Tag Archive | "earn"

Your Red-Tape Toolkit: 7 Ways to Earn Trust and Get Your Search Work Implemented

Posted by HeatherPhysioc

Tell me if this rings a bell. Are your search recommendations overlooked and misunderstood? Do you feel like you hit roadblocks at every turn? Are you worried that people don’t understand the value of your work?

I had an eye-opening moment when my colleague David Mitchell, Chief Technology Officer at VML, said to me, “You know the best creatives here aren’t the ones who are the best artists — they’re the ones who are best at talking about the work.”

I have found that the same holds true in search. As an industry, we are great at talking about the work — we’re fabulous about sharing technical knowledge and new developments in search. But we’re not so great at talking about how we talk about the work. And that can make all the difference between our work getting implementing and achieving great results, or languishing in a backlog.

It’s so important to learn how to navigate corporate bureaucracy and cut through red tape to help your clients and colleagues understand your search work — and actually get it implemented. From diagnosing client maturity to communicating where search fits into the big picture, the tools I share in this article can help equip you to overcome obstacles to doing your best work.

Buying Your Services ≠ Buying In

Just because a client signed a contract with you does not mean they are bought-in to implement every change you recommend. It seemingly defies all logic that someone would agree that they need organic search help enough to sign a contract and pay you to make recommendations, only for the recommendations to never go live.

When I was an independent contractor serving small businesses, they were often overwhelmed by their marketing and willing to hand over the keys to the website so my developers could implement SEO recommendations.

Then, as I got into agency life and worked on larger and larger businesses, I quickly realized it was a lot harder to get SEO work implemented. I started hitting roadblocks with a number of clients, and it was a slow, arduous process to get even small projects pushed through. It was easy to get impatient and fed up.

Worse, it was hard for some of my team members to see their colleagues getting great search work implemented and earning awesome results for their clients, while their own clients couldn’t seem to get anything implemented. It left them frustrated, jaded, feeling inadequate, and burned out — all the while the client was asking where the results were for the projects they didn’t implement.

What Stands in the Way of Getting Your Work Implemented

I surveyed colleagues in our industry about the common challenges they experience when trying to get their recommendations implemented. (Thank you to the 141 people who submitted!) The results were roughly one-third in-house marketers and two-thirds external marketers providing services to clients.

The most common obstacles we asked about fell into a few main categories:

  • Low Understanding of Search
    • Client Understanding
    • Peer/Colleague Understanding
    • Boss Understanding
  • Prioritization & Buy-In
    • Low Prioritization of Search Work
    • External Buy-In from Clients
    • Internal Buy-In from Peers
    • Internal Buy-In from Bosses
    • Past Unsuccessful Projects or Mistakes
  • Corporate Bureaucracy
    • Red Tape and Slow Approvals
    • No Advocate or Champion for Search
    • Turnover or Personnel Changes (Client-Side)
    • Difficult or Hostile Client
  • Resource Limitations
    • Technical Resources for Developers / Full Backlog
    • Budget / Scope Too Low to Make Impact
    • Technical Limitations of Digital Platform

The chart below shows how the obstacles in the survey stacked up. Higher scores mean people reported it as a more frequent or common problem they experience:

Some participants also wrote in additional blocks they’ve encountered – everything from bottlenecks in the workflow to over-complicated processes, lack of ownership to internal politics, shifting budgets to shifting priorities.

Too real? Are you completely bummed out yet? There is clearly no shortage of things that can stand in the way of SEO progress, and likely our work as marketers will never be without challenges.

Playing the Blame Game

When things don’t go our way and our work gets intercepted or lost before it ever goes live, we tend to be quick to blame clients. It’s the client’s fault things are hung up, or if the client had only listened to us, and the client’s business is the problem.

But I don’t buy it.

Don’t get me wrong — this could possibly be true in part in some cases, but rarely is it the whole story and rarely are we completely hopeless to affect change. Sometimes the problem is the system, sometimes the problem is the people, and my friends, sometimes the problem is you.

But fortunately, we are all optimizers — we all inherently believe that things could be just a little bit better.

These are the tools you need in your belt to face many of the common obstacles to implementing your best search work.

7 Techniques to Get Your Search Work Approved & Implemented

When we enter the world of search, we are instantly trained on how to execute the work – not the soft skills needed to sustain and grow the work, break down barriers, get buy-in and get stuff implemented. These soft skills are critical to maximize your search success for clients, and can lead to more fruitful, long-lasting relationships.

Below are seven of the most highly recommended skills and techniques, from the SEO professionals surveyed and my own experience, to learn in order to increase the likelihood your work will get implemented by your clients.

1. How Mature Is Your Client?

Challenges to implementation tend to be organizational, people, integration, and process problems. Conducting a search maturity assessment with your client can be eye-opening to what needs to be solved internally before great search work can be implemented. Pairing a search capabilities model with an organizational maturity model gives you a wealth of knowledge and tools to help your client.

I recently wrote an in-depth article for the Moz blog about how to diagnose your client’s search maturity in both technical SEO capabilities and their organizational maturity as it pertains to a search program.

For search, we can think about a maturity model two ways. One may be the actual technical implementation of search best practices — is the client implementing exceptional, advanced SEO, just the basics, nothing at all, or even operating counterproductively? This helps identify what kinds of project make sense to start with for your client. Here is a sample maturity model across several aspects of search that you can use or modify for your purposes:

This SEO capabilities maturity model only starts to solve for what you should implement, but doesn’t get to the heart of why it’s so hard to get your work implemented. The real problems are a lot more nuanced, and aren’t as easy as checking the boxes of “best practices SEO.”

We also need to diagnose the organizational maturity of the client as it pertains to building, using and evolving an organic search practice. We have to understand the assets and obstacles of our client’s organization that either aid or block the implementation of our recommendations in order to move the ball forward.

If, after conducting these maturity model exercises, we find that a client has extremely limited personnel, budget and capacity to complete the work, that’s the first problem we should focus on solving for — helping them allocate proper resources and prioritization to the work.

If we find that they have plenty of personnel, budget, and capacity, but have no discernible, repeatable process for integrating search into their marketing mix, we focus our efforts there. How can we help them define, implement, and continually evolve processes that work for them and with the agency?

Perhaps the maturity assessment finds that they are adequate in most categories, but struggle with being reactive and implementing retrofitted SEO only as an afterthought, we may help them investigate their actionable workflows and connect dots across departments. How can we insert organic search expertise in the right ways at the right moments to have the greatest impact?

2. Speak to CEOs and CMOs, Not SEOs

Because we are subject matter experts in search, we are responsible for educating clients and colleagues on the power of SEO and the impact it can have on brands. If the executives are skeptical or don’t care about search, it won’t happen. If you want to educate and inspire people, you can’t waste time losing them in the details.

Speak Their Language

Tailor your educational content to busy CEOs and CMOs, not SEOs. Make the effort to listen to, read, write, and speak their corporate language. Their jargon is return on investment, earnings per share, operational costs. Yours is canonicalization, HTTPS and SSL encryption, 302 redirects, and 301 redirect chains.

Be mindful that you are coming from different places and meet them in the middle. Use layperson’s terms that anyone can understand, not technical jargon, when explaining search.

Don’t be afraid to use analogies (i.e. instead of “implement permanent 301 redirect rewrite rules in the .htaccess file to correct 404 not found errors,” perhaps “it’s like forwarding your mail when you change addresses.”)

Get Out of the Weeds

Perhaps because we are so passionate about the inner workings of search, we often get deep into the weeds of explaining how every SEO signal works. Even things that seem not-so-technical to us (title tags and meta description tags, for example) can lose your audience’s attention in a heartbeat. Unless you know that the client is a technical mind who loves to get in the weeds or that they have search experience, stay at 30,000 feet.

Another powerful tool here is to show, not tell. Often you can tell a much more effective and hard-hitting story using images or smart data visualization. Your audience being able to see instead of trying to listen and decipher what you’re proposing can allow you to communicate complex information much more succinctly.

Focus on Outcomes

The goal of educating is not teaching peers and clients how to do search. They pay you to know that. Focus on the things that actually matter to your audience. (Come on, we’re inbound marketers — we should know this!) For many brands, that may include benefits like how it will build their brand visibility, how they can conquest competitors, and how they can make more money. Focus on the outcomes and benefits, not the granular, technical steps of how to get there.

What’s In It for Them?

Similarly, if you are doing a roadshow to educate your peers in other disciplines and get their buy-in, don’t focus on teaching them everything you know. Focus on how your work can benefit them (make their work smarter, more visible, make them more money) rather than demanding what other departments need to do for you. Aim to align on when, where, and how your two teams intersect to get greater results together.

3. SEO is Not the Center of the Universe

It was a tough pill for me to swallow when I realized that my clients simply didn’t care as much about organic search as my team and I did. (I mean, honestly, who isn’t passionate about dedicating their careers to understanding human thinking and behavior when we search, then optimizing technical stuff and website content for those humans to find it?!)

Bigger Fish to Fry

While clients may honestly love the sound of things we can do for them with search, rarely is SEO the only thing — or even a sizable thing — on a client’s mind. Rarely is our primary client contact someone who is exclusively dedicated to search, and typically, not even exclusively to digital marketing. We frequently report to digital directors and CMOs who have many more and much bigger fish to fry.

They have to look at the big picture and understand how the entire marketing mix works, and in reality, SEO is only one small part of that. While organic search is typically a client’s biggest source of traffic to their website, we often forget that the website isn’t even at the top of the priorities list for many clients. Our clients are thinking about the whole brand and the entirety of its marketing performance, or the organizational challenges they need to overcome to grow their business. SEO is just one small piece of that.

Acknowledge the Opportunity Cost

The benefits of search are no-brainers for us and it seems so obvious, but we fail to acknowledge that every decision a CMO makes has a risk, time commitment, risks and costs associated with it. Every time they invest in something for search, it is an opportunity cost for another marketing initiative. We fail to take the time to understand all the competing priorities and things that a client has to choose between with a limited budget.

To persuade them to choose an organic search project over something else — like a paid search, creative, paid media, email, or other play — we had better make a damn good case to justify not just the hard cost in dollars, but the opportunity cost to other marketing initiatives. (More on that later.)

Integrated Marketing Efforts

More and more, brands are moving to integrated agency models in hopes of getting more bang for their buck by maximizing the impact of every single campaign across channels working together, side-by-side. Until we start to think more about how SEO ladders up to the big picture and works alongside or supports larger marketing initiatives and brand goals, we will continue to hamstring ourselves when we propose ideas to clients.

It’s our responsibility to seek big-picture perspective and figure out where we fit. We have to understand the realities of a client’s internal and external processes, their larger marketing mix and SEO’s role in that. SEO experts tend to obsess over rankings and website traffic. But we should be making organic search recommendations within the context of their goals and priorities — not what we think their goals and priorities should be.

For example, we have worked on a large CPG food brand for several years. In year one, my colleagues did great discovery works and put together an awesome SEO playbook, and we spent most of the year trying to get integrated and trying to check all these SEO best practices boxes for the client. But no one cared and nothing was getting implemented. It turned out that our “SEO best practices” didn’t seem relevant to the bigger picture initiatives and brand campaigns they had planned for the year, so they were being deprioritized or ignored entirely. In year two, our contract was restructured to focus search efforts primarily on the planned campaigns for the year. Were we doing the search work we thought we would be doing for the client? No. Are we being included more and getting great search work implemented finally? Yes. Because we stopped trying to veer off in our own direction and started pulling the weight alongside everyone else toward a common vision.

4. Don’t Stay in Your Lane, Get Buy-In Across Lanes

Few brands hire only SEO experts and no other marketing services to drive their business. They have to coordinate a lot of moving pieces to drive all of them forward in the same direction as best they can. In order to do that, everyone has to be aligned on where we’re headed and the problems we’re solving for.

Ultimately, for most SEOs, this is about having the wisdom and humility to realize that you’re not in this alone – you can’t be. And even if you don’t get your way 100% of the time, you’re a lot more likely to get your way more of the time when you collaborate with others and ladder your efforts up to the big picture.

One of my survey respondents phrased it beautifully: “Treat all search projects as products that require a complete product team including engineering, project manager, and business-side folks.”

Horizontal Buy-In

You need buy-in across practices in your own agency (or combination of agencies serving the client and internal client team members helping execute the work). We have to stop swimming in entirely separate lanes where SEO is setting goals by themselves and not aligning to the larger business initiatives and marketing channels. We are all in this together to help the client solve for something. We have to learn to better communicate the value of search as it aligns to larger business initiatives, not in a separate swim lane.

Organic Search is uniquely dependent in that we often rely on others to get our work implemented. You can’t operate entirely separately from the analytics experts, developers, user experience designers, social media, paid search, and so on — especially when they’re all working together toward a common goal on behalf of the client.

Vertical Buy-In

To get buy-in for implementing your work, you need buy-in beyond your immediate client contact. You need buy-in top-to-bottom in the client’s organization — it has to support what the C-level executive cares about as much as your day-to-day contacts or their direct reports.

This can be especially helpful when you started within the agency — selling the value of the idea and getting the buy-in of your colleagues first. It forces you to vet and strengthen your idea, helps find blind spots, and craft the pitch for the client. Then, bring those important people to the table with the client — it gives you strength in numbers and expertise to have the developer, user experience designer, client engagement lead, and data analyst on the project in your corner validating the recommendation.

When you get to the client, it is so important to help them understand the benefits and outcomes of doing the project, the cost (and opportunity cost) of doing it, and how this can get them results toward their big picture goals. Understand their role in it and give them a voice, and make them the hero for approving it. If you have to pitch the idea at multiple levels, custom tailor your approach to speak to the client-side team members who will be helping you implement the work differently from how you would speak to the CMO who decides whether your project lives or dies.

5. Build a Bulletproof Plan

Here’s how a typical SEO project is proposed to a client: “You should do this SEO project because SEO.”

This explanation is not good enough, and they don’t care. You need to know what they do care about and are trying to accomplish, and formulate a bullet-proof business plan to sell the idea.

Case Studies as Proof-of-Concept

Case studies serve a few important purposes: they help explain the outcomes and benefits of SEO projects, they prove that you have the chops to get results, and they prove the concept using someone else’s money first, which reduces the perceived risk for your client.

In my experience and in the survey results, case studies come up time and again as the leading way to get client buy-in. Ideally you would use case studies that are your own, very clearly relevant to the project at hand, and created for a client that is similar in nature (like B2B vs. B2C, in a similar vertical, or facing a similar problem).

Even if you don’t have your own case studies to show, do your due diligence and find real examples other companies and practitioners have published. As an added bonus, the results of these case studies can help you forecast the potential high/medium/low impact of your work.

Image source

Simplify the Process for Everyone

It is important to bake the process into your business plan to clearly outline the requirements for the project, identify next steps and assign ownership, and take ownership of moving the ball forward. Do your due diligence up front to understand the role that everyone plays and boil it down into a clear step-by-step plan makes it feel easy for others to buy-in and help. Reducing the unknown reduces friction. When you assume that nothing you are capable of doing falls in the “not my job” description, and make it a breeze for everyone to know what they’re responsible for and where they fit in, you lower barriers and resistance.

Forecast the Potential ROI

SEOs are often incredibly hesitant to forecast potential outcomes, ROI, traffic or revenue impact because of the sheer volumes of unknowns. (“But what if the client actually expects us to achieve the forecast?!”) We naturally want to be accurate and right, so it’s understandable we wouldn’t want to commit to something we can’t say for certain we can accomplish.

But to say that forecasting is impossible is patently false. There is a wealth of information out there to help you come up with even conservative estimates of impact with lots of caveats. You need to know why you’re recommending this over other projects. Your clients need some sort of information to weigh one project against the next. A combination of forecasting and your marketer’s experience and intuition can help you define that.

For every project your client invests in, there is an opportunity cost for something else they could be working on. If you can’t articulate the potential benefit to doing the project, how can you expect your client to choose it above dozens of potential other things they could spend their time on?

Show the Impact of Inaction

Sometimes opportunity for growth isn’t enough to light the fire — also demonstrate the negative impact from inaction or incorrect action. The greatest risk I see with most clients is not making a wrong move, but rather making no move at all.

We developed a visual tool that helps us quickly explain to clients that active optimization and expansion can lead to growth (we forecast an estimate of impact based on their budget, their industry, their business goals, the initiatives we plan to prioritize, etc.), small maintenance could at least uphold what we’ve done but the site will likely stagnate, and to do nothing at all could lead to atrophy and decline as their competitors keep optimizing and surpass them.

Remind clients that search success is not only about what they do, it’s about what everyone else in their space is doing, too. If they are not actively monitoring, maintaining and expanding, they are essentially conceding territory to competitors who will fill the space in their absence.

You saw this in my deck at MozCon 2017. We have used it to help clients understand what’s next when we do annual planning with them.

Success Story: Selling AMP

One of my teammates believed that AMP was a key initiative that could have a big impact on one of his B2B automotive clients by making access to their location pages easier, faster, and more streamlined, especially in rural areas where mobile connections are slower and the client’s clients are often found.

He did a brilliant job of due diligence research, finding and dissecting case studies, and using the results of those case studies to forecast conservative, average and ambitious outcomes and calculated the estimated revenue impact for the client. He calculated that even at the most conservative estimate of ROI, it would far outweigh the cost of the project within weeks, and generate significant returns thereafter.

He got the buy-in of our internal developers and experience designers on how they would implement the work, simplified the AMP idea for the client to understand in a non-technical way, and framedin a way that made it clear how low the level of effort was. He was able to confidently propose the idea and get buy-in fast, and the work is now on track for implementation.

6. Headlines, Taglines, and Sound Bytes

You can increase the likelihood that your recommendations will get implemented if you can help the client focus on what’s really important. There are two key ways to accomplish this.

Ask for the Moon, Not the Galaxy

If you’re anything like me, you get a little excited when the to-do of SEO action items for a client is long and actionable. But we do ourselves a disservice when we try to push every recommendation at once – they get overwhelmed and tune out. They have nothing to grab onto, so nothing gets done. It seems counterintuitive that you will get more done by proposing less, but it works.

Prioritize what’s important for your client to care about right now. Don’t push every recommendation — push specific, high-impact recommendations that executives can latch on to, understand and rationalize.

They’re busy and making hard choices. Be their trusted advisor. Give them permission to focus on one thing at a time by communicating what they should care about while other projects stay on the backburner or happen in the background, because this high-impact project is what they should really care about right now.

Give Them Soundbites They Can Sell

It’s easy to forget that our immediate client contact is not always able to make the call to pull the trigger on a project by themselves. They often have to sell it internally to get it prioritized. To help them do this, give them catchy headlines, taglines and sound bites they can sell to their bosses and colleagues. Make them so memorable and repeatable, the clients will shop the ideas around their office clearly and confidently, and may even start to think they came up with the idea themselves.

Success Story: Prioritizing Content

As an example of both of these principles in practice, we have a global client we have worked with for a few years whose greatest chance of gaining ground in search is to improve and increase their website content. Before presenting the annual strategy to the client, we asked ourselves what we really wanted to accomplish with the client if they cut the meeting short or cut their budget for the year, and the answer was unequivocally content.

In our proposal deck, we built up to the big opportunity by reminding the client of the mission we all agreed on, highlighted some of the wins we got in 2017 (including a very sexy voice search win that made our client look like a hero at their office), set the stage with headlines like, “How We’re Going to Break Records in 2018,” then navigated to the section called, “The Big Opportunities.”

Then, we used the headline, “Web Content is the Single Most Important Priority” to kick off the first initiative. There was no mistaking in that room what our point was. We proposed two other initiatives for the year, but we put this one at the very top of the deck and all others fell after. Because this was our number one priority to get approved and implemented, we spent the lion’s share of the meeting focusing on this single point. We backed this slide up verbally and added emphasis by saying things like, “If we did nothing else recommended in this deck, this is the one thing to prioritize, hands down.”

This is the real slide from the real client deck we presented.

The client left that meeting crystal clear, fully understanding our recommendation, and bought in. The best part, though? When we heard different clients who were in the meeting starting to repeat things like, “Content is our number one priority this year.” unprompted on strategy and status calls.

7. Patience, Persistence, & Parallel Paths

Keep Several Irons in the Fire

Where possible, build parallel paths. What time-consuming but high-impact projects can you initiate with the client now that may take time to get approved, while you can concurrently work on lower obstacle tasks alongside? Having multiple irons in the fire increases the likelihood that you will be able to implement SEO recommendations and get measurable results that get people bought in to more work in the future.

Stay Strong

Finally, getting your work implemented is a balance of patience, persistence, communication and follow-up. There are always many things at play, and your empathy and understanding for the situation while bringing a confident point-of-view can ultimately get projects across the finish line.

Special thanks to my VML colleagues Chris, Jeff, Kasey, and Britt, whose real client examples were used in this article.

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If You Start A Business Today How Long Will It Take To Earn A Full Time Income?

If your goal is to earn a stable full-time income from your own online business within 12 months, then now is the time to take things seriously. What you start building today, will bear fruit next year, probably LATE next year at best. I’m being brutally honest here — there…

The post If You Start A Business Today How Long Will It Take To Earn A Full Time Income? appeared first on Yaro.blog.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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5 Tactics to Earn Links Without Having to Directly Ask – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Typical link outreach is a tired sport, and we’ve all but alienated most content creators with our constant link requests. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand outlines five smart ways to earn links to your site without having to beg.

5 tactics to earn links without having to ask

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, I’m going to help you avoid having to directly ask for links.

Some people in the SEO world, some link builders are extremely effective. If you go to the Russ Jones School of Link Outreach, you need to make a big list of people to contact, get in front of those folks, outreach them, and have these little success rates. But for some of us, myself included, I just absolutely hate begging people for links. So even though I often produce content that I want people to link to, it’s the outreach process that stops me from having success. But there are ways around this. There are ways to earn links, even from very specific sources, without needing to directly say, “Hey, will you please link to this?” I’ll try and illustrate that.

The problem

So the problem is I think that most of the web at this point is sort of burned out on this conversation of, “Hey, I have this great resource.” Or, “Hey, you linked to this thing which is currently broken and so maybe you’d like to,” or “Hey, I noticed that you frequently mention or link to blah, blah, blah. Well I have a blah, blah, blah like blah, blah, blah.”

Folks I think are just like, “Oh, my God, I hate these SEOs, like I’m so done with this.” Most of these folks, the journalists, the bloggers, the content creators of all kinds start to detest the link requests even when they’re useful, even when they help your success rates. I mean, great success rates.

The world’s best link builders, link outreach specialists, when I talked to agencies, they say, “Our absolute best folks ever hover in the 5% to 10% success range.” So that means you’re basically like, “No. Nope. Nuh-uh. Uh-uh. No way. Sorry. Uh-uh. Yeah, no. Uh, no.” Then, maybe you’ll get one, “Okay, fine. I’ll actually link to you.”

This can be a really demoralizing practice, and it also hurts your brand every time you outreach to someone and have no success. They’re basically associating you with . . . and in fact, there are many people in the SEO world who my only association with them is, gosh, they have asked me for a lot of links over the years. It kind of sucks the souls from people who hate doing it. Now granted, there are some people who like doing it, but you have two options.

Number one, you can optimize the outreach to try and get a higher success rate, to do less damage to your brand when you do this, to make this less of a soul-sucking process, and we have some Whiteboard Fridays on exactly that topic and some great blog posts on that too. But there are ways to build links without it, and today I’m going to cover four and a half of them, because the fifth one is barely a tactic.

5 Tactics to earn links

1. The “I made this thing you’ll probably use”

The first one is the tactic — I’m going to use very conversational naming conventions for these — the “I made this thing you will probably use.” So this is, in effect, saying not, “Hey, I made this thing. Will you link to it?” but rather, “I made this thing and I can have some confidence that you and people like you, others like you, will probably want to link to it because it fulfills a specific need.”

So there’s some existing content that you find on the web, you locate the author of that content or the publisher of that content, and you form a connection, usually through social, through email, or through a direct comment on that content. You have an additional resource of some kind that is likely to be included, either in that particular element or in a future element.

This works very well with bloggers. It works well with journalists. It works well with folks who cover data and studies. It works well with folks who are including visuals or tools in their content. As a result, it tends to work well if you can optimize for one of those types of things, like data or visuals or ego-bait. Or supporting evidence works really well. If you have someone who’s trying to make an argument with their content and you have evidence that can help support that argument, it will very often be the case that even just a comment can get you included into the primary post, because that person wants to show off what you’ve got.

It tends not to work very well with commercial content. So that is a drawback to the tactic.

2. The “You list things like X, I have or I am an X.”

So this is rather than saying, “I would like a link,” it’s a very indirect or a relatively indirect ploy for the same thing. You find resources that list Xs, and there’s usually either an author or some process for submission, but you don’t have to beg for links. You can instead just say, “I fit your criteria.”

So this could be, “Hey, are there websites in the educational world that are ADA-compliant and accessible for folks?” You might say, “Well, guess what? I’m that. Therefore, all of these places that list resources like that, that are ADA-compliant, will fit in here.”

Or for example, we’re doing design awards for pure CSS design, and it turns out you have a beautifully-designed site or page that is pure CSS, and so maybe you can fit in to that particular criteria. Or websites that load under a second, even on a super slow connection, and they list those, and you have one of those. So there’s a process, and you can get inclusion.

3. The “Let me help you with that.”

This can be very broad, but, basically, if you can identify sources and start to follow those sources wherever they publish and however they publish, whether that’s social or via content or broadcast or other ways, if you find those publications, those authors expressing a need or an interest or that they are in the process of completing something, by offering to assist you will almost always get a link for your credit. So this is a way where you’re simply monitoring these folks that you would like to get links from, waiting for them to express some sort of need, fulfilling that need, and then reaping the benefit through that link.

4. The “I’d be happy to provide an endorsement.”

This is sort of a modified version of “I made this thing you’ll probably like.” But instead of saying, “Here’s the thing that you will probably like and maybe include,” you’re saying, “I noticed that you have a product, a piece of content, a tool, a new piece of hardware, some physical product, whatever it is, and I like it and I use it and I happen to fit into the correct demographic that you are trying to reach. Therefore, I am happy to contribute an endorsement or a testimonial.” Oftentimes, almost always, whenever there’s a testimonial, you will get a link back to your source, because they’ll want to say, “Well, Rand Fishkin from Moz says X and Y and Z,” and there’s the link to either my page or to Moz’s page.

5. The “Guest contribution.”

The one you’re probably most familiar with, and it was probably the first one that came to mind when you thought about the “How do I get links without asking for them?” and that is through guest contributions, so guest blogging and guest editorials and authorship of all kinds. There are a few Whiteboard Fridays on that, so I won’t dive deep in here.

But I hope you can leverage some or all of these tactics, because if you hate link building the outreach way, these all have more work that goes into them, but far, far better results than this 5% to 10% as the top. Five to ten percent is probably the bottom range for each of these, and you can get 50%, 75% on some of these tactics. Get a lot of great links from great sources. It just requires some elbow grease.

All right, everyone. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Creating Influencer-Targeted Content to Earn Links + Coverage – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Most SEO campaigns need three kinds of links to be successful; targeting your content to influencers can get you 2/3 of the way there. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the tactics that will help your content get seen and shared by those with a wide and relevant audience.

How to create influencer-targeted content - Whiteboard Friday

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how to create content that is specifically influencer-targeted in order to earn the links and attention and amplification that you often need.

Most SEO campaigns need 3 types of links:

So it’s the case that most SEO campaigns, as they’re trying to earn the rankings that they’re seeking, are trying to do a few things. You’re trying to grow your overall Domain Authority. You’re trying to get some specific keyword terms and phrases ranking on your site for those terms and phrases.

So you need kind of three kinds of links. This is most campaigns.

1. Links from broad, high-Domain Authority sites that are pointing — you kind of don’t care — anywhere on your site, the home page, internal pages, to your blog, to your news section. It’s totally fine. So a common one that we use here would be like the New York Times. I want the New York Times to link to me so that I have the authority and influence of a link from that domain and, hopefully, lots of domains like them, very high-Domain Authority domains.

2. Links to specific high-value keyword-targeted pages, hopefully, hopefully with specific anchor text, and that’s going to help me boost those individual URLs’ rankings. So I want this page over here to link to me and say “hairdryers,” to my page that is keyword targeted for the word “hairdryers.” Fingers crossed.

3. Links to my domain from other sites, in my sector or niche, that provide some of that topical authority and influence to help tell Google and the other search engines that this is what my site is about, that I belong in this sphere of influence, that I’m semantically and topically related to words and phrases like this. So I want appliancegal.com to link to my site if I’m trying to rank in the world of hairdryers and other kinds of appliances.

So of these, for one and three, we won’t talk about two today, but for one and three, much of the time the people that you’re trying to target are what we call in the industry influencers, and these influencers are going to be lots of people. I’ve illustrated them all here — mostly looking sideways at each other, not exactly sure why that is — but bloggers, and journalists, and authors, and conference organizers, and content marketers, and event speakers, and researchers, and editors, and podcasters, and influencers of a wide, wide variety. We could fill up the whole board with the types of people who are in the influencer world or have that title specifically, but they tend to share a few things in common. They are trying to produce content of one kind or another. They’re not dissimilar from us. They’re trying to produce things on the web, and when they do, they need certain elements to help fill in the gap. When they’re looking for those gap-filling elements, that is your opportunity to earn these kinds of links.

Content tactics

So a few tactics for that. First off, one of the most powerful ones, and we’ve talked about this a little bit here on Whiteboard Friday, but probably not in depth, is…

A. Statistics and data. The reason that this is such a powerful tool is because when you create data, especially if it’s either uniquely gathered by you, unique because you have it, because you can collect it and no one else can, or unique because you’ve put it together from many disparate sources, you’re the editorial curator of that data and statistics, everyone like this needs those types of statistics and data to support or challenge their arguments or their assertions or their coverage of the industry, whatever it is.

  • Why this works: This works well because this fills that gap. This gives them the relevant stats that they’re looking for. Because numbers are easy to use and easy to cite, and you can say, “Feel free to link to this. You’re welcome to copy this graph. You’re welcome to embed this chart.” All those kinds of things. That can make it even easier, but much of the time, just by having these statistics, you can do it.
  • The key is that you have to be visible at the time that these people are looking for them, and that means usually ranking for very hard to discover, through at least normal keyword research, long-tail types of terms that use words like “stats,” “data,” “charts,” “graphs,” and kind of these question formats like when, how much, how many, number of, etc.

It’s tough because you will not see many of those in your keyword research, because there’s a relatively few number of these people searching in any given month for this type of gap-filling data, so you have to intuit often what you should title those things. Put yourself in these people’s shoes and start Googling around for “What would I need if I had to write some industry coverage around this?” Then you’ll come up with these types of things, and you can try modifying your keyword research queries or doing some Google Suggest stuff with these words and phrases.

B. Visual content. Visual content is exceptionally valuable in this case because, again, it fills a gap that many of these folks have. When you are a content marketer, or when you’re a speaker at an event, or when you’re an author or a blogger, you need visual content that will help catch the eye, that will break up the writing that you’ve done, and it’s often much easier to get someone else’s visual content and simply cite your source and link to it than it is to create visual content of your own. These people often don’t have the resources to create their own visual content.

  • Why this works: So, for everyone who’s doing posts, and articles, and slide decks, and even videos, they say, “Why not let someone else do the work,” and you can be that someone else and fill these gaps.
  • Key: To do this well, you’re going to want to appear in a bunch of visual content search mediums that these folks are going to use. Those are places like…
    • Google Images most obviously, but also
    • Pinterest
    • SlideShare, meaning take your visuals, put them up in some sort of slide format, give some context to them and upload them to SlideShare. The nice thing about SlideShare, SlideShare actually reproduces each individual slide as a visual, and then Google Images can search those, and so you’ll often see SlideShare’s results inside Google Images. So this can be a great end around for that.
    • Instagram search, many folks are using that especially if you’re doing photos. You can see I’ve illustrated my own hair drying technique right here. This is clearly Rand. Look at me. I’ve got more hair than I know what to do with.
    • Flickr, still being used by many searchers, particularly because it has a Creative Commons search license, and that should bring up using a Creative Commons commercial use license that requires attribution with a link is your best bet for all of these platforms. It will mean you can get on lots of other Creative Commons visual and photography search engines, which can expose you to more of these types of people as they’re doing their searches.

C. Contrarian/counter-opinions. The last one I’ll cover here is contrarian or counter-opinions to the prevailing wisdom. So you might have an opinion like, “In the next three years, hairdryers will be completely obsolete because of X.”

  • Why it works: This works well because modern journalism has this idea and modern content, in fact, has this idea that they are supposed to create conflict and that they should cover both sides of an issue. In many industry specific sorts of fields, it’s often the case that that is a gap that goes unfilled. By being that sort of challenger to conventional wisdom or conventional thinking, you can fill that gap.
  • The key here is you want to either rank in Google search engine for some of those mid or long tail research type queries. These can be competitive, and so this is challenging, but presenting contrarian opinions is often great link bait. This is kind of a good way to earn links of all kinds in here.
  • Second, I would also urge you to do a little bit of comment marketing and some social media platforms, because what you want to start is to build a brand where you are known for having this contrarian opinion on this conventional topic in your space so that people point all these influencers to you when they’re asked about it. You’re trying to build up this branding of, “Well, I don’t agree with the conventional wisdom around hairdryers.” Hairdryers might be a tough topic for that one, but certainly these other two can work real well.

So using these tactics, I hope that you can go reach out and fill some gaps for these influencers and, as a result, earning two of the three exact kind of links that you need in order to rank well in the search results.

And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Comment Marketing: How to Earn Benefits from Community Participation – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s been a few years since we’ve covered the topic of comment marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of date. There are clever, intentional ways to market yourself and your brand in the comments sections of sites, and there’s less competition now than ever before. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand details what you can do to get noticed in the comments and the benefits you’ll reap from high-quality contributions.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about comment marketing. We talked about this actually five or six years ago, but it is time for a refresher because there are a lot of things that have happened in the world of online marketing, so this deserves a new take.

Comment marketing has not lost any of its power and influence. In fact, because fewer people are doing it today than were five or six years ago, especially in the digital marketing world, it’s actually become increasingly influential. There’s a limited number of blogs and communities in most sectors and spaces that have audiences that engage in the comments, but where they do, you find incredible levels of participation, of amplification, of opportunities for press and for links and for social following. I’ll show you how that works, and then I’ll talk about some tactics in terms of how to create great comments and a strategy to build around it.

How do comments help me/my site?

So, first off, why do comments help so much, and how do they help? Well, it turns out that if you leave great comments on other folks’ sites, they may lead to visits to your website through your profile, through links that you leave, through people clicking on your profile and then following that link, which can lead to links in future posts by the authors of the site where you commented or in future content pieces created by people who read that site.

If they see that your comment is particularly insightful, it brings up a great example, shows off a resource that is sorely lacking, especially when you are either leaving links or commenting about things, if you do so in a very respectful, diplomatic way. For example, one of the best strategies, best tactics I’ve seen for leaving a comment with a link in it is to say, “Hey, I want to make sure that this blog accepts links in the comments, but I figured I should point to X. Editor, feel free to remove if links are not appropriate.” So that way you’re saying, “Hey, I recognize that dropping a link in a comment could be a little sketchy.”

Or you could say something like, “We’ve actually been doing this on our site. If you go to our website, you can check out the link via my profile.” So you’re not even leaving it in there. You’re saying go check it out from there, then you can see this other thing that I want to show off in relation to the content here. But those can lead to great links to your site in the future.

Commenting can also lead to indirect links through exposure and exposure itself, meaning things like you leave consistent quality comments, people start to recognize you. You sort of see that profile picture again and you go, “I know that brand from somewhere or I know that person from somewhere. I have some positive association with them adding value.” That can lead to a better chance of engagement with you, your personal brand, or your corporate brand in the future, which can mean a better chance of future conversion.

It can also lead to social following growth. So you have lots of great comments. People will check out your social profile from your profile in those comments, and that can often lead to follower growth. You can, of course, juice this a little bit by choosing rather than linking to your personal site if you so choose, you could link directly to the social account that you are trying to promote or grow followership with.

So if you say, “Hey, I’m trying to grow my Facebook page. I’m going to make my Facebook page my profile link in here.” That works just fine. That can grow your Facebook audience. That may be how you’re best reaching your audience. Or it could be you’re doing it on your website or through Twitter or Instagram or another way. But all of these things basically follow the same format. People see those comments. If they’re engaging and they draw them in, it can lead to very good results.

What makes a comment great?

Basically, every single one of these start with you must leave consistent, high-quality, great comments. Greatness in a comment means a few things.

I. It’s gotta be on-topic

Meaning that while you may have lots of very interesting things to share, if you go off topic, you will, even if you provide great value, tick off the moderators of the community. You will often turn off a lot of folks who are reading those comments. It’s just not what people are there for. So you’ve got to keep it on-topic.

II. Respectful to the author and other commenters.

I say respectful because what I don’t mean is you can’t disagree. In fact, I think it is great to say, “Hey, I really love this post. I think you made some great points, but point number three and four that you made here or this one and that one, I disagree with and here’s why. This is my experience or I have this data or I conducted this survey or I want to show you this information, go check it out over here.” That is just fine. As long as you are respectful and kind, I think you’re in a great position to disagree and to add value. Disagreement actually does add a lot of value.

III. Provides unique value

Speaking of value, we are trying to provide unique value here. We want to provide unique value through our comments. When I say unique value, what I mean is you can’t just say things that were already in the post itself, things that have already been mentioned in other comments, or things that are sort of common knowledge, anyone could find them out or they’re instantly recognizable, they’re sort of already known.

We want insight or tactics, help, context, examples, data, whatever it is that is not found in the original piece or through common knowledge. That’s what makes a comment truly stand out. That’s what makes people vote up a comment, click on the profile, go check this person out. They seem really smart and intelligent and helpful.

IV. Well-written

There are a few other items. We want to be well-written — so grammar, spelling, language issues.

V. Well-formatted

So you should use spacing and paragraphs, bullet points if they’re available in the markup effectively to try and convey your point so that it doesn’t just look like a bunch of jammed together words and sentences. If you have a very long run-on paragraph in a comment, it can turn people off from even starting to read that.

VI. Transparent

Finally — this is important — transparent. So you should not try and pull the wool over people’s eyes in a comment. We want to not hide our intent or our associations. Even if you are doing comment marketing specifically as a commenting strategy to try and attract people, you can be totally up front about that.
You can say, “Hey, full disclosure, I work for company X, and I wrote this piece, but I think it’s relevant and helpful enough that I want to bring it up here. So, with permission, hopefully I’m linking to it. Editor, feel free to remove this link if it’s not appropriate. Here’s why I’m linking to it and here’s what the value is that it provides.” Now you’ve been transparent about your intentions and motivations, your associations, what you’re doing. You will get a lot more both forgiveness and leeway to leave comments that are valuable if you do that.

Building a comment marketing strategy

Final thing, if you’ve decided, based on the couple things we’ve talked about here, that comment marketing is something you want to try and engage in 2017, or for the future, I would urge you to build a true strategy around it, not just tactically say, “Well, maybe a couple of times I’ll leave a few comments.”

That’s fine too, but you can get the most benefit from this strategy if you truly invest in it by following a process like this:

A. Determine the goals you want to get out.

So maybe that’s build exposure to get links. Maybe that’s to grow a social audience. Maybe it’s to try and get influencers to engage with you so that they become brand proponents for you in the future.

B. Create measurements

You want to build some measurement around that. Comment marketing is tough to measure, very, very tough to measure because you can’t see how many people saw your comment. You only see the results of it. But you can look at traffic and visits that are referred to your site from the site on which you left the comments. You can look at growth in your social following. You could look at new links from sites in which you engage with in comment marketing, those kinds of things.

C. Identify list of sites/communities for engagement

Then you should identify a list of the sites or communities that you want to engage with. Those sites and communities, it is best if you don’t say, “Hey, I’m going to try and leave one comment this year on each of 200 communities.” Not valuable. Pick the top 10. Choose to leave 15 to 20 comments on each of them. You want to build up a reputation in these communities. You want that consistency so that people who are in those comments and the authors of them, the influencers who write them, consistently see you in there and build a positive association with you.

D. Research

Then you want to do some research. I’m urging you not to comment the first few times you read through it. Go through the backlog, look through their archives. Read and see what other people have commented on, see what other people have enjoyed and appreciated, see what comments do well and get noticed, see what the community is like.

E. Create and alert system when new content is published

Then create some sort of an alert system. This could be subscribing to updates via email or using RSS or if you follow them on Twitter and you get pinged every time they launch a new post, whatever it is, because early comments tend to do best. Right when a post is published, if you can comment in the first, let’s say, 30 minutes to 3 hours, that’s the best opportunity you’re going to have to be seen by the most people reading that post.

F. Use social to help amplify/spread your comments

Finally, I would urge you to use social media, especially Twitter because that’s where most publishers are, to amplify and spread your comments, meaning you go leave a comment and it’s really high-quality, then tweet, “Hey, I just left a comment on @randfish’s post here about blah, blah, blah.” Now I’m probably going to see that via Twitter, even if I don’t see it via my comment alert that I get through email, and I’m going to know, hey, this person is not only promoting their comment, they’re also promoting my post. That’s great. Now that builds further engagement with the people you’re trying to reach.

All right, everyone. Hope you give this comment marketing strategy a spin. If you have other tips, things you’ve seen be successful, feel free to leave a great comment in the comments down below, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Influence Branded Searches and Search Volumes to Earn Big Rewards – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

What have you been doing with branded searches? If the answer is “not much,” it may be time to shift your focus a bit. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the huge benefits of turning some of your unbranded searches into branded and offers some key tactical advice.

How to Influence Branded Searches and Search Volumes to Earn Big Rewards Whiteboard

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat a little bit about how to influence branded search and get a load of benefit out of that. Some of these things that I’m going to talk about today are more theoretical. Like we think they work. We’ve experimented. We’ve seen some other folks experiment. We’re pretty sure. Then some of them are solid. We know that these things influence. Regardless, I think I can persuade you that trying to turn more of your unbranded search into branded search is a hugely positive thing. Generating more branded search in general is also hugely positive. Let me show you what I mean with some examples first.

Non-branded search

Non-branded search, these are essentially the search terms, the queries and phrases that we are all pursuing. We’re trying to rank for them. This is searchers who have not yet expressed a brand preference. They’re searching. Let’s say we’re talking to a chemist or a lab instructor at a school and they’re trying to put together all their materials for their lab. So they’re searching for things like test tubes and lab equipment and chemical safety goggles. They’re trying to figure out the best prices and the best products, the ones that’ll be the safest, the ones that’ll be best for their class. Those are unbranded. They have expressed no brand preference. They haven’t said, “Oh I want this kind and I know that.”

Branded search

Branded searches are more like, “Oh I know I want a Fisher test tube, Fisher Scientific.” Fisher test tubes is what I’m looking for, or lab equipment from Thermo. Thermo Scientific makes a bunch of lab equipment that you can buy prepackaged, kind of all together. Or chemical goggles, “I know I want the 3M variety.” 3M has, like, these awesome chemical goggles. They’re very safe, very good for this stuff.

These branded searches are preferable in many ways for the brands that own and control these companies than the non-branded searches. Here’s why.

A. Increase ease of ranking and conversion

Obviously it is way, way easier to rank well for “3M chemical goggles” if you are 3M than ranking for just “chemical goggles” if you’re 3M. You’re competing against far fewer folks. A lot of people won’t even use your brand name. Even the people who do, like maybe on Amazon.com, you’ll still get some benefit from that because they’re searching for your brand.

It also increases the propensity to convert, meaning that if someone performs that branded search, they’re more likely to actually buy that product. They’re generally speaking further down the funnel. They’ve sort of decided to at least investigate your brand, and now you have a chance to pitch them. They’re familiar. They know your brand name at least. That’s a real positive thing.

B. Affecting search suggest

The second thing that’s nice is you can affect search suggest, meaning that if lots of people, for example, started searching for “3M chemical goggles” instead of “chemical safety goggles” or “chemical goggles,” it would actually be the case that over time what you’d see Google do is in the dropdown box for “chemical safety goggles,” 3M, the word, would start to be associated with it. You’d see that in search suggest. It might be at the very bottom.

For example, if you do a search for “whiteboard,” today in Google, Whiteboard Friday is somewhere on that list, but it’s usually way down towards the bottom. In some geographies it’s probably not there at all. Over time if we get more and more people searching for Whiteboard Friday, it’ll move up in search suggest. So that means people will be more likely to perform that query. At least they’ll see it and say, “Oh that must be a brand,” or “I must have some association with that, or maybe I’m supposed to,” or “I want to investigate that, I’m curious about it.”

C. Improve rankings for non-branded queries

This is one of those speculative things. We believe that right now search volume for branded terms does have an impact on ranking for the non-branded version of the query.

We saw Google file some patents around this, but we also saw some tests in this direction that looked promising, basically saying that if . . . Let’s do Fisher for this one. Let’s say people start searching for Fisher test tubes a lot more. Google might say, “You know, I think Fisher is very relevant to the search query ‘test tubes.’ Let’s move Fisher up in the rankings for just the unbranded phrase ‘test tubes,’ because that volume is suggesting to us that this brand is more relevant to this query than maybe we initially presumed.” That’s huge as well. If you can drive up that search volume, now you can start to get benefit in the non-branded rankings.

D. Appear in “related searches” feature

You can appear in the related search feature. Related searches is usually somewhere between the middle of the page and the very bottom of the page, most of the time at the very bottom of the search page. That’s a powerful way for those 10% to 20% of people that scroll all the way to the bottom before making a click selection or before deciding to change their query, those related searches are a powerful way to suggest, just like search suggest is, that they should, instead of searching for the non-branded term, search for your branded query. The related searches, by the way, is also we think influenced by content, which I’ll talk about in a second.

E. Create an association between your brand and a keyphrase

Create an entity-style association. This is essentially the idea of co-occurring keywords. If Google is crawling the web and they see tons of documents, high-quality, trustworthy documents that contain the word “test tubes” that also contain the word “3M,” oftentimes in close proximity to the word “test tubes,” they’ll over time start to associate the word “test tubes” with the word “3M.” That can impact suggest. It can impact related. It can impact rankings. It has a bunch of positive potential impact. That can make you more relevant for all sorts of things around search that are just awesome.

F. Affect future searches and personalization

Then the last one, which is also cool and powerful, is that this can affect search personalization, meaning, for example, let’s say someone does a search for “3M chemical goggles.” They click on 3m.com. Maybe they buy them. Maybe they don’t. Next time they do a search, for example let’s say “chemical aprons,” well it turns out that Google already knows that person has visited 3M in the past. They might see that behavior and, because they’re logged into their account, they might show them 3M higher up in the rankings. They might show them 3M higher in the search suggest as they start typing. That personalization is another powerful way that you’re getting benefit from branded search.

There are all these benefits. We want to make this happen. How do we do it?

What are the tactics that an SEO can actually use?

It turns out SEOs, we’re going to have to work pretty cross-departmentally in our marketing teams to be able to make this happen because some of the best tactics require things that SEO doesn’t always own and control entirely. Sometimes you do, sometimes not.

The first one, if we can create curiosity and drive search volume via brand advertising, that’s an awesome way to go.

You’ve seen more and more of this. You have seen advertisements probably on television and YouTube ads. You’ve seen branded ads on display ads. You’ve probably heard things on the radio that say search for us, all that kind of stuff. All that classic media, everything from billboards to radio — I know I’m drawing televisions with rabbit ears still. There are probably no TVs in the US that still have rabbit ears. Magazines, print, whatever, billboards, all of that brand advertising can drive people to then be curious about the brand and to want to investigate them more. If you hear a lot about 3M goggles and the cool stuff they’re doing, well, you might be tempted to perform a search.

You can embed searches as well.

Be careful with this one. This can get spammy and manipulative and could get you into trouble. You can do it. If you do it in authentic white hat ways, you’ll probably be okay.

The idea is basically telling customers like, “Hey, if you want to research us, learn more about 3M’s goggles, don’t just take our word for it. Search Google. Go find what people are saying, what reviews are saying about our product.” You see I think it was LG or Samsung ran a big one of these where they were suggesting people do a Google search, because it turns out their phone had been very, very highly rated by all the top folks who’d done a review of them. You can do that in email. You could do it over social networks. You could do it in content. You’re essentially driving people directly to the Google search result page. That could be an embedded link, or it simply could be a suggestion to search and check people out.

You can also use public relations and content marketing, especially guest contributions and content marketing.

You can use events and sponsorship, all of that stuff to essentially drive latent interest and curiosity, kind of like we did with brand advertising but in a little more organic fashion. If The New York Times writes a piece about you, if you speak at a conference . . . This is me wildly gesticulating at a conference. It looks like I’m very dangerously, precariously perched to fall into the crowd there. Guest contributions on a website, maybe something like a Fortune.com, which takes some guest posts, driving people to want to learn more about the brand or the product that you’ve mentioned.

Then finally, you can create those keyword associations that we talked about, the entity-style associations, through word proximity and co-occurrence in web documents.

I put just web documents here, but really it’s important, trustworthy web documents from sources that Google likes and trusts and indexes. That means looking at: Where are all the places potentially on the web that lab equipment is talked about or would be talked about maybe in the future? How do I influence those authors, those creators, those publications to potentially consider including my brand, Thermo Scientific, in their documents? Or how do I create content for places like these that include my brand and include the unbranded term “lab equipment?”

Bunch of tactics, bunch of great opportunities here. I’d love to hear from you folks about what you’ve done around influencing branded search and how you’ve seen it affect your SEO campaigns overall. I’ll look forward to catching up with you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Natalie Sisson: How To Travel The World And Earn A 6-Figure Income With The Suitcase Entrepreneur

Natalie Sisson is known as the Suitcase Entrepreneur, but as you’ll hear, this has nothing to do with her trotting around selling suitcases. Natalie is an incredibly successful online entrepreneur who makes a six-figure income while travelling the world, living an adventure filled life. Starting with a simple blog five…

The post Natalie Sisson: How To Travel The World And Earn A 6-Figure Income With The Suitcase Entrepreneur appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Use Solar Energy to Earn a LEED Certification

LEED certification for buildings or commercial facilities by installing a solar power system is a way to save costs on your bottom while establishing energy independence. As a happy side note, LEED designation and use of solar energy is also a very effective way to generate additional positive PR and word of mouth for your business. If you plan to build a new plant or upgrading of an existing building in the near future, consider adding a solar energy system to reduce or eliminate their dependence on local public services providers.

LEED certification reduces operating costs

Probably the most convincing of the appearance of LEED certification through the installation of solar energy is the ability to reduce the overhead of your business. By incorporating a solar photovoltaic system design or renovation of its installation, the ability to start producing energy without almost immediately you enter. For States that provide the C-PACE program, you can finance your solar power system with very favorable conditions. Otherwise, many solar energy providers also offer a financing program to the conditions that are even more attractive than the C-PACE program offers. You can install solar panels virtually no pocket money and start saving money almost immediately. This is particularly attractive for companies who are remodeling or modernization of an existing building. Solar firmly on the figures LEED rating system, allowing you to reach a desired item quickly and easily.

Establish energy independence solar and LEED

No matter the size of your business, you have been to thank you for your local electricity provider since the day it opened. The adoption of solar technology and other renewable energies energy autonomous will help you break this link. You respect the other requirements for obtaining a LEED certification, you will reduce the energy needs of its facilities and its need for the municipal network. Using more insulation and other construction methods that reduce their electricity needs of the installation is a bit more to avoid ridiculous monthly electricity bills your business has paid off.

The use of solar energy and LEED to leverage public relations

Business owner warned today care about the bottom line, as well as energy independence, because these factors provide a distinct advantage to support business operations. As the economy fluctuates or political position changes the way they are forced to operate while remaining profitable ways your organization can keep rolling. Public relations benefits of the optimization of solar technology are an important part of this equation. Many existing customers, especially those who are outraged by the bloated government, look for companies that share their ideals. Never client money was more influential than it is today, and appealing to their shared sensibility, can position your company as they can be identified. Even the few well-placed press releases mentioning his proactive stance against the government and control utility supplier will brand your company as a pioneer, a hero and a person who want to do business with.

If you have considered adopting some of the LEED standards for installation, contact a solar energy provider in your area. They can assess your installation and determine the size of the system that best suits your goals and earn maximum LEED credits. The adoption of alternative energy systems is a favorable plan for many reasons, if you finally decide to seek LEED certification.


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Natalie Sisson: How To Travel The World And Earn A 6-Figure Income With The Suitcase Entrepreneur

Natalie Sisson is known as the Suitcase Entrepreneur, but as you’ll hear, this has nothing to do with her trotting around selling suitcases. Natalie is an incredibly successful online entrepreneur who makes a six-figure income while travelling the world, living an adventure filled life. Starting with a simple blog five…

The post Natalie Sisson: How To Travel The World And Earn A 6-Figure Income With The Suitcase Entrepreneur appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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How Some Companies Succeed at Converting Visitors yet Fail to Earn Great Customers – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s easy to think that conversion is the end goal for most marketing teams, but any business that relies on customer loyalty needs to take a it a step farther. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains a few of the reasons that people we thought were new customers often decide to leave.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m talking about some conversion rate optimization mistakes that we’ve made. They’re pernicious and challenging to understand, because we’ve succeeded in one big important aspect of CRO, which is converting visitors into customers. That might sound like a great thing, but in fact sometimes being great at that can be a terrible thing. I’ll talk about exactly why and how.

I’ve seen this at Moz. We’ve had a little bit of a problem with it. I’ve seen this at many, many other companies. I want to try and use Moz as an empathetic example to everyone out there of how these problems happen.

Succeeding at converting visitors into customers is not the end goal for the vast, vast majority of companies, unless you have a product that you know you’re only ever going to sell once, and that will be the only brand interaction that you hope to have with that human being ever or that organization ever in your lives. Well, usually that’s not the case.

Usually, most companies have a relationship that they want to have with their customers. They’re trying to earn that customer’s brand loyalty, and they’re trying to earn future sales from that person. That means building a longer term relationship, which is how CRO can occasionally go very, very wrong.

I’ve got the three primary examples. These are the three types of things that I’ve seen happen in company after company. It’s not just true in software, but software makes a particularly good example of it because we have a retention type model. It’s not just about converting someone, but it’s also about keeping them part of your service and making your product consistently useful to them, etc.

Here’s our friendly Joe Searcher. Joe goes ahead and searches for SEO tools. Then, Joe gets to the free trial of Moz Pro, which you could conceivably get to if you search in Google for that. We often have AdWords ads running for things like that and maybe we rank too.

Then, Joe goes, “All right. Yeah, maybe I’ll give this a spin. It’s a 30 day free trial.” He sees all the stuff in there. He’s like, “All right. There’s the Moz Bar. Maybe I’ll try that, and I’ll set up my Moz Analytics campaign. I see I’m getting some crawl errors and keyword scores.”

Then, Joe is like, “Man, I don’t know. I don’t really feel totally invested in this tool. I’m not sure why I should trust the results. Maybe I don’t know quite enough about SEO to validate this. Or I know enough about SEO to know that there are some little things here and there that are wrong. Maybe they told me to do some keyword stuff that I don’t feel totally comfortable with. I don’t trust these guys. I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.”

Well, that kind of sucked, right? Joe had a bad experience with Moz. He probably won’t come back. He probably won’t recommend us to his friends.

Unfortunately, we also provided a customer with access to our stuff, ran a credit card, and accumulated some charges and some expenses in his first month of use, and lost him as a customer. So it’s a lose-lose. We were successful at converting, but it ended up being bad for both Joe and for Moz.

The problem is really here. Something fascinating that you may not know about Moz is that, on average, before someone takes a free trial of our software, they visit our website eight times before they take a free trial. Many, many visits are often correlated with high purchase prices.

But for a free trial, there are actually a lot of software companies who convert right on the first or the second visit. I think that might be a mistake. What we’ve observed in our data and one of the reasons that we’ve biased not to do this, to try and actually avoid converting someone on the first or second visit, is because Moz customers that convert on the first, or second, or third visit to our website tend to leave early and often. They tend to be not longstanding, loyal customers who have low churn rates and those kinds of things. They tend to have a very high churn and low retention.

Those who visit Moz ten times or more before converting turn out to be much more loyal. In fact, it keeps going. If they visit 14 times or more or 20 times or more, that loyalty keeps increasing. It’s very fascinating and strongly suggests that before you convert someone you actually want to have a brand relationship.

Joe needs to know that Moz is going to be helpful, that he can trust it, that he’s got the education and the knowledge and the information, and he’s interacted with community, and he’s consumed content. He’s been like, “Okay, I get what’s going on. When I see that F Keyword Score, I know that like, oh, right, there’s some stemming here. It might not be catching all the interpretations of this keyword that I’ve got in there. So I give Moz a little leeway in there because this other stuff works well for me, as opposed to quitting at the first sign of trouble.”

This happens in so, so many companies. If you’re not careful about it, it can happen to you too.

Another good example here is, let’s say, Mary. Mary is a heavy Twitter user. She has great social following and wants to do some analysis of her Twitter account, some competitive Twitter accounts. So she finds Followerwonk, which is great. It’s a wonderful tool for this.

She says, “Okay, I want to get access to some of the advanced reports. I need to become a Moz Pro member to do that. What does Moz have to do with Followerwonk? Okay, I get it. Moz owns Followerwonk, so I’m getting to the free trial page for Moz Pro. Weirdly, this trial page doesn’t even talk about Followerwonk in here. There’s one mention in the Research Tools section. That’s kind of confusing. Then, I’m going to get into the product. Now you’re trying to have me set up a Moz Analytics account. I don’t even own and control a website or do SEO. I’m trying to use Followerwonk. Why am I paying $ 99 a month if my free trial extends? Why would I do that to get all this other stuff if I just want Wonk? That doesn’t make any sense, so I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.”

Essentially, we created a path where Mary can’t get what she actually wants and where she’s forced to use things that she might not necessarily want. Maybe she doesn’t want them at all. Maybe she has no idea what they do. Maybe she has no time to investigate whether they’re helpful to her or not.

We’re essentially devaluing our own work and products by bundling them all together and forcing Mary, who just wants Followerwonk, to have to get a Moz subscription. That kind of sucks too.

By the way, we validated this with data. On average, visitors who come through Followerwonk and sign up for a free trial perform terribly. They have very, very low stickiness until and unless they actually make it back to the Followerwonk tool immediately and start using that and use that exclusively. If they get wrapped up inside the Pro subscription and all the other tools, Open Site Explorer, Moz Analytics and Moz Bar, Keyword Difficulty, and Fresh Web Explorer, blah, they’re overwhelmed. They’re out of here. They didn’t get what they want.

The other thing that really sucks is we’ve seen a bunch of research. There’s been psychological research done that basically suggests that when you do this, when you bundle a whole bunch of things together, they are inherently cheapened and believe the value to be less, and they feel themselves cheated. If you buy all of this stuff and you only wanted Followerwonk, you feel like well, Followerwonk must only be worth like $ 20 a month.

That’s not actually the case. Inside the business we can see, oh, there are all these different cost structures associated with different products, and some people who are heavy users of this and not heavy users of that make up for it. Okay, but your customers don’t have that type of insight, so they’re not seeing it. Again, quick conversion has failed to create real value.

Number three, what is SEO? We’re going to have Fred here. Fred’s going to do a search for “what is SEO.” He’s going to get to the free trial of Moz Pro maybe because we were running an advertisement or that kind of thing. Then, Fred’s going to go, “All right. Yeah, that sounds good. I want to do SEO on my website. I know that’s important. Search traffic is important.”

Then, he starts getting into the product and goes through the experience. He has to enter his keywords, and he’s like, “Man, I don’t know what keywords they mean. What do they mean by keywords? I need to learn more about SEO. I’m out of here. I’m quitting this product. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The problem here is an education gap. Essentially, before Fred is able to effectively use and understand the product, he needs education, and unfortunately what we’ve done is end around and put the conversion message ahead of the education process and thus cost Fred. This, again, happens all the time. Companies do this.

There are ways to solve these. There are three things you can do that will really solve these conversion issues. First, measure your customer journey, not just your conversion path. So many folks look at paths to conversion. You have your reports set up in Google Analytics, and you look at assisted conversions and path to conversions, but you don’t look at customer journey, which is what do people do after they convert.

If you’re an e-commerce or a retail store, you care about this too, even though it seems like a one-time purchase. Do they come back? Do they buy more stuff from you? Are they amplifying? Are they sharing the product? Do you have a good score with them when you ask people on Net Promoter Score like, “Hey, would you suggest or recommend using this service, using our ecommerce shop? Did you have a good experience?”

If you’re seeing low scores there, low return visits, low engagement with the product that you’re offering, chances are good that you’re doing something like this. You’re converting someone too early.

Second, you don’t want to cheapen, mislead, or bundle products without evidence that people will actually enjoy them, appreciate them, and that it matches your customer need, as we’ve done here by bundling all of these things with Followerwonk. It may be the case that this can go one way and not the other.

You might say, as we did, I was like, “Oh, I’m in SEO and I love Followerwonk. It’s so useful for all this stuff. But I wasn’t thinking about the 600 people a day who go into Followerwonk just for Twitter analytics and don’t really have a whole lot of need around other SEO tools.”

So optimizing the bundle one way and not the other was probably a mistake. I think it’s a mistake that Peter Bray and the team are working on fixing now, my mistake that they’re now working on fixing. I apologize for that.

This bundling can also be very misleading. You need to be careful in validating that customers actually want two products, two services, two goods together.

Finally, this is a huge part of how content marketing works. You want to educate before you convert. Educate before you convert and find ways to filter for not right customers.

Imagine if in Fred’s process here, he’d searched for “what is SEO,” and he got to the Beginner’s Guide. Then, he got to the free trial page, and we had identified, “Hey, Fred’s never been here before. He just got done with the Beginner’s Guide when he got to the keyword page here.”

We can nudge him maybe with some proactive suggestions here. But if he goes through and starts entering keywords and he can’t figure it out, maybe we need someone from our Customer Success Team to actually email him and say, “Hey, Fred, is there something I can help you with? Can we set up this process for you? Do you want to have a phone call,” these kinds of things. We need to provide some assistance.

Likely you’re doing one of these things as well. When you get aggressive about converting customers fast and early, yes, you can really juice your revenue. You can turn a low conversion rate into a high one. But you can also in the long run cost your company if you aren’t measuring and thinking about the right things.

Hopefully, you’ll do that and have a great customer journey experience throughout your conversion process. We will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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