SEO Articles

Adjusting Paid Campaigns During a Recession

Adjusting Paid Campaigns During a Recession

Posted by ryanmoothart

Our world changed dramatically in March of 2020 as a new viral threat to our livelihoods took hold in the United States and around the world. Here in the US (at the time of writing this post), COVID-19 has not relented

Some industries have been more heavily affected than others. For example, travel and tourism businesses have been hurting far more than many other industries due to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.

However, all businesses should re-evaluate their planned budgets for paid search and other paid digital campaigns for the next 12 to 24 months. Hopefully, this pandemic cedes faster than that and the economy comes out of our pending depression more rapidly at some point next year. But since nobody can know for sure when that will happen, it’s better to be safe and plan accordingly. Ask yourself the following questions:

What assumptions did you make about your priorities heading into 2020?How has the global pandemic and economic recession affected those priorities thus far?How have your trends changed and what shift(s) have you already had to make?

You’ll be on your way to creating a more stable plan for your paid digital advertising campaigns once you’re able to answer those questions.

Now comes the most difficult part: how do you take these changes into account and plan ahead for the next year, or even two years?

To do this effectively, you need to make a choice about which overarching business goal is more important to you:

1. Drive sufficient sales volume even at the expense of profitability.

OR

2. Maintain a profitability margin even if it means losing out on sales volume.

Don’t pick both. Obviously, you want to drive more sales and maintain or increase profitability — everyone wants to do that. But if your business has struggled since the breakout of this recession, you don’t have the luxury right now of picking both. If you pursue both goals, you’re more likely to implement competing tactics in your campaigns that may result in hitting neither. So, pick one. If you can hit it consistently going forward in this new environment, then you can start striving to hit the other in addition.

Focusing on sales volume

If your primary goal is sales volume, reference the year-over-year trends you’ve witnessed since the COVID-19 outbreak and the onset of the recession. Pay close attention to the last month or two since things have started returning to a “more normal” outlook with regards to businesses reopening (albeit with strong rules around social distancing). For instance:

Have you seen website traffic bounce back a bit since May, but not sales or conversions?Have these things increased in certain channels but not in others?How has your ad spend volume correlated with these shifts in conversions?Have you seen increases in cost per conversion levels that look more stable now?How do all of these things compare year over year?

Whatever you’re witnessing after answering these questions, plan on those year-over-year trends continuing for the foreseeable future. Take into account seasonality and plan out how many conversions, sales, and/or how much revenue you want to acquire each month or each week going forward. Once you have those hard numbers planned out, do some quick math by accounting for your cost per conversion and return on ad spend (ROAS) levels, and correlate how much money you’re going to need to spend to meet those sales targets.



Do these new budgets and targets allow you to meet your overall sales goals? You may find you’re able to hit targets for a certain channel directly (paid search, for example), but will still be behind overall. If that’s the case, reference your impression share or share of voice metrics, competitive insights, and tools like Moz or Google Trends to see if it’s realistic to push for even more sales volume if your existing forecasts don’t meet your goals.

If these things indicate little room for potential growth, revise your sales volume targets and expectations down to account for this new post-COVID normal. In this instance, your opportunity for potential growth will lie in high-funnel channels (e.g. programmatic advertising, digital video ads, traditional media buying) to reach more potential new customers. Just be sure to account for how many conversions or sales these high-funnel channels actually assist with to make sure you’re putting your advertising budgets to good use.

Focusing on profitability

If your primary goal is profitability, reference the same trends and answer the same set of questions as above. Again, pay close attention to the last month or two as the economic recession has begun settling itself in for the long haul. Whatever you’re witnessing, plan on those year-over-year trends continuing. Then, taking into account seasonality, forecast what your campaign budgets should be by month or by week given your desired ROAS or ROI levels.

Instead of having to adjust your budgets up in order to hit a desired sales volume threshold, you may find that your forecasted budget is lower than you originally anticipated coming into 2020. You’re likely going to have to cut budgets down or pause certain campaigns entirely that just aren’t profitable right now as changes in conversion costs and/or demand have negatively impacted your trends. If this is happening to you, plan on taking that budget you’re now cutting out of your certain paid campaigns and reinvest any potential remaining funds into other channels or savings (assuming such funds aren’t wiped out by lower sales volume).

This opportunity to maintain a certain profit margin will likely result in less overall revenue and return for your business as a whole. The goal here is to stay profitable enough where you don’t have to make significant cuts to your overall business. Sacrifice what you need to in paid digital advertising to stay afloat and maintain viability throughout the duration of this economic recession.

One more thing to keep in mind

As we’re still in the early stages of vast uncertainty, be nimble and reactive as economic circumstances change. You may find yourself doing a lot more re-forecasting on a consistent basis this year and next year due to fluctuation in economic climate and outlook. Just remember everyone else is in the same boat as you — nobody knows what’s coming in the next year or two, let alone the next few months.

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The Easiest Way to Update WordPress Premium Themes and Plugins

The Easiest Way to Update WordPress Premium Themes and Plugins

WordPress has a built-in feature to install themes and plugins by supplying a zip file. Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade a theme or plugin using the same process. Instead, WordPress will say “destination already exists” when trying to upgrade using a zip file and will fail to upgrade the theme or plugin.

Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades fixes this limitation in WordPress by automatically upgrading the theme or plugin if it already exists.

While upgrading, a backup copy of the old theme or plugin is first created. This allows you to install the old version in case of problems with the new version.

Updates are surely a massive part of WordPress and if you want to maintain functionality and keep things running smoothly, you must complete your updates. With that said updates can be a pain in the butt some times. We would like to share the easiest and most efficient way you can update your WordPress premium themes and plugins. Never again will you have to deactivate, delete and re-install. Follow the steps below and enjoy.

Log into your site and visit Plugins > Add New
Search for Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades
Install and activate

Now when you need to update a premium plugin or theme, simple upload it and this plugin will give you an option to upgrade and override the already installed theme or plugin.  See screenshot below.

Current Subscribers

Simply fill out the form below with your name and your email address and this will instantly subscribe you to our WP TAT™ campaign.

This way you will never miss a new post and never miss out on these valuable FREE tips to make your WordPress life better!

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; }
/* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

* indicates required

First Name *

Email Address *

(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[1]=’FNAME’;ftypes[1]=’text’;fnames[0]=’EMAIL’;ftypes[0]=’email’;}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

The post The Easiest Way to Update WordPress Premium Themes and Plugins appeared first on WP Fix It.

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See How WordPress Looks On All Devices

See How WordPress Looks On All Devices

Would you like to see how WordPress looks on all devices? We are going to introduce you to a cutting-edge super easy-to-use tool that will allow you to do just this. Not only will you be able to instantly see how any URL looks on multiple devices, you will actually be able to navigate around on each device and see how that process looks as well.

Visit http://techsini.com/multi-mockup

Enter URL in area you see below and hit the  “Generate Mockup” button
Adjust toggles to your liking based on what devices you wish to focus on
You can move devices around for different placement

We hope you enjoyed learning about this cutting-edge and very easy to use tool to see how WordPress looks on all devices. 

Current Subscribers

Simply fill out the form below with your name and your email address and this will instantly subscribe you to our WP TAT™ campaign.

This way you will never miss a new post and never miss out on these valuable FREE tips to make your WordPress life better!

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; }
/* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

* indicates required

First Name *

Email Address *

(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[1]=’FNAME’;ftypes[1]=’text’;fnames[0]=’EMAIL’;ftypes[0]=’email’;}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

The post See How WordPress Looks On All Devices appeared first on WP Fix It.

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How to Use WordPress to Drive Sales – With 9 Awesome Examples

How to Use WordPress to Drive Sales – With 9 Awesome Examples

Starting a company blog is one of the best long-term decisions you can make to boost your digital marketing efforts. A blog can attract more traffic to your website, improve your search engine rankings, and help your brand, your company, and your product.

More importantly, it can help you increase your sales and generate revenue, especially if you own an ecommerce business. According to research, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads monthly than those who don’t own a blog. Moreover, marketers who prioritize blogging receive as much as 13 times more ROI thanks to this strategy.

We’ll see why that is and how it works in more detail, as well as which specific steps you should take to make the most out of a company blog. But first, let’s see why WordPress seems like the best CMS platform for those who have decided to take this road.

Why choose WordPress?

Historically, in its initial stage, WordPress started off and developed predominantly as a blogging platform. Since then, it’s become much more than a platform purely for bloggers, and now it powers almost a third of all websites globally. And in the meantime, its reputation as the most convenient blogging CMS has only become more prominent.

One of the biggest advantages of WordPress in this context is its customizability. Hundreds of thousands of different themes, features, and plugins open up endless possibilities to customize your blog’s design, content, and range of capabilities. This number will continue to grow visibly, as most of these are created by the WP community, thanks to the open-source code.

Furthermore, WordPress is quite easy to use, which comes in handy to all those users who don’t feel particularly IT-minded. Blogging in WordPress is no more complicated than writing a post in Microsoft Word. Even some of the more advanced features are also easy to handle, so checking your analytics, moderating comments, or expanding your website’s functionality shouldn’t pose a problem for an average user.

Finally, those who still have trouble using WP for blogging can take advantage of a huge community gathered around the software and turn to it for support of any kind. This community provides numerous advantages for both professionals and laypersons, so choosing WP as your CMS seems like a reasonable choice no matter your level of tech-savviness.

Content creation

There are a lot of small tricks and hacks you can use to boost the performance of your WordPress blog, but without having some truly valuable content, it will all be for nothing. The whole point of a company blog is attracting people to read the content and then gradually turning readers to customers. There’s no trick you can use to make people read articles or watch videos they don’t find interesting, relevant, and useful.

There’s a huge number of formats you can employ to attract visitors – listicles, how-to articles, tutorials, guides, infographics, interviews, reviews, videos, quizzes, case studies, webinars, and much more. Whichever you choose, make sure you first do thorough research on who your target audience should be, based on who you expect to buy your products. Attracting an audience that has no interest in your business won’t do wonders for your sales.

So first of all, you need to adapt the topics, as well as the language and the voice you use to your target market. The most important step is always remembering who you write for. Once you have that settled, you can turn to actual content creation.

Address customers’ specific problems

Now, another thing to have in mind is that you should not just be writing for your specific audience, you should write about them. Not in a conventional sense, of course, but in the sense that you should be writing about problems they encounter and answer the questions they’re expected to ask.

Obviously, these problems and questions should be the ones that are in some way related to your industry and your area of expertise. This will attract the right audience and make you look helpful and competent in the eyes of the readers.

Take Amerisleep, for instance, a mattress vendor that’s really done content marketing right. Their blog is regularly updated with stories about physical and mental health, productivity, sleeping habits, mattress maintenance, and much more.

Source: amerisleep.com

Look how they used the article about best mattresses of 2020 to promote their products, but at the same time, they provided a ton of useful general info for anyone thinking about buying a mattress. They managed to address consumers’ specific needs and problems and give some valuable advice on which kind of bed you should choose given different conditions, disorders, sleeping positions, or sleeping routines.

Of course, a random reader can go to another website as soon as they’ve finished the article and buy from another vendor, but Amerisleep dramatically increases their chances of making a sale by offering customers a bed that turns out to fit their particular needs right in front of their eyes, right away.

Show how things work

In addition to explaining different concepts related to your field or helping consumers make up their minds, you can also show them how your product or your industry works. In general, tutorials and how-to’s can be very attractive to your target audience. Especially if they’re followed by some sort of visual aids – photos, videos, drawings, infographics, diagrams, or anything of the sort.

Someone to look up to in this respect is Bigcommerce, a company that provides an ecommerce platform for online retailers. They have the number #1 ecommerce blog in the world, which drives big amounts of traffic and revenue for the company.  

Source: bigcommerce.com

So what are the Bigcommerce writers doing right? They do write all sorts of pieces about all sorts of topics related to the ecommerce business, from digital marketing to cybersecurity and hosting services. But what they’re especially good at is writing detailed guides on how to set up your online shop, develop your ecommerce site, or generate social media traffic, among other things.   

Naturally, in these articles, they have a lot of room to spontaneously bring up what their product is about and promote their services. Sometimes people won’t even recognize it as a marketing move until they click on the link, since calls-to-action don’t stand out at all and seem like any other useful piece of info provided in the article. This is a perfect way of promoting your product without ever being salesy, pushy, or invasive.

Offer solutions

On the same token, offering your readership concrete and creative solutions to their problems can result in great sales-driving content. Of course, these problems don’t have to be matters of life and death. It’s enough that readers have a specific need or wish that your product can help fulfill.

And this is how your product comes into play here. It should provide a useful solution to the consumers, and you’ll have a chance to present it in detail to those who are actually interested in its potential.

It’s important that you don’t get carried away here and remember who you write for first and foremost. So don’t brag about your product, its many features, and how many of them you sold, but instead focus on talking about how it benefits the customer. This is the only way to hold their attention. What you should tell about your product, though, is how it’s different from all the others and what its unique value is from the perspective of the consumer.

A good example of this is BioLite Energy, an online shop selling outdoor energy gear and devices. They address campers, climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, and offer articles on topics such as hiking, cycling, ecology, outdoor cooking, as well as recipes and survival tips. For instance, their guide on how to light a fire is a helpful, well-written piece that any camper would find valuable, but at the same time, it does a great job of promoting their products like stoves or fuel pellets.

 

SEO benefits

Source: depositphotos.com

There are multiple ways in which your WordPress blog will help you increase conversions and sales. As we could see, well-conceived blog posts can provide value for the readers and encourage them to trust your brand and buy your products. Also, shareable articles will bring more people to your website. More traffic means more potential customers, which, in turn, usually means a sales boost.

Another benefit of running a business blog is improved SEO. Naturally, this will only happen if your blog offers quality articles on relevant subjects. Additionally, your content and your entire website will have to be carefully optimized in order to climb up the Google rankings. Here are some quick tips on how to do that:

Do thorough keyword research. You’ll have to find keywords that work for your industry and your competitors and take advantage of them. Be careful not to overstuff the articles with these keywords as it can have the opposite effect. You need to pay attention to the context at all times since the algorithms are becoming smarter and more competent at understanding natural language.
Write original product descriptions instead of just copying them from another website. Google doesn’t really favor duplicate content.
Optimize for speed. SEO is all about user experience (UX), and page loading speed is a big part of it. Get rid of any unnecessary features, design elements, and plugins that could slow your website down.
Look for WP plugins that can make your life easier when it comes to SEO. As it was said, be careful not to overburden your site with too many of these.
Devote some time to link building. Having a lot of backlinks that link to your blog or your website increases its relevance. Sometimes you’ll need to do some guest blogging to achieve this, but other times quality content is all you need in order to get backlinks. Websites with blogs get 97% more links, so starting a blog is a great way to build relevance and authority.
Try taking care of as many other SEO-related details as possible, such as image optimization, internal linking, meta descriptions, headline optimization, mobile responsiveness, or URL structure. All these details can amount to a big difference in organic traffic, so it’s worth putting some effort into this.

There are many examples that showcase how and why search engine optimization can do great things for your WordPress blog and your business. Here’s a particularly descriptive case study of a media company that grew 400% largely due to smart SEO tactics. There were no crazy hacks or magic, just hard work to get every detail straight in order to improve numerous aspects of UX and help the website rise in rankings.

Offer free teaser content

One clever strategy that can help you get more out of your content is offering opt-in freebies. For instance, you can publish the first part of a series of articles or videos on your blog and offer to email the rest to everyone who’s ready to type in their email address and subscribe.

This helps you build your email marketing list and use another channel for marketing your products and communicating with your target group. This is very important, as email marketing has the highest ROI of all digital marketing strategies – around $42 per $1 invested. This move will also let you take your relationship with your readers to a new level, enabling you to establish a closer connection with them.

Source: venturesuperfly.com

A good example is John Benzick, an entrepreneur and startup mentor. He offers a free 20-minute coaching session on launching and growing a business, basically in exchange for your name and email.

This way, he’s offering a free sneak peek of what he’s about before you can decide whether you’ll pay for premium coaching and content. People definitely aren’t ready to invest their money in everything they come across online, and this is a great way of reassuring them that your content or your service is worth it. If you don’t succeed at it, at least you have another name on your newsletter subscription list.

CTA buttons

Another important factor in boosting your sales with your content is how you design and arrange your call-to-action (CTA) buttons. People who read and like your content ought to be aware that you’re actually selling something, and you shouldn’t hesitate to remind them about it.

Of course, this doesn’t mean being too pushy, as it can only annoy and chase away your readers. Having too many CTA buttons can confuse your potential customers and overwhelm them, so you won’t provoke the desired reaction. However, having a discreet link or button (or two) is a must. The more it seems like a natural part of your content, the better.

Making several different personalized CTA buttons is also a good idea. By obtaining and using advanced customer data, you can distinguish between visitors in different stages of the buyer’s journey. Take a look at how Hubspot designed different CTAs for random visitors, leads, and customers respectively, finding different ways to maximize the engagement of each group.

Utilize trending topics

The fastest way to grow your audience is to make sure that one of your posts goes viral. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict with certainty that an article will become super-popular, but you can try a few things that will make it more likely to happen.

Namely, writing about hot current topics is one of the most common ways to make a post extra-shareable. This obviously doesn’t mean just any trending topic, but only the ones that are in some way relevant to your industry and your visitors.

Source: apiumhub.com

Take Apiumhub – an IT company from Spain with a great tech blog. Just like many other tech blogs, they’re trying to address the trends in their industry and make them more accessible to their readership. It’s an excellent road to take for an IT firm. 

Even if you fail ever to go viral, if your blog can offer useful info and new angles on cutting-edge technology. This is likely to result in a steady growth in traffic and sales.

Promotion on social media

It’s easier than ever to advertise businesses and content of all kinds using social networks. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. With the help of social media, you can get a lot of eyes on your content. What’s more, you can accurately target exactly those people who are actually going to be interested in your brand and your content, saving a ton of money in the process.

If you want to know how to promote your posts on social media properly, visit some of Neil Patel’s social channels. A famous entrepreneur and marketing expert, Neil Patel does a very meticulous job in promoting and sharing all sorts of content he creates.

A very important lesson to learn from him is that you should also have some quality content that you will upload directly or even exclusively to social media, instead of using these channels only to share previously created posts and videos. This way, you’ll be growing your social networks more quickly and you’ll make your followers more engaged, which will have a positive effect on traffic to your blog posts as well.

Make smart use of plugins

Finally, when running a company blog on WordPress, use all the benefits that WordPress offers. Plugins can help you with sharing, posting, promoting, optimizing, testing, generating leads, monitoring key metrics, organizing, reorganizing, and basically, if there’s any manual work you’re supposed to do regarding your WP blog, there’s likely a plugin that can automate this process.

Of course, once again, you need to limit yourself to those plugins that are actually necessary to your website, or otherwise, you can make it too heavy and slow. (Side note: be sure to avoid nulled plugins, and here’s why.)

One addition that can really help you boost your blog is a commenting feature. Probably the most famous of commenting plugins is Disqus, which you must have already seen around and which is used by giants like ABC News or TMZ. There are many great uses of a plugin of this kind, the most important ones being getting honest and timely feedback, as well as gradually building an active community around your brand or product.

Final thoughts

Source: depositphotos.com

To get the most out of your WordPress blog, you’ll have to stick to all of these tactics we’ve talked about and apply them in a way that best suits your needs. As a matter of fact, you’ll have to consider doing even more than that, as this is a virtually inexhaustible topic. 

For instance, you should also pay attention to the timing of your posts and mobile-friendliness of your website or your content. You also absolutely need to get your hands on detailed and accurate customer info in order to create content that really resonates with your readership.  

And there’s much more beyond that. All in all, if you wish to Use WordPress to Drive Sales and be successful, you need to put in a lot of thought and effort. But if you’re persistent and fastidious enough, you can rightly expect that it will all pay off, both in terms of driving extra sales and strengthening your brand in the long run.

The post How to Use WordPress to Drive Sales – With 9 Awesome Examples appeared first on WP Fix It.

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Some Digital Agencies Treat SEO Like Wearing a Face Mask

Some Digital Agencies Treat SEO Like Wearing a Face Mask

LSG is hiring for a Senior Director of SEO position and I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of great SEOs over the past week. Thanks to the growth of our industry over the past few years and COVID-19, it feels like there’s an ocean of highly skilled talent out there. But the pandemic has exposed an ugly side of the digital marketing industry – most agencies are happy to take SEO money while simultaneously not giving a shit about SEO.

From my admittedly limited perspective, the agencies who were hit hardest post-SIP seemed to be those who had big PPC businesses and those who had SMB-focused service businesses (v SaaS subscriptions which seem to have kept chugging along). It kind of makes sense in that PPC spending came to a halt and many SMBs’ businesses hit a brick wall. We lost an SMB client the day SIP went into effect, but we didn’t lose any PPC clients, because we don’t do PPC.

In my conversations with candidates for the Director position, those who work at agencies have had a consistent refrain – “we lost a lot of PPC budget so they cut a few heads in the SEO group”. I am sure the PPC groups were not immune to cuts either, but over and over I have heard claims that an agency “doesn’t really care about SEO”. Sure they’ll sell it. They’ll even hire people to do it. But it’s not the business’ priority. That kind of makes sense in that SEO can be harder to service and measure than buying clicks. Perhaps most important, it can be harder to explain to clients, particularly clients who are worried about going out of business. Selling a steady stream of customers at a (hopefully) predictable cost per click probably feels like the path of least resistance so why fight it?

The challenge as I self-servingly see it is that to do SEO right, you have to fund it appropriately. Of course, there are cases where companies have great brands and products and everything just takes off on its own, but for most of us, this is not how it works. And SEO for most sites that want to compete, requires expertise at a wide range of unrelated disciplines – technical analysis, content strategy, content production, backlink acquisition, and data analysis, to name but a few. And let’s not forget about people and client management. Those are probably the top two ranking factors these days.

But it’s easy to sell that your agency does SEO, particularly if you have already sold a client on a PPC campaign. It’s basically free money for you. And it’s likely more profitable than the PPC business, but at lower volumes. So agencies like it, but maybe don’t care enough about it to give it the funding it really needs for its teams to succeed because it’s more profitable not to. And most clients maybe pay more attention to the $ you are spending every day for them on PPC because it’s so much more significant.

I am sure there are plenty of you out there who will say “not my agency!” and good for you. But one of the things COVID has exposed is how much we each care about a lot of things. And it seems like there are a bunch of you out there who treat SEO like Trump treats wearing a face mask.

ARE YOU HIRING FOR AN SEO POSITION? IF SO, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH AS WE HAVE PLENTY OF GREAT CANDIDATES AND CAN ONLY HIRE ONE. WE’RE HAPPY TO REFER THEM OVER.

The post Some Digital Agencies Treat SEO Like Wearing a Face Mask appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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Easy for You

Easy for You

To Teach, One Must Learn

One of the benefits of writing is it forces you to structure your thoughts.

If you are doing something to pass a test rote memorization can work, but if you are trying to teach someone else and care it forces you to know with certainty what you are teaching.

When I was in nuclear power school one guy was about to flunk out and I did not want to let him so I taught him stuff for days. He passed that test and as a side effect I got my highest score I ever got on one of those tests. He eventually did flunk out, but he knew other people were rooting for him and tried to help him.

Market Your Work or Become Redundant

Going forward as more work becomes remote it is going to be easier to hire and fire people. The people who are great at sharing their work and leaving a public record of it will likely be swimming in great opportunities, whereas some equally talented people who haven’t built up a bit of personal brand equity will repeatedly get fired in spite of being amazingly talented, simply because there was a turn in the economy and management is far removed from the talent. As bad as petty office politics can be, it will likely become more arbitrary when everyone is taking credit for the work of others & people are not sitting side by side to see who actually did the work.

Uber recently announced they were laying off thousands of employees while looking to move a lot of their core infrastructure work overseas where labor is cheaper. Lots of people will be made redundant as unicorn workers in a recession suddenly enjoy the job stability and all the perks of the gig working economy.

Design

We have a great graphic designer who is deeply passionate about his work. He can hand draw amazing art or comics and is also great at understanding illustration software, web design, web usability, etc. I have no idea why he was fired from his prior employer but am thankful he was as he has been a joy to work with.

Before COVID-19 killed office work I sat right next to our lead graphic designer and when I would watch him use Adobe Illustrator I was both in awe of him and annoyed at how easy he would make things look. He is so good at it that and endless array of features are second nature to him. When I would ask him how to do something I just saw him do frequently it would be harder for him to explain how he does it than doing it.

Programming

Our graphics designer is also a quite solid HTML designer, though strictly front end design. One day when I took an early lunch with my wife I asked him to create a WordPress theme off his HTML design and when I got back he was like … ummm. 🙂

We are all wizards at some things and horrible at others. When I use Adobe Illustrator for even the most basic tasks I feel like a guy going to a breakdancing party with no cardboard and 2 left shoes.

There are a number of things that are great about programming

it is largely logic-based
people drawn toward it tend to be smart
people who can organize code also tend to use language directly (making finding solutions via search rather easy)

Though over time programming languages change features & some changes are not backward compatible. And as some free & open source projects accumulate dependencies they end up promoting the use of managers. Some of these may not be easy to install & configure on a remote shared server (with user permission issues) from a Windows computer. So then you install another package on your local computer and then have to research how it came with a deprecated php track_errors setting. And on and on.

One software program I installed on about a half-dozen sites many moons ago launched a new version recently & the typical quick 5 minute install turned into a half day of nothing. The experience felt a bit like a “choose your own adventure” book, where almost every choice you make leads to: start again at the beginning.

At that point a lot of the advice one keeps running into sort of presumes one has the exact same computer set up they do, so search again, solve that problem, turn on error messaging, and find the next problem to … once again start at the beginning.

That sort of experience is more than a bit humbling & very easy to run into when one goes outside their own sphere of expertise.

Losing the Beginner’s Mindset

If you do anything for an extended period of time it is easy to take many things for granted as you lose the beginner’s mindset.

One of the reasons it is important to go outside your field of expertise is to remind yourself of what that experience feels like.

Anyone who has been in SEO for a decade likely does the same thing when communicating about search by presuming the same level of domain expertise and talking past people. Some aspects of programming are hard because they are complex. But when you are doing simple and small jobs then if things absolutely do not work you often get the answer right away. Whereas with SEO you can be unsure of the results of a large capital and labor investment until the next time a core algorithm update happens a quarter year from now. That uncertainty acts as the barrier to entry & blocker of institutional investments which allow for sustained above average profit margins for those who make the cut, but it also means a long lag time and requiring a high level of certainty to make a big investment.

The hard part about losing the beginners mindset with SEO is sometimes the algorithms do change dramatically and you have to absolutely reinvent yourself while throwing out what you know (use keyword rich anchor text aggressively, build tons of links, exact match domains beat out brands, repeat keyword in bold on page, etc.) and start afresh as the algorithms reshuffle the playing field.

The Web Keeps Changing

While the core algorithms are shifting so too is how people use the web. Any user behaviors are shifting as search results add more features and people search on mobile devices or search using their voice. Now that user engagement is a big part of ranking, anything which impacts brand perception or user experience also impacts SEO. Social distancing will have major impacts on how people engage with search. We have already seen a rapid rise of e-commerce at the expense of offline sales & some colleges are planning on holding next year entirely online. The University of California will have roughly a half-million students attending school online next year unless students opt for something cheaper.

Colleges have to convince students for the next year that a remote education is worth every bit as much as an in-person one, and then pivot back before students actually start believing it.

It’s like only being able to sell your competitor’s product for a year.— Naval (@naval) May 6, 2020

What Resolution?

I am horrible with Adobe Illustrator. But one of the things I have learned with that and Photoshop is that if you edit in a rather high resolution you can have many of your errors disappear to the naked eye when it is viewed at a normal resolution. The same analogy holds true for web design but in the opposite direction … if your usability is solid on a mobile device & the design looks good on a mobile device then it will probably be decent on desktop as well.

Some people also make a resolution mistake with SEO.

If nobody knows about a site or brand or company having perfect valid HTML, supporting progressive web apps, supporting AMP, using microformats, etc. … does not matter.
On the flip side, if a site is well known it can get away with doing many things sub-optimally & can perhaps improve a lot by emulating sites which are growing over time in spite of having weaker brand strength.
Free, so Good Enough?

Many open source software programs do not do usability testing or track the efforts of a somewhat average user or new user in their ability to download and install software because they figure it is free so oh well people should figure it out. That thinking is a mistake though, because each successive increase in barrier to entry limits your potential market size & eventually some old users leave for one reason or another.

Any free software project which accumulates attention and influence can be monetized in other ways (through consulting, parallel SaaS offerings, affiliate ad integration, partnering with Hot Nacho to feature some great content in a hidden div using poetic code, etc.). But if they lack reach, see slowing growth, and then increase the barrier to entry they are likely to die.

When you ask someone to pay for something you’ll know if they like it and where they think it can be improved. Relying on the free price point hides many problems and allows them to accumulate.

The ability to make things easy for absolute beginners is a big part of why WordPress is worth many multiples of what Acquia sold for. And WordPress has their VIP hosting service, Akismet, and a bunch of other revenue streams while Acquia is now owned by a private equity company.

The ability to be 0.0000001% as successful as WordPress has been without losing the beginner mindset is hard.

Categories: marketing

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