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How to Write Headlines People Can’t Help but Click [Formulas Inside]

How to Write Headlines People Can’t Help but Click [Formulas Inside]

There’s more than one reason sites like BuzzFeed, Upworthy, or PopSugar get so many clicks, views, and site visitors.

The top reason, though, is that all of these sites use unique, powerful, and engaging headlines that make people want to click on their content and view the whole story.

There isn’t one right way to write a headline, but certain types have been more successful over the years. By following certain headline “formulas,” you’ll write headlines that will persuade people to click on your content.

Here’s how to write powerful headlines that people can’t help but click.

Why Headlines Matter

The headlines you write either grab the attention of your audience or bore them. You need to get them right because your prospective customers will make their first impressions about your brand from them.

Your headlines shouldn’t focus on selling to the reader since that can be a turnoff. Instead, they should entice users to click to your content.

You also need to ensure your headlines are an accurate representation of the contents of the page. Users will quickly bounce from your page if the content doesn’t match the headline.

Finally, your headlines should adhere to your company’s values. Most Americans believe the headlines that they see. Fake headlines or headlines that are too “click-baity” can lead to giving your brand a bad wrap and will make your business suffer in the long term.

The good news is that if you stick to the formulas in this article, you can avoid using misleading, false, or boring headlines that can hurt your business.

4U Formula Headlines

The first formula you need to know about is the 4U formula.

According to CopyBlogger, as many as 80% of people will read the average headline when they come across it, but only 20% will actually read the entire post.

If you want to boost the odds of people actually clicking on your headlines and reading an entire post, you have to make your headline as intriguing as possible.

Melanie Duncan’s 4U formula is perfect for compelling readers. The 4U formula instructs you to make your headline “useful, urgent, unique, and ultra-specific.”

Useful Headlines

Think about the headlines that you actually click on when you’re scrolling through your news feed. Some are probably headlines that offer something that can help you.

You need to offer people the same useful value in your own headlines. Start out by understanding what will be useful to your audience, and then offer them what they need.

The headlines in this category should identify a problem and offer a solution, and so should the articles that go along with them. This works whether your company is service-based or product-based.

Examples of headlines that are useful include how-to articles and listicles like this one, from Wonder How To:

Other example “useful” headlines include:

10 Tricks for Getting Better SleepHow to Land Your Dream JobHow-To Guide for Meditation Beginners

Urgent Headlines

Clever bloggers create a sense of urgency in their headlines to push people to click. Think FOMO here (for the uninitiated: Fear Of Missing Out).

There is so much online content trying to grab our attention. It’s easy to ignore headlines that don’t aren’t time-sensitive.

However, when something IS urgent, readers will often click on the headline to get the information right away. They don’t want to miss out on exciting, helpful, or informative content that they need right now.

Urgency is the hardest of the four U’s to capture, and it might not always apply to your article’s topic. If you’re going to skip over any of the 4 Us, this is the one to think about leaving out.

Examples of urgent headlines include titles like “Avoid THIS Mistake Before It’s Too Late” or “Do XYZ in Just 2 Weeks With This One Simple Trick.”

Traditional news outlets use urgency in their headlines all of the time. Just check out this one from Fox News:

Unique Headlines

People love rare and unusual phrases. They stick out like a sore thumb and pique people’s interest so that they just have to click.

Anything that you can do to make your headline stand out in an oversaturated online world will help.

Think about focusing on wordplay, puns, and interesting topics. Buzzfeed is notorious for this:

Ultra-Specific Headlines

Have you ever wondered why so many headlines these days have numbers in them? It’s because they are ultra-specific.

Readers like to know exactly what they can expect if they click on a headline. The best headlines take specific ideas and break them down one step further.

For example, don’t just write about foods that you should avoid. Talk about common foods to avoid. Don’t just mention home decor ideas, talk about do-it-yourself home decor ideas.

Again, this is all about understanding what will be useful to your audience. Here’s an example of an ultra-specific headline I used in the past:

When you make sure that all of your headlines are useful, urgent, unique, or ultra-specific (or a combination of methods!), you’ll come up with better headlines for every article that you write–headlines that push people to read because they offer an answer to problems they have.

Guide Headlines

The guide formula is a classic way to show people that your post can solve their problems.

It’s as easy as rephrasing your headline to read: “The (Adjective) Guide to (Ultra-Specific Topic).”

Be careful about how you phrase the contents of the blanks, though. Use unusual words where you can and try to avoid basic adjectives like “complete.” Try to spice it up a bit by changing your adjective to something like “compact” instead.

Here’s a great example from TheStranger.com:

Showcase the Benefit of Your Post in the Headline

Your headlines need to demonstrate exactly what’s in it for readers if they view your post. The headline needs to convince them that there’s a benefit to taking time out of their day to look at your content.

You need to really know your target audience to create a headline with this formula. You should know what search terms they are using to find your post and what information they hope to find in it.

This is as simple as writing a few headlines like “Make Your Own Email Template in Minutes” or “Fast and Easy Ways to Cook Bacon.”

Huffington Post gave away the big benefit of their post quite well in this headline:

You can also give away the benefits of your post within a headline if you want to offer readers something in exchange for their time, like “Get a FREE E-book at The End of This Blog Post.”

Create Headlines that Appeal to Your Readers’ “How-To” Instinct

Most people are interested in improving their quality of life in one way or another, whether it’s their personal or business life.

With “how-to” headlines, you can highlight people’s wants and needs and how to meet them.

Don’t include the process in the headline, though, since you don’t want to give away the big secret. That certainly won’t compel readers to stick around for your whole post. Instead, keep your focus on the end result and the real motivations that the reader has.

These can be articles like: “How to Start a Business From Home” or “How to Eat Healthier on A Budget.”

Here’s an example of one of my how-to headlines:

Like all other headline formulas, the how-to headline offers a solution to a specific problem. Another example:

You can apply this formula by first figuring out what problems your readers might be struggling with.

Next, find out how you can narrow this problem down to make it extra-specific. If you need help, reach out to your followers on social media and ask them what challenges they face. You can even run an online poll or send one out to your email subscribers.

Headlines Comparing Two Unexpected Things

When you compare two unexpected things, people will be curious to figure out how they relate.

For example, this headline is pretty hard to ignore:

Claiming that bacon is better than true love is a pretty bold statement. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty interested to know the author’s reasoning here.

The formula for this headline is as simple as something like “Why (one thing) trumps/is better than (the second thing).” Comparison headlines offer us an escape from having to weigh out difficult decisions.

These usually work best if you bust a myth, like suggesting people should eat chocolate instead of going to the gym.

People won’t expect that you’re choosing to recommend the unexpected choice, and they’ll want to know your reasoning.

To apply this formula, begin by thinking about which myth you can bust or decipher some of your readers’ hardest decisions. Then use the formula to give them an answer.

For example, Bitcoin is super popular right now. That makes this Forbes post claiming that gold is better than Bitcoin intriguing, to say the least.

Classic, Numerical List Headlines

If you’re tired of seeing list posts all over the place, you might want to rethink your stance on them. People write them because they’re clickable and readable.

In fact, numerical headlines are the most preferred type of headline.

Buzzfeed’s homepage usually contains multiple listicle headlines:

Some other examples include:

32 Legitimate Ways to Make Money at Home (The Penny Hoarder)17 Ways Successful People Think Differently About Money (MindValley Blog)9 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler Without Using a Smartphone (The Art of Manliness)

A list post headline is as simple as “XX (Adjective) Ways to (Do Blank).” Start by thinking about the tips that can help your readers. Include specific, actionable tips that they can apply to their lives right away.

Include emotional words in the blog title to make list posts even more effective, like “sneaky” or “legitimate.”

Headlines that Appeal to Readers’ Curiosity

If you offer up insider information, readers won’t be able to resist. Their curiosity will get the best of them, and they’ll have to read your post to find the answers.

The headline “XX Little-Known Methods to Do (Blank)” focuses on the idea that if the methods in your post are little-known, readers will have an advantage over people who don’t know about them yet.

You can also pique readers’ curiosity with a headline like “XX Secrets of (Blank).” Everyone will want to know the secret. Who doesn’t want insider information?

MoneyVersed combined these two methods with this headline:

“What Everyone Ought to Know About (Blank)” is also a great way to challenge readers to find out exactly what they’re missing out on.

When put to use, this headline should look something like this:

Use Keywords in Your Headlines

If you use keywords throughout an article (which you should!), you should also include them in the headline.

Not only do keywords matter when it comes to search engines, but they also matter for providing context. Readers can tell what your article is about and what they can expect from reading it.

You can do this easily with a headline like “What Makes (Keyword) So Important in (Keyword).”

You’ll attract more clicks and readers, get more tweets, rank higher in SERPs, and gain more traffic from headlines that incorporate your keywords.

Bizarre Headlines

When it comes to articles and blog posts, do as the pros do: always make sure your headlines are click-worthy.

If you have to write about something bizarre like HuffPost did in this headline to gain attention, do it.

The key to writing irresistible headlines is to avoid obvious clickbait but ensure that the article still plays on readers’ emotions.

You need to deliver on the promise from the headline within the body of your writing.

It also helps to test your headlines. For every article you publish, try to test at least five headline variants.

Headline Formulas for Your Articles, Blog Posts, and Social Media Posts

Think that only written blog posts or articles need well-crafted headlines?

Wrong. Every piece of content you create needs a compelling, strong, effective headline to attract more viewers. That goes for videos, podcasts, emails, tweets, and more.

Ideal Headline Length

No matter the formula or formulas you choose for your headlines, you need to keep an eye on the length. You want headlines to be long enough to cover all of the information, but short enough that they aren’t too lengthy.

According to CXL, The highest-converting headlines have between 16 and 18 words. Try to keep your headlines within this range for the best results.

Headlines for Social Media

You can test your social media headlines for free with a tool like Buffer.

For every headline variant, you can see how many retweets, favorites, mentions, and clicks were earned. You can also see statistics on the potential for each headline.

Then, head over to Buffer’s analytics tab to check out which of your headlines were clicked on the most by your followers.

Headline Formulas for Email Subject Lines and Opt-In Pages

Email headlines are just as important as article headlines because you don’t want your emails to be sent to people’s’ trash folders to die.

If you don’t think your email subject lines through, you won’t see very good open rates. Your subject lines either compel people to click on your email and consume your content or ignore it.

Luckily, there are tools you can use to help you create compelling subject lines for your emails.

iSpionage is a tool you can use to create clickable, attention-grabbing headlines that are a step above the boring subject lines you’re probably used to seeing.

ContactMonkey is also great at crafting email subject lines that are interesting by using a play on words or including a pun. The brand also often includes emojis in their subject lines.

Email subject lines are important, but they can only go so far if you don’t have a robust list of subscribers. You can boost your opt-in pages to gain more subscribers with the same formulas you use to create your headlines.

People won’t be interested in subscribing to offers that fall flat. Aim for something like this eye-catching, opt-in worthy headline instead.

Not only are the visuals great, but the headline mentions free. As if that isn’t exciting enough, you’ll get 40% off of your first order if you sign up.

Shoot for the same kind of opt-in forms for more clicks and subscribers.

Conclusion

You might be wondering why so many sites are getting traffic to their content, but yours could be better. The answer may be in your headlines. These are the first thing that people see from your brand before deciding whether or not to click over to your copy.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all way to write a headline, there are some headline formulas that you can follow to create better-performing ones.

You should be able to find a formula that suits every piece of content you produce, across all of your channels.

Do you want help to create headlines that increase your clicks, volume, and ultimately revenue? Let’s connect.

What kinds of headlines have performed the best for you and your brand?

The post How to Write Headlines People Can’t Help but Click [Formulas Inside] appeared first on Neil Patel.

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2021 Digital marketing predictions for small businesses

30-second summary:

Through all of the turmoil, key marketing trends emerged that will impact the way small businesses operate in 2021.
From catalyzed digital transformation and conversational marketing to AI’s application and data privacy emphasis, these are some themes that will serve as pillars for marketing success.
Five predictions for how these trends will play out this year.

In 2020, small businesses were forced to be nimble to grow and survive. As a result, more small businesses accelerated their digital transformation efforts to quickly and effectively reach customers online.

Through all of the turmoil, key marketing trends emerged that will impact the way small businesses operate in 2021. Here are my predictions for how these trends will play out this year:

1. Small businesses put their foot on the gas to digitally transform

According to the Small and Medium Business Trend Report from Salesforce Research, one in three small business leaders said that the pandemic has accelerated their digitization initiatives, and more than half of growing small businesses said technology drives their customer interactions. Brick and mortar small businesses that once depended on a physical presence adapted to the times and pivoted to ecommerce. Even farming businesses that never established an online presence set up integrated payment systems and chat services to better serve customers.

This year, small businesses will continue their path to digitalization and invest in building and maintaining an online presence. There will be a greater emphasis on tracking the entire customer lifecycle journey online and using data to inform decision making. This will open up more opportunities for small businesses to compete with larger businesses that operate in the same markets.

2. Conversational marketing takes center stage

During the pandemic, internet traffic has skyrocketed and more consumers are engaging in conversations with brands online. While this presents an opportunity for marketers, it also has created a unique challenge. Now, more than ever before, marketers are experimenting with conversational marketing to deliver personalized experiences and collect rich customer insights. With the release of cross-app communication features from Facebook earlier this year, it is becoming even easier for brands to reach customers where they spend most of their time.

In 2021, small businesses and successful brands will invest in conversational marketing to build brand loyalty and boost sales. Personalization will become key and brands that don’t offer customized communications for customers will fall short. As marketers and small businesses invest in conversational marketing, the adoption of instant chat and messenger services as communication channels will increase.

3. Machine learning and AI becomes practical for small businesses 

In the past, artificial intelligence and machine learning have been viewed as valuable technologies, yet only recently have AI and ML-driven campaigns become mainstream practical tools. Marketing automation is now smart enough to adjust messaging based on intent signals, but it relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to make this happen.

This year, artificial intelligence and machine learning will become more useful for small businesses, allowing them to quickly and effectively target and communicate with desired audiences online. Advances in AI-based chatbot services will take place and consumers will be able to engage in a rich two-way conversation, which will provide rich data and valuable insights for small businesses in 2021.

4. Data privacy pressures intensify – Small businesses should prepare

As big tech continues to draw more government scrutiny around how user data is pulled and managed, the demand for privacy protection and transparency from consumers continues to heighten. According to RSA, nearly half of Americans have had their personal information compromised by a data breach within the past year and according to a study by Cisco, 84% of consumers want more control over how their personal information is managed.

Digital marketing is no exception to this and as small businesses continue to fully digitize, they will be faced with the same level of scrutiny on how they manage consumer data. While sourcing data is an essential component of successful marketing, in 2021, small businesses will need to invest in implementing data privacy compliant processes and communicating those transparently to customers.  This becomes an even greater challenge as these small companies fight to survive in the current economy.

5. The market demand increases for all-in-one digital marketing platforms

The demand for all-in-one digital marketing platforms has increased significantly within the past year as more small businesses are engaging with their customers online to drive sales. This has led to widespread innovation across multiple industries including food and beverage, fitness, farming, retail, and more. Larger companies are also turning to these platforms to efficiently manage all of their marketing needs in one place.

As the demand for these platforms continues, more businesses that offer complementary solutions will become partners with companies that offer these solutions to address the market demand. Integrations for payment, sales, helpdesk, and contact management services will become even more powerful and easy to use. Other integrations will also be established to help small businesses streamline their digital marketing operations. As more businesses invest in providing helpful solutions for these platforms, a thriving ecosystem will be established where the services offered for small businesses continue to increase in value.

Looking ahead

To succeed in 2021, it will be vital for small businesses to focus on creating seamless customer experiences online. The small businesses that excel in this area and harness the power of creativity will become stronger than ever before.

Steffen Schebesta is CEO at Sendinblue.

The post 2021 Digital marketing predictions for small businesses appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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LinkedIn launches LinkedIn Marketing Labs on-demand courses for advertisers

LinkedIn launches LinkedIn Marketing Labs on-demand courses for advertisers

30-second overview.

LinkedIn introduces on-demand video courses to teach advertisers how to use LinkedIn ad toolsCourses cover the basics including an introduction to LinkedIn Ads, how to use LinkedIn ad targeting, and reporting and analytics for LinkedIn ads.Advertisers differ on their opinions of LinkedIn ads’ effectiveness, saying success is often achievable for niche industries.

Why we care. For businesses looking to advertise on LinkedIn, the platform has historically been hard for marketers to use. That, plus the lack of results for many advertisers has made using LinkedIn ads a hard sell. Others claim that once they were able to figure it out, they’ve seen success for themselves and their clients. When I polled the marketing community on Twitter the feedback was varied:

The LinkedIn Ads platform has a terrible UI even though it was refreshed about 2 years ago. Rather than calling it hard to use, I would say it is frustrating. That being said, it has generated great results for multiple B2B clients when good audiences and offers are available

— Andrea Cruz (@andreacruz92) January 15, 2021

Frustrating interface, but great for niche B2B clients if you can nail the right offer and messaging. The built-in lead gen forms are a great route. I have worked with multiple B2B clients who consistently say their most qualified leads come from LinkedIn

— Tim Jensen (@timothyjjensen) January 15, 2021

I'm sure there's a niche where either can work, but I've seen it in B2C and B2B and there's just never enough scale, leads or ROI to justify even the headcount managing it (in my limited experience)

— Jackie Chu (@jackiecchu) January 15, 2021

The platform seems to be remedying the mixed reviews with the on-demand course to help advertisers see more success and better leads on the platform.

Video courses for better leads. LinkedIn Learning Labs launched initially with 6 main courses for advertisers to better understand and use the advertising tools:

Introduction to LinkedIn AdsUsing LinkedIn’s Ad TargetingReporting and Analytics for LinkedIn AdsBuilding a Full-Funnel Content Marketing Strategy on LinkedInUsing LinkedIn for Brand AwarenessUsing LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Choose your own adventure. The course platform offers custom paths for media planners versus those who run ad campaigns and is meant to help both beginner and intermediate advertisers.

Works when done well. In the announcement, Renee Lowe, Customer Marketing Manager at LinkedIn says that, when done correctly, LinkedIn advertising works: “Lead generation forms on LinkedIn drive 5X more conversions than landing pages and you’re 6X more likely to convert audiences when they see both brand and acquisition messages on LinkedIn.” The courses are free and self-paced.

The post LinkedIn launches LinkedIn Marketing Labs on-demand courses for advertisers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Content Marketing Services | The Complete List for a Successful Digital Strategy

Content Marketing Services | The Complete List for a Successful Digital Strategy

As your online business grows, it becomes obvious how important content marketing is for your business. And even if you’re the one working on your business’ strategy or you hire an agency to help you out, one thing is clear: you need to know the full list of content marketing services your company needs. 

 

 

Before saying that you don’t need to bother with this because you will hire a specialized digital agency to take care of all this, take this scenario: You get a great offer for a freelance or an agency, saying that they will take care of everything content related for you. That sounds appealing, yet, how can you hire them if you don’t know what they are supposed to deliver? Once you know what a complete list of content marketing services looks like, you’ll be able to set expectations, measure the efforts of the company you hired, and better understand the results. 

 

So, here are the top content marketing services business owners should be aware of: 

Content Marketing Strategy

Use Keyword Research Tools
Check the Top-of-mind Keywords
Look for Seed Keywords
Prioritize the Keywords You Want to Rank For
Select Top Keywords

Content Creation
Content Distribution

Link Building
Social Media
Community & Relations

Constant Content Update
Content Analytics Reporting

Organic Search Traffic
Keyword Rankings
Social Shares
Backlink Volume

 
Content Marketing Strategy

 

A good content marketing strategy should respond to the question why.

 

Why do you want to create content? For whom? Why will your content be different than what already exists?

 

Content marketing strategy means more than a content strategy. This last one is focused more on content creation, which we are going to talk about later.

 

First thing first, you need to clarify what do you want to achieve with content marketing: Increased traffic? More leads? Educate customers? Increase online presence?

 

If you’ve been watching the trends lately, you’ve seen articles piling up about content marketing and how it’s changing the SEO game forever.

 

It seems that Google is dead set on providing visitors with pages that have the most relevant content to their search and the trend of creating quality content to be more relevant to your target audience seems to become more of a need than a game played only by the cool kids.

 

More and more SEO professionals are boarding this train and it’s no longer to be believed a hype and a way to reinvent the so-called “dead SEO”.

 

Once you got the “why” question responded, you can go to the next step within any content marketing strategy, the keyword research. You don’t want to write just for the sake of writing, right?

 

You want to create good content that will reach your audience. But to do so, you need to know what topics to tackle and what keywords you can create content for. So, check out the next steps, which are foundation stones for all the other content marketing services.

 
Use Keyword Research Tools

 

Finding keywords shouldn’t be hard, yet it’s not a walk in the park either. In the modern SEO landscape, a keyword research tool is not just a passing trend but a must.  

 

The Keyword Tool and Content Optimizer is an awesome helper on this matter. It’s like your best buddy you can call in the middle of the night to get you out of trouble. You can find new topic ideas and keywords related to the one you are targeting. 

 

You’ll be able to make an idea of how difficult it is to rank for those particular keywords. It also shows you how relevant other keywords are compared to the current ones.

 

When you perform the market research, it’s best if the keywords you’re trying to rank for have a high search volume and a low difficulty. High search volume means the phrase is popular and many people are typing it in their browsers. Low content and links difficulty means that it is fairly easy to rank on that keyword without many links or highly competitive content. Combining these three metrics will result in profitable phrases that are easy to rank for.

 

 

Why any analysis should start with a keyword research?

Because if you don’t know the keywords you want to target, you can’t possibly know your true SEO competition.
This step will also determine what level of difficulty you wish to perform the analysis at.

 

For example, let’s assume that we’re performing online marketing in the shoe business and wish to open a web store. Depending on our budget, we can either start targeting very high search volume keywords or lower search volume keywords. Keep it realistic.

 

It either takes money or time to get there. In fact, it takes time in both cases given you’re working with organic search.

 

Without a strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.

ARJUN BASU

Award-nominated author

 

The trick with ranking is not to force it. When everybody’s trying to rank for the same keywords, there’s not much room for long-term development. This is where you can improve and find keywords semantically related to your niche, but not necessarily used by your competitors.

 
Check the Top-of-mind Keywords

 

Top-of-mind keywords are phrases that pop up in your head right away when you think about a niche. It’s like a brainstorming process. They are also frequently called seed keywords.

 

You can use the Google search engine to get real-time suggestions. Simply go on Google and start typing your keywords, and new ideas will appear right under the search bar. A highly competitive keyword would be, in this case, “buy shoes online”.

 

Phrases with the word “buy” in them are called buyer’s keywords or transactional keywords. They are usually the most competitive, as we know from the phrase itself that people are already set to buy the product. Ranking for those keywords practically guarantees that some sales will indeed be made. Where sales are guaranteed, big players come.

 

A lower competition keyword can be “best shoes for …”.

 

More niched phrases tend to be less competitive. One reason might be the fact that they are untapped, meaning that not many people actually discovered them. They are called longtail keywords. Review and comparison sites often try to rank here. People are still inclined to buy, but for he moment, they might just be looking to compare products or find ideas.

 
Look for Seed Keywords to the Keyword Explorer or Google Keyword Planner to Get New Ideas

 

Use the seed keywords you acquired from the previous step to generate a list of keywords.

 

You can go classic and use the Google Keyword Planner, though data is limited if you don’t have a paying PPC management account.

You can try multiple keywords here, export the data as CSV, sort the keywords, and add some to your list.

 

 

cognitiveSEO’s Keyword Tool can give you tons of keyword opportunities. It works like a content marketing agency that will work on most of your marketing plans, your pieces of content…you got the idea your whole marketing effort in general.

You can check out for questions people are looking for an answer on Google. You can filter the keywords ideas by volume, relevancy and so on, so you can find the best keyword opportunities for you. 

 

 
Prioritize the Keywords You Want to Rank For

 

Now comes the more difficult part.

 

For which of those keywords can you realistically rank in top Google search?

 

After you’ve determined a list of keywords you’ll go after, you have to take a look at two things:

 

Content Performance and Domain Performance.

 

You can use the Ranking Analysis section of the Content Optimizer Tool.

Let’s take as example the keyword this article is talking about: content marketing services.

 

You can easily see a lot of important metrics, just one click away:

 

how many links would this article need to be competitive?
what is the monthly search for this keyword and how’s the searching trend for it? 
who is ranking in top 10 and how do their content looks like?
how old/fresh is the content already ranking?
what focus keywords did my competitor use within their content?

 

 

While the Content Performance is something that we have control over and will improve in a future step, backlinks aren’t something we have that much control over.

 

So, you want to see websites with as few referring domains as possible compared to your site (which you can check with the Site Explorer).

 

Of course, if you see a lower content score and/or word count, those are also good indicators that it will be easier to create content for or improve existing content.

 
Select Top Keywords Based on Relevancy and Search Volume

 

For the purpose of this analysis example, we’ll just stick to these keywords: “buy shoes online” and “best shoes for”. One is broader and the other is narrower, but both are attractive in terms of relevance and search volume. Let’s assume that we start from the bottom (narrower keywords), but leave room for expansion in the future (broader keywords).

 

From these two keywords, we can observe that the broader ones tend to return root domains as results, while narrower ones return pages from websites. This is a good indication of what our homepage should be targeting, and what we should target with pages.

 

 

The final list should include keywords around your general niche and some current or possible (future) sub-niches. You can group them into separate sheets. This way you’ll be able to select top competitors from multiple sub-niches easier. The more keywords you’re willing to analyze, the better you’ll understand what you’re dealing with in the long run.

You can use the Google Search Console to easily determine the keyword you’re already ranking for. (the below screenshot is taken in June 2020).

 

 

Can you improve this existing content? Or should you target new keywords? These are questions you should ask yourself when putting together your SEO content marketing strategy. 

 
Content Creation

 

No worries, comparing to the previous section, content creation will feel like a breeze among the content marketing services list. 

 

First, consider that it’s always best to consider landing page optimization for a single main keyword and a single search intent per page.

You can sometimes combine very similar keywords, but try as much as possible to stick to one main keyword and one search intent. Feel free to find out more about search intent here

 

A great way to do this is to write content about questions that are very often asked in your industry, or case studies.

 

For example, this article about meta descriptions affect SEO or not has been linked to multiple times by other SEO blogs trying to make a quick point without getting into too much detail.

 

Write content that stands out and is share worthy. 

 

While doing so, also make sure to: 

Have great Titles, Headlines and Descriptions.
Optimize your titles with keywords for SEO, but also keep them catchy for Social Media.
Use the Open Graph property to set different titles for SEO and Social Media.

 

Longform content tends to perform better in organic search results. Yet, look at what type of content your competitor have. Is it long, short? What type of content is Google serving within its first page for the type of content you want to rank? 

 

You keep on hearing: write content having readers, but also SEO in mind. But what does this really mean?

 

We can spend a lot of time on debating that, or we can use a tool that will help us write that exact type of content. As time is so precious these days, I’ll choose the second option. 

 

 

Open the Content Assistant section from the cognitiveSEO’s content optimizer and hit Start Optimizing.

Once you do so, you’ll get everything you need there:

 

the keywords you should use in your content
the content score you should reach
keywords ideas to use in your content
the focus keywords that might help your content with ranking
the keywords you shouldn’t use that much to avoid stuffing

 

Basically, you’ll get all the resources you need to write content that is relevant for your users first of all, but also SEO oriented. 

 

The idea is to think of the recommended keywords as subtopics or areas of interest that you should cover in your content.

 

When people search for something, you already know they are interested in it. That’s why SEM has such a high conversion rate and people spend time reading in-depth articles.

 

Regardless of the tools you’d be using, keep in mind that the best tool you have at your disposal is your own knowledge.

 

You should keep in mind that writing naturally is the best way to go. 

 

I know: writing original content regularly might not be easy. Moreover optimized content. Even if you’re a marketing expert that wants to improve brand awareness, an account manager  or a search engine optimization, writing with SEO in mind is never easy. There are no perfect marketing guides that will drive results in no time. And copywriting implies extra marketing costs, video content creation costs, maybe website design, content promotion and so on. Yet, when creating your monthly reporting, you’ll check the return on investment and you’ll see that those marketing efforts did pay off. That monthly content and those business goals you struggle with, those SEO audits, they all bring great results. 

 
Content Distribution

 

The journey shouldn’t stop when the article goes live. On the contrary, you should carry on with the process of boosting your content. You need to understand that content distribution isn’t a single technique or a one-time thing. It incorporates an umbrella of multiple unique techniques you need to follow in order to get better results.

 

We all had that moment when we gave our soul into a post and made it so shiny, with thorough research, relevant visuals but nobody read it.
And then you start wondering what went wrong. What in the name of God happened? Or why did it happen to you? And the questions could go on.

 

But there is something that you missed. And that “something” could be content distribution and amplification. 

 

Content distribution is a powerful method to reach a wider audience.

 

Amplifying your content should be mandatory if you want people to know about it and increase your website traffic.

 

You can look at the distribution process as a way of strengthening the signals of your post. And here are some channels to do so: 

 
Link Building

 

If, in the past, the traditional ways of building links meant to meaninglessly spread out all over the internet, without thinking of relevance and essence, through the help of web directories, blogrolls, keyword stuffing and others, now we need to think of our target audience.

 

Things have changed now, but links are still an important ranking signal and they are very helpful when trying to rank high in the search engines. 

 

It’s a harsh reality but link generating through content marketing will surely become harder and harder.

Yet, harder doesn’t mean impossible. Use blog posts, videos, infographics, eBooks and so on. Create resources that are valuable and that will earn links.

 

Also, don’t forget about internal linking

 

If you’re looking for an SEO move that can quickly boost the position of your website, then internal linking is the move you want to make. 

 

A proper internal linking strategy can really boost your ranking power because it does two things:

 

#1: It helps search engines understand the structure of your website, how different pages interact with one another and which pages are truly important withing the structure of your website.

 

#2: It helps users navigate the website and it keeps users on the website by providing relevant content through links that can be followed. This ultimately sends search engines another signal that your website is great, because it provides a good user experience.

 

If you’re interested in some valuable link building lessons, wrote from experience, check out this article

 
Social Media

 

I know it and you know it. The internet has become so fed up with marketing strategies, that people become immune to content in its mediocre form.

Influencers from all marketing channels are no longer impressed so easily, and in order to put your brand “in their mouth” you need to do some wheel greasing.

 

So that’s why super important to create content that it’s worth sharing; content that “has something to say”, that brings added value.

Invest in social media marketing as much as you can.  Get dedicated account managers or marketing manager if possible. There are many social content marketing companies that are offering good services, just make sure to get the right one to grow your business.

 

There a lot of tips and tricks on how to perform better on social media. You can consult blogs like BrandMentions‘ one for this.

 

Promote your content as much as possible but on the right social media channels for your niche. 

 

Use paid media and social media advertising (like Twitter or Facebook advertising) if needed. Make use of partner programs, press releases, custom content, go for  influencer marketing if needed. 
Yet, it is highly important to make yourself visible on social media. Even if this implies some graphic design activities or video production to steal your potential customers’ attention.

Social media management is as important as writing optimized pieces of content when it comes to building your brand.

 
Community & Relations

 

When I think of content marketing, a line from the movie Jerry Maguire comes to mind – Help me, help you!

 

We’ve seen common outreach methods of content marketing like guest blogging being abused in the past, because people misunderstood the idea behind it.

Generating  links through content marketing is not about trying to beg for them, it’s about creating relationships with other businesses and people that reside in the online medium.

 

You can no longer strive for the number one spot in Google’s eyes if you can’t create new pals that are willing to talk about you and share your content or vice versa.

 

“Link begging” your way out of a situation will do you more harm than good so we don’t recommend that.

 

There’s one way out of it and that’s creating content that others might find interesting enough to share it with their audience.
Organic Links are a “hard to get” commodity these days and you’ll be happy to find and keep connections with influencers that like and distribute the content that you create.

 

In order to help yourself, you need to attend to the needs and interests of others first!

 

When you can’t create engaging content on your side of the street, try going to the place where the discussion is currently happening.

 

It may sound like a cheesy tactic but I assure you it’s not a laughing matter. You may include comments in your content marketing strategy as you can generate links and help the community at the same time, in real time.

 

Comments are a great way to:

 

create meaningful content
connect and engage with your target audience
create links pointing to your site in a natural manner.

 

Comments can prove to be a blade with two edges and you need to treat it with care.

 

Try and find the most important forums in your niche and where the discussions are taking place.

Look at what people are asking and what questions they have.

As long as you stay on topic and your comments are not only meant for link building, then you won’t have nothing to worry about.

 

Above are just a few content distribution ideas. For even more ideas for amplification, check out this article

 
Constant Content Update

 

What if I were to tell you there’s another way, besides tapping into that creative juice barrel?

 

Nobody expects you to create original and engaging content all the time.

 

You just can’t create quality content on an assembly line and everybody knows that, and no, you shouldn’t resort to gimmick techniques to win your target audience’s attention.

 

What you can do is to recycle outdated content that may still be of interest to your target audience.

 

Some content has been geniously created in the past and widely distributed, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use that already developed interest to your advantage.

 

Those infographics that were widely distributed and shared, which created a lot of discussions over the internet can be refurbished using the same layout and the same structure but with fresher and more relevant data.

 

You can also improve old content by adding more information and thus more value for the viewer.

 

While this might be appealing for those looking for a shortcut method of generating content, it should be part of a balanced diet.

It seems easily exploitable, but if done improperly, you might end up feeding your site with low quality content.

 

We’ve done an interested experiment some time ago: We’ve updated 40 blog posts with fresh, updated information.

The result? 70% SEO visibility increase. So, it could be a tactic that could work for you to. You can check out the case study here

 
Content Analytics Reporting

 

You know the saying. No job is done until the paperwork is done. 

In our case, not literally paper, but reporting the results. This is an equally important part of the content marketing services list.  

 

So, you’ve created a content marketing strategy; you’ve written awesome content or updated the existing one, you’ve highly distributed. 

 

Now, what’s to do? 

 

Check out the result!

 

But what should you check?

 

Measuring content marketing and SEO efforts is often easier said than done.

Yet, here are some metrics you should definitely look at. 

 
Organic Search Traffic

 

Organic search traffic refers to website visits that originated from search engine results and not through ads. Organic search traffic is a highly effective indicator of overall success. When a website’s content includes keywords that frequently match what users are searching for, that website is likely to appear in a larger number of search engine results pages (SERPs) than competing websites.

 

Using Google Analytics, open the Acquisition menu. From there, select All Traffic, then select Channels.

 

 

You’ll now be presented with a view of a website’s sources of traffic, which are sorted by channel.
Select the Organic Search channel for a useful report that displays a site’s organic traffic stats.

 

This report is a versatile one. It gives SEO practitioners the ability to uncover critical information such as:

 

Which landing pages are the most effective at attracting traffic
Which keywords are delivering the highest amounts of traffic
Which of the search engines are directing the highest amount of organic traffic to a website
What pages are frequently the biggest exit pages (or the last page a visitor views before leaving the website)
And many other vital stats

 
Keyword Rankings

 

Keyword Ranking is how well or how poorly your content ranks in SERPs for a given search term.

 

Google analytics isn’t as helpful as some SEO practitioners would like it to be as far as tracking keyword rankings.
Its keyword tab (within the campaign tab) often displays the phrase “not provided.”

 

Instead of Google analytics, consider the rank tracker provided by cognitiveSEO.
One of its advantages is that it allows you to track keywords at a universal level as well as at a local level. It also allows you to analyze the keyword performance of competitors.

 

So, add your keywords you created content for within the Rank Tracker and constantly check out the evolution.

 

 
Social Shares

 

Social shares can be defined simply as the sharing of your content by social media users.
While it’s generally thought that Google does not take social signals and shares into consideration when ranking SERP results, social shares are still very important to your SEO efforts.

 

Tracking your social shares is beneficial because of the important impact social media plays in content marketing strategies.

As more people share your content with their followers, the higher the chances that more people will view it and ultimately migrate over to your website.
More visits to your website means a boost in organic search ranking.

 
Backlink Volume

 

Useful for measuring the authority and popularity of your website, backlinks (often referred to as inbound links) are links to your website that originate from someone else’s website.
Backlinks to your site can also originate from other pages on your own site.

 

Measuring this performance indicator will go a long way in helping you rank higher.

By tracking it, you’ll always know where you stand with what some in the SEO industry view as the most important ranking factor used by Google.

When you know whether you’re succeeding with your backlinks, you know how much you need to improve by.

 

Using Google Analytics, open the Acquisition menu. From there, select All Traffic, then select Referrals.

You can now look at your referral traffic, which is Google’s way of saying “backlinks.”

 

 

Also, for a comprehensive backlink analysis tool, cognitiveSEO aggregates backlink data from trusted link databases and analyzes the links on demand for each of their clients.

 

 

I know, there are a lot of information from the digital marketing area to deal with.

But even if you’re one the one who’ll be implementing all the content marketing services above, even if you’re hiring marketing agencys, it’s important to know what’s all about. 

 

If you or your marketing team are out of breath after reading this post (or worse yet, discouraged,) don’t be overwhelmed!
Take heart, force a smile, and accept the fact that victory never comes easy. I know, lots of things are involved: technical SEO, marketing budget, web design, content calendars or advertising costs. But it does pay off in the attempt of building brand that is strong and competitive. 

 

Success and competitiveness are for those who are willing to work harder and get their hands dirtier.

The bottom line here is that you can do this, and it will be worth it.

The post Content Marketing Services | The Complete List for a Successful Digital Strategy appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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The Evolution of SEO [Video Presentation]

The Evolution of SEO [Video Presentation]

Posted by RobOusbey

Last November, Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, gave a presentation at Web Con 2020 on the evolution of SEO, and we’re sharing it with you today! Rob draws on his years of research experience in the industry to discuss how SEO has changed, and what that means for your strategies. 

Editor’s Note: Rob mentions a promo in the video that has since expired, but you can still get a free month of Moz Pro + free walkthrough here

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone. Thank you for that introduction. I very much appreciate it, and it’s wonderful to be with all of you here today. I’m Rob Ousbey from Moz.

Real quick, I was going to share my screen here and say that my gift to you for coming to the session today is this link. This won’t just get you a free month of Moz Pro, but everybody who signs up can get a free walkthrough with an SEO expert to help you get started. I’ll put this link up again at the end of the session. But if you’re interested in SEO or using a tool suite to help you, then Moz might be the toolset that can help.

Also, if you want to learn more about SEO, come join me on Twitter. I am @RobOusbey, and it would be wonderful to chat to you over there.

One reason I put my bio up here is because I’ve not been at Moz for all that long. I just started about a year ago. Before that, I was at Distilled, which is an international digital marketing agency, and I ran the Seattle office there for over a decade. I mention that because I want to share with you today examples of what I discovered when I was doing my client work. I want to share the research that my team members did when we were in your shoes.

A troubling story

So I wanted to kick off with an experience that stuck in my mind. Like I say, I’ve been doing this professionally for about 12 or 13 years, and back when I started, SEO was certainly more straightforward, if not getting easier.

People like my friend Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, used to do correlation studies that would discover what factors seem to correlate with rankings, and we’d publish these kinds of reports. This was the top ranking factors for 2005. And back then, they were broadly split between factors that assessed whether a page was relevant for a particular term and those that asked whether a site was authoritative. A lot of that relevance came from the use of keywords on a page, and the authority was judged by the number of links to the site. So we would help companies by doing good SEO. We’d put keywords on a page and build a bunch of links.

And I want to tell you a story about one of our clients. This is from just a couple of years ago, but it definitely stuck in my head. We were doing a lot of content creation for this client. We created some really informative pages and some really fun pages that would go viral and take over the Internet, and all of this earned them a lot of links. And this was the result of our efforts — a consistent, steady growth in the number of domains linking to that site. We had an incredible impact for them.

And here’s the graph of how many keywords they had when they ranked on the first page. This is fantastic. They ranked for a lot of keywords. And finally, here’s the graph of organic traffic to the site. Amazing.

But if you looked a little closer, you notice something that is a bit troubling. We never stopped acquiring links. In fact, a lot of the content we produced is so evergreen that even content built two or three years ago is still gathering new links every single week. But the number of keywords we have ranking in the top 10 went up and up and then stopped growing. And not surprisingly, the same trend is there in organic search traffic as well. What appears to have happened here is that we got strong enough to get on the front page with these keywords, to be a player in the industry, but after that, just building more links to the site didn’t help it rank for more keywords and it didn’t help it get any more search traffic.

SEO fundamentals

It seems like all the SEO fundamentals that we’ve learned about, keywords and links and technical SEO still apply and they’re still necessary to help you become a player in a particular industry. But after that, there are other factors that you need to focus on.

Now this evolution of SEO into new factors has been an accelerating process. My colleague at Moz, Dr. Pete Meyers has been tracking and collecting a lot of data about this. Last year, Google made close to 4,000 improvements to their results, and that’s the result of running something like 45,000 different experiments.

Pete has also been tracking how much the search results change every day. Blue is really stable results. Orange is a lot of changes. And so if you felt like your rankings for your site are getting more volatile than ever, you’re not wrong. When we hit 2017, we saw more changes to the results every day than we ever had before.

Now the way that Google’s algorithms used to be updated was by a bunch of people in a room making decisions. In fact, it was this bunch of people in this room. They decided what factors to dial up or down to create the best results.

Google’s goal: portal to the Internet

But what does this mean? What does it mean to make the best results? Well, we should think about what Google’s real goal is. They want to be your portal to the Internet. They want your web experience to begin with a Google search, and you’ll continue to do that if they make you satisfied with the results you see and the pages you click on. If they send you to the perfect web page for your query, that’s a satisfying experience that reflects well on Google. If they send you to page that’s a bad experience, it reflects poorly on them.

So it’s interesting to ask, “How would Google avoid doing that, and what would be a bad user experience?” Well, there are some obvious things, like if you arrive on a page that installs malware or a virus on your computer, or you arrive at a product page where everything is out of stock, or you go to a website that’s really slow or full of adverts. These are the pages Google does not want to include in their results.

And they’ve always been good at measuring these things pretty directly. More than 10 years ago they were testing how fast sites are and then using that to inform their rankings. If they spot malware or viruses on a site, they’ll temporarily remove it from the search results.

But they also tried more opinion-based measures. For a while, they were running surveys to ask people: Are you satisfied with these results? This was how they knew if their algorithm was working to get people what they wanted, to give them a good experience. 

But the Google way of doing this is to try and do it at massive scale and hopefully to do it in the background, where users don’t have to answer a survey pop-up like this. And doing this in the background, doing it at huge scale has been more and more possible, firstly because of how much data Google has.

Click through rates

So I want to take a look at some of the kinds of things they might be looking at. Here’s an example of something they may want to do. Let’s consider the average click-through rate for every ranking position in the search results. Imagine that Google knows that 30% of people click on the first result and 22% click on number two and 5% click on number six and so on. They have a good understanding of these averages. But then for a particular keyword, let’s say they notice number six is getting 12% of the clicks. Something is going on there. What is happening? Well, whatever the reason why this is, Google could be better satisfying its users if that result was higher up in the rankings. Whoever is ranking at number six is what people want. Maybe they should rank higher.

“Pogo sticking”

Here’s another example. This is what we call pogo sticking. A user does a search and then clicks on a result, and then after a couple seconds looking at the page, they realize they don’t like it, so they click the back button and they select a different result. But let’s say they don’t like that one either, so they click back and they select a third result, and now they stay here and they use that site. Imagine a lot of people did the same thing. Well, if we were Google, when we saw this happening, it would be a pretty strong indicator that the third result is what’s actually satisfying users. That’s actually a good result for this query, and it probably deserves to be ranking much higher up.

User satisfaction: refinement

There’s even an extension of this where users pogo stick around the SERPs, and then they decide they can’t find anything to do with what they wanted. So they refine their search. They try typing something else, and then they find what they want on a different query. If too many people are not satisfied by any of the results on the first page, it’s probably a sign to make a pretty serious change to that SERP or to nudge people to do this other query instead.

Google’s evolution with Machine Learning

And doing this kind of huge analysis on a massive scale is something that was made much easier with the advent of machine learning. Now for a long time the folks in charge of the search results at Google were very reluctant to incorporate any machine learning into their work. It was something they did not want to do. But then Google appointed a new head of search, and they chose someone who had spent their career at Google promoting machine learning and its opportunities. So now they’ve moved towards doing that. In fact, Wired magazine described Google as remaking themselves as a “machine learning first” company.

What we’re seeing now

So this is where I want to move from my conjecture about what they could do into giving some examples and evidence of all of this for you. And I want to talk about two particular modern ranking factors that we have evidence for and that if you’re doing SEO or digital marketing or working on a website you can start considering today.

User signals

Firstly, I talked about the way that users interact with the results, what are they clicking on, how are they engaging with pages they find. So let’s dive into that.

A lot of this research comes from my former colleague, Tom Capper. We worked at Distilled together, but he’s also a Moz Associate, and a lot of this has been published on the Moz Blog.

User engagement

Let’s imagine you start on Google. You type in your query, and here’s the results. Here’s page one of results. Here’s page two of results. Not going to worry much about what happens after that because no one tends to click through further than page two.

Now let’s think about how much data Google has about the way people interact with those search results. On the front page, they see lots going on. There are lots of clicks. They can see patterns. They can see trends. They can see what people spend time on or what they pogo stick back from. On the second page and beyond, there’s very little user engagement happening. No one is going there, so there’s not many clicks and not much data that Google can use.

So when we look at what factors seem to correlate with rankings, here’s what we see. On page two, there is some correlation between the number of links a site has and where it ranks. That’s kind of what we expected. That’s what SEOs have been preaching for the last decade or more. But when we get to the bottom of page one, there’s a weaker correlation with links. And at the top of page 1, there’s almost no correlation between the number of links you have and the position you rank in. 

Now we do see that the folks on page one have more links than the sites on page two. You do need the SEO basics to get you ranking on the first page in the first place. We talk about this as the consideration set. Google will consider you for the first page of results if you have good enough SEO and if you have enough links.

But what we can take away from this is that when all that user data exists, when Google know where you’re clicking, how people are engaging with sites, they will use those user metrics as a ranking factor. And then in situations where there isn’t much user data, the rankings might be more determined by link metrics, and that’s why deeper in the results we see links being a more highly correlated factor.

In a similar way, we can look at the whole keyword space, from the very popular head terms in green to the long tail terms in red that are very rarely searched for. Head terms have a lot of people searching for them, so Google has a lot of user data to make an assessment about where people are clicking. For long tail terms, they might only get a couple of searches every month, they just don’t have that much data. 

And again, what we see is that the popular, competitive terms, where there’s lots of searching happening, Google seems to be giving better rankings to sites with better engagement. For long tail terms, where they don’t have that data, the rankings are more based on link strength. And there have been plenty of studies that bear this out.

Larry Kim found a relationship between high click-through rates and better rankings. Brian Dean found a relationship between more engagement with a page and better rankings. And Searchmetrics found that time on site correlated with rankings better than any on-page factor.

Contemporary SEO

And even though Google keeps a tight lid on this, they won’t admit to exactly what they’re doing, and they don’t describe their algorithms in detail, there are occasionally insights that we get to see. 

A couple of years ago, journalists from CNBC had the chance to sit in on a Google meeting where they were discussing changes to the algorithm. One interesting part of this article was when Googlers talked about the things they were optimizing for when they were designing a new feature on the results page. They were looking at this new type of result they’d added, and they were testing how many people clicked on it but then bounced back to the results, which they considered a bad sign. So this idea of pogo sticking came up once again.

If that was something that they were monitoring in the SERPs, we should be able to see examples of it. We should be able to see the sites where people pogo stick don’t do so well in SEO, which is why I’m always interested when I find a page that has, for whatever reason, it has a bad experience.

User metrics as a ranking factor

So here’s a site that lists movie trivia for any movie you might be interested in. It’s so full of ads and pop-ups that you can barely see any of the content on the page. It’s completely overrun with adverts. So if my hypothesis was correct, we’d see this site losing search visibility, and in fact that’s exactly what happened to them. Since their peak in 2014, the search visibility for the site has gone down and down and down.

Here’s another example. This is a weird search. It’s for a particular chemical that you buy if you were making face creams and lotions and that kind of thing. So let’s have a look at some of the results here. I think this first result is the manufacturer’s page with information about the chemical. The second is an industrial chemical research site. It has all the data sheets, all the safety sheets on it. The third is a site where you can buy the chemical itself.

And then here’s another result from a marketplace site. I’ve blurred out their name because I don’t want to be unfair to them. But when you click through on the result, this is what you get, an immediate blocker. It’s asking you to either log in or register, and there’s no way I want to complete this form. I’m going to hit the back button right away. Google had listed nine other pages that I’m going to look at before I even consider handing over all my data and creating an account here. 

Now if my theory is right, as soon as they put this registration wall up, visitors would have started bouncing. Google would have noticed, and their search visibility would have suffered. 

And that’s exactly what we see. This was a fast-growing startup, getting lots of press coverage, earning lots of links. But their search traffic responded very poorly and very quickly once that registration wall was in place. The bottom graph is organic traffic, and it just drops precipitously.

Here’s my final example of this, Forbes. It’s a 100-year-old publishing brand. They’ve been online for over 20 years. And when you land on a page, this is the kind of thing you see for an article. Now I don’t begrudge advertising on a page. They need to make some money. And there’s only one banner ad here. I was actually pleasantly surprised by that.

But I’m baffled by their decision to include a video documentary in the corner about a totally different topic. Like I came to read this article and you gave me this unrelated video. 

And then suddenly this slides into view to make absolutely sure that I didn’t miss the other ad that it had in the sidebar. And then the video, that I didn’t want any way about an unrelated topic, starts playing a pre-roll ad. Meanwhile their browser alert thing pops up, and then the video — about the unrelated topic that I didn’t want in the first place — starts playing. So I’m trying to read and I scroll away from all this clutter on the page. But then the video — about an unrelated topic that I didn’t want in the first place — pins itself down here and follows me down the page. What is going on? And then there’s more sidebar ads for good measure.

And I want to say that if my theory is right, people will be bouncing away from Forbes. People will avoid clicking on Forbes in the first place, and they will be losing search traffic. But I also know that they are a powerhouse. So let’s have a look at what the data said. 

I grabbed their link profile, and people will not stop linking to Forbes. They’re earning links from 700 new domains every single day. This is unstoppable. But here’s their organic search visibility. Forbes is down 35% year-on-year. I think this is pretty validating.

At this point, I’m confident saying that Google has too much data about how people engage with the search results and with websites for you to ignore this. If your site is a bad experience, why would Google let you in the top results to begin with and why would they keep you there?

What can you do?

So what can you do about this? Where can you start? Well, you can go to Google Search Console and take a look through the click-through rates for your pages when they appear in search. And in your analytics package, GA or whatever else, you can see the bounce rate for visitors landing on your pages, particularly those coming from search. So look for themes, look for trends. Find out if there are pages or sections of your site that people don’t like clicking on when they appear in the results. Find out if there are pages that when people land on them, they bounce right away. Either of those are bad signs and it could be letting you down in the results.

You can also qualitatively take a critical look at your site or get a third party or someone else to do this. Think about the experience that people have when they arrive. Are there too many adverts? Is there a frustrating registration wall? These things can hurt you, and they might need a closer look.

Brand signals

Okay, so we talked about those user signals. But the other area I want to look at is what I talk about as brand signals. Brand can apply to a company or a person. And when I think about the idea being a brand, I think about how well-known the company is and how well-liked they are. These are some questions that signal you have a strong brand, that people have heard of you, people are looking for you, people would recommend you. 

And this second one sounds like something SEOs know how to research. When we say people are looking for you, it sounds like we’re just talking about search volume. How many times every month are people typing your brand name into Google?

Again, my colleague, Tom Capper did some research about this that’s published on the Moz Blog. He looked at this problem and said, “Okay. Well, then let’s see if the number of people searching for a brand has any correlation to how well they rank.” And then there’s a load of math and a long story that led to this conclusion, that branded search volume did correlate with rankings. This is in blue. In fact, it correlated more strongly with rankings than Domain Authority does, so that’s the measure that shows you the link strength of a website. 

So think about this. We’ve worried about links for two decades, but actually something around brand strength and maybe branded search volume seems to correlate better.

For data geeks, here’s a way of using the R-squared calculation to answer the question, “How much does this explain the rankings?” Again, what you need to know here is that branded search volume explained more of the rankings than anything else.

So we’ve been preaching about this for a while, and then literally two days ago I saw this tweet. A team in the UK was asking about controversial SEO opinions. And the SEO manager for Ticketmaster came out and said this. He believes that when Google sees people searching for your brand name alongside a query, they start ranking you higher for the non-branded terms. And I don’t think this is controversial. And in fact, one of the replies to this was from Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz. He also now believes that the brand signals are more powerful than what links and keywords can do.

What can you do? 

So what can you do about this? Well, first you have to realize that any investment you make in brand building, whether that’s through PR activities or through like traditional advertising, is good business to do anyway. But it now has twice the value because of its impact on SEO, because those activities will get people looking for you, following you, sharing your brand. If you work for a billion-dollar company, you should make sure that your SEO and PR teams are well-connected and well-aligned and talking together. If you don’t work for a billion-dollar company, I’ve got two small, interesting examples for you.

Example: AdaFruit

First I want to call out this site, AdaFruit.com. They sell electronic components. There are many, many sites on the web that sell similar products. Not only do they have great product pages with good quality images and helpful descriptions, but I can also look at a product like this and then I can click through to get ideas for things I can build with it. This is some LED lights that you can chain together. And here’s an idea for a paper craft glowing crystal you can build with them. Here’s the wiring diagram I’d need for that project plus some code I can use to make it more interactive. It’s only an $8 product, but I know that this site will make it easy for me to get started and to get value from making this purchase.

They go even further and have a pretty impressive AdaFruit channel on YouTube. They’ve got 350,000 subscribers. Here’s the videos, for instance, that they publish every week walking you through all the new products that they’ve recently added to the site. 

The CEO does a hands-on demo telling you about everything they have in stock. And then they have other collections of videos, like their women in hardware series that reaches an audience that’s been typically underserved in this space.

AdaFruit made a significant investment in content for their own channels, and it paid off with some brand authority, but brand trust and brand engagement as well.

Example: Investor Junkie

But I want to show you one other example here from arguably a much less exciting industry and someone who couldn’t invest so much in content. This is InvestorJunkie.com, a site that does reviews of financial services and products. And when I was working at the agency, we worked with this site and specifically with its founder, Larry. Larry was an expert in personal finance and particularly in personal investments. And this was his solo project. He blogged on the site and used his expertise. But as the site grew, he hired some contractors as well as our agency, and they created a lot of great content for the site, which really helped with SEO. But to make a significant impact on brand strength, we had to get the word out in front of loads of people who didn’t already know about him.

So we took Larry’s expertise and we offered him as a guest to podcasts, a lot of podcasts, and they loved having him on as a guest. Suddenly Larry was able to provide his expertise to huge new audiences, and he was able to get the Investor Junkie brand and their message in front of lots of people who had never heard of the site before.

But better still, this had a compounding effect, because people who are interested in these topics typically don’t just subscribe to one of these podcasts. They subscribe to a bunch of them. And so if they hear about Larry and Investor Junkie once, they might never think about it again. But if he shows up in their feed two or three or four times over the course of a few months, they’ll start to form a new association with the brand, maybe trusting him more, maybe seeking out the site.

And as an aside, there’s one other thing I love about podcasts, which is that if you’re creating a blog post, that can take hours and hours of work. If you’re creating a conference presentation, it can take days or weeks of work. If you’re a guest on a 30-minute podcast, it literally takes you about 30 minutes. You log on, you talk to a host, and then your part of the work is done.

So this can get you in front of a new audience. It gets people looking for you, which Google will notice. But it has even more SEO value as well, because every podcast typically has a page like this with show notes. It’s a page that Google can index, a page that Google can understand. And Google can see the signals of trust. It can see your brand being mentioned. It can see the links back to your site as well. I obviously can’t speak highly enough of podcasts for PR, for brand awareness, and even for SEO.

Did this help Larry and the Investor Junkie team? Yeah. This obviously wasn’t the extent of their SEO strategy. But everything they did contributed to them getting great rankings for a variety of competitive terms, and it helped them rank up against much bigger sites with much bigger teams and much bigger budgets. And that story actually came to an end just about two years ago, because the site was finally acquired for $6 million, which is not bad for a solo founder who was just busy building his own brand.

In summary

All right. I’ll wrap up with some of these thoughts. Google has been evolving. They’ve now been able to collect so much more data about the way people interact with the search results and other pages, and they’re now using machine learning to process all of that so they can better assess: Are we giving people a good user experience? Are the sites that we’re ranking the ones that satisfy people’s queries? The game of SEO has changed.

Now when you’re starting out, all the basics still apply. Come to Moz, read the Beginner’s Guide, do great technical SEO, do great keyword research, do great link building. Those are still necessary to be considered to become a player in your industry to help get you near the first page for any terms you want to target.

But when you’re trying to move up the front page, when you’re trying to establish yourself much further and become a much bigger brand, we’re not seeing a lot of correlation between things like links and getting into the very top rankings for any particular term. Instead, think about the good game that Google is playing. They want to make sure that when someone clicks on a result, they stay there. They don’t want to see this pogo sticking. They don’t want to see the link and the title that people want to click on sitting down at number six. So target their KPIs. Think about how you can help Google by making sure that your results are the ones people want to click on. Make sure that when people click on your results, that’s the page that they stay on.

But ultimately, you will never lose out if you improve your brand authority and engagement with your content. These are just good things to do for business. A stronger brand, content, and a website that people want to spend time on is hugely important and pays dividends. But now it’s all doubly important because it also has this massive impact on your SEO.

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Yelp launches “health and safety measures” community feedback feature

Yelp launches “health and safety measures” community feedback feature

Yelp now lets users leave feedback on local businesses’ health and safety compliance around COVID pandemic precautions. Community members can vouch that businesses are enforcing social distancing and requiring staff to wear masks.

Why we care. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, SMBs and local businesses want to ensure they’re communicating their safety precautions to customers. The new feature allows you to let Yelp users know what measures you’re taking to keep them and your employees safe.

The health and safety rating feature gives users the ability to inform others of the precautions that they’re seeing businesses actually implement and enforce to keep customers safe.

Community ratings of COVID safety compliance. With the pandemic forcing local and in-person businesses to adjust the ways they serve customers, Yelp developed a COVID-19 section last summer to keep users up to date on new service offerings like delivery, virtual consultations, and outdoor seating.

Today Yelp launched a feature that solicits customer feedback about how well businesses are adhering to pandemic precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing. In a release today, Akhil Kuduvalli Ramesh, Head of Consumer Product says, “Similar to how users can provide Yelp with feedback on whether a business is “kid-friendly” or “great for groups,” we’re now reflecting our users’ observations about businesses’ safety practices during the pandemic.”

Multiple users must leave feedback. The ratings for COVID safety precautions only show if there is a consensus among users who rate a business. Yelp users have to be logged in to mark whether the business is following safety precautions or not. If your business has multiple locations, the rating will only show for the location where the customer is when leaving the feedback.

Businesses can promote their precautions. Along with user feedback regarding business pandemic health and safety compliance, the launch also features new options for businesses to promote their COVID-safe practices.

New services offerings include the following:

heated outdoor seating1:1 sessions available disposable or contactless menu

Businesses can adopt these on their Yelp listings to show users how they’re continuing to adapt to serve them,

What it looks like. Here is a screenshot of the new ratings from Yelp:

The post Yelp launches “health and safety measures” community feedback feature appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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