Tag Archive | "Boost"

38 Ways to Boost Your Content Confidence … Every Time You Publish

The life of a content marketer is always intense. The deadlines, the flow of ideas, the juggling of writing, promotion,…

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7 Proven SEO Reporting Best Practices That Boost Client Retention

Posted by KameronJenkins

“Let’s hop on a call to go over this report.”

Did you hear that?

That was the collective sigh of SEOs everywhere.

If we’re being honest, most of us probably view reporting the same way we view taking out the trash or folding the laundry. It’s a chore that robs us of time we could have spent on more important or enjoyable things.

Adding to the frustration is the reality that many clients don’t even read their reports. That’s right. All that time you put into pulling together your data and the report might be forever resigned to the dusty corner of your client’s inbox.

In the words of Mama Boucher, reporting is the devil.

Hear me out though… have you ever thought of reporting as a client retention tool? While reporting is something that takes your time away from SEO work that moves the needle, reporting is also critical if you want to have a campaign to work on at all.

In other words, no reporting = no value communicated = no more client.

The good news is that the reverse is also true. When we do SEO reporting well, we communicate our value and keep more clients, which is something that every agency and consultant can agree is important.

That all sounds nice, but how can we do that? Throughout my six years at an SEO agency, I picked up some reporting tips that I hope you’ll be able to benefit from as well.

P.S. If you haven’t seen it already, Moz’s own Meghan Pahinui wrote an amazing post for the Moz blog on creating relevant and engaging SEO reports using Moz Pro Campaigns. Definitely check it out!

1. Report on what they care about

I’ve seen my share of reports that highlighted metrics that just didn’t reflect any of the client’s main objectives. Your clients are busy — the first sight of something irrelevant and they’ll lose interest, so make your reports count!

My process for determining what I should report on is fairly simple:

  1. Identify the business objective
  2. Create an SEO plan that will help achieve that goal
  3. Execute the plan
  4. Report on the metrics that best measure the work I did

In other words, choose appropriate KPIs to match their business objectives and your strategy, and stick to those for your reporting.

2. Set specific goals

You: “Good news! We got 4,000 organic visits last month.”

Client: “Why wasn’t it 5,000?”

If that’s ever happened to you before, you’re not alone.

This simple step is so easy to forget, but make sure your goals are specific and mutually agreed upon before you start! At the beginning of the month, tell your client what your goal is (ex: “We hope to be able to get 4,000 organic visits”). That way, when you review your report, you’ll be able to objectively say whether you missed/hit/exceeded your targets.

3. Eliminate jargon

Your clients are professionals in their own fields, not yours, so make sure to leave the shop-talking to Twitter. Before sending out a report, ask yourself:

  • Have I defined all potentially confusing metrics? I’ve seen some SEOs include a mini-glossary or analogies to explain some of their charts — I love this! It really helps disambiguate metrics that are easy to misunderstand.
  • Am I using words that aren’t used outside my own echo chamber? Some phrases become so ubiquitous in our immediate circles that we assume everyone uses them. In many cases, we’re using jargon without even realizing it!

Simply put, use clear language and layman’s terms in your client’s SEO reports. You won’t serve anyone by confusing them.

4. Visualize your data in meaningful ways

I once heard a client describe a report as “pretty, but useless.”

Ouch.

They had a point though. Their report was full of pie charts and line graphs that, while important-looking, conveyed no meaning to them.

Part of that “meaning” comes down to reporting on the metrics your client cares about (see #1), but the other half of that is choosing how you’ll display that information.

There are some great resources on Moz about data visualization such as Demystifying Data Visualization for Marketers, a video of Annie Cushing’s talk at MozCon 2014, and A Visualization Prescription for Impactful Data Storytelling, a Whiteboard Friday video by Lea Pica.

Resources like that will help you transform your data from metrics into a story that conveys meaning to your clients, so don’t skimp on this step!

5. Provide insights, not just metrics

I remember the first time someone explained to me the difference between metrics and insights. I was blown away.

It seems so simple now, but in my earliest days in digital marketing, I basically viewed “reporting” as synonymous with “data.” Raw, numeric, mind-numbing data.

The key to making your reports more meaningful to your clients is understanding that pure metrics don’t have intrinsic data. You have to unify the data in meaningful ways and pull out insights that help your client understand not just what the numbers are but why they matter.

I find it helpful to ask “so what?” when going through a report. Client’s ranking on page 1 for this list of keywords? That’s cool, but why should my client care about this? How is it contributing to their goals? Work on answering that question before you communicate your reports.

6. Connect SEO results to revenue

I’m going to be honest, this one is tricky.

First of all, SEO is a few layers removed from conversions. When it comes to “the big three” (as I like to refer to rankings, traffic, and conversions), SEOs can:

  • Most directly influence rankings
  • Influence organic traffic, but a little less directly than rankings. For example, organic traffic can go down despite sustained rankings due to things like seasonality.
  • Influence organic conversions, but even less directly than traffic. Everything from the website design to the product/service itself can affect that.

Second, it can be difficult to connect SEO to revenue especially on websites where the ultimate conversion happens offline (ex: lead gen). In order to tie organic traffic to revenue, you’ll want to set up goal conversions and add a value to those conversions in your analytics, but here’s where that gets difficult:

  • Clients often don’t know their average LCV (lifetime customer value)
  • Clients often don’t know their average close rate (the rough percentage of leads that they close)
  • Clients know, but they don’t want to share this information with you

Everyone has a different reporting methodology, but I personally tend to advocate for at least trying to connect SEO to revenue. I’ve been in enough situations where our client dropped us because they saw us as a cost-center rather than a profit-center to know that communicating your value in monetary terms can mean the difference between keeping your client or not.

Even though you can’t directly influence conversions and even if your client can only give you a rough ballpark figure for LCV and close rate, it’s better than nothing.

7. Be available to fill in the gaps

Not everything can be explained in a report. Even if you’re able to add text commentary to elaborate on your data, there’s still the risk that a key point will be lost on your client completely. Expect this!

I’ve seen plenty of client reporting calls go well over an hour. While no two situations are alike, I think starting with a report that contains clear insights on the KPIs your client cares about will do wonders for shortening that conversation.

Your clients will be able to understand those insights on their own, which frees you up to add context and answer any questions without getting bogged down with back-and-forth over “red herring” metrics that distract from the main point.


I want to hear from you!

What about you? Every SEO has their own reporting best practices, wins, and horror stories — I want to hear yours!

  • What reporting trick do you have up your sleeve that could help your fellow SEOs save time (& their sanity)?
  • What’s your biggest reporting struggle and how are you trying to solve it?
  • What’s an example of a time when reporting played a role in salvaging a client relationship?

We’re in this together — so let’s learn from each other!

And if you want more where this came from, please consider downloading our free whitepaper: High-Impact SEO Reporting for Agencies! It’s full of advice and helpful tips for using reports to communicate value to your clients.

Read the whitepaper

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Boost Your Professional Skills with Cilantro, Selling, and Social Media

This week, we had a flavorful collection of tools, tips, and techniques that will enhance your skills as a professional…

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CRO tools to help you boost your SEO efforts

Is your site getting a lot of traffic? If yes, great! But your work is not over. Contributor Stephanie LeVonne says it’s time to implement a conversion rate optimization campaign. Here are four tools to help.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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How We Got a 32% Organic Traffic Boost from 4 On-Page SEO Changes [Case Study]

Posted by WallStreetOasis.com

My name is Patrick Curtis, and I’m the founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis, an online community focused on careers in finance founded in 2006 with over 2 million visits per month.

User-generated content and long-tail organic traffic is what has built our business and community over the last 12+ years. But what happens if you wake up one day and realize that your growth has suddenly stopped? This is what happened to us back in November 2012.

In this case study, I’ll highlight two of our main SEO problems as a large forum with over 200,000 URLs, then describe two solutions that finally helped us regain our growth trajectory — almost five years later.

Two main problems

1. Algorithm change impacts

Ever since November 2012, Google’s algo changes have seemed to hurt many online forums like ours. Even though our traffic didn’t decline, our growth dropped to the single-digit percentages. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t break through our “plateau of pain” (I call it that because it was a painful ~5 years trying).

Plateau of pain: no double-digit growth from late 2012 onward

2. Quality of user-generated content

Related to the first problem, 99% of our content is user-generated (UGC) which means the quality is mixed (to put it kindly). Like most forum-based sites, some of our members create incredible pieces of content, but a meaningful percentage of our content is also admittedly thin and/or low-quality.

How could we deal with over 200,000 pieces of content efficiently and try to optimize them without going bankrupt? How could we “clean the cruft” when there was just so much of it?

Fighting back: Two solutions (and one statistical analysis to show how it worked)

1. “Merge and Purge” project

Our goal was to consolidate weaker “children” URLs into stronger “master” URLs to utilize some of the valuable content Google was ignoring and to make the user experience better.

For example, instead of having ~20 discussions on a specific topic (each with an average of around two to three comments) across twelve years, we would consolidate many of those discussions into the strongest two or three URLs (each with around 20–30 comments), leading to a much better user experience with less need to search and jump around the site.

Changes included taking the original post and comments from a “child” URL and merging them into the “master” URL, unpublishing the child URL, removing the child from sitemap, and adding a 301 redirect to the master.

Below is an example of how it looked when we merged a child into our popular Why Investment Banking discussion. We highlighted the original child post as a Related Topic with a blue border and included the original post date to help avoid confusion:

Highlighting a related topic child post

This was a massive project that involved some complex Excel sorting, but after 18 months and about $ 50,000 invested (27,418 children merged into 8,515 masters to date), the user experience, site architecture, and organization is much better.

Initial analysis suggests that the percentage gain from merging weak children URLs into stronger masters has given us a boost of ~10–15% in organic search traffic.

2. The Content Optimization Team

The goal of this initiative was to take the top landing pages that already existed on Wall Street Oasis and make sure that they were both higher quality and optimized for SEO. What does that mean, exactly, and how did we execute it?

We needed a dedicated team that had some baseline industry knowledge. To that end, we formed a team of five interns from the community, due to the fact that they were familiar with the common topics.

We looked at the top ~200 URLs over the previous 90 days (by organic landing page traffic) and listed them out in a spreadsheet:

Spreadsheet of organic traffic to URLs

We held five main hypotheses of what we believed would boost organic traffic before we started this project:

  1. Longer content with subtitles: Increasing the length of the content and adding relevant H2 and H3 subtitles to give the reader more detailed and useful information in an organized fashion.
  2. Changing the H1 so that it matched more high-volume keywords using Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
  3. Changing the URL so that it also was a better match to high-volume and relevant keywords.
  4. Adding a relevant image or graphic to help break up large “walls of text” and enrich the content.
  5. Adding a relevant video similar to the graphic, but also to help increase time on page and enrich the content around the topic.

We tracked all five of these changes across all 200 URLs (see image above). After a statistical analysis, we learned that four of them helped our organic search traffic and one actually hurt.

Summary of results from our statistical analysis

  • Increasing the length of the articles and adding relevant subtitles (H2s, H3s, and H4s) to help organize the content gives an average boost to organic traffic of 14%
  • Improving the title or H1 of the URLs yields a 9% increase on average
  • Changing the URL decreased traffic on average by 38% (this was a smaller sample size — we stopped doing this early on for obvious reasons)
  • Including a relevant video increases the organic traffic by 4% on average, while putting an image up increases it by 5% on average.

Overall, the boost to organic traffic — should we continue to make these four changes (and avoid changing the URL) — is 32% on average.

Key takeaway:

Over half of that gain (~18%) comes from changes that require a minimal investment of time. For teams trying to optimize on-page SEO across a large number of pages, we recommend focusing on the top landing pages first and easy wins before deciding if further investment is warranted.

We hope this case study of our on-page SEO efforts was interesting, and I’m happy to answer any questions you have in the comments!

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How to Boost Bookings & Conversions with Google Posts: An Interview with Joel Headley

Posted by MiriamEllis

Have you been exploring all the ways you might use Google Posts to set and meet brand goals?

Chances are good you’ve heard of Google Posts by now: the micro-blogging Google My Business dashboard feature which instantly populates content to your Knowledge Panel and individual listing. We’re still only months into the release of this fascinating capability, use of which is theorized as having a potential impact on local pack rankings. When I recently listened to Joel Headley describing his incredibly creative use of Google Posts to increase healthcare provider bookings, it’s something I was excited to share with the Moz community here.


Joel Headley

Joel Headley worked for over a decade on local and web search at Google. He’s now the Director of Local SEO and Marketing at healthcare practice growth platform PatientPop. He’s graciously agreed to chat with me about how his company increased appointment bookings by about 11% for thousands of customer listings via Google Posts.

How PatientPop used Google Posts to increase bookings by 11%

Miriam: So, Joel, Google offers a formal booking feature within their own product, but it isn’t always easy to participate in that program, and it keeps users within “Google’s walled garden” instead of guiding them to brand-controlled assets. As I recently learned, PatientPop innovated almost instantly when Google Posts was rolled out in 2017. Can you summarize for me what your company put together for your customers as a booking vehicle that didn’t depend on Google’s booking program?

Joel: PatientPop wants to provide patients an opportunity to make appointments directly with their healthcare provider. In that way, we’re a white label service. Google has had a handful of booking products. In a prior iteration, there was a simpler product that was powered by schema and microforms, which could have scaled to anyone willing to add the schema.

Today, they are putting their effort behind Reserve with Google, which requires a much deeper API integration. While PatientPop would be happy to provide more services on Google, Reserve with Google doesn’t yet allow most of our customers, according to their own policies. (However, the reservation service is marketed through Google My Business to those categories, which is a bit confusing.)

Additionally, when you open the booking widget, you see two logos: G Pay and the booking software provider. I’d love to see a product that allows the healthcare provider to be front and center in the entire process. A patient-doctor relationship is personal, and we’d like to emphasize you’re booking your doctor, not PatientPop.

Because we can’t get the CTAs unique to Reserve with Google, we realized that Google Posts can be a great vehicle for us to essentially get the same result.

When Google Posts first launched, I tested a handful of practices. The interaction rate was low compared to other elements in the Google listing. But, given there was incremental gain in traffic, it seemed worthwhile, if we could scale the product. It seemed like a handy way to provide scheduling with Google without having to go through the hoops of the Maps Booking (reserve with) API.

Miriam: Makes sense! Now, I’ve created a fictitious example of what it looks like to use Google Posts to prompt bookings, following your recommendations to use a simple color as the image background and to make the image text quite visible. Does this look similar to what PatientPop is doing for its customers and can you provide recommendations for the image size and font size you’ve seen work best?

Joel: Yes, that’s pretty similar to the types of Posts we’re submitting to our customer listings. I tested a handful of image types, ones with providers, some with no text, and the less busy image with actionable text is what performed the best. I noticed that making the image look more like a button, with button-like text, improved click-through rates too — CTR doubled compared to images with no text.

The image size we use is 750×750 with 48-point font size. If one uses the API, the image must be square cropped when creating the post. Otherwise, Posts using the Google My Business interface will give you an option to crop. The only issue I have with the published version of the image: the cropping is uneven — sometimes it is center-cropped, but other times, the bottom is cut off. That makes it hard to predict when on-image text will appear. But we keep it in the center which generally works pretty well.

Miriam: And, when clicked on, the Google Post takes the user to the client’s own website, where PatientPop software is being used to manage appointments — is that right?

Joel: Yes, the site is built by PatientPop. When selecting Book, the patient is taken directly to the provider’s site where the booking widget is opened and an appointment can be selected from a calendar. These appointments can be synced back to the practice’s electronic records system.

Miriam: Very tidy! As I understand it, PatientPop manages thousands of client listings, necessitating the need to automate this use of Google Posts. Without giving any secrets away, can you share a link to the API you used and explain how you templatized the process of creating Posts at scale?

Joel: Sure! We were waiting for Google to provide Posts via the Google My Business API, because we wanted to scale. While I had a bit of a heads-up that the API was coming — Google shared this feature with their GMB Top Contributor group — we still had to wait for it to launch to see the documentation and try it out. So, when the launch announcement went out on October 11, with just a few developers, we were able to implement the solution for all of our practices the next evening. It was a fun, quick win for us, though it was a bit of a long day. :)

In order to get something out that quickly, we created templates that could use information from the listing itself like the business name, category, and location. That way, we were able to create a stand-alone Python script that grabbed listings from Google. When getting the listings, all the listing content comes along with it, including name, address, and category. These values are taken directly from the listing to create Posts and then are submitted to Google. We host the images on AWS and reuse them by submitting the image URL with the post. It’s a Python script which runs as a cron job on a regular schedule. If you’re new to the API, the real tricky part is authentication, but the GMB community can help answer questions there.

Miriam: Really admirable implementation! One question: Google Posts expire after 7 days unless they are events, so are you basically automating re-posting of the booking feature for each listing every seven days?

Joel: We create Posts every seven days for all our practices. That way, we can mix up the content and images used on any given practice. We’re also adding a second weekly post for practices that offer aesthetic services. We’ll be launching more Posts for specific practice types going forward, too.

Miriam: Now for the most exciting part, Joel! What can you tell me about the increase in appointments this use of Google Posts has delivered for your customers? And, can you also please explain what parameters and products you are using to track this growth?

Joel: To track clicks from listings on Google, we use UTM parameters. We can then track the authority page, the services (menu) URL, the appointment URL, and the Posts URL.

When I first did this analysis, I looked at the average of the last three weeks of appointments compared to the 4 days after launch. Over that period, I saw nearly an 8% increase in online bookings. I’ve since included the entire first week of launch. It shows an 11% average increase in online bookings.

Additionally, because we’re tracking each URL in the knowledge panel separately, I can confidently say there’s no cannibalization of clicks from other URLs as a result of adding Posts. While authority page CTR remained steady, services lost over 10% of the clicks and appointment URLs gained 10%. That indicates to me that not only are the Posts effective in driving appointments through the Posts CTA, it emphasizes the existing appointment CTA too. This was in the context of no additional product changes on our side.

Miriam: Right, so, some of our readers will be using Google’s Local Business URLs (frequently used for linking to menus) to add an “Appointments” link. One of the most exciting takeaways from your implementation is that using Google Posts to support bookings didn’t steal attention away from the appointment link, which appears higher up in the Knowledge Panel. Can you explain why you feel the Google Posts clicks have been additive instead of subtractive?

Joel: The “make appointment” link gets a higher CTR than Posts, so it shouldn’t be ignored. However, since
Posts include an image, I suspect it might be attracting a different kind of user, which is more primed to interact with images. And because we’re so specific on the type of interaction we want (appointment booking), both with the CTA and the image, it seems to convert well. And, as I stated above, it seems to help the appointment URLs too.

Miriam: I was honestly so impressed with your creativity in this, Joel. It’s just brilliant to look at something as simple as this little bit of Google screen real estate and ask, “Now, how could I use this to maximum effect?” Google Posts enables business owners to include links labeled Book, Order Online, Buy, Learn More, Sign Up, and Get Offer. The “Book” feature is obviously an ideal match for your company’s health care provider clients, but given your obvious talent for thinking outside the box, would you have any creative suggestions for other types of business models using the other pre-set link options?

Joel: I’m really excited about the events feature, actually. Because you can create a long-lived post while adding a sense of urgency by leveraging a time-bound context. Events can include limited-time offers, like a sale on a particular product, or signups for a newsletter that will include a coupon code. You can use all the link labels you’ve listed above for any given event. And, I think using the image-as-button philosophy can really drive results. I’d like to see an image with text Use coupon code XYZ546 now! with the Get Offer button. I imagine many business types, especially retail, can highlight their limited time deals without paying other companies to advertise your coupons and deals via Posts.

Miriam: Agreed, Joel, there are some really exciting opportunities for creative use here. Thank you so much for the inspiring knowledge you’ve shared with our community today!


Ready to get the most from Google Posts?

Reviews can be a challenge to manage. Google Q&A may be a mixed blessing. But as far as I can see, Posts are an unalloyed gift from Google. Here’s all you have to do to get started using them right now for a single location of your business:

  • Log into your Google My Business dashboard and click the “Posts” tab in the left menu.
  • Determine which of the options, labeled “Buttons,” is the right fit for your business. It could be “Book,” or it could be something else, like “Sign up” or “Buy.” Click the “Add a Button” option in the Google Posts wizard. Be sure the URL you enter includes a UTM parameter for tracking purposes.
  • Upload a 750×750 image. Joel recommends using a simple-colored background and highly visible 42-point font size for turning this image into a CTA button-style graphic. You may need to experiment with cropping the image.
  • Alternatively, you can create an event, which will cause your post to stay live through the date of the event.
  • Text has a minimum 100-character and maximum 300-character limit. I recommend writing something that would entice users to click to get beyond the cut-off point, especially because it appears to me that there are different display lengths on different devices. It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that Google Posts are indexed content. Initial testing is revealing that simply utilizing Posts may improve local pack rankings, but there is also an interesting hypothesis that they are a candidate for long-tail keyword optimization experiments. According to Mike Blumenthal:

“…If there are very long-tail phrases, where the ability to increase relevance isn’t up against so many headwinds, then this is a signal that Google might recognize and help lift the boat for that long-tail phrase. My experience with it was it didn’t work well on head phrases, and it may require some amount of interaction for it to really work well. In other words, I’m not sure just the phrase itself but the phrase with click-throughs on the Posts might be the actual trigger to this. It’s not totally clear yet.”

  • You can preview your post before you hit the publish button.
  • Your post will stay live for 7 days. After that, it will be time to post a new one.
  • If you need to implement at scale across multiple listings, re-read Joel’s description of the API and programming PatientPop is utilizing. It will take some doing, but an 11% increase in appointments may well make it worth the investment! And obviously, if you happen to be marketing health care providers, checking out PatientPop’s ready-made solution would be smart.

Nobody likes a ball-hog

I’m watching the development of Google Posts with rapt interest. Right now, they reside on Knowledge Panels and listings, but given that they are indexed, it’s not impossible that they could eventually end up in the organic SERPs. Whether or not that ever happens, what we have right now in this feature is something that offers instant publication to the consumer public in return for very modest effort.

Perhaps even more importantly, Posts offer a way to bring users from Google to your own website, where you have full control of messaging. That single accomplishment is becoming increasingly difficult as rich-feature SERPs (and even single results) keep searchers Google-bound. I wonder if school kids still shout “ball-hog” when a classmate refuses to relinquish ball control and be a team player. For now, for local businesses, Google Posts could be a precious chance for your brand to handle the ball.

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Boost Your Search Engine Visibility with Our Free ‘Smart SEO Steps’ Ebook

As you develop your traffic and conversion strategies this year, knowing how to appeal to your human audience while optimizing for search is vital. Luckily, Rainmaker Digital CFO Sean Jackson wrote an excellent free guide that you can download right now — and you don’t even have to enter your email address. There’s no silver
Read More…

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3 Creative Ways to Give Your Content Efforts a Boost – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We know that content is our doorway to earning countless SEO benefits for our sites. Admittedly, though, it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut after one too many content marketing campaigns. In this extra-special holiday edition of Whitebeard Friday (see what we did there?), Rand offers three novel ways to add sparkle to your content creation efforts

3 way to give your content efforts a boost

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


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special Christmas edition of Whitebeard Friday. This week, I wanted to try and help with just a few tactical suggestions on some creative ways to pump up those content marketing campaigns.

I’ve seen that many, many folks in the SEO world, of course, naturally, are investing in content marketing because content is the path to links and amplification and search traffic. Sometimes those content campaigns can feel a little stale or repetitive. So I have some creative ideas, things that I’ve seen some people executing on that I think we might be able to leverage for some of our work.

1. Niche groups

First one, if you can identify in your community these sort of small but vocal niche groups that are . . . when I say your community, it doesn’t have to be people you already reach. It can be people inside the community of content generation and of topical interest around your subject matter. Then help them to amplify their voices or their causes or their pet projects, etc.

So I’ll use the example of being in the foodie and gourmand world. So here’s a bunch of foodies. But this particular tiny group is extremely passionate about food trucks, and, in particular, they really hate the laws that restrict food truck growth, that a lot of cities don’t allow food trucks to be in certain spaces. They have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed. They are not permitted to be permanently in a place for a whole week. Whatever it is, whatever those legal restrictions are. So by serving this small group, you might think that content is way too niche.

The wonderful part is that content is the kind that gets amplified very loudly, very repetitively, that can help you earn links and traffic to this small community. If that community is small and loud and feels like their voices aren’t being heard elsewhere, you can build some great brand advocacy inside that group as well. By the way, I would urge you to be authentic, choose causes that you or your company also care about. Don’t just pick something at random.

2. Products and services

Second, if you can, try and seek out products and services that your audience uses or needs, but that doesn’t actually directly conflict with your business. Then create a resource that lists or rates or ranks and recommends those top choices. We’ve actually done this a few times at Moz. I have this recommended list of agency and consultant providers, but Moz does not compete with any of those. But it’s a helpful list. As a result of listing those folks and having this sort of process around it, many of those people are pumping up that content.

Now here’s another example. Foodie Moz, Foodie Moz sounds like a great domain. I should go register that right after this hat stops hitting me in the back of the head. I don’t know how Santa deals with that. So Foodie Moz presents the best cookbooks of 2017. Now, Foodie Moz might be in the food and recipe world. But it turns out, the wonderful part is cookbooks are something that is used by their audience but not directly conflicting with them.

Since it’s not self-promotional, but it is useful to your audience, the likelihood that you can earn links and amplification because you seem like a non-self-interested party is much greater. You’re providing value without asking anything in return. It’s not like anyone buying these cookbooks would help you. It’s not like you have some ulterior motive in ranking this one number one or that one number two. You’re merely putting together an unbiased set of resources that help your audience. That is a great way to get a piece of content to do well.

3. Content creators

Third, last but not least here, if you can, find content creators who have been very successful. You can recruit them, the people who have had hit pieces, to create content for your brand. In a lot of ways, this is like cheating. It’s almost like buying links, except instead of buying the links, you’re buying the time and energy of the person who creates content that you have high likelihood or high propensity for being successful in that content niche with what they create because of their past track record and the audience they’ve already built.

Pro-tip here. Journalists and media contributors, even contributors to online media, like a BuzzFeed or something like that, are great targets. Why? Well, because they’re usually poorly paid and they are desperate to build a portfolio of professional work. Some of these folks are insanely talented, and they already have networks of people who have liked their work in the past and have helped amplify them.

So if you can use a tool like BuzzSumo — that would be generally what I’d recommend, there’s a few others, but BuzzSumo is really great for this — you can search for, for example, recipes and see the most shared content in the recipe world in, say, the last three months. Then we can identify, “Oh, here we go. This person wrote the hardest recipe challenge gifts. Oh, all right. That did really, really well. I wonder if we can see who that is. Oh look, she does freelance work. I bet she can write for us.”

It’s like cheating. It’s a great hack. It’s a great to way to recruit someone who you know is likely to have a great shot at their work doing well, give them the freedom to write what they want, to create what they want, and then host it on your site. A great way to do content creation, for a decent price, that has a high likelihood of solid amplification.

All right, everyone, look forward to some of your thoughts and tactics. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas from all of us at Moz. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, happy belated Hanukkah. I know that I’m filming this during Hanukkah, but it’s probably after Hanukkah that you’re seeing it. For those of you who are celebrating any other holiday this year, a very happy holiday season to you. We look forward to joining you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

Quick Copy Tip

One cool thing about being a content marketer is that you tend to become an expert in your topic. You probably know an awful lot about your business, your project, or your subject matter.

In fact, you might actually know too much about it.

It’s called the curse of knowledge. Because we research our topics deeply and spend so much time writing about them, we tend to understand the technical specs inside and out. We have a great grasp of the under-the-hood details that make the thing work. And we think customers want to know all about those details.

But most of your potential buyers? They don’t care.

What have you done for me lately?

To be effective, marketing needs to show exactly what the offering does for the person buying it.

The features of your offer are what make it work. The benefits are the results it creates for the customer.

What transformation does your product or service empower? What does it allow the customer to become that she isn’t today?

Jimmy Choo high heels aren’t coveted because they’re comfortable or well-made. (Even though devotees believe they are.) Women buy them to feel confident and gorgeous.

Hybrid cars aren’t popular because they’re fuel-efficient, money-saving, or environmentally friendly. The real benefits are feeling virtuous and smart, with the warm, fuzzy glow that comes from believing you’re saving the world.

Your content and copy will never be truly relevant to your audience until you translate your features into customer-focused benefits.

The five-minute feature check

Quick, take a look through the last persuasive piece you wrote (blog post, sales page, podcast script) and take note of all of the features you talk about.

  • The process
  • Your qualifications
  • The patented mechanism
  • The policy
  • The dimensions
  • The speed
  • The materials

Copy and paste them all into a fresh document. Then, after each feature, add the words:

so you can …

The final results will be phrases like:

  • I have 10 years of experience helping clients exactly like you, so you can feel confident that together we can solve even your trickiest widget problems.
  • Our course is the most rigorous on the market, so you can leapfrog ahead of your competitors.
  • Our grape jam has 50% less sugar and no weird additives, so you can enjoy it guilt-free.

In about five minutes, you’ll uncover the weak spots in your persuasive content — the places where you were thinking about you and what you offer, and not about them and what they get out of it.

You might not use the words “so you can” over and over again in your final copy — but you will be writing with an understanding of your audience benefits.

Not all benefits are equal

The curse of knowledge can also lead you to focus too much on what some copywriters call fake benefits.

These are the benefits of your product or service that you think are important. And you might be absolutely right. They could be critical to delivering the results your audience wants.

The trouble is, the customer doesn’t particularly care.

These could be things like:

  • Stabilizing blood chemistry levels
  • Improving efficiency of project delivery and implementation
  • Mastering the ability to write a college entrance essay

But that doesn’t tell us what the buyer gets to have, do, be, feel, or become by moving forward with this purchase.

What those customers might actually want could be to:

  • Get slim without feeling hungry
  • Pull off a great project and look like a hero to their boss
  • Feel like brilliant parents because their teenager got into a great college

Features do matter

Features are the specific, convincing details that demonstrate why your solution is effective. As long as they’re tied directly to customer-focused benefits, your buyer will stay interested.

Here are some features that have been translated into benefits and presented as a set:

This nutritional program stabilizes your blood chemistry so you can finally lose weight … without getting hungry.

Our proven process makes you more efficient … and that makes you look like a hero when you deliver your next project in half the time and under budget.

This quick course teaches your teenager how to write a masterful college entrance essay … which could be the deciding factor in whether they get into their first-choice school.

Take another look at your five-minute benefit check. Any fake benefits in there?

Wants, not needs

You’ve got one more check to make before you call it good.

Are the benefits you’ve identified things your audience genuinely wants, or are they things you think they need?

Paying for things we need is boring. Spending money on things we want is a lot more fun. That’s why it’s easier to sell big-screen TVs than life insurance.

When you’re translating your features into benefits, make sure those benefits are driven by wants. Look for emotional drivers like pleasure, comfort, status, and self-image. You can also seek to put a stop to pain, either physical or emotional.

It’s not only hedonistic emotions that can drive behavior — values like patriotism, justice, and fairness can play powerful roles with the right audience. It’s still a pretty good idea, though, to pair them with a little self-interested hedonism if you can. Fair-trade coffee wouldn’t sell nearly as well if those arabica beans didn’t taste so good.

We like to think that logical drivers like efficiency, physical health, preventing future problems, and scientific evidence influence our decisions, but, they typically don’t have much impact. But those “rational” benefits are helpful when they’re used to justify an emotional decision that’s already been made.

The customer who already wants the beautiful high-heeled shoes tells herself that Jimmy Choos will last longer and feel better than a cheaper brand.

The customer who already wants to feel enlightened and virtuous tells himself that the fuel economy of the Prius clearly makes it a sensible choice.

Marketing vs. manipulation

There’s an important difference between putting your best foot forward and crossing the line into manipulation.

The key lies in making two promises:

  1. Don’t say things that aren’t true.
  2. Don’t omit significant things that are true.

The impression you create with your marketing needs to be realistic and truthful. If it isn’t, you’re a con artist and a creep — and your audience will rightly shun you when they figure that out.

If you liked this Quick Copy Tip, click here to read other posts in the series.

The post Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Google HTTPS Boost Still Goes To Insecure Pages, If They Are Listed As HTTPS

The other day, I interviewed Gary Illyes of Google and he said that the only factor Google looks at for the HTTPS ranking boost is if the URL is listed with HTTPS or not.

This is not new news…


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