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5 Reasons to Avoid “Affordable” SEO Services

Posted by on Dec 13, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 Reasons to Avoid “Affordable” SEO Services

Falling for the “affordable” SEO services trap will wreck your business.

I don’t want that to happen to you!

This guide will explain why you need to avoid these services (and what to look for).

Then, I’ll show you what you can do if you have a limited SEO budget.

Let’s jump in.

Need SEO help? Secure your free SEO diagnosis today so you can explode your company with SEO this year.

What is Affordable SEO?

Everyone has their own perception what “affordable” means. For example, let’s say your business is generating millions in revenue every year. Then, $5,000 per month may seem affordable to you. If your company is making below six figures, then $5,000 per month would seem ludicrous. It’s all subjective.

There is one element of this argument that is true:

Good SEO isn’t cheap.

Let me show 5 reasons why hiring an affordable Search Engine Optimization company isn’t a good idea.

1. You Can’t Do Much Without Money

There are only so many actions you can take on a low SEO budget. The only actions you can take are those that are time-dependent and not capital-dependent.

Some time-dependent SEO actions include keyword research, page-level optimization, and some technical optimization. I say “some” technical optimization because you may need a developer for larger issues. Developers cost money.

With that said, you won’t get far with keyword research, optimizing pages, and doing some technical optimization.

It’s better than nothing. But, those are not the high impact activities that drive organic search growth.

The two biggest drivers of growth are content and backlinks. These two activities are also the most capital-intensive.

This is the point where affordable SEO services break down.

Since affordable SEO companies don’t have the capital, they:

  • can’t create quality content
  • can’t spend time doing link outreach
  • can’t pay for placement on quality sites

This results in two things:

1. They have to go cheap on SEO content creation, which will end up embarrassing your brand.

2. They will use gray or black hat backlinks that will get your site penalized.

Here’s the truth:

2. You Will Lose in the Long Run

I get it. You want to squeeze as much profit out of your business as you can. But there are some things in life that you never want to go “cheap” on.

SEO is one of those things.

Think about this way… would you try to find your wife the cheapest engagement ring?

Of course you wouldn’t because you know what the consequences would be.

The cost here is clear: your future wife won’t be happy!

And if you don’t already know this: happy wife = happy life.

Source

Get used to these marriage analogies since I’m married now.

With that out of the way, the cost of working with a cheap SEO company isn’t as black and white as getting your fiance a cheap engagement ring.

The reason is because the “cost” isn’t immediate. It takes months of working with a bad SEO company to realize the cost. This “cost” comes in many different forms.

First, cheap SEO will likely land you a penalty. So, even if the low-quality tactics work in the short-term, you will end up getting nailed later on. If your site gets penalized, you will have to hire another agency just to get the penalty removed. Once your site gets a penalty, it’s a long road to recovery. In fact, your previous traffic levels may never recover.

And these are only the visible costs.

You also have to take into account opportunity and time costs. If your site gets penalized, you will have wasted precious time and capital.

You know the value of time, money, and business assets.

Now here’s another part that stinks if you decide to go the cheap SEO route:

3. You Won’t Get Assets

Quality content and backlinks are ASSETS for your business. This means they will continue to bring your business value for the long-term.

Here’s the bad news:

Affordable SEO services won’t give you any tangible assets. That’s because they do not have the capital to create quality content assets or acquire quality link placements.

4. Scalability = Cookie Cutter

Most affordable Search Engine Optimization companies have to use cookie-cutter strategies. That’s because these companies won’t be able to scale if they have to do any creative work.

SEO is a dynamic skill. While the principles of quality SEO never change, every single campaign is different. Every client is at a different point and will have different needs.

A cookie-cutter approach rarely works and will almost always be low quality.

On top of that, cheap SEO companies will also be unresponsive. That’s because they do not have the time to communicate.

These companies allocate most of their resources to front-end sales. As a result, this leaves little resources for getting your business results. They are fine with a high client churn rate because of their front-end sales model.

Good agencies understand that SEO requires creativity and strategic pivots. No two campaigns are the same.

And unlike scale-based models, quality agencies value client RETENTION. For example, my SEO agency allocates most of our resources to testing and improving our services.

My philosophy is simple: if we focus on improving our service and getting results, then we don’t need to be as aggressive with front-end sales.

Here’s the takeaway on this point:

Most cheap SEO companies focus heavily on front-end sales, which leaves little resources for client fulfillment. Quality agencies allocate most of their resources to getting results and improving their service quality.

5. Experience is Priceless

Companies that offer affordable SEO services have to employ cheap labor. Cheap labor often equals inexperience.

The point is:

Good agencies aren’t cheap because they employ legitimate, proven experts. These experts are confident in their ability to get your business results. Therefore, they would never work for entry-level pay.

Do you know how to spot inexperienced workers in an SEO agency?

Look for any type of bragging about how large their staff is.

A single SEO expert like Brian Dean, Neil Patel, or Ryan Stewart can run circles around entire SEO teams.

Experience, skill and tested strategies and systems are what get SEO results. Not large staffs of entry-level workers.

What Affordable SEO Packages Look Like

It’s pretty easy to identify low-quality SEO services once you know the basics of SEO. Here are a few things to look out for:

Convoluted Proposals (and Full of Fluff)

Cheap agencies take advantage of business owners by injecting technical jargon into their proposals. This is an attempt to make it seem like they are doing a ton of work. In reality, 80% of the tasks they list either A) take a little time to complete and B) will have little or no positive impact on your campaign.

Content and Link Acquisition Get Little Attention

If you don’t see sections for content and link acquisition in an SEO proposal, then stop reading it. Content and backlinks are the two most impactful elements of a successful SEO campaign. If an agency doesn’t know this, then they don’t know how to get you results.

How Much Should You Pay for Quality SEO Services?

This graphic from Moz is a decent guide on SEO pricing. It is outdated and doesn’t factor inflation or the rising costs of SEO campaigns. Just remember, the lower the price, the less they can do and lower the quality will be.

3 Solutions for a Limited SEO Budget

Are you someone who wants to see the benefits of SEO, but have no budget to hire a good agency? That’s okay. There a few solutions to your situation.

1. Do It Yourself

Believe it or not, doing some of the SEO basics is often safer than hiring a cheap SEO agency. This gives you control and you are responsible for the success. It will also force you to learn more about SEO.

At the same time, your business is your baby and you want to do what’s best for it. That’s why you will want to use the safest, and most effective strategies. You can see results from SEO if you have the right guidance. Read, digest, and implement tactics from my blog.

2. Dip Your Toes

Once you understand the structure of an effective SEO strategy, you can start investing in the right components. For example, instead of you having to write content, you can hire a writer.

3. Wait

Don’t make a rash decision and hire an affordable SEO agency. If your budget is tight, then build up funds and wait to hire a quality agency down the road. Plus, there is so much you can do on your own that can help you grow your organic search traffic.

Conclusion

Hiring an SEO agency is an important decision for your business. Don’t take it lightly and most importantly, avoid falling for the “affordable” SEO trap.

Need SEO help? Secure your free SEO diagnosis today so you can explode your company with SEO this year.

The UK election and SEO games: Search, scandal, and big promises

Posted by on Dec 11, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The UK election and SEO games: Search, scandal, and big promises

The UK goes to the polls this week and the governing Conservatives have already made headlines for their online activities. Luke Richards dives into the political battleground that is the Google SERPs – and provides his analysis of the manifesto promises relevant to the digital business community.

As the UK heads towards its third general election in four years, the two main parties – Conservatives and Labour – both seem to agree that investment in digital technologies is crucial to tackling challenges within the economy, the environment, and the country’s working relationship with the rest of the world after Brexit.

Both parties have also invested a significant amount of their marketing budgets in their digital campaigns.

These past few weeks we’ve seen examples of good and downright poor practice when it comes to search engine marketing. We’ve seen varying success in search visibility, online sentiment, and traffic. And the content of the manifestos themselves – for a digital/tech business audience – makes for fascinating reading in light of the challenges I’ve mentioned above.

Here is my analysis.

Search visibility of the manifestos

We are massively lucky in the UK with the amount of transparency and information at our fingertips as we decide who to vote for in elections.

There are bad actors, as we will discover later, but sites such as They Work For You, Vote For Policies, and The Political Compass all help to separate the quality content from the noise. And with just a couple of clicks, we can have immediate access to any manifesto.

Even before we’ve clicked through to the Conservatives’ manifesto landing page, we already know what the party’s central plan is – should they command a majority in the next parliament: “to get Brexit done.”

UK elections Conservatives manifesto landing page SEO meta content
UK elections Conservatives manifesto landing page SEO meta content

The “get Brexit done” mantra is one that is repeated countless times in the manifesto itself. I’d expected that the Conservative SEO team would be looking to get some visibility for this as a keyphrase. But a quick search for this finds the domain languishing only on page two of Google’s SERPs amid much negative press critical of this populist sloganeering.

Interestingly, the Liberal Democrats’ (a right-wing pro-Europe party) are targeting this key phrase as part of their paid search campaign – with their sponsored ads appear in position zero of the SERPs.

Beyond this, there isn’t much more to the search result save for the “vote conservative” call-to-action in the title and the URL. It’s notable for its brevity, leaving much of the rest of the SERPs open to be filled by positive and negative press, including two articles from The Daily Telegraph (a newspaper which previously employed Conservative leader Boris Johnson) and a well-ranked piece by Prospect magazine describing the party as a “threat to human rights”.

At first glance, the Labour party has adhered much better to onsite SEO best practice.

Their site links are well-served by Google. They command much of the SERP real estate and appear very useful to the user.

UK elections Manifesto Labour party Google SERP rich links
UK elections Manifesto Labour party Google SERP rich links

The choice for site links is a little surprising. The link to the “Accessible Manifesto” is a nice touch – showing consideration to web users who have difficulty reading the text. But the other links don’t really relate directly to the key policy points in the document itself such as their Green Industrial Revolution and National Education Service.

The closest the Labour search result has to a call-to-action is – the “be part of our movement – with your email address…” element, but it isn’t massively compelling.  Another misstep is that the PDF for Labour’s 2015 manifesto is still live and ranking well in position four of SERPs, which could quite easily confuse and frustrate users.

Sentiment elsewhere in the SERPs is more nuanced than what we see for the Conservatives. However, again, right-wing newspaper The Daily Telegraph takes position two and three of the SERPs – and although not immediately negative – one can imagine these articles aren’t massively objective after the user is moved to click through (although this content is behind a paywall).

Search traffic comparison

In the battle for search traffic, the Labour manifesto is vastly outperforming the Conservatives.

UK elections - Search traffic comparison showing the Labour Manifesto outperforming the Conservatives
UK elections search traffic comparison showing the Labour Manifesto outperforming the Conservatives

At its peak – shortly after publication at the end of November – the Labour manifesto got three times as much traffic as the Conservative manifesto did when it performed best on November 24th.

The related queries according to Google Trends are illuminating. “Labour manifesto waspi” is clearly the biggest policy point in search terms online. Another breakout keyphrase is “fake labour manifesto” highlighting some of the underhand tactics employed by the Conservatives (as we’ll discuss below).

For the Conservatives, related queries are dominated by long-tail keyphrases that users are typing in to differentiate the new UK Conservative manifesto – “conservative manifesto 2019 UK” from the Canadian equivalent “conservative manifesto 2019 Canada”. Sadly for Prime Minister Johnson, there’s no appearance of “get Brexit done”. Do Google’s users actually care about this policy? Perhaps not.

Banned Google ads and misleading websites

The appearance of the breakout search term “fake labour manifesto” as highlighted at Google Trends points to some of the more bizarre aspects of this general election. The Conservatives have appeared to dabble in black hat tactics, and outright fakery, to try and confuse voters and diffuse the positive results Labour is clearly getting online.

To coincide with the launch of Labour’s manifesto, the Conservative party set up a fake website at labourmanifesto.co.uk and launched a paid search campaign to capture clicks from the SERPs.

Google banned eight search ads of the Conservatives due to policy breach
Google banned eight search ads of the Conservatives due to policy breach

Google promptly banned eight of the Conservatives’ search ads

Google has promptly banned eight of the Conservatives’ search ads. The fake website is still live, but only really visible, currently, when searching for “fake labour manifesto” – and even then it appears below several news sources highlighting the Conservatives unethical behavior.

Google’s ad policy states:

“We value honesty and fairness, so we don’t allow the promotion of products or services that are designed to enable dishonest behaviour.”

I’d be very surprised if the Conservatives’ digital marketing team don’t know this.

But for the sake of democracy, it’s good to see the search engine stick to their principles here.

Promises to increase connectivity

Of the whole election so far, the digital policy which has perhaps received the most headlines is Labour’s “free full-fiber broadband to all by 2030”.

Back in 2016, Jeremy Corbyn won re-election as leader of the Labour Party on the back of such policy announcements as The Digital Democracy Manifesto. It’s not surprising that there is much reference to the emancipatory power of emerging technology and being properly connected in the current manifesto.

The digital democracy manifesto online flyer
The digital democracy manifesto

As the document states, the intentions behind the free broadband initiative are to – “boost jobs, tackle regional inequality and improve quality of life as part of a mission to connect the country”. It is firmly rooted in a fairly detailed nationalization plan which will see the establishment of British Broadband with two arms, British Digital Infrastructure (BDI) and British Broadband Service (BBS), as well as bringing the broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership.

While it is a little more buried in the Conservative manifesto, they have their own broadband plan too.

UK election the Conservative and Unionist party Manifesto 2019
UK election – Conservative and Unionist party Manifesto 2019

As is the case for nearly every policy point in the document, it is presented in reference to the UK’s ongoing relationship with the EU:

“We are Europe’s technology capital, producing start-ups and success stories at a dazzling pace. But not everyone can share the benefits”, it states.

“We intend to bring full fiber and gigabit-capable broadband to every home andbusiness across the UK by 2025.”

The policy is highlighted again in later pages as part of the government’s pledge to support rural life and coastal communities. “£5 billion in funding already promised”, it says. But beyond this, there is no detail on how much this broadband provision will cost to the end-user, nor to what degree it will be delivered by the private or public sector.

Education, skills and new technology

While the Conservative manifesto is presented through the lens of Brexit, the Labour manifesto is largely shaped by the environment and their central proposal to kickstart a ‘green industrial revolution.’

A skilled workforce is integral to this. The proposed National Education Service promises free education to everyone throughout their lives. This is of particular interest to those working in digital where we see re-training and re-skilling as increasingly important strategies to plug the skills gap in a fast-changing sector.

“With automation and the Green Industrial Revolution bringing major changes to industry,’ the manifesto states, ‘it is more important than ever that people have the opportunity to retrain and upskill throughout their lives…England already faces a shortage of people with higher-level technical qualifications, and demand for these skills will only grow as we create new green jobs.”

Skills are also a key feature for the Conservatives, despite the document failing to acknowledge the current gap businesses face.

A proposed £3 billion National Skills Fund is earmarked to upskill the British workforce.

“This fund will provide matching funding for individuals and SMEs for high-quality education and training”, the manifesto states.

“A proportion will be reserved for further strategic investment in skills, and we will consult widely on the overall design.”

The Conservatives also promise a further £2 billion to upgrade the entire further education college estate as well as planning to build 20 Institutes of Technology. Although there is little mention of what ends the skills fund and this education investment is for. Services are given a passing mention – “we should open up trade in services, in which the majority of us work and where most new jobs will be created.” – but there is little detail on what these service jobs are expected to be, how they will be supported by the state, and how they will be opened up.

Digital experience in health and public services

Healthcare is a massive issue in this election. Both parties are looking to emerging technologies as a way to help alleviate strains from underfunding and/or an aging population, as well as to improve diagnosis and patient experience.

Labour is pledging to increase spending across the health sector by an average of 4.3% per year. AI and cyber technology are two things earmarked for some of this investment, as well as state-of-the-art medical equipment. Their manifesto also acknowledges the importance of data rights to citizens within this increasingly digital area of our lives, promising to ensure:

  1. ‘Data protection for NHS and patient information.’
  2. ‘NHS data is not exploited by international technology and pharmaceutical corporations.’

The Conservative manifesto is not short on health tech promises either. They pledge to introduce an annual Health Technology Summit and they have also promised £1 billion extra annual social care funding to go towards – in part – new technology and facilities.

In the arena of citizen protections, the Conservative manifesto also proposes a new approach to cybercrime. “We will embrace new technologies and crackdown on online crimes”, the document states. “We will create a new national cybercrime force and empower the police to safely use new technologies like biometrics and artificial intelligence, along with the use of DNA, within a strict legal framework.”

The Labour party manifesto also devotes considerable wordcount to cybersecurity:

“Cybercrime and cyberwarfare are growing, all around the world. Every aspect of our lives, from the NHS to our nuclear facilities”, it states.

In response, the party plans to review two existing bodies – the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency – to increase powers, capacity, and skills where necessary.

Labour also wants to extend more rights to citizens online with their proposed Charter of Digital Rights, as well as planning to introduce imprints for digital political adverts in an effort to combat fake news. Additionally, as part of their welfare plans, the party wants to give users multichannel access (online, telephone, face-to-face, and outreach support) to make help and assistance easier to access for all.

Costings

Both parties want big digital corporations to pay more tax. For Labour, this is a costed part of their plan to help fund their free broadband rollout and other projects (£23.7 billion from reversing cuts to corporation tax, £6.3 billion from unitary tax on multinationals, and £6.2 billion from their Fair Tax Programme).

UK elections costings of the Labour party
UK election – Costings of the Labour party

The Conservatives have also promised to implement a digital services tax although there is no mention in the manifesto or the accompanying costings document as to what this tax rate will be, what it will bring in to the government, and which digital services this is aimed at.

On this front, my guess is Google, Facebook, Amazon et al. will be more concerned if a Labour government gets in than if a Conservative one is re-elected.

Much reference is made to British Broadband in Labour’s costings document and it is easy to make the link between their tax and spend plans. When looking at broadband in the Conservative costings document, however, its cost as part of their infrastructure strategy is reiterated, but it’s hard to see how it will actually be funded.

Further analysis of both party’s costings documents highlights the divide between them

When it comes to skills, the link between the money that’s needed for Labour to roll out their Lifelong Learning is easy to see across two tables. Yet the Conservative manifesto and costings document are harder to process. There are numerous tables, as well as proposed investments such as the ‘National Skills Fund worth £3 billion’ (as it is described in the manifesto) looking like it won’t receive any more than ~£600 million per year from 2021 until the end of the parliament (adding up to just £1.8 billion in total).

Analysis of Labour and Conservative party's costing documents
Analysis of Labour and Conservative party’s costing documents

 

This trend continues in the context of health and public services technology.

£1 billion for social care per year is certainly a welcome promise by the Conservatives – with an aging population, staff shortages, and the availability of emerging technologies that help with remote care and increased independence for citizens. But when turning to the costings document again, this is nearly a third of the total income from the first year of their Sources of Revenue table and it doesn’t fill me with confidence that a party operating in the wake of their own austerity measures can actually deliver these PR-quotable lumps of cash.

Analysis of Labour and Conservative party's costing documents table 4

Takeaways for the parties

The search campaigns by both parties in the lead up to this election have positive and negative points.

The simplistic and memorable SEO approach from the Conservatives may well be all they need to convince voters. But through the lens of the Google SERPs, the “get Brexit done” slogan has brought about some negative sentiment and doesn’t seem to be driving the traffic as we might expect.

Closing note regarding the Labour Party

Labour, on the other hand, has seemingly tried to capture attention via a number of issues. This is reflected in the manifesto itself, the site structure and onsite SEO, and the traffic success the domain is having with niche key phrases such as “labour manifesto waspi”.

Closing note regarding the Conservative Party

Yet, to look at the above and assume that the Conservatives have been lazy with their online campaign is wrong. Their paid search activity appears to have been synchronized and calculated. And rather than put forward their own policies in an attempt to influence clicks to their manifesto content, they’ve turned their efforts to misleading users and firing cheap shots at Labour policies which are seeing a positive response online.

Of course, these underhand tactics within the SERPs weren’t an isolated incident.

The Conservatives were also criticized (by The New York Times and others) when their press office passed off partisan opinion as objective ‘fact-checking’ on Twitter. The party’s activists have also been found to be posing as the Green Party in Facebook ads (in an attempt to split the left-leaning vote).

In the world of digital marketing, all these channels carry weight, but I would argue that it is the party’s search activities that are the most worrying from a democratic point of view. There’s no shifting the blame to frivolous press office employees or activists here – fake microsites and time-sensitive paid search campaigns are far more strategic, and those in the upper echelons of the party should bear at least some responsibility.

Takeaways for digital businesses

The Conservatives have been punished by Google for some of their activities, but whether they are punished at the ballot box remains to be seen. In the world of search, it is never worth trying to deceive users or impersonate competitors for clicks.

Those of us working in the digital industries are very aware of both the challenges and the opportunities in a technologically transformed world. The skills gap is a very immediate issue for all businesses adopting digital tools and emerging technologies. It is important that there are state-supported programs to try and close this gap.

In the UK, we also need a government committed to connecting those in society who are left behind when it comes to broadband provision. This is significant for those wanting to start up digital businesses away from urban centers, as well as for those whose digital audiences will grow with the rollout of dependable internet in rural areas.

In the business context

Consumers expect data protections and commitment to security – as well as experiences that are seamless across channels and customer-led. As more and more parts of our lives become entwined with digital technology – be it in healthcare or other public services – we need to be able to trust that attitudes towards rights and data are citizen-led. Members of the public must be educated, empowered, and safe.

There is much pessimism about what is around the corner for the UK – a country faced with Brexit, the environmental crisis, and more besides. In a superficial sense, it’s possible to read these manifestos as a business owner and be daunted by the detail of corporation tax rises in the Labour document while feeling that the Conservatives would be a profit-friendly prospect. But it is the lack of detail in the Conservative manifesto which should be a major worry to corporations: the ‘digital services tax,’ the commitment to seemingly arbitrary investment lumps, and even ‘get Brexit done’ rings hollow after three years of failed negotiations – how can any corporation trust this?

A government that is committed to ethical, reasonable, transparent, and long term ideas about how we can work and live together is one that I feel we should be supporting at this election and those forthcoming in the US and elsewhere. After all, these are the virtues I would expect of a modern business faced with the challenges and opportunities of a future of digital transformation and emerging technology. It seems justified to expect this in politics too.

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The post The UK election and SEO games: Search, scandal, and big promises appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Best Sites with Free Images for Blogs (High Quality and Without Login)

Posted by on Dec 11, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Best Sites with Free Images for Blogs (High Quality and Without Login)

Free Images for Blogs

If you are looking for free images to use in your blogs that are copyright free, then this post is for you. We did our research and found the best high-quality sites with free stock photos you can use in your blog posts.

In this post, you’ll also learn how free stock photo websites work, how to use Google image search to find images you can use without attribution and how to properly optimize your images for best SEO results.

What you should know about Free Stock Photos Websites

When you search Google for “Free Images” or “Free Stock Photos”, you’ll get hundreds of websites offering free images available for immediate download.

Once you start visiting these sites, you’ll notice that most of the free images are the same on all sites!

This is happening because most of the ‘free sites’ are using APIs of large paid sites (like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, DepositPhotos, etc) to display both free and paid images in their results. Their ultimate goal is to redirect users to the premium websites and get a commission every time a new user is registered for a paid plan.

While there is nothing wrong with that, if you want to download images for free (that are licensed under creative commons public domain or CCO), you should be careful not to click on a premium image that requires payment.

All the sites listed below clearly identify which images are 100% free and which are paid, and this minimizes the risk of clicking on an image that is not free. I suggest you bookmark this page and revisit it when searching for visual content to use in your articles or pages.

Best Sites that Offer Free Images for Blogs

These are the top sites to download high-quality royalty-free stock photos for your next blog post.

  1. Pixabay
  2. Unsplash
  3. Free Images
  4. Pexels
  5. Canva
  6. PicJumbo
  7. Reshot
  8. Foodiesfeed
  9. Foca
  10. ISO Republic

1. Pixabay

pixabay
Download Free Images on Pixabay

Pixabay has one of the best collections of free images and videos you can use on your blogs, social posts or even for commercial purposes without permission.

You can search and download any image without having to log in or create an account.

Images are available in 4 sizes: 4000×2667, 1920×1280, 1280×853, 640×426.

Get Free Images

2. Unsplash

unsplash
Download Free Stock Photos on Unsplash

Another resource for high-resolution photos is Unsplash. Their license states that all photos can be used for free (for personal or commercial use), without asking permission or providing credit to the photographer.

Downloading an image does not require to login or create an account but images come in only one dimension (as displayed on their website).

Get Free Images

3. Free Images

freeimages

As expected, all images downloaded from freeimages.com are free to use for editorial and commercial use.

The difference between this site and unsplash or pixabay is that in case you use an image in a blog post or other editorial content, you need to include credit attribution as described here.

It does not require a link back to the site but a mention of the artist’s name either in the photo or in the credits section.

Get Free Images

4. Pexels

pexels
Get Free Stock Photos from Pexels

One of the free stock photography websites that I use regularly is Pexels. I found that they have a very nice collection of images suitable for digital marketing topics.

A great feature of Pexels that is not found on other sites is the ability to resize the image to a custom size before downloading.

Also, you can download images without creating an account and they are free to use without attribution.

Get Free Images

5. Canva

canva
Download Copyright Free Images from Canva

Canva is an online graphic design tool. I use Canva regularly to create graphics and other types of visual content for my blog posts.

Besides the graphic design features, Canva has a beautiful collection of copyright-free images that you can download and use in your content.

Their image search functionality is much better than the other websites and you can filter the results to show only images that are 100% free.

PRO TIP: Canva is fetching free images from a number of websites so if you want to find out all free images about a topic or keyword, you can use canva and get all the results without having to visit each site separately.

Get Free Images

6. PicJumbo

PicJumbo
PicJumbo

Picjumbo is a free stock photo site since 2013. All images are free to use without requiring attribution.

New images are added on a daily basis and you get them in your email by subscribing to their newsletter.

All images are available in high definition but there is no option to resize or download the images in different formats.

Get Free Images

7. Reshot

Reshot
Reshot

Reshot’s slogan is “Uniquely free photos. Handpicked, non-stocky images” and while this is true, their search functionality is not so efficient.

They have some nice and unique images on the site but to find them you may have to use a combination of keywords in your search.

Get Free Images

8. Foodiesfeed

Foodies Feed
Foodies Feed

If you are looking for free images for your food or nutrition blog, then this is the website to visit first.

Foodiesfeed has beautiful high-quality images of various foods, which can be downloaded instantly from the site without login.

All images are licensed using the Creative Commons Zero (CCO) license which means you can use it in any way you want without attribution.

Get Free Images

9. Foca

Foca Stock
Foca Stock

The nice thing about FOCA is the clutter-free interface. You can easily use the site without having to browse through ads or annoying popups.

In addition, they have search filters to narrow down your results based on orientation, color, and type of visual content.

Get Free Images

10. ISO Republic

ISO Republic
ISO Republic

Their motto is “Thousands of Free High-Resolution CC0 Photos and Videos” and it’s true.

ISO republic has a nice collection of royalty-free images and videos and they also have a blog with nice photography tips.

Get Free Images

Another way to find free images without visiting individual sites is to use Google Image Search.

When you search for images on Google, by default it displays both copyrighted and copyrighted-free images. If you want to find free photos to use for personal or commercial use without providing credit, then you need to use the ‘usage rights’ filter.

Here is how it works.

Go to Google Images and search for an image

Click TOOLS and select LABELED FOR REUSE under the USAGE RIGHTS.

Find Copyright Free Images on Google
Find Copyright Free Images on Google

What you see now it’s images that can be used without violating any copyright rights.

Find Free Images on Google

Best Practices for using images in your blog posts

I’ve mentioned many times that images are good for blogs. They make content easier to read and they help in improving the visual appearance of a page.

In addition to that, you need to have at least one image within your content because:

It’s good for SEO – Several studies revealed that pages that rank in the top position of Google have at least one image within the post content.

You need images for social media purposes – If you want to share your content on social media, you need to have at least one image so that it looks good on the different networks.

The negative aspect of having a lot of images in your content is that they slow down a page, especially on mobile devices.

Follow the best practices below to eliminate the negative effects of using images in your content.

Image Best Practices

Resize the image to the large size you will use

When you download a high-resolution image the actual size (width and height) is usually more than the biggest size you’ll need.  So, before uploading to your site, use a tool (like Pixelmator or Photoshop) to resize it to the max size you need and export it for the web. This will dramatically reduce the file size (in MB) for the image.

If you are using WordPress make sure that responsive images are enabled

This is a feature of WordPress where it automatically resizes and serves the right size image depending on the device and screen resolutions. It is enabled by default on WordPress but double check in case your theme has responsive images disabled.

Compress image file size

Besides resizing the images to the right size, you can also use tools like imageoptim or imagecompressor to compress images. These tools can reduce the file size of an image considerably without affecting the quality.

Consider hiding images on mobile

On mobile devices, every byte matters so consider hiding images that are not important for the content (like background images). This will make your mobile pages smaller in size and faster to load.

Use LazyLoading

Lazy Loading is a feature that instructs the browser not to fetch an image until it is needed. This helps a lot in making pages load faster. Google has a plugin for that as well. I’m using wp-rocket and has this feature built-in.

Optimize your images for SEO

Image SEO is the practice of making your images available to search engines in a way they can understand.

The most important SEO element for images is the ALT TEXT so make sure that you provide for a meaningful alt text for each and every image you use in your content.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that some of the images are common to a number of sites, free stock photography sites are useful for designers, developers, digital marketers, and bloggers.

Use them as the starting point of finding the perfect photos for your blog posts. In many cases, you can find what you want for free. If you want to access paid images, I suggest you go with a service like Canva that offers millions of images and a graphic design tool at an affordable price.

The post Best Sites with Free Images for Blogs (High Quality and Without Login) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

How to create PPC reports people will actually read

Posted by on Dec 10, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to create PPC reports people will actually read

I used to have a love/hate relationship with reporting. 

I loved it because data was the sweet nectar we all need to achieve better growth. Reporting allowed us to collect it, ready to take action. Plus, there was something oddly satisfying about seeing what you had physically achieved.

On the flip side, I hated reporting because it took so much time and effort.  In fact, statistically, reporting is actually the second biggest time sink for PPC managers. This isn’t surprising. (If you’re curious, keyword research was in first place. We’ve already covered how you’re wasting your time on keyword research here).

After pouring so much time into reporting, those reports were ignored. Clients didn’t care or understand. So what was the point?

But then I discovered a better way and started making reports that people actually wanted to read in a fraction of the time. You can do the same and stop hating your reporting by doing one simple thing. 

Stop overcomplicating it. 

Yeah, a groundbreaking statement there. If you read our work on easier PPC management, you’ll see that this is a common theme. 

But don’t worry, I’m not going to give you some inspirational yet impractical quote and leave you to go on your way. This isn’t that type of article. 

A data happy wonderland

Over complication of reporting comes down to two key areas: 

  1. The data you’re using in the reports. 
  2. How you are creating your reports. 

We’re about to get into the first one. 

Some reports look like Willy Wonka and the data factory. There are metrics everywhere you look! Which isn’t all that helpful. 

Make your reports simpler by selecting the data that matters. But that is easier said than done. You need to show the full picture of what’s going on, however not every campaign can be judged by the same metrics. 

So what do you do? 

Who is reading this? 

Take a step back. Who is this report going to? 

Putting yourself in the shoes of who is reading the reports will help narrow down the actual metrics that you need to use. If it’s going to a small business owner who just wants to know if the campaigns are worth it, make sure you show them the conversions and ROAS. 

If it’s going to a marketing manager who is intent on building brand awareness, show them the impressions and clicks. 

In addition, explain things to them. Tell them what these metrics mean and why they’re important – in terms that they will understand. Rather than giving people a sheet of numbers, give them value, information and context. 

This will help ensure that your reports aren’t just read, but that they’re used. 

The exact content you need will depend on who they’re going out to. These are people you will know better than us. 

If you’re not sure – ask them. Find out the most important aspect they check and what reports are actually useful for them. There’s no point building reports for the sake of them. If they want something particular, build that and move on. 

Ah. That’s much simpler. 

Step back from the vanity metrics

Vanity metrics are those that serve no purpose other than to boost your ego and make things look good. But they don’t actually deliver any actionable value and should not be included in your reports. 

They are a colossal waste of time. 

Metrics like time on site are a great example of this. If users are spending more time on your landing page, this metric might be included in your report for a boost. But this doesn’t actually show anything. Whether someone spends 2 seconds or 4 hours on your landing page doesn’t matter – the only thing that does is taking action. 

Most of this is about context though. 

If you’re trying to increase sales of a new product you’ve launched, you shouldn’t be looking at ad impressions. It delivers nothing valuable other than an odd “neat!” exclamation. 

So what if 5,000 people have seen the ad? Tell me how many people have bought the product. 

That’s what matters. And this is what your reports should be made from. 

Right, that’s data covered. Now let’s talk about how you’re actually building these reports. 

Let go of the Excel sheet reports 

There’s a time and a place for Excel. And I think as long as PPC lives, there will be a use for it. 

I never want to make another Excel report again. Time-consuming isn’t even the word. It’s fiddly. It’s ugly and it’s practically unreadable to anyone that isn’t an Excel wizard themselves. 

But we don’t live in the dark ages anymore. There are plenty of programs and tools that you can use that are far quicker and easier on the eyes. They also might make it more accurate too, as according to Adverity, 90% of all spreadsheets contain errors. 

In fact, a quick Google search has brought up dozens of options, including Sisense, Reporting Ninja, Agency Analytics and Swydo. And of course, our own platform, Adzooma. In my completely unbiased opinion, ours is obviously the best. 

The point is, it’s easy to find a tool that will work for you. Once you do, build templates. These will be the key to your success. 

Note how I used the plural here for templates. Like there’s no “one-size-fits-all” campaign, there’s not going to be one for your reports. Create templates that are for specific purposes or people so you can roll them out exactly when you need them with minimal effort. 

Get visual

By nature, we are visual creatures. That’s just who we are. It’s an instinct to seek out images – I’ll even bet that your eyes went to the images on this page before you read these words right?

Showing your data in a visual way is every marketer’s dream and increases the chances of your reports being read. A harsh but true fact there. 

But there’s a difference between useful visual representations of data – and useless time-consuming gimmicks that really don’t work. 

It has to fit the data and make it easy to understand. You know what this doesn’t apply to? Pie charts. There are almost no PPC metrics that fit nicely into a pie chart. And yet, so many people insist on using them for everything. 

I’m hoping the below image will highlight this well… 

All joking aside, picking the right graphs is a very important thing to consider. In an ideal world, every report could look fantastically engaging with professionally designed infographics. But that’s a lot of time and budget for something that isn’t needed. 

You need to simplify it. Which means simple, yet visual, ways of showing the data. Generally, line graphs are some of the best options, particularly if you’re showing changes over time. 

This is because you can easily see with your eyes what’s happening and follow a visual story of it moving through time. 

Simple. Easy to understand. Efficient. Don’t underestimate how simple graphs can uncomplicate your reporting. 

Get the AI to do it for you

Surprise, it’s another case of AI (Artificial Intelligence) saving the day. This is a recurring theme and will carry on until every business realizes that AI is an absolute necessity. 

Anyway, back to the point. 

AI is a time-saving miracle for reporting. Let me show you by guiding you through own reporting tool inside Adzooma

Here’s how it works. 

  1. You go to the reporting tab in the top corner.
  2. Click the ‘Create report’ button. 
  3. Add what elements you want, including text, images and even your own logo. 
  4. With the data, select the exact metrics you want, in the format you need. Whether it’s a table or a line graph, the data will auto-populate from your account, saving you the job of having to find it yourself. 
  5. Want to add a new page or change the layout? Just hit the buttons above. 
  6. And you’re done. 

Save and export them as needed. 

One of the best features? Once you’re done – your report will be saved as a template. 

So when you’re ready for a new one you just have to click it. That’s it. It will automatically update itself with the new data, ready for you to send off. That’s your reporting, done in seconds. Ready to stop overcomplicating your reporting? Try our powerful AI tools for free.

The post How to create PPC reports people will actually read appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How to Write Product Descriptions That Convert

Posted by on Dec 6, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Write Product Descriptions That Convert

Looking for actionable information about how to write effective product descriptions?

You’ve come to the right place.

In this 4,000+ word product description guide, we’ll take a look at:

What Is A Product Description?

A product description is the most important, high-touch marketing copy that helps your website visitors understand whether a product is for them and will influence the outcome of their purchasing decision. This is the perfect opportunity for you to showcase who the product is for and who it isn’t by not only presenting features but also the benefits, in such a way that it will compel your ideal customers to make a purchase.

Sadly, product descriptions are often overlooked and kept very simple or stuffed with generic blocks of text that just describe a product and not only harm your reputation but also affect your website’s ability to rank for a particular keyword.

The great thing is you can do something about it.

While we can’t promise that this guide will help you write the perfect product description for your eCommerce website every single time or your clients’ eCommerce websites, it certainly the best place to start. The truth is that you’ll only learn by actually putting everything in this guide into practice – so make sure all your reading doesn’t go to waste.

The Step-by-Step Process of Writing A Great Product Description

Before we dive into some examples, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned by taking a look at some of the most successful eCommerce stores in the world.

1. Put Yourself in Your Ideal Buyer’s Position

If you would be on the fence, what would you want from a product description?

The best advice that anyone will be able to give you without knowing your situation or saying “it depends”, is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself the following what would I want to know if I’ve never heard of [BRAND] and [PRODUCT]?

2. Focus on Benefits Not Features

Describing your product to your website visitors as if they’re already 100% sold and just want to know more about your product will not result in an effective product description.

Most, if not all, won’t be certain that they need your product once they land on a sales page so you need to make use of the product description as an opportunity to showcase why people need your products, by presenting benefits, not features.

Features:

  • Noise Removal
  • Chatbot integration
  • Built-in pockets

Benefits:

  • Speak without the noise – be heard by call participants. Remove all background noise.
  • Automatically responds to your customers’ questions (and actually sounds like a real human)
  • Safely stores your phone, keys, and credit cards while you run

Notice the difference? Not only does talking about the benefits of a product make it easier for potential customers to see the value, but it’s also far less generic and boring than just listing everything that’s included with your product. Although being fully transparent about what’s included should always be a priority, so sacrificing that is not an option.

3. Use Social Proof to Your Advantage

If you were about to purchase a product, wouldn’t know that you’re in the good company put you at ease?

Never fake social proof. 

Not only is this highly unethical, but it’s also extremely unprofessional. If you don’t have people happily using your products, don’t mislead people into purchasing them by making it look like you do.

If people haven’t given you direct feedback in the form of testimonials there are still alternative ways to improve the credibility of your product pages. One of which is the popular “as seen on” or “already with us” section that is common on a lot of websites.

You’ve seen it before, almost every website has it.

Knowing you’re in good hands makes you comfortable.

rank-math-homepage-social-proof

The use of social proof on the Rank Math homepage

No surprises here, the lemlist homepage also has it.

lemlist-homepage-social-proof

The use of social proof on the Lemlist homepage

And so do thousands of other successful, highly-converting websites.

kali-forms-social-proof

The use of social proof on the Kali Forms pricing page.

contentking-social-proof

And one final example of social proof on the ContentKing pricing page.

Another slightly different approach is case studies. No, I’m not talking about the kind of SEO case studies you’ll find here on Gotch SEO. To support and add to your product descriptions being able to showcase how you’ve been able to help current customers, just like Servebolt does is another great, and perhaps even more effective, way of incorporating social proof on your website.

servebolt-mythemeshop-case-study

As for how this ties into product descriptions, I would personally recommend writing a small outtake that includes all of the most important information for each case study. This will allow you to link to the full case study for those who want to learn a lot more about exactly what you did and how it was helpful.

4. Make Your Product Description Easy-to-Follow

Don’t make it hard for your customers to find what really matters to them and make it easier for them to see what you really want them to.

While the content of your product description is important, on its own, it can’t make a huge impact if your page layout makes information hard to read and hard to find.

Poor product pages that likely can’t be considered helpful will have blocks of text, no images and information that hasn’t been arranged in any logical way. Of course, ensuring that your product description’s content is fairly good, but ensuring that it’s structured and organized well is equally important.

5. Leverage Product Data To Acquire Rich Snippets

amazon-review-rich-snippet

As we’ll look at later on in this post. Amazon makes use of structured data –often referred to as Schema markup – to display additional information in search. This can be extremely effective in some cases because it helps your website stand out among the others – increasing the chances that a searcher will click on your result.

rank-math-schema-markup

The Rank Math WordPress SEO plugin is the perfect way to do this. The good news is that whether you’re using their full suite of SEO tools for your WordPress websites or not, you can still leverage their WooCommerce SEO functionality in combination with any other SEO plugin.

If your eCommerce website uses WooCommerce, which is a highly flexible platform for creating complex stores and have installed Rank Math, just head to your product page.

woocommerce-product-page

And then click edit on the specific product that you’d like to edit and scroll down to the meta box and click Rich Snippet. This will then let you enable the Product Rich Snippet to show searchers additional information without them clicking through to your website.

woocommerce-seo-product-snippet-rank-math

Disclosure: I do work with Rank Math but am an avid user of their plugin – and recommended their tools – long before doing anything together.

6. Use Language That Sells: Power Words Not Keywords

While keyword stuffing used to work well on Google back in 2011, (thankfully) those days are over. Google has gotten a lot better at understanding what users actually want (search intent) and catching out people who are trying to game the system.

Here’s what you should focus on instead.

dollar-shave-club-copy-example

Nope, it’s not time to go and shave. This is a screenshot of one of the examples that we’re going to be taking a look at later. They use power words to evoke emotions and develop a connection between their potential customers and their product.

This is the time to let your product shine, don’t just paint the picture by telling a descriptive story, use powerful, convincing and specific words so your customers will understand exactly how good your product is.

7. Use Great Product Images

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t easy to do for physical products especially if you’re on a budget. The good news is that if you’re selling digital products and courses, producing aesthetic and appealing images isn’t actually that difficult. There are so many pieces of photo editing software to choose from and the key is keeping designs simple.

Physical products, on the other hand, are a completely different story. The example of Dollar Shave Club that we’re going to look at later on is a great example.

You want your images to be true to life and realistic but you also want them to look good enough to be on your website. 

product-images-example

How difficult producing images like this really depends on what the product actually is. In any case, images should:

  • Be visually appealing (in terms of color and angle)
  • Be realistic (set reasonable expectations)
  • Be high-resolution – this not only looks more professional but also makes it easier for potential customers to zoom in and see minor details before purchasing
  • Capture the important aspects of your product (effectively portray sizes)

One creative example of this for a clothing brand would be to have the model try all various sizes of a t-shirt or hoodie so that the customers can see how the fit varies as this will help them make a better choice for themselves.

  • Bonus: Templates To Help You Write Better Product Descriptions

Obviously, I must preface the examples below with the fact that they’ve been written for a very general and non-specific course and follow the templates almost exactly. The truth is that you shouldn’t need a template to follow word-for-word, but these are great guidelines when you have no idea where to start and what to include.

Template #1: The “Ideal You” Template

Have you ___________________________? (struggle)

Learn to _______________ (key takeaway to overcome struggle)

without _______________ (pain and/or challenge).

(Product name) ______________

is ______________ (product benefits).

Example:

Have you struggled to grow your SEO agency? Learn how to turn complicated processes into easy, repeatable tasks that you can outsource and scale. Make agency life enjoyable.

Template #2: The “Perfect For” Template

Perfect for ___________________________ (ideal situation),

these _______________ (product name)

can be/will _______________ (tell a quick story).

(Product name) ______________

are ______________ (top features)

to _______________ (product benefits).

No more _____________________ (pain and/or challenge).

Example:

Perfect for stressed-out agency owners, these SOPs will make processes repetitive and easy to outsource. Our in-depth SEO training was built for people just like you with the potential to scale their agency beyond just themselves.

No more selling yourself short or just charging an hourly rate for your expertise.

Template 3: The “I’ve Been In Your Shoes” Template

I created _________________ (your product)

when I was ________________ (describe yourself before you created a solution)

and ______________________ (pain or frustration).

I wanted _____________________ (best case scenario).

That’s why I created _____________________ (product name)

with ___________________ (top features).

Now I _______________________ (product solution)

Example:

I created this in-depth SEO training course for people in the position I was two years ago. Not knowing what to outsource and where to begin. I wanted the ability to take days off without knowing that I’d be falling behind on client work. That’s why I created this set of SOPs to streamline and take the guesswork out of growing your agency. Now you never have to worry about creating your own SOPs for VAs and employees to follow and keeping everyone up-to-date anymore!

Product Description Examples

1. AppSumo

appsumo-product-description-example

AppSumo – originally founded back in March of 2010 by Noah Kagan – is a deals marketplace for digital products and online services. They are extremely well-known for offering lifetime deals on SaaS products or subscription products that you would typically have to pay for every month.

As you might’ve seen if you follow Nathan Gotch on Twitter (@nathangotch) which I highly recommend you do, you’ll know he isn’t a fan of fake scarcity and urgency.

 

The truth is, however, that AppSumo’s model doesn’t rely on fake scarcity because once a deal disappears, it really is gone unless the company decides that they’d like to resurface the deal for a second time. As you’d expect, this use of scarcity is effective. Just like Snapchat, where messages and images are ephemeral the concept just psychologically encourages action and faster purchases.

Urgency and scarcity are now widely used across marketing campaigns to increase engagement and boost conversions simply because it works. I personally (and I’m sure Nathan himself would agree) don’t like the general concept of overusing it and would carefully consider doing something with a client or on my own site that uses scarcity.

That being said, AppSumo is a different case, their business model of negotiating exclusive deals is successful and their website is also a great place to look for inspiration when writing your own product descriptions.

For the purposes of this breakdown, we’ll be taking a look at Krisp – a noise-canceling application that aims to make calling easier and more productive by removing background noise.

appsumo-krisp-example-product-description

In case this is the first time you’ve stumbled across AppSumo – their deal pages are always very conversational. They make use of creative headlines and tell stories that help customers understand when and why you’d need the product.

AppSumo’s Product Description Model:

  1. Set the scene, introduce (or re-introduce) the problem.
  2. Enter [PRODUCT NAME]

Sounds simple enough to replicate, right? Yes, but don’t forget that you still need to give customers all the information that they’re looking for.

So, as you scroll down, the page transitions into an easier-to-digest section that breaks down exactly what you get. This is the section that most people skip to and read.

appsumo-overview-skim-reading-section

And towards the end of the page it again reminds people what they’ll get when they purchase the product and how it helps them as well as diving deeper with a demo video and screenshots showcasing the interface.

2. Apple

apple-homepage

Apple obviously speaks for itself and needs no introduction.

They can also truly be considered a gold standard when it comes to eCommerce websites. Though keep in mind, Apple’s market share and authority in the industry also means that they don’t really need to go through a lot of the effort that your business and eCommerce website will need when it comes to building trust with potential buyers.

Just keep this in mind as we analyze the way that Apple’s product descriptions work – I really don’t want to say the infamous “it depends”, but I suppose it really does when it comes to looking at situations like Apple’s MacBook Pro line-up. Most people already know that they want to purchase the computer once they make it to the product page so it simply becomes a matter of comparing the different models and specifications with their respective prices to make a decision based on the buyer’s specific requirements.

This also contributes to the logic of having a reverse product description, where instead of being taken to a landing page, a user will see the information that is most important to them – also one of the easier decisions to make – the size of the computer you’d like to buy.

macbook-product-page-example

And only then further down on the page are you able to start comparing the base model that you’d like to purchase as is or then customize even further before buying.

product-page-customization-options

This makes sense for Apple, but in most cases won’t for you. Why? Well, easy:

  • Apple doesn’t need to convince you that their products are very well built. Everybody already knows this.
  • Apple doesn’t need to reassure people that their site is secure and people can enter their financial information.
  • Apple also doesn’t need social proof to encourage people to purchase their products.

 

3. Dollar Shave Club

dollar-shave-club-homepage

Dollar Shave Club is an American company based in Venice, California that sells razors and a sorted array of personal grooming products.

Simply put, they’ve got everything you need to look, feel and smell your best.

They’ve not only managed to build an incredibly successful business but also a website that now generates over 450,000 monthly visitors from search per month – with their brand keywords having search volumes that are far past the half a million mark.

ahrefs-dsc-search-volume

I’m sure you get it by now – enough with the introduction already, right?

The product pages and their respective descriptions on the Dollar Shave Club eCommerce website also serve as a great example of how to present a large amount of information in a way that is not only easily digestible but is also laid out in a way that is easy-to-remember and read quickly. All while still making the product interesting and not confusing or making information hard to find for website visitors so they stay on the page instead of bouncing elsewhere to find the information they’re looking for.

dollar-shave-club-website-personalization

So, without further ado – let’s break them down.

dsc-product-page-breakdown

  • Images Galore

The images on the Dollar Shave Club do a great job of showcasing their products in an extremely visually appealing way. As I mentioned earlier in the article, this isn’t easy to do if you are on a budget, however for some products you may be able to avoid the need to produce “real” images and can stick to using mockups as long as they are true to life and portray your product in an appropriate way.

product-description-page-important-elements

  • Just give me the price already

Don’t try to hide any crucial information (such as your product’s price) from people. Show this in an area that is above the fold or give them an easy way to jump further down on a page to the section that shows the breakdown of the price.

Price is inevitably going to be one of the main factors in someone’s decision to buy or not to buy your product so removing it or representing it in a way that makes it difficult for the user and results in bad user experience.

  • Evoke Emotion and Convey Quality with Power Words

Most SEOs writing product descriptions for eCommerce websites aren’t marketers or copywriters which often results in copy that doesn’t do your product justice. Here, I’m referring to the section in the image above labelled with the #3.

Butter up for an effortlessly gentle, delightfully smooth shave. 

Now, be honest with yourself – how does this to compare to:

Buy Our Shave Butter Now For A Better Shaving Experience

While the second one certainly isn’t the worst we’ve seen on the internet, it doesn’t actually describe your product, evoke emotion and help paint a picture in the potential customer’s mind.

*This is not an endorsement of Dollar Shave Club, I have not used their products and do not currently work with them so I cannot comment on the quality. However, given that they have formed a large part of this post, that might change soon 😉

  • Don’t just shove reasons people should get your product in their face – make them want it.

Here, I’m referring to the section in the image above labelled with the #4. Just underneath the introduction to the product that rolls of the tongue and develops an initial connection/interest with the product – people not only see what the product does on its own.

They see what the product can do for them as well as why and how.

Example #1: Helps reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs

While this isn’t a particularly glamorous thing to talk about in this post, ingrown hairs are an apparent problem. The inclusion of this short bullet point perfectly portrays how the product can benefit people.

Example #2: Helps to fight razor bumps by providing a smoother shave

As for example #1, use your product description as an opportunity to present your product as a solution to your customers’ problem(s).

4. Amazon

amazon-dyson-product-page-example

What is Amazon? If only that question were easy to answer.

Amazon Inc. is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with, Apple (which we looked at earlier), Facebook and Google. They have multiple business models spanning across eCommerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, artificial intelligence and more.

amazon-serp-preview

There are a few things we notice solely from looking at this search result – mainly the fact that they use the review snippet to enhance their search results.

This has been proven to result in higher click-through rates, simply because it is more visually appealing and stands out from regular/standard search results. Since this is something really easy to configure for your product pages, I highly recommend trying it out using a plugin like Rank Math (the option I recommend) or another plugin dedicated to solely adding structured data like WP Schema which is another popular option.

In describing their product, Amazon also takes this opportunity to showcase other similar products. This can be really useful if you have a number of similar products but each may only be suitable for specific use cases or have certain extra benefits.

amazon-product-page-comparisons

It can also be one of your best opportunities to upsell people to a more expensive product or even order bump them to other products and extra add-ons that they may be interested in.

Aside from all of the profit-driven decisions, there are also other reasons to do this though which makes the entire experience more enjoyable for your customers. Seeing the product that someone is about to purchase compared to another similar product not only gives them the opportunity to make alternative choices but it also helps them reaffirm their decision.

Are you really leading them to make the best decision possible?

For the sake of your own product descriptions, this doesn’t only need to be in the form of a comparison to other similar products or that you offer, it may also be a great opportunity to show people how you stack up against your competitors. After all, for most companies and their products, the decision won’t always come down to choosing from one of their products. More often than not, people will be taking your competition into consideration so use this opportunity (since you already have the attention) to close the deal.

When doing these comparisons there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not hate on your competitors, give them the praise they deserve for the features that their product does have
  • Don’t lie – I sure know a few examples of people who flat-out use this as an opportunity to mislead people which they know aren’t going to do their research anyway.
  • Don’t go into so much detail that you lose people’s attention.

Although this is no easy feat, the key is to strike the right balance of SEO and UX. This means you shouldn’t making compromises that sacrifice the user’s experience.

5. Chain Reaction Cycles

chain-reaction-cycle-homepage

For our next example, we’ll be taking a look at Chain Reaction Cycles – an online retailer of cycling goods based in Northern Ireland.

The reason I chose this site is because it is a little bit of a different industry because the products they’re selling are just so different and certain information needs to be presented before cycling enthusiasts or professionals could even consider purchasing from them.

crc-product-description-example

While their website’s design is by no means the most modern out there, they do a great job of presenting technical information in a way that everything is still easy to find.

product-description-important-elements-chain-reaction-cycle

In the second, smaller box (above) labelled with the number two, you’ll see another easy way of incorporating social proof. While displaying reviews on your own site and adding logos in an “as seen on” section is also popular, it’s also easy to fake. Using the Trustpilot review badge makes their exceptional reputation even clearer to customers.

product-description-tabbed-section

Beyond this they also make it easy for customers to jump to other information to answer any questions and doubt they may have before purchasing the product right away.

While, the option to get in touch with support to ask questions should always remain in place, making useful information as easy as possible to access to remove as much friction as possible from the buying experience

Summary: Is Writing Effective Product Descriptions Difficult?

If you’ve been in the SEO industry long enough, you’ll agree that most SEO questions can be answered by really thinking through what it is that the user actually wants.

That’s exactly why this guide has been written to not only help you write better product descriptions for search engines, but also for potential customers. If you’re about to launch an eCommerce store and feel overwhelmed with the amount of small yet important things you need to remember and keep track of, you should read this eCommerce SEO checklist from ContentKing next.

What tips & advice would you share with someone looking to write more effective product descriptions?

Tweet @alexjpanagis or leave a comment below to join the conversation!!

New Google Search Console report checks site speed

Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on New Google Search Console report checks site speed

Google is rapidly expanding the capabilities of Search Console — its must-have tool for site owners/managers. Not too long ago it was a couple of new structured data reports and today we’re talking about an enhancement report dedicated to site speed. It’s important to have a fast site and Google’s new tool helps you monitor it and improve it. Here’s is a quick guide to its capabilities.

What is the Speed report in Google Search Console?

The new Speed report gives you an idea of how fast or slow your pages load over any given time. It gives you insights that were almost impossible to get up until now. Running page speed analysis on your complete site is not something the average user can do. Testing a couple of pages in PageSpeed Insights, fine, but 1,000 pages? The new Speed report in Google Search Console gives you an idea of how your site loads. It puts all pages in buckets conveniently labeled slow, moderate and fast. 

The new Speed report overview in Search Console (desktop view)

As you know, site speed has been a hot topic for quite a while. Google even declared it a ranking factor. The search engine is rolling out all sorts of initiatives to help visualize site speed and prioritize improvements, like PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse. Sometimes, they do it quietly, but other times it’s a little bit over the top. Case in point: Chromes new “speed badge of shame”. It is one of the indicators in the Chrome browser that helps users understand why a site may be loading slower. In reality, this is more a not so subtle jab at site owners to do something about their slow sites.

Chrome’s upcoming slow site badge

This focus on site speed is understandable. Site speed is user experience and users expect fast. But in regards to all those pretty numbers and colors, it’s hard to know what to look for. But as our own SEO expert Jono Alderson loves to say: “Don’t optimize for scores — just make it faster.” Scores say a lot, but all that matters is the perception of speed by users. How quickly can you make your page feel ready?

What does the Speed report do?

The Speed report looks at the pages on your site, checks their loading speed in the Chrome User Experience report and puts these into buckets. There are mobile and desktop specific checks and these might differ. Due to hardware and network differences, it is harder to get a good score on mobile than it is on desktop. You’ll notice, though, that the same URLs are often troublesome both on mobile as well as desktop. They might load slightly faster due to changes in test setting, but they are a point of interest nonetheless.

Two specific reports help you analyze the different sources

While not the end-all tool for measuring site speed, the Speed report is a valuable addition to Search Console. It helps you find problematic URLs which you can check in PageSpeed Insights to get a deeper understanding — plus ways of fixing it. This way, you can keep an eye on all speed-related things, spot trends, make improvements and keep track of the results of those changes. 

Where does it get its metrics?

The cool thing about the Speed report is that it uses data from the Chrome UX Report. The Chrome UX Report is a public data set of real user experience data collected from millions of opted-in users and websites. This way, loads of data are collected — like connection type, type of device and much more — from real situations and used to give a better understanding of performance in the real world. This data is put to good use in several speed-oriented Google tools, like PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse.

What should I look for?

When looking at site speed tools it is easy to focus on the wrong stuff. Many tools check site speed in particular circumstances, like a set location at one point in time. There’s not enough context to make a decision based on this data. That’s why our advice in this has always been for you to look at a multitude of site speed tools. Combined these will give you a better handle on the problem.

The Search Console Speed report has been built around two metrics: First Contentful Paint and First Input Delay. Here’s what these metrics mean:

  • FCP (first contentful paint): The first contentful paint happens when the first element of a requested page appears on the screen. This gives users the confirmation that the page is actually loading.
  • FID (first input delay): The first input delay is the time between the first interaction of a user with an element on the requested page and the reaction of the browser to that input. How quickly your page reacts to input is of utmost importance for it to appear fast and responsive.

The results lead to slow, moderate or fast pages. According to Google, the speed of a URL is the lowest speed assigned to it. So if a page has a slow FCP, but a moderate FID it is considered slow. If it has a fast FCP and a moderate FID, it is considered moderate.

These insights give you a good idea of how your pages are performing. As said before, you probably need to run a couple of more tests to get the full picture.

Further analysis on a per-URL basis in PageSpeed Insights

URL grouping

Instead of showing a gazillion URLs and the corresponding results, Google uses aggregate scores and URL groups to make the results slightly less intimidating. For any issue, you’ll see a number of URLs getting the same score or issue. So it might be that from a specific URL, 70 other URLs suffer from the same performance issues. That makes it easier to uncover issues on a grander scale because all these pages probably have the same problems. Of course, you can do a deep-dive and check individual pages by clicking on the URL list and picking a URL to analyze using PageSpeed Insights.

Grouping URLs with similar perfomance issues makes the report easier to digest

Aggregate scores

The same goes for scoring. Grouping makes it easier to digest the results. The Speed report in Search Console focuses mainly on FCP and FID, as mentioned above. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on PageSpeed Insights as well, as this has a multitude of other metrics, graphics of the loading process and suggestions to improve the results.

In the Speed report, the FCP and FID are calculated from all the visits to those particular pages. 

  • Aggregate FCP: The aggregate first content paint is the time it takes for 75% of the visits to a URL in the report to reach FCP.
  • Aggregate FID: The aggregate first interactive delay is the time it takes for 95% of the visits to that URL to respond to interactions on that page. 

The calculation of these scores continues to fluctuate due to outside influences. That’s why you might see the trend line go up and down.

The aggregate FCP is the point when 75% of visits to that URL get FCP

Fixing issues and validating fixes

The Speed report allows you to monitor your site for speed-related issues. It helps you find problems and prioritize their resolution. Once you or your developer have run through all the suggestions and improvements you can validate the fix. Google will then monitor the pages for 28 days to see if the issue is fixed for these URLs. 

Site speed resources

This post is not about telling you how to fix your site speed issues, but rather guiding you through the new Speed report that might give you the insights you need. To get practical, you can start here:

Last but not least, an incredible source of information: Jono’s slide deck on site speed from a talk at SMXL Milan.

The post New Google Search Console report checks site speed appeared first on Yoast.

An Inside Look at Google’s Future Plans

Posted by on Nov 28, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on An Inside Look at Google’s Future Plans

Everyone talks about algorithm updates, but Google does a
whole lot more than adjust algorithms.

Some of the moves they are making are really going to impact
your marketing efforts.

So, what are these non-algorithm changes?

Well before I get into them, keep in mind that you aren’t
going to like some of them, and that’s ok. Instead, I want you to focus your
energy on how you can leverage these changes before your competition.

Let’s get started…

Change #1: Google executives are big on “ambient
computing”

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of ambient computing,
here’s a quick definition:

Ambient computing is a term that encompasses many different concepts. At its core, it is the combination of hardware, software, user experience, and machine/human interaction and learning, all of these things becoming the idea of using a computer or internet-enabled device, without necessarily consciously using it.

In other words, Google wants you to use them 24/7 no matter
where you are or what you are doing. They are doing this by integrating
products everywhere.

Whether it is Nest, Android devices, Chromebooks, smartwatches, Google Home, or anything else they can drum up.

Because their mission is to spread the usage of all Google
related products, it will eventually open up new ways for you to drive traffic
and monetize.

An obvious example is to create apps on mobile devices that
work on Android phones. Uber, Netflix, and Candy Crush are all examples of apps
that work on Android devices.

You already know about apps, but I bet you don’t have one.

To give you an idea of how well you can do with a mobile
app, there are roughly 2 million mobile
apps
, and there are over 13
billion mobile devices
.

Of course, a lot of those devices are old or in landfills. But still, there aren’t that many apps for how many mobile devices that exist. Especially when you consider that there are over 1,518,207,414 websites.

In other words, there are 759 times more websites than
apps, so consider creating one. 😉

If you don’t know how you can always use services like Build Fire.

And in addition to apps, you’ll need to start looking at generating traffic through all voice devices. Phones, watches, and even the smart home assistants that Google is creating leverage voice search.

Using tools like Jetson.ai
will help you create a voice version of your website so you can collect sales
and leads.

If you don’t think voice search is that important, 50% of searches are now voice-based.

Again, just like an app, I bet you don’t a voice search version of your website.

Question is, are you going to create one first or is your competition?

Change #2: Future generations are more likely to be
hooked on Google devices

Do you have a Chromebook? Chances are you
don’t.

But if you have kids, or nieces or nephews, ask them if they
have ever used a Chromebook.

Chromebooks are not only affordable, but they are taking
over the world, at least when it comes to millennials and generation z.

Just look at the percentages
of schools that use Chromebooks
.

In some countries like the United States, 60% of the schools
use Chromebooks.

That’s a ridiculously high percentage.

Apple has also been trying to penetrate classrooms, but they
haven’t been having the same success as Google.

All this means is that kids are going to grow up using
Google devices and fall into their ecosystem.

Sure, social sites like Instagram, Tiktok, or whatever else is new will always be popular, but the chances are these young kids will get to those sites using a Google device.

Even though Google isn’t as sexy as it once was, you shouldn’t
take it for granted. It’s not going anywhere, and future generations will
continue to leverage them. Just don’t drop your eye on Google and you’ll be
fine.

Change #3: Expect Google to buy someone big in the
ecommerce space

When you think of ecommerce, what name comes to mind?

I bet you are thinking of Amazon.

We all use Amazon and, of course, every major tech company wants a slice of the ecommerce market.

Even when I’m using a search engine to find something to
buy, I usually click on an Amazon listing because we all love their Prime
shipping feature.

Google’s been trying to take a piece of that market for years. From shopping actions to Google Shopping nothing has really been too effective.

As consumers, we are just trained to go to Amazon to buy stuff.

And if you aren’t going to Amazon, you are probably going to Walmart or one of their online stores that they own all around the world.

To make matters worse, Walmart has removed all of its products from Google Shopping.

Google hasn’t made any big ecommerce or commerce purchases in general but you can expect that to change.

They may decide to buy a grocery delivery company like Instacart, but knowing them, I believe they will stick with the software, just like most things that they are doing.

Expect them to go after Amazon by helping people create
their own ecommerce site. Whether it is through a Shopify
acquisition or Bigcommerce or any other
platform out there, they want to own the ecommerce market.

It’s going to be too tough to go head-on with Amazon, and that’s I think they will take a different route and go after a platform like Shopify.

If you are selling products online you should, of course, be on Amazon, but don’t rely on them. Make sure you have your own website and look to see what platform play Google makes as you may eventually want to consider moving over to whatever they buy.

Change #4: Google will dominate the hardware industry

And no, I don’t mean they are going to create something
better than an iPad or an iPhone.

Apple, at its core, is a hardware company and they are clearly the winner when it comes to producing amazing devices that we use. But there is a big issue with Apple devices and even Samsung devices.

They are expensive.

If you want to buy a brand new iPhone, expect to drop $699 for the lowest model.

Google, on the other hand, does have high-end devices, but they also try and produce affordable devices. They also let other manufacturers use their operating system for their phones.

Their goal isn’t to make the most money per phone. Their goal is to get everyone in the world using their hardware.

Why?

Because that means they are collecting more data and that allows them to generate the most amount of money from advertising because all of these devices drive people to their search engine that is filled with ads.

It’s a pretty smart move.

I highly recommend that you watch this…

They aren’t just using this strategy with their phones, they
are trying to make all of their products affordable. That way people all over
the world can afford them.

Because if you live in places like Brazil or India, Apple
devices are too expensive, which leads people to choose a Google device.

Less than 5% of the world lives in the United States… the money is in the global markets.

If you are debating which platform to build on, consider Google, even if it isn’t the sexiest due to sheer volume. Android’s market share is roughly 87% because of its affordable hardware and partnerships.

Change #5: Expect Google Ads to go offline

Right now you mainly see ads on their search engine.

Yes, you will also find ads on some of their other properties like Maps, but expect them to be everywhere.

For the first time, the 2019 digital ad spend overtook traditional ad dollars in the United States.

But still, ad dollars offline is more than a hundred billion-dollar industry, and that’s just in the United States.

Over the next few years, I bet you’ll see Google dip into offline advertising.

Just think of it this way. Google owns Waymo, a self-driving Uber type of service that is growing fast in popularity.

They have data from the Google devices in your home and the watch on your wrist and they know where you going through Waymo… essentially, they have more data on you than anyone else.

Heck, they are even starting to offer checking
accounts
.

With all of that data, who better to serve you offline ads?
They’ll be able to target people better and make them more relevant.

This will also increase the value (cost) of offline ads as
well as online ads in the long run.

Change #6: Search results won’t look the same in the
future

You are probably going to hate this change the most, but it
will also make their search engine more usable.

They are testing a lot of different ad types.

For example, as a business, you can collect leads through Google.

And eventually, you’ll just be able to book a hotel room right on their search engine without going to the hotel’s website.

The same will happen with mortgages, auto insurance, and many more industries.

This doesn’t mean that SEO will be dead or no one will go to
your site from search engines, it just means you will have to adapt.

For example, you can create educational-based content, rank highly, and when people land on your website, you can convert them through sales funnels.

You can also use tools like Hello
Bar
to create sliders and popups to drive visitors to your money pages.

Conclusion

The future isn’t going to look the same. Companies like
Tesla aren’t the only ones who are innovating, most big companies are.

Don’t expect Google to just stay the same and not adapt just
like every other tech company is trying to do.

It’s the only way to stay ahead and win.

As marketers and entrepreneurs, Google won’t be the only one
disrupting how you are growing your sales and traffic. But instead of getting
upset or complaining, accept it.

Be productive with your time and focus on adapting. Because
when you are adapting while your competition is complaining, you’ll win.

What other changes do you see Google making in the
future?

The post An Inside Look at Google’s Future Plans appeared first on Neil Patel.

Did Local Review Spammers Just Get Self-Served?

Posted by on Nov 28, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Did Local Review Spammers Just Get Self-Served?

{
“@context”: “https://schema.org”,
“@type”: “WebPage”,
“headline”: “Expert Local SEO Consultants for 13+ Years | Local SEO Guide”,
“about”: [
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “SEO”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Consultants”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consultant”}
],
“mentions”: [
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “StartUps”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “eCommerce”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-commerce”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “InsiderPages”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insider_Pages”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Branding”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “Google”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “Showtime Networks”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Showtime_Networks”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “NBC”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBC”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “CitySearch”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citysearch”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge’s_law_of_headlines”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “expertise”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expertise”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Audits”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audit”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Domain”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “GMB”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_My_Business”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “Management”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Sloan_School_of_Management”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Process”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Ranking”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Tools”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Spammers”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spamming”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “website”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “Internet”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet”},
{“@type”: “Thing”,”name”: “clients”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer”},
{“@type”: “Organization”,”name”: “Law”,”sameAs”: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_University_Law_School”}
] }

See Betteridge’s Law of Headlines for the answer. For those looking to procrastinate, feel free to read on.

Yesterday’s Google announcement about it’s new “algorithmic updates” review mark-up caused a fair amount of Local SEO Twittering and Slacking.

My interpretation of this is “we’ve had enough of businesses publishing 5-star reviews of themselves on their sites and displaying rating stars in the SERPs for them.”

That’s all well and good. Abuse of structured mark-up has been a hot mess for years and the implementation guidelines are often so fuzzy they feel like missives from Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

Of course brands that pay 3rd parties to monitor and aggregate legitimate reviews may likely wonder why they lobbied hard for that budget. Of course there are plenty of non-schema reasons to add reviews to your site, but let’s face it, those orange stars in the SERPs were the big selling point. Kind of like GMB messaging was before Google shut that down…

I bet it will be fun for everyone explaining why CTR suddenly tanked for brand queries.

If Google can clean this up, and that’s a big “if,” then this feels like a good move. But as we often see with Google’s algorithmic fixes, closing one loophole tends to open up ten others. Some potential new loopholes:

1. Create separate entities (e.g. Local SEO Guide, Inc. & Local SEO Guide, LLC) and add marked-up reviews of the new entity to your site.

2. Create separate domains for reviews of your business (e.g. LocalSEOGuideReviews.com) and mark up those reviews.

3. Build a directory of local businesses that you have no relationship with, include your business, publish a ton of reviews (real and/or fake), and mark them up. Maybe call it “Yelp” or something.

The post Did Local Review Spammers Just Get Self-Served? appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

The Practical Guide to Finding Anyone’s Email Address

Posted by on Nov 27, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Practical Guide to Finding Anyone’s Email Address

Posted by David_Farkas

In link building, few things are more frustrating than finding the perfect link opportunity but being completely unable to find a contact email address.

It’s probably happened to you — if you’re trying to build links or do any sort of outreach, it almost always entails sending out a fairly significant amount of emails. There are plenty of good articles out there about building relationships within the context of link building, but it’s hard to build relationships when you can’t even find a contact email address.

So, for today, I want to focus on how you can become better at finding those important email addresses.

Link builders spend a lot of time just trying to find contact info, and it’s often a frustrating process, just because sussing out email addresses can indeed be quite difficult. The site you’re targeting might not even have a contact page in the first place. Or, if the site does have a contact page, it might only display a generic email address. And, sometimes, the site may list too many email addresses. There are eight different people with similar-sounding job titles — should you reach out to the PR person, the marketing director, or the webmaster? It’s not clear.

Whatever the case may be, finding the right email address is absolutely imperative to any successful outreach campaign. In our industry, the numbers around outreach and replies aren’t great. Frankly, it’s shocking to hear the industry standard — only 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response.

I can’t help but wonder how many mistakes are made along the way to such a low response rate.

While there are certainly instances where there is simply no clear and obvious contact method, that should be the exception — not the rule! An experienced link builder understands that finding relevant contact information is essential to their success.

That’s why I’ve put together a quick list of tips and tools that will help you to find the email addresses and contact information you need when you’re building links.

And, if you follow my advice, here is a glimpse of the results you could expect:

Screenshot of high open and reply rates on an email

We don’t track clicks, in case you were wondering 😉

ALWAYS start by looking around!

First, let’s start with my golden rule: Before you fire up any tool, you should always manually look for the correct contact email yourself.

Based on my experience, tools and automation are a last resort. If you rely solely upon tools and automated solutions, you’ll end up with many more misfired emails than if you were to go the manual route. There’s a simple reason for this: the email address listed on your target website may, surprisingly, belong to the right person you should contact!

Now, if you are using a tool, they may generate dozens of email addresses, and you’ll never end up actually emailing the correct individual. Another reason I advocate manually looking for emails is because many email finding tools are limited and can only find email addresses that are associated with a domain name. So, if there is a webmaster that happens to have a @gmail.com email address, the email finding tool will not find it.

It’s also important to only reach out to people you strongly believe will have an interest in your email in order to stay GDPR compliant.

So, always start your manual search by looking around the site. Usually, there will be a link to the contact page in the header, footer, or sidebar. If there’s not a page explicitly named “contact,” or if the contact page only has generic email addresses, that’s when I would recommend jumping to an “About Us” page, should there be one. 

You always want to find a personal email, not a generic one or a contact form. Outreach is more effective when you can address a specific individual, not whoever who is checking [email protected] that day.

If you encounter too many emails and aren’t sure who the best person to contact is, I suggest sending an email to your best hunch that goes something like this:

And who knows, you may even get a reply like this:

Screenshot of a reply telling you to contact someone else

If you weren’t able to locate an email address at this point, I’d move on to the next section.

Ask search engines for help

Perhaps the contact page you were looking for was well-hidden; maybe they don’t want to be contacted that much or they’re in desperate need of a new UX person.

You can turn to search engines for help.

My go-to search engine lately is Startpage. Dubbed as the world’s most private search engine, they display Google SERPs in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you just stepped into Times Square. They also have a cool option to browse the search results anonymously with “Anonymous View.”

For our purposes, I would use the site: search operator just like this:

If there is in fact a contact page or email somewhere on their website that you were not able to find, any competent search engine will find it for you. If the above site query doesn’t return any results, then I’d start expanding my search to other corners of the web.

Use the search bar and type:

If you’re looking for the email of a specific person, type their name before or after the quotation marks.

With this query you can find non-domain email addresses:

If that person’s email address is publicly available somewhere, you will likely be able to find it within the search results.

Email-finding tools

There are many, many excellent email finding tools to choose from. The first one I want to talk about is Hunter.

Hunter has a Chrome extension that’s really easy to use. After you’ve downloaded the extension, there’s not much more that needs to be done.

Go to the site which you are thinking about sending an email to, click on the extension in the top right corner of your screen, and Hunter, well, hunts.

It returns every email address it can find associated with that domain. And also allows you to filter the results based on categories.

Did I say “email address?” I meant to say email address, name, job title, etc. Essentially, it’s a one-click fix to get everything you need to send outreach.

Because I use Hunter regularly (and for good reason, as you can see), it’s the one I’m most familiar with. You can also use Hunter’s online app to look up emails in bulk.

The major downside of working in bulk is coming up with an effective formula to sift through all the emails. Hunter may generate dozens of emails for one site, leaving you to essentially guess which email address is best for outreach. And if you’re relying on guess-work, chances are pretty high you’re leaving perfectly good prospects on the table.

There are several other email finding tools to pick from and I would be remiss to not mention them. Here are 5 alternative email-finding tools:

Even though I personally try not to be too dependent on tools, the fact of the matter is that they provide the easiest, most convenient route in many cases.

The guessing game

I know there’s no word in the digital marketing world that produces more shudders than “guessing.” However, there are times when guessing is easier.

Let’s be real: there aren’t too many different ways that companies both large and small format their email addresses. It’s usually going to be something like:

If you’ve ever worked for a living, you know most of the variations. But, in case you need some help, there’s a tool for that.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you just pick any one of these random addresses, send your email, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Far from it. There are actually tools that you can use that will indicate when you’ve selected the right one.

Sales Navigator is such a tool. Sales Navigator is a Gmail extension that is easy to use. Simply enter the name of the person you’re looking for, and it will return all of the possible standard variations that they may use for their email address. Then, you can actually test the address from your Gmail account. When you type in the address into the proper line, a sidebar will appear on your screen. If there no is no information in that sidebar, you have the wrong address. If, however, you get a return that looks like this:

Congratulations! You’ve found the right email address.

Obviously, this method only works if you know the name of the person you want to email, but just don’t have their email address. Still, in those scenarios, Sales Navigator works like a charm.

Trust, but verify

There’s nothing more annoying than when you think you’ve finally struck gold, but the gold turned out to be pyrite. Getting an email that bounces back because it wasn’t the correct address is frustrating. And even worse, if it happens too often, your email can end up on email blacklists and destroy your email deliverability.

There are ways to verify, however. At my company, we use Neverbounce. It’s effective and incredibly easy to use. With Neverbounce, you can enter in either individual email addresses or bulk lists, and voila!

It will let you know if that email address is currently Valid, Invalid, or Unknown. It’s that easy. Here are some other email verifiers:

Subscribe to their newsletter

Here’s one final out-of-the-box approach. This approach works more often with sites where one person clearly does most, if not all, of the work. A site where someone’s name is the domain name, for example.

If you come across a site like davidfarkas.com and you see a newsletter that can be subscribed to, hit that subscribe button. Once that’s done, you can simply reply to one iteration of the newsletter.

This method has an added benefit. An effective way of building links is building relationships, just like I said in the opening. When you can demonstrate that you’re already subscribing to a webmaster’s newsletter, you’ll be currying favor with that webmaster.

Conclusion

When you send a link building outreach email, you want to make sure it’s going to a real person and, even more importantly, ending up in the right hands. Sending an email to an incorrect contact periodically may seem like a negligible waste of time, but when you send emails at the volume a link builder should, the waste adds up very quickly. In fact, enough waste can kill everything else that you’re trying to accomplish.

It’s well worth your time to make sure you’re getting it right by putting in the effort to finding the right email address. Be a picky link builder. Don’t just choose the first email that comes your way and never rely solely on tools. If you email the wrong person, it will look to them like that you didn’t care enough to spend time on their site, and in return, they will ignore you and your pitch.

With the tips outlined above, you’ll avoid these issues and be on your way to more successful outreach.

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I Need Your Help With Ubersuggest

Posted by on Nov 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on I Need Your Help With Ubersuggest

It’s been more than a year since I launched the “new”
Ubersuggest.

And over the last 12 months, I have made a lot of progress.

Just as a quick recap: Ubersuggest went from a basic keyword research tool to now containing backlink data, rank tracking, content ideas, site audit reports, and many more features.

If you haven’t played with Ubersuggest in the past few months, give it a try. Type in a URL or a keyword and click around.

The reason I am asking you to give it a try is that I need your help to determine what I should develop next so I can help you improve your traffic and rankings even more.

But before we get into that, let me first tell you what I am releasing in the next few months.

Upcoming features

So, let’s break it down by section as I am making a lot of
small changes that should not only improve the data, but also the usability of
the product.

Funny enough, there will be changes to every section of the
tool.

Keyword research

Over the next month, the keyword overview is going to change in which I will start to tell you demographic data. You’ll see what percentage of the searches are done by males or females as well as the average age range of a searcher.

You’ll also see what portion of the clicks for any given keyword go to SEO results, ads, or result in no clicks.

I am also going to break searches down by mobile versus
desktop.

More accurate data

Another big change that is happening, and this one won’t be
visual, is all of the data will become much more accurate.

From traffic estimations for a domain, to even keywords,
you’ll start seeing a more accurate database.

For example, when I look at all of the keywords
neilpatel.com ranks for, a lot of them are junk keywords that don’t drive much
traffic.

Sure, the report still provides value as a lot of the keywords are good and can provide good SEO insights, but with more accurate data it should make your job easier.

New backlinking data

Another feature that I am excited about is the new backlink charts.

I’m adding historical link data over time as well as a
snapshot of daily new and lost links.

In addition to that, you’ll start seeing more data on anchor text or link distribution.

Alerts

A huge problem with Ubersuggest is that you have to continually come back to get value. In the next month or so, you will start seeing email alerts that will tell you what’s happening with your site and what you should fix.

The overall purpose is for you to not have to come to
Ubersuggest to figure out what you need to fix.

Usability fixes

The biggest problem with Ubersuggest is people don’t know
what to do with the data or how to improve their rankings.

This will be fixed in the upcoming months.

From an education center and demos to tutorials and more, we are creating a guided path so you can see better gains in your search traffic.

Alright, so now that you know what I am working on, I now need your help to figure out what I should do next.

Where do you want me to take Ubersuggest?

I have a few options for you, but I am not sure what you
want me to do with the tool.

Sure, I know you want more free features and I will do that,
but what’s going to provide you with the biggest gains?

Here are some options…

  1. Automated SEO – would you like me to focus my efforts on automating your SEO? All you would have to do is add a javascript to your site like Google Analytics and it would automate 40 to 50% of your SEO tasks. It would even adjust your code for you automatically no matter what CMS you use. Again, it would ONLY automate 50% or so of your tasks, I can’t automate all 100%… yet.
  2. Ad management – do you want an easy to use ad management system? From Facebook and Google to even smaller sites like Quora, there are tons of ad opportunities. I could create an easy to use system that helps you find all of the ad opportunities and optimize/manage them for you in an automated way.
  3. Free email marketing – I know there are tools like Mailchimp that are great, but what if I made it so you can send an unlimited amount of emails to an unlimited number of contacts for free?
  4. Chrome extension – what if I took extensions out there from tools like Moz, Ahrefs, Keywords Everywhere, and SEMrush and combined the best features and made it free?
  5. Or do you have any better ideas? I am open to anything.

Conclusion

I can take Ubersuggest in many different directions. There isn’t really a right or wrong approach and, wherever I take it, I will make sure that the product is still really easy to use.

The question is, what do you want me to focus on first?

That’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things because I am building this for you.

So, if you can, leave a comment below letting me know where you want me to take Ubersuggest. It can be one of the options above, or if you have a better idea, I am open to that as well.

The post I Need Your Help With Ubersuggest appeared first on Neil Patel.