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3 Steps to Hone the Skill that Can Advance Your Career as a Writer

There are writers. And then there are professional writers. Over my career as a writer and editor, I’ve noticed one…

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Waze Adds Snow Warning Feature With Winter Weather Reports

Waze, the popular community-driven traffic app, just received a major new feature in preparation for the winter season.

According to a press release provided to 9to5Google, Waze has launched Snow Warning, a feature aimed at helping drivers navigate through dangerous winter weather.

The new feature was created in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation and will build on the app’s crowdsourcing feature by allowing users to report snow covered, unplowed roads and icy conditions. This can be especially helpful when dealing with black ice, something that is difficult to detect.

The Virginia DoT plans to use data from Waze to better plan for future bad weather. In the meantime, Snow Warning is now live in 185 countries and can be accessed via Hazards > Weather.

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Vlog #30: Ben Cook On The Wild West Days Of SEO & Enterprise Site Migrations

Ben Cook (@BenjaminCook) the Senior Organic Search Specialist at Perficient Digital is also someone I’ve known in the industry for a long time – back in his Skitzzo days. He invited me to his office in St. Louis, as a way to vacation from my family vacation…


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DOJ Planning to Review Google-Fitbit Deal Over Privacy Concerns

According to the New York Post, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to review the Google-Fitbit deal over concerns about consumer privacy.

We reported last month that Google had agreed to acquire Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion. As part of the announcement, Google did its best to reassure current users that it would respect their privacy and that their personal data would not be sold to third parties or be used for advertising. A couple of weeks later, it came to light that Facebook had also been interested in the wearable company, losing out in a bidding war against Google. At the end of that article, we made the following observation:

“While some users have understandably been concerned about privacy in the wake of the announcement Google was purchasing Fitbit, it’s probably a safe bet that far more users would be concerned if Facebook was the buyer.”

Evidently, the fact that Google is buying Fitbit instead of Facebook is not enough of a consolation prize to prevent regulatory scrutiny. In fact, according to the New York Post, both the DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wanted to review the deal, with one source describing it “as a real ‘arm wrestle’ between the agencies.”

Both agencies are concerned with the privacy implications, given the amount of data Google already has about people’s lives. They fear that allowing Google to purchase Fitbit will give them too much data, especially sensitive health information. Google is already under scrutiny for Project Nightingale, Google’s partnership with the Ascension healthcare group to collect data on millions of patients.

While the FTC has usually investigated Google’s past deals, the DOJ won out this time due to the fact they are “presently investigating Google for broader anti-competitive issues.”

Although it’s too early to know how the DOJ will rule, the Public Citizen and the Center for Digital Democracy had previously urged the FTC to block the merger. With increased scrutiny on Google’s handling of customer data, it may be an uphill battle to close the Fitbit deal.

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Seven iron-clad methods to drive traffic to your website

You’ve written and published an awesome blog post, and now you’re waiting for that website traffic to start pouring in?

Well, I hope you’re comfortable because it’s going to be quite a wait.

While the benefits of content marketing are well-known, they are well-known to everyone. Blog posts, case studies, and white papers are published left and right (four million pieces each and every day, actually) so getting through the clutter can be difficult.

How do you get noticed in such an oversaturated environment? You master these two important skills:

  • Writing educational, engaging, and timely content, and
  • By working hard on driving traffic to your website.

I’ll assume that you know how to write engaging content (if you don’t, this article could help you) and focus here on seven methods of driving traffic to your website.

Some are conventional (like social media and email) but it’s the unconventional ones that I hope you will put to good use. Ultimately, it’s a mix of both that will help you generate a steady stream of website traffic, and I hope that you’ll find some of the ideas here inspirational enough to try them out.

Conventional methods to drive website traffic

1. Organic Traffic (SEO)

Organic search engine traffic is the Holy Grail of website traffic.

Most authority sites in your niche get the bulk of their visits from organic Google searches but this is an important traffic channel for every type of website (see screenshot below – 12% traffic from organic is nothing to be scoffed at for an ecommerce store).

Here are a couple of evergreen tips for you to keep in mind when writing content and doing SEO for your website:

  • Keyword research – Spend some time learning how people search for content in your niche. Identify keywords that you have a chance to rank for (long-tail keywords with low competition, for example), and write content around them.
  • On-page and technical SEO – Work on your headings, keyword density, meta descriptions, load times, and similar. Most importantly, make your content engaging, informative, and fun to read. For more on on-page SEO, check out this guide that we published recently.
  • Backlinks – Backlinks are the votes that other websites cast that tell Google that your content is worthy of that top spot in the search engine results pages (SERPs). They can occur naturally but you don’t want to depend on it – make sure you have a couple of backlinking strategies up your sleeve whenever you publish a really good piece of content.

2. Promotion on social media platforms

Social media is dominating the web, and if you’re not there promoting your content and your website, you’re missing out on a very important source of website traffic.

Depending on your niche, you’ll want to consider (at least) making an appearance on the following social media platforms:

  • Facebook – Set up your Facebook business page as soon as possible, and start working on growing your base of followers. Regularly publish your content here but make sure to cross-post to other relevant groups and pages on Facebook. Check out this post for more tips on how to get the most out of your Facebook business page.
  • Instagram – To interest your Instagram audience, you will need to become a visual storyteller (think infographics and beautifully designed images). Since Instagram doesn’t allow links, get creative and use your bio section, Instagram Stories, and IGTV video descriptions to drive traffic to your website (for more details, read this Instagram traffic generation guide from Tailwind).
  • Twitter – This is a very cluttered and noisy social platform but it’s still great for sharing bite-sized pieces of your content. Use a post scheduler like Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite or others to get several tweets out automatically during the day. On Twitter, it pays to be provocative, funny, and on time (think about hijacking trending topics and hashtags) if you want people to click on the links you share.

When using social media to drive website traffic, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re on all of the platforms where your target audience(s) tend to hang out.

3. Email marketing

Marketing your content and your offers to a curated list of people who have already expressed an interest in what you have to say is a no-brainer, right?

To drive traffic to your website using your email list, consider the following:

  • Send out a newsletter regularly, highlighting your recently published blog posts, unique tips and tricks, or special offers.
  • Segment your list and send special reminders to different subsections when you publish something that might be of particular interest to that group.
  • Add social media buttons to your email blasts so that your subscribers are reminded to follow you on your preferred networks. Encourage them to share your newsletters with friends either via social networks or by forwarding the emails.

Unconventional methods to drive traffic to your website

4. Slack communities

Slack is a tool that teams use to communicate but it’s also home to Slack Communities where like-minded people hang out. Even if a group has only 1000 members, a lot of them will be active at any given time, which means that your potential audience will have a chance to see and interact with your link in real-time.

How to do it

First, find Slack communities that fit your niche.

Note that you will quickly get a feeling whether or not Slack is the right traffic channel for you – communities mostly revolve around marketing, tech, business, SEO, and similar digital topics (check out this list of great SEO Slack communities from Ahrefs).

Don’t get discouraged if you’re not in marketing: photography, writing, design, web dev, community management – if you publish content in any of these niches, you’re golden.

When you find a community that interests you, send a request to join.

Here’s some advice on how to use Slack to drive traffic to your website (without getting booted out of a community on day one):

  • Introduce yourself and let people know what it is that you do, and what you expect from joining the community.
  • Don’t just spam your links everywhere – answer questions in full, and only add a link to your content if it adds context and details to your answer.
  • If a question has a weird angle (not exactly something you talk about in your content) but it’s related to a piece of content you’ve written, consider updating the post and then answering the question and adding your link.

Slack communities are searchable. If your comments are particularly valuable, you can expect other users to share them with newcomers from time to time. Because of this, even older comments can yield a small trickle of website traffic from time to time.

5. Blog and forum comments

Blog comments may not be a very reliable SEO link building technique, but they still work for traffic generation.

How to do it

First, look for blog posts related to your content. Pull up recent articles by clicking on the “tools” box on the search result page.

Copy the URL of interesting posts to a spreadsheet (do the same with interesting forum topics). Keeping these links in one place helps you build a database of sites in your niche for future reference.

The key is to make thoughtful comments and only link to your content when it’s actually relevant. Try to add real value to the blog post with every comment that you make.

Each blog comment may only drive a few visitors to your site. But, if the post goes viral or sits on Google’s page one for a long time, that’s enough to get a steady stream of visitors to your website every month.

6. Appear as a guest on popular podcasts

Podcasts are huge – around 51% of the US population has listened to one or more in the last few months. Somewhere around 35% of them listen to the entire episode once they start it.

This means that podcasts are a great opportunity for savvy marketers.

And, what’s best, you don’t even have to record one, you can simply pitch your ideas to hosts of existing podcasts to try to secure an invite to a future episode.

How to do it

  • Do a quick Google search – just type in “top [your niche] podcasts” and go through the list while recording URLs (and requirements to guest star) in a spreadsheet.

  • Craft an interesting (and personalized) pitch, and send it to the host, outlining why you should be invited to star in one of their future episodes.
  • When appearing, be informative, interesting, and educational. But, above all else, be shameless when promoting your content and your website. Answer questions thoroughly but don’t be shy about adding “By the way, you can read all of this on my blog, which you can access if you visit [your website]”.
  • Ensure that the episode description mentions your name clearly, as well as links to your website and some of the more interesting pieces that can be found there.

7. Use QR Codes to drive traffic to your website

QR codes (or quick response codes) are another great, but a severely underutilized way to drive traffic to your website.

By placing a QR code on business cards, flyers, and posters (and even your Facebook and LinkedIn pages), you give people a quick way to access your website. All they have to do is scan it and their phone will open up any URL associated with the code.

How to do it

Use a free QR code generator to create a unique code that people can scan. Add a general code that leads to your website to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

If you’re visiting a conference or a meet-up, consider adding content-specific codes (meaning, the ones that link to a piece of content on a specific topic) so that people scanning them land on something that will feel a bit more personalized and tailored to them.

Closing note

Driving traffic to your website is an 80/20 game  – 80% of your traffic comes from 20% of your actions. Once you have enough data to determine where that 80% of traffic is coming from, it will be easy to ramp up your efforts in that area. But, to get there you will have to experiment with both conventional and unconventional methods of driving website traffic. Try some of the ones listed here and then comment here to let me know what worked best for you.

The post Seven iron-clad methods to drive traffic to your website appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Becoming an Industry Thought Leader: Advanced Techniques for Finding the Best Places to Pitch Guest Posts

Posted by KristinTynski

If you’re involved in any kind of digital PR — or pitching content to writers to expand your brand awareness and build strong links — then you know how hard it can be to find a good home for your content.

I’m about to share the process you can use to identify the best, highest ROI publishers for building consistent, mutually beneficial guest posting relationships with.

This knowledge has been invaluable in understanding which publications have the best reach and authority to other known vertical/niche experts, allowing you to share your own authority within these readership communities.

Before we get started, there’s a caveat: If you aren’t willing to develop true thought leadership, this process won’t work for you. The prerequisite for success here is having a piece of content that is new, newsworthy, and most likely data-driven.

Now let’s get to the good stuff.

Not all publications are equal

Guest posting can increase awareness of your brand, create link authority, and ultimately generate qualified leads. However, that only happens if you pick publishers that have:

  • The trust of your target audience.
  • Topical relevance and authority.
  • Sufficiently large penetration in readership amongst existing authorities in your niche/vertical.

A big trap many fall into is not properly prioritizing their guest posting strategy along these three important metrics.

To put this strategy into context, I’ll provide a detailed methodology for understanding the “thought leadership” space of two different verticals. I’ll also include actionable tips for developing a prioritized list of targets for winning guest spots or columns with your killer content.

It all starts with BuzzSumo

We use BuzzSumo data as the starting point for developing these interactive elements. For this piece, the focus will be on looking at data pulled from their Influencer and Shared Links APIs.

Let’s begin by looking at the data we’re after in the regular user interface. On the Influencers tab, we start by selecting a keyword most representative of the overall niche/industry/vertical we want to understand. We’ll start with “SEO.”

The list of influencers here should already be sorted, but feel free to narrow it down by applying filters. I recommend making sure your final list has 250-500 influencers as a minimum to be comprehensive.

Next, and most importantly, we want to get the links’ shared data for each of these influencers. This will be the data we use to build our network visualizations to truly understand the publishers in the space that are likely to be the highest ROI places for guest posting.

Below you can see the visual readout for one influencer.

Note the distribution of websites Gianluca Fiorelli (@gfiorelli1) most often links to on Twitter. These sites (and their percentages) will be the data we use for our visualization.

Pulling our data programmatically

Thankfully, BuzzSumo has an excellent and intuitive API, so it’s relatively easy to pull and aggregate all of the data we need. I’ve included a link to my script in Github for those who would like to do it themselves.

In general, it does the following:

  • Generates the first page of influencers for the given keyword, which is about 50. You can either update the script to iterate through pages or just update the page number it pulls from within the script and concatenate the output files after the fact.
  • For each influencer, it makes another API call and gets all of the aggregated Top Domains shared data for each influencer, which is the same as the data you see in the above pie chart visualization.
  • Aggregates all the data and exports to a CSV.

Learning from the data

Once we have our data in the format Gephi prefers for network visualizations (sample edge file), we are ready to start exploring. Let’s start with our data from the “SEO” search, for which I pulled the domain sharing data for the top 400 influencers.

A few notes:

  • The circles are called nodes. All black nodes are the influencer’s Twitter accounts. All other colored nodes are the websites.
  • The size of the nodes is based on Page Rank. This isn’t the Google Page Rank number, but instead the Page Rank within this graph alone. The larger the node, the more authoritative (and popular) that website is within the entire graph.
  • The colors of the nodes are based on a modularity algorithm in Gephi. Nodes with similar link graphs typically have the same color.

What can we learn from the SEO influencer graph?

Well, the graph is relatively evenly distributed and cohesive. This indicates that the websites and blogs that are shared most frequently are well known by the entire community.

Additionally, there are a few examples of clusters outside the primary cluster (the middle of the graph). For instance, we see a Local SEO cluster at the 10 p.m. position on the left hand side. We can also see a National Press cluster at the 6-7 p.m. position on the bottom and a French Language cluster at the 1-2 p.m. position at the top right.

Ultimately, Moz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Land are great bets when developing and fostering guest posting relationships.

Note that part of the complication with this data has to do with publishing volume. The three largest nodes are also some of the most prolific, meaning there are more overall chances for articles to earn Tweets and other social media mentions from industry influencers. You could refining of the data further by normalizing each site by content publishing volume to find publishers who publish much less frequently and still enjoy disproportionate visibility within the industry.

Webmasters.Googleblog.com is a good example of this. They publish 3 to 4 times per month, and yet because of their influence in the industry, they’re still one of the largest and most central nodes. Of course, this makes sense given it is the only public voice of Google for our industry.

Another important thing to notice is the prominence of both YouTube and SlideShare. If you haven’t yet realized the importance and reach of these platforms, perhaps this is the proof you need. Video content and slide decks are highly shared in the SEO community by top influencers.

Differences between SEO and content marketing influencer graphs

What can we learn from the Content Marketing influencer graph?

For starters, it looks somewhat different overall from the SEO influencer graph; it’s much less cohesive and seems to have many more separate clusters. This could indicate that the content publishing sphere for content marketing is perhaps less mature, with more fragmentation and fewer central sources for consuming content marketing related content. It could also be that content marketing is descriptive of more than SEO and that different clusters are publishers that focus more on one type of content marketing vs. another (similar to what we saw with the local SEO cluster in the previous example).

Instead of 3 to 5 similarly sized market leaders, here we see one behemoth, Content Marketing Institute, a testament to both the authority of that brand and the massive amount of content they publish.

We can also see several specific clusters. For instance, the “SEO blogs” cluster in blue at the 8-9 p.m. position and the more general marketing blogs like Hubspot, MarketingProfs, and Social Media Examiner in green and mauve at the 4-5 p.m. position.

The general business top-tier press sites appear quite influential in this space as well, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Adweek, Tech Crunch, Business Insider, Inc., which we didn’t see as much in the SEO example.

YouTube, again, is extremely important, even more so than in the SEO example.

Is it worth it?

If you’re already deep in an industry, the visualization results of this process are unlikely to shock you. As someone who’s been in the SEO/content marketing industry for 10 years, the graphs are roughly what I expected, but there certainly were some surprises.

This process will be most valuable to you when you are new to an industry or are working within a new vertical or niche. Using the python code I linked and BuzzSumo’s fantastic API and data offers the opportunity to gain a deep visual understanding of the favorite places of industry thought leaders. This knowledge acts as a basis for strategic planning toward identifying top publishers with your own guest content.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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Who’s the Hero in Your Business?

Many businesses are mediocre because they don’t have the slightest desire to be heroic. They just want to get through…

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It’s Content and It’s Links – Are We Making SEO Too Complicated?

Posted by AndrewDennis33

Content and links — to successfully leverage search as a marketing channel you need useful content and relevant links.

Many experienced SEOs have run numerous tests and experiments to correlate backlinks with higher rankings, and Google has espoused the importance of “great content” for as long as I can remember.

In fact, a Google employee straight up told us that content and links are two of the three (the other being RankBrain) most important ranking factors in its search algorithm.

So why do we seem to overcomplicate SEO by chasing new trends and tactics, overreacting to fluctuations in rankings, and obsessing over the length of our title tags? SEO is simple — it’s content and it’s links.

Now, this is a simple concept, but it is much more nuanced and complex to execute well. However, I believe that by getting back to basics and focusing on these two pillars of SEO we can all spend more time doing the work that will be most impactful, creating a better, more connected web, and elevating SEO as a practice within the marketing realm.

To support this movement, I want to provide you with strategic, actionable takeaways that you can leverage in your own content marketing and link building campaigns. So, without further ado, let’s look at how you can be successful in search with content and links.

Building the right content

As the Wu-Tang Clan famously said, “Content rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M,” …well, it was something like that. The point is, everything in SEO begins and ends with content. Whether it’s a blog post, infographic, video, in-depth guide, interactive tool, or something else, content truly rules everything around us online.

Content attracts and engages visitors, building positive associations with your brand and inspiring them to take desired actions. Content also helps search engines better understand what your website is about and how they should rank your pages within their search results.

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So where do you start with something as wide-reaching and important as a content strategy? Well, if everything in SEO begins and ends with content, then everything in content strategy begins and ends with keyword research.

Proper keyword research is the difference between a targeted content strategy that drives organic visibility and simply creating content for the sake of creating content. But don’t just take my word for it — check out this client project where keyword research was executed after a year of publishing content that wasn’t backed by keyword analysis:

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(Note: Each line represents content published within a given year, not total organic sessions of the site.)

In 2018, we started creating content based on keyword opportunities. The performance of that content has quickly surpassed (in terms of organic sessions) the older pages that were created without strategic research.

Start with keyword research

The concept of keyword research is straightforward — find the key terms and phrases that your audience uses to find information related to your business online. However, the execution of keyword research can be a bit more nuanced, and simply starting is often the most difficult part.

The best place to start is with the keywords that are already bringing people to your site, which you can find within Google Search Console.

Beyond the keywords that already bring people to your website, a baseline list of seed keywords can help you expand your keyword reach.

Seed keywords are the foundational terms that are related to your business and brand.

As a running example, let’s use Quip, a brand that sells oral care products. Quip’s seed keywords would be:

  • [toothbrush]
  • [toothpaste]
  • [toothbrush set]
  • [electric toothbrush]
  • [electric toothbrush set]
  • [toothbrush subscription]

These are some of the most basic head terms related to Quip’s products and services. From here, the list could be expanded, using keyword tools such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer, to find granular long-tail keywords and other related terms.

Expanded keyword research and analysis

The first step in keyword research and expanding your organic reach is to identify current rankings that can and should be improved.

Here are some examples of terms Moz’s Keyword Explorer reports Quip has top 50 rankings for:

  • [teeth whitening]
  • [sensitive teeth]
  • [whiten teeth]
  • [automatic toothbrush]
  • [tooth sensitivity]
  • [how often should you change your toothbrush]

These keywords represent “near-miss” opportunities for Quip, where it ranks on page two or three. Optimization and updates to existing pages could help Quip earn page one rankings and substantially more traffic.

For example, here are the first page results for [how often should you change your toothbrush]:

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As expected, the results here are hyper-focused on answering the question how often a toothbrush needs to be changed, and there is a rich snippet that answers the question directly.

Now, look at Quip’s page where we can see there is room for improvement in answering searcher intent:

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The title of the page isn’t optimized for the main query, and a simple title change could help this page earn more visibility. Moz reports 1.7k–2.9k monthly search volume for [how often should you change your toothbrush]:

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This is a stark contrast to the volume reported by Moz for [why is a fresh brush head so important] which is “no data” (which usually means very small):

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Quip’s page is already ranking on page two for [how often should you change your toothbrush], so optimizing the title could help the page crack the top ten.

Furthermore, the content on the page is not optimized either:

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Rather than answering the question of how often to change a toothbrush concisely (like the page that has earned the rich snippet), the content is closer to ad copy. Putting a direct, clear answer to this question at the beginning of the content could help this page rank better.

And that’s just one query and one page!

Keyword research should uncover these types of opportunities, and with Moz’s Keyword Explorer you can also find ideas for new content through “Keyword Suggestions.”

Using Quip as an example again, we can plug in their seed keyword [toothbrush] and get multiple suggestions (MSV = monthly search volume):

  • [toothbrush holder] – MSV: 6.5k–9.3k
  • [how to properly brush your teeth] – MSV: 851–1.7k
  • [toothbrush cover] – MSV: 851–1.7k
  • [toothbrush for braces] – MSV: 501–850
  • [electric toothbrush holder] – MSV: 501–850
  • [toothbrush timer] – MSV: 501–850
  • [soft vs medium toothbrush] – MSV: 201–500
  • [electric toothbrush for braces] – MSV: 201–500
  • [electric toothbrush head holder] – MSV: 101–200
  • [toothbrush delivery] – MSV: 101–200

Using this method, we can extrapolate one seed keyword into ten more granular and related long-tail keywords — each of which may require a new page.

This handful of terms generates a wealth of content ideas and different ways Quip could address pain points and reach its audience.

Another source for keyword opportunities and inspiration are your competitors. For Quip, one of its strongest competitors is Colgate, a household name brand. Moz demonstrates the difference in market position with its “Competitor Overlap” tool:

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Although many of Colgate’s keywords aren’t relevant to Quip, there are still opportunities to be gleaned here for Quip. One such example is [sensitive teeth], where Colgate is ranking top five, but Quip is on page two:

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While many of the other keywords show Quip is ranking outside of the top 50, this is an opportunity that Quip could potentially capitalize on.

To analyze this opportunity, let’s look at the actual search results first.

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It’s immediately clear that the intent here is informational — something to note when we examine Quip’s page. Also, scrolling down we can see that Colgate has two pages ranking on page one:

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One of these pages is from a separate domain for hygienists and other dental professionals, but it still carries the Colgate brand and further demonstrates Colgate’s investment into this query, signaling this is a quality opportunity.

The next step for investigating this opportunity is to examine Colgate’s ranking page and check if it’s realistic for Quip to beat what they have. Here is Colgate’s page:

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This page is essentially a blog post:

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If this page is ranking, it’s reasonable to believe that Quip could craft something that would be at least as good of a result for the query, and there is room for improvement in terms of design and formatting.

One thing to note, that is likely helping this page rank is the clear definition of “tooth sensitivity” and signs and symptoms listed on the sidebar:

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Now, let’s look at Quip’s page:

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This appears to be a blog-esque page as well.

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This page offers solid information on sensitive teeth, which matches the queries intent and is likely why the pages ranks on page two. However, the page appears to be targeted at [tooth sensitivity]:

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This is another great keyword opportunity for Quip:

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However, this should be a secondary opportunity to [sensitive teeth] and should be mixed in to the copy on the page, but not the focal point. Also, the page one results for [tooth sensitivity] are largely the same as those for [sensitive teeth], including Colgate’s page:

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So, one optimization Quip could make to the page could be to change some of these headers to include “sensitive teeth” (also, these are all H3s, and the page has no H2s, which isn’t optimal). Quip could draw inspiration from the questions that Google lists in the “People also ask” section of the SERP:

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Also, a quick takeaway I had was that Quip’s page does not lead off with a definition of sensitive teeth or tooth sensitivity. We learned from Colgate’s page that quickly defining the term (sensitive teeth) and the associated symptoms could help the page rank better.

These are just a few of the options available to Quip to optimize its page, and as mentioned before, an investment into a sleek, easy to digest design could separate its page from the pack.

If Quip were able to move its page onto the first page of search results for [sensitive teeth], the increase in organic traffic could be significant. And [sensitive teeth] is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg — there is a wealth of opportunity with associated keywords, that Quip would rank well for also:

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Executing well on these content opportunities and repeating the process over and over for relevant keywords is how you scale keyword-focused content that will perform well in search and bring more organic visitors.

Google won’t rank your page highly for simply existing. If you want to rank in Google search, start by creating a page that provides the best result for searchers and deserves to rank.

At Page One Power, we’ve leveraged this strategy and seen great results for clients. Here is an example of a client that is primarily focused on content creation and their corresponding growth in organic sessions:

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These pages (15) were all published in January, and you can see that roughly one month after publishing, these pages started taking off in terms of organic traffic. This is because these pages are backed by keyword research and optimized so well that even with few external backlinks, they can rank on or near page one for multiple queries.

However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore backlinks and link acquisition. While the above pages rank well without many links, the domain they’re on has a substantial backlink profile cultivated through strategic link building. Securing relevant, worthwhile links is still a major part of a successful SEO campaign.

Earning real links and credibility

The other half of this complicated “it’s content and it’s links” equation is… links, and while it seems straightforward, successful execution is rather difficult — particularly when it comes to link acquisition.

While there are tools and processes that can increase organization and efficiency, at the end of the day link building takes a lot of time and a lot of work — you must manually email real website owners to earn real links. As Matt Cutts famously said (we miss you, Matt!), “Link building is sweat, plus creativity.”

However, you can greatly improve your chances for success with link acquisition if you identify which pages (existing or need to be created) on your site are link-worthy and promote them for links.

Spoiler alert: these are not your “money pages.”

Converting pages certainly have a function on your website, but they typically have limited opportunities when it comes to link acquisition. Instead, you can support these pages — and other content on your site — through internal linking from more linkable pages.

So how do you identify linkable assets? Well, there are some general characteristics that directly correlate with link-worthiness:

  • Usefulness — concept explanation, step-by-step guide, collection of resources and advice, etc.
  • Uniqueness — a new or fresh perspective on an established topic, original research or data, prevailing coverage of a newsworthy event, etc.
  • Entertaining — novel game or quiz, humorous take on a typically serious subject, interactive tool, etc.

Along with these characteristics, you also need to consider the size of your potential linking audience. The further you move down your marketing funnel, the smaller the linking audience size; converting pages are traditionally difficult to earn links to because they serve a small audience of people looking to buy.

Instead, focus on assets that exist at the top of your marketing funnel and serve large audiences looking for information. The keywords associated with these pages are typically head terms that may prove difficult to rank for, but if your content is strong you can still earn links through targeted, manual outreach to relevant sites.

Ironically, your most linkable pages aren’t always the pages that will rank well for you in search, since larger audiences also mean more competition. However, using linkable assets to secure worthwhile links will help grow the authority and credibility of your brand and domain, supporting rankings for your keyword-focused and converting pages.

Going back to our Quip example, we see a page on their site that has the potential to be a linkable asset:

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Currently, this page is geared more towards conversions which hurts linkability. However, Quip could easily move conversion-focused elements to another page and internally link from this page to maintain a pathway to conversion while improving link-worthiness.

To truly make this page a linkable asset, Quip would need add depth on the topic of how to brush your teeth and hone in on a more specific audience. As the page currently stands, it is targeted at everybody who brushes, but to make the page more linkable Quip could focus on a specific age group (toddlers, young children, elderly, etc.) or perhaps a profession or group who works odd hours or travels frequently and doesn’t have the convenience of brushing at home. An increased focus on audience will help with linkability, making this page one that shares useful information in a way that is unique and entertaining.

It also happens that [how to properly brush your teeth] was one of the opportunities we identified earlier in our (light) keyword research, so this could be a great opportunity to earn keyword rankings and links!

Putting it all together and simplifying our message

Now before we put it all together and solve SEO once and for all, you might be thinking, “What about technical and on-page SEO?!?”

And to that, I say, well those are just makeu…just kidding!

Technical and on-page elements play a major role in successful SEO and getting these elements wrong can derail the success of any content you create and undermine the equity of the links you secure.

Let’s be clear: if Google can’t crawl your site, you’re not showing up in its search results.

However, I categorize these optimizations under the umbrella of “content” within our content and links formula. If you’re not considering how search engines consume your content, along with human readers, then your content likely won’t perform well in the results of said search engines.

Rather than dive into the deep and complex world of technical and on-page SEO in this post, I recommend reading some of the great resources here on Moz to ensure your content is set up for success from a technical standpoint.

But to review the strategy I’ve laid out here, to be successful in search you need to:

  1. Research your keywords and niche – Having the right content for your audience is critical to earning search visibility and business. Before you start creating content or updating existing pages, make sure you take the time to research your keywords and niche to better understand your current rankings and position in the search marketplace.
  2. Analyze and expand keyword opportunities – Beyond understanding your current rankings, you also need to identify and prioritize available keyword opportunities. Using tools like Moz you can uncover hidden opportunities with long-tail and related key terms, ensuring your content strategy is targeting your best opportunities.
  3. Craft strategic content that serves your search goals – Using keyword analysis to inform content creation, you can build content that addresses underserved queries and helpful guides that attract links. An essential aspect of a successful content plan is balancing keyword-focused content with broader, more linkable content and ensuring you’re addressing both SEO goals.
  4. Promote your pages for relevant links – Billions of new pages go live each day, and without proper promotion, even the best pages will be buried in the sea of content online. Strategic promotion of your pages will net you powerful backlinks and extra visibility from your audience.

Again, these concepts seem simple but are quite difficult to execute well. However, by drilling down to the two main factors for search visibility — content and links — you can avoid being overwhelmed or focusing on the wrong priorities and instead put all your efforts into the strategies that will provide the most SEO impact.

However, along with refocusing our own efforts, as SEOs we also need to simplify our message to the uninitiated (or as they’re also known, the other 99% of the population). I know from personal experience how quickly the eyes start to glaze over when I get into the nitty-gritty of SEO, so I typically pivot to focus on the most basic concepts: content and links.

People can wrap their minds around the simple process of creating good pages that answer a specific set of questions and then promoting those pages to acquire endorsements (backlinks). I suggest we embrace this same approach, on a broader scale, as an industry.

When we talk to potential and existing clients, colleagues, executives, etc., let’s keep things simple. If we focus on the two concepts that are the easiest to explain we will get better understanding and more buy-in for the work we do (it also happens that these two factors are the biggest drivers of success).

So go out, shout it from the rooftops — CONTENT AND LINKS — and let’s continue to do the work that will drive positive results for our websites and help secure SEOs rightful seat at the marketing table.

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9 Essential Elements of Effective Content Marketing

You can’t have one without the other … No, I’m not musing about love and marriage. I’m talking about content…

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TripAdvisor Acquires SinglePlatform to Help Restaurants Enhance Experience

TripAdvisor has announced the acquisition of SinglePlatform from its parent company, Endurance International Group.

SinglePlatform works with restaurants to help them publish and manage their menus online, as well as other pertinent information, such as their hours of operation and contact information. The service has become increasingly important to restaurants, given that “93 percent of diners check menus online before choosing a place to eat.”

“We are obsessed with making restaurateurs’ jobs easier and more successful, and our acquisition of SinglePlatform is an important step in offering them a place to conveniently manage their entire online presence across the web from TripAdvisor,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, senior vice president, TripAdvisor Restaurants. “We look forward to bringing SinglePlatform’s technology and know-how to a truly global audience to help millions of restaurant owners and managers unlock more digital opportunities.”

“We could not be more excited to join forces with TripAdvisor,” said Josh Glantz, senior vice president and general manager, SinglePlatform. “SinglePlatform’s strength in the United States combined with TripAdvisor’s global reach and advertising platform for restaurants perfectly positions our combined team to offer more solutions for owner-operators and multi-location brands everywhere to reach consumers at the moment they are looking for dining options.”

The combination of TripAdvisor and SinglePlatform is a logical one, as TripAdvisor is one of the platforms SinglePlatform publishes information to. Meanwhile, TripAdvisor has been working to expand its services and value to the restaurant industry and the new acquisition will help it make significant strides in that direction.

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