’ll see great growth over time. Maybe even 250,000+ monthly growth. Sustainably.

This is not easy. It was easy writing the title of this post. It was much, much harder grinding out the process over three years. But I’m glad I could finally write a post with a title that made it seem easy.

But that’s not to say it doesn’t work. Hell yes it works. But it’s tough. It’s a grind. And it’s a process of dedication and execution. You need talented people in many locations, as well as strategic oversight to glue it all together.

And do it again. And again. And again.

As should be no surprise, that’s what this kind of growth requires. But it’s possible. In my opinion, the strategy itself is not that complicated. It’s the execution—and the repetition of that execution—that will allow you to achieve the results.

If this all felt overwhelming, I created a presentation version of this post, which you can see below. I originally presented it at INBOUND in November 2016, and it contains some updated takes on this post.

 

How to Use Lifetime Value to Create a Facebook Audience That Actually Creates Conversions (for Online Marketing only) 2018

facebook lifetime value converions




Facebook has been in hot water lately. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest news, you know what I’m talking about. And it doesn’t help that 62% of small business advertisers on Facebook don’t find successful conversions. More specifically, they “miss their targets.” Their audience targeting is flawed, and they can’t reach the right users to sell their products and services. Facebook simply doesn’t work, right? Wrong. I’d be willing to bet that the number one cause of failing or giving up on Facebook Ads is audience-related. After all, you can’t sell PPC agency services to an audience that only cares about SEO. Audience targeting is the bread and butter of Facebook.



While that sounds like an enticing feature, your entire campaign will depend on it. Even simple mistakes in targeting will throw your audience off, potentially targeting the wrong segment or users too early in the funnel for sales.

Thankfully, I’ve been there and done that. I wasted tons of money on Facebook Ads that never reached my targets.

But I also found a surefire way to reach the right audience on Facebook:

Customer lifetime value lists.

What is customer lifetime value and why should you care?

What even is customer lifetime value anyways? Does it matter? Why should you care?

Well, I am here to answer those for you.

Customer lifetime value is perhaps the most important metric you can ever track.

According to Google, it’s defined as the prediction of net profit associated with the entire relationship for a single customer.

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In more simple terms:

Customer lifetime value is how much a single customer spends with you before leaving.

It’s that simple, but it’s of the utmost importance.

Lifetime value literally guides every decision you make in business.

Let me give you an example:

You run an online e-commerce store, and you sell relatively cheap products like discounted sunglasses and cheap style items like necklaces.

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Your average product costs about $25.

So you begin advertising with PPC to drive some traffic and hopefully convert some sales.

You realize that the average cost per click for retail sales is $1.35. Doesn’t seem too bad at first, right?

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But the cost per click doesn’t matter. It’s actually irrelevant.

Why? Just look at the conversion rate for retail advertising: 3.86%

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That’s a pretty low conversion rate compared to other segments.

For the sake of this example, let’s round the conversion rate up to 4%.

It would take 25 clicks to drive a single conversion if your conversion rate is 4%.

Now multiply the clicks needed (based on the conversion rate) with the cost per click:

25 * $1.35 = $33.75

Oops.

Now you can’t expect to turn a profit because your average sale is just $25.

And this is where lifetime value comes into play.

This is why lifetime value is the most important metric in any campaign:

Doing the simple math on a single order, you can’t afford to bid on AdWords for what you sell.

But that’s not true if you have a good lifetime value. For instance, how many times a year does that customer return? Two? Three times? Ten times?

If they do, you’ve only paid $33.75 to acquire them one time. And if they spend $25 multiple times, you’ve quickly doubled, tripled or exploded your original acquisition costs.

And then it becomes easier and easier to sell to them. You’ve already acquired them, giving you tons of free ways to sell: email, phone, etc.

You can launch a new email campaign to existing customers for free in just minutes to increase sales and drive up their CLTVs.

Increasing the lifetime value of your current customers is the key to driving massive profits.

Once you’ve done that, you begin to see compounding effects in every other metric.



Increased lifetime values mean you can spend more on acquiring customers because you know that they will spend $XX over their lifetime with you.

And you can begin to ignore CPC.

When it’s all said and done, lifetime value reigns at the top and should always be your guiding metric.

But Neil, what does this have to do with Facebook audience targeting?

Let me show you.

Lookalike audiences on Facebook are key

Using CLTV as a metric, you can create lookalike audiences on Facebook that target only the best of the best customers you currently have.

Lookalike audiences are simple in nature, yet highly effective:

They utilize your current customer data to find new, alike targets on Facebook.

Matching demographic data with affinities, interests, and more, you can create whole new audiences with the same background as your current customers.

It’s one of the best ways to generate an audience quickly.

And they work.

AdEspresso conducted a $1500 test on Facebook to analyze the performance of lookalike audiences. To do this, they tested 1%, 5%, and 10% audience matching:

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With lookalike audiences, you can customize the audience size by % of the country/area you are targeting.

For instance, selecting “1” would be 1% of the country you advertise in.

AdEspresso put these to the test, finding that 1% audiences, while obviously smaller in nature, converted best.

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According to AdEspresso, the lookalike audience at 10% had a 70% higher cost per conversion than the 1% size audience.

Because of the extra costs, the 10% audience produced 40% fewer clicks, too.

The 1% audience drove 115 leads with just $500 in ad spend.

That’s a cost per lead of just under $4. That’s pretty cheap for high-quality leads.

One company found a 2x increase in conversions and an overall ROI of 186% using lookalike audiences to grow their sales.

By incorporating lookalike audiences, Andrew Hubbard was able to produce nearly $40,000 in revenue from $4,159 in ad spend, generating an 876% return on investment.

Simply put:

Lookalike audiences are amazing.

Here’s how you can set them up using lifetime value to increase their effectiveness and create a Facebook audience that finally converts.

Step 1. Set up your custom audience

To get started with using lifetime value to create a Facebook audience, head to your Facebook Business Manager dashboard and navigate to the “Audiences” section:

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In the audience manager, create a new custom audience, not a lookalike audience:

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While you can do it either way, I prefer creating a custom audience first, as you can select LTV right off the bat instead of after creating your audience.

Next, select “Customer File” as the type of audience you want to create:

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Customer file simply means that you will upload a batched list of customer data on your current customers.

This is the file that Facebook will then take to match other customers and potential audiences for your campaign.

Next, select “Include LTV for better performing lookalikes.” This option will allow you to create a file with lifetime value metrics.

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So, how does that work?

Essentially, you will be assigning each customer on your list a different value.

Depending on what platforms and products you sell, this will either be very fast and easy or somewhat time-consuming.

If you run an online e-commerce store with Shopify or BigCommerce, you can find your lifetime value data easily:

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In any of these customer data sections of Shopify (or BigCommerce, if you use that) you can find customer data on lifetime value and how much they have spent.

If you can do this, you’ll be able to export your customer data easily.

If your business is more consulting or lead-based and focused on landing clients or accounts, you will have to do a bit of digging.

Look at your current clients and see how much they spend with you per month. For instance, does their current contract with you show a spend of $1,000 a month on services?

Or maybe you sell software online. You can then look at their current tool plan to see how much they spend each month and how long they have been a customer.

That’s lifetime value.

Once you have lifetime value for your customers, you will plug that data into your spreadsheet and Facebook will target the highest lifetime values in their matching process.

This simply means that customers on your customer file with high LTVs will be matched first. Facebook will look at their individual data and match to similar users who have a high chance of spending a ton with your business.

Next, read through the lifetime value information that Facebook gives you if you still need a clear understanding of how it works. It’s sometimes complex:

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After you’ve accepted the terms and conditions, you can now begin to create your custom audience.

In this step, you will need to create a list that you can export in CSV or TXT file formats. These are the only two formats that Facebook currently accepts for uploading a custom file.

The data that goes into your customer file should be plentiful:

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Try to fill in as many of the custom identifiers as you possibly can.

Remember: more metrics and identifiers = higher specificity and better matching.



This may take some time to get depending on what systems you use, but it’s going to be well worth the effort.

When adding this data into a spreadsheet, you want to follow Facebook’s Customer Data Prep Guide.

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In each new column for each data type, enter the column header first, followed by the format of each under “Examples.”

Be sure to format correctly according to their guide and the image above.

Once you’ve added all of the data that you need, you can create a final column for customer lifetime value:

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For this data type, your column header in your spreadsheet should be: “value.”

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Under the “value” column, enter the customer lifetime value for each customer in the following two formats:

  1. $500
  2. 500.00 USD

Either one of these will work just fine. Keep the data consistent if you can.

If you are struggling to format your spreadsheet, you can always use Facebook’s file template to your advantage:

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Once you’ve created your list, you can take a deep breath! The hard part is finally over.

Give your new audience a familiar name to ensure that you can find it in your account:

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In the second step of audience creation, select the value column you created for your list as the “Customer Value” type:

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Next, confirm on the “Edit Data Mapping” screen that all of your identifiers are cleared and ready to go with the green checkmark:

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Now upload and create your audience!

Now comes the fun part: creating amazing ads that will speak to your new audience.

Step 2. Ad creation for your new lookalike audience

The first part of the process is done. Creating your lookalike audience with LTV as the main factor is the perfect starting point.

But now the second part requires you to get a bit more creative:

Creating ads that appeal to your new audience.

But before you jump into ad creation or default to what you have done before, here is something critical to keep in mind:

Funnel stages.

Since you are targeting a brand new audience that likely hasn’t heard of your brand before, the creation of your ads along with your calls to action will be critical for success.

Sending this new audience an ad that asks them to buy from you immediately probably won’t work that well.

Why? Well, they aren’t brand aware. They haven’t engaged with you enough to know about your products or consider them yet.

The key here is to warm them up. To get them familiar with your brand and get them engaging with your content.

Keep in mind, since this audience is a lookalike, they will have knowledge of your industry. They have probably even researched products that you sell before.

Meaning you can offer them something in the middle of the funnel.

That means anything from lead magnets to coupons to webinars and more.

Anything that incentivizes them to sign up for your email list or to get them to become a lead without asking them to buy too fast.

For example, you could start off by sending them ads for a webinar if you sell digital products and services:

I use this strategy all of the time.

It’s a great way to offer tons of value to new people without over-selling in the beginning stages of their journey.

If you sell too fast, you risk them opting out quick.

Another great example of a successful middle-of-the-funnel Facebook Ad is from HubSpot:

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Offering free, value-based content, they can hook in users to give them their email information.

It’s the perfect lead magnet that doesn’t ask the audience for too much but provides tons of value in return.

Brainstorm ideas that will promote engagement with your brand without selling too hard.

 

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to split test your ideas with ease.

Step 3. Split test your creative to find your perfect value proposition

Thanks to Facebook, A/B testing has never been easier. With ad split testing directly on Facebook, you can quickly test multiple ad variants against the same audience to see which resonates better.

This is one of my favorite tactics when brainstorming new ideas to see how an audience reacts.

When it comes to lookalike audiences for LTV, you know they’ve done research in your space. But they aren’t brand aware.

This means you are skating a thin line between the awareness and consideration stages of the buying process.

While it sounds good, it also makes it difficult to nail down the proper call to action that will resonate with them.

And that’s why split testing is key. With split testing you can find the right value proposition for the audience, leading to massive wins.

Split testing works, too: One company split tested ad types to the same audience, finding that one variant outperformed the other by 336%.

To start split testing on Facebook, head to your Ads Manager and create a new ad set based on your goals, enabling the split test feature:

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After selecting “Create Split Test,” choose the variable that you want to test:

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In this case, “Creative” is what you want to select.

On the left-hand side, you should now see the following:

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You can begin to create different ad variants for Ad A and Ad B.

If you want, you can even test another ad.

If you have multiple ideas that you want to explore with your new audience, run 2-3 (maximum) at a time. Otherwise, you risk spreading the results too thin.

When running this A/B split test, be sure that you only tweak the creative.

Don’t mess with your audience or placements. Keep the same lifetime value lookalike audience and the same placements, and you will get clear results on how each offer was received.

Run this test until you get a minimum of 250 conversions. That’s the formal guideline from CRO experts at ConversionXL.

Having a minimum of 250 conversions will result in better statistical significance in your tests.

At the end of the test, analyze which ad drove more revenue and profit and proceed with that creative.

Step 4. Remarket non-converting users to close the gaps

Remarketing is one of my most favorite ways to bring back users that didn’t convert.

And while this lookalike lifetime value audience is going to convert great for you, it’s unfortunately not possible to convert everyone.

Trust me. I sure wish it was.

To combat this, remarket the audience you just created, capturing traffic from all non-converting prospects.

In the Ads Manager, you can create a new custom audience based on your lookalike audience.

Depending on how you structured your ads in the lookalike audience campaign, you will choose how you want to create the new audience:

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One of my top ways to remarket on Facebook is by targeting people who engaged with my Facebook Ads in the past few days.

I then exclude anyone who interacted with my CTA button to weed out potential converters.

If you want, you can also create a secondary remarketing list of just people who engaged with your call-to-action button but didn’t convert.

These two remarketing options can go a long way in regaining lost traffic and potential conversions.

After you create those, you have just created a fullscale funnel-optimized lifetime value audience.

You can’t go wrong with this setup, and you’ll be driving conversions faster than you thought possible.

By targeting for LTV, you are ensuring that your new lookalike audience is primed and ready to convert.

Warming them up with split testing will help you narrow down your value proposition and find the right creative elements that appeal to users.

Then, close the gaps with remarketing to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

 

Conclusion

Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world.

And it packs amazing features to reach your target audience.

But even so, missing your audience is still relatively “easy” to do.

Most small businesses report having this problem of “missing their targets.”

And I’ve had the same thing happen to me: wasting advertising money on audiences that don’t convert.

But I’ve found a surefire way to drive sales on Facebook from all of that testing:

Customer lifetime value audiences.

Lifetime value is the most important metric there is. It can inform acquisition and all of your advertising spend.

Try creating this customer lifetime value audience on Facebook to capture the most interested users and drive your profits through the roof.

Set up your new lookalike audience with the lifetime value feature on Facebook. This will help you target customers most like your top spenders for increased revenue.

Next, create the most compelling ads and split test them for better performance.

What audiences have you tried and found success with on Facebook?

How to Steal Your Competitor’s Featured Website Snippets For Better Google Rankings (for Webmasters only) 2018

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You’ve probably worked pretty hard to boost rankings on search engine results pages. You’ve done all of the SEO you can imagine, and you’ve followed every tip that’s in the book to get you where you are today. On your site, you’ve done keyword research, written tons of blog posts, and even shared all of your content to your followers on social media for maximum exposure. But those high rankings don’t mean as much if another competitor owns a featured snippet for the same search queries you’re already targeting. All of your hard work will be overshadowed by the content that Google chooses to feature over everyone else ranking on page one. That’s why you need to steal your competition’s methods and beat them at their own game. Here’s how you can steal your competitor’s featured snippets to earn even better rankings.



Before we get to that, let’s talk about what a featured snippet is.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet, sometimes called a rich answer, is a featured block of information that shows up on the first page of Google above all other results.

Like this.

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These usually show up in searches that ask a question, such as who, what, where, when, why, or how.

It contains a summary of the content on the featured web page related to your search query, along with the page title, link, and featured image.

For example, when you search for something like “why do dogs yawn,” you’ll see a featured snippet like this that answers your questions without clicking through to the article.

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Google pulls information included in the featured snippet from one of the organic listings that already appears for that query.

This gives searchers a quick answer to their question without needing to leave Google.

It makes searchers’ lives much easier because they don’t have to do a ton of clicking around to find what they’re looking for. It’s put right in front of them instead.

If you can land featured snippets, you should see huge results, since the position of featured snippets appears above the first placement.

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This ensures maximum visibility and exposure because your page will literally be at position zero.

To sweeten the pot, the area that featured snippets takes up is much larger than regular organic results, meaning that your content will truly be front and center.

And the majority of clicks will go to you, not your competitors, since you’re shown off by Google as the main attraction.

According to HubSpot, featured snippets yield a much higher click-through rate (CTR) than regular results do.

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For SERPs with featured snippets, 8.6% of all clicks go to the featured snippet, on average, according to research completed by Ahrefs.

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That means that featured snippets steal traffic from all of the organic results on the page. Even the number one result.

But you don’t have to already be at position one to earn a featured snippet. The same Ahrefs research shows that only 30.9% of all featured snippets are top ranking pages.

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That means that if you already rank number one, you can still gain a significant increase in clicks with a featured snippet.

And if you don’t rank number one, that number will be even higher.

To land a featured snippet, you’ll need to make sure that your content is formatted correctly and know what content is already ranking on page one.

But before we get into the specifics of how you can earn featured snippets by stealing them away from your competitors, you need to know what the different kinds are.

If you don’t know which kinds of featured snippets are out there, you won’t be able to optimize your content for them.

Paragraph

The first and most common kind of featured snippet is the paragraph featured snippet.

This snippet contains a short excerpt of text that is typically anywhere from 40 to 50 words in length and looks something like this:

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Usually, there is a thumbnail image that accompanies it.

These kinds of snippets come up in results pages when a user searches a question with a descriptive answer, such as “why is ice slippery?”

Google then takes a chunk of the featured site’s post that most actionably answers the question.

List

Snippets formatted as lists are usually taken from pages that list items or steps to a process.

They can be bulleted, like this:

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Or they might be numbered, like this:

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These kinds of snippets appear when searchers look for questions about how to complete a task or make something, like a recipe.

Bulleted lists are triggered when the list featured contains steps that can be completed in any order, while numbered lists appear when there are ordered steps that apply.

Table

Tables come up in featured snippets with queries that request pricing or comparisons between several types of items that can be shown quickly via rows and columns.

A table usually looks something like this when it’s used in a featured snippet:

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This type of featured snippet is often less common than the others, since most sites don’t properly format tables on their web pages.

So if you’re going to add tables to your content, be sure to format them correctly.

Video

A featured snippet containing a video player appears when searchers look for something related to a song or movie.

It can also appear when the answer to a question is contained in a video chosen as a featured snippet.

Take this example for the search query “fastest bike in the world vs fastest car,” for instance.

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The video is pulled with the paragraph snippet format, the video thumbnail, and the YouTube link. The paragraph is commonly pulled from the YouTube video description.

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Put the text that you want Google to consider for your snippet at the beginning of your video’s description for best results.

But this isn’t the only type of video snippet out there.

In some instances, Google will show a full-sized YouTube video player that takes up the entire featured snippet space.

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This is a newer kind of video snippet format that Google is using to promote YouTube.

More often than not, media clips or music videos that are featured contain the full-sized player within their snippet.

Now that you know what the different kinds of featured snippets are, you can move on to stealing them from your competitors.

There are several tools out there that can help you accomplish this, starting with SEMrush.

Use SEMrush to find your competitor’s featured snippets

SEMrush is commonly known for its ability to uncover information about site analytics.

But did you know that you can also use it to identify the featured snippets that are currently owned by your competitors?

You can also use the platform to find out which snippets, if any, you already own.

To check how many featured snippets are owned by any site, begin by entering the site URL into the SEMrush homepage.

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Click “Start now.” Then, complete an “Organic Research” search for that domain. To do this, click “Organic Research” and “Positions.”

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Then, locate the button that says “Featured Snippet” on the right-hand side of the page.

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Click that to view information about the keywords that your competitors are targeting that have earned them a featured snippet.

You can also filter keywords that are “snippable” by using the “Advanced Filters” option and selecting Include – SERP Features – Featured Snippets.

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When you’ve uncovered which snippets your competitors are ranking for, you can begin to optimize your own pages for those same terms.

You can find keywords that your competitors are ranking for in those featured snippets to alter your content.

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You can also take a look at the SERP source to see how the snippet appears on the results page by clicking on the blue number in the row and choosing the “View SERP” button.

And you can use the tool to find variations of related, relevant long-tail keywords that you could also target for the snippets that you already own.

Use Ahrefs to grab low hanging fruit

To come up with even more information about your competition, check out Ahrefs.

To get started, head to the Ahrefs Site Explorer and enter your website’s URL.

To find featured snippets, click on “Organic Keywords.” Head over to the top 10 filter and click SERP Features. From there, click “Featured Snippets” and “All Features.”

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This will reveal any and all queries that you currently rank for that are in the top 10 of all results that also have a featured snippet.

This doesn’t mean that you own every single featured snippet listed. Some of them are owned by your competitors.

Next, you need to filter out all of the snippets that you own so that you can only view the snippets that are owned by your competitors.

This kind of feature hasn’t yet been developed by Ahrefs, but you can use an automated spreadsheet to record the data yourself.

You can download it here.

To save it, hit “File” and “Make a copy.”

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Give your copy a customized name and select where you want to save it. Then once you’ve done that, hit the “OK” button.

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Now, you should have a copy of the file that you can edit and fill in with information that is specific to you and your company.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Export the report that you just filtered in Ahrefs from “Organic keywords” as a CSV file.
  • Import the file into the Google spreadsheet that you just downloaded by clicking “File,” “Import,” “Upload,” and “Select a file.”
  • Change the “Import location” field to “replace data at selected cell.”
  • Head to the tab titled “featured snippets you don’t own.”

On that tab, you will be able to view a list of search queries found by Ahrefs that contain the featured snippets you don’t currently own.

Ahrefs also lets you change the search volume to find long-tail keyword opportunities.

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Google these queries yourself to find out who owns each of the snippets for those terms.

Analyze the content, because you’ll want to mimic it later.



Use Google to identify potential snippets

Google is another excellent tool for unmasking the snippets that your competitors have earned (and that you could earn in the future).

If you want to know which content you need to optimize for snippet opportunities first, then try to think like your audience.

Put yourself in their shoes. What kinds of questions do people in your industry have?

For instance, if you’re in the coffee industry, try and think up some common questions that your customers have, like, “What is cold brew iced coffee?”

Then, do a quick search for that question and find out who currently owns the featured snippet for it.

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Hopefully, the content is already yours. If it isn’t, make a note of your competition.

Look at their content and the type of featured snippet. In the example above, it’s clear Google is pulling a paragraph format for this featured snippet.

So, when formatting your content, you’ll want to write in 40-60 word paragraphs to have a chance at winning this featured snippet.

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Next, take a look at the “People also ask” section of the search results. This will suggest questions related to the one you originally searched.

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These are the similar questions that your audience is dying to know. Expand each question to find out who owns the featured content for each question listed.

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Just like before, click on each of these competitors and note the differences between their content covering the search query and yours.

If you don’t have any posts on your site that answer questions in the “people also ask” section, think about adding these questions as header tags.

If you include the H2 tag “Is cold brew and iced coffee the same thing?” you have a chance at beating Chowhound since they don’t incorporate any of the terms from “people also ask.”

The same goes for the “people also search for” section at the bottom of Google.

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Use this to outline your article and make sure you’re answering all of these questions or utilizing these as your keyword cluster for this particular article.

Now that you know who your competition is, try to steal their snippet by doing more research and writing even better content.

Once you know which snippets you don’t own, you can focus on stealing them.

How you can steal your competitor’s featured snippet

Now that you know which keywords and queries to target, it’s game time.

If you want to rank for featured snippets, you need to take the good, effective things that your competitors have done with their featured content, mimic it, and take it to the next level.

Start by learning what content is already ranking on page one.

Rank on the first page

While you don’t need to always rank on page one to gain a featured snippet, it does give you a higher probability that you’ll beat your competitors.

Glenn Gabe shared at the SMX East Conference in New York City last year that he found featured snippets that ranked on page two at position 16.

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But it is still considered a best practice to improve your organic ranking before attempting to steal a featured snippet.

Otherwise, the lower your position, the higher the potential for volatile fluctuations.

Rob Bucci displayed this chart at SearchLove San Diego this year to show just how volatile those lower rankings can be with featured snippets.

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All said and done, try to aim for keywords that already rank on page one.

Restructure your content

In some cases, your content may already contain everything that it needs to gain you a featured snippet, but your formatting might just be off.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to restructure your content on pages that already answer the same questions as competitors.

Did they use a bulleted list to answer the question? Use one, too.

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Did they answer the question with a video? Create one, too.

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Does their piece feature a table? Add one to your page as well.

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If your competition has earned a snippet without any type of structured markup on their page, you have the upper hand.

That means that all you have to do to earn a featured snippet is make your content easy to read by formatting it correctly.

To do this, format your page with basic HTML tags to make it more scannable.

Add header tags like <h2> or <h3>, subheaders, <p> paragraph tags, and more.

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This will break up the sections of your piece so that Google can easily understand it’s structure.

And, make sure to choose your schema markup wisely.

Alan Bleiweiss was able to beat big sites like Wikipedia and Psychology Today by formatting the featured snippet correctly.Screen Shot 2018 05 15 at 6.10.20 PM

Once you’ve restructured your piece, you need to go above and beyond what others in your space are doing.

Be even better than your competition

One of the easiest ways to elevate your content higher than your competition is to add images to it.

Most featured snippets have at least one image. You need to add several to your page for best results.

Pay special attention to the space directly after the content that you want to get featured. Add images there that relate to your table, list, or paragraph.

This technique is commonly used by sites like WikiHow. They demonstrate each step of an article with an image.

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You need to do the same.

In addition to adding images, you also need to add some alt images text.

But not just any text. It also needs to be SEO friendly.

Alt image text describes images on your website within the source code of your pages.

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This helps Google understand what the images explain.

To add SEO-friendly alt image tags, add relevant keywords to them, explain the image accurately within them, and keep it short.

It’s recommended for alt text not to exceed 125 characters, or the text may not be read completely.

While it’s great to target for keywords, you should also use keyword synonyms.

Add in synonyms of keywords

Using keywords that searchers are going to be looking for in their queries is important. This is what will ultimately lead them to your pages.

Google will even bold these words throughout results pages and featured snippets so that searchers can rest assured that the results match what they’re looking for.

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But you also need to include some synonyms of the keywords that you already want to rank for.

For example, if your keyword is “firework,” keyword synonyms might include:

  • Firecracker
  • Pyrotechnic
  • Low Explosive
  • TNT

People are searching for these terms, too. And you’re missing out on them.

To find them, enlist the help of an SEO keyword suggestion tool, like this one from SEO Review Tools.

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To use it, enter the keyword that you’re currently targeting and select “Perform check.”

Then, the tool will give you an entire list of related keyword synonyms. Add these to the content that you’re trying to earn featured snippets for.

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Conclusion

You’ve already worked hard to improve your SEO.

You’ve put in hours of keyword research, content planning, writing, and more.

But the high rankings you’ve worked so hard to earn won’t pay off as well as they could if another website owns a featured snippet for the exact same keywords you’ve targeted.

A featured snippet is a section of content from a web page selected by Google that gives a searcher all of the information they need in one block of text at the very top of the page.

This keeps searchers from having to click off to several pages before finding what they need. With a featured snippet, they’ll never have to leave Google.

But featured snippets rank even higher than number one. They’re located at position zero.

So you need to gain more snippets to see higher CTRs.

The good news is that you can do that by stealing the featured snippets that your competitors already own.

Different types of featured snippets include the paragraph, list, table, and video snippet.

Each of them is triggered for a different reason, and different search queries pull up different types of featured snippets.

To uncover all of the featured snippets that your competition is ranking for, you can use a tool like SEMrush.

You can also use Google to figure out which snippets might be worth fighting for (and which questions your customers are searching for the answers to).

Try out Ahrefs to figure out which featured snippets are owned by other brands on pages that you already rank high on.

Then, prepare to steal your competitor’s snippets away from them.

Restructure your content with headers and tags and take it to the next level. Add high-quality images that your competitors aren’t using.

Don’t forget to include alt image text for every image you add.

Finally, do some research on keyword synonyms that are related to keywords that are earning featured snippets.

Target those on your pages, too. Your customers are also searching for those words.

What tactics have you used to win featured snippets from your competitors?

 

 

4 Webmaster / Blogger SEO Ideas You Overlooked That Will Skyrocket Your Rankings (2018)

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Despite content marketing’s golden child status, SEO remains one of the most important factors in ranking websites on Google. According to a Hubshout survey of small to midsize digital marketing agencies, 32% of agencies reported that SEO as a service generates the most revenue for them. But as technology advances and search engines continue to evolve and adapt their algorithms, it can be difficult even for veteran SEOs to keep up. This means you could be overlooking significant SEO value on your site. In other words, if you’re missing key SEO strategies, you could cost your business some serious revenue.



Not interested in flushing money down the toilet?

I didn’t think so.

Implement these four SEO hacks to skyrocket your rankings and put money in the bank.

1. Increase page speed by compressing images

Images are one of the biggest culprits to slow loading times.

In fact, on average, images make up 68% of a web page’s total weight.

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But even though many people know that page speed is an important SEO ranking factor, when it comes to optimization, the image size is often overlooked.

One of the reasons for this is because if you are loading (and reloading) your website on your own computer or mobile device, the page has likely been cached.

A web cache temporarily stores the data on a web page to reduce server lag (aka page speed).

In other words, once a page has been loaded and cached, the server will provide the cached version to save time when you return later on to bring up the site.

While caching once a week is a good idea if you want to increase fetched response time, it can inadvertently give SEOs the impression that their website is loading faster than it actually is.

The problem?

If you aren’t checking page speed from an outside computer or with a page loading measuring tool, you may not notice that your images are causing delays on the user’s end.

And when 53% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, that is a mistake you can’t afford.

As you can see here, the probability of page abandonment increases 32% after only three seconds.

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Three seconds!

Bottom line: If your images are slowing your loading time — even by a second — you could be frustrating users and increasing your bounce rate (two important SEO ranking factors).

Luckily, this is a simple fix.

To improve loading times and increase user satisfaction and retention rates, first, you’ll need to evaluate your page speeds, then resize problem images.

Evaluate your page speeds

There are many free tools you can use to test your page speeds.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is great for not only measuring loading time for both mobile and desktop but also identifying the causes of any speed delays, including images.

If images are contributing to page lag, PageSpeed Insights will build a list of which images you need to optimize.

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When optimizing your pages, it’s important to take a special interest in making them mobile-friendly.

Since the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index, websites that are mobile-friendly will rank higher than those that aren’t optimized.

Based on this analysis, Target’s landing page has an average speed of around 2.2s and good optimization at 88/100.

While this isn’t a perfect score on PageSpeed Insights, it’s pretty close. And, with minor tweaks to the images, they could see a spike in page speed.

GTMetrix is another page speed tool that will help you identify problem areas.

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The tool will uncover each of the problems that your site has and recommend tips to help you fix each of them.

And it goes a bit more in-depth than PageSpeed Insights.

If you have any images causing slow loading times, they’ll be listed here.

RankPay utilized GTmetrix page speed reports to reduce their bounce rate by 20% and increase their page speed by 20%.

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As you can see, it’s worth the time and effort to analyze and fix your page speed issues. It will not only help you rank better in the SERPs, but also improve the UX experience.

Compress problem images

Once you’ve evaluated your page speed, the next step is to analyze what elements are bringing your page speed down.

And, large image sizes are usually a major culprit in slowing down websites.

Remember: smaller images = faster page speeds.

If you’re using Photoshop, Lightroom, or a similar tool, you want to make sure your images are 1,500 pixels in width or less.



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The key here is to balance image quality with file size.

The goal is to use the smallest file size possible while maintaining acceptable image quality.

There are several image file types to use, but the most common are JPG and PNG.

Below is an example of what a JPG looks like not compressed vs. compressed. The original, untouched image was 2.06MB.

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Here this image has low compression. This preserves the quality of the image but also doesn’t shrink the overall file size much.

A web page shouldn’t be more than 1-2 MB in weight. While compressing the image did shrink it from the original size, 590 KB is still a significant portion of the page’s optimal weight.

On the other hand, it’s possible to do too much compression.

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When the image is highly compressed, the size becomes much more manageable at 68KB.

But the quality stinks.

You want to strike a compression note that is just right.

In this case, the best level of compression on the image is somewhere in the middle. This allows us to maintain the quality while significantly reducing file size (and associated page speed).

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If you’re not a Photoshop guru (or don’t want to shell out the cash for an Adobe Suite monthly subscription), I recommend using a compression tool like TinyPNG.

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TinyPNG lets you resize up to 20 PNG or JPG images for free. Simply drag and drop your files onto their page and they’ll do the work for you.

If you need more files, there is also a Pro upgrade starting at just $25 for a single-user yearly subscription.

And, they have a WordPress plugin.

2. Improve CTR with Google Search Console

Be honest.

When was the last time you reviewed your meta descriptions?

Or, attempted to clean up ugly URLs?

While CTR isn’t a proven ranking factor, improving your organic CTR will help boost your organic rankings.

Back in 2009, the head of Google’s webspam, Matt Cutts, answered questions related to CTR on YouTube:

“It doesn’t really matter how often you show up. It matters how often you get clicked on and then how often you … convert those to whatever you really want (sales, purchases, subscriptions)… Do spend some time looking at your title, your URL, and your snippet that Google generates, and see if you can find ways to improve that and make it better for users because then they’re more likely to click. You’ll get more visitors, you’ll get a better return on your investment.”

Still want more proof?

A local auto parts company increased their click-through rate by 20% and got 30% more organic clicks.

Another B2B software company went from 35,000 organic visits per month to 225,000 organic visits per month by increasing their CTR.

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Increasing CTRs means better rankings, more traffic, and increased brand awareness.  To increase CTRs, use Google Search Console to guide your next steps.

Update underperforming pages

Before you can identify what pages you should update, you need to get a baseline CTR.

To find this, log in to Google Search Console > Status > Performance.

CTR

In the example above, the average CTR is 5.6%. Now that you have this average, you can begin to uncover what content needs to be updated.

Within the same report on Google Search Console, make sure Total Clicks, Total Impressions, and Average CTR are checked. Then, Pages at the bottom.

clicks

Here you should have a list of top performing pages.

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To discover pages that need to be updated, click the arrow button to flip the CTR. You should have a list of your underperforming pages.

Performance

Next, scroll through your underperforming pages to find pages with high impressions and low clicks.

This will give you insight into what pages are showing up in the SERPs, but not receiving clicks.

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Things like this tell me I need to review the keyword strategy, meta description, and overall content of this specific page.

This strategy works. Just look at how Siege Media took one client from zero to 100,000 visitors.

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And, how Bill Hunt reworked Absolut’s meta descriptions based on user intent to improve the CTR from 1.69% to 14.81% in just 45 days.

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While this may seem like a lot of extra work to optimize pages you thought were already performing well, it will pay off in the end.

3. Use linkless mentions to build ranking value

Yes, you read that right.

Though it goes against traditional understanding of SEO, link building without links is becoming a key part of ranking strategy.

Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, said during his keynote at Brighton SEO:

“If you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the Internet — and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that. Then you are doing great.”

The idea is that brands that garner a lot of mentions, both in social media and on websites and long-form content, are trusted and therefore authoritative in search engines’ eyes.

While this ranking strategy has flown under the radar a bit, both Google and Bing have indicated that linkless brand mentions factor into how the search engines measure authority and quality.

In fact, Duane Forrester, former senior product manager at Bing noted back in 2016 that Bing had already:

“figured out context and sentiment of tone, and how to associate mentions without a link. As the volume grows and trustworthiness of this mention is known, you’ll get a bump in rankings…”

But Bing isn’t the only one showing us their hand.

Google references linkless mentions as “implied links” in their patent:

Implied links patent

And it makes sense.



For years, word-of-mouth marketing and social shares have made and broken brands.

It’s no wonder that search engines are using this social capital as a key indicator of consumer trust and confidence.

How to track linkless mentions

If you’re not already tracking brand mentions through a rep management campaign, you’ll need to use a tool to monitor the web for you.

There are a variety of options, such as Awario or SEMrush.

Let’s take a look at Awario.

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Awario is a monitoring tool that lets you track the conversation around your brand (as well as competitors’ brands) on the web in real-time.

To get started, create an account with your preferred email. (There’s a two-week free trial before you select a paid plan).

Once you create your account, set up a campaign (or project) to monitor brand mentions.

Awario will ask you to input the keywords you wish to track.

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For example, let’s say you want to track Photoshop mentions.

So I’ll enter “Adobe Photoshop” into the field.

Once you’re done adding keywords to your campaign, Awario takes you to a dashboard that gives you an at-a-glance look at your current monitors.

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As you can see here, Awario collects data on:

  • The number of total mentions for that keyword
  • Sentiment (i.e., whether the mentions are negative or positive)
  • The reach those mentions have
  • Who the top influencers are that have mentioned your keywords
  • Where mentions are coming from in the world
  • What languages are represented in the conversation

Additionally, you can filter the data to see mentions from specific platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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This information helps you track where your brand or product is trending as well as how well it stacks up against competitors.

Awario’s Sentiment metric is a particularly useful datapoint to measure because it allows you to gauge the overall health of your brand’s reputation (i.e., is it viewed more or less favorably).

In fact, at last year’s State of Search event, Google’s Gary Illyes noted that Google uses sentiment analysis to evaluate off-site sentiment to inform their rankings.

This means that tracking linkless brand mentions and their associated sentiment can give SEOs an advantage over marketers who fail to track implied links.

How to use linkless mentions to optimize search rankings

Once you have a brand monitoring tool in your arsenal, it’s time to use the information you glean to direct campaigns that will build your online rankings and authority.

Fortunately, many of the strategies for linkless mentions will be the same as your traditional link building campaigns.

For example, let’s say you’re tracking your brand mentions and notice a recent negative review published on Yelp.

What can you do?

Well, when 68% of consumers will form an opinion about your local business after reading just 1-6 online reviews, you need to make every review (and response) count.

How you should respond depends on the review, but here are a few good rules of thumb from ReviewTrackers:

  • Resolve issues and provide solutions.
  • Reinforce the positive experiences the customer mentions.
  • Give a sincere apology as needed.

For instance, take this review from a disappointed customer flying JetBlue.

The TV screens were out in his row for the duration of the flight.

When he notified JetBlue via Twitter, JetBlue responded quickly to apologize and resolve the issue by offering a $15 credit to everyone in that row.

jetblue review interaction

Keep in mind that responding to reviews and participating in conversations is not only a chance to say the right thing but to establish your brand’s voice.

Even though you’re communicating virtually, use these opportunities to show your brand’s human side.

In other words, don’t be a robot.

Whether you’re replying to a negative or positive comment, be personable.

Take JetBlue’s lead.

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As SEO expands into brand management, you’ll notice a lot of overlap between teams in your marketing department.

SEO is no longer just about building backlinks and writing keyword-rich landing page copy.

Instead, off-page SEO is becoming just as important as on-page SEO.

To be successful, you’ll need to collaborate with rep managers, content marketers, social media marketers, and even your customer service team to execute a strong, cohesive campaign.

4. Optimize your content for voice search

Images aren’t the only places you can squeeze out more SEO value.

With the advancement of Siri, Google Assistant, and other smart AI systems, voice search has become increasingly common among mobile users.

In fact, as many as 40% of online adults use voice search at least once per day.

Some estimates are putting voice search at over one billion queries a month, and more than 50 million voice-activated devices were in circulation as of January 2018.

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And voice search is just starting to take off. At least 20% of mobile searches are now voice searches.

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This shift in the way users use and interact with search engines will inevitably affect SEO tactics.

Fortunately, for now, most of the strategies for regular SEO also apply to voice search optimization — but not all.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, including voice search optimization is a must.

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How do search engines rank voice search results?

The first place to look to answer this question is Google. To understand how and where to optimize, you have to understand what Google is ranking.

Typically, Google voice search results tend to favor concise answers.

You can see in Google’s voice search rater guidelines that the emphasis is placed on how well the content meets the user’s need and whether or not it does so clearly and concisely.

These two goals are defined as “Needs Met” and “Speech Quality.”

Voice search rater guidelines: needs met

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You can see above that the highest rated responses are those that fully (but concisely) answer the query.

In fact, Backlinko conducted a study of 10,000 voice search results and found that the average voice search answer is only 29 words.

Voice search rater guidelines: speech quality

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Not only is Google looking for brief answers, but it also prefers easy-to-read content.

This means simple sentence structure and vocabulary. The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th-grade level.

So save the exposition for your great American novel.

How to optimize for voice search ranking factors

Based on the information above, you have to focus on content that is direct and clear.

An FAQ section is the most natural place to build out relevant answers to voice searches because FAQs contain direct questions with brief answers.

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But you can also add questions to your landing pages to direct more voice searches to your site.

Sherry Bonelli, BrightLocal’s local search evangelist, says to “focus on those long-tail+ conversational keywords,” for FAQ pages.

The goal is to group common questions together on one page for natural-sounding questions and answers.

Like Hotel Nikko does with their FAQ page. They saw a 63% increase in CTR after optimizing their FAQ pages.

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Another option would be to create long-form blog posts that answer a specific long-tail conversational keyword question.

The average word count for a results page is 2,312 words.

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This doesn’t mean that the content length itself is a ranking factor for voice search. However, with long-form content comes greater opportunities to include relevant search terms.

This is likely why there is a high correlation between longer content and voice search results.

Capitalize on this trend by building out rich long-form content surrounding a central keyword topic.

MakeSpace jumped 65 positions in one day by creating long-form content.

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And, MrGarageDoor.com went from zero to over 2,400 visits per month from creating long-form blog content.

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The goal is to provide answers to questions your users are asking.

If you have a page full of content that doesn’t address what your users actually want to know, then it isn’t doing you any good.

Conclusion

SEO has a basic premise: build links and authority to rank in SERPs.

But with ever-changing algorithms, competing data, and hundreds of tools, strategies, and approaches, it’s easy to see how an SEO can get lost in the to-do lists.

I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

Since SEO has a significant impact on business revenue, digital marketers can’t afford to overlook any strategies that provide added SEO value.

Optimize your image sizes to boost page speeds. Resize them as needed.

Add descriptive image file names to your images so that Google ranks them for keywords, too.

Use linkless mentions to build your ranking value.

Finally, be sure to optimize your site for voice search.

Though some of these hacks may seem deceptively simple, their combined value can have a profound effect on your overall rankings.

Be smart. Don’t let these SEO hacks pass you by.

What SEO strategies have you used to improve rankings?

 

 

9 Ways to Beat Instagram’s Algorithm For More Followers and More Likes (For Influencers Only) 2018

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Social Media platforms change with alarming frequency these days. For years, Instagram was a haven of chronological posts that almost guaranteed engagement as long as you timed your post correctly and shared something interesting. But that Instagram reality is no more. Recent changes offer users more control over their feeds, which means it may be getting more difficult to engage with your audience. Instagram’s users may be able to see fresher posts, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever see your content. That means you’ll need to change your approach if you want to stay at the top of the Instagram pile. And to do that, you have to know what actually works for other brands who have cracked the code.



This post will give you nine ways to do just that.

But first, you have to understand Instagram’s current landscape and how it affects your brand.

Breaking down the Instagram landscape

In 2016, Instagram announced their efforts to favor the moments you “care about the most” in your feed.

Since then, marketers have been looking for ways to optimize their content and stay ahead of the Instagram algorithm to keep engagement levels high.

As you’re no longer guaranteed to show up in a chronological feed, you have to find a creative way to stay in front of your online audience.

And as the press release indicates, Instagram’s current algorithm filters content based on your user’s previous behavior.

So in theory, the more your audience interacts with your brand, the more they’ll see your posts.

That isn’t exactly great news for most marketers though.

The overwhelming tendency is to treat engagement as the number one metric on Instagram, and all of these changes have caused engagement to go down.

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So success on Instagram requires brands to find new ways to continue building engagement and follower count.

But to start engaging with Instagram users in the first place, you have to know who they are and what they’re like.

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First and foremost, Instagram users are predominately young.

Your audience is primarily millennials for now, and they have different shopping patterns than previous generations.

And perhaps even worse, the average user misses over 70% of their feed.

That means even your best content isn’t guaranteed to be in front of your audience no matter what you do.

So if it’s so hard to get views and engagement, why focus on Instagram at all?

To understand that, you have to understand the raw marketing power of visual engagement.

According to research, visuals are a more retainable form of sharing information and news.

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We retain vastly more information from things we see, which means visuals are important.

That makes Instagram, which is a primarily visual channel, an essential part of many brands’ digital presence.

Brands that create visually-appealing or artisan items often rely on Instagram to engage with their audience when blogging.

They use Instagram as an essential piece of their social media sales funnel, so success on this platform is life or death.

And studies have shown that people buy items they see on social media all the time.

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More than 42% of social media users have made a purchase simply because they saw it in their feed.

So finding a way to break the algorithm in your favor and increase your engagement can help your brand push sales through Instagram.

And to do that, you have to create content that resonates with your audience and fosters interaction between your followers and your brand.

Thankfully, there are plenty of proven methods that will let you accomplish that on a regular basis.

The nine solutions in this post are data-backed and brand-approved methods for boosting engagement.

And the first one you can start using right now.

Solution #1: Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is the Snapchat-esque element of Instagram that allows users to create and share content that disappears after 24 hours.

Launched in late 2016, it’s quickly become a favorite of brands and users alike to share their days with their followers.

By October 2017, more than 300 million users were creating Stories on a daily basis.

stories users

Plus, more and more marketers are using Stories to help drive engagement with their brand.

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But are Stories actually an effective way for brands to engage with their audience?

According to this case study, the answer is yes.

The designer brand Revolve has used Instagram Stories to create and share powerful campaigns on their profile.

In the case study linked above, they launched their #Revolveme campaign.

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The point of this effort was to find and share user-generated content that centered around their brand.

Customers could purchase clothes and then upload their own photos with the hashtag #revolveme in hopes of being featured in the brand’s Stories.

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While you might think that most of the Stories they share look like professional models, the reality is that they’re all user submitted.

That means they’re not only sharing their audience’s content, but they’re also getting free, high-quality content at the same time.

And the results speak for themselves.

stories

According to the study, the brand started having an average of more than 66,000 impressions on each Story.

With an exit rate of only 6.27%, it’s clear that their efforts were successful.

And since the brand is still sharing the #revolveme Stories, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll drop the campaign anytime soon.

So if you’re struggling to boost your engagement, start sharing your own Stories.

Solution #2: Hire a professional

Not everyone is destined to be a photographer, and that’s okay.

But Instagram is a visual platform.

Therefore, visuals are the heart of your work.

So if you’re not the best photographer, you may actually be hurting your brand’s performance in the long run.

And to make matters worse, you may not even have a camera that shoots a good picture according to today’s standards.

Just look at the quality difference in these two images from an iPhone 6s and an iPhone 8.

6s

This iPhone 6s image might look good at first glance.

But when you post it next to its successor from the iPhone 8, the differences really stand out.

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The newer phone offers brighter colors and much better focus.

But if you’re stuck with an older model phone, chances are your audience will notice in your image quality.

So you have a few options when it comes to hiring a professional photographer.

You can certainly find someone local or even see if someone already in your organization has a talent for photography.

Or, you can turn to the online gig economy using a site like Upwork.

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These freelance Instagram marketers can help guide the imagery that your brand uses to help you engage with your followers.

And since they all offer something a little different, you can probably find someone who matches both your needs and your budget.

But does a professional photographer actually make a difference?

According to Vulpine Interactive, it certainly seems so.

Vulpine Interactive was working on the digital presence of one of their clients called Sixthreezero Bicycle Company.

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When they first started working with them, they noticed that the photography on their Instagram wasn’t quite on-brand.

One of the first recommendations they made was to change the photography and optimize their Instagram, which involved hiring a professional.

By combining their new Instagram approach with some other website initiatives, Sixthreezero saw a 300% growth in website traffic over seven months.

So if it helped this brand to hire a photographer, it’s worth looking into for your own business.

Solution #3: Stay true to trends

If you’re in an industry that changes a lot, you know how hard it is to stay current with just those trends.

So when you start exploring new trends in an unknown arena, it can get overwhelming very quickly.

And every year sees plenty of visual trends change and evolve as they go.

Just check out some of these images that are considered a part of this year’s trends.

visual trend

This image is meant to be a powerful visual that attempts to make a statement.

It’s dramatic, tells a story, and makes the viewer wonder what’s actually happening here.

But just look at that picture in comparison to this one:

visual trend 2

They couldn’t be more different.

The second photo is deadpan and almost static compared to the first, yet both are considered trendy.

While it may not suit your personal style, learning and adhering to these visual trends can help you engage with your Instagram audience and stand out from the crowd.

What’s more, you can also look at established trends on Instagram that other brands have seen success with.

60% of the top brands use the same filter and lighting for all their Instagram photos. It’s about creating a photo strategy.

Just look at Gucci.

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Or, Oreo.

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There’s consistency and strategy behind both.

Two of Condé’s publications, Vanity Fair and GQ, were able to drive traffic and see a return on investment after partnering with Dash Hudson by harnessing visual storytelling.

Condé Nast’s Director of Digital and Social Strategy, Rochelle Stewart, says, “Instagram is a natural fit for us as it allows our brands to tap into what they do best — visual storytelling, beautiful photography, imagery that is both inspirational and aspirational.”

It’s clear that creating a visual strategy for Instagram is crucial.

Posting with a consistent filter, images with faces, and tagging your location can help you engage more and stay in your audience’s feed.

You can even base your Instagram filter on your location if you want to get specific.

US Instagram

The point here is that other brands have noticed trends through trial and error that you can take advantage of.

If you focus on following these established trends with your own Instagram, you’re more likely to see the results you want.



Solution #4: Fire up live video

Live streaming is quickly becoming one of the most important things your brand can do.

According to a recent study, video streaming currently accounts for more than two-thirds of Internet traffic.

live video

That means it’s not only being created in vast quantities, but it’s also being consumed as well.

And since 2016, Instagram has allowed brands to launch their own Live videos natively on their app.

The results have been more than most could ever imagine, including the people behind the Old House Vintage Market profile.

In just one event, they gained 1,151 followers.

That’s almost 80% of their current following, and they got it in less than one day.

They even went back and re-recorded the video on a phone to make sure they could keep it.

If a small brand like this can use Live video so effectively, imagine what it could do for a brand that already has thousands of followers.

By engaging with a larger audience on Instagram, you encourage interaction and push yourself to the top of the news feed.

It doesn’t even have to be planned either.

Just fire it up and share what you’re doing right now or look for ideas that you can share.

As long as you can engage with your followers, you can grow your brand and crack the Instagram algorithm.

Solution #5: Post at the right time

If you’ve been around social media for a while, you’ve likely seen study after study that seeks to find the perfect time to post.

Instagram has plenty of those studies, and they’re definitely worth your time and attention.

According to this post from Sprout Social, Instagram sees the most traffic during the midday periods in the middle of the week.

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That may mean that plenty of people are sitting at their desks browsing Instagram, but it also means you should be looking to highlight your posts at those times too.

But don’t take the above image as the final word on when you should actually post.

The above graph looks at engagement, not necessarily posting times.

To find that out, you have to take a look at what CoSchedule has cooked up.

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This points you in the direction of posting early in the morning and just before rush hour traffic hits.

If you post in times where there’s too much congestion (or not enough), you could potentially miss out on engagement due to heavier filtering.

Posting for off-work hours seems to be the solution favored by brands that use Instagram, which means you may be sharing your content at the wrong time.

Instead, follow the advice above and try to find the times that give your brand the greatest amounts of engagement.

Solution #6: Reach more people with hashtags

If you’re like me, you’ve probably scratched your head a bit when it comes to hashtags.

While it seems like everyone is using them, they’re not always beneficial when it comes to social media.

But Instagram is an altogether different matter.

The uniqueness of Instagram’s visual platform makes it the perfect platform to utilize hashtags.

When a user clicks on a hashtag from a post they’re viewing, they’re taken to a page that shows more custom hashtags.

For example, check out this recent post from actor Chris Pratt:

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In it, he uses #farmlife.

When you click the hashtag, you’re taken to a list of every post that’s used that same hashtag.

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This invites the user to scroll through, find more images they like, and engage with more profiles.

So using popular hashtags appropriately can help you extend the reach of your brand and find new audience members.

And to do that, I highly recommend using a Chrome extension like Hashtest to help you find high-volume hashtags.

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All you have to do is input the hashtags you’re thinking about and it will give you instant feedback on how useful it is.

When you find the right hashtags, include them in your posts on a regular basis.

Your images will have greater reach, and you can appear more often in more feeds over time.

Solution #7: Use an influencer

When it comes to influencer marketing, no other platform comes close to Instagram.

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By far, influencers love to create and share brand collaborations on Instagram.

The visual, product-driven nature of the platform makes it the perfect place to create and share content that followers want to engage with.

That means you can use this trend to your advantage by finding influencers who are interested in your brand.

And influencers are seeing some major growth in just the past few years alone.

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With new influencers and creators continually coming on the scene, the opportunities for your business are plentiful.

Take a look at how the ASOS Insiders campaign utilized influencers to help them sell their product.

This campaign focused on an exclusive group of young adult influencers who were hand-picked to show off the ASOS brand clothes.

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By tapping into the audiences that these influencers already had, ASOS created a global phenomenon that’s still very much alive today.

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As of right now, ASOS has more than seven million followers on their Instagram account.

That means with every post they share, millions of viewers have opted in to see their content.

But you don’t have to have a huge budget to pull this feat off.

You can find influencers with thousands of followers who would be willing to help share your brand.

It’s one of the fastest growing Instagram marketing areas, and you would be wise to start using it for your own efforts.

Solution #8: Share user-generated content

We looked earlier at how a brand used user-generated content in their Stories, but the application for user-generated content is much larger than you may have previously imagined.

Studies have shown that sharing user-generated content makes your brand more authentic and humanizes your company.

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That means that the more you share the content your users provide, the more they’ll feel that you’re actually relatable and worthy of their attention.

What’s more, it’s seen as “helpful” or “invaluable” to 99% of marketers.

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So sharing more user-generated content is the perfect way to help bring your brand back down to earth.

If your audience sees the opportunity to feature on your page, there’s a much better chance they’ll want to interact with you and create content for you.

Rent the Runway saw a huge amount of success when they started focusing on sharing user-generated content.

Over the course of their study, they discovered that they were also saving five to ten hours per week on creating content.

And more importantly, their engagement went up by 21% over their original content.

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Simply by sharing more of their user-generated content, they were able to see measurable improvements in their Instagram page’s activity.

So save time and boost your own engagement by utilizing your own audience’s content.

You’ll likely find that this strategy can help you see the same type of success in your own efforts.

Solution #9: Host a contest

Instagram contests are the final tactic that can help your brand beat the algorithm and increase your overall engagement.

And according to the State of Instagram report, 39% of businesses plan to do more contests in the coming years.

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And when you look into the success that some brands have experienced, there’s no wonder why more businesses want to try this approach.

Take for example the MyNeoShoot contest hosted by Adidas.

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In this contest, Adidas asked its followers to create images that were inspired by their brand.

The best photos were then invited to model in a professional photoshoot, and they even got Selena Gomez to help them spread the word about the contest.

As a result of the contest, Adidas generated 71,000 mentions of the #MyNeoShoot hashtag and gained 41,000 new followers.

So using a creative contest for your own brand can lead to similar results.

Just make sure you establish clear rules, or the whole process could backfire.

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Even if you don’t gain thousands of new followers, you’re almost guaranteed to get engagement from your current audience.

And that means you’ll be one step closer to breaking the Instagram algorithm, which means more reach and more engagement.

Conclusion

Instagram is a highly versatile platform that allows brands to engage with and sell to their online audience.

But changes to the algorithm in the last few years have raised a lot of questions about what actually works.

And with engagement being the number one goal of most Instagram brands, finding innovative ways to engage is more important than ever before.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that your brand can consistently engage on Instagram.

Utilizing Stories can help you create a brand that’s always on and sharing.

If you’re lacking in photography skills, consider hiring a professional to help you bridge the gap.

Staying in tune with recent trends will also help you know what type of imagery seems to work best for your audience, which will be more appealing in the long run.

And creating live video can help you stay in the limelight and boost your brand in ways you never imagined.

Then, by focusing on posting at the right time, you can increase your overall engagement and always be present when your audience will see you.

Don’t forget to utilize hashtags, and make sure that you’re looking for influencers who can help promote your brand.

If possible, share user-generated content to humanize your brand and be more relatable to your followers.

And finally, don’t hesitate to create a contest that promotes sharing and engagement even further.

You have plenty of options to choose from if you want to see success on Instagram.

All that’s left is for you to create your plan and execute it.

What are your favorite Instagram engagement strategies?

 

 

 

Twitter Hacks to Skyrocket Your Search Engine Rankings (For Webmasters And Bloggers Only) 2018

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Twitter is absolutely massive, making it a great platform for advertising products and services or sharing your content. If you aren’t using Twitter to boost your brand in 2017, you’re seriously missing out. According to Statista, Twitter has amassed 330 million active monthly users in just ten years. Start using Twitter. Here is how:



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But there’s a bigger value to building up your brand on Twitter besides the obvious capability to reach the large, diverse audiences that it provides.

Search engines actually use social signals from social media to rank your website. Likes, shares, and comments affect SEO in huge ways.

In fact, according to a study completed by cognitive SEO, the higher the average number of shares, comments, and likes a brand has, the higher their website rank actually is.

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That’s crazy, right?

If you use Twitter in the right way, you can boost your brand’s search engine rankings just by posting on the platform.

That’s because Twitter allows you to build a following and gain the attention you need to boost brand awareness. More brand awareness means more searches about your company.

But you might be wondering, “Where do I start?”

Exposure is key. For starters, you need to promote trends, your tweets, and your account to get your name out there to as many people as possible.

Promote, promote, promote

Twitter ads are a surefire way to gain tons of visibility, generate leads, and grow your audience. Therefore, promoting content on Twitter can help you rank higher.

The best part is that you can target specific, custom audiences.

One brand that is currently using an effective Twitter strategy is Rothy’s, a sustainable shoe company. Their Twitter content is on-brand, impactful, and engaging.

Rothy’s shoes are not only made from recycled materials, but they’re also machine washable. And the brand doesn’t let their Twitter followers forget it.

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One way to enjoy the same success as Rothy’s is to promote your own trends or “tags.”

Promote trends

On Twitter, trending or “viral” topics appear on the Discover tab, within the Twitter app, and on the left side of the page.

When you promote a trend, it will appear in those locations.

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The more people that use the tag, the more exposure you’ll gain.

Promoted tweets

Promoted tweets are just regular tweets that will appear for users who don’t follow you on Twitter.

The only difference is that Twitter will add a tag to these tweets that reads, “Promoted by (your brand’s name.)”

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Users can like or retweet them like any other tweet, but you have to pay to have them show up in a targeted audience’s timeline.

Promoted accounts

Promoted accounts put your entire Twitter account in front of users you’ve targeted so that you can gain an audience that is interested in you.

As many as 85% of people say that they find new businesses on Twitter through promoted accounts.

Promoted accounts appear within people’s timelines in the “Who to follow” section and in search results.

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A small tag will appear under your account name that says, “Promoted.”

You shouldn’t just be promoting your account, tweets, and tags to targeted audiences, though. Be sure to add targeted keywords so that Google will be more likely to recognize your tweets.



Utilize targeted keywords

You optimize your website with tons of keywords that you want to rank for.

Why not do the same with your Twitter account? Add keywords right in your Twitter bio, for example, so that Google will associate your account with relevant keywords.

Here’s how FitFluential does it:

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Use these same keywords within your tweets or as a caption alongside any images you might post.

Users on the platform who are searching for these terms on Twitter will then find your page. That means that your tweets will get more exposure, which will boost SEO.

The best part is that keyword searches on Twitter account for misspelling, synonyms, slang, and more, just like on Google.

If a user searches for “love pizza,” broad match results might include, “loving pizza” or, “I love pizza.”

You know which tweets, tags, accounts, and keywords you want to promote. But which audiences should you promote them to?

Select your audience

You can target Twitter ads to certain audiences so they appear in search and in their timeline.

You can select additional audience features and add keywords to any ad campaign. You can even import multiple keywords.

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Campaigns will show up in both search and timeline by default.

You can customize where tweets will appear if you prefer one over the other, though.

And adding the tailored audiences of your choice only takes a few clicks.

You can upload your own list or you can put a code on your website to collect visitors, purchasers, or downloaders.

It’s important to note that uploading your own list can take up to 3 hours.

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In addition to promoting your content, using targeted audiences, and selecting a custom audience, you should also be using hashtags that are relevant.

Use relevant hashtags

There are a few ways you can use relevant hashtags.

You can be on the lookout for trending topics that you can use to generate more attention.

With this one, just make sure that you research and understand what a tag means before you use it.

For instance, you might not want to use the tag “#WhyIStayed” to promote your pizza, seeing how that tag originated as a way for people to share stories about domestic violence.

You can also create a branded hashtag (that you can later promote) like Toyota has done with the tag “#LetsGoPlaces.”

It’s right in the company’s Twitter bio.

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By creating a branded tag, you’ll be encouraging other Twitter users to use the same hashtag on posts that they share featuring your brand.

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Rothy’s has accomplished the same kind of brand awareness with the tag “#LiveSeamlessly.”

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You can even find out which hashtags influencers are using with the help of a few tools.

Like Twitonomy, which will show you a list of the top ten hashtags for the industry influencers you search for.

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Finding trending hashtags in your industry at any given time is important, too.

Hashtagify is a great tool to try out since it will reveal the top 10 hashtags that are related to the keyword you search for.

For example, if you want to see the most popular tags that are related to the word “SEO,” just type it into the search bar.

The site will show you the tag’s recent popularity and trend information.

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From there, you can see a full list of related hashtags.

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You can even view a list of top influencers related to that specific tag.

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If that isn’t enough, look at Twitter’s tailored trends for more ideas.

Check out Twitter’s tailored trends

Tailored trends, which Twitter introduced in 2012, give you a list of topics that are based on your location and the users you follow.

It can be helpful to keep an eye on these lists and make sure that your selections are as close to the audiences you’ve been targeting as possible so that you see the best results.

To change your location, just click on the “Change” button.

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Then, enter the region/country and city that you want to see.

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That’s all there is to it!

Now, if you aren’t already adding images and video to your tweets, you should. They will give you more exposure than tweets without them, which is great for SEO.

Add images and video

According to WordStream, tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than tweets without them.

More clicks = better rankings.

Make sure that you only include images that are relevant, engaging, and high-quality.

Mr. Peanut’s account using this image is a great example:

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Video views can have the same effect as images.

According to Insivia, 82% of Twitter users watch video content on the platform.

Add a short video to your next tweet to promote your product, brand, or service, like this one from SMILF.

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Giveaways and polls are another great way to interact with followers, find new followers, and most important of all, gain attention.

Run giveaways and polls

One simple way to leverage Twitter to boost your search engine rankings is to run a giveaway based on retweets.

To enter, people can complete an action like retweeting one of your tweets.

You can include a link to your website or your most recent blog post in the tweet to boost the rankings for that page.

Or, just add a branded hashtag like the Pittsburgh Steelers did in their most recent Twitter giveaway.

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Be sure to offer the winner a prize and announce to your audience the date that you will be choosing the winner.

Running polls is just as easy as running a giveaway, if not easier.

BuzzFeed has even created an entire Twitter account dedicated to polls, which currently has 119,000 followers.

You can use polls to settle a debate or interact with your followers by asking questions, like Airbnb.

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The engagement you’ll gain from giveaways and polls will boost likes and retweets, improving your overall search rankings.

Remember how I said to include a link to your website when running giveaways? You should add those to regular tweets too, especially if you post blog content regularly.

Share links

The power of links on Twitter is huge, and sharing them can further maximize the reach of your content and web pages.

Since Google recognizes links, tweeting URLs is a quick way to use the power of Twitter to boost your rankings.

That’s one of the reasons I share links regularly to promote my new blog posts.

By sharing links, you’ll direct and drive traffic right to your site, which Google will love.

I like to use a URL shortener like Bitly to optimize my links before I share them so that my links don’t take up too much of my character count.

If you don’t have a blog, tweet out links to your products or web pages as often as possible, like Free Radicals does.

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It’s also important to be consistent so that you don’t scare followers off by posting too much or cause them to forget about you by posting too little.

Tweet consistently

You may think that the more tweets you post, the better your rankings on Google will be.

But Google might actually see that approach as spam.

Plus, you don’t want to post too many tweets in a row to your followers, or you might annoy them into clicking the “unfollow” button.

It’s important to stagger tweets throughout the day and during times when your followers are the most active.

One tool that makes scheduling tweets easy and efficient is TweetDeck.

To schedule tweets, just write them out and select the date and time that you want them to go live.

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Another great Twitter management tool is Hootsuite. You can integrate other social media accounts with this tool, too.

You should also use a tool like Tweriod to determine when most of your followers are online.

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Those are the best times for you to tweet because your tweets will get maximum exposure and attention.

Aside from following all the rules I’ve already named for boosting your rankings through Twitter, the most important one is to actually interact with your audience and reply to them.

Interact with followers

This tip might seem obvious, but people often overlook it.

Imagine if Wendy’s hadn’t replied to Carter Wilkerson? #NuggsForCarter would never have become a trending topic that brought Wendy’s tons of publicity.

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It can be hard to gain interactions on Twitter. Considering that users send over 350,000 tweets every minute, your tweets can easily get lost in the crowd.

That’s why you should engage with the people who are already talking to you to gain the attention of users who aren’t yet.

 

By creating personalized replies that relate to your specific industry and audience, you’ll build up tons of engagement for a boost on Google.

Encourage users to interact with you by posting relevant tweets, talking to industry-specific followers, mentioning other Twitter users, and responding to mentions quickly.

By interacting with followers, you’ll gain more retweets, mentions, and likes. And that means better rankings.

You should also reach out to influencers who can share your tweets, brand, and account with their audience.

Do influencer outreach

Since exposure on Twitter is the key to gaining likes and retweets, you should find some influencers who can give you exposure to their Twitter audience.

Twitter influencers can boost your credibility quickly because they’re already credible within your industry.

When an influencer talks about your brand, products, or services with their Twitter audience, their trusted followers will head to your page to check you out.

When trying to reach out to influencers, it can be helpful to:

  • Create meaningful content that is shareable and valuable to your industry
  • Develop long-term relationships with influencers rather than viewing them as people who can give you a quick, short-term boost
  • Retweet tweets from influencers with whom you want to engage
  • Collaborate with influencers by writing guest blog posts for them or allowing them to write guest posts on your blog

There are several tools that are helpful for finding influencers in your industry if you aren’t sure who to reach out to.

One of them is Klear.

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Just select the social network that you want to search through, the skill or keyword you’re interested in, and your location.

That’s it!

Another great tool for finding influencers in your industry is BuzzSumo.

Just search for a keyword and you’ll find influencers that relate to that topic.

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The tool will even show you the page authority, domain authority, number of followers, retweet ratio, reply ratio, and the average number of retweets for each influencer within the results.

Conclusion

Twitter is an absolutely massive social network.

But you should never think of social networks as being isolated from search engines. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Google pulls tons of information from social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The more exposure that your posts get (such as likes, comments, mentions, and retweets), the higher your search engine rankings will be.

That’s because Google uses social signs to recognize certain web pages and brands.

But you have to use Twitter in the right way to skyrocket your search engine rankings.

It’s all about gaining exposure and attention. Start out by promoting your account, your tweets, and your tags (sometimes known as trends).

Use targeted keywords on Twitter just like you do on your web pages and blog content. Google will recognize the keywords associated with your brand on Twitter, too.

Be sure to use relevant hashtags and research a trending tag before you tweet something that contains it.

Add images and video to your tweets to increase engagement, and be sure to share links back to your website to direct and drive traffic.

Tweet consistently and schedule out your tweets in advance to maintain a regular posting schedule. Post during times when your followers are most active.

Finally, don’t forget to engage with followers as often as possible and do some influencer outreach to get your name out there.

How do you use Twitter to boost your search engine rankings?

 

 

 

Compelling Meta Descriptions That Will Boost Your Google Ranking (for Webmasters only) 2018

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SEO (and especially Meta Descriptions) is a tricky subject. One minute you think you have it nailed and the next everything has changed. And when you consider the fact that Google reportedly changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times per year, you start to see the problem. The only constant in SEO is change. This creates a never-ending pursuit of the coveted number one ranking. But thankfully, there are elements that aren’t likely to become entirely irrelevant, which means you can focus on doing them well in the long term. One such area is the meta description on your website or blog. From the start, meta descriptions have been an essential part of a search engine results page and that isn’t likely to change.



So to help you capitalize on this important aspect of your SEO, I want to teach you how to write one that’s compelling and helps you boost your ranking.

But before we get started, let’s talk a bit more about how powerful these meta descriptions really are.

The power of a meta description

In general, meta descriptions have one very important function on a search engine.

That is, they provide a succinct description of the content of your webpage in conjunction with the rest of the metadata in your site’s HTML code.

And even if you don’t set one up yourself, most content sharing systems will automatically generate a meta description for you.

But that’s definitely not what you want, because it almost certainly won’t be as good as the one you create.

Before we go any further though, if you’re still unsure of what it looks a meta description looks like, here’s the one on my site to help clear up any confusion:

As you can see, it’s just a short and simple blurb on the content I offer to my site’s visitors.

And if you look further at the HTML on my site, you’ll notice that it’s there with all of the other metadata to help show Google what the site is actually about.

Every single page of every single website has the ability to contain and share metadata, including the title, URL, and descriptions.

If they’re optimized correctly, they can be used to help Google rank pages.

And while this is just one element to highlight with your SEO, it’s important to understand why your meta description, in particular, makes a difference.

That means knowing how it affects your SEO and what elements are the most important to consider.

To help answer that question, you should start by knowing that not all elements of your metadata actually affect SEO.

Namely, Google has long held that the meta keywords tag doesn’t factor into SERPs.

These tags are embedded in the HTML of your site like everything else, and once upon a time, they factored greatly into SEO.

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But the practice of keyword stuffing from previous decades killed this trend long ago.

But everything else, including the URL, title, and especially the description can affect your page’s on-site SEO.

And surprisingly, the reason for that isn’t incredibly technical.

Because while Google does take into account your portrayal of your site’s pages, the real marker they look for is user behavior.

You see, they don’t just want to know what’s on your website.

They want to know if people are actually using it.

And since user behavior is affected by user experience, you start to see why meta descriptions actually matter for SEO.

Because of all of the elements of your metadata and the search engine results page, the meta description is the most potential-filled part of how you can start optimizing user experience while users are still off-site.

And with Google going into mobile-first mode, optimizing the user experience is more important than ever.

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They want you to be able to provide turnkey moments that deliver on needs by educating, instructing, or showing off what you can do.

And even though it might be easy to miss, your meta descriptions are the frontline of that effort for organic search.

It’s a small part of your website that acts as a first impression, and that means everything when you’re talking about SEO.

Forge and Smith prove this with some fairly impressive results in an SEO case study of their client Sweet Georgia Yarns.

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By helping craft different elements of their SEO like meta descriptions, they’ve provided a 215% year over year increase in value.

All with just some words inside a line of code.

Think about what that could mean for your site, too.

And according to Google, this trend toward meta descriptions is only logical:



The general assumption under such an approach is that searching users are often the best judges of relevance, so that if they select a particular search result, it is likely to be relevant, or at least more relevant than the presented alternatives.

Google really wants to know what actions people are taking and why they are taking them.

Because they believe that users are the best measure when finding content that’s actually useful and relevant.

And it seems like they’ve found their answer in meta descriptions.

So you can rely on whatever content publisher you’re using to generate it, but that will only create gibberish.

Here’s an example that a marketer caught of an early iteration of Pepsi’s UK homepage:

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As I said, this was a very early iteration of this site, and it’s since been fixed:

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But how much more interested and educated are you by the second as opposed to the first?

The second description gives clarity about what’s on the page and even provides helpful links to popular pages on the site.

And if Pepsi can go back and change its meta description, so can you.

You can also start writing good ones as you go, which will only make your site that much better.

As long as your focus is on making your meta description appealing so that users will want to click, you can’t go wrong.

 

Your goal should be to master this art so that you can do it quickly.

That’s why I’ve compiled a very short checklist for you with only four steps.

I believe that if you follow these guidelines, you can start creating the kind of meta descriptions that will help boost your rankings in the long run.

And to start things off, I want to talk about how long your description should actually be.

Step #1: Stop focusing so much on character count

Google recently updated their character limitations.

And if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought they set the world on fire.

Article after article has been published since then to analyze and break down what these changes mean for SEOs and businesses.

But in my opinion, focusing on character count alone completely negates the point of SEO.

Again, this is about human behavior, not just an authoritative word count.

So if you only focus on creating an optimal character count, you might see good results.

But I believe you’re better off focusing on the content itself, and there’s recent evidence to back this up.

SEMRush conducted an experiment to test this principle and found the variation of the meta tag they used that exceeded the 320 character count performed better and ranked higher.

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As you can see, the iteration of the description that performed better stopped mid-sentence.

This goes against the conventional wisdom that you must stay within the limits of your character count to perform better.

And while the psychology of this isn’t necessarily clear right now, it does lead to some interesting ideas that SEOs need to start considering.

More importantly, it reemphasizes Google’s vision that user experience in any form is the benchmark we need to consider first.

The statistics SEMRush shared only serve to reinforce that idea, too.

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The longer description that continued above the character count limit saw an impressive 36% improvement in overall click-through rate from its shorter competitor.

So the results aren’t exactly a minor difference here.

And the implication is incredibly clear.

Focus on experience first.

And if you must focus on character count, shoot for around 300-350, as that’s where the majority of high-performing posts fall.

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But as you can also see, some of these pages ranked with as few as 150 characters.

And while the graph stops at 375, I’m sure you could find a meta description with more characters in just a few Google searches.

My ultimate takeaway here is that word count isn’t necessarily the best bar to consider when it comes to creating the perfect meta description.

Some pages will naturally be shorter or longer than others, and that’s okay.

As long as you’re accurately portraying the content on your page, you’ll be on the right track.

And even though Google will likely change things up again, I think the advice to focus on user experience is the only route that will truly stand the test of time.

Now that we’ve turned you away from your word count woes, let’s talk about the second simple way you can start expanding your description’s SEO.

Step #2: Be unique and interesting

If your descriptions are just so-so, they won’t be helping you get clicks or move up in the rankings.

And with user experience still acting as our litmus test for quality, not getting clicks is exactly what you don’t want.

So how do you innovate and find ways to get people to click?

Well, the ultimate application is up to you.

But there are certain practices you can implement in your writing that will help you be more compelling and get more clicks.

Let’s take a look at a few.

First and foremost, there’s a consensus that you should do your best not to be boring.

While that may sound tongue-in-cheek, I can guarantee you it’s not.



And when it comes to your writing, the best way to not be boring is to use the active voice.

active voice

As you can see in this example above, it has a very active voice that provides a momentous push for the reader.

You’re told what you can expect but without any unnecessary details that might bore the reader or turn them off.

If you’re looking for a simple way to help your SEO, you would most likely click on this link after you read it.

You’ll also notice that the example above is very specific and doesn’t contain any fluff.

This is especially important if you want to rank high in the SERPs.

And more importantly, you want to make sure that the description actually matches the content of the page.

For example, this meta description promises that I can find a wide variety of ways to help organize my home or workspace:

specific

What do I find when I click through?

Tons of options that promise a more organized life.

organize

That’s one of the reasons this page is ranked so highly for the simple, one-word search of “organizer.”

It matches my perceived needs closely and it follows through on the promise made in the meta description.

Do you see how this is still about the quality of your site’s user experience?

Another way you can add to this approach is by furthering your promise with a compelling call to action.

You can achieve this by simply giving your reader a straight shot:

CTA

Or, you can still provide a more thorough description with a call to action at the end to invite your reader to learn more:

end cta

As long as you talk to your audience and don’t just ramble on about yourself, you’ll find yourself in a sweet spot when it comes to meta descriptions.

For example, I like to give previews of the actual content on the page that I think will pique the interest of a more casual reader.

preview

Notice that this description has nothing to do with me, my brand, or what I sell.

It’s just a compelling excerpt from the blog article.

My ultimate goal is to signal value and further your interest, not necessarily get you to buy something.

So whatever you do, find a way to be unique and engaging to your audience.

If you simply provide technical details or go straight for a sale, you probably won’t be all that interesting.

And if you’re not interesting, you won’t climb in the rankings.

Step #3: Please use your keywords

You spend a lot of time generating keywords for your digital campaigns.

You put them in your blog posts, landing pages, and even in your product pages.

So why on earth would you not include them in your meta description?

Because nothing signals to Google sooner than your metadata what your page is about.

Not including a keyword in the meta description could be a fatal mistake.

Here’s a look at what including a good keyword might look like:

yoast meta

This is a top-ranked search for meta descriptions I found while researching this post.

As you can see, Google has highlighted every instance when the words “meta description” appear in the description.

Since they were part of my search term, this provides an early signal that the page can be useful in my research.

The keyword is used naturally and in a way that educates the reader about the page’s content.

The result is fairly clear since this was on the first page of results.

You can still use keywords to emphasize to Google what your post is about.

One of the best and easiest ways to do this for your own site is with the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress.

focus keyword

By allowing you to set a focus keyword for every page and blog post, this tool makes the keyword implementation process simple.

The only other step you have to take is to make sure that you also use the keyword naturally in the copy and alt tags of your actual page.

This helps create continuity throughout Google’s crawling and subsequent ranking of the page.

And with the Yoast Plugin, you’ll also get a reminder if you forget to establish a focus keyword in the copy or meta description:

analysis

With a checking system like this, you’ll never neglect another keyword in your meta description.

As long as you conduct robust keyword research and try to rank for words that are appropriate to your brand, adding them to your meta descriptions appropriately is just the next logical step.

If you do it properly, you can be one step ahead of your competition and one step closer to the front page.

Step #4: Use more than just your copy

For newcomers to metadata, it can be easy to think that your Title, URL, and description end and begin with the default Google listing.

But this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Google also allows you to implement structured data that lets you “beautify” your description on the search engine results page.

To give you an example, I want to show you a different version of the highly ranked Yoast page from the previous point:

yoast meta 2

When I made a more relevant search for this page, it looked different.

The data is still the same but now an image is included and the description is above the title and URL.

What changed? The structured data.

Any page that’s highly ranked gets to take advantage of this unique function.

But the catch is that you have to start using this approach before you get to the front page.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can start implementing structured data.

One of the most popular ways you may have seen is when websites implement reviews in their meta description:

reviews

This provides an immediate signal to your viewer that they can find something of value on the site.

Since social proof is such a powerful way to sell and grow your brand, this is a fairly easy hack that lets you start capitalizing on user behavior with ease.

Another good idea is to set up structured data for your branded website as a whole with your logo and company info:

structured data

This increases the chance that someone searching for your brand will actually find you and receive helpful information without having to click the top few results pages.

Since this appears in the sidebar of the results page, you also achieve a bit of a “two for one” deal with this type of structured data.

A user can find your brand, see what your URL is, and then filter their results so that they only see the pages you have to offer.

This helps your SEO, as Google takes these actions as a positive signal toward your brand in the long run.

And if you think you’ll have a hard time ranking for this tactic, you’ll be surprised to learn that 57% of major companies don’t have structured data set up for their site.

Which means you have an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors and boost your SEO that much more.

The easiest way to start is by using plugins like Schema to help you learn the basics.

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This will allow you to edit, test, and improve the structured data on your site without the hassle of digging into your code.

With some simple optimization, you can be on your way to the front page in your industry as your brand grows.

Conclusion

Meta descriptions aren’t going away anytime soon.

The sooner you learn to craft a good description, the sooner you can start boosting your rankings and helping your overall SEO efforts.

Since meta descriptions are a part of the overall user experience of your site, Google takes them very seriously when it comes to your SEO.

And surprisingly, one of the most outstanding ways you can start improving your approach is to just forget about elements like character count.

Instead, try to be unique and interesting.

Engage with your potential visitor and show them what you have to offer.

If you create the right approach and implement solid keywords, you’ll start to see more organic traffic over time.

And if you use structured data elements to position your brand strategically, you’ll stand out even more to both Google and its users.

With time, diligence, and a lot of patience, you’ll start to see the results you really want.

What tactics have you used to improve your meta descriptions through the years?

 

4 Social Media Hacks You Overlooked That Will Skyrocket Your Website Traffic (for ‘Webmasters only) 2018





The growth of 21st-century businesses owes a lot to social media. If it weren’t for social media, my brand would not be what it is today. Why? Because these modern platforms have been pivotal for outreach, engagement, and development of authority. There are millions of businesses out there. Social media makes them accessible. It also separates the “weak” from the strong. Digital presence is important. But what’s more important is knowing what the best methods are to leverage that presence in your favor.



If you aren’t sure whether your social media methods are working, you are not alone.

In fact, a recent study has shown that 45.9% of small business owners are unsure if their marketing strategies work.

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A further 16.6% reported that they know their strategies do not work.

That’s a whopping 62.5% of business owners in total that are not confident in their methods.

Even the best of us remember those days. I sure do.

But I soon recognized the importance of getting the greatest return on my investment when it comes to social media.

Whether that’s in the time I invested, resources I invested, or other’s time and resources invested in digesting my own work.

If I had not recognized this and done what’s needed to get the most out of each of those, I doubt my brand would have the impact it does today.

So, how do you separate yourself from the pack?

Optimize your social media use with hacks you have overlooked in the past.

What effect will this have on your business?

Measurable impact that will skyrocket the traffic to your site.

The potential of your social media is only untapped because nobody has taught you the most useful ways to harness it.

Until now.

1. Measure the analytics of your social media use

Progress is not made until you know what’s working and what isn’t, right?

Nearly 75% of small businesses are planning to use social media as part of their marketing tactics in 2018.

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Collective efforts may likely be futile if the right data is not properly gauged.

Let’s tackle this by focusing on how to gather analytics for your social media accounts.

I suggest initially establishing which metrics are most relevant to your specific business.

The next step is choosing which service to use to analyze the metrics you have just laid out.

While there are several freemium and premium options available to track and analyze your social media marketing, I am going to elaborate on a favorite of mine.

I admit it. I love data. The more, the better.

Cyfe is a comprehensive business dashboard that tracks all sorts of relevant data.

This will be of use to determine what is and isn’t having a direct effect on driving traffic to your site.

This is an important part of finding what provides a true value return in your social media.

Here’s an overview of what the social media tracking portion of Cyfe offers:

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It will show you relevant insight into metrics, engagement, and even measure your return on investment (ROI) of your social media use.

This is just one of nine separate individual dashboards Cyfe offers to track. You can click through to get an idea of what the full package provides.

For this, I’m only focusing on how it will help measure your social media efforts.

While there is a premium subscription option of $20 per month, there is a free version you can use to get a feel for things without making any commitments.

Let’s sign up.

First, go to www.cyfe.com and locate the “sign up” button, in one of two places:

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Both buttons require you to provide the same information.

Enter your name in the designated area. Next, enter your professional email. Finally, choose a secure password.



Pretty simple, right?

I suggest recording your login information in a safe place, although account information may be recovered if needed.

Click the “sign up” button and get started.

You will start off with a blank board, directing you to get started by adding the widget relevant to what data you wish to track.

Click where it designates, seen here:

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A window will show in your browser, listing neatly organized widgets. It opens to the featured list.

You will become familiar with which widgets are right for the metrics you wish to measure as you explore different options.

Here are the categories I suggest starting with that will help track your social media use and its effect on your traffic:

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Monitoring and site analytics will generate real-time data and provide insight into how users are reacting to your content.

This will make it easy to know what content they respond best to and how much your traffic increases as you implement these hacks.

The social media section will manage individual analytics for each of your social media accounts. This will make it easy to collect relevant data.

Add whichever ones you feel are relevant to the metrics you laid out.

Use this service to track what does and doesn’t get the ROI you are looking for. It does the math for you.

Attaching a dollar amount to your social media efforts is essential in today’s digital world.

Just see what Arizona-based bicycle manufacturer, State Bicycle Co found.

They discovered 12% of their website traffic comes from Facebook. That’s a fifth of the cost per click compared to other channels that they use.

The best part?

$500,000 of sales came from Facebook coupon codes.

Now, let’s switch gears.

2. Use plugins to harness the power of mobile sharing

So, what’s the next step?

Giving your audience the ability to share your content easily and quickly without compromising design and usability.

Since the start of 2018, it’s reported that there are 3.196 billion active online social media users worldwide. This is up 13% year-over-year.

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Of 5.135 billion unique mobile users worldwide, 2.958 billion are active mobile social users.

Meaning, 57.6% of all worldwide mobile users are active social media users.

Mobile users also outrank Internet users by over one billion. That’s a whole lot of zeros.

What I am getting across here is not only the sheer magnitude of active social media users.

It’s also how many are mobile users. Which is the majority.

Why is this relevant?

Sharing content is more often conducted by mobile users rather than Internet users.

We know this because it’s projected that 70% of digital media time is mobile.

This means that the approach to how your audience can share your content should always cater to mobile users.

Especially considering 95% of adults in the US have a cell phone of some type.

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Over three-fourths of those are smartphones.

I have said before that the harder it is for an audience to share your content, the less likely they will.

To set yourself up for success, use plugins on your blog to make sure your content can be easily shared across any device.

But especially mobile.

A majority of social share buttons that float to the side of content are either lost offscreen or cover your content’s text when read on mobile devices.

Take a look at these social icons on mobile compared to desktop.

Mobile

floating mobile

Desktop

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Nobody is going to read what they can’t see on mobile, right?

My favorite plugin that solved this issue and helps promote content sharing across any device is Warfare Plugins.

This is a WordPress plug-in launched in 2014 that offers three options: free, pro, and affiliate.

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To begin installation of this plugin to your site, let’s go for the free version first to see if you like it as much as I do.

First, go to www.warfareplugins.com/products/ as seen above.

Next, click on the “VIEW” button seen under Social Warfare of the three options.

This will take you to the landing page for the free version of Warfare’s plug-in. Scroll down, just a little, and you will see this:

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To the right, you will see License Options.

Underneath that is a button that says, “FREE DOWNLOAD.”

Click on this button, and it will redirect you to the official WordPress site where the free version of Social Warfare is hosted.



When you are ready to download, click here:

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A pop-up will show saying that you have chosen to open social-warfare.2.3.5.zip. This is the name the current version of the program.

Select the option to save the zip file and press OK.

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After you have the file saved and have located it, you are ready to complete the installation directions outlined by the developers.

Once installed, you will be able to use the Social Warfare plugin to optimize and customize content shares across any device.

You will even be able to collect individual analytics per post, courtesy of their data-tracking for each piece of content.

81% of marketers plan to increase their use of original written content because it is key to constant traffic from new and existing subscribers.

3. Manage a successful social media editorial calendar

Now that you are tracking metrics important to your company and have made your content easily shareable for mobile users, let’s shift our focus to scheduling.

I want to make this clear: knowing the equation of what can make content viral is only half of what it takes to have an actual impact in making content go viral.

The other portion is timing.

And consistency in both quality and posting timeframes.

Staying committed to a solid approach will increase your skill and impact year after year.

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Social media and messaging accounts for 1 in every 3 minutes users spend on the Internet.

This means there is ample opportunity to capitalize on the attention users are willing to give to social media.

This also means that you must keep the content you share current, consistent, and maintain a standard of quality.

First, you need to set up your calendar.

One of my personal favorite ways to do this is a mixture of a Google spreadsheet, Google Calendar, and Trello.

Trello even built this social media editorial calendar template.

Screen Shot 2018 04 17 at 10.16.58 AM

Check out how these three services are synergistic to each other with step-by-step directions in setting up your editorial calendar.

Proper use of these tools will help make you a powerful influencer.

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Now that you have a functioning system on hand, I am going to show you how to cater it to social media and generate loads of traffic to your site.

Of over 400 social media leaders interviewed, a resounding 84% track and measure the effectiveness of their efforts in utilizing social media.

29% are still attempting to prove and/or justify that using social media translates to actual value.

It’s a matter of understanding how often to post and what material to share with your followers.

Sharing at the right frequency with quality content, consistently delivered.

This is ultimately what gets any of us top marketers the most traffic to our sites.

This will streamline your process and ensure your content engages users and spikes traffic.

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Research on 14 different studies conducted has compiled the average of how often and what time to post on leading social media sites.

Here are the stats:

  • Facebook: 1-2 posts per day between 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
    • Bonus: Curate or reshare a post every other day.
  • Twitter: 1-51 tweets per day between 2:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    • Bonus: Retweet or curate around seven tweets a day.
  • Pinterest: 3-30 pins per day, with one pin every hour between 2:00 AM – 4:00 AM, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, and 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
    • Bonus: Repin or curate a minimum of five pieces of content from others every day. Some even suggest that 80% of pins shared should be from sources other than your own blog.
  • LinkedIn: 0-1 posts per day between 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
    • Bonus: Curate or reshare a post every other day.
  • Google+: 0-3 posts per day between 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
    • Bonus: Curate or reshare one post every other day.
  • Instagram: 1-3 posts per day between 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM and at 2:00 AM
    • Bonus: Only curate posts when necessary and if it is beneficial to your audience.

Make sure that your content is engaging, one-of-a-kind, and relevant.

This will optimize your interaction with followers and drive the right traffic to your site.

Buffer is an ideal example. They increased their blog visits to 1.5 million with social media posts like this.

Driving traffic and generating leads is the biggest content challenge, according to 63% of marketers.

4. Launch original content, data, and executive insights

I have shown you how to hack into your social media, use plugins to make your content shareable, and how and when to manage your social media editorial calendar.

So, what’s left?

The final trick is publishing content that performs better than anyone else’s.

Because, let’s face it.

There are over eight billion gigabytes of data uploaded and downloaded every year.

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This essentially equates to one gigabyte of data for every human being on Earth every year and growing.

This is a 300% increase in growth in only three years and it’s only just started.

It’s projected that by 2025, 463 billion gigabytes of new data will get created every day.

Wow, right?

That’s staggering.

I’d go so far as to say mind-boggling.

How in the world are we supposed to stay competitive when the markets flood with so much data at such high rates?

Easy. You don’t stay competitive.

Instead, you lead.

Like Pillsbury did with their Crescent-Wrapped Chicken Parmesan video. This video has over 1 million shares since January 2017.

Or, consider how Wendy’s got the most retweeted Tweet in history with help from Carter Wilkerson.

 

Creating content as compelling as this gives others a choice: to compete or not compete. No other way around.

86% of leading B2C marketers use content marketing.

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For B2B, it’s even higher – 91%.

Position yourself as an authority in your industry.

If you don’t, someone else will.

It’s calculated that content leaders who are a voice of authority in their field receive 7.8 times more traffic than those who don’t.

After all, that’s why you came here, isn’t it?

Curating your own, original content that utilizes the social media hacks I have outlined for you is what will ultimately set you apart from the pack.

Easier said than done is what I have heard a lot of in the past.

I am here to burst that bubble. In fact, that’s what a lot of the material I have written over the years aims to do.

No, really.

I have written an outrageous amount of original content telling others how to write their own original content. Just take a look at this.

And, for good measure, here is a video on how to write engaging content for boring industries:

 

Better content has the potential to drive traffic to a blog by up to 2,000%.

Sure, you’ll need to invest your time (if you’ve got the skill set) and/or resources (if you’d rather outsource), but is it worth it?

Yes.

Yes.

Say it with me.

Yes, it is.

Conclusion

Social media is the first invention to unify brands directly with consumers.

So, it’s no wonder there’s such an influx of business owners searching for ways to ensure their social media efforts return the greatest ROI and boost their site’s traffic.

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In this article, I outlined four hacks you may have overlooked that will have direct, positive impact on the traffic your website brings in.

First, I walked you through a step-by-step process on how to get Cyfe ready to track relevant metrics and analytics for your content.

This is important because you must know what is and isn’t working in order to know which methods are worth your time and which ones need a different approach.

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Second, I explained why optimizing for mobile users is so necessary.

Third, I outlined how to manage a successful social media editorial calendar.

This will keep your content publishing organized, consistent, and reliable while optimizing the amount of interaction your social media use receives every time you post.

Fourth, I put into perspective how much data consumption there is and why it is so important to position yourself as a voice of authority.

Every single one of these social media hacks has a common denominator.

Driving engaged traffic to your site.

The happier your followers, users, and clients are, the happier you’ll be.

This is a fundamental truth when it comes to business.

One that I operate by still to this day and always will.

Which social media hacks have you used to skyrocket your traffic?

 

 

Website Traffic Over Conversions – Why your should always priotirize Traffic (for Webmasters only) 2018





Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way. Conversions matter, Website Traffic matters, too. I’m not going to try to convince you in this blog post that you shouldn’t test for conversions or that conversions will magically happen without any work by generating website traffic. Here’s what I am going to try and convince you of, however: A focus on website traffic generation instead of conversion optimization is almost always the right place to invest your energy and attention. Notice, I said “almost.” Of course, if you’re driving website traffic to your website and converting no one, some conversion optimization might be in order.



For most of you, though, that isn’t the case.

Rather, you are converting website traffic — but perhaps just not as much as you’d like.

So you throw money at conversion optimization.

And you’re not alone. 74% of companies rate converting contacts and leads into paying customers as a top priority, with website traffic falling to second place.

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But is that right?

Sure, it’s one way of doing things. But is it the best way of doing things?

That’s the question I intend to answer for you.

And I intend to answer by explaining that, for most of you, prioritizing traffic over conversions is a better strategy than the alternative.

I know that you’ve read plenty of blog posts recommending the opposite. Articles like Why Conversion Is More Important Than Traffic for Generating Sales.

This isn’t one of those articles.

In fact, here are the four reasons that a focus on traffic is more profitable than a focus on conversions (almost always).

1. Traffic increases your number of conversions

What if I told you that quality traffic directly increases the number of conversions you’ll receive?

Would you believe me?

Well, you don’t have to.

The truth is simple logic.

First, take a moment to consider some average conversion rates.

But a fair warning: it’s not going to be pretty.

The majority of conversion rates fall below the abysmal .5% marker.

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Yikes.

And the conversion rate by referrer doesn’t really paint a better picture, with the best average sitting around 4%.

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The same is true for e-commerce conversion rates by device.

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No matter how you look at it, the truth is the same.

Conversion rates are notoriously low.

At best, 4 out of 100 people who visit your website will convert.

Just take a minute to think about that.

That means you have to pay to get 25 people to your website before even one person buys.

And that’s on a good day.

So what are you to do?

Try and increase that conversion rate by one percent, only to receive a few more sales for every 100 visitors?

No, I don’t think so.

I think there’s a far better solution.

And its name is traffic.

Even with an unsatisfying conversion rate, you can increase your number of customers by increasing your amount of traffic.

Imagine you increase your website traffic by just 500 people.

If you have a 4% conversion rate, that’s 20 new customers or leads.



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That’s a lot of extra cash for a small amount of work.

Which illustrates the primary reason that traffic is a far better focus than conversion optimization.

Let’s, for instance, take the same scenario, but assume that you worked to increase your conversion rate instead of your traffic.

Imagine you even managed to increase your conversion rate by an entire percentage point, from 4% to 5%.

How many extra conversions would that get you?

Five. That’s right. You would receive five extra sales for an extraordinary amount of work.

That’s not very compelling.

And if you’re like most B2B content marketers, one of your primary goals is to generate more leads.

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Evidently, though, the answer isn’t to optimize your website for conversion.

But to drive more traffic to your already-converting website.

That will have a far better pay off than the alternative will, in the end.

And fortunately for your traffic-driving strategy, 70% of people feel more bonded with a company after reading custom content.

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You can leverage those facts in your own content marketing strategy.

Drive traffic to your website and build relationships with the people who arrive.

Believe it or not, you’ll actually make more money faster than you would by focusing on conversion optimization.

So long as your website is converting near one of the low averages, then you’ll be far better off by driving additional traffic rather than changing the color of your CTA.

2. Traffic builds brand awareness

The more people that know about your business, the more people who can buy from you.

And with a focus on traffic-generation, more people will know about your business.

Take content marketing, for instance. You produce a helpful blog post for your target audience.

Then you run advertisements to the piece on social media and send out an email. People flock to the article like a kid to candy.

Some of the people are existing customers. But most of the people are new prospects.

They’ve never visited your website before and they sure haven’t bought from you.

Before, they didn’t even know about your business.

Now, however, they’ve seen your logo, read your content, and maybe even opted in to your email list.

In other words, they know who you are, and they like what you produce.

That marketing attention is a serious win.

And generating traffic and leads is one of the top marketing challenges for 65% of businesses.

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Since you’re probably in the same boat as that portion of marketers, you don’t need me to convince you that you need more traffic and leads.

But you might need me to convince you that simple brand awareness is far more important than optimizing for conversions until your fingers are sore.

Just consider that 51% of social media marketers aim to increase brand awareness.

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Or the fact that 85% of businesses use social media for the primary purpose of creating buzz around their business.

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Clearly, brand awareness is just child’s play. Marketers are investing time and money into it with all seriousness.

But why? Why are they investing so much into such a fleeting concept?

Because the more that people know about you, the more that they’ll talk about you with their friends.

Just take a moment to think about this.

What’s the last leisurely conversation you had with someone today?

Seriously, think back to it.

What did you talk about? How many brands did you mention?

Did you discuss the place that you ate lunch? Or the movie you saw yesterday? Or the TV show you and your spouse just started watching?

The point is, we talk about the things that are top-of-mind.

If your business is top-of-mind, people will talk to their friends about you. Which means that their friends might just check you out on their own time.

Of course, there’s more to brand awareness than simple sight.

People also need to interact with your business by visiting your website, reading a blog post, and then leaving a comment, for instance.

In fact, 54% of email marketers claim that engagement is one of their highest goals.

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This means that you should spend more time optimizing your traffic-generation strategy, not less.

You don’t want to just produce content. You want to produce amazing content.

Because while content will drive people to your website. Great content will drive them to your website and enhance your brand image.

And once they think highly of you, you’ll be hard-pressed to make them think otherwise.

After all, people hate changing their minds after they’ve made a decision.

Traffic builds brand awareness because people see you and, if you do it right, they might even like you.

But one thing’s for sure.

If they never get to your website, they’ll never have the chance to learn to like you (or buy from you).



3. Traffic raises long-term potential

It’s the age-old question.

If you could have $100,000 today or $1 million in a year, which would you choose?

For most of us, that’s a difficult question to answer. After all, you could use $100,000 for your family, your business, and your lifestyle right now.

But you really could use $1 million, right?

Although, you probably don’t want to wait a year.

The difference between optimizing for conversions or traffic is a bit like that hypothetical argument.

Just take a moment to consider the reasons that people abandon their online shopping cart.

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As you can see, the reasons are plentiful.

There are tons of common and less common reasons that people decide not to buy online.

Some people balk because they have to create an account. Others resist a long checkout process. Still more find it difficult to read the text on the page. So, they leave.

Naturally, the temptation is to change and fix everything you can.

Remove the requirement to create an account, make the checkout process quicker, and increase the size of the font.

Will those things increase your conversion rate, though?

Probably.

But not as much as you would probably like.

A strategy that revolves around traffic, on the other hand, will pay you more in the future.

How do I know?

Well, it’s not until the sixth follow up that the chance of an email response surges to 27%.

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And 80% of sales happen between the fifth and twelfth contact.

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What’s the point?

That people have to see your ads, website, business, logo, message, and content a lot before buying from you.

It’s human nature.

We want to know that we’re making a good decision and the only way to know that is to determine whether we trust the business we’re buying the product from.

And, of course, trust takes time.

That’s probably why 88% of B2C content marketers are trying to increase customer retention and loyalty.

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A focus on traffic might not generate loads of revenue right now. But in the future, it will.

After a few months, you’ll start to gain a following.

Then people will start to talk about you amongst themselves.

And eventually, you’ll have a seemingly magical and endless source of passive customer generation simply because people know who you are and talk about you with their friends.

If that sounds awesome, you’re not alone.

Marketers dedicated an average of 36% of their budgets to creating, curating, and publishing content.

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That massive dedication is a result of businesses recognizing the long-term effects of a successful content marketing campaign.

Namely, that people will start talking about your brand, generating more passive traffic (and conversions) to your website.

 

Because here’s the thing.

About 50% of businesses don’t survive for even six years.

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And while that stat only goes up until 2015, that curve doesn’t seem to be changing from year to year.

If anything, the problem is getting worse. People are starting more businesses than ever before which means that more businesses are failing than ever before as well.

Traffic, though, might be your key to building a sustainable business over the long term.

4. Traffic gives you the information you need to iterate

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to totally destroy the argument that you should spend time on conversion optimization.

After all, doing so will increase your conversion rate.

The argument I’m making is that traffic is a better focus for most of you than conversions.

But let me take a moment to make the argument that conversion optimization depends on traffic generation.

What do I mean?

I mean that you can’t A/B test your website and your checkout process and your content engagement without traffic.

You must have traffic to your website to test that traffic.

In other words, traffic allows you to test and iterate your conversion strategy.

Without a significant amount of traffic, you can’t test anything meaningfully.

Consider ConversionXL, which runs loads of different original tests on their website.

Here’s a heatmap from them regarding how effective star-ratings are for conversions.

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And here’s another study that analyzes the difference between these two sets of sales copy.

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And finally, one that looks at the difference between how people browsed The New York Times in 2004 verses in 2016.

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That’s a wealth of knowledge for any marketer to have access to.

Now, though, imagine that you had access to all of that information, but it was on your very own website.

That would be pretty amazing, right?

Well, the only way that you’re going to get there is if you have a massive amount of traffic.

Normally, I’m talking about thousands and thousands of visitors every month.

That, really, is the only way to test your conversion tactics and come up with meaningful findings that allow you to iterate upon your current strategy.

And Optimizely reports that you might experience a 228% increase in conversions by regularly A/B testing and iterating.

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Do you want to miss out on that opportunity?

Of course you don’t.

You want to optimize every page, advertisement, column, sidebar, and word of copy.

You don’t want to miss anything, and you definitely don’t want part of your website to fall behind.

Ideally, you want to optimize every part of your conversion funnel.

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But again, the only way to make that happen is by increasing your traffic to the point that you can reliably produce meaningful results.

Because here’s what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to run tests, assume that your results are accurate, spend tons of money and time making changes, only to produce similar results.

Trust me. Without enough traffic, your tests mean absolutely nothing.

With more traffic, on the other hand, your tests become a source of answered marketing questions.

For your reference, here is the process for running great tests.

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First, you determine which conversion you’re going to try and improve.

Then, you create a hypothesis for what you think is going to happen. Now create the variations and run the experiment.

At the end, you’ll measure your results and see what performed better. Your control or your variation.

But if you don’t have much traffic, then all of that testing will be more deceiving than it is helpful.

And that’s not a game you want to spend your time playing.

Conclusion

Yes. Conversions matter.

But it’s for that very reason that you should focus on traffic instead of conversions.

Counter-intuitive, I know.

But it really is the better solution most of the time.

And the reasons for that are simple.

Traffic increases your number of conversions across the board, builds brand awareness, raises your long-term business potential, and gives you the information you need to run reliable tests to iterate your current strategy.

Many people today are focusing far too much on conversion optimization and far too little on driving traffic.

Remember, people can’t buy from you if they don’t know who you are.

And they can’t know who you are unless you drive them to your website.

So what are you waiting for? Go get em’.

Why do you believe traffic is more important than conversions?

 

 

Bounce Rate is a Lie. Here’s How to Force it to Tell the Truth (for Webmasters only) 2018

bounce-rate-accuracy




Have you ever had a shockingly high bounce rate? I mean high — like, 90% or more? I see this all the time, even on my own site. But it doesn’t always worry me. Some people really panic when they see bounce rates over 50%. Most people assume that if a bounce rate is over 50%, it’s their fault. Their content or landing pages just aren’t performing the way that they should. But guess what? It’s not true. Or, at least, it’s not always true. There may be absolutely nothing wrong with your content, and you might still have high bounce rates. Don’t freak out. While keeping a low bounce rate on average is an important part of optimization, most people don’t actually know what a bounce rate really means for their conversions.



Most don’t even realize that a 90% bounce rate isn’t out of the norm for certain parts of your website.

In other words, your high bounce rate isn’t telling you the whole story.

What your bounce rate isn’t telling you

To Google, high bounce rates mean low-quality web pages.

If users are frequently leaving your pages without engaging in some way, it must mean your content isn’t relevant enough, right?

Well, yes and no.

A bounce is any “session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server.”

bounce rate

If someone performs an initial action, like a site visit, but doesn’t interact a second time (by viewing another page, clicking a CTA, etc.) within 30 minutes, it’s considered a bounce.

Basically, it’s a “one-and-done” event.

A bounce rate is simply the percentage of those single-page visits. The formula looks something like this:

bouncerate

But here’s the problem: Google can’t tell the difference between a good interaction and a bad interaction.

Google only watches an interaction for about 30 minutes.

If someone came to your site and was scrolling around reading your homepage for 15 minutes, stepped away to check the mail, and then came back to click on another page… it’s still counted as a bounce.

It can also be registered as a bounce if someone is using multiple tabs because Google doesn’t know the difference.

neilpatel

Even if they buy from you (in one tab) and browse in another, if one tab is open and unengaged for 30 minutes it’s still a bounce.

You get a conversion, but Google doesn’t even credit you for it because it happened in a separate browser tab.

Painful, right?

The other issue is that not all of your traffic sources are accurate.

Google often lumps different types of traffic together under “Direct Traffic.”

This means that some of your referral or email traffic gets bundled together with your direct traffic.

For example, Google now forces websites to use SSL certificates as a part of their ranking process. Many sites are now redirecting non-SSL traffic (from HTTP pages) to HTTPS pages.

This should be considered Referral traffic, which wouldn’t count against your bounce rate because there’s no real interaction to be made.

But it’s not. It’s considered direct traffic and automatically penalizes you with a bounce.

It’s really not fair.

When Groupon performed an experiment by de-indexing themselves, they found that 60% of their direct traffic was actually supposed to be organic traffic.

3 time vs traffic 768x485

This misclassification of traffic can really hurt your bounce rate because you’re looking at “non-engaging” traffic and it might be designed that way.



If someone literally can’t engage with your website (because they’re redirected), but you’re not aware of it, it just looks like you have a really bad website.

Timing and traffic sources can hurt you.

But Google doesn’t know how to tell the difference between a good source of referral traffic that eventually converts and a non-converting visitor who is just browsing your site.

So what can you do about it?

The good news is that you can get Google to tell you the truth about your bounce rate as long as you know what to do.

1. Track in-page events, not page views

Because Google can’t predict the intention of a site visitor, you have to tell it what to look for.

Google needs to track both page views and events to determine accurate bounce rates.

Events track how a visitor is specifically engaging on your site. If they watch a video, sign up for a newsletter or click a link, it knows.

google analytics event tracking example

Events are important because they let you count interactions that don’t involve other pages loading (Google Analytics typically counts an interaction only if it opens another page).

But events require custom code on your website to track them properly.

To set up an event, go to your Admin Dashboard for your Google Analytics account and choose the ‘Goals’ link under the ‘View’ column.

analytics goals

Next, create a new goal and choose the “Custom” option and then go to the next step.

customgoal

Give a title to your goal — something that will be easy to identify — and then be sure to select “Event” as the type.

goaldescription

You’ll then be given more options to customize your event.

eventconditions

Once you’re finished, you can save your goal. This will create a unique event that can be tracked on your website.

You will then have to input that code on your website, which may require the help of a developer or a website admin.

Code varies depending on the platform you’re using, so be sure you know how to do that.

Yes, all of this is an extra step in the process.

But if you’re worried about your bounce rates, creating events will give you a much more accurate look at what people are doing on your website.

Adding events to your pages will notify Google that an interaction has taken place so that the visit won’t be treated as a bounce.

2. Use inbound traffic segmentation

As I said earlier, one of the biggest problems with Google Analytics is that it can’t always tell the difference between direct traffic and other traffic sources.

There is a workaround to this problem, but it does take a little elbow grease.

The solution is to create different landing pages for different traffic sources.

Unbounce calls this “inbound traffic segmentation.”

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The idea behind inbound traffic segmentation is that different sources have either “warm” or “cold” leads coming to your site.

If you create unique paths for all major traffic channels, you will be able to see which channels are driving or generating what.

Take a look at this example of a homepage, landing page, and ad optimized for Facebook traffic:

optimizeforfacebook2

Or this one:

optimize for facebook

People clicking on the ad go directly to a conversion point (a sign-up).

These types of landing pages are more likely to have lower bounce rates because there’s already a level of buy-in when the visitor gets there.

They already clicked the ad, so they were curious at the very least.

Because Google has a hard time telling the difference between direct traffic and social traffic, this segmentation provides a bit of clarity that is otherwise absent.

And you might want to take into account the type of device used by your visitors.

If someone is using a mobile device, you want to optimize your landing pages for mobile, because bounce rates are typically higher for mobile users.

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This might require tracking traffic sources over several months to see where the bulk of your traffic is coming from, and what devices are most used.

If you notice that your bounce rates are higher for mobile users, you don’t have to panic right away, because bounce rates will always be higher for mobile.



But if you notice that they’re high for desktop users as well, you’ll have a better idea of how to optimize your site to help visitors convert.

And that will give you a better idea of how to improve your content if you do want to make tweaks.

3. Test your site speed for “phantom bounces”

So what are your options if you don’t want to spend hours creating new landing pages and events in Google Analytics?

There are a few other ways you can test your website to make sure your bounce rates aren’t being jacked up for other reasons.

If your bounce rate is over 50%, one of the first things you want to check is your site speed.

Use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

pagespeed insights

The faster your site is, the lower your bounce rates should be.

In one study by Google, they found that 53% of mobile ad clicks never resulted in a pageview when the page took more than 3 seconds to load.

In another case study, one brand migrated their website to a better hosting service and saw their bounce rate go from 50-60% down to 2-5% almost overnight.

HowToReduceBounceRate LastFallChart

That’s huge!

In addition to the significant bounce rate improvement, they also saw other engagement metrics improve:

  • Pageviews By Mobile Users saw a 132% increase (3,761 to 8,755).
  • Overall Pageviews increased by 100% (8,416 to 16,849).
  • Average Pages Viewed Per Session had a 113% increase (4.17 to 8.91).
  • Average Pages Viewed By Mobile Users Per Session increased by 145% (3.27 to 8.05).

That’s some truly incredible differences from such a simple fix.

HowToReduceBounceRate Comparison1

Before the migration, they attributed their high bounce rate to what they called “Phantom Bounces,” or bounces that happened because the site didn’t load in time and a visitor clicked away.

Google doesn’t know the difference between a standard bounce (they came, they saw, they left) and a phantom bounce (they didn’t see because there was nothing to see).

So if you’re not sure why your bounce rate is so high, test your site speed.

It could just be that making a small adjustment to your page loading speed drops your bounce rate enough that you don’t have to fiddle with the more complicated solutions above.

4. Delay the timing of your pop-ups

Google is a little vindictive about certain elements of your site, and may actually punish you for having them.

Pop-ups, for example, should be a good thing for your bounce rates.

They’re designed to give users a way to interact with your site, which should keep your bounce rates low.

pop ups 3 brand credibility

But if they’re not designed in the way Google likes, your bounce rates might be affected without you even realizing.

Here’s what I mean.

Google has been putting a lot of emphasis on mobile-friendliness, especially with their new algorithm. This also means that Google will penalize sites that don’t properly display on mobile.

Interstitials — things like pop-ups, overlays, and modals — are seen as intrusive, and Google doesn’t like to rank sites that have a lot of interstitials on their mobile sites.

Here are a few examples of interstitials that Google doesn’t like:

  • Standalone interstitials that must be dismissed before users can access your content
  • Pop-ups that cover content and that users are forced to close to continue reading
  • Deceptive page layouts whose above-the-fold portion looks like an interstitial

You can still have interstitials without the penalty, however. But it’s all about timing.

Like site speed, bounce rates tend to be higher on sites that have “immediate” or intrusive pop-ups, or those that appear in the first second or so of a page loading.

intrusive interstitial

Pop-ups that are delayed by 3-5 seconds, on the other hand, tend not to be penalized by Google, and can actually improve bounce rates.

An alternative is to use exit pop-ups, which load when a user signals that they are about to leave your site.

exit popup example1

Exit pop-ups tend to be less invasive and can help create last-minute conversions.

And according to Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, Google’s interstitial penalty isn’t triggered by exit pop-ups.

You might have to create an event for Google to properly track your exit pop-ups (see #1), but if it lowers your bounce rate, it’s worth it.

If you’re set on using pop-ups when a page first loads, though, then delay the timing of when they appear by a few seconds and test whether or not your bounce rates remain the same.

Also, be sure to test how pop-ups are affecting your site speed.

If you’ve gone to all the effort to optimize your loading speeds, and then your pop-ups ruin your progress, you will be right back where you started.

5. Take exit rates into account

Google isn’t just lying about your bounce rates.

Another area you want to pay special attention to when looking at your bounce rates is your exit rates.

Yes, they’re different.

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Exit rates are calculated based on the last page a visitor was on before they left.

A high bounce rate will (almost always) increase your exit rate.

Let’s say you have an e-commerce site, and a shopper is clicking back and forth between Product A’s landing page and Product B’s landing page.

If they finally leave after viewing Product B for the 10th time, Product B’s landing page exit rate will be high, along with the bounce rate.

And Product A’s page will have a high bounce rate.

That’s because bounce rates and exit rates are calculated differently, even though they affect each other.

bounce rate vs exit rate 568x324

So what does this mean for you?

It means that you have to put your bounce rates into context.

If you notice pages that have abnormally high bounce rates but low exit rates, then you have to look at your user behavior, not necessarily page views alone.

You might have to pull a custom report to truly understand what’s happening.

Non Bouned Users Exit Rate vs Bounce Rate Digishuffle 1024x398

Google won’t be able to tell you why certain pages are doing well.

If you want to know the truth, you have to look at your analytics within the context of your audience, their behavior, and the type of page they’re visiting.

Certain landing pages will almost inevitably have higher bounce rates than others, but in context, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you’ve gone through all the effort of the above steps, and still aren’t seeing results, make sure you know your exit rates.

Because not all bounces are bad for business.

Don’t take Google’s word for it.

Conclusion

Google is smart, but it’s not as smart as you.

It can tell you that someone left your site, but it can’t tell you why. That’s why you have to do some digging.

First, be sure to set up event tracking.

Yes, it’s an extra step. But it can tell you which elements of your site are causing people to leave.

Next, create separate landing pages for different traffic sources. That way you can tell where your traffic is actually coming from and why certain visitors convert while others don’t.

And test your site speed. Seriously. It could be the reason your bounce rates are at 95%.

Finally, be sure to take into account other things that influence conversions, like interstitials and exit rates. Remember, it’s all about context.

Google won’t tell you that, but I will.

What changes have you made to your site that noticeably reduced your bounce rates?

 

 

Medium for Marketing: How to Get 1,000 Followers and 46,287 New Site Visits in 30 Days (for Webmasters only) 2018





You’re done writing for the day (without Medium for Marketing). You hit ‘publish’ on your latest blog. And another masterpiece has made it online. Crickets. You’ve been watching your page views and post engagement for months now. It seems like you are getting some traction, but instead of celebrating with your team, you’re disappointed. Again. “It’s the writing, right?” The fears and doubts pour in. Fear is a liar. Every blogger has been here. Every. Single. One.



Finding where your tribe is congregating online is no easy task for anyone — even the biggest brands.

We all start with an audience of one. The key to getting traffic back to your site is getting your writing in front of the right audience.

Enter: Medium.

Medium for Marketing

The Medium.com publishing platform, started in August of 2012 by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, could be your new best friend for finding an audience and getting additional traffic to your site.

Initially, I had my doubts about its effectiveness as a marketing platform. Check out my initial take from the daily Marketing School podcast with Eric Siu from October of 2016.

What has changed since then for marketing on Medium?

Traction.

If you follow the steps below, I’ll show you how to get followers on Medium that will lead to additional traffic to your site without the need to write even more content or pay for traffic on another channel.

Everyone could use more traffic to their site.

Why not re-publish and repurpose your best, evergreen content on the Medium platform to get more followers to your site?

Medium has grown from over 60 million monthly unique visitors in 2016 to 153 million as of this year, according to SimilarWeb.com.

Stats don’t lie.

What is your target audience? Working adults? College and graduate school graduates?

If that is your ideal audience, Medium could be the best place to connect you with your tribe.

Just check out these metrics from Alexa.com on Medium.

Alexa to Medium

But the problem is, many marketers are skeptical they will get punished by Google Search for publishing duplicate content.

 

If you still have work to do to optimize your site and bank some more engaging content, don’t rush over to Medium to set-up your profile today.

The Medium platform is a commitment. You do need to maintain a presence and produce valuable content to find success with it.

Taking on an additional channel is not for everyone and every brand — especially if you still have work on your existing website or you already stretched too thin.

How do you know if you are stretched too thin?

For starters, if the thought of adding Medium to the mix makes you want to scream, you might consider filing this away in your “ideas for the future” box.

If you are reading this and ready to go, Medium makes set-up super easy for writers and publishers.

I’ll try to make this easy too.

I’ll show you how to grow your followers to 1,000 or more in 30 days and get traffic of over 40,000 page views.

Sound like a plan?

But first, are you curious how the Buffer organization is using Medium to increase traffic to their site — without writing new content?

Seems too good to be true, right?

Here’s how they do it.

1. Your audience awaits at Medium

I know what you’re thinking: “Here is just another platform that I don’t control, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where they want me to publish my content for their audience.”

True.

I get it. It’s natural to have reservations about investing time and energy in a platform that might change how they distribute your content tomorrow.

Nobody wants to find themselves back at square one after investing time and energy into new a platform.

That is what the team at Buffer had to decide.

Go for it, or continue on their own?



They chose to publish their existing content on Medium and even created their own custom branded publication — Buffer Stories.

More on publications later.

Buffer Medium

The Buffer team wanted to understand how to get more out of Medium.

Like other brands and publishers, the Buffer team decided to build a publication on the platform to augment what they were already doing on the Buffer blog.

Sometimes you have to be willing to experiment a little.

What the team at Buffer discovered was when you repost older, evergreen content you still have the potential to increase views by 1215%.

Buffer Spike

A thousand views a day to 12K virtually overnight?

I would ski down that hill of evergreen content views.

Are you getting almost 153 million visitors to your site each month? Probably not.

But Medium is.

Most of us dream of that kind of traffic to our blogs or websites.

Doing a little investigating, I tried to discover just how people are writing on the platform.

Are you curious?

I sure was. They had me at “153 million visits.”

How would you like to get results like Mitchell Harper who got over 5k followers and 260k views in just 30 days on Medium?

Mitchell was a little hesitant to share his formula for success on the platform.

What he learned though, is that even people without a big audience can share a great story and it can be seen by hundreds of thousands of readers.

It certainly helps to have followers and be featured in a popular publication, but great content gets rewarded on the Medium platform.

Be willing to make an upfront investment of time with your existing content and you can have similar results to Mitchell Harper and others who have found success publishing on Medium.

TIp: To see an estimate of how many people are on the platform, after you set-up your profile and start following someone else, you will automatically be following the Medium Staff’s recommended reading.

Click on your picture in the upper right and then ‘Profile.’

Now click on ‘Following’ and then scroll to find ‘Medium Staff.’ It looks like it is currently at 14.4M active users accounts.

MMR Followers NP

This Kissmetrics blog post on Medium from 2014 estimated active users at 625K using a similar trick of looking at the number of followers for the “Editor Picks” collection, which all users follow.

If my math is correct, the platform has grown from 625K to 14.4M (or +2200%) in the last four years.

What’s that called? Traction.

In fact, that is serious growth for a site that already boasted 625K monthly active users just a few years ago.

Medium bills itself as a writing and discovery platform.

The audience, according to Alexa.com, has a better than average internet audience of working college and graduate level readers and writers using the platform and visiting the site each month.

These are educated professionals in the highly desirable 18-34 age range.

AgeDistrubution

Seems like a no-brainer if you want to get your message in front of highly educated professionals.

So what could be holding you back from republishing some of your existing content?

As I see it, there are two significant concerns you might have with publishing your content on Medium today.

  • Google penalizing you for duplicate content in search ranking
  • Building an audience with your content on rented land

I understand.

Both are valid concerns. We all know the risk of another third-party platform leveraging our content for their audience and then changing the rules on our brands and publishers.

Rented land comes with risk.

The issue that always comes up with my readers is the potential for Google to penalize you for syndicating that duplicate content to their platform.

I’ll talk more about it in a moment, but let me offer a spoiler alert: Google does not punish you for duplicating your content on Medium.

Let me say that again. Google does not punish you for syndicating your existing content on Medium.

Here is proof, directly from Medium:

“Medium’s publication and cross-posting pathways automatically add canonical links to protect your original content posted offsite. This means that Medium can only boost — not cannibalize — your SEO.”

Boost! Medium can give your SEO a boost!

Improved SEO is always good, right?

The second concern of maintaining control of your audience and content on a third-party platform?

It is a risk. Always will be.

I will address the strategies we can use to leverage Medium to grow your followers on the platform and drive traffic to your external site in a moment.

But you have to take that first step.

2. Get on Medium now

If you are new to Medium, Buffer has published an excellent guide for getting started on the platform on their blog.

Buffer Getting Started

This will help get you get started as a marketing organization or an individual blogger that is considering a move to Medium with your content.

The blog article goes into great detail about the platform for new users and some helpful tips.

One of the features of the platform that they mention in their article (that does not get talked about enough) is how they handle comments.



Comments are in the margin instead of the end like more platforms.

I’m a fan of notes in the margin.

You can use the notes for collaboration on Medium, too. Your followers not only get a sneak peek, but they get attribution for contributions that make it into the final published post.

I also produced a blog about blogging on Medium that you may find helpful. It will walk you through some of the simple best practices for better blogging on the Medium platform.

You have to get signed up first.

It is easy to begin on Medium whether you sign up from a phone, tablet, or computer.

MMR GetStarted NP

Follow the prompts after clicking the ‘Get Started’ button. You can also use one of your social login features from Facebook, Twitter, Google, or an email account to begin.

Ev Williams naturally brought some benefits to users who use their Twitter account to sign up.

Who wouldn’t want to know what your friends and followers from Twitter are reading and reacting with applause to if you’re new to the platform?

Medium is a discovery platform that attempts to bubble-up the most relevant quality content that matches your unique interests.

During the set-up, you provide them with some initial content interest areas. The algorithm is continuously improving — like what you would see with your Netflix preferences for content.

 

Active users of the platform will discover your stories and content through the same process of grouping interests that you complete when you sign up.

As a writer, you will tag the content to match these interest areas or as you get your stories published in a publication grouped by editorial content categories.

I’ll talk about why publications are important in the next section.

You can begin publishing immediately, either through the process of importing stories or writing through their interface — which is quite elegant and user-friendly.

It’s simple with a lot of white space to get creativity flowing, and tools to add images and other media quickly.

Writing Medium

There was a time when it appeared that the team at Medium was going to move in the direction of Facebook for their monetization strategy.

This would undoubtedly have an impact on how marketers can and will use this platform for marketing their content.

This recent focus on writers may have some marketers upset about the recent changes.

The current direction Medium has taken, however, is for users over advertisers.

MMR MediumUpgrade6 NP

Only time will tell if that changes. One thing is certain: great content, original ideas, and compelling stories get noticed on the platform.

3. Medium well

If you want to be successful on Medium, it starts with great stories. Readers vote with their attention and their applause (with “claps”) on the platform.

You can clap once — like a digital “golf clap.”

Or clap many times for something you really like.

I have not tested the limits, but the prompt gives an example of 40 times — that is applause.

As a publisher and public speaker, it nice to get a standing ovation — even if it is digital.

 

Medium also has some guidelines for new publishers.

No one is closer to their information than Medium, so they know what works.

Pro-Tip: Once you re-publish some great content or write something new for Medium, don’t forget the tags.

They are vital to discovery on the platform. Too many good writers don’t put enough time into them.

Be discovered by using great tags that match your content.

We all could use a little guidance sometimes, especially if we are venturing into something new.

I’ve found on the platform that there are a vast amount of resources like this one that offer practical tips for growing your audience on the platform.

You will find that the 35 actionable tips that were published by this author give you some creative ways to revive older articles as an example of content you have published in the past.

Tips on Medium

If you have existing evergreen content, Medium is a great platform to republish it to reach a new audience.

The tool to import your stories is a great place to start.

If you notice that you are not getting the followers, views, or claps you want for your content, it might require a little polish to get your stories shined up on the platform.

Test it out.

Hopefully, your valuable archives of quality content will already be ready to go.

It takes three things to grow your followers as a storyteller on Medium:

  1. A great headline
  2. An interesting story
  3. Thoughtful formatting

You’ve invested all of that time and energy in the post and crafted the perfect headline. Great photography or images can make or break a great story.

A picture is worth a 1000 words, right?

Paint with pictures.

This author used Medium’s formatting tools to give readers some interesting visuals to hook them on their story.

BeautifulStories Medium

After the work has been done publishing the stories, evaluation and optimization begin. The analytics inside of the platform will help you track the engagement activity of your stories.

Statistics Medium

We’ve already discussed that Medium is growing as a publishing platform.

Nearly all of the new applications being built around the platform are for publishers and writers.

If publications are a key way to get more of your tribe to discover your content, wouldn’t you want an application to help you find the biggest and best publications?

The answer is yes.

The Startup is one of the most popular publications on the platform. You can see which publications have the largest amount of followers at Toppub.xyz on Medium to help you with your upfront research.

Toppub xyz

(As an aside, the publication discovery application is not directly affiliated with Medium.)

After you’ve polished your existing content for Medium, you’ll want to spend time researching which publications are compatible with your ideal readers. Toppub.xyz is a great place to start.

Good writing that gets discovered in a publication targeted to your content is certainly a great way to build your audience.

And I would be remiss, (and possibly in trouble with Ev Williams), if I didn’t remind you about social.

Leverage the social media sharing tools inside the app.

Links to these channels will help you reach a broader audience and potentially bring back new followers.

Your Medium followers are usually not the same as your Facebook or Twitter followers.

I know what you are thinking.

Pushing links of your Medium content in Tweets and posts on other platforms is not driving new visitors to your site.

But it will.

You can also target Medium users on other platforms and direct them back to your content on Medium.

Yes, it is going to cost you some time and effort, but if you are building out your audience on the platform, it will only help grow your followers when done right.

Last and certainly not least is capturing emails inside the platform.

At the end of your posts, you want to obtain some information, right?

The strategy on your other properties and platform do not change on Medium. Email addresses are the holy grail.

Upscribe is an email capture tool that is just for the Medium platform.

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There are some different options and plans for embedding forms right into your content on Medium for capturing emails.

You would never think of not having a lead capture tool on your blog to get readers to signup for newsletters or opt-in to your private email list — why would you not use a tool like Upscribe on Medium?

Give it a try and see how many email addresses you can capture in your first month.

Conclusion

Every marketing organization could use more traffic, right?

When a channel is growing as quickly as Medium has grown over the last six years, we can’t ignore the potential for increasing our traffic and leads for our site by using their platform as our platform.

While giving up control of the content to a third-party is not any marketers dream, the rewards outweigh the risk in the case of Medium.

I know I have had to reevaluate my early take on it after following their growth and success.

When we say “yes” to Medium, it might mean we have to say “no” to something else.

And that’s okay.

Repurposing content without penalties from Google for duplication makes the decision even easier to start leveraging the growing audiences congregating at Medium.

I’m ready to say “no” to hoping the right audience finds me through search and paid advertisements.

Are you ready to follow Mitchell Harper’s lead and get thousands of new followers and visits to your site in the next 30 days?

Start re-posting your stories to Medium.

It really is that easy.

How have you used publishing platforms like Medium to boost traffic to your website?

 

Link Building Made Simple: How to Build 61 Links Using Social Media (for Webmasters only) 2018





If you’re familiar with SEO, then you already know how important link building is. Any SEO expert knows that link building helps boost your search engine rankings. Of course, your links and your content both have to be high in quality for this to work. The problem is everyone is campaigning for site links these days. The volume of requests can be so overwhelming that people just stop reading pitches altogether. I’ve already shown you how to build links through email pitches that will help you cut through that noise.



But you can’t just stop with pitches if you want to build lots of strong links to your site.

I’m going to break down the process of how to build authority links through social media.

Before we jump into the steps, let me tell you why you should be using social media to build links.

Social media is a great way to build links

I’ve already talked a lot about backlinks.

 

A survey completed by SEMrush last June reported that backlinks account for five of the top-ten SEO ranking factors.

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Not only do they help you rank, but they can also make a difference between the first and second position in search results.

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Everyone handling SEO, no matter the business size, knows the importance of backlinks.

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Whether or not social media can boost SEO rankings is always a hot topic. There are some skeptics who don’t believe it impacts Google search engine rankings in any way.

However, the majority of professionals seem to disagree with them.

When SEO professionals were surveyed about which techniques were the most used for link building, the majority of efforts were through social media.

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They reported it was the third most efficient way to build links, barely behind paid methods and research.

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When asked what the biggest challenges were for building links, the driving reasons were:

  1. Not enough opportunities to build quality links
  2. Getting no response or being told no when requesting links
  3. Not knowing enough about how to build links well

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Even the professionals are struggling with this stuff!

I can teach you how to find more opportunities and get a much better response rate using social media.

1. Start with your social profiles and website content

The number one way experts use social media to get links is by including their websites in their profiles.

Just behind this is sharing your website content on social media.

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These are the basics. Never underestimate the basics!

Make sure every profile you have is up to date on every social media platform you’re using. Check that they all have a working link to your website.

Think about the profiles you might have:

  • Personal profile
  • Business profile
  • Fan page
  • Group page

For example, on Facebook make sure you have links to your website in the following places:

  • Your profile under Contact and Basic Info on your About tab
  • Included in anything you post on your wall, including images and videos
  • In your group’s pinned post

Then go through your other social media pages and include links to any cover photos, bios, images, descriptions, and so on.

Next, make sure that you’re sharing quality content from your site across your social media platforms.

Your web pages should all be set up so that both you and your readers can easily share content on social media.

You’ll notice that on my site, I have the floating share icons on the left side of the page. This means that no matter where you are on the page you can easily share an article.

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I also have fixed share icons at the bottom of every article for easy sharing.

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The more social shares your content gets, the more visible it will be.

This means the more likely you are to build links.

Don’t forget to consider other social media sites such as Reddit or niche-specific platforms.

2. Gather customer reviews

Customer reviews on social media provide a lot of the same benefits of comments on your site.

  • They provide social proof
  • Comments and reviews keep your content fresh
  • They boost engagement

How does this lead to links?

  1. Reviews will boost your social media profiles in search engines
  2. Reviews can help you rank for new keywords in search engines
  3. Better rankings mean more people will see your content and are more likely to link to it
  4. Good reviews build trust, which means more people are likely to click on your links and share your content

How do you get quality reviews?

  • Reach out to customers with an automated email after purchase to request a review
  • Offer something in exchange for reviews to make it worth their while
    • This could be a free product or a discount on their next purchase
  • Post on social media that you reward reviews
  • Make sure you are proactive about resolving any poor reviews

3. Track fans who mention you on social media

A simple way to boost your links is to track people who mention you or your brand across social media.



The goal is to build a relationship with someone who is clearly already aware of you.

You can use this to reach out to their audience and earn links from them.

Since they already mentioned you willingly, getting a relevant link from them should be pretty easy.

This is also a great way to play off each others’ fan bases if humor suits your brand and audience.

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So how do you find them?

Platforms like Twitter and Instagram move fast. So you’ve got to act fast, too.

Mention

I really like Mention.

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It’s a tool specializing in monitoring brand mentions online.

You can specify the type of sources you want to monitor.

So you’ll know when someone mentions you or your business. And they’re updated in real time.

Open Site Explorer

Or there is Moz’s Open Site Explorer.

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This one lets you take a look at who’s linking to you.

Just enter your URL and you’ll be able to see all of the inbound links.

4.  Find links to reclaim

Reclaiming links is finding places where you should have been linked to and asking for a link.

Maybe the link was missed, or maybe they tried to link to you, and for whatever reason, the link is broken.

Misspellings, mess ups, simply not finding the right URL — there are tons of reasons why your link might be missing.

You can track and connect out to people who have tried to link to you through social media.

Another option is to find people who are referencing you and linking to one of your social media profiles. You can reach out to them and ask them to link to your main site instead.

For both of these, just follow the steps in the last section on how to find mentions.

Another great way to reclaim links is through a reverse image search.

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Are people posting images from your site on social media and not linking back to you? You can simply reach out and ask them to attribute it to you.

5.  Mention influencers or brands

When you boost someone’s ego with your content, they are more likely to link out to it.

It’s a great strategy to produce impressive results, especially if you understand the trust pyramid and use it in your content strategy.

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Here’s how it works:

First, you have to make readers aware of their pain points.

Blog posts and infographics are great ways to expand their understanding of the topic.

People link to content they find useful, that they connect with on a personal level, and that they want other people in their network to benefit from.

Next, show how your strategy works by using examples or case studies.

These will allow the reader to believe, trust, and like you.

Once you have them in your corner, invite them to share your post on social media.

Invite people to guest post for you.

You might also see these four stages formulated as “AIDA.”

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“Ego baiting” is probably my favorite, and one of the easiest, link building strategies.

It helps build links and shares on social media.

You don’t have to go to extensive lengths to attract attention to get others to give you a reciprocal link.

Richard Marriott has a perfect example of an “ego bait” blog post.

He interviewed 53 experts about their favorite blog promotion tools to create an expert roundup post.

And it generated over 130 comments — including from the contributing experts.

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It also generated 237 unique links from 46 root domains.

All of that from one post. That’s how powerful social media is.

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The same page has also generated over 1,000 social shares in less than six months. Here’s the data from Buzzsumo:

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6. Use infographics to boost shares

One of the most often shared types of content is infographics. pasted image 0 263

Many websites have been built solely for the purpose of creating and selling infographic content.

Why are infographics so popular?

Well, we’re visual creatures. No one wants to read a 3,000-word article that is nothing but text.

Especially when we’re only looking for specific information.

If you had to read a huge document or quickly scan a visual summary, which would you choose?

I know I’d definitely choose the visual option.

I use them all the time because they work. They get shares, and they get links.

Kissmetrics has an entire section dedicated to infographics.

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People love to clip images from your infographic for their own blog, meaning you’ll get tons of links.



Infographics work well as link bait for companies who don’t have the capacity to create their own.

We simply have a much stronger ability to pick up content quickly when its visual.

It’s impossible to look at a huge block of text and understand it.

Picture a page in a novel with no indentation, no paragraphs, no bolded words, bullet points, or other visual aids.

You would need to read through the whole thing to understand it.

An infographic puts information in such a visual way that you can almost instantly understand it.

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So how do you start using infographics in your social media?

Well, I use a couple of different web tools to make my own.

I currently like Infogram and Piktochart the best.

Both of these options have pretty similar services. They also both offer free and paid options.

Infogram offers over a million free images but it only includes 35 possible templates to choose from.

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Piktochart, on the other hand, lets you choose from over 600 different templates.

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You can check them both out for free and then decide which one better suits your style and content needs.

After you’ve designed your own infographic, make sure that you post it on your site and include an embedded link.

That way, when you and others share it on social media, it will link them back to your website.

Kissmetrics created this infographic about The Science of Brands on Instagram and embedded their site link in it.

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This one infographic alone resulted in 28 links, included several high-quality ones from sites such as AddThis and WebProNews.

How did it get so many links?

Social media!

It was liked on Facebook 272 times, shared on LinkedIn 524 times, and pinned on Pinterest 450 times.

Do you want to use infographics but you’re not comfortable creating your own?

There are a number of fast and relatively cheap options to have them created for you.

Sites such as Fiverr offer a number a different people who will build an infographic for you for as low as $5.

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Are you struggling to decide what to put in your infographic?

The easiest way to start is to take content you’ve already created.

Choose a blog, podcast, or video you have made that contains multiple facts and interesting tidbits of information.

Try to pick something that is getting a lot of traffic. That way, you already know the information is interesting.

You can then break this down into the high-level points and make it visual to repurpose it as an infographic.

Remember to post the infographic on your site first.

You can even post it within the content you repurposed. For example, adding it to the blog post you used to create it.

Then, share the infographic (including it’s embedded link) across all of your social media platforms.

This increases your chances of getting more links back to your website.

People are much more likely to reshare an infographic than just an article.

7. Focus on generating second-tier links.

Second-tier links are when you link to someone else’s site, which then links back to yours.

For example, when I guest blog for Huffington Post, they put my name and byline at the top of each article.

 

If  I share this article on social media, I’m sharing a link to huffingtonpost.com and not to one of my own sites.

However, it can still drive traffic (and links) to QuickSprout, for example, since it’s linked to it.

One of the biggest benefits of focusing on second-tier links is that you’re not sharing your own website content.

This appeals to people because they see it as more trustworthy and less salesy than when you’re simply promoting your own stuff.

The more shares and traffic you get for the main site, the higher the odds that you will also get traffic and links back to your own site.

After all, if you really like my article on Huffington Post, it may make you interested enough to want to read more of what I’ve written.

And that will lead you to follow the link back to my website.

This works best when the site you’re linked to has high authority or appeal of its own. However, you can do it for any articles, videos, or websites where you are featured, referenced, or mentioned.

Second-tier links have a second benefit as well. When people see how much your social media has boosted a website, it will give others an incentive to have you guest post for them as well.

8. Use social media to improve pitch responses

Earlier I spoke about how a major struggle for professionals building links is a lack of responses.

I just shared with you how second-tier links on social media can increase your response rate.

That’s not the only way social media helps.

Before you ever send a pitch email, connect with the brand, person, or website you want to pitch to on social media.

Don’t just friend and forget either.

Engage with them by replying to tweets, mentioning them in posts, or re-sharing their content.

This will make you visible to them and show them the benefit of working with you before they even read your pitch.

You can also join a guest blogging group or social network on social media.

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This helps you find unknown opportunities and potentially gain contacts looking for guest posts.

Suddenly your cold pitch is now a warm pitch. The instant you switch from cold to warm, your success rate goes up.

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9. Focus on creating social content

Social media isn’t just a place to share content from your website. It’s also a medium for creating content.

You can use social media platforms to create podcasts, webinars, video tutorials and more.

Every time you do this, you should be linking it back to your website to build links.

Then when people share it, it will also be building links to your website.

Video is growing in popularity. In fact, 85% of the US Internet audience watches videos online.

Creating videos will increase your traffic and your share rate.

Especially if they’re Facebook videos.

Facebook native videos have a 1,055% higher share rate than other video formats!

The popularity of podcasts has been growing every year as well.

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Just like video link building, podcast link building is meant to be an extension of your brand — though, similarly, you can promote it alone.

Think transcripts, quotes, mentions, links, and social amplification.

But perhaps the biggest selling point is the increased exposure as an authority in your specific industry and the opportunity to talk directly to your target audience.

You don’t need to create your own podcast either.

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To secure a spot for an interview, do your research.

Take a look at the topics that big podcasters in your niche are covering to find a gap that may not have been discussed yet.

Then reach out to them on social media followed by an email pitch.

Make your email pitch relevant to the podcast and address people by their first name.

10. Promote events or hold contests

Backing local or big events and hosting contests are huge opportunities to get links.

Creating an event page on Facebook with a backlink to your website is a quick and easy way to get shares.

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People will not only want to sign up for an exciting event, but they’ll want to share it to get their friends to attend as well.

Don’t want to host your own event? Consider these other options:

  1. Sponsor an event
  2. Sponsor local bloggers to host an event for you
  3. Promote that you will be giving away cool swag at an event
  4. Collaborate with other big names by adding your swag to another event gift bag
  5. Request to speak at a local event and promote it in advance on social media
  6. Promote for a local charity
  7. Write an article about a recent or upcoming event and share it on social media

When you’re all done, you can also pitch to local news outlets about the event. They are craving interesting local content, so it never hurts to ask.

You can also hold a contest, which you promote on social media to drive shares and links.

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Facebook makes it easy to run contests. Just make sure you comply with their rules.

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Conclusion

If you want to show up in search engine results and grow traffic to your site, you need to be actively building links.

It’s getting harder to build quality links than it used to be with so many people competing for authority sites.

That’s why you need to go beyond pitches and start tapping into the power of social media.

Social media builds engagement and interaction, which will naturally lead to link building.

Start with the basics. Make sure your profiles have your links on them.

Look for fans, influencers, and businesses with broken links to connect with using social media.

Repost anything featuring you as a guest to boost second-tier links.

Use social media to build relationships with authorities before you follow up with email pitches.

Share infographics and create shareable social content such as videos and podcasts.

Drive attention by promoting events and hosting contests.

Follow these steps, and you’ll have at least 61 new links in no time.

How do you build links through social media?