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Google Expanding Carousel Layout for “Best” Keywords

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Expanding Carousel Layout for “Best” Keywords

Google Expanding Carousel Layout for “Best” Keywords

Over the past year we’ve seen Google expanding their carousel layout and experimenting with new UI for SERPs (see Dr Pete’s helpful mega-guide to the SERP layout), last week we saw some new layouts around filtering and today we’re noticing an expanded rollout across some commercial keywords that will dramatically impact user behaviour.

What is the Google carousel layout?

The carousel layout has been around for a little while and looks something like this:

Typically this layout has been reserved for relatively non-commercial queries like movies, books, landmarks and so on.

Expanding the carousel layout to commercial queries

This morning we saw a dramatic increase in the coverage for carousel queries, and of note we see this expanding across very commercial queries like “best project management software”:

These queries are not cheap to advertise on and typically have multiple adwords slots against them. These are commercial queries that are competitive and monetized.

While it’s obviously early days, it looks like Google might be putting the cart ahead of the horse for some of these queries. Take “best accounting software”:

Noticeably absent from the carousel is Xero, Netsuite, or Zoho. #1, #2 and #3 in the adwords slots. Of course whether they’re the best or not I’m not going to comment on but not even appearing in the carousel seems like a slap in the face.

Implications

Distilled NYC VP Noah Lemas wrote around a year ago about Google’s increasingly aggressive attitude towards third party aggregators. This is yet another step in that direction, and more and more sites need to be wary of Google as a competitor, as well as a channel. The bottom line here is that if you are a business who could be replaced by Google – particularly an affiliate or comparison site – you need to start thinking fast about how you can add unique value.

That said, this could also be a defensive play by Google – Amazon are now bidding on product listing in paid per click, and this may be Google’s way of avoiding losing market share to them.

What’s next?

Anyone think we might see this expand to keywords like “best credit card” soon? These are some of the most expensive keywords on Google and tough to rank for. A carousel result here would materially impact the bottom line for companies like Nerdwallet….

The growing percent of queries featuring carousels (thanks @cyrusshepard for pointing me to this graph).

Discussion

What are you all seeing? Drop any insights into the comments! We’ll update this post with more as we have it….

5 Inbound Marketing Techniques Every Startup Need to Know

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 Inbound Marketing Techniques Every Startup Need to Know

5 Inbound Marketing Techniques Every Startup Need to Know

Creating a startup is no easy work, we are well aware of that. That’s why we have this list of 5 inbound marketing techniques that can help you break through the noise and reach the audience you want.

Why inbound marketing you ask? Well, first of all, inbound marketing costs relatively lower compared to outbound marketing like tv advertising.

For a startup, you probably can’t allocate as much budget as you would like on marketing. Which is why the low-cost aspect of inbound marketing is so important to a startup business.

What’s more, the effect of inbound marketing is long term and long lasting. By buying advertisement you’re just renting a temporary place to showcase your product or your brand.

But the core of inbound marketing is having customers coming to you instead of vice versa. By putting out content that interests your targeted crowd, you ensure yourself an audience and a group of potential customers.

As the masterminds at HubSpot put it, inbound marketing is “The best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business”. If you’re launching a startup, or already own one, inbound marketing can be your best friend.

If you don’t want to get swallowed by the waves of startups out there, here are the 5 inbound marketing techniques that you need to know.
1.Create free content, gain leads

Create contents that your targeted audience would want to know, such as…

Guide
Ebook
Video
Product review
Infography
Checklist
Grading tool
Blog title/keyword/URl/etc generator
Industry news update
Slideshows

Inbound marketing starts with content. Not just any content but relevant content.

Think about it. Why would I want to know the 20 most popular knitting pattern of 2017 when I’m actually looking for a lipstick? The list of “it” lip colors on the latest New York fashion week sounds more like it, right? That would be correct if you’re running a makeup e-commerce site and someone like me (age 20s – 40s, female) is a part of your targeted audience.

Create a list of persona who is your targeted audience. Think of what concerns them. Write about it. Don’t just keep creating content for the sake of content. You gotta work smart not just work hard.

Here’s what you can do.

Create a blog. Like we did, like HubSpot did, like Danny Brown did.

Set a tone. Now this concerns your targeted persona and your branding. HubSpot gives mostly informative articles, guides, and tips. While Danny Brown tends to get a little more personal, he talks about his family, his home renovation updates etc.

Why are they so different?

Hubspot is selling you software and services, it’s a company brand. While Danny Brown is a personal brand, he sells advice and skills. That’s why they have different approaches to blogging.

Consider what you are, who your targeted personas are, then set a tone for your blog.

Now that you have a blog for your startup, you will slowly build a group of readers and they will start looking forward to your next content. Taking advantage of this, you can turn them into leads by offering them more free content.

Put a little box somewhere, preferably strategically at the end of your blog post, then tell them to type in their email to sign up for a weekly newsletter.

Voila, you got your leads.

An example of a pop up offering a user more free stuff – Our little effort to share with you awesome contents while asking little in return

Not only that, you can also offer them e-books, guides, checklists, reports etc to download. Once again, all those are awesome ways to gain leads. There is a long list of content that you can create, fit it according to what your personas would like. In return, you gain leads, subscribers who will continue reading your stuff, revenue for your startup and all of that from a little effort of content creating.

2. Build your presence on social media, it’s free!

The next inbound marketing tip concerns social media. Be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, pick one or more and start building your profile.

It might be too much of a hassle to manage multiple social media accounts. So remember your list of targeted persona? Summon them and ask them which platform they prefer.

Other than that, consider the type of startup you’re owning.

If you’re a florist, Instagram will be excellent to showcase your beautiful bouquets. If you’re a B2B enterprise, Twitter will be a better place to go. While restaurants tend to utilize Facebook.

Consider what each platform has to offer and which one can benefit your startup the most.

More than 70% of customers consult social media before deciding on a purchase. That’s how integrated social media is to our everyday lives down to decision making.

What can you post on social media?

Announcements: promotional sales, close for the day, special valentine’s day product
Daily updates: the dress is just in, perfect weather today for a pint of craft beer
Events: like our Facebook page and show us to get a 10% off
Behind the scenes: our programmer Wayne is working hard to present you the new chat feature on our homepage
Interactions: answer queries, retweet/share/repost positive feedbacks
Promotions: a cutout from when you got interviewed by the local newspaper

If you’re a florist, showcase the fresh flowers that are just in. If you’re a restaurant show off your lunchtime crowd. If you’re a B2B enterprise, give quick tips regarding your area of expertise.

Social media platforms are often time awesome places to get feedbacks and gain interaction with the crowd. You can answer their questions, promote positive feedback from customers, chime in on hot social topic and more.

Here’s a Facebook page example of Panzano an Italian restaurant at Denver.

Panzano runs an excellent Facebook page that boost a variety of posts ranging from event announcements to self promotion. It also serves as a platform for testimonials from satisfied customer.

They utilized their Facebook page diversely by posting events being host at their restaurant, showing off their handsome staff team and promoting a recommendation they got from a gastronomy website. They also received a good amount of thank you notes from satisfied customers which serve as free advertisement.

When utilized actively and correctly, social media page can be a powerful inbound marketing technique. It is an important place to establish your startup image and it also doubles as an advertisement platform. There are 1.4 billion active users on Facebook who visits it daily, it’s also free. There’s no reason for you to not utilize it to promote your startup.

3. Get some sprinkle of SEO magic

While SEO might not be as easy (or as hard) as getting a fairy to sprinkle you with fairy dust, there is a wide collection of resources online that tells you how to optimize your website. Consider those as your fairies.

The world of SEO might be foreign and slightly scary but as Moz put it “There are many aspects of SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply the matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand,”.

There they said it. Making search engine understand your site.

I understand that you don’t build your website for the search engine, you build it for people. I preach building a website with “for the people” mindset, that’s what makes a great website.

But if no one ever reaches your site, building it for people may be simply not enough.

Building your startup’s website in accordance with guidelines will do you more good than harm. And more often than not those guidelines were written with “for the people” in mind. So you don’t have to feel contradicted.

Here’s the webmaster guideline from search engine giant Google to help you get started.

If you want to learn more, there are many awesome blogs out there that aim to help out webmasters on SEO. Like Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, just to name a few.

Having a properly optimized website has a couple benefits that can boost the success of your startup. As mentioned before, the guideline was written with “for the people” mindset.

So optimizing your website means creating a better browsing experience for your targeted audience.

The most crucial point of SEO is boosting your SERP ranking. With a boosted ranking, you gain higher exposure, broadening the surface of your funnel.

The number one ranked website on a Google search page gets 33% of traffic . That is A LOT of traffic. Imagine that amount of traffic, the number of leads and the amount of transaction that can happen.

Your startup business will start serving you money, fame, and success in no time.

You don’t need to hire an expert to SEO your website, as mentioned before, there is a lot of free sources on the internet that you can take advantage of and take SEO into your own hands. If you still find it a little intimidating, there’s a lot of inexpensive SEO tools out there that can help you out. Like our SEOPressor WordPress plugin. A little SEO effort can help your startup business in a long way.

4. Make good use of your landing page

What is a landing page? Let me quote from good old Google “a web page which serves as the entry point for a website or a particular section of a website.”

Yup, couldn’t chain it up better myself. The entry point to your website. The page that the public saw the moment they click on your call-to-action.

Now, think of what you want. What is your motive for having people coming to your landing page? Do you want leads? Do you want them to install your app? Or you want to tell them what your company does?

Now summon up your list of personas again, what do they want from your company? What is their pain point? How should the design be to please them into giving you a try?

I would say keep it focused, straight to the point and please, for the sake of everyone, hassle-free. Here are 7 effective landing page tips that can help you build just that.

If you’re still not sure how well your landing page fare, Wordstream has a landing page grader that pairs up with Google AdWords to give you a good idea of how well your landing page is structured.

If you host your website on WordPress like we do, here are some WordPress landing page templates that can help your startup grow and make things easier for you.

Here’s my pick of a good landing page.

Landbot is a company that builds chatbots. They tell you all that by letting you chat with one directly. I call them absolutely brilliant.

Landot’s landing page tells you what they do by showing you exactly what they do, and with humor.

Your startup might not build nor utilize chatbots, but that’s not the point. The point is your landing page needs to…

has a purpose
is easy to navigate
interests potential customers
optimized

Think of landing page as the first impression. You would definitely want to impress your date with everything you got and leave a good impression, right? So why would you make a less than up par landing page and leave your personas with a bad impression? By working on your landing page, you can convince more potential customers to stay and turn them into real customers for your startup business.

5. Remarketing, the ultimate personalized form of marketing

Ever clicked on a product page, not buying, exit and see an ad displaying the exact product on another website days after? Yup, you’re being remarketed.

To put it clearly, remarketing works by putting a cookie to the browsers of those who visited your website. Then based on your chosen criteria, a group of audience is shown ads highlighting your products or company while they’re out browsing other websites.

Though you may wonder isn’t advertising an outbound marketing technique instead of inbound marketing technique?

Well, this actually works more like a booster to your inbound marketing rather than a part of your inbound marketing. When employed timely and accurately with a bit of research and planning. Remarketing can magnify your inbound marketing effectiveness in ten folds.

There are a lot of companies out there who offer this service like HubSpot, Criteo, and Google AdWords to name a few.

The advantage of remarketing is you can establish a more personalized and relevant advertising via effective targeting.

You are showing ads to a group who has shown interest and visited your homepage. You are showing ads to someone who has once considered buying from you. That is better than mindlessly advertising to a big crowd who may not care what you have to offer at all.

Me being re-targeted across mutiple websites. Guess who was just checking out flight tickets on AirAsia a few days ago?

You can even further specify your targeted audience and how ads appear via different settings based on which company you employed. You can decide to show them an ad for a product that they have viewed before, now with a special discounted price because it’s Christmas, trice a week. That’s how crazily customized remarketing can get.

However, in order to achieve the level of effective personalization and customization, you will need to work with a lot of data and carefully planned strategies. So be clear with your goal and expectation in mind before plummeting into remarketing.

Here’s an awesome article to AdWords remarketing practices that you can make use of if you decide to utilize this tactic.

With a little investment, researching, and planning, remarketing can be the best friend to your inbound marketing. So why not give it a try, it might just be the boost that your startup needs.

Now that you know the 5 inbound marketing techniques. It’s time to put your skill to the test and be on your way to become the owner of a successful startup!

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Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

10 must-have qualities of a perfect inbound marketer.
Proven examples on applying the best inbound marketing techniques.
Compact guide with less fluff!

Overcoming Writer’s Block: Tips & Advice

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block: Tips & Advice

Overcoming Writer’s Block: Tips & Advice

We’ve all been there, the age-old enemy of a writer: writer’s block.

In fact, I have a blank document up for an afternoon. Despite knowing what topic I’m going to write. Nothing just seems to come to my mind. As if there’s a force opposing me from putting my fingers on the keyboard.

For a copywriter or a content creator, we can’t afford to waste time. We have a deadline to catch and a product to sell.

So here are some quick tips on how to overcome writer’s block.
Read more, write more, push on.

1. Read more from your industry, research more on your topic.

“For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” – Eudora Welty

Read books, articles, blog posts. You can only write as good as you can read. How can you produce something when you have absorbed nothing?

From reading frequently you get used to the structure, the vocabulary, the flow of a sentence and how to put a punctuation. You see where the pull is placed and how the ending persuades.

It’s impossible to create something that you have never seen before. So instead your best effort should be put into recreating something great but off your own ideas.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein

As a copywriter, you are trying to create conversion. You want to sell something. How can you convince anyone to buy from you if you yourself don’t know what it is?

Here’s an example from Apple. See how they flaunt their knowledge of the product?

I’ll be frank I have no idea what an OLED screen is, nor do I know what differs true blacks from black. But I appreciate having that information about the device. It is perfectly convincing and wowed me with the high technology it seemingly possesses. All in one 25 words sentence.

2. Ask yourself what you want to write and create a list.

Writing on a blank document from the scratch is always the hardest. The beginning is always the hardest. If you find yourself getting the writer’s block before you even start on it.

Ask yourself these questions:

Have you done enough research?
Do you have all the points that you need to write on?
Do you know enough about the subject to write?

If you do, you should come up with a list. Not like a draft not even like a sketch, just a list of things that you want to include in your writing. Be it a sentence, a keyword, a quote. Make a list of it.

Here’s the list I made for this post. It’s different from the end result and it’s messy and unorganized. But it helped me to get focus on the topic.

Now you got your brain focused on what you want to write. You have cleared out a path on what you are gonna write. You will find yourself starting to add more and more to the list and without knowing, you are writing.

3. Use swipe file

A swipe file is a collection of advertisements or copy examples. It’s simple to start creating your own swipe file by utilizing applications like Evernote. You can also keep a folder of PDF on your Dropbox or Google Drive. As long as you can easily retrieve them for your need.

Browse through them when you’re stuck. See how others write. Analyse their ways of writing. That will, in turn, inspire your own writing.

If reading books, blog post or copy is like having your 3 meals a day. Reading through your swipe file should feel like eating vitamins or supplements. It should be focused and effective.

You target what you need, and you analyze how others do it. If you can’t think of a good headline, open up the folder of headlines. Know where you’re stuck and pull inspiration for it.

You can even try to modify them to your own use like you would a template. The point is you don’t have to stare at a blank document or a jumbled list of content. You have a skeleton to put in your own words. That can really help push start your work.

4. Eliminate distractions

Now that you have everything you need. You know what you need to write, you identified the tone of the piece, you even have your featured image ready. But you just can’t type it out.

Maybe the music is too loud, your phone screen keeps flashing or you can’t help eavesdropping on your co-worker’s conversation.

What you need to do now is take a deep breathe and tell yourself to focus. Turn off your music and phone, move to another space. Force yourself to focus.

Distraction can be hard to beat. There are tools that can help you like software that gives you a minimal distraction writing space. I call them writer’s block app, FocusWriter and WriteMonkey to name a few.

The minimalism interface and daily goal task bar of Focus Writer.

Utilizing them can help keep your mind from wandering to other applications on your computer. Or get distracted by that little pop-up chat bubble.

If your working space is cluttered, clean it up. Wash that empty coffee cup that has been sitting there for hours. Tear off those dog-eared post-its. Keep your workspace as distraction-free as your typing screen.

Everything you need is in your mind, and all you need is your fingers to type it out.

But the most important part is, you need to help yourself to focus. You need to take control of the steering wheel. Only then can you start sailing and fill up that empty document.

5. Freewrite

If you still can’t focus. Why not try writing about what is distracting you? Freewrite can help you free out your mind and get focused.

Write whatever you want, whatever it is on your mind. Disregard structure, disregard grammar, you can have a dozen of typos in a sentence but it doesn’t matter.

If you’re frustrated with your inability to write. Curse it out. Think of it as a window to throw out all the glue that’s messing with your mind. Vent it out or keyboard smash.

Writing something, anything is better than staring at the blank document for hours.

Writing is a way to organize your thoughts. An organized mind is more focused because you have to get rid of all the white noise in your brain. You are giving your brain some fresh air.

With that breath of fresh air, you can now get back on track and start writing what you’re meant to instead.

Move your muscles to activate your mind

6. Crack your joints

If you’ve been sitting in the same spot for the whole morning. I would recommend you to try moving around.

Go take your bathroom break, and while you’re at it have a quick stretch. Pop your neck and your knuckles like you’re stepping into the ring. Well metaphorically you are, and your opponent is writer’s block.

You don’t notice how cramped up you are until you start moving around. Then you’ll be strike with a throbbing pain from the top of your spine, your waist, even your wrist.

Staying still in the same posture for a long time is bad for your body. Not only that, it’s also bad for your creativity. So move around, pop those knuckles cause you need to finish up another copy in an hour.

7. Chew a gum, drink a cup of coffee

If you bring gums around with you, now is the good time to chew one out. Get your muscles moving. Maybe it’s just me but I always feel more refreshed when my mouth doesn’t taste so stale. Snack on some crackers, get a mint or brew yourself a cup of coffee.

Chewing gum gets more blood flow to your brain. It wakes you up and gets your gears start warming up. The effect only lasts for a 15 to 25 minutes window though. Make use of that window to get a hydrogen blast on your writing.

If gum’s not your thing. Well, maybe you need a coffee break. Coffee encourages the flow of stimulation chemicals in our body. It gives a wake-up call to your numb state of unproductiveness. Take advantage of that caffeine rush to get through the slump.

When you got that head start from the chemical boost, you will realize in your frenzied state of word vomiting you have a big chunk of content out already. Now while that chemical rush retreats, you can start editing stuff instead. In no time, you’ll have your first draft done and staring back at you.

Shift your focus for a breath of fresh air

8. Do other creative work

Sometimes you need to keep your mind off your current work. But not completely. You still want to keep the creative side of your brain active, but with some other stuff.

Brainstorm about the featured image for your post with the designer. Or just open up your notebook to start sketching. Watch a creative video on youtube is another good idea, have you watched the dollar shave club video? That’s pretty funny and inspiring for someone in marketing.

Some writers like to work on multiple works at the same time. So when they are stuck on one, they can jump to another. If you have multiple projects under your belt, you can try jumping around.

The point is, put down what you’re currently working on. Stop trying to write. Work on something else instead. Sometimes it just gets really boring staring at the same thing for hours. So why not shift your focus to something else? It works for your creative flow like pressing the f5 button, trust me.

9. Take a rest

If the worst comes to the worst, you have tried everything you can. But your creative juice is still stuck and your mind is as dry as the Sahara desert. My friend, give yourself a break.

If it’s time for lunch break, get a sandwich and go take a walk in the park, or just walk around the block. Take your mind off your work completely. What’s more, don’t actively think about anything at all. You might catch your mind wander to stuff like “maybe I should change that “a” to “the” ” or ” Do I need to pick up a new jar of jam after work?”. But don’t dwell on it. Let your mind go completely blank.

Let your conscience focus on other things instead. Like the texture of your sandwich bread, how the concrete feels under your feet, how bright the sunlight is. Let the sensory take control of your brain. Feel, not think.

If you’re lucky enough to work from home, do some housework that relies on muscle memory. Do the laundry, vacuum your room, or even take a long warm bath.

Give your brain some time to rest. When you feel you’re ready to start writing again, you will realize your productivity has returned. You are not stuck anymore.

Develop a routine and stick to it

At the end of the day, success lies in perseverance, resilience, and discipline. There is no shortcut to these qualities, the only way to achieve it is by doing it.

Putting off work until the last minute and rely on random bursts of creative energy to complete a project may work. But it’s not the ideal way when you’re in a corporation with 9-5 working hours and deadlines to catch. I personally think (no offense) that it’s just an excuse to not deal with writer’s block.

Developing a routine is beneficial to both your writing process and your mental health.

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is famous for sticking to a fixed routine when he’s in the midst of writing a novel.

“The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

Find out what works for you in the restriction of your work hour and working environment. Maybe you feel more productive arriving at the company after a jog in the morning. Then stick to it, jog every morning before work.

Sit down and write for an hour non stop the first thing you turn on your computer. Do it every working day, embed that into your muscles and mesmerize your brain into the process days in and days out.

When your body and mind got used to the schedule, you will find that ideas and creativity come naturally everytime you sit down for writing time. Say goodbye to writer’s block when you have routine and discipline as your weapon.

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18 Effective Tips To Generate Ideas For Your Blog

The ultimate guide for every blogger to get more ideas for your blog post.
Identify the potential topics that you should have in your blog
Get more traffic to your website by applying these techniques
18 useful tips included to help you get creative on blog titles

Factors that influence your website’s credibility

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Factors that influence your website’s credibility

Factors that influence your website’s credibility

Your online website is the digital portrayal of your business. Viewers go through it with an intention of peeking into the functioning of your business and even the reputation of it.

One of the most decisive factors behind your brand gaining business through its website is the credibility it holds. The potential customers will only bank upon your business website after they trust it and the people behind it. In case you are an ecommerce website or a website that deals with customers’ sensitive information, you will have to put in extra efforts to gain customers’ trust.

As per the Stanford Web Credibility Research, websites become more credible by being useful and easy to access. A website’s usefulness is marked by its features, functionalities, and UI. However, the website’s ease of use is determined by the implemented web design. Hence, a lot of factors together contribute to enhancing your site’s trust score.

If you are clueless and would like to make your website more credible, here is a list of the factors that immensely influence your website’s credibility.

Search engines’ perception of your website

Search engines employ their algorithms and bots to assess the performance of your website and rank it, accordingly. If you are doing things in a right manner i.e. White SEO, following Google Algorithm updates and content policies, your website keeps moving up the search engine ranking ladder. That is a great first impression for your website visitors.

With tools like the  Alexa Traffic Rank tool, the online audience has access to your site’s global and location-based ranking. Your site’s search engine ranking is capable of heavily impacting your site’s credibility. So, make sure that you put efforts into that direction.

Social proof of your business

Establishing a social proof of your business website is crucial for its credibility impression. You need to put up links to all the social media pages of your business on your website. Apart from that, your website having a list of your clients/brands who have been associated with your business can be impactful.

Client/customer testimonials and reviews

Regardless of the nature of your business operations, i.e. whether it deals in product sales or services, you will always have customer reviews and testimonials coming in. Based on the customer experience granted by the business, these customers will either have a positive or a negative opinion of your business.

You can, however, put up the positive client/customers testimonials or reviews for your audience to see. But, refrain from putting up fake testimonials because the internet audience is smart enough to spot that. To make these testimonials and reviews more reliable, you can link them to the social profiles of the related client/customer, if permitted.

The presence of adverts on the website

Many blogging websites choose to put up targeted advertisements in order to make ad money. As beneficial and seemingly rewarding it might seem to the website owners, these ads irritate the audience who have to deal with them popping up every now and then.

To be honest, Ads make your website look less credible. Since it takes only 50 milliseconds for the users to form a first impression of a particular website, you wouldn’t want them to see these ads at least on the homepage of your website.

An updated blog

If you are starting career as a blogger and have just set up a website for it, you will obviously need more of your audience’s trust to help your blog grow. And if you are not a blogger but a mainstream business, you would still need a blog because that would eventually build your site’s credibility.

So, an updated blog that posts regular updates, fresh posts, and engages with the comments made on it, is termed as more credible by the audience.

Consistent website updates

If we suppose that your website was set up in the year 2005 and has managed to look the same, you have successfully killed its purpose and probably its audience engagement as well.

It is very important to keep updating the website content because it gives the message that your business is moving ahead and is growing. Without any updates, the site audience would be free to make an opinion that your business simply doesn’t care.

Accessible contact information

If your business or brand isn’t accessible to its audience, people will deem things to be fishy. It is very important for your website to make it easy for your audience to contact you. Hence, for building your credibility, put out your phone number, physical address, and an email address on the website.

Even if your website is strictly accessible only on a membership-based model, it should make the contact information public for all the audience to see.

A great web design that encourages seamless navigation

A study mentioned that 94% of the negative website feedback was design related. If your website design is such that the visitors are having a hard time navigating through its pages or if they get lost while browsing through different sections, your business is in for a loss.

On the other hand, if your audience is able to figure out the navigation and is able to quickly get to the part they are looking for, your site’s trust meter will go up.

A fast loading website

The truth is, if your website takes more than 2-3 seconds to load, visitors will be swift to abandon it. If they do so, they will never have the opportunity to go through the other content which would mean that you will miss out on those visitors who would have otherwise contributed to your site’s credibility score.

Spelling and grammar

My personal favorite on the cringe-o-meter: a website with bad grammar and wrong spellings. One couldn’t agree more that a website with such characteristics is a big-time blunder. I personally prefer to stay away from such websites because they don’t appear to be trustable since the website owner does not simply seem to care.

If you are not a language expert, always rely on professional services to get your content crafted. Hiring an expert content writer will eliminate the chances of glaring mistakes and even help you create value-offering content.

Detailed product information

If you run an ecommerce website, you should put up detailed information about the products that you are showcasing. This information can include the physical attributes of the product, its usage, the variants, customer reviews and images to make it easy for the customers to make a choice. When your customers don’t have to look at external resources to retrieve information about the products listed on your site, your site looks more credible.

Trust seals and website security certificates

To build your site’s credibility, always consider getting Trust seals which are third-party seals are highly trusted by the online audience. Intended to display the trust score or the sales counter of a particular business, these trust seals are vouched by third-party internet security organizations. Also, having an SSL certificate for your website is a compulsion if you want to come across as a credible online business.

It is never a bad idea to shell out some investment towards getting trust seals and SSL security certificates for your websites.

Team members’ bios and photos with their social profiles

If you are a business that targets the maximum number of leads with its website, you must let out information about the team members who are the people behind your business.

Putting up bios along with professional looking photographs is a good idea to make your business website look more credible.

Errors and links

Broken links and pages that yield an error message every time a visitor clicks on them, make up a deadly combination and contribute to killing your site’s user experience. This could, in turn, make your site appear less reliable. So, figure them out and fix them before your site visitors come across them.

 

 

7 Examples of A Lead Generation Website Homepage

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 7 Examples of A Lead Generation Website Homepage

7 Examples of A Lead Generation Website Homepage

In inbound marketing, the philosophy is letting the potential customers come to you. Instead of vice versa. But when they came, how can you make them stay? Now, that’s the million dollar question.

In order to guide visitors from the top of the funnel to the middle of it, you need to create an awesome lead generating homepage.

What is lead generation?

It is the process of warming up strangers into potential customers who are interested in your products or services.

Visitors who first visited your homepage may not know much about your brand or your products. They are at the very top of the funnel. At this stage, feeding them information is what you should aim to do. Build a relationship with them and gain their trust. When they trust you enough, they are more likely to buy from you.

Now, a homepage is one important tool you can use to gain leads.

“The homepage is your company’s face to the world. Increasingly, potential customers will look at your company’s online presence before doing business with you — regardless of whether they plan to close the actual sale online.” – Jakob Nielsen

Homepage often serves as a starting point. From there, visitors are guided into other pages such as product, contact us, blog etc.

The point is: Your homepage serves as the first impression and the first chance for you to grab their attention in that short 10 – 20 seconds window.

What’s better, attain their attention for long enough and transform them into leads using solely your homepage.

Does that sound like a fantasy? Well, there are homepages out there that do this, and they do it amazingly well. Why don’t we see how they do it and steal a little inspiration?

I’m going to show you 7 awesome examples of a lead generation website homepage.
1. Landbot

Ever scroll through a homepage, have a once over at a page full of descriptions, and still have no idea what they are selling? I know that frustration. I will also exit that webpage in a flash while sighing how they wasted my time.

Landbot does no such mistake. They tell you what they do, by showing you exactly what they do. On their homepage, you talk with a Landbot yourself. You are persuaded to sign up for a chatbot service by a chatbot.

Impressed? Register up now. Voila, lead generation nailed.

What they did right: They show you what they do, tell you what they are, ask you to sign up in a dynamic and unique way. And it all takes less than a minute.

2. Bombfell

One-liner is important. It gives visitors the most impactful and relevant information in one sentence, in one second.

Bombfell did it. Compact, beautiful and simple.

The background photo showcased what exactly their product is. Paired with a clear call-to-action.

And that’s just above the fold.

Scrolling down, there are more headers with precise and short sentences guiding visitors through the process. When you get to the end, there are more call-to-actions that urge visitors into leads.

Here’s the trick: If a call-to-action doesn’t work at first, doesn’t mean it won’t work at the end. Put a call to action at the head and the end of your homepage.

3. Discord

Sometimes you need to show a little character to spark interest. Discord did just that.

Discord knows exactly who their competitors are. They even addressed it directly on their homepage.

Their intent is clear: ditch them, join me, I’m better, click here to start now.

The brilliance here is how they target the pain point. Their visitors are most probably already users of their competitors. They are here to seek an alternative.

Why they need an alternative? Discord said it loud and clear. They know exactly what will drive users away from their competitors and use it into their persuasion.

The point here is: You need to know your targeted audience, you also need to know your competitors. Use your knowledge to target pain point and generate leads.

4. Mancrates

Here’s another example that is full of character.

When you have a business with such a clear intent and clear targets in mind, you can go all out, all at once.

One-liner slogan paired with a clear call-to-action. The classic lead generation combination. Classic and efficient.

Scrolling down, visitors are presented with a brilliant copy that showcases the philosophy of the brand. They build an animated image in visitor’s mind. While stressing again and again that they sell perfect gifts for men.

You are presented with more call-to-action and more enthusiastic, emphatic and persuasive copy while you scroll to the end of the page.

Their trick is: Embrace the brand identity that was built specifically for your targeted audience. Talk to your potential customers directly and empathize with them.

5. Tumblr

Tumblr with its 555 million monthly visitors is one of the major social media sites on the internet.

One special thing about Tumblr’s homepage is: they proudly feature a random visual creation by one of its user.

Accompanied by two simple call-to-action buttons at the center.

Scrolling down, visitors are presented with how the site works. They talk to visitors like they’re talking to a friend at school. Casual, simple, no-brainer, and really, just whatever.

One thing that they stressed throughout is how simple you can use it, and how diversely you can use it. They personified themselves as a welcoming figure of a community and casually show you the ropes.

Charmed? Sign up now and join the community. There, another successful lead generation.

What they did: Talk to the audience not unlike talking to a friend, be friendly, be helpful. The last thing you want to do is posed as some intimidated figure and scare them out of your homepage.

6. Patreon

A patron is a person who supports with money, gifts, efforts, or endorsement an artist, writer, museum, cause, charity, institution, special event, or the like.

Patreon homepage sums itself up using 4 simple words. Creators, come get paid.

It’s a platform for creators and what they do is help them get paid. Concise and catchy.

Now, that’s what I call a powerful one-liner.

They address the targeted audience then attack their pain points directly. Who wouldn’t be appealed by getting paid for their creative work?

Directly under the powerful slogan, there are two call-to-action buttons. The “start my page button” in red – which creates a sense of urgency.

Scrolling down, visitors are presented with more information on their operation. Endorsement from active users and last but not least, another call to action paired up with 4 simple words: let’s get you paid.

Their brilliance: Using the least words to create the most powerful and compelling partner to your call-to-action button.

7. Basecamp

The moment someone clicks on their homepage, they’re presented with numbers.

This amount of people signed up last week, you should too. Are you still not convinced? Here are some testimonials from our users. And here’s more data on how our business grows.

Start a free 30-day trial. The call-to-action says.

Well, instead of just telling you how good they are themselves. They are using data and testimonials to back them up.

For a software that is targeting businesses, they know hard facts are more convincing than crafty words. And if the amount of businesses signed up is anything to show, they are really killing that lead generation.

How they did it: Utilize cold hard data, cause customers’ heart is just as rock hard when it comes to budgeting. Regardless of how good your product works.

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How To Improve Conversion Rate Using Colors

Interesting Facts About Color Psychology.
Real Case Scenario Included.
Best Color Tips To Increase Conversion Rates!
A Complete Guide Every Marketer Must Have!

Reputation Management SEO: How to Own Your Branded Keywords in Google – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Reputation Management SEO: How to Own Your Branded Keywords in Google – Whiteboard Friday

Reputation Management SEO: How to Own Your Branded Keywords in Google – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

A searcher’s first experience with your brand happens on Google’s SERPs — not your website. Having the ability to influence their organic first impression can go a long way toward improving both customer perception of your brand and conversion rates. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand takes us through the inherent challenges of reputation management SEO and tactics for doing it effectively.

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are chatting about reputation management SEO.

So it turns out I’ve been having a number of conversations with many of you in the Moz community and many friends of mine in the startup and entrepreneurship worlds about this problem that happens pretty consistently, which is essentially that folks who are searching for your brand in Google experience their first touch before they ever get to your site, their first experience with your brand is through Google’s search result page. This SERP, controlling what appears here, what it says, how it says it, who is ranking, where they’re ranking, all of those kinds of things, can have a strong input on a bunch of things.

The challengeWe know that the search results’ content can impact…
Your conversion rate. People see that the reviews are generally poor or the wording is confusing or it creates questions in their mind that your content doesn’t answer. That can hurt your conversion rate.
It can hurt amplification. People who see you in here, who think that there is something bad or negative about you, might be less likely to link to you or share or talk about you.
It can impact customer satisfaction. Customers who are going to buy from you but see something negative in the search results might be more likely to complain about it. Or if they see that you have a lower review or ranking or whatnot, they may be more likely to contribute a negative one than if they had seen that you had stellar ones. Their expectations are being biased by what’s in these search results. A lot of times it is totally unfair.

So many of the conversations I’ve been having, for example with folks in the startup space, are like, “Hey, people are reviewing my product. We barely exist yet. We don’t have these people as customers. We feel like maybe we’re getting astroturfed by competitors, or someone is just jumping in here and trying to profit off the fact that we have a bunch of brand search now.” So pretty frustrating.

How can we influence this page to maximize positive impact for our brand?

There are, however, some ways to address it. In order to change these results, make them better, Minted, for example, of which I should mention I used to be on Minted’s Board of Directors, and so I believe my wife and I still have some stock in that company. So full disclosure there. But Minted, they’re selling holiday cards. The holiday card market is about to heat up before November and December here in the United States, which is the Christmas holiday season, and that’s when they sell a lot of these cards. So we can do a few things.

I. Change who ranks. So potentially remove some and add some new ones in here, give Google some different options. We could change the ranking order. So we could say, “Hey, we prefer this be lower down and this other one be higher up.” We can change that through SEO.

II. Change the content of the ranking pages. If you have poor reviews or if someone has written about you in a particular way and you wish to change that, there are ways to influence that as well.

III. Change the SERP features. So we may be able to get images, for example, of Minted’s cards up top, which would maybe make people more likely to purchase them, especially if they’re exceptionally beautiful.

IV. Add in top stories. If Minted has some great press about them, we could try and nudge Google to use stuff from Google News in here. Maybe we could change what’s in related searches, those types of things.

V. Shift search demand. So if it’s the case that you’re finding that people start typing “Minted” and then maybe are search suggested “Minted versus competitor X” or “Minted card problems” or whatever it is, I don’t think either of those are actually in the suggest, but there are plenty of companies who do have that issue. When that’s the case, you can also shift the search demand.

Reputation management tactics

Here are a number of tactics that I actually worked on with the help of Moz’s Head of SEO, Britney Muller. Britney and I came up with a bunch of tactics, so many that they won’t entirely fit on here, but we can describe a few more for you in the comments.

A. Directing link to URLs off your site (Helps with 1 & 2). First off, links are still a big influencer of a lot of the content that you see here. So it is the case that because Yelp is a powerful domain and they have lots of links, potentially even have lots of links to this page about Minted, it’s the case that changing up those links, redirecting some of them, adding new links to places, linking out from your own site, linking from articles you contribute to, linking from, for example, the CEO’s bio or a prominent influencer on the team’s bio when they go and speak at events or contribute to sources, or when Minted makes donations, or when they support public causes, or when they’re written about in the press, changing those links and where they point to can have a positive impact.

One of the problems that we see is that a lot of brands think, “All my links about my brand should always go to my homepage.” That’s not actually the case. It could be the case that you actually want to find, hey, maybe we would like our Facebook page to rank higher. Or hey, we wrote a great piece on Medium about our engineering practices or our diversity practices or how we give back to our community. Let’s see if we can point some of our links to that.

B. Pitching journalists or bloggers or editors or content creators on the web (Helps with 1, 4, a little 3), of any kind, to write about you and your products with brand titled pieces. This is on e of the biggest elements that gets missing. For example, a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle might write a piece about Minted and say something like, “At this startup, it’s not unusual to find blah, blah, blah.” What you want to do is go, “Come on, man, just put the word ‘Minted’ in the title of the piece.” If they do, you’ve got a much better shot of having that piece potentially rank in here. So that’s something that whoever you’re working with on that content creation side, and maybe a reporter at the Chronicle would be much more difficult to do this, but a blogger who’s writing about you or a reviewer, someone who’s friendly to you, that type of a pitch would be much more likely to have some opportunity in there. It can get into the top stories SERP feature as well.

C. Crafting your own content (Helps with 1, a little 3). If they’re not going to do it for you, you can craft your own content. You can do this in two kinds of ways. One is for open platforms like Medium.com or Huffington Post or Forbes or Inc. or LinkedIn, these places that accept those, or guest accepting publications that are much pickier, that are much more rarely taking input, but that rank well in your field. You don’t have to think about this exclusively from a link building perspective. In fact, you don’t care if the links are nofollow. You don’t care if they give you no links at all. What you’re trying to do is get your name, your title, your keywords into the title element of the post that’s being put up.

D. You can influence reviews (Helps with 3 & 5). Depending on the site, it’s different from site to site. So I’m putting TOS acceptable, terms of service acceptable nudges to your happy customers and prompt diligent support to the unhappy ones. So Yelp, for example, says, “Don’t solicit directly reviews, but you are allowed to say, ‘Our business is featured on Yelp.'” For someone like Minted, Yelp is mostly physical places, and while Minted technically has a location in San Francisco, their offices, it’s kind of odd that this is what’s ranking here. In fact, I wouldn’t expect this to be. I think this is a strange result to have for an online-focused company, to have their physical location in there. So certainly by nudging folks who are using Minted to rather than contribute to their Facebook reviews or their Google reviews to actually say, “Hey, we’re also on Yelp. If you’ve been happy with us, you can check us out there.” Not go leave us a review there, but we have a presence.

E. Filing trademark violations (Helps with 1 & 3). So this is a legal path and legal angle, but it works in a couple of different ways. You can do a letter or an email from your attorney’s office, and oftentimes that will shut things down. In fact, brief story, a friend of mine, who has a company, found that their product was featured on Amazon’s website. They don’t sell on Amazon. No one is reselling on Amazon. In fact, the product mostly hasn’t even shipped yet. When they looked at the reviews, because they haven’t sold very many of their product, it’s an expensive product, none of the people who had left reviews were actually their customers. So they went, “What is going on here?” Well, it turns out Amazon, in order to list your product, needs your trademark permission. So they can send an attorney’s note to Amazon saying, “Hey, you are using our product, our trademark, our brand name, our visuals, our photos without permission. You need to take that down.”

The other way you can go about this is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protocols. You can do this directly through Google, where you file and say basically, “Hey, they’ve taken copyrighted content from us and they’re using it on their website, and that’s illegal.” Google will actually remove them from the search results.
This is not necessarily a legal angle, but I bet you didn’t know this. A few years ago I had an article on Wikipedia about me, Rand Fishkin. There was like a Wikipedia piece. I don’t like that. Wikipedia, it’s uncontrollable. Because I’m in the SEO world, I don’t have a very good relationship with Wikipedia’s editors. So I actually lobbied them, on the talk page of the article about me, to have it removed. There are a number of conditions that Wikipedia has where a page can be removed. I believe I got mine removed under the not notable enough category, which I think probably still applies. That was very successful. So wonderfully, now, Wikipedia doesn’t rank for my name anymore, which means I can control the SERPs much more easily. So a potential there too.

F. Using brand advertising and/or influencer marketing to nudge searchers towards different phrases (Helps with 5). So what you call your products, how you market yourself is often how people will search for you. If Minted wanted to change this from Minted cards to minted photo cards, and they really like the results from minted photo cards and those had better conversion rates, they could start branding that through their advertising and their influencer marketing.

G. Surrounding your brand name, a similar way, with common text, anchor phrases, and links to help create or reinforce an association that Google builds around language (Helps with 4 & 5). In that example I said before, having Minted plus a link to their photo cards page or Minted photo cards appearing on the web, not only their own website but everywhere else out there more commonly than Minted cards will bias related searches and search suggest. We’ve tested this. You can actually use anchor text and surrounding text to sort of bias, in addition to how people search, how Google shows it.

H. Leverage some platforms that rank well and influence SERP features (Helps with 2 & 4). So rather than just trying to get into the normal organic results, we might say, “Hey, I want some images here. Aha, Pinterest is doing phenomenal work at image SEO. If I put up a bunch of pictures from Minted, of Minted’s cards or photo cards on Pinterest, I have a much better shot at ranking in and triggering the image results.” You can do the same thing with YouTube for videos. You can do the same thing with new sites and for what’s called the top stories feature. The same thing with local and local review sites for the maps and local results feature. So all kinds of ways to do that.

More…

Four final topics before we wrap up.

Registering and using separate domains? Should I register and use a separate domain, like MintedCardReviews, that’s owned by Minted? Generally not. It’s not impossible to do reputation management SEO through that, but it can be difficult. I’m not saying you might not want to give it a spin now and then, but generally that’s sort of like creating your own reviews, your own site. Google often recognizes those and looks behind the domain registration wall, and potentially you have very little opportunity to rank for those, plus you’re doing a ton of link building and that kind of stuff. Better to leverage someone’s platform, who can already rank, usually.
Negative SEO attacks. You might remember the story from a couple weeks ago, in Fast Company, where Casper, the mattress brand, was basically accused of and found mostly to be generally guilty of going after and buying negative links to a review site that was giving them poor reviews, giving their mattresses poor reviews, and to minimal effect. I think, especially nowadays, this is much less effective than it was a few years ago following Google’s last Penguin update. But certainly I would not recommend it. If you get found out for it, you can be sued too.
What about buying reviewers and review sites? This is what Casper ended up doing. So that site they were buying negative links against, they ended up just making an offer and buying out the person who owned it. Certainly it is a way to go. I don’t know if it’s the most ethical or honest thing to do, but it is a possibility.
Monitoring brand and rankings. Finally, I would urge you to, if you’re not experiencing these today, but you’re worried about them, definitely monitor your brand. You could use something like a Fresh Web Explorer or Mention.com or Talkwalker. And your rankings too. You want to be tracking your rankings so that you can see who’s popping in there and who’s not. Obviously, there are lots of SEO tools to do that.
All right, everyone, thanks for joining us, and we’ll see again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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Do it Yourself SEO Split Testing Tool With Causal Impact

Posted by on Jul 20, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Do it Yourself SEO Split Testing Tool With Causal Impact

Do it Yourself SEO Split Testing Tool With Causal Impact

Get the Tool

We’ve got a new tool to share! This tool allows you to measure the effect of any SEO split tests you might run on your website. You can find it here. This post will walk you through how to use it, but before we do that, let’s jump back a step:

What is an SEO split test?

An SEO split test is where you make a change to your website on a subset of particular page template to see how those pages perform differently to the other half.

For example, you might change the title tags on 50% of your product pages and see how they perform compared to the other half.

This is different from a CRO split test, where you show users different versions of the SAME page.

Time for some quick definitions

Variant – This is the set of pages with the change. In our example the altered title tag.

Control – This is the set of pages where we made no change.

What do you need to use this tool

You’ll need to have run (or be running) an SEO split test (see ‘How does A/B testing for SEO work?’ in this post for help). You’ll need to have separated your pages into two groups, made a change to a percentage of them and then downloaded the total organic traffic to each of the two buckets.

(One way to do this with GA is sending a hit level custom dimension which contains “control” or “variant” and then measuring organic entrances, or you could also do this, by downloading the data for each of the individual pages and then matching them to your control and variant buckets.)

Specifically what you need is:

Total organic entrances (or sessions) day by day for the sum of your control set of pages.

Total organic entrances (or sessions)  day by day for the sum of your variant set of pages.

For both of these groups, you’ll need 100 days of this data before the test begins, plus however many days your test has been running for.

So if your test has been running for 14 days, you would need 114 days data.

Why 100 days of historic data? In short, this is what allows the maths behind this to work correctly.

Want to see an example data set? Here’s one we’ve put together in a Google sheet.

Sign up to find out more about our new ODN platform, for a scientific approach to SEO.

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How do you use it?

You enter the control and variant data into the boxes,  choose the start date for your test and click run.

(The tool knows your test begins 100 days in, so the start date input is purely to set the axis correctly. )

The tool will then plot your variant against the control using the Causal impact model, the start date will be highlighted on the graph and you can see how they perform relative to each other.

If the red line is positive, your change was good. If the blue line is higher then your change was bad.

You can also download the data in a CSV to calculate how much better they perform.

How does this work?

We’re about to enter the wonderful world of maths, so brace yourselves.

This tool uses Google Causal Impact model (you can find the academic paper here, there isn’t much written on this if you’re not maths inclined although I think this post was better than some of the others).

It’s a form of regression model and works kind of like this (simplification ahead).

Causal impact lets you break down time series data (data which is day by day) into its component parts i.e.: seasonality, industry effects, and the underlying trend.)

You provide causal impact with data to model those effects (seasonality, industry demand etc.) and then it creates the model using those inputs and your time series data. By isolating the other effects, it allows you see the true performance beneath those.

So how does it work in this case?

Well, our time series data is the variant set. We want to know how would that set of pages have performed if there was no change, so we can use the causal impact model to mimic that.

We provide a variable for time (you never see this) and a control set of data (what you enter) which then helps the model to account for any swings like sales or Google updates which should affect both the control and variant equally. This allows us to isolate and compare the variant and modelled control, which will have accounted for seasonality and site wide swings.

Why not just directly compare control and variant? We can’t directly compare them because of possible differences in the variant and control groups, the most obvious example of this is the two groups may be different sizes depending on how the pages got sorted.

For example, your variant may have an average of 5,000 organic sessions a day, where you control may only have an average of 4,000 organic sessions a day, so we can’t compare the absolute fluctuations in our two sections.

There’s more to it than that, but that is the easiest to follow example.

Why don’t we show statistical significance?

Statistical significance is an important concept. With any kind of statistical modelling there will be a band of error.

This gets a little more complicated however when looking at a prediction over time. If we were just comparing two days we might be able to say that A > B by such an amount that the result is statistically significant.

However, if we’re comparing two-time series, then what is important is the performance over time and not a one off date. If one consistently outperforms the other, then what is important is the total aggregate sessions, not any individual day. All the individual days may be within the margin of error and yet the total makes it notably significant.  

This basically makes day by day significance misleading, which is what this graph would show. Instead you need to calculate significance on total aggregate sessions i.e. total sessions to control vs total sessions to the variant, which you’ll need to manually with any standard significance tool.

Why have we made this tool?

We’re fully bought in on split testing. We think it’s the future of SEO and the way the industry is going. We even built an entire platform around it – DistilledODN.

But we also recognise that not everyone can afford large scale enterprise tools, so we wanted to make the basic maths available to everyone and encourage more industry testing.

While the maths here is a simpler version of what we use in DistilledODN (we can’t invest the same scale of resources into testing different models in this tool as we can in a full piece of software), the base (causal impact) is there and unlike in our ODN, where we have to have a generic set of maths that is applicable to anyone and anywhere, the power of testing and calculating the numbers yourself means you can make adjustment calls that a platform can’t. For example if you know you’ve run a sale on one section of your site which deviates from the norm, you can exclude that when providing the numbers to the tool.

Anyway, enough waffle. I hope you all find it useful!

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The Transformation of Search Summit: Strategies and tactics to harness the next generation of search marketing

Posted by on Jul 19, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Transformation of Search Summit: Strategies and tactics to harness the next generation of search marketing

The Transformation of Search Summit: Strategies and tactics to harness the next generation of search marketing

On October 19, Search Engine Watch will host The Transformation of Search Summit in New York City, in partnership with ClickZ and Catalyst.

Dedicated to the key trends affecting consumer behavior and search marketing today, this 1-day event will provide a host of insights and practical tips for business leaders, senior marketers and search specialists.

Speakers include:

The importance of search as a medium for connecting with consumers cannot be understated, and the facts certainly substantiate this:

Over $90 billion was spent on search advertising in the US in 2017
93% of online journeys begin with a search engine
96% of Google’s annual revenues come from search ads.

And yet, pinning down exactly what search is can be a difficult endeavor. In essence, search arises at moments of need or desire; when people want to know, do, or go, they reach out to a search engine.

These moments are increasingly fragmented across devices at home, at work, and on the go.

While the commercial opportunity that search provides is rising, it is no longer a text-only medium and Google is seeing some competition from the likes of Amazon and Pinterest. Many voice-based searches do not involve a screen, while visual search uses images as an input to deliver results.

The underlying nature of search remains constant; people want answers or suggestions and brands compete to provide them.

However, marketers must keep pace with these developments and acquire new skills if they want to deliver the experiences the modern consumer demands.

The pace of change in search is only accelerating over time, and those who do not evolve in line with the industry will be left behind.

The Transformation of Search Summit, which will be held at Convene on W 46th Street, will cut through the noise to provide actionable insights on the trends that are transforming search today.

Comprised of talks by specialists from across the technology landscape, the event will go much deeper than the standard platitudes to discuss the points that will transform search over the coming months and years. Furthermore, each session will contain a list of tips that marketers can apply at their company today to drive better results.

This applies equally to organic search and to paid search, with some core themes cutting across both marketing media.

Key Themes at The Transformation of Search Summit

The new customer journey
Customer journeys are increasingly fragmented; simultaneously, consumers expect cohesion in their interactions with brands. This event will look at how these journeys have changed, including some new research from ClickZ and Catalyst, before delving into the ways marketers should prepare to take advantage.
Voice search
Digital assistants, driven by artificial intelligence, are an increasingly prominent feature in our homes and on mobile devices. In fact, there are now over 1 billion voice searches per month and this number will only rise over the coming years. But just how big an impact is voice having on search in real terms? What are the specific strategies brands need to apply to avail of this trend?
The rise of Amazon and Amazon Marketing Services
As Amazon’s online retail dominance grows, what impact will it have on the consumer’s path to purchase; how should search marketers respond; and what opportunities does Amazon Marketing Services offer?
Blockchain and the decentralized economy
We will explore what impact this new technology is already having on marketing, and what search marketers should be on the lookout for as this powerful technology gains traction in every aspect of online interactions.
Unlocking the power of AI
AI is here to stay. It’s transforming our world and revolutionizing businesses. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human. Leveraging automated bidding solutions, discovering advanced methods for audience targeting, and understanding key considerations around AI opportunities such as voice search, digital assistants and chatbot are just the tip of the iceberg.
Data protection and privacy
With the recent string of data breaches and The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in Europe, data protection and privacy has made its way into the headlines of most newspapers and the minds of all marketers. What are the latest data regulations that you need to be aware of; what can we expect to see coming into effect over the next 12 months; and how can you balance compliance with operationalization to deliver the experiences customers expect?
Visual search and ecommerce
Pinterest has the highest average order value ($50) of any major social platform with nearly 2 million people pinning products every day. With the rise of mobile and movement to voice, image search is often overlooked, but is an important part of your modern search marketing mix. How can you take advantage of this trend and what actionable steps do you need to take on Pinterest and other visual search platforms?
The changing nature of leadership
With all this change it is important to take a step back and look at what you should be doing in the short, medium and long-term. Here we will explore the cultural, structural and practical steps business leaders can take to manage budgets, empower their teams and ultimately ensure that they balance risk with reward.

Who should attend?

The Transformation of Search Summit is aimed at business leaders and search professionals, with a split focus on strategy and tactics. Attendees have already been confirmed from companies including Marriott, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and Kaiser Permanente.

How can I sign up?

For more information and to sign up for the October 19 event, please click here. Early Bird rates are available until September 14.

Voice search: what will the future bring?

Posted by on Jul 19, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Voice search: what will the future bring?

Voice search: what will the future bring?

My husband – Joost de Valk – and I often have discussions on how technology will change our day-to-day life. Joost is an early adopter, while I am much slower and more reluctant to technological change. Our discussions are pretty heated. So, what’s Joost’s opinion on the future of voice search? How dominant will voice search be? And how will search be affected by it? I interviewed my early-adopting-voice-addict-husband  to shed some light and perspective on the matter of voice search. I did some thinking myself as well. Here, I share our views on what the future of voice search could look like. 

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Voice queries make a lot of sense

Joost just likes voice. He likes talking to machines. Joost asks Siri to set the timer while he’s cooking dinner and gives orders to Google Home when he wants to listen to some music. So what is it what attracts him in voice search? ‘I like voice whenever I cannot type,’ Joost answers,  ‘So, I use it while I am cooking, or when we are in a car together and we have a discussion. Using a voice query is just as easy as typing in a keyword. And if you do not have access to a keyboard, voice search is especially useful.’

I think Joost is right about that: voice queries just make sense. Voice search is easy to use (as long as your voice is recognized properly). For most people, speaking to a machine is quicker than typing. And, you can use voice search everywhere, even when you’re doing other things.

Voice results do not (always) make sense

The results that voice gives us are always singular. Siri will set a timer, Google Home will play the song. Joost:  ‘Voice results only make sense if you’re looking for a singular result. If you want to know something specific. If you want to end the discussion you’re having in the car and need to know exactly how many people live in France. And also, if you search for a specific restaurant. But if you want to have dinner in a nice restaurant and you’re not sure which one it ‘ll be,  you’ll probably prefer to see some options. And right then and there, is where I think voice results as they work now stop making sense.’

I started thinking about that. Most search queries people use are not aimed at a singular result. People like to browse. People want to choose. That’s why physical stores have a lot of options. People like to browse through different pairs of jeans before they choose which one they’ll buy. Online, we’ll probably check out different sites or at least different models before we add a pair of jeans to our shopping cart.

If you’re searching for information that is longer than a few sentences, voice result is not very useful either. That’s because it is hard to digest information solely by listening. As a listener, you’re a very passive receiver of information. As a reader,  you can scan a text, you can skip pieces information or read an important paragraph twice. You cannot do that as a listener. As a reader, you’re much more in control. So, if you’re searching for information about what to do in Barcelona, it makes much more sense to get that information from a book or a screen.

Search engines are growing towards singular results

Joost thinks that search engines are working towards singular results. They are developing that type of functionality. ‘The answer boxes you see in the search results are an example of that,’ Joost explains. ‘Search engines are trying to give one single answer to a search query. But, in a lot of the cases, people aren’t searching for one answer. In many cases people want to make a choice, they want to browse.’

So what will the future bring?

‘I think you’ll see different applications being connected to each other,’ Joost answers when I ask him what the future of voice search will look like. ‘Siri, for example, would then be connected to your Apple TV. Search results and information would appear on the screen closest to you that Apple controls. I think voice will become the dominant search query, but I think screens will continue to be important in presenting search results.’

Read more: How to prepare for voice search? »

The post Voice search: what will the future bring? appeared first on Yoast.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Site Migration

Posted by on Jul 19, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Hitchhiker's Guide to Site Migration

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Site Migration

“Towel day” by Alan O’Rourke

In online marketing, site migration is usually a phrase that makes SEOs, PPCers, site owners and stakeholders wince. We’ve all heard the horror stories about sites that have migrated from one domain to another and experienced a huge drop in traffic and visibility, and those that have suffered the same fate just by changing protocol. Whether you have acquired a domain, want to roll up your M-Dot site into a responsive design or desire a move from HTTP to HTTPS, devising a solid action plan to avoid traffic and revenue loss is paramount. On this journey, we’ll cover some of the most important things to address pre, during and post migration to give your site the best chance of a smooth transition to your new destination.

Pre-pre-migration: migration types and considerations

So you are staring out into the abyss thinking what now? Before you rush off into the unknown, let’s start with the basics; migration types. There are many reasons you may want to migrate your site, but the most common reasons include:

M-Dot Roll-Up migration

The main reason for this type of migration is for a transition from a separate mobile and desktop site to a fully responsive website. Moving towards a responsive site helps to consolidate site authority and reduce development resources (due to having only one site to update).

HTTP to HTTPS migration

An HTTP to HTTPS site migration is one that is becoming more common. This type of migration is one where the domain remains unchanged but an SSL certificate becomes associated with the site. This certificate is a symbol of a safe and trustworthy site and explains Google’s push for domains to adopt the protocol. Google have recently added to this by displaying the word ‘secure’ on all HTTPS pages in the search bar, and have hinted that the phrase ‘non-secure’ may feature on HTTP pages in the near future.

ccTLD to TLD migration

This type of migration involves moving a country specific TLD (Top Level Domain) to a more internationally recognised TLD (a well-documented example of this was the Guardian moving from .co.uk to .com). A move from ccTLD to TLD can be great for users who have a much wider audience outside of their country specific location – due to reduced resources needed to manage each branch separately.

Rebranding/ consolidating multiple domains migration

Rebranding is a type of site migration which occurs due to a change of name or brand acquisition. Like ccTLD to TLD migrations, this can involve moving a single domain or migrating multiple domains into one. As expected, involving multiple sites in a migration leads to greater risk for traffic and visibility.

No matter which type of migration you are looking to do, each comes with a shared list of do’s and don’ts:

Do understand that looks aren’t everything

With the prospect of a new site comes the excitement of building something visually stunning. Do put your flair on the new site, but make sure this doesn’t come at a usability or SEO cost.

Do consider wider channels

Site migration has a big impact on multiple digital channels and is sometimes overlooked:

Social – This involves thinking about social platform bios, logos, names, trademarks and brand tone of voice. It should be relatively simple to update a social media account without interrupting ‘regular’ behaviour, but if you need users to take action, give them notice and follow up with regular ‘countdown to launch’ reminders.
PPC – If you run Adwords paid search activity then this is a biggie. Make sure you update your final URLs to reflect the URL changes you have made in the migration plan – the last thing you want is your ads sending users to broken links or being disapproved entirely. Also, don’t forget to adopt the same tracking codes/UTM parameters to ensure that there is no break in reporting.
Offline – If your migration involves a name change you may want to take out advertising on billboards, local press (and beyond depending on your offering). Also, don’t forget to look back at previous domain campaigns/products that may have been supported by vanity URLs – be sure to 301 redirect these to your new site if they are still valid/ have garnered links and social shares.
SEO – Organic traffic is likely to be impacted most adversely in the short run as Google makes sense of redirects and page changes that have been made. As a backup, it is useful to allow extra budget to invest in alternative traffic sources in this period such as email or PPC spend for keywords that you rank well for organically.

Do get the timing right

Timing is everything.  In the planning stage it is vital to choose the best time to migrate by considering the following questions:

Is your site affected by seasonality? If so when are these peak periods?

Who are the core team members that will be involved in the site migration? What is their availability?

Take advantage of your analytics data to understand your business traffic patterns, and Google Trends data to understand overall user demand within the market. Plan to migrate during a quiet business period where ample staff resources are available.

Do set the tone

As hard as you try migrations  don’t always go to plan, therefore it is recommended to manage expectations early:

Agree on migration objectives (why are you migrating?)

Be clear about the amount of time and effort a migration takes and the tight deadlines needed to keep the project on track

Outline what is expected from everyone involved in the migration and the impact of these expectations not being met – make sure that a migration plan is developed and communicated across all teams involved early on

Be clear about the potential impact of migration in both the short and long term and  the average length of time needed for ranking recovery (this will be longer if site design, URL structure etc.. are compounded)

Share migration case studies with clients if you have them

Do agree on reporting format and frequency

Agreeing on what will be monitored and reported will provide you with accountability and makes sure that you are aware of what is important to measure; and what data is important to pull before launch. From experience, clients often request weekly ranking reports with keywords divided by category type (determined by the site), and page speed insights within the first few weeks of launch.

Although this list of dos and don’ts is important, it isn’t exhaustive. It is strongly recommended that a thorough technical audit is performed before migrating. This allows you to identify any issues that should be resolved to prevent trouble down the line.  If you are aware that your site is in particularly poor technical standing or suffering from a penalty, it is advised to delay your migration plans until these issues are resolved.

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Pre-migration: fuelling the rockets

Now we’ve thought about what’s in the abyss, it’s time to arm yourselves with information before you get out there. It is vital to obtain as much URL information about the legacy site as possible, for tracking, benchmarking and URL mapping purposes.  This can be gained by exporting data from the following sources:

Sites Analytics Platform – Export a list of every page that has received at least 1 visitor in the last 12 months. This ensures that all traffic driving pages are accounted for ready for the URL mapping process.

Buzzsumo – Export a list of all your most shared content. This is a great way to ensure that content that users have engaged with and continue to engage with are accounted for.

Screaming Frog/ Deepcrawl – Run and export a full crawl of the legacy site to gather a list of every URL that may need to be mapped. (If you have a separate M-Dot site or subdomains that you are looking to move, don’t forget to include these in the crawl).

Moz’s Open Site Explorer/ Majestic/ Ahrefs/ Google Search Console – from these tools, export a list of each legacy URLs that have external links pointing to them. By using each tool you can ensure that you are casting the data capture net wide as wide as possible, given that each tool collects backlink data differently.

AdWords – Export a full list of URLs you are using for your PPC campaigns. If you have PPC specific URLs, ignoring these could lead to broken links, a significant drop in quality score and even mass ad disapproval.

Once you have exported this data, it is time to combine lists, remove duplicate URLs and prioritise the most important URLs for redirection. This can be done using programmes such as GDoc and Numbers (for Mac), but for the speed of processing large volumes of data and the ability to easily group, de-dupe and order, Excel is the preferred choice. Next, create a list of URLs for the new site. When you have a list of unique legacy site URLs ordered by importance, a list of planned URLs for the new site, it’s time to create your URL redirect map.

Map each legacy URL to the new site URL on a 1:1 basis (where possible) rather than blanket mapping to the homepage or category page, and ensure that this is done via a 301 redirect – given that you want to let search engines know that the redirect is permanent. With some migrations, there are an enormous amount of URLs that need to be mapped. If this is the case look out for opportunities to use formulas and regular expressions to make the task lighter.

Once you have created your URL map for the new site, it’s time to benchmark your legacy site. This will make it easy to measure current performance against your new site. Make a record of the following on your legacy site:

Site speed of the top traffic/revenue-driving pages using tools like Pingdom, GTMetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights.

Rankings for your keywords (this does not need to be exhaustive, although it should contain your most valuable keywords and be spread across the products/services you offer). In order to effectively monitor keyword behaviour and patterns after migration, be sure to group similar keywords together in ‘category’ type groups.

Organic traffic and conversions per page.

Now that you have your most important data, and your new domain confirmed:

Create a robots.txt file to dictate which areas of your new site search engine spiders can access. Areas that you don’t want crawlers to reach should be marked with ‘disallow:/folder-on-site/’. An example of this can be found in Google’s robots.txt file.

Create an XML sitemap for the new site.

Register and set up the new domain in Google Search Console.

Create a useful 404 page to help users that reach a broken/ non-existent page find their desired destination on site.

Ok so now you are ready to make the journey right? Not quite yet – the abyss can be big and scary, so I would recommend performing a test run.

If you aren’t using a staging environment to test site changes it is highly recommended that you start now. A staging site is a great way to mess with settings pre-launch to understand the full effect of the changes made. Just make sure that it is either blocked in robots.txt and/or all test site pages have a noindex tag on them. Once this is done use the staging site to:

Test every 301 redirect from the legacy to the new domain.

That URLs present the expected information (e.g meta descriptions, H1 tags, title tags).

That internal links present 200 status codes and there are no broken links present.

The migration: launch

Finally, you’ve finished you rigorous testing, you’ve set up your monitoring tools and everyone and everything is in place for the big button push – launch that site!

Launch! – Publish content to the new domain and ensure that there are no internal broken links and pages are displaying as expected. Apply the 301 redirects from the legacy domain to the new domain.

Crawl Legacy URLs – Using Screaming Frog upload your legacy URLs in list mode and crawl to ensure that all pages are 301 redirecting. If this isn’t the case, review any non-200 status code pages manually.

Update robots.txt file – Remove the disavow rule in robots.txt/remove the noindex tag from pages where applicable, in order to open up the relevant pages for indexation. Remove password authentication if extra precautions were taken.

Tracking code – Check that all tracking code put on the site (analytics, retargeting, AdWords, Google Search Console etc.) are triggering and collecting data as expected.

Notify Google of site change – If the only change occurring is the protocol (from HTTP to HTTPS), or subdomain name change, this step will not need to be taken. In all other instances, it is imperative to notify Google via the existing Google Search Console domain as soon as the migration is launched.

Fetch as Googlebot – Make sure that your homepage and any other important pages are accessible to Googlebot and display content as expected.  You can ‘fetch’ through the following path: Google Search Console > Fetch as Google > Enter URL > Fetch and Render > Submit to Index. Although other search engines will pick up changes from Googlebot, it is advised to follow the same process with the designated webmaster tools for each search engine that contributes a significant amount of site traffic.

Real-time –  Using Google Analytics (which you should be, even if you use another analytics platform) monitor the real-time feature to view the drop in users to the legacy site and the rise in users to the new site.

Review and Upload Sitemap – Check that the new site XML sitemap is as expected and that URLs are returning a 200 response code when ran through Screaming Frog in list mode (if errors occur address each URL respectively). Once this is done, via Google Search Console, upload the legacy and new XML sitemaps through the following path Google search Console > Crawl > Sitemaps > Add. Uploading both the new and legacy sitemaps will aid crawlers to identify the new desired page and understand that legacy URLs have been redirected. As above this should be done in all webmaster consoles that contribute a significant amount of traffic to the site.

Post migration: fighting the baddies and taking it home

You’ve thought about the journey, fueled your rockets and now you are in flight. You are landing soon and you want to make sure you glide rather than fall out of the sky. Depending on the strength of your site, backlink profile and social clout, Google will begin crawling your site quite quickly, however, new pages entering the index will occur over time. Regularly check search engine caches for important pages such as the homepage and top level category pages to identify when the new URLs/page content are indexed.

Google Search Console checks

In the days after migration, Google Search Console makes it easy to monitor a site migration including;  messages and crawl error reports:

Alerts and messages – Check the Google Search Console inbox daily for any alerts or error messages that need to be addressed.

Indexation –  Compare the number of submitted URLs to the number of indexed URLs according to Google Search Console. These numbers may not be close together in the first few days, but if this is the case after this period, there may be errors that need to be addressed.

Crawl errors – Be sure to check the crawl error report daily for the legacy site and the new site. Within this report, it is important to pay attention to the date the error appeared and compare this to the date any changes were made. If you believe that the errors in the report have already been identified and resolved mark all errors as fixed. If they are still an issue, the error will return and it will be clear what needs to be addressed.

Screaming Frog crawl

Beyond Google Search Console, Screaming frog is a great tool to monitor status codes, redirect chains, tracking code and more. Using the tool, perform a crawl of the legacy site URLs to ensure that:

There are no temporary 302 redirects, or redirect chains present

No real pages return a 404 status code

Tags and meta descriptions have been migrated as expected

Analytics tracking code is present on all pages (use the custom extraction feature to identify this)

No pages that you want to be indexed are being blocked by robots.txt or meta robots tags

Update online properties

Make sure to update social media properties to reflect the site migration, even if redirects are already in place. It may also be beneficial to update Twitter handles and brand pages. Both SearcEngineGuide and Moz provide helpful social rebrand guides for all the major social platforms.

Update your site’s most valuable inbound links

Where possible it is strongly recommended to contact the owners of sites that link to yours where the URL has changed. Although a redirect will already be in place, a linking root domain updating their link directly to the new URL will remove undesirable redirect chains and ensure that the maximum amount of link equity is passed to the new page. More often than not, the sites will appreciate the update. Use the data pulls collected from the pre-pre-migration stage from Majestic, Ahrefs, Google Search Console and Moz’s Open Site Explorer, identify your most valuable inbound links and reach out.

Build new links to your site

It is important to build new links in order to replace some of the link equity lost from 301 redirects, and to create new paths for search engines to discover in order to crawl your site. As always, this is best done by creating content that is informative, relevant and useful. Evaluating the existing content you have via what performs well in terms of visits and engagement, and grouping these using a content matrix can help determine your next move.

Tracking and benchmarking

Once the new site has launched, it is time to monitor and report on the impact of your changes:

Compare site speed and usability of the legacy site vs. the new site for the legacy site’s most valuable pages based on the benchmarking data collected earlier.

Using your chosen ranking tool, monitor your pre. Vs. post-migration performance on a weekly basis. As tempting as it is; try not to draw any conclusions on positions for at least 4 weeks. It can take a while for Google to completely understand the migration that has taken place and this is compounded by the size of the site among other factors. Eventually, rankings should recover around the same positions they were previously.  As it is quite common for rankings to drop before recovering, it is stressed early in this post to be transparent with clients so that there are no nasty surprises.

Final thoughts

Just to wrap up for those of you who looked at the post and thought TLDR (too long didn’t read), a site migration is a significant project which affects multiple digital channels and should, therefore, be performed with great planning and care. For the greatest chance of success, be sure to follow the processes in this migration checklist so you aren’t spending a large chunk of the post-migration period chasing your own tail.

Remember to ask questions early, pull all necessary data with plenty of time, test and retest your 301 redirects before launch and consider the impact of site migration on wider channels. Migrating a site takes a lot of effort, but if done properly, the rewards can be plentiful.

Useful tools

Crawling

Screaming Frog (Free & Paid)

Deepcrawl (Paid)

Link/ engagement intelligence

Majestic SEO (Free & Paid)

Moz’s OSE (Free & Paid)

Ahrefs (Free & Paid)

GSC (Free)

Buzzsumo (Free & Paid)

Site speed and performance

Pingdom (Free & Paid)

Google Page Insights (Free)

GTmetrix (Free & Paid)

Rank checkers/performance monitoring

STAT (Paid)

Moz (Paid)

SEMRush (Paid)

Google Analytics (Free)

GSC (Free)