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The Ideal Length For Every Online Content

Posted by on Jul 28, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Ideal Length For Every Online Content

The Ideal Length For Every Online Content

Time to nail it.

At one point or another, content producers and writers may find it difficult to determine the exact length when producing online contents. There is a big possibility that these questions have got you wondering before:

How much will my reader actually read?
What is the ideal length that will keep them interested?
Am I writing enough or am I putting my audience to sleep?
What should an ideal blog post length be?
What is the optimum length of an eye-catching headline?
Should I use up all the characters in a tweet?
Are long-form social media updates better than short-form ones?

More often than not, many of us have to depend on our instinct and experience to figure out the answers to the questions above. The good news is, a solid research has been done on the topic of ideal length and there is information available about the value of writing or posting at certain lengths. Following the ideal lengths for every online content might just save you from the clutter.
Nobody wants to put limits on one’s creativity, but having guidelines backed by research will help make sure your posts are seen by the most amount of people and result in higher engagement. Remember, every character counts.

Here comes the answer.

What’s The Ideal Length For Every Online Content?
A) Social Media
1. Facebook

There was a time when the Facebook status length was limited to less than 420 characters. That all changed when the social networking giant has decided to increase the facebook post length limit to 63, 206.

When you post on Facebook, you’re competing with thousands of other brands for your audience’s attention. Not only that, but the amount of attention your audience has available to give you is limited. With all of this going against you, brands need to do whatever they can to stand out and grab their audience’s attention. Make it too short and you risk getting overlooked. Go too long and you might reach the Facebook character limit. So what’s the sweet spot for the length of a Facebook post?

Image Credits: Jeff Bulas

Studies show that posts containing 80 characters or less earn a higher engagement. The key is to keep your posts short and concise. Longer posts get cut off in a user’s feed which forces them to expand them the text if they want to read the full story. It’s more difficult than ever to get your audience’s attention on Facebook when they are being bombarded with news all the time. So, the easier it is for them to see your message, the stronger your chances of getting them to bite on your posts.

Ideal Length of A Facebook Update: 40 – 80 characters

2. Twitter

Twitter has more than 284 million users and the platform sees 500 million tweets daily. For years, Twitter was famous for imposing the 140 character limit. If you haven’t known already, in 2017, the network increased the limit to 280 characters. In order to determined the optimal length of a tweet, why go anywhere else when Twitter has the answer to your question?

A spike in retweets among those in the 71 -100 character range – so called “Medium”.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “71-100 characters is really short,” you’re right. Getting your Tweets down to under 100 characters can be challenging at first, but the positive side is it forces you to be concise. Being succinct and clear is key for Twitter since it moves ever so quickly. You literally only have seconds to catch your audience’s attention. A tad bit harder than on Facebook.

Ideal Length of a Tweet: 71 – 100 Characters

3. Instagram

Like most brands, you may have never even thought of character limits on Instagram. If you’ve read through captions of the top brands, you’ll notice they tend to run on the shorter side.

BMW adhering to the KISS rule – Keep It Short and Simple.

To maximize engagement on your Instagram posts, stick to 138-150 characters in your captions. While posts can be 2,200 characters long, Instagram isn’t really focused on text-based content but rather great visuals. Nonetheless, captions provide context and can compel people to engage with you. Just the first three lines of a post appears in users’ feeds, so front load your caption and leave extraneous information for the end. So do everything you can to make your captions as great as possible.

Ideal Length of Instagram Captions: 138 – 150 Characters

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn dominates the professional social network segment. It is one of the oldest having started in 2002. Almost the grandfather of social networks. Generally, LinkedIn updated will link to an article rather than it being a stand-alone piece.

LinkedIn is different from all the platforms mentioned above, in that it’s not as visual, When you take a look at status updates on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that most consist of a headline and a link to an article. So it’s not a surprise that the optimal length of a LinkedIn status update is about 25 words.

There are also a number of guidelines around the length of articles on the publishing platform.Headlines should stick between 150 characters or less and the body should not exceed 120,000 characters.

Ideal Length of LinkedIn Status Update: 25 Words

Ideal Length of LinkedIn Post: 500 – 1,200 Words

5. Google+

On Google+, the audience there is highly engaged and they have a low tolerance for spam. So don’t expect to phone it in or put your Google+ activity on autopilot and get a good response. But when you take the time to put a little craftsmanship into your posts, it really pays off.

The limit per post for Google+ appears is 100,000. It is best to keep your Google+ text within one line as it enhances the appearance and readability of your posts. In the last update, Google changed the layout of posts so that you only see three lines of the original post before you see the “Read More” link. In other words, your first sentence has to be a gripping teaser to get people to click “Read More”.

Ideal Length of Google+ Headlines: 60 Characters

Ideal Length of Google+ Content: 200 – 400 Characters

B) Streaming Media
1. Presentations

Those of you who had the experience to do a presentation might have asked yourself this question before: “When I’m giving a talk, how long should my presentation be?”. If you don’t know the answer to it previously, fret not because I’m about to tell you the optimum length of a presentation.

Now, are you familiar with TED Talks I’m pretty sure you do given the fact that the videos are streamed more than 2 million times per day. But, have you ever wondered why are most of the presentations maintained at about 18 minutes? Just so you know, there is a scientific reasoning behind it.

The reason behind the magic number is the factor that leads to TED Talk’s immense success. Scientists are beginning to identify how long most people can pay attention before they tune out. The result? Most of us switch off at around the 10 – 18 minute mark.

Here are some examples of TEDTalks that are maintained below 20 minutes.

The 18-minute rule also works because the brain is an energy hog. The average adult human brain only weighs about three pounds. As the brain takes in new information and is forced to process it, millions of neurons are firing at once, buring energy and leading to fatigue and exhaustion. At the same time, it also teaches the presenters on the epitome of discipline.

Tell everything and they’ll remember nothing. 18 minutes is short enough to hold people’s attention, including on the Internet and precise enough to be taken seriously. But it’s also long enough to say something that matters.

Ideal Length of Presentations: 18 minutes

2. Podcasts

Podcasts have a lot of freedom: no gatekeepers, fewer rules and no broadcast schedule dictating how long or short each episode needs to be. As a result, podcasts range from as short as a minute to as long as 3 hours. But what do listeners want? Can tweaking your episode length get you more listeners?

If you look closely, some popular podcasts are 60 seconds, others are several hours. The top 10 business podcasts range from 15 minutes to an hour, averaging 42 minutes. According to a research by Stitcher, the average podcast listener stays connected for 22 minutes on average.

It isn’t surprising as studies show students zone out after 15 – 20 minutes of lecture time. After 20 minutes, attention and retention rates crash. Nonetheless, don’t get so tied up with the length instead, make the show you want to make and one that you’re capable of making on a regular basis.

Ideal Length of Podcasts Per Episode: 22 minutes

3. Tutorials/ Explainers

There are various types of tutorials out there. Let’s talk about the most common type of videos – the tutorial, or informational video. The main goal of a tutorial is not to show how something works in absolute detail, but just to give an overview of it in today’s fast-paced world. That also means that the video ought to be short and simple.

Like it or not, your audiences have better things to do with their time and it’s easy for them to navigate away from your video to do something else it is too long. Too many web videos this days are losing videos before they even get to the point.

Here’s a 2.5 minute video from SEOPressor Connect.

SEOPressor Connect

That is why the recommended length would be about 2 to 3 minutes. You need to make sure your video is long enough to convey your message but there is no reason you cannot get it done below 120 seconds.

In general, the less time your video takes ton watch, the more people will watch. This isn’t to say that you should cut a 10-minute video down to 2 minutes—some content warrants longer videos— but it does suggest that you’d be better off cutting 30 seconds from a 3 minute 30 second video to keep viewer’s attention.

Ideal Length of Tutorial/ Explainer Video: 2 to 3 minutes

C) SEO
1. Blog Post

How long should a blog be? Something us, as writers often ask ourselves. In December 2013, a research was conducted by Medium contained the average number of seconds that readers spend on an article versus the length of the blog post.

An ideal blog post should not exceed a time limit of more than 7 minutes which makes an average or 2,100 words. That aligns with research previously conducted by serpIQ, which indicated that on average, the top 10 results for most Google searches are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

Theoretically, longer content has a better chance of giving search engines an idea of the quality and topic of the page. Here, you might be thinking “What about Seth Godin? He often writes short blog posts!” Well, Seth Godin writes like Seth Godin. You write like you.

A person’s reading behavior is never all-the-time consistent but is based on factors such as how much time you have, your emotional state on the day, interest levels, and if you’re killing time. This doesn’t mean we should all start forcing our posts to match the ideal blog post length which goes by 7 minutes. There is no one-size-fits-all blog post length. Great posts perform well regardless of length, and bad posts certainly don’t get better when you stretch them out.

Ideal Blog Post Length: 2100 words, 7 minutes

2. Title Tag

The title tag is what is used in the search engine result pages; so not only is it important for rankings, it is also important to catch the eye of searches to influence click-through. Of course, you’ll want to optimize which keywords you include in your title tag, but also be aware of the length.

The title length is 55 characters before Google will truncate the title with ellipses (…). Depending on the length of the words, that is an additional 2-4 words that can be added to the title tag. The cutoff point is around 60 characters. So use the target keyphrase and keep it short.

Ideal Length of Title Tag: 55 characters

3. Domain Name

Like everything else on your site, your domain is either long or short. And just like everything else, length has a correlation with popularity. Here, a domain name is considered good if it is short and spells easy.

If you look at the top 250 high quality websites on the Internet, the average number of characters in their domains is 7-15. That’s pretty short. Here’s the data from a study conducted by Daily Blog Tips. The red line shows the average.

A survey done on the top 250 popular websites on the Web.

More than 70% of these domains are eight characters or fewer. Also, 86% were .com domains.
This clearly tells us that the optimal length for a domain name is 8 characters. Great domains are short, .com extensions and easy to remember.

Ideal Length of Domain Name: 8 characters

4. Headline

It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked — which is where nailing the title comes in. Most of us are interested in the actual material of the article rather than its headline. It is the first thing a reader sees thus, having an attention grabbing phrase is vital.

Bnonn, a headline expert suggests that only the first three words are absorbed by most readers reading any headline. He recommends that in order to get your headline completely read, it is best to keep it within 6 words.

Ideal Length of Headline: 6 words

5. Meta Description

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It’s the short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about.

An example of meta description of our latest blog post: https://seopressor.com/blog/5-ways-ai-impact-the-future-of-seo/

Google seems to cut off most meta descriptions — which are sometimes called snippets, after roughly two lines of text. In any case, it amounts to about 160 characters, though some particular outlet recommends keeping it at 155.

Up until recently, the maximum allowable characters in the meta description tag stood at 160. You might or might not know this but the length has increased by double to 320. In 2018, Moz’s data suggests that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters and I believe that is something that all of us can experiment on. Here’s an extra read from Moz (2018 edition) about how long should your meta description be: https://moz.com/blog/how-long-should-your-meta-description-be-2018

But until further data and acknowledgement (where every single result shows 300), I would suggest that you to try maintaining at an optimum of 160 characters. In the meantime, we will observe ourselves and update you when we have a conclusion.

Ideal Length of Meta Description: 160 characters

Extra Tip: Email Subject Line

Most of our inboxes are a complete madhouse, so getting potential customers to open your marketing email is harder said than done. They say first impressions matter. This is certainly true for email subject headlines. One of the general best practice when writing it is to keep it in less than 10 words.

Need a convincing statistic? In September 2012, MailChimp published the following headline on its blog: Subject Line Length Means Absolutely Nothing.This was quite the authoritative statement, but MailChimp had the data to back it up. Their research found no significant advantage to short or long subject lines in emails. Clicks and opens were largely the same.

Clearly, there are a ton of different ways to approach writing a subject line, and length is equally as important to test as the rest of the elements. If you’re looking for a place to start your tests, the optimal length of 28 to 39 characters is a good bet.

Ideal Length of Email Subject Line: 28 to 39 characters

Bottom Line

I hope you’ve found some good insights through this blog. What’s right for many others in terms of best practices might not be exactly what your specific audience needs. Experiment according to what fits you and your audience best. Those are not strict rules that you have to abide by but it sure is nice to have a guideline to begin, though.

What do you think of the ideal length for every content mentioned above? Would love to hear from you so do comment below and get the conversation rolling!

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Do Outbound Links Matter For SEO?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Do Outbound Links Matter For SEO?

Do Outbound Links Matter For SEO?

I’ve had a number of comments questioning the usefulness of outbound links recently, so I wanted to create an official space for that discussion, and help people understand the uses and benefits of outbound links.

If you’re looking for a quick answer to the question in the title: Yes.

Now that’s out of the way, we’ll look at why, and how, to get the best out of your outbound links.

DISCLAIMER: Outbound links will be useless if they aren’t wrapped up in high quality original content. Outbound links are, in that way, only as good as the piece they’re in.

If you’re looking for writing advice on how to create great articles, we have plenty of that.
If you’re looking for strategic advice on content planning, we have that too.

This is a great article for those who want to make sure their high-quality content is as muscular as possible, creating the greatest impact on search engines and readers alike.
Cool? Cool.

First, a primer.

What Are Outbound Links?

Outbound links are links that directs you elsewhere.

Outbound links, or external links, are links that will send your readers from your website to other sites across the internet. Commonly, these are used to verify facts, backup sources, or simply point people toward resources.

These are the opposite of Inbound Links, which direct your readers to other parts of your own website.
Simple!

So far, anyway.

There Are Actually Two Kinds of Outbound Links

The two kinds of outbound links are: nofollow and dofollow.

Which of the two do you normally use?

This is usually defined by simply putting rel=”nofollow” (or not) into the HTML of the link.

nofollow tells search engines not to follow links – as you’d expect.
dofollow links pass on ranking power from your website to the targeted page.

A good way to think about these links is that they’re like votes, accrediting the pages you link to with a measure of authority.

If you pass people over to another site, you’re giving them a vote of confidence, increasing their authority.

If you choose to use a no-follow link, you’re blocking that vote from being passed on.

Nofollow links can help you avoid some of the penalization systems that Google and other search engines use to moderate the overuse of certain kinds of links.

But first, let’s talk about the advantages of outbound links SEO.

When Should I Use Nofollow Links?

Nofollow links should be a minority of your outbound links. Nofollow links essentially break the chain between your site and the source you’re sending people to. This can be useful, even valuable, in navigating some of the finer points of SEO algorithms, and general etiquette.

Paid links – if people buy links on your site, Google can penalize you for that practice, and these penalties can do damage to your ranking and exposure.

Links in comments – defaulting these to nofollow means spammers putting links to disreputable sites can’t get credit from your site, which if they’re found to be fraudulent, can also result in penalties against your site.

User generated content – If you allow guest posts or user generated content on your site, no-follow links can prevent you from inadvertently “vouching” for the content. This is a great bit of insurance from a PR perspective, too. It’s one thing to host an open space to communicate ideas, but another entirely to promote and endorse controversial or offensive material.

Embeds – it’s good to embed content from other sources, but if you aren’t fully behind the wider content and you’re only using an excerpt, nofollow links can help save readers’ time by not sending them off to an otherwise low quality piece of material.

Other times – Essentially, use nofollow any time you think there might be a problem, whether for readers or for algorithms, with you endorsing another website.

The majority of the time, however, outbound links can be invaluable, and while nofollow limits the damage these outbound links might be able to do, they also eliminate any benefits. Here’s why you shouldn’t just nofollow every link.

Why Are Outbound Links Important?

For a number of reasons. Here are our top four:

1) They Increase Relevance

Search engine algorithms can learn a lot about your site from who you link to and how. You can think of your links as a providing clues to the industry you’re in, the problems you’re attempting to solve, the competitors you have, and how relevant a page will be to people searching online.

If you provide backlinks to high authority pages, you build a search engine’s trust in your website that you are a legitimate player in your field, which will increase a search engine’s confidence when serving up your page as a result to their users.
2) They Improve Reputation

By including outbound links to relevant, high authority sources, you can boost your own reputation in the process.

Think of it as a form of association – you are saying you operate in the same circles as the biggest names in your industry.

It’s also very common that people don’t have time to visit five different high authority websites to get all the information they need, so providing shortcuts to where they can find that information will help you be seen as an authority and an expert.
3) You Can Boost Value

Quality content is what is going to differentiate you from your competitors, and linking to other quality content provides a fast, instant value-boost for your readers. People are far more likely to come back and read your blogs when, in doing so, they also get a guided tour of the best material currently available on the web for that topic.

As more people keep coming back, you will see a big authority bump from the algorithms, which will see the trust people place in your site.
4) It Encourages Backlinks

Using outbound links helps you begin to establish a network with other bloggers, journalists, websites and companies. Endorsing their work will encourage them to do so in return, and the more other websites engage with and link to you content, the higher up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) you will go. Being on the first search engine result page will in turn help more of the general public interact with businesses.

One caveat: the backlinks themselves aren’t all that useful in garnering direct traffic. Only a small percentage of people actually click the links. It’s more about the ranking bump you get from search engines that helps you net more organic traffic.

So, to return to our original question for a moment…

Will Outbound Links Affect SEO?

How does it affect…er… SEO?

Yeah, big time. In fact, outbound links are one of the most important and versatile sources of ranking power, because search engines view them as third-party endorsements of your website.

The one thing you don’t have to do is include keywords in your outbound links – this will help those other sites with their SEO, but not necessarily do you any favours. It’s your call if you want to be generous.

You have to give to receive, so, here are some outbound linking best practices for you to follow when you write your posts. With these, you’ll be gaining authority and networking like a pro in no time.

Here Are Your Outbound Linking Best Practices

Let’s look at 6 practices we should adhere to.

1. Look For Natural Linking Opportunities

First things first, don’t force links into your text. Linking can actually help you be more focused and rigorous in your writing, which in turn will improve the overall quality of your articles. If there’s a tangent that you think would be of value to your readers, but it isn’t the focus of your article, then link to someone who’s already discussed it in detail, and everybody wins. Equally, if you make an assertion, back it up with a link to your sources.

These kinds of natural links will help you keep everything relevant, while further supporting your point. Like a math problem, this kind of linking helps you “show the work”, so your readers can see the kind of commitment you have to researching your articles. Building links should be organic, not forced. If you’re doing the writing part right, there’ll be ample opportunities without having to force it.
2. Use Tools To Find Related Links

If you’re struggling to come up with outbound links organically, consider using Google’s related link tool. In the Google search bar, just enter “related: ‘thenameofyourwebsite’” to be furnished with a series of results Google thinks is relevant to your website. Sidebar: if this list is completely irrelevant, it will also give you a good indication that your SEO isn’t pitching you into the right industry.
3. Don’t Use Backlink Networks

Google’s Panda update broke up the mutual backlinking blog and website networks that helped sites quickly ‘fake’ authority and hike their rankings. People still do this, but if Google spots too many mutual backlinks, these will be devalued and their power lost, even dropping into the negative. This may be an appealing way to rush the system, but slow and steady wins the race.
4. Ensure Links Open In New Tabs

Because outbound links deliberately send people away from your site, you have to make sure your site isn’t abandoned in the process. This can be damaging for you and frustrating for readers – I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been irritated by having to hit back, right click, then open in a new tab manually. To open links in a new tab, simply add target=”_blank” to your link HTML. Your readers will thank you, and you’ll save a lot of engagement that would otherwise be lost.
5. Avoid Too Many Outbound Links

To paraphrase Paracelsus, “everything is a poison, it just depends on the dose”. You can have too much of a good thing. If you overdo it with your outbound links, you’ll end up distracting your reader and repeatedly pushing them away from your site and towards the sites of others. If you spam links, you’ll also undo your outbound links SEO benefits.

Only include links that are relevant and helpful to your readers. Keep them relatively sparse, and emphasize the content of the link within the sentence you’re linking from. This way, people know what they’ll get if they click the link.

If you’re linking to support an assertion, often people will just assume you’ve done the research and not click it. If you’re saying “this will help you” they’re a lot more likely to click.
6. Be Strict With User-Generated Links

If linking to well-respected, influential sites and posts can increase your perceived authority, then linking to low quality user generated posts like blogs, comments, forums and sub-reddits is going to erode people’s confidence in your work.

What’s more, don’t allow links in your comments. I’d even go so far as to manually monitor and approve comments when you’re starting out, to ensure only constructive conversation is nurtured. Users won’t want to become part of a community choked out by spammers, self-promotional guest bloggers, trolls and so forth.

Protect the quality of your content, and you protect your image too.

Pro-tip: use a outbound link checker to ensure all your links are current and up to date. Broken links will be held against your ranking by the algorithms.

Here at SEOPressor, we provide the smart link manager service for those of you who are not aware of this element. It allows you to monitor and design your optimum link profile that will increase your reader’s retention and reduce bounce rates.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to miss this!

By accessing through SEOPressor’s dashboard, you will be shown the statuses of your links that are broken like this:

You may want to read a detailed post about this awesome feature here: https://seopressor.com/blog/how-to-fix-broken-links-to-improve-seo/

Instead of having to check your links one by one (imagine doing that to all the blogs posts you’ve written), you can now get it all done efficiently in one place – SEOPressor’s Link Manager.

Increase Your Authority, Audience and Ranking With Outbound Links

By now, you should be convinced of the value of Outbound Links to your SEO strategy and the future of SEO. Using them, and more importantly, using them well, will help you make a real difference to your website’s bottom line. Just make sure to compose your links so they’re always relevant, easily navigable, and increase convenience for your readers.

With this achieved, you’ll be building your profile, authority and ranking in no time.

Do you have an outbound linking strategy I’ve missed? Share it with our readers in the comments below. Any questions? Throw them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

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Using the Flowchart Method for Diagnosing Ranking Drops – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Jul 28, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Using the Flowchart Method for Diagnosing Ranking Drops – Whiteboard Friday

Using the Flowchart Method for Diagnosing Ranking Drops – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Being able to pinpoint the reason for a ranking drop is one of our most perennial and potentially frustrating tasks as SEOs. There are an unknowable number of factors that go into ranking these days, but luckily the methodology for diagnosing those fluctuations is readily at hand. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome the wonderful Kameron Jenkins to show us a structured way to diagnose ranking drops using a flowchart method and critical thinking.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins. I am the new SEO Wordsmith here at Moz, and I’m so excited to be here. Before this, I worked at an agency for about six and a half years. I worked in the SEO department, and really a common thing we encountered was a client’s rankings dropped. What do we do?

This flowchart was kind of built out of that mentality of we need a logical workflow to be able to diagnose exactly what happened so we can make really pointed recommendations for how to fix it, how to get our client’s rankings back. So let’s dive right in. It’s going to be a flowchart, so it’s a little nonlinear, but hopefully this makes sense and helps you work smarter rather than harder.

Was it a major ranking drop?: No

The first question I’d want to ask is: Was their rankings drop major? By major, I would say that’s something like page 1 to page 5 overnight. Minor would be something like it just fell a couple positions, like position 3 to position 5.

We’re going to take this path first. It was minor.

Has there been a pattern of decline lasting about a month or greater?

That’s not a magic number. A month is something that you can use as a benchmark. But if there’s been a steady decline and it’s been one week it’s position 3 and then it’s position 5 and then position 7, and it just keeps dropping over time, I would consider that a pattern of decline.

So if no, I would actually say wait.

Volatility is normal, especially if you’re at the bottom of page 1, maybe page 2 plus. There’s going to be a lot more shifting of the search results in those positions. So volatility is normal.
Keep your eyes on it, though. It’s really good to just take note of it like, “Hey, we dropped. Okay, I’m going to check that again next week and see if it continues to drop, then maybe we’ll take action.”
Wait it out. At this point, I would just caution against making big website updates if it hasn’t really been warranted yet. So volatility is normal. Expect that. Keep your finger on the pulse, but just wait it out at this point.

If there has been a pattern of decline though, I’m going to have you jump to the algorithm update section. We’re going to get there in a second. But for now, we’re going to go take the major rankings drop path.

Was it a major ranking drop?: Yes

The first question on this path that I’d want to ask is:

Was there a rank tracking issue?

Now, some of these are going seem pretty basic, like how would that ever happen, but believe me it happens every once in a while. So just before we make major updates to the website, I’d want to check the rank tracking.

I. The wrong domain or URL.

That can be something that happens a lot. A site maybe you change domains or maybe you move a page and that old page of that old domain is still listed in your ranking tracker. If that’s the case, then the rank tracking tool doesn’t know which URL to judge the rankings off of. So it’s going to look like maybe you dropped to position 10 overnight from position 1, and that’s like, whoa, that’s a huge update. But it’s actually just that you have the wrong URL in there. So just check that. If there’s been a page update, a domain update, check to make sure that you’ve updated your rank tracker.

II. Glitches.

So it’s software, it can break. There are things that could cause it to be off for whatever reason. I don’t know how common that is. It probably is totally dependent on which kind of software you use. But glitches do happen, so I would manually check your rankings.

III. Manually check rankings.

One way I would do that is…

Go to incognito in Google and make sure you’re logged out so it’s not personalized. I would search the term that you’re wanting to rank for and see where you’re actually ranking.
Google’s Ad Preview tool. That one is really good too if you want to search where you’re ranking locally so you can set your geolocation. You could do mobile versus desktop rankings. So it could be really good for things like that.
Crosscheck with another tool, like Moz’s tool for rank tracking. You can pop in your URLs, see where you’re ranking, and cross-check that with your own tool.

So back to this. Rank tracking issues. Yes, you found your problem. If it was just a rank tracking tool issue, that’s actually great, because it means you don’t have to make a lot of changes. Your rankings actually haven’t dropped. But if that’s not the issue, if there is no rank tracking issue that you can pinpoint, then I would move on to Google Search Console.

Problems in Google Search Console?

So Google Search Console is really helpful for checking site health matters. One of the main things I would want to check in there, if you experience a major drop especially, is…

I. Manual actions.

If you navigate to Manual Actions, you could see notes in there like unnatural links pointing to your site. Or maybe you have thin or low-quality content on your site. If those things are present in your Manual Actions, then you have a reference point. You have something to go off of. There’s a lot of work involved in lifting a manual penalty that we can’t get into here unfortunately. Some things that you can do to focus on manual penalty lifting…

Moz’s Link Explorer. You can check your inbound links and see their spam score. You could look at things like anchor text to see if maybe the links pointing to your site are keyword stuffed. So you can use tools like that.
There are a lot of good articles too, in the industry, just on getting penalties lifted. Marie Haynes especially has some really good ones. So I would check that out.

But you have found your problem if there’s a manual action in there. So focus on getting that penalty lifted.

II. Indexation issues.

Before you move out of Search Console, though, I would check indexation issues as well. Maybe you don’t have a manual penalty. But go to your index coverage report and you can see if anything you submitted in your sitemap is maybe experiencing issues. Maybe it’s blocked by robots.txt, or maybe you accidentally no indexed it. You could probably see that in the index coverage report. Search Console, okay. So yes, you found your problem. No, you’re going to move on to algorithm updates.

Algorithm updates

Algorithm updates happen all the time. Google says that maybe one to two happen per day. Not all of those are going to be major. The major ones, though, are listed. They’re documented in multiple different places. Moz has a really good list of algorithm updates over time. You can for sure reference that. There are going to be a lot of good ones. You can navigate to the exact year and month that your site experienced a rankings drop and see if it maybe correlates with any algorithm update.

For example, say your site lost rankings in about January 2017. That’s about the time that Google released its Intrusive Interstitials Update, and so I would look on my site, if that was the issue, and say, “Do I have intrusive interstitials? Is this something that’s affecting my website?”

If you can match up an algorithm update with the time that your rankings started to drop, you have direction. You found an issue. If you can’t match it up to any algorithm updates, it’s finally time to move on to site updates.

Site updates

What changes happened to your website recently? There are a lot of different things that could have happened to your website. Just keep in mind too that maybe you’re not the only one who has access to your website. You’re the SEO, but maybe tech support has access. Maybe even your paid ad manager has access. There are a lot of different people who could be making changes to the website. So just keep that in mind when you’re looking into it. It’s not just the changes that you made, but changes that anyone made could affect the website’s ranking. Just look into all possible factors.

Other factors that can impact rankings

A lot of different things, like I said, can influence your site’s rankings. A lot of things can inadvertently happen that you can pinpoint and say, “Oh, that’s definitely the cause.”

Some examples of things that I’ve personally experienced on my clients’ websites…

I. Renaming pages and letting them 404 without updating with a 301 redirect.

There was one situation where a client had a blog. They had hundreds of really good blog posts. They were all ranking for nice, long tail terms. A client emailed into tech support to change the name of the blog. Unfortunately, all of the posts lived under the blog, and when he did that, he didn’t update it with a 301 redirect, so all of those pages, that were ranking really nicely, they started to fall out of the index. The rankings went with it. There’s your problem. It was unfortunate, but at least we were able to diagnose what happened.

II. Content cutting.

Maybe you’re working with a UX team, a design team, someone who is looking at the website from a visual, a user experience perspective. A lot of times in these situations they might take a page that’s full of really good, valuable content and they might say, “Oh, this is too clunky. It’s too bulky. It has too many words. So we’re going to replace it with an image, or we’re going to take some of the content out.”

When this happens, if the content was the thing that was making your page rank and you cut that, that’s probably something that’s going to affect your rankings negatively. By the way, if that’s happening to you, Rand has a really good Whiteboard Friday on kind of how to marry user experience and SEO. You should definitely check that out if that’s an issue for you.

III. Valuable backlinks lost.

Another situation I was diagnosing a client and one of their backlinks dropped. It just so happened to be like the only thing that changed over this course of time. It was a really valuable backlink, and we found out that they just dropped it for whatever reason, and the client’s rankings started to decline after that time. Things like Moz’s tools, Link Explorer, you can go in there and see gained and lost backlinks over time. So I would check that out if maybe that might be an issue for you.

IV. Accidental no index.

Depending on what type of CMS you work with, it might be really, really easy to accidentally check No Index on this page. If you no index a really important page, Google takes it out of its index. That could happen. Your rankings could drop.So those are just some examples of things that can happen. Like I said, hundreds and hundreds of things could have been changed on your site, but it’s just really important to try to pinpoint exactly what those changes were and if they coincided with when your rankings started to drop.

SERP landscape

So we got all the way to the bottom. If you’re at the point where you’ve looked at all of the site updates and you still haven’t found anything that would have caused a rankings drop, I would say finally look at the SERP landscape.

What I mean by that is just Google your keyword that you want to rank for or your group of keywords that you want to rank for and see which websites are ranking on page 1. I would get a lay of the land and just see:

What are these pages doing?
How many backlinks do they have?
How much content do they have?
Do they load fast?
What’s the experience?

Then make content better than that. To rank, so many people just think avoid being spammy and avoid having things broken on your site. But that’s not SEO. That’s really just helping you be able to compete. You have to have content that’s the best answer to searchers’ questions, and that’s going to get you ranking.

I hope that was helpful. This is a really good way to just kind of work through a ranking drop diagnosis. If you have methods, by the way, that work for you, I’d love to hear from you and see what worked for you in the past. Let me know, drop it in the comments below.

Thanks, everyone. Come back next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

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SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business?

SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business?

When it comes to digital marketing, especially if you’re just starting out, there’s always the question about SEO vs. PPC. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? And, more importantly, which one is better for you?

 

The general consensus is that PPC costs money and it brings immediate results, while SEO is free, but takes time. So it’s a simple trade, time for money. Well, the truth is that it’s more to that than you might expect. I’ll clarify everything below.

 

 

SEO Advantages & Disadvantages

SEO Pros
SEO Cons
When Should You Choose SEO?

PPC Advantages & Disadvantages

PPC Pros
PPC Cons
When Should You Choose PPC?

SEO vs. PPC Recap (side by side comparison)
Mixing SEO with PPC

 

Since we’re cognitiveSEO and we have SEO oriented tools, you might think we’ll try to push SEO as being better than PPC. However, this article won’t show advantages and disadvantages so that you may choose one over another, but to help you better understand which are the strong and weak points of each promotion method.

 

In the end, you’re better off using a mix of both. I’ll tell you exactly why, so keep reading.

 
SEO Advantages & Disadvantages

 

Search Engine Optimization is growing more and more popular, especially with startups. Everyone wants to have an optimized website that ranks well because, in their minds, it’s free. However, if you’ve been in business for a while, you very well know that time = money. This isn’t just a phrase. It’s true.

 

Although SEO might be considered a cheaper way of promoting your website and products, that can actually be far from the case, depending on the niche you’re in and the toughness of your competition. SEO involves content, which is not cheap to create (at least not at a high level).

 

For example, creating a high quality article on cognitiveSEO can take up to one week (if not more if you count in proofreading and editing). Remember, time = money. But, while ads are an easier way of promotion, we earn a lot more trust by ranking and generating traffic organically, since we’re an SEO oriented company.

 

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of SEO, to better understand what you’re dealing with when you get started.

 
SEO Pros

 

SEO covers the biggest part of search marketing. SEO work is like planting the seeds of a forest. You plant them now but you see the results very far into the future. Although you can speed up the process, that requires a lot more work than just installing WordPress and writing quality content.

 

It’s free if you do it yourself: As long as you’re prepared to continuously improve your knowledge and spend a lot of time writing your own content, then you can rank high without any investment (except for hosting and a theme).

 

Gradual learning curve: This can also be seen as a disadvantage, in the way that it can take a long time to learn it. However, what I’m trying to point out here is that you don’t have to master it fast to see results. You can start by doing some simple keyword research and writing your content. Mix that with image optimization and a good server and you’re set. Most Content Management Systems today have a lot of SEO plugins, be it for content or technical issues.

 

Good ROI: If you take the free path and do everything yourself, SEO has the potential to bring very good results, especially in the local business field, where competition can be less harsh. Even when paying for your services, considering you get to rank on a high search volume keyword, you can get up to 15x the amount of clicks you would get if using paid search. Top organic results can bring over 25% of the organic searches for a keyword. On the other side, paid ads only get about 2-3%. Here’s a screenshot from Sparktoro where Rand Fishkin analyzes the Organic vs. Paid CTR in US.

 

 

This discrepancy could be caused by many factors, such as people’s preference for organic results over paid ads (they view them as more trustworthy) and frequent use of ad blocking softwares.

 

Long term results: If you do your homework and you’re consistent for about 6 months to one year, the results you get can last for years. It’s a good idea to update and improve content from time to time though, especially if something better shows up in the SERPS. However, if you keep sharing your content and get a backlink here and there, chances are you’ll keep your ranks, if not improve them over time.

 

Good for brand awareness: People often search for information on the web. Even when they want to purchase something, they first look for reviews and guides. If you want to take advantage of that, you need to write informational content that meets their expectations, in order to rank. Over time, this can lead to people remembering your brand. On average, first time clients often need to be brought on your website up to 7 times (if not more) before they trust you enough to make a purchase.

 

More control over content: When doing SEO, you can rank for virtually anything. You don’t have restrictions on what content you have to display. Also, titles and descriptions can be longer, which leads to better CTRs. You can do virtually anything. However, send clients to a bad page using ads and you’ll be kicked out in no time.

 
SEO Cons

 

It takes time to see results: For some, 6 months to 1 year might sound really good, but for others it might sound like an eternity. You need results and you need them fast. Now. If that’s the case, then your focus should be on paid search. However, it’s a good idea to put the basis of SEO as soon as you start. Remember, it takes time to see results, so the sooner you start, the faster you’ll see them. If you postpone SEO, when you do decide to start, you’ll just hear the same 6 months story again.

 

Hard to master: If you really want to call yourself an SEO expert, you’ll need to learn a lot more than just basic keyword research and link building. HTML and CSS skills might be required, at least at a basic level and JS and PHP come in handy as well. Those don’t include all the other technical things you need to master like sitemaps, indexing, URLs, redirects, multiple language issues and many others. With links getting harder and harder to obtain without a lot of $$$, your content creation and persuasion skills also need to improve significantly. There’s just so much more you have to master with SEO that it can actually be overwhelming. There are even categories, such as Technical SEO and Content SEO. Mastering these both can be very challenging. If you think of PPC like playing an instrument, then SEO is sort of like conducting an entire orchestra.

 

 

Hard to scale: If you’re a one man gang, getting things to the next level isn’t very easy. It’s true that you don’t necessarily have to post more to get more traffic, but it’s also true that if you do post more, you do get more traffic. You can only do so many things in 24h. Scaling that requires help, which involves money. If you’re building an authority website and need hundreds of articles per week, editors and a content marketing team then the results will pay off. However, if you’re trying to compete with Dyson to sell your unknown vacuum cleaner, you’re better off with paid search.

 

High uncertainty: Google works with algorithms. This means that at any time, for any reason, your site might drop from its rankings, or worse, even be removed from the index. Usually this happens if you get involved with BlackHat SEO techniques. If you stick to Google’s Guidelines, you should generally be fine. Still, there are so many reasons for which your website’s organic traffic could drop that it would take another article to list them. We actually have one, mostly limited to 2018 SEO updates.

 

Less buyer oriented: People search a lot on the web, but most of the time they search for information. Even when they search for things to buy. That’s why it’s a good idea to also build an e-mail list, to be able to bring clients back on your website. Harder to do now, especially in Europe, with the new EU GDPR law.

 

Hard to A/B test: Although you have full control over your content, A/B testing in an organic searches environment isn’t easy. Google isn’t very fond of duplicate content and you can’t simply ask Google to show another page for one week either. Well, you actually can using canonical tags. However, the canonical tag wasn’t designed for that and it’s very risky to use it that way. You might think that you could simply change the same page and then switch it back. However, any change to a page can result either in an increase or a decrease in rankings. Generally, when people rank high they avoid making any changes to their pages.

 

SEO

Advantages
Disadvantages

It can be ‘free’
It takes time to see results

Gradual learning curve
Hard to master

Good ROI
Hard to scale

Long term results
High uncertainty

Good for brand awareness
Less buyer oriented

More control over content
Hard to A/B test

 
When Should You Choose SEO?

 

Unless you purposely don’t want to be on search engines, SEO is, simply put, for everyone. You should start it as soon as possible, because it takes time for it to work. To be more precise, the SEO planning process should start before even building the website, if you take structure and platform into account.

 

The later you start with SEO, the later you will see the results. It’s a good idea to start optimizing as soon as possible.

 
PPC Advantages & Disadvantages

 

On the other side, we have PPC (Pay Per Click) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Some SEOs blame it for being less efficient and costing way more than SEO. However, those claims can be false due to bias. The truth is PPC can be a great method of promoting your website, especially if you’re an eCommerce store or selling a product.

 
PPC Pros

 

Generally, people think of PPC as regular advertising, but it’s much more than that. Having the opportunity to show an ad only when someone searches for a specific keyword and, even more, pay for it only when they click, is priceless. There are a ton of good things about PPC. Hadn’t it been so successful, people wouldn’t pay for it.

 

You can see results instantly: The greatest thing about Pay Per Click is that you can see results right away. That is, of course, as long as your landing page is decent. You need a call to action, so make sure your phone number and contact forms are visible. You will usually pay more depending on the competition. However, there are other factors that are taken into consideration, such as the quality of your titles and content. Either way, ranking in the top 3 with SEO in a day is virtually impossible to achieve.

 

 

Easier to master: I’m not saying that you can become an expert overnight but, on the long run, PPC is easier than SEO. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy. You still have to learn a lot of things and you also learn those things by burning money usually. However, once you’ve set up a proper campaign and optimized if for a couple of months, you’re kind of set. You also get professional support from official Google employees that help you set campaigns, a luxury that you don’t have in the SEO field. Luckily, there’s guys like us, here at cognitiveSEO. Obviously, there are also advanced tweaks that you can do to your campaigns, things you won’t learn very easily. But there’s a higher chance of finding someone that will create you a decent Pay Per Click campaign than finding someone who will build and execute a good SEO strategy.

 

You can scale up quickly: Scaling up in Google Adwords is pretty easy. Just pay more money. There are two ways of paying more money. The first is to target more keywords. The second is simply adjusting your daily budget to over 9.000 and become overpower. Then, your competition will be very frustrated:

 

 

No uncertainty: You don’t have to fear any updates from Google. In the PPC world, the updates are upfront and not secret. You also spend between 5-10 minutes to set up an ad and another 5-10 to find out if it has been approved or not. You’ll also know exactly what’s allowed and what isn’t. Remember, you also get support from Google itself.

 

Buyer oriented: Most of the clicks you will get from PPC are buyer oriented. It’s not necessarily that people click Google ads more when they want to buy something (although it’s possible), but because you’ll only be targeting commercial keywords when you place your ads. We all know that search traffic has higher conversion rates. Same goes for paid search advertising. It has higher conversions than social media and Facebook advertising. Google only shows ads if it thinks it’s relevant to the potential customers. So, the user intent dictates whether an ad should show or not. If the keyword is a buyer keyword, there’s a higher chance of an ad displaying.

 

Easy to A/B test: A/B testing with PPC is really easy. All you have to do is set up two ads and let them run. Whichever gets the most CTR wins. It’s simple. You have to keep doing this to improve your results. A 1% increase in CTR can be a game changer in some situations.

 
PPC Cons

 

Like with anything, there must also be downsides. PPC has a few, but depending on who you are and what you do, some might not even seem to be disadvantages. If you have a high profit margin, for example, you can afford to pay ads. However, if you only make 1$ per sale but you have to pay $0.98 to get it, it might not be such a great deal, especially after taxes.

 

You pay for every click: Well… there’s not much to say here. It’s pay to play. For every click that you get you have to pay. So, as long as you profit from it, the more you spend the more your earn. The math is pretty simple. You need to think in Click Through Rates. Let’s say that you earn $10 per sale. In this case, depending on your demands, you could be spending anything from $0.01 to $9.99 for a sale. However, the money will only bring you traffic. It doesn’t guarantee sales. You need high conversion rates. If you bring in 100 people and your conversion rate is 1%, then you have to make sure those 100 visitors cost less than what you earn for one sale. Otherwise you will be throwing money out the window.

 

It’s not that it’s bad to pay for every click. It’s just that with SEO you don’t have to

 

Steep learning curve: When you first go into the Google Adwords platform, things might be overwhelming. There are a lot of new things to digest: campaigns, ad groups, keywords, negative keywords, budgets, bids, CTR, CPC and many other. If you have no idea what you’re doing, you can burn a lot of money. A recent client of mine set up the campaign on his own and wasted around 75% of his budget because he didn’t set any negative keywords.

 

 

However, after having a basic understanding of them, you can easily set up campaigns that run for a profit. There are also official courses from Google which you can attend and even get certified into.

 

Lower ROI: We’ve talked about how, with SEO, results are a little bit slow but last longer? Well, it’s the exact opposite with PPC. The ROI on PPC is calculated short term, by subtracting how much you spend on the paid search advertisements from how much you earn by selling a product. When you stop paying, you stop displaying so the ROI won’t grow the same way it does with SEO, long term.

 

Growth is tied to budget: Although it’s easy to scale, PPC is tied to budget. That means if you want to sell more, you also have to pay more. This doesn’t sound so bad, but considering that growth often involves other expenses such as better servers, personnel or even warehouses, you’ll always be short on money.

 

Not great for brand awareness: When you pay for clicks, you usually want to sell. Fast. Once the user purchases once, it’s anyway easier to retarget them. Even if they ultimately buy from you, chances are they came from someone else’s informational website, either through Adsense or some sort of affiliate link (websites they trust).

 

Less control over content: If you want your ad to display, you’ll have to respect some rules. Not only with the titles and descriptions, but also with the content. There are certain niches in which you can’t even display ads at all and some words are banned.

 

PPC

Advantages
Disadvantages

Very fast results
You pay for every click

Easier to master
Steep learning curve

Easy to scale
Lower ROI, more short term

No uncertainty
Growth is tied to budget

Buyer oriented
Not great for brand awareness

Easy to A/B test
Less control over content

 
When Should You Choose PPC?

 

Well, you can definitely use PPC all the time. The best time to use it, if you have a little bit of budget, is when you’re starting out. The boost can help you keep the business going while you also growing your organic traffic.

 

However, even when you’re already established, you can’t rank for all the keywords. For those on which you don’t rank, you can pay. You can also use it on keywords you already rank for to increase your CTR. If you have position 1, why not have position 1 and 2?

 

Best time to use PPC is when you’re starting out, but you can always use it for keywords you don’t rank for or to maximize CTR.

 
SEO vs. PPC Recap (side by side comparison)

 

Green = Advantages
Red = Disadvantages

SEO
PPC

Can be ‘free’
Very fast results

Gradual learning curve
Easier to master

Good ROI
Easy to scale

Long term results
No uncertainty

Good for brand awareness
Buyer oriented

More control over content
Easy to A/B test

It takes time to see results
You pay for every click

Hard to master
Steep learning curve

Hard to scale
Lower ROI

High uncertainty
Growth is tied to budget

Less buyer oriented
Not great for brand awareness

Hard to A/B test
Less control over content

 
Mixing PPC with SEO

 

Most of the time, people start with PPC because it brings immediate results. They miss out on SEO because they don’t start doing it as soon as possible. If you postpone it, it will only take longer to rank. You can start with it by doing the basic things. For example, having a blog is one of them. Implementing a content marketing strategy for your site is a great way of growing your brand and authority.

 

People often neglect SEO. I have one client that spends over $2.000 on PPC, whereas the budget for SEO is only about $100. It actually was 0 before I convinced them to start with something basic. Had they spent 25% of his PPC budget on SEO these past 10 years, they would have had a huge authority website with hundreds if not thousands of useful articles. However, they only have service pages and a badly implemented multi language module which I can’t seem to fix without a programmer.

 

On the other side, small businesses and SEO enthusiasts might also miss out a lot themselves by never taking advantage of PPC. There could be a huge opportunity in selling your products through PPC.

 

On the long run, it’s true that SEO is much more powerful than PPC. You can rank high with one article for hundreds if not thousands of keywords and the CTRs tend to be a lot higher. But on the short term, PPC is a really good way of gaining some initial traffic and sales and the best way of keeping your positions consistent. The longer a campaign runs, the better CTRs and CPC it scores, as it gets to be really well optimized.

 

Conclusion:

 

As you see, both SEO and PPC are good methods to market your products. Now, if you’re starting out with SEO, there’s plenty of content on our blog from which you can learn it. However, we’re lacking a bit on the PPC and SEM side. Maybe we’ll publish more soon. But the idea is that if you mix them, you’ll get the best results.

 

What’s your experience? Have you tried both PPC and SEO? Which one brought the best results? Let us know in the comments section.

The post SEO vs. PPC | Which One Is Better For You & Your Business? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Psychology: The Power of Color In Marketing

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Psychology: The Power of Color In Marketing

Psychology: The Power of Color In Marketing

We have recognized the power of color to move and affect us since our earliest civilisations, and as our access to colors developed, and our mastery of them through artwork has grown, so has the sophistication of our associations with them. Some primal color associations remain and are deeply powerful, while others are relatively new and exciting.

Today, I’m going to explore the many psychological impact of color on marketing, sharing resources and insights to help you get the most out of them in your marketing. Colour is one of the most powerful subconscious motivators, and we have discovered many interesting subconscious influences on marketing.

For instance – energetic music makes people eat faster, and smaller floor tiles make people walk slower. In each case, the pace markers in our environment change how we set out rhythms to meet them. Eating popcorn can make you immune to cinema adverts, because you have a simple means of distraction – an immediate reward that requires no new action, unlike the advertisements.

We drink more from short, wide tumblers than tall slim glasses, because we see fullness as a measure of height, not width. Cool temperatures, dim lighting, and soft music are all evidenced to encourage over-indulgence in food, which is why that description sounds like every restaurant you’ve been in. Finally, every movie poster looks the same because blue and orange give us “cool” and “exciting” triggers.

By now you can see that the subconscious is acting on us in powerful ways almost all the time, you must also see that color can be an important tool in leveraging the subconscious to provide us with positive motivation to act. That is the impact of color on marketing in essence.

By understanding the power of color in marketing, we can begin to harness it indirectly actionable ways. Psychologists have long established that colors are tied to our emotion – Goethe first described the “Rose of Temperaments”, charting the allegoric, symbolic and mystic usage of color, in 1798.

Heads up – a lot of these insights have been inspired by material sources, including the great Pantone book Color – Messages & Meanings, which I highly recommend.

Now, we’re going to look at 10 of the most common colors brands use, and how they can be effectively leveraged when creating a brand identity, campaign, or image to evoke the sense you want.

The Power Of Color
1) The Power of the Color Black – Sophistication, Power & Prestige

Black is a blank canvas. It is also rarer than you think – only OLED screens can show true blacks. Meanwhile, the blackest black has only just been discovered, and looks like some kind of optical illusion.

Black is the cover of space, of vastness. It can also be associated with absence and death. It’s also the classic color for ink, making it a favorite of brands that like to look well established.

As a result, black is frequently used by luxury brands to create a blank canvas upon which to hero the item – black creates a superior focus on the product itself, as the only thing lit.

Black, in too large an amount, can begin to feel gloomy and oppressive, so it must be used artfully to create a strong contrast with the hero, like in paintings by the Dutch Masters.

Chanel has long used black as part of its brand, while relative newcomer Hotel Chocolat uses the color to conjure that same luxury feeling. Rolls Royce have a whole campaign around modernising the timeless elegance of black.

Black can also symbolize an institutional quality, and a simple monochrome logo can give people a sense of establishment and trust. Simplicity can engender confidence.

2) The Power of the Color Blue – Trust, Calm & Productivity

Blue is the most common colour in branding, from airlines to tech companies, banks and supermarkets. Used in luxury brands and budget brands, social media and more, blue is the great unifier.

Why? Well, blue is calming, and I believe this has evolutionary roots. After all, blue is the color of a clear sky, the color of a calm sea, or a clean river. All signs were in a rich habitat. Blue, unlike red or green, is unaffected by color deficiencies in processing, meaning everyone who can see can see blue. However, when we’re said to be “feeling blue”, we mean depressed. Do brands what to depress you?

Well, not exactly. They want to calm you. Blue is calming and clean, and importantly, consistent. The sky never disappears. That’s why we like blue, and why we feel ready to trust blue brands. Trust is, in turn, one of the most important factors in consumer decision making, so when choosing what emotions to trigger, blue is a strong choice.

3) The Power of the Color Green – Positivity, Relaxation, Growth

Green is a delightful colour. Green is the color of growth, the color of spring, the color of verdant rolling fields, and the idea of a paradise island. Green is the associated with times of plenty.

When things are green, people are relaxed. Green is the “go” light, the “great job” pen. Green is encouragement and positivity.

More recently, green has become a by-word for the environment – it encourages new concepts such as responsibility, sustainability, cleanliness and friendliness. A green brand is a conscious brand.

As such, green is great for a wide variety of brands. Health and nutrition brands, and brands that wish to promote reliability, like LandRover. Digital brands like Spotify use it to suggest abundance, while disgraced oil company BP used it to instantly reinvent their image.

4) The Power of the Color Orange – Ambition, Warmth & Enthusiasm

Perhaps because of companies like EasyJet, Nickelodeon, Amazon and more, 26% of people now view orange as a cheap color.

I believe this is the wrong way to look it. A warm color, the richer the orange palette becomes, the more energized the brand appears. Orange is a color of zest and juice, of sharp and sweet, of energy and dynamism. It is the color of impulsiveness and adventure.

As such, it can be a great tool in getting those impulse buyers, like EasyJet or Amazon, and it can also be helpful when trying to emphasize your Call To Action, as it instills that sense of eagerness. Similarly, if one of your selling points is low price, you know from these great examples that this color will work for you.

5) The Power of the Color Pink – Kindness, Warmth & Love

Pink is used by brands you’d expect to use pink based on norms established in the 1950s, such as Barbie and Hello Kitty. But the color is much more versatile than that, with LG, T Mobile, and even Taco Bell choosing pink.

That’s because pink can increase our blood pressure and our pulse rate – it’s the color of flushed cheeks, or lips. It is the color of flowers and flamingos – flamboyance in nature. For millions, it has become the color of hope in the fight against breast cancer.

Pink can be fun. Hot pink can be bold and exciting. Pastel pink can be neutral and calming. What’s more, pink can be a surprising, empowering choice that displays a sense of fun and confidence.

6) The Power of the Color Purple – Royalty, Wealth & Status

So, what does the color purple mean? Purple is the color of gods and rulers, worn by Zeus in Greek myth, by magistrates and Caesars in Rome, the emperors of the Byzantine empire, the emperors of Japan, and the British royal family.

Purple is rich, and so are the people who wear it. Perhaps as a historical association with rulers, the color is also associated with wisdom and spiritual practice – two traits the ruling classes traded upon to secure their authority.

Purple is a powerful colour, and as such, it should be used sparingly. Purple brands include Yahoo!, Hallmark and Cadbury – rich indulgences. Similarly, the colour is popular in cosmetics, as the colour of indulgence and elitism.

Brands that use purple need to know that they are sending a powerful statement, and it is best suited to those with an element of prestige and quality about them.

7) The Power of the Color Red – Power, Energy & Passion

Red makes our pulse race. It is the color of blood and wine, of roses and danger. It is the color of the arousal – the ‘red light’ district. It is a color of health and vigor. Put simply, it’s a color of extremes. Whatever is red is exciting. Perhaps this is why the power of color red is still most famous for its association with Ferrari, whose cars make us so excited.

Red stimulates the appetite. YouTube and Netflix use red to fuel your appetite for more content. Heinz and Coca-Cola do the same in food and drink. Marlboro do the same with cigarettes, H&M for disposable fashion… the list goes on and on.

Red is also the color of threat and as such, the color of urgency. It is the color of errors and can encourage people to want to eliminate them. ACT NOW!

Red is the most aggressive, and therefore, the most manipulative colour.

8) The Power of the Color Yellow – Cheer, Youth & Happiness

Yellow is bright as sunshine, and who doesn’t feel great in the sunshine? Yellow logos are used by companies who want to project optimism into people’s lives. IKEA can make you believe you can, and even WANT to, build furniture yourself. McDonald’s can make you believe their food tastes good. Best Buy can make you believe you’re buying the best, not cheapest. Optimism!

Yellow can grab attention, but its closeness to white means it usually needs to be accompanied by an accent color to stand out. The choice of accent can have a big effect too – yellow and black is the color of caution in nature – wasps and bees use it to threaten with their presence.

Yellow is also one of the first colours we begin to perceive after being born, so it’s often used on products aimed at infants and children.

Yellow is not without its institutional heavyweights too. Camera company Nikon and logistics company DHL use it to great effect by relating optimism to confidence – they will deliver for customers.

9) The Power of the Color Brown – Earth, Nature & Simplicity

Brown is the colour of rich soil. Of coffee and chocolate and leather. Of wood. Brown is a color we are evolutionarily more familiar with, though modern life would see us spent our lives looking at grey and magnolia.

Brown is most commonly associated with food brands. Hershey’s use it to as a promise of what’s inside. Mad Men even used it to create an incredible moment in their final season, as the character admits something to strangers he has hidden from everyone closest to him for six seasons. Brown is used by UPS and Kettle Chips and hundreds of independent brewers.

That’s because brown offers us a balance of warmth, familiarity, and comfort. There are depth and richness, and nurturing in brown. There is strength and simplicity. While an understated color compared to many on this list, its power should not be underestimated.

10) The Power of the Color White – Purity, Wholesomeness & Clarity

A wedding dress. A doctor’s coat. God. White has always been the definition of purity. It’s also been repurposed to be the height of modernity, most notably by brands like Apple and Google and Wikipedia. White is also seen as being clean and sanitary, making it a popular choice for dental, health care and child services brands.

Whitespace also creates the sense of a blank canvas, of a perfect or ideal space for the brand to exist in. This has been used to great effect by KitKat and others. Whitespace necessitates a larger canvas, which plays into the idea of conspicuous consumption – deliberate ‘waste’ to create an emphasis on wealth and richness. The product stands out more emphatically for being islanded off from the competition.

Power of Color in 2018: The Role of Gender in Perception

2018 will surely continue 2017’s work of examining gender with a fine-toothed comb. The gender of your audience does indeed affect preferences and perceptions when it comes to colors and marketing.

Fortunately, a huge number of studies have been conducted, and the results thoroughly reported. I’ll summarize them here, so you can focus on taking the information most relevant to your needs.

The most important thing to remember is that the pink vs blue idea of girls vs boys is a big fat myth. The BBC published a breakdown of the social conditioning that produces this fake preference, examining the history of color choice between genders, and discovering that blue is the most popular color with both men and women – thereby proving the universality of the color and its popularity among brands.

Martech created an outstanding infographic breaking down colour preferences – including for things like saturation, pairings and psychological associations – between genders.

If your target audience is defined by gender, then the power of color is an important thing to bear in mind before committing to a visual identity.

Women
Love: Blue, Purple, Green
Hate: Orange, Brown, Grey
Men
Love: Blue, Green, Black
Hate: Brown, Orange, Purple

Colors and Marketing: Refine Your Palette

Make good use of your colors!

By now you should see that colors and marketing are inextricably linked. By using color in marketing, you understand psychology of colors, the importance and power of colour, and recognize their role in creating associations for us subconsciously. These associations can help to motivate emotional responses that can result in sales, brand loyalty, conversion, and lifetime value.

So, where do you go from here? Testing, testing, testing.

Despite blue being a common favorite, there is no one “best” color. People profess to hating brown if you believe Kissmetrics, yet Louis Vuitton bags are the most popular luxury handbag and UPS are a world-renowned delivery service.

You need to test your color schemes, and consider not only what primary brand color you’re going to use, but what pallet of complementary colors will you use to support it.

What’s more, the use of color must be deliberate and evocative. Overuse of color can be distracting, annoying, and even uncomfortable for viewers. Pick a primary, accent and base tone to begin with, and align all your assets around this scheme. When you compose that scheme, always keep the effect in mind. You want to be using color at the right time, not necessarily all the time.

Finally, remember that this is for the audience. You need to consider what you want them to think about your brand and align your colour scheme with the colors whose associations best represent the qualities you are aiming for. It’s not about what color you like!

So, there we have it – an examination of the current data and best practice around the power of color in marketing. I hope this has been illuminating for you, and that you can go on to make bolder color choices as a result.

Have you seen the power of color in changing the performance of your brand? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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HTTP vs HTTPS: The Difference And Everything You Need To Know

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on HTTP vs HTTPS: The Difference And Everything You Need To Know

HTTP vs HTTPS: The Difference And Everything You Need To Know

HTTP vs HTTPS

Many websites use HTTP. However, back in 2014, Google recommended that sites switch to HTTPS. Until then, only sites with e-commerce pages really bothered to use HTTPS. As an incentive for switching over, Google announced that it would be providing HTTPS sites with a minor rankings bump, in effect punishing sites that did not switch over by giving an edge to competitors that did.

Now you’re probably wondering – why is it so important that you switch over to HTTPS? Is it really worth the hassle to do so? What even is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? Will using one over the other affect your SEO efforts at all? The following guide will break everything down for you, not only answer these common questions but giving you a much better understanding of HTTP vs HTTPS in general.

1) HTTP vs HTTPS: Understanding The Basics

The first thing that we should go over is what HTTP and HTTPS actually are. It’s going to be difficult to understand the impact of switching from one to the other or how to choose between HTTP vs. HTTPS without a general understanding of both.

What Is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. At it’s most basic, it allows for the communication between different systems. It’s most commonly used to transfer data from a web server to a browser in order to allow users to view web pages. It’s the protocol that was used for basically all early websites.

What Is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The problem with the regular HTTP protocol is that the information that flows from server to browser is not encrypted, which means it can be easily stolen. HTTPS protocols remedy this by using an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate, which helps create a secure encrypted connection between the server and the browser, thereby protecting potentially sensitive information from being stolen as its transferred between the server and the browser.

The Main Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS

The most important difference between the two protocols is the SSL certificate. In fact, HTTPS is basically an HTTP protocol with additional security. However, this additional security can be extremely important, especially for websites that take sensitive data from its users, such as credit card information and passwords.

How HTTPS works? The SSL certificate encrypts the information that users supply to the site, which basically translates the data into a code. Even if someone manages to steal the data being communicated between the sender and the recipient, they would not be able to understand it due to this encryption.

But in addition to adding that extra layer of security, HTTPS is also secured via TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol. TLS helps provide data integrity, which helps prevent the transfer of data from being modified or corrupted, and authentication, which proves to your users that they are communicating with the intended website.

Users can identify whether a site uses HTTPS protocol by the web address. The very first part of the web address (before the “www”) indicates whether the site uses HTTP or HTTPS protocols.

2) SEO Advantage Of Switching To HTTPS

If you’re looking at the main difference between HTTP and HTTPS, HTTPS obviously has a big advantage. After all, wouldn’t you want your site to be as secure as possible? The thing is, if you don’t have an e-commerce page and you’re not accepting potentially sensitive information from your website’s visitors, then you might be thinking that switching over to an HTTPS site isn’t that necessary and that doing so is a bigger hassle than it’s worth.

However, the security advantage isn’t the only benefit of using HTTPS. In fact, switching over to HTTPS can end up boosting your SEO efforts as well. The following are a few ways in which HTTPS can help to improve your SEO:

Increase Your Website Rankings

HTTPS SEO impact! Besides the fact that Google itself has announced that sites switched to HTTPS will receive a small bump in rankings, doing so can lead to a rankings boost over time in any event because visitors will be more likely to browse through sites that they know are secure.

If your website is new, you can read our guide here on how to increase your website rankings immediately with SEO.

Preserve Referrer Data

The use of an HTTPS site makes Google Analytics more effective. This is because the security data of the website that referred to you is saved with the use of HTTPS – it’s not with HTTP sites. With HTTP sites, referral sources will just appear as “direct traffic”. This gives HTTPS a big advantage for SEO in itself.

Build Trust With Visitors

Because an HTTPS site encrypts all communication, visitors will protect not just sensitive information, like passwords and credit card information, but also their browsing history. Knowing that they will retain their privacy while browsing your site and knowing that anything that they download, sign up for or purchase won’t put them at risk due to a lack of security is going to help you to build trust, which is vital to capturing leads and closing sales.

Additionally, you protect your site from security breaches, which can end up damaging your reputation and even costing you money if they do occur.

Be Able To Use AMP

If you want to be able to use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), then you’ll need to have HTTPS. AMP was created by Google as a way to load content onto mobile devices at a much faster rate. At its core, AMP is kind of like a stripped down HTML. AMP content features prominently on Google’s SERPs to create a better mobile experience for smartphone and tablet users.

If creating a mobile-friendly website is important to you (and it should be, considering the increasing importance of mobile search rankings and local SEO), then switching to HTTPS is a must.

3) SEO Concerns When Switching To HTTPS

While there are many benefits to switching over from HTTP to HTTPS, there are still a few potential problems that you could run into when doing so. The following are some of the tips you should be sure to keep in mind when switching over to HTTPS to prevent potential SEO-related issues:

Inform Google that you have switched from HTTP to HTTPS.
There’s not some kind of automatic notification that lets them know when you’ve switched, which means that the rankings boost that they have promised may n ot occur until they crawl your site again, which may be a while unless you notify them yourself right away.
There are several certificates other that SSL certificate.
These include Single Domain, Multiple Domain and Wildcard SSL certificates. A Single Domain certificate is issued for one domain or subdomain. A Multiple Domain certificate, which is also known as a Unified Communications certificate, lets you secure a primary domain name and upwards of 99 additional Subject Alternative Names. Wildcard certificate allows you to secure your website URL as well as unlimited subdomains.
Make sure you use relative URLs for any resources.
This is to reside on the same secure domain and protocol relative URLs for all other domains.
Make sure that you’re not preventing Google from crawling your HTTPS site.
If they are unable to use robots.txt. to crawl through your site, it could end up hurting your ability to improve your SEO, thereby hurting your potential search ranking. This generally happens if you forget to update your test server to allow bots.
Make sure that you allow search engines to index your pages.
You have the option of discouraging search engines from doing this, but this could damage your SEO efforts since your page rankings will then be wiped out – and it could take a while for you to regain them.
Be vigilant about tracking your migration from HTTP to HTTPS.
You can do this by using Google Webmaster Tools and other analytics software to ensure that everything goes smoothly and to catch any issues that occur as soon as possible so that they don’t end up hurting your SEO.

4) Process Of Changing From HTTP To HTTPS

How to switch to HTTPS?

Now that you understand the benefits of switching to HTTPS and how to avoid any issues while migrating, it’s time to actually switch from HTTP to HTTPS. The process of switching to HTTPS may take a number of steps to accomplish, but overall, it’s actually not that difficult – just a little bit time-consuming. The following are the steps that you will need to take in order to switch to HTTPS:

It may take a while to get your site completely migrated to HTTPS, but it’s worth it in the end. Just make sure that you double check all of the links throughout your site to make sure that they are properly updated or else they will break after migration.

You want your website to be secure for a number of reasons. Not only do you want to protect potentially sensitive information, but you’ll want to make sure that your visitors are comfortable browsing through your site. These reasons alone are a good reason to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. However, when you consider the effect that switching to HTTPS will have on your SEO, it becomes a no-brainer.

If you have yet to switch your website to HTTPS, then you should take the time to do so. Yes, there are a number of steps involved, but the effort it will take is well worth the result. HTTPS has already become the standard protocol, which means that the longer that you hesitate, the more of a chance there is that you’ll fall behind your competition.

If you have already switched your website to HTTPS, then we’re curious as to whether you’ve seen the results of having done so yet.

We would love to hear about your experience in this HTTP vs HTTPS topic – such as when you migrated to HTTPS, what do you think of the main difference between HTTP and HTTPS, how long it took to see results, what results you’ve seen and what, if any, difficulties you might have encountered. So be sure to letting us all know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below!

This post was originally written by Joanne Chong and published on July 13, 2017. It was most recently updated on July 27, 2018.

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Short Tail Or Long Tail Keywords? — A Side-by-Side Comparison

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Short Tail Or Long Tail Keywords? — A Side-by-Side Comparison

Short Tail Or Long Tail Keywords? — A Side-by-Side Comparison

Long Tail vs Short Tail Keywords

Image credits: Aida Blakely

When it comes to on-page SEO, keywords are the biggest factor in determining your SEO success or failure. When deciding which keywords to use, you’ll need to do some homework and research before deciding which ones to go for. One question that often arise while doing keyword research remains:

Short Tail or Long Tail Keywords?

The discussion has been raging and the resulting ends are something that anyone doing marketing on the Internet should be made aware of.

What Are Short Tail And Long Tail Keywords?
Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords are 3 words or less. Examples include: “athletic apparel,” “DVD player,” or “engagement ring.” Short tail keywords are also known as “head terms”. They may be the first thing you think of when you are deciding where to go to eat (“Chinese food,” “pizza delivery”), what to do (“dance clubs,” “roller coaster park”), or where to worship (“synagogue,” “Catholic church”).

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords however are a little different compared to short tail keywords. Long tail words are more than 3 words. They are definitely a lot more targeted and not as broad. You may not bring in as much search traffic from long tail keywords but the traffic you do bring in is the kind you are looking for.

Examples of long tail keywords include: “summer women’s athletic apparel,” “super Blu Ray HD DVD combo player,” or “white diamond engagement ring.” Long tail keywords are obviously a lot more specific than short tail keywords; as a marketer this actually can work very much in your favor. But there are pros and cons to both types of keywords.

The Long and Short Of Keywords

Which type of keyword you want to use for your marketing is going to depend very much on the type of traffic that you want to drive to your site.

As keywords get longer, search volume becomes lower. However, all other metrics such as conversion rates go in favor of long tail keywords.

Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords have several things working for and against them. For example if you are trying to drive a lot of traffic to your site, you should use short tail keywords. The challenge here is that if your site is “new” or if your search efforts are just beginning you are getting at the back of a very long line.

Volume: High

,
When it comes to volume, short tail keyword is going to win long tail keyword every time. The shorter the keyword is, the higher the search volume. If you could rank for a short tail keyword, you’re definitely going to get plenty of organic traffic.

Competition: High

Given the high search volumes, it’s no wonder why everyone is trying to rank for short tail keywords, the reward is high. Competition for short tail keywords is highly competitive.

To give you a clearer picture, for pizza searches, you are behind brands like Pizza Hut, Pizza Pizza, Dominos, Papa John’s as well as all the ranking sites, local searches, and the like.

So if you notice the pattern here, it’s clear that unless your company is huge at the international level, it is really tough to get into the first page of Google search results.

Focus: Low

There is also the issue of your search not being “targeted.” People searching for “DVD” may be looking for a player to buy but they also may be looking for a DVD player to rent, a DVD film, a DVD reproduction service, a list of DVD rentals and the like. You are going up against names like Samsung, Sony, and Amazon when you simply search DVD.

Cost: High

Short tail keywords also have a cost factor involved which is going to get expensive. Google AdWords is going to charge you a pretty penny to get into the short tail keyword business for your common search terms. Because so many other people are buying them you are going to need to pay a premium for your presence in these searches.

Conversion Rate: Low

Finally, the thing which irks most people about short tail keyword is the low conversion rate. Say you have a term that’s searched for a lot. Even if you get 10,000 searches and 100 clicks your conversion rate may be one or two customers.

While those one or two customers may be your bread and butter, the truth is that you may have more luck and less noise if you opted for long tail keywords.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are like a bear in the forest. They can lie dormant for a while but when they are used they are typically quite deadly. Like the bear in the forest, there isn’t too much else that competes with these keywords as you’ll see.

Volume: Low

When you are talking about long tail keywords you have to appreciate the level of volume. Your volume of traffic from long tail keywords is going to be far less. For some types of businesses, this may be a bad thing.

However, if you have your wares that you are selling and you are trying to cater to your specific customer, you may not want a lot of beady eyes and sweaty breaths clogging up your virtual storefront.

Competition: Low

The competition among others is also lower when you have decided on a long tail keyword. When you have a search term like “RV camper power cord hatch cover” or “baseball card holder sheets” you are getting traffic. The good news for you if you’re selling these things is that there are few others who are selling the same thing. The search is going to be geared towards whatever it is you are selling and the competition for this specific traffic will be low.

Focus: High

Just like the low competition made evident, the targeted nature of the search traffic you get will, for most businesses selling specific things, be ideal. You will pretty well only have people who are looking for “toddler ballerina shoes with ribbon” or “cheap loveseat recliner covers,” coming to your store. That means you’re a lot more likely to have the customers you are looking for, looking for you!

Cost: Low

Another added benefit to the lower traffic long tail keywords is that you are going to pay a lot less for them. Google AdWords has got a reduced price for searches that are specific and contain more terms. This means that you won’t show up nearly as high in general searches (until you become the preeminent name in your industry) but you will have a lot lower cost to get you there.

For small businesses who may have a PPC arrangement, this is going to be huge for your monthly cost. When you are selling more things to fewer customers that will be even better!

Conversion Rates: High

One last point about long tail keywords is the increased conversion rates. If you have people seeking out such specific things as discussed above, you will have a far easier time converting the traffic you generate. These conversion numbers are obviously going go vary depending on what it is you’re selling and where, but the numbers point very strongly in favor of long tail keyword selection.

Moreover, if your customer likes what they see from your long tail conversion selection, even if they don’t buy the first time around they are far more likely to come back to your online store when they do buy simply because your site spoke to their specific needs.

Which Is Better?

To simplify this entire article into a simple table, you’ll see that long tail keywords are the far better choice and rightly so.

At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you and your small business. Of course you want to save money and you want to have as large a web presence as you possibly can.

At the same time you need to remember that the point of your having a web business isn’t (generally) to get people to click to your site and walk away unsatisfied with the results their search has given them; the idea is that they spend money!

Getting your customers to drop that dime and try out your business is the whole point. If you want to increase your conversion and make that sale then you should be directing traffic to your specific type of widget, whatever that may be.

In this day and age of online searches short tail keywords are very difficult break into the rankings of. As discussed earlier it is almost impossible for small or even medium sized businesses to rank among the big boys.

So if this is not a fight that you are even able to have, why would you want to try?

If you have a huge body of content, a very specific but general item, or strong brand and domain authority then maybe the short tail keywords will still work for you.

However if you are looking for higher conversion rate, lower cost, lower competition, and volume that is specifically after what it is that you are selling, the long tail keyword game is one that you should be in.

This post was originally written by Zhi Yuan and published on Nov 18, 2015. It was most recently updated on July 27, 2018.

Related Links:

How To Decide Which Keywords To Use? — Comprehensive Keyword Research Guide
How To Increase Conversion Rate By 113% Using Retargeting Ads
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing – Which Is More Effective?

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Why AI and international paid media is a match made in hell

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Why AI and international paid media is a match made in hell

When looking back on summer 2018, it’s hard to ignore the optimism that’s been in the air. Sunny weather? Check. England football triumph? Almost! AI as the next big thing in digital marketing? Try and count the number of articles, blog posts and sound bites that you’ve encountered over the last month which cite AI in a hype-tastic way.

Now we’re all for a bit of well-reasoned optimism, and there is no doubt that AI is an extremely powerful toolkit that will positively impact all kinds of socio-economic activity. But we’re not so sure about the true value of AI in the context of digital marketing, and specifically for international paid media.

Back to basics

Cutting through the hype, let’s start by looking at exactly how AI and machine learning work in the context of international paid media. For example, on a keyword level, how much and what kind of data are needed for AI to make a good decision?

Well, Google’s machine learning product Smart Bidding states that it “enables you to tailor bids based on each user’s context. Smart Bidding includes important signals like device, location and remarketing lists for better automation and performance”.

This implies that the signals required by the algorithm can be culled from the sum of users’ behavior, and that its “learning capabilities quickly maximize the accuracy of your bidding models to improve how you optimize the long-tail [by evaluating] patterns in your campaign structure, landing pages, ad text, product information, keyword phrases and many more to identify more relevant similarities across bidding items to effectively borrow learnings between them”.

This suggests that the ‘go to’ source of data is our own campaign. But what are these patterns, how long is ‘quickly’, and how on earth can landing page data would help with bid management?

Staying with bid management as an example, we think it works like this:

Primary data: the algorithm looks back at historic direct interactions with a keyword within a client campaign, and makes a cost/position decision based on pre-defined goals like ROI or CTR, and of enough data.
One way to address a possible data volume problem would be to look back a long way. But this would ignore seasonality, promotions and changes in consumer behaviors over time.
Secondary data – the algorithm has insufficient data to make a ‘good’ decision on the primary basis, so uses corroborative data (performance indicators from other campaigns which have similar characteristics (e.g. same vertical, same language) to make decisions.

Do we even have enough data?

The question is if, aside from very high-volume big category campaigns (think car insurance, credit cards), there is enough primary data to power effective AI decision making. AI needs a huge amount of data to be effective. When IBM’s Deep Blue learned chess, for instance, the developer relied on 5 million data sets. Most industry experts believe that AI’s biggest limitation will be access to high-quality data of enough scale.

We also have no idea what a ‘good’ volume of data looks like. This is even more unlikely for international PPC, where campaigns are often very granular, multi-language, and designed to include lots of long tail keywords (which by definition do not have much volume).

When it comes to secondary data, how relevant can the corroborative data be? For maximum relevance, taking CLIENT X as an example, we’d have to assume that the algorithm is quickly assimilating data from CLIENT X’s direct competitors and using that to better inform the bid management strategy.

Surely that kind of cross-fertilized data would power all auction players’ bid tactics, creating a loop where no player has an advantage?

If competitor data is not used, then what kind of secondary data is sufficiently relevant to power good AI decisions. This would easier if we knew definitively how the rules of the algorithms were constructed, but of course, we never will.

Time for a reality check

To recap, if we knew that 10, 100 or even 1,000 interactions were enough to deliver superior efficiency via AI, we’d be delighted. Campaigns could be planned and executed to use the optimum blend of AI and human capabilities, with best results for ad platforms, agencies and clients. AI could focus on brand and category level interactions, with human oversight and detailed management of long tail.

It seems unlikely that adequate transparency as to how AI actually works, how much data is needed, how the ‘rules’ work, will be forthcoming unless significant changes in business models or practices occur.

Instead, AI is optimistically overhyped as digital’s next big thing while blithely ignoring the basic premise of AI and the current practicalities of both domestic and international digital paid media

What do dolphins eat? Lessons from how kids search

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What do dolphins eat? Lessons from how kids search

What do dolphins eat? Lessons from how kids search

I recently came across a couple of fascinating papers (here and here) all about how kids search. I found it fascinating in its own right, and also found it thought-provoking in the new ways of searching it showed that had simply never occurred to me. Here are some of the most interesting things I found (though it’s remarkably accessible, and you should totally read the whole thing).

The researchers studied children aged 7-11, and of varying degrees of experience and comfort with the web and with computer-based research. In the course of their study, they identified seven “search roles” (almost like personas) that children display when seeking information:

Many of these are fairly self-explanatory on the surface (though it’s always interesting to read the details) and you may even identify with some of them yourself, as an adult. One of the most interesting to me was what they called the visual searcher.

People don’t all think like you

This was a mode of search that I had rarely found myself in, and had barely even considered could be a thing outside of certain forms of specific image search (e.g. [microsoft logo]). What they found was a cohort of children who turned first to image search for a wide range of their information-gathering needs. In some cases, this appeared to be motivated by discomfort with text and with reading, or at least with scanning and reading fast. In others, though, it seemed to be about veracity and trusting only what you have seen with your own eyes. For those of us who know people who write on the internet, maybe this isn’t the craziest instinct.

One example that has stayed in my mind since I read about it is the experience of certain kids when asked to answer the question what do dolphins eat?

The anecdote that stood out for me was the child who not only turned to image search to answer the question, but did the one-word image search [dolphin] and then scrolled down through pages of results until, having found a picture of a dolphin eating something, turned to the researcher to declare triumphantly that dolphins eat fish.

The lesson here is clearly about the power of observing real-world users. This is the kind of insight that is hard to glean from the raw data of keyword research. Even if you figure out that there is image search volume for [dolphin], you’re some way from the insight that someone is searching for information about what they eat.

This era (the research was published in 2010) was marked by a wide range of qualitative research coming out of Google. I might dive deeper into some other research in another post, but for now, onto the next insight.

There are searches that are hard, and people are failing to complete them

In my presentation and post the next trillion searches, I talked about the incremental search volume available in the coming years as technology progresses to the point that it can satisfy intents, and answer questions that current technology cannot:

One of the things I didn’t talk about in that post was the times that current searcher intent is not fulfilled even though the information is out there and today’s technology is more than capable of finding it. To understand more about what I mean here, let’s take another look at search challenges for kids:

For a start, it’s worth noting that Google can’t answer this query outright. Unlike with more and more factual queries, Google is not able to return a one-box with any answer, never mind the correct answer.

Unsurprisingly, kids struggled with this one (as I suspect would many adults). It tests their ability to string together a sequence of queries, each one building on the last, to discover the answer at the end of the rainbow. And along the way, they have to be sceptical of the information they come across and not get distracted by the pots of fools’ gold:

At certain points along the way, our intrepid searcher may come across pages that purport to give the answer, but which in fact do not for a variety of reasons (not least, as with the example above, that this information can fall easily out of date).

So it combines the ability to break down a question into structured thoughts, achieve complex stringing together of queries, and avoid pitfalls of incorrect and misleading information along the way. How many adults do you know who might trip up on this?

Amazingly, some of the older kids in the study managed to find the correct answer.

If you have kids in your life, try this out

If you have kids, or you have younger siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in search to sit and watch them take on relatively undirected searching tasks while you watch. I think it’s pretty educational (for them!), but I also think there’s a good chance you will learn a good deal. In particular, since this research was done in 2010, it appears to have been entirely desktop-driven. I’d be interested in the mobile-first version if anyone wants to run it and write it up!

Anyway, it turns out my kids are (roughly) in the right age range – at the time of experimenting, my daughter was just turned 8, and my son was 5. My daughter was therefore in the age range, and it was interesting to see how she fared:

Rachel aged 8

She found it fairly easy to find out what dolphins eat. Google coped fine with her misspelling of “dolfin” and she wasn’t fazed by the results coming back for the correct spelling. She didn’t bother reading the “showing results for…” section (nor the paid ad, natch) and skipped straight to the one-box. She scanned it without reading aloud and then answered the question: telling me some things dolphins eat. In the process she went from an unmotivated searcher to a motivated searcher: she got intrigued by what a cephalopod is (it is mentioned in the one-box) and set of on an unprompted search to find out.

The next task was too much for her. She’s British, so I decided to go with prime minister, as I didn’t think she’d know what or who the vice president was. It turns out she wasn’t entirely clear on what a prime minister is either, searching for primeinister. She composed a search that could have worked as a stand-alone query: Google corrected it to [when is the prime minister’s birthday next year]. In fact, Google couldn’t answer this directly, and since it wasn’t quite the actual answer to the question as asked, she got stuck at this point, unable to structure the query quite how she wanted it.

Actually, she probably went slightly too far in the first jump. She probably should have gone with something like [when is the prime minister’s birthday] and followed with [what day is <date> next year] but she didn’t make that logical leap unprompted.

Even though my son was a little young, we thought it’d be fun to see how he fared on the “dolphin” question. The date one was a little too much of a stretch:

Adam aged 5

Interestingly, he spelled “dolfin” the same way as his sister (this must be our failing as parents!) but also went with the phonetic “wat” instead of “what”. Nonetheless, Google was quite happy interpreting his search as [what do dolphins eat] so he got the same one-box as his sister.

Just like her, he skipped everything else on the page to go straight to the one-box. This is probably not that surprising in either of their cases – it’s most likely what adults do, and it’s clearly designed to draw attention with the bright image high up on the page.

What was interesting and different was that he didn’t read the whole thing. At the time of the experiment, he was obviously a less confident reader, and preferred to read aloud rather than in his head. He didn’t scan the one-box for the answer and report it, but interestingly, nor did he read the one-box aloud. Instead, he read only the words in bold.

This isn’t the most obviously crazy strategy (at least in the mind of a 5 year old): it isn’t crazy to think that Google would have bolded the words that are the answers to the question you asked, though search professionals know that’s not what’s really going on here. It started okay but then went a little bit off the rails. Here’s what he read out as the answer to [what do dolphins eat?]:

Fishes
Herring
Killer whales
Mammals

He got a bit confused at “killer whales” and knew he was off-track, but wasn’t sure what had gone wrong.

I think the lesson here is that even though people may primarily use the obvious tools and affordances presented to them, they will also make potentially incorrect assumptions and risk being led astray by well-intentioned sign-posts in the UI.

Some other kids’ misconceptions

One child apparently thought that the autosuggest was a list of answers to the query he was typing. That doesn’t always work perfectly:

But to be fair, it’s not immediately obvious that UX like “people also ask” (which does come with embedded answers where possible):

Is entirely different to related searches which are not necessarily even suggested sensible questions:

And finally, to end on a light-hearted anecdote from the research, probably my favourite story was the child (not mine!) who looked for both dolphins and information about the Vice President of the United States on the SpongeBob SquarePants website.

Presumably unsuccessfully, at least in the case of the VP’s birthday.

If you liked this post, check out the whole session from my recent SearchLove talk in San Diego (all you need to do is create a Distilled account to access it for free). You can also check out the slides from my presentation below. Enjoy!

WATCH THE VIDEO

SearchLove San Diego 2018 | Will Critchlow | From the Horse’s Mouth: What We Can Learn from Google’s Own Words from Distilled

How To Create Content That Really Converts

Posted by on Jul 26, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How To Create Content That Really Converts

How To Create Content That Really Converts

“Content” is a catch-all term when it comes to internet marketing, covering anything that isn’t explicit advertising.

I use the word explicit deliberately. Content is, of course, designed to advertise a brand, but in a more subtle and accessible way. Indeed, this form of advertising is known to some as passive marketing, as opposed to active marketing, such as traditional advertising.

I prefer a different definition. Traditional advertising, whether it be commercials, pop-up ads or sponsored links, interrupts what you’re doing, demands your attention, and gets in the way. In that way, this can be thought of as intrusive marketing. As a business, you are going to the consumer. And they hate it.

By contrast, content marketing allows people to find it when looking for answers to their problems online. For that reason, we can think of content marketing as a form of organic marketing. The consumer comes to you.

Are you pushing messages to your target audience or attracting them?

The primary way this work is through the other intention of content marketing: content marketing is designed to help. Whether that’s through advice, recommendations, reviews, how to’s, expert knowledge or more eclectic ideas such as panel discussions. The list goes on and on. But every piece of content used for content marketing is designed to solve a problem.

When people look for the solution, they find the content marketing, which introduces them to the business, and when done well, encourages them to buy from that company.

Three Intentions of Content

Awareness – of the brand, the resident expertise, the product and so forth
Assistance – with problems people commonly face within the world of the product or service
Conversion – encouraging those people to see the upside of the offer, and buy

The first two parts are easy – awareness will happen naturally as a result of assistance. But conversion is a different animal altogether, and requires a careful balancing act.

After all, give too much away and there is no need to buy. Explain too little and you only frustrate your reader. Be too promotional and they feel tricked into reading an ad, and will punish you for it.

Strike balance between the amount of content to be shared and avoid being overly promotional. It’s difficult but you can do it.

You need to strike the balance, and that means any promotional aspect to the content must be storified and subconscious. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

Here are my five golden rules to creating content that really converts.

1. Feel Pain and Build Trust

We spend our lives trying to avoid pain. It’s the reason consumerism has taken over the globe. We see products as solutions to our problems, and ultimately, all our problems give us pain. It’s why we refer to consumer challenges as ‘pain points’.

You might think that pain isn’t something you should be inflicting if you want to sell products, and you’re right. Narrowly, but right. You shouldn’t be vindictive, or upsetting, or controversial in an attempt to hurt people. That will always fail.

But empathy, empathy is the foundation of sales. And by telling the story of pain, by evoking it instead of inflicting it, you can create a sense of kinship with your reader.

Let them know you care about them.

Pain is real, and it is human. No machine feels pain. Anything that makes your content look written by a real, genuine human is good. So what pain does your product or service alleviate? That’s where you start. That’s your strategy. Evoke that pain. Tell the story of that pain.

When people see that you understand personally, viscerally, what that pain, frustration, torment or insecurity feels like? They will start to trust you. And once you start to develop trust, you can start to convert sales.

2. Gain Respect By Watching Your Neighbors

Always keep your eyes on the market changes

In order for people to trust you they have to respect you, and to respect you, they need to feel like you’re an industry leader. Thought leadership is an increasingly common trend, and that’s all about getting out in front of competitors and defining a compelling, hopeful vision for the future of the business you’re in.

So, if you want to be both trusted and respected, and you’ll need to be if people are going to buy, then you need to be on top of your competitors at all times. You need your finger on the pulse of your industry and you need to be current. Watch out the market changes.

#AmazonGo opens on Monday, January 22 in Seattle. Get the app to enter the store. See you soon! https://t.co/jt7quQ4rke pic.twitter.com/shIyrifZyk

— Amazon.com (@amazon) January 21, 2018

You do not want to be the last one to know right! if your competitor is opening a new branch few blocks away from you.

That isn’t just about branch opening, share prices or product releases either. You need to be attuned to their communication. It’s a sad fact that every writer feels they can see the problems in another’s work, but for you that can be a blessing and a guide. Seeing what they’re doing, whether it’s good or bad, can give you something to emulate or something to develop. You can do what they do, or differentiate yourself depending on how successful it is.

I’m talking about their offer. I’m talking about their framing. Their call to action. Their landing page design. Their pitch. The way the content flows. It’s all there to be understood, you just have to analyse it, and with enough regularity that you don’t fall behind. This is a rapidly evolving discipline.

Follow the trends quickly and aggressively until you’re caught up on them, then take the understanding that’s given you and forge ahead. Lead the field. Consumers will follow the leader.

3. Tell A Compelling Story With Catharsis

This is everything, really. Anything that’s ever been successful did so because it told a story people wanted to hear. Every successful brand tells a good story, so make yours one of them.

4 Key elements to build a thoughtful, unique and emotional brand story:

Find your common ground – Know your key consumer insights and where to connect them.
Know your origin – Why you started the business and what is the main issue you are trying to solve.
Keep it positive – Be consistent and positive throughout the journey.
Stay on brand – All sort of visible perception of your market efforts and outreach are aligned with your brand.

Storytelling allows you to make your promotion indirect, and subconscious. It allows people to create a distance that allows them to invest more readily. Do you remember what I said about pain, and how our lives are spent avoiding it? That’s why we don’t want direct advertising, but seeing someone else struggle is the basis of every movie or TV show we’ve ever watched.

4 elements to tell a compelling brand story.

The Greeks invented theatre as a way to separate people from their emotions, so they could watch their pain simulated at a safe distance, and experience the release, or catharsis, that comes from their suffering ending. This “feeling box” has evolved, but it’s most concisely captured in Inception. He talks about how positive motivation is the most powerful way to implant an idea. Reconciliation with an estranged parent is a powerful motivator.

Of course, your motivator may not be THAT powerful, but you’re not in a conceptual sci fi blockbuster either – you’re trying to sell a product.

So put a cipher for your audience at the centre of the story – this can be a previous client, an apocryphal person, or the writer themselves. Explain how they feel, what they want, what they struggle with, and how the product came along and lifted that curse, provided the release from pain, the catharsis. Build up the emotions then release them.

One of the most fundamental examples is an extraordinary proposition for an advert: transform hate into love. Take all the worst parts of something and change them, and the world, for the better. Reframe hate as a seed from which love can grow. Of course, it was Honda.

Hate is one of the most powerful and destructive and upsetting emotions to evoke, and this ad makes it light and airy and constructive and positive. That’s a journey, and that’s what story is. Change.

4. Use Emotional Intelligence To Convert

Consumers make their decisions based on emotion. So all the cool facts in the world won’t matter if you don’t feel it. That’s thanks to something called the Basal Ganglia, which responds to what we feel but only communicates with the GI tract, and is totally disconnected from the rational part of the brain. It’s why we have to feel things.

So what are you waiting for? Start to evoke their emotion now!

My favourite feeling is frisson. A sudden rush of excitement, which also comes with a sense of recognition. How many times have you thought or heard, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know when I see it?” That.

By using evoking pain using storytelling, by having a unique perspective on that struggle through your thought leadership, and by providing a solution that is genuinely helpful, nurturing and altruistic, you become the modern equivalent of a spirit guide. The only difference is the language you use.

Which shoe looks more premium to you?

Contrasts that create surprise. These juxtapositions are the essence of a joke. It leads you down a path of expectation and flips it at the end. More on that here.

Be surprising, and you can shake people out of apathy and get them paying attention. There’s nothing worse than having your expectations fulfilled with no imagination.

There’s a totally fake quote out there, that Henry Ford said if he’d have given people what they WANTED, he’d have given them faster horses. That still exists because it’s such a wonderful image for us. But you really can’t ask them what they want and give it to them. There has to be more.

Instead, Ford invented the car. That’s the level of “wow” you should aspire to when revealing the twist in your tale. Your solution should be so beyond the initial crisis that it solves problems people didn’t even know they had. Like how buying a GoPro makes you an elite adventurer by selling you a lifestyle.

Surprise, recognition, frisson.

5. Use Testimonial Or Case Studies

Testimonials, comments and reviews matters!

Reality TV isn’t reality. Documentaries are edited for story. But we LOVE them, and we love them because we get to believe they’re real. As the X-Files told us, we want to believe.

The case study, and even better, the testimonial, are the ‘documentary’ of content marketing. They can be more powerful and more compelling than more general content because they’re written about or by people who already fit the consumer profile for the product.

What your client would talk about you?

What’s more, they storify their struggles and your solutions, making your arguments for you.

The authenticity is immediate and undeniable. Third parties have no reason to shill your product, so they must be responding out of genuine gratitude with a genuine recommendation.

But how do you get the most from them?

When you reach out to get testimonials and reviews, you need to provide prompts that will get your writers “on the rails” – give them a short feedback form. Ask:

Did they like it? What did they like the most?
How do they evaluate your service? Have they used competitors?
Would they recommend the product or service?

Then you can use pull-quotes, like movie posters, from the people who submit feedback.

If you need more control than that, or you work with larger clients who don’t have time to rub your belly in public, you can use case studies of your work on behalf of clients, storifying the process and inputting the hard facts into a classic structure will help you spin thrilling tales of your derring do to your audiences, without it ever feeling like you’re just showing off.

These forms of storytelling can vastly increase the confidence of a prospect on your product or service. After all, people sell to people is the oldest maxim in the marketing handbook.

The Go-Home

Remember, the call to action needs to fit the tone of the piece. You can’t write a beautiful and affecting and genuinely helpful piece of content then put a flashing BuyNow.Gif at the end. It won’t work and it’ll sour the whole experience.

Be helpful, be valuable. Be expert. You will gain trust and respect, which will make converting to sales gentler and easier.

And remember, this is a process. You need to constantly evaluate your content, using A/B testing, Google Analytics and other tools to track how successful your different ideas and approaches are, and make improvements based on data. All of this is just advice, and you still have to find the right way to execute it. I wish you luck.

Had a success story? Put in our comments section below!

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Checklist: Are You Providing What Your Readers Love Reading?

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