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13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising

In 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy: “The most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” During his years as an…

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Not Getting Business Results? Try These Content Tips from Professional Artists

A lot of people think that artists create work when they feel inspired, spending the rest of their time drinking…

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Turo Car-Sharing App Gets $250 Million From IAC To Take On Car Rental Industry

“As we continue to grow and invest in our brand more and more people are sharing their vehicles,” says Turo CEO Andre Haddad. “With our app, you can actually share your car so that you can earn money when you’re not using your car. Last year we ended the year with more than 400,000 vehicles listed and our community is now more than 10 million strong. We’re growing really rapidly. We’re hoping to be in the next few years in the same realm as ride-sharing and home-sharing.”

Andre Haddad, CEO of Turo, discusses the $ 250 million in new funding from IAC, the tremendous growth of their car-sharing app, as well as fights with Enterprise Rent-A-Car which has been trying to stop them in their tracks in an interview on CNBC:

We’re Hoping To Be In The Same Realm As Ride-Sharing

Turo is a great business. There are almost one-and-a-half billion cars around the world and they are idle the vast majority of the time. With our app, you can actually share your car so that you can earn money when you’re not using your car. In the last few months, we’ve seen people earning more than $ 500 a month sharing their car a few days a month. It’s a great opportunity for car owners to share their cars and earn money with them when they’re not using them.

We focus a lot on building trust and safety. We have a great partner with Liberty Mutual to cover all the insurance for both the car owner that is sharing their cars with their guests as well as providing coverage for guests that are driving these cars. It’s all about bringing that new idea to market and building trust and building safety for our community. As we continue to grow and invest in our brand more and more people are sharing their vehicles. Last year we ended the year with more than 400,000 vehicles listed and our community is now more than 10 million strong. We’re growing really rapidly. We’re hoping to be in the next few years in the same realm as ride-sharing and home-sharing.

We’re Very Excited To Partner With IAC

We’re very excited to partner with IAC. IAC is an incredible company that has a lot of expertise in the world of marketplaces. We’re looking forward to collaborating with Joey Levin and the team at IAC to help accelerate our progress and help accelerate our growth. We obviously want to invest more in our expansion. We want to refine our customer experience and we’d like to expand into more markets. Those are the key priorities for us in the next few years.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen that the average host is sharing their vehicle roughly a third of the time, about ten days a month. With that ten days a month they’re earning roughly $ 550 of earnings on a monthly basis. As you can imagine with $ 550 of earnings you can pay for your car payment. It’s an incredible deal for a lot of people who are using the app. Traditional ownership implies utilization that’s less than 10 percent of the time. It’s a very inefficient use of an asset that depreciates really rapidly and has a lot of fixed costs. Turo is a tremendous opportunity for people who want to make better use of their asset.

Enterprise Is Trying To Avoid Competition So We’re Fighting Back

We are faced with a lot of challenges on the regulatory front. Really it’s driven by the traditional rental car industry and by Enterprise in particular. I think the traditional car rental players are concerned that consumers now have a bit more choice. They are concerned that we have probably a better selection, better value, and better convenience as an alternative to the traditional options of car rental. We’ve definitely been battling Enterprise this year. There are 37 states in the United States alone where we have gone into government relation battles with Enterprise. They’re trying to pass laws that will restrict the ability for consumers to share their cars. They’re trying to avoid competition so we’re fighting back. 

We’ve been building a strong coalition of like-minded people. We have great support from the car manufacturing industry and from the insurance industry. We have prevailed in all of these regulatory battles this year. We have prevailed in 25 state regulatory battles last year as well. We’re trying to be very vigilant when it comes to protecting the ability for consumers to share their cars and we’re going to continue to fight these battles.

Turo Car-Sharing App Gets $ 250 Million From IAC To Take On Car Rental Industry – Turo CEO Andre Haddad

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MozCon 2019: The Top Takeaways From Day One

Posted by KameronJenkins

Rand, Russ, Ruth, Rob, and Ross. Dana and Darren. Shannon and Sarah. We didn’t mean to (we swear we didn’t) but the first day of MozCon was littered with alliteration, takeaways, and oodles of insights from our speakers. Topics ranged from local SEO, link building, and Google tools, and there was no shortage of “Aha!” moments. And while the content was diverse, the themes are clear: search is constantly changing. 

If you’re a Moz community member, you can access the slides from Day One. Not a community member yet? Sign up — it’s free!

Get the speaker slides!

Ready? Let’s make like Roger in his SERP submarine and dive right in!

Sarah’s welcome

Our fearless leader took the stage to ready our attendees for their deep sea dive over the next three days. Our guiding theme to help set the tone? The deep sea of data that we find ourselves immersed in every day.

People are searching more than ever before on more types of devices than ever before… we truly are living in the golden age of search. As Sarah explained though, not all search is created equal. Because Google wants to answer searchers’ questions as quickly as possible, they’ve moved from being the gateway to information to being the destination for information in many cases. SEOs need to be able to work smarter and identify the best opportunities in this new landscape. 

Rand Fishkin — Web Search 2019: The Essential Data Marketers Need

Next up was Rand of SparkToro who dropped a ton of data about the state of search in 2019.

To set the stage, Rand gave us a quick review of the evolution of media: “This new thing is going to kill this old thing!” has been the theme of panicked marketers for decades. TV was supposed to kill radio. Computers were supposed to kill TV. Mobile was supposed to kill desktop. Voice search was supposed to kill text search. But as Rand showed us, these new technologies often don’t kill the old ones — they just take up all our free time. We need to make sure we’re not turning away from mediums just because they’re “old” and, instead, make sure our investments follow real behavior.

Rand’s deck was also chock-full of data from Jumpshot about how much traffic Google is really sending to websites these days, how much of that comes from paid search, and how that’s changed over the years.

In 2019, Google sent ~20 fewer organic clicks via browser searches than in 2016.

In 2016, there were 26 organic clicks for every paid click. In 2019, that ratio is 11:1.

Google still owns the lion’s share of the search market and still sends a significant amount of traffic to websites, but in light of this data, SEOs should be thinking about how their brands can benefit even without the click.

And finally, Rand left us with some wisdom from the world of social — getting engagement on social media can get you the type of attention it takes to earn quality links and mentions in a way that’s much easier than manual, cold outreach.

Ruth Burr Reedy — Human > Machine > Human: Understanding Human-Readable Quality Signals and Their Machine-Readable Equivalents

It’s 2019. And though we all thought by this year we’d have flying cars and robots to do our bidding, machine learning has come a very long way. Almost frustratingly so — the push and pull of making decisions for searchers versus search engines is an ever-present SEO conundrum.

Ruth argued that in our pursuit of an audience, we can’t get too caught up in the middleman (Google), and in our pursuit of Google, we can’t forget the end user.

Optimizing for humans-only is inefficient. Those who do are likely missing out on a massive opportunity. Optimizing for search engines-only is reactive. Those who do will likely fall behind.

She also left us with the very best kind of homework… homework that’ll make us all better SEOs and marketers!

  • Read the Quality Rater Guidelines
  • Ask what your site is currently benefiting from that Google might eliminate or change in the future
  • Write better (clearer, simpler) content
  • Examine your SERPs with the goal of understanding search intent so you can meet it
  • Lean on subject matter experts to make your brand more trustworthy
  • Conduct a reputation audit — what’s on the internet about your company that people can find?

And last, but certainly not least, stop fighting about this stuff. It’s boring.

Thank you, Ruth!

Dana DiTomaso — Improved Reporting & Analytics Within Google Tools

Freshly fueled with cinnamon buns and glowing with the energy of a thousand jolts of caffeine, we were ready to dive back into it — this time with Dana from Kick Point.

This year was a continuation of Dana’s talk on goal charters. If you haven’t checked that out yet or you need a refresher, you can view it here

Dana emphasized the importance of data hygiene. Messy analytics, missing tracking codes, poorly labeled events… we’ve all been there. Dana is a big advocate of documenting every component of your analytics.

She also blew us away with a ton of great insight on making our reports accessible — from getting rid of jargon and using the client’s language to using colors that are compatible with printing.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any more actionable, Dana drops some free Google Data Studio resources on us! You can check them out here.

(Also, close your tabs!)

Rob Bucci — Local Market Analytics: The Challenges and Opportunities

The first thing you need to know is that Rob finally did it — he finally got a cat.

Very bold of Rob to assume he would have our collective attention after dropping something adorable like that on us. Luckily, we were all able to regroup and focus on his talk — how there are challenges aplenty in the local search landscape, but there are even more opportunities if you overcome them.

Rob came equipped with a ton of stats about localized SERPs that have massive implications for rank tracking.

  • 73 percent of the 1.2 million SERPs he analyzed contained some kind of localized feature.
  • 25 percent of the sites he was tracking had some degree of variability between markets.
  • 85 percent was the maximum variability he saw across zip codes in a single market.

That’s right… rankings can vary by zip code, even for queries you don’t automatically associate as local intent. Whether you’re a national brand without physical storefronts or you’re a single-location retail store, localization has a huge impact on how you show up to your audience.

With this in mind, Rob announced a huge initiative that Moz has been working on… Local Market Analytics — complete with local search volume! Eep! See how you perform on hyper-local SERPs with precision and ease — whether you’re an online or location-based business.

It launched today as an invitation-only limited release. Want an invite? Request it here

Ross Simmonds— Keywords Aren’t Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing

Ross Simmonds was up next, and he dug into how you might be creating content wrong if you’re building it strictly around keyword research.

The methodology we marketers need to remember is Research – Rethink – Remix.

Research:

  • Find the channel your audience spends time on. What performs well? How can you serve this audience?

Rethink:

  • Find the content that your audience wants most. What topics resonate? What stories connect?

Remix:

  • Measure how your audience responds to the content. Can this be remixed further? How can we remix at scale?

If you use this method and you still aren’t sure if you should pursue a content opportunity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will it give us a positive ROI?
  • Does it fall within our circle of competence?
  • Does the benefit outweigh the cost of creation?
  • Will it give us shares and links and engagement?

Thanks, Ross, for such an actionable session!

Shannon McGuirk — How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom

Shannon of Aira Digital took the floor with real-life examples of how her team does link building at scale with what she calls the “digital PR newsroom.”

The truth is, most of us are still link building like it’s 1948 with “planned editorial” content. When we do this, we’re missing out on a ton of opportunity (about 66%!) that can come from reactive editorial and planned reactive editorial.

Shannon encouraged us to try tactics that have worked for her team such as:

  • Having morning scrum meetings to go over trending topics and find reactive opportunities
  • Staffing your team with both storytellers and story makers
  • Holding quarterly reviews to see which content types performed best and using that to inform future work

Her talk was so good that she even changed Cyrus’s mind about link building!

For free resources on how you can set up your own digital PR newsroom, visit: aira.net/mozcon19.

Darren Shaw— From Zero to Local Ranking Hero

Next up, Darren of Whitespark chronicled his 8-month long journey to growing a client’s local footprint.

Here’s what he learned and encouraged us to implement in response:

  • Track from multiple zip codes around the city
  • Make sure your citations are indexed
  • The service area section in GMB won’t help you rank in those areas. It’s for display purposes only
  • Invest in a Google reviews strategy
  • The first few links earned really have a positive impact, but it reaches a point of diminishing returns
  • Any individual strategy will probably hit a point of diminishing returns
  • A full website is better than a single-page GMB website when it comes to local rankings

As SEOs, we’d all do well to remember that it’s not one specific activity, but the aggregate, that will move the needle!

Russ Jones — Esse Quam Videri: When Faking it is Harder than Making It

Rounding out day one of MozCon was our very own Russ Jones on Esse Quam Videri — “To be, rather than to seem.”

By Russ’s own admission, he’s a pretty good liar, and so too are many SEOs. In a poll Russ ran on Twitter, he found that 64 percent of SEOs state that they have promoted sites they believe are not the best answer to the query. We can be so “rank-centric” that we engage in tactics that make our websites look like we care about the users, when in reality, what we really care about is that Google sees it.

Russ encouraged SEOs to help guide the businesses we work for to “be real companies” rather than trying to look like real companies purely for SEO benefit.

Thanks to Russ for reminding us to stop sacrificing the long run for the short run!

Phew — what a day!

And it ain’t over yet! There are two more days to make the most of MozCon, connect with fellow attendees, and pick the brains of our speakers. 

In the meantime, tell me in the comments below — if you had to pick just one thing, what was your favorite part about day one?

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All of Broadcasting Is In Danger From Streaming, Says Barry Diller

“It’s all of broadcasting that’s in danger because of what’s happened with streaming and with other services in that the only people who are willing to watch commercials are people that can’t afford to buy the goods being sold,” says media mogul Barry Diller. “That’s an existential long-term issue. It’s a fascinating time because it truly is a giant arms race. When you have a giant arms race it really is kind of last dollar in.”

Barry Diller, Chairman and Senior Executive of IAC and Expedia, discusses how streaming has upended broadcasting and Hollywood in an interview on CNBC at The Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference:

Don’t Know Who Is Going To Win The Streaming Wars

I don’t know who is going to “win this” (the streaming wars). This is a weird transformation. Ten years ago you essentially have these six movie companies that had hegemony over the entire production-distribution business. Along comes two complete outsiders, Netflix and Amazon, that totally upended what was a kind of a stable business in terms of how it functioned all throughout the world. If you owned a movie company you kind of had a worldwide franchise. Now you have an arms race that never existed before. You have a complete blurring of television and movies which only happened in the last couple of years. 

You have these two new entrants which have forced not only consolidation on the old players but forced them to now make investments in their wildest dreams they’ve never had to make before. So you have Disney which has mobilized itself like a true, God-knows, super force wanting to compete in streaming because of these two big players, Amazon and Netflix. You have AT&T reorganizing itself, buying Time Warner. They’re going to compete. 

Hollywood Was a Cottage Industry and Now It’s an Arms Race

How many people are going to be at this table five or ten years from now? I think it’s impossible to say. Hollywood is irrelevant. It is irrelevant to the following extent. Before, anything those majors did was kind of an absolute. You couldn’t dislodge them, you couldn’t do anything. So along comes two outside players and everybody is completely dislodged and discombobulated because they can’t get access directly to the audience. 

The fact that they’re competing and the fact that you’ve got two big funded players─although they do have a lot of debt─Disney and AT&T, who are going to enter this in a very vigorous way, but that has nothing to do with what we used to call or think of “Hollywood.” This was a cottage industry and now it’s an arms race.

All of Broadcasting Is In Danger From Streaming

I’ve said this to my parral, no one is going to compete with Netflix in gross subscribers. I believe they have won the game. There is nothing that I can see that is going to dislodge them. Amazon is in a completely different business in that it’s selling Prime which gives you all sorts of services, just among them is video and television. Disney has the best chance just because of its very very popular content and the money, the distribution, and the Disney name that it’s putting behind it. Disney has the best chance to get millions of new subscribers. Will they ever get to Netflix (subscriber levels). I don’t think so. I don’t think it matters much. 

I never thought and don’t believe that it takes size really (to compete) because if you’re making content there are so many buyers. You don’t need to have any size, you just need to have some talent and some energy and you can do well. Can you build a big empire? Unlikely. I don’t think that the smaller players are necessarily in danger. It’s all of broadcasting that’s in danger because of what’s happened with streaming and with other services in that the only people who are willing to watch commercials are people that can’t afford to buy the goods being sold. That’s an existential long-term issue. It’s a fascinating time because it truly is a giant arms race. When you have a giant arms race it really is kind of last dollar in.

I Think That Regulation Is Mandatory (of Big Tech)

I have absolutely always thought and always believed in sensible regulation (in regards to Google, Facebook, and others). When you get to be of a certain size and when you influence markets there should be regulation that’s tailored to some of the things that are outgrowths of you having a certain kind of market size where you can dictate things that may not be in, let’s call it fair playing field, best interest of all players, etc. I think that regulation is mandatory. I think that it will happen. 

I don’t think that these companies should be “broken up” unless it is proven that regulation doesn’t work. I’ve lived in environments where I grew up in broadcasting, broadcasting was a very regulated world. You actually got your license from the government and they could take it away from you. That’s sword over your head made you act. If you didn’t want to act decently, it sure of spurred you along the way. So I’m a believer in good regulation. I’m hopeful.

All of Broadcasting Is In Danger From Streaming, Says Barry Diller

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Every Sector of the Economy is Going to Benefit From Robotics and AI

“We are on the cusp of ubiquitous automation,” says ROBO Global President William Studebaker. “We have an undeniable inflection point because of the performance capabilities of computing and the cost curve declining such that these now are technologies that used to be science fiction but now have actual use applications. Fast forward six years later and we are at a launching pad in terms of the economic activity that we’re seeing and the innovations. Every sector of the economy is going to benefit from robotics and AI.”

William Studebaker, President and Chief Investment Officer of ROBO Global, discusses how robotics and AI are at an inflection point where soon every sector of the economy is going to benefit in an interview on CNBC:

Every Sector of the Economy is Going to Benefit From Robotics and AI

We were fortunate six years ago to develop an index that tracks the growth in robotics and AI because we saw these technologies changing the way we live and work. We are on the cusp of ubiquitous automation. We have an undeniable inflection point because of the performance capabilities of computing and the cost curve declining such that these now are technologies that used to be science fiction but now have actual use applications. Fast forward six years later and we are at a launching pad in terms of the economic activity that we’re seeing and the innovations. It’s being spread out to all parts of the economy. Every sector of the economy is going to benefit from robotics and AI.

We try to identify the companies that we think have the highest revenue threshold that corresponds directly to selling the technologies. We’re looking for high revenue purity. We’re also looking for large technological mode around their business and we have an interesting lens to capture this. We actually have seven PhDs on our team. They’re really the who’s who in robotics and AI that have built technologies, built businesses, or academic researchers, etc. That gives us a great lens to see not what yesterday’s winners are but what the future winners are likely to be. That gives us an interesting lens.

A World of Prediction, Prevention, and Individualizing Medicine

The official fee is 95 basis points. We do rebate securities lending which is effectively their 25 basis points. So the actual costs are 70 basis point to investors. With a team of industry experts that we have tracking this, I think that we do a pretty good job. We are generally the Alpha that investors are looking for. The index is up a little over 20 percent year-to-date and the last three years is probably close to up 15 percent. We think the inflection is starting here and we’ve got years if not decades of growth ahead of us.

Healthcare is probably one of the most exciting areas for investors to think about. Why? We’re going to a world of prediction, prevention, and individualizing medicine. Effectively, we’re going to create much healthier livelihoods for us but more pulling longer longevity. We live in a world that’s been historically sick care. We deal with the problem after it happens. We’re now going to a world of prevention, prediction, and individualizing medicine. A lot of healthcare structures tend to focus on therapies. We’re actually focused much more on the prediction and the prevention; diagnosis, medical instruments, regenerative medicine, and prevention. These are the kinds of technologies that investors need to embrace when they’re thinking about healthcare.

Every Sector of the Economy is Going to Benefit From Robotics and AI, says ROBO Global President William Studebaker

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Link Building in 2019: Get by With a Little Help From Your Friends

Posted by kelseyreaves

Editor’s note: This post first appeared in December of 2015, but because SEO (and Google) changes so quickly, we figured it was time for a refresh! 


The link building world is in a constant state of evolution. New tools are continually introduced to the market, with SEOs ready to discover what works best.

In 2015, I wrote an article for Moz about how our team switched over to a new email automation tool that drastically improved our overall outreach system — we increased our email reply rates by 187 percent in just one month. Which meant that our number of attainable backlinks also drastically increased.

 I wanted to see what’s changed since I last wrote this post. Because in 2019, you need a lot more than new tools to excel in link building.

But first…

Looking back, it was pretty ingenious: Our link building program had automated almost every step in the outreach process. We were emailing hundreds of people a week, guest posting on numerous websites, and raking in 20–30 links per week. If anyone has been in the game long enough, you’ll know that’s an insane amount of links.

With its success at my first company, I took the concept and applied it to several freelance link building projects I was working on. It proved to work for those sites, too. Later on, I built out a similar system for the second startup I worked for. And again, it proved to be just as successful. Every link building project I took on, my thinking was: How can I scale this thing to get me 10x the number of links? How can I email 5x the number of people? How can I automate this as much as possible so I can create a link building machine that’s completely hands off?

Well…at least for a period of time.

While I had the best of intentions, this thinking is what ultimately got me in trouble and lead to the inevitable: I was hit with a manual action for participating in link schemes.

I remember opening up Search Console and reading that message. At that moment, I felt like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar. My stomach was in knots. I had heard of people getting manual actions before but didn’t think it was something that would happen to me.

In hindsight, this was probably one of the most important moments of my SEO/growth career. It sobered me up and pushed me into thinking about outreach in a whole different light, and taught me the most important lesson to date: building links isn’t about using automation to create processes that scale. It’s about building relationships — and value — that scales.

What outreach looked like in 2015

I’m not surprised I got away with what I was doing for so long. From 2015 to 2017, it seemed like everyone and their Mom was guest posting. During that time, this is what I noticed:

1. It was a numbers game

Most of the SEOs I talked to from 2015 to 2017 were using a similar strategy. It was all about finding tools that could help scale your guest posting program and contact as many people as possible. Most companies had some arbitrary link quota for their outreach teams to hit every month, mine included.

2. It promoted somewhat decent content that was templatized

In our outreach program, we were pitching the same three to four topics over and over again and while the content we wrote was always original, there was nothing novel about the articles we were putting out there. They were cute, engaging — but none of it was on the cutting edge or had a solid opinion. It’s what our friend John Collins from Intercom calls Happy Meal content:

“It looks good from a distance, but you’re left feeling hungry not long after you consume it.”

3. It idolized automation and processes

At the time, most outreach programs were about leveraging tools to automate processes and scale every step of the way. We were using several tools to scrape websites and hired virtual assistants off of Upwork to find email addresses of just about anyone associated with a company, whether they were actually the ideal person to contact or not.

This process had worked in 2015. But in 2019, there’s no way it could.

What outreach looks like in 2019

Since joining the team at OG Marketing this last fall, I’ve vastly altered the way I approach outreach and link building. Our strategy now focuses on three main concepts.

1. Helping editors cite good sources

The link building relationships I’ve built this year are almost entirely centered around editors and content managers of notable sites who only want to link to high-quality, relevant content.

And luckily for us, we work with some of the best content creators in the B2B SaaS-verse. We don’t have to go out and beg for links to mediocre (at best) content: We’re building authority to pages that truly deserve it. More importantly, we’re actually fulfilling a need by providing great sources of information for other quality content.

2. Understanding backlinks are only one piece to the puzzle

Link building is only one lever and shouldn’t be your whole SEO strategy. Depending on the site you’re working on, building links may be a good use of your time — or not at all.

In our strategy, we account for the fact that sometimes links aren’t always necessary. They will definitely help, but it’s possible to excel without them.

For example, Hotjar recently published an article on 5 ways to use scroll maps. Looking at the backlink profile for the top three results for “scroll map,” CrazyEgg has more referring domains than Hotjar, but is currently in position three. Omniconvert has zero backlinks and still ranks above CrazyEgg in position two. With only three referring domains, Hotjar has earned the 1st position and a coveted featured snippet.

2015 me would’ve had a knee jerk reaction to kick off an outreach campaign as soon as we hit publish on the new article. But considering the fact that you may not even need a ton of links to rank well, you can actually spend your time more efficiently elsewhere.

3. Creating quality content that earns links naturally

There’s definitely a tipping point when it comes to generating backlinks naturally. When your article appears on page one for the query you’re targeting, your chances of having that article cited by other publications with zero effort on your part just naturally goes up.

Why? Because people looking to add credible citations to their article will turn to Google to find that content.

This prompts our team to always ensure that each piece of content we create for our clients satisfies searcher intent. To do this, we start off by researching if the intent behind the keyword we want to rank for has purchase, consideration or informational intent.

For example, the keyword “best video conferencing camera” has consideration-based intent. We can determine this by looking at the SERPs. In the screenshot below, you can see Google understands users are trying to compare different types of cameras.

By seeing this, we know that our best bet for creating content that will rank well is by writing a listicle-style post comparing the best video cameras on the market. If we had instead created an informational article targeting the same keyword about why you should invest in a video conferencing camera without a list of product comparisons, the article probably wouldn’t perform well in search.

Therefore, if we start off on the right foot by creating the right type of content from the very beginning, we make it easier for ourselves down the road. In other words, we won’t have to build a million links just to get a piece of content to rank that wasn’t the right format, to begin with.

What we’ve found with our outreach strategy

Centering our strategy around creating the right content and then determining whether or not that content needs links, has helped us prioritize what articles actually need to be a part of an outreach campaign.

Once this is determined, we then call on our friends — or our content partners — to help us drive link equity quickly, efficiently, and in a way, that enhances the source content and makes sense for end users (readers).

A few months into building out our homie program, there are several things we noticed.

1. Response rates increased

Probably because it’s not as templatized and, generally, I care more deeply about the email I’m sending and the person I’m reaching out to. On average, I get about a 65–70 percent response rate.

2. Opt-in rates increased

Once I get a response, build the relationship, then ask if they want to become a content partner (“friend”), we typically see a 75 percent opt-in rate.

3. You get the same amount of links, using half the amount of work, in half the amount of time

I’m gonna repeat that: we generate the same, if not more, backlinks month over month with less effort, time and manpower than with the process I built out in 2015.

And the more partners we add, the more links we acquire, with less effort. Visually, it looks like this:

I (somewhat) paid attention during economics class in college, and I remember a chart with this trajectory being a really good thing. So, I think we’re on to something…

How our outreach process works (and how you can create your own)

Our current link building program still leverages some of the tools mentioned in my post from 2015, but we’ve simplified the process. Essentially, it works like this:

1. Identify your friends

Do you have friends or acquaintances that work at sites which touch on topics in your space? Start there!

I got connected to the CEO of Proof, who connected me with their Content Director, Ben. We saw that there was synergy between our content and each needed sources about what the other wrote about. He was able to connect me with other writers and content managers in the space, and now we’re all best of friends.

2. Find new friends

Typically we look for similar sites in the B2B SaaS space that we want to partner with and are relevant to our client sites. Then, we use several tools like Clearbit, Hunter.io, and Viola Norbert to identify the person we want to reach out to (usually SEO Managers, Marketing Directors or Content Managers) and find their email.

This step has been crucial in our process. In the past, we left this to the virtual assistants. But since bringing this in house, we’ve been able to better identify the right person to reach out to, which has increased response rates.

3. Reach out in an authentic way

In our outreach message, we cut to the chase. If you’ve identified the right person in the previous step, then they should know exactly what you’re trying to do and why it’s important. If the person you outreached to doesn’t get the big picture and you have to explain yourself, then you’re talking to the wrong person. Plain and simple.

Compared to 2015, our lists are much smaller (we’re definitely not using the spray and pray method) and we determine on a case by case basis what the best method for outreach is. Whether that be email, Linkedin, or at times, Instagram.

Here’s an example of a simple, straightforward message I send out:

4. Share content priorities

Once someone expresses interest, I’ll find a place on their website using a site search where they can reference one of our client’s content priorities for the month. In return, I’ll ask them what content they’re trying to get more eyes on and see if it aligns with our other client sites or the other partners we work with.

If I think their content is the perfect source for another article, I’ll cite it. If not, I’ll share it with another partner to see if it could be a good resource for them.

5. See if they want to be a “friend”

Once we have that first link nailed down, I’ll explain how we can work together by using each other’s awesome content to enhance new blog articles or article contributions on other sites.

If they’re down to be content friends, I’ll share their priorities for the month with our other partners who will then share it with their wider network of websites and influencers who are contributing articles to reputable sites and are in need of content resources to cite. From there, the writers can quickly scan a list of URLs and cite articles when it makes sense to help beef up new content or improve existing content with further resources. It’s a win-win.

If the site is interested in being friends, I’ll send over a spreadsheet where we can track placements and our priorities for the month.

Here’s the link to a partner template you can download.

Unlike the guest posting programs I was doing over the last few years, with this process, we’re not leaving a digital footprint for Google to follow.

In other words, we don’t have our author bios mentioning our website plastered all over the internet, essential saying “Hey, Google! We guest posted here and inserted these links with rich anchor text to try and help our page rank. Oh, and we did the same thing here, and here, and here.”

With this process, we’re just offering a list of resources to well-known writers and other websites creating badass content. Ultimately, it’s their choice if they want to link to it or not. I’ll definitely make suggestions but in the end, it’s their call.

6. Grow the friend list

Now, if I’m looking to drive link equity to a certain page, I don’t have to build a new list, queue up a campaign, and kick off a whole automation sequence to an ungodly amount of people like I did in the past.

I just hit up one of our partners on our friend’s list and voila! — quality citation in 0.45 seconds.

And on a personal note, waking up to emails in my inbox of new citations added with zero effort on my part feels like the Link Gods have blessed me time and time again.

Results

With our friend network, the numbers speak for themselves. This last month, we were able to generate 74 links. In 2015, I was hitting similar monthly numbers, but link building was my full-time job.

Now, link building is something I do on the side (I’d estimate a few hours every week), giving me time to manage my client accounts and focus on everything else I need to do — like drive forward technical SEO improvements, conduct keyword research, optimize older pages, and use SEO as an overall means to drive a company’s entire marketing strategy forward.

Building out a friend network has also opened up the door to many other opportunities for our clients that I had never dreamed of when I viewed my link building relationships as one and done. With the help of our friends, we’ve had our clients featured on podcasts (shout out to Proof’s Scale or Die podcast!), round-ups, case studies, video content, and many, many more.

Final thoughts

As an instant-gratification junkie, it pains me to share the honest truth about building a friend network: it’s going to take time.

But think of the tradeoffs — everything I mentioned above and that in a way, you’re acting as a sort of matchmaker between high-quality content and sites who are open to referencing it.

I also believe that this type of outreach campaign makes us better marketers. Spamming people gets old. And if we can work together to find a way to promote each other’s high-quality content, then I’m all for it. Because in the end, it’s about making a better user experience for readers and promoting content that deserves to be promoted.

How has your link building program evolved over the years? Have you been able to create a network of friends for your space? Leave a comment below!

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Designed From the Ground Up To Be a Great Medium Of Exchange, Says Facebook Calibra Head

Facebook announced today a new digital wallet for a new digital currency. It is currently in a test phase and will launch live in 2020. Here is how Facebook explains the launch in its announcement release:

“Today we’re sharing plans for Calibra, a newly formed Facebook subsidiary whose goal is to provide financial services that will let people access and participate in the Libra network. The first product Calibra will introduce is a digital wallet for Libra, a new global currency powered by blockchain technology. The wallet will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app — and we expect to launch in 2020.”

“From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as you might send a text message and at low to no cost. And, in time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.”


A sneak peek at what the experience of using Calibra will be like.

David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Calibra, discusses the details of Facebook’s entry into cryptocurrency in an interview on CNBC:

This Is Designed From the Ground Up To Be a Great Medium Of Exchange

If you want to compare Libra with traditional cryptocurrencies the first big difference is that typically they are investment vehicles or investment assets rather than being great mediums of exchange. This is really designed from the ground up to be a great medium of exchange. Libra is a very high-quality form of digital money that you can use for everyday payments and cross-border payments, microtransactions and all kinds of different things.

There are a lot of issues that need to be solved. If you were to get out of the studio right now and ask anyone to send ten dollars on their mobile phones to Canada, they probably wouldn’t know where to start. This is 30 years after the web was invented and mobile broadband is available to so many people. We felt that it was time to try something new and this is the beginning of a long journey to launching this new network in this new digital currency.


Moving money around the world with Libra should be as easy and cheap as sending a text message.

When You Can Move More Value Around Profound Changes Might Happen

We are privileged. We live in a country that has a very stable currency and has very trusted institutions, easy ways to pay each other on mobile devices. That’s actually not the case for many people around the world. Definitely, cross-border payments are still very hard and very expensive. They cost an average of seven percent to send across one border. They sometimes take three or four days to clear. It is a very cumbersome and expensive process for many people around the world. If you think about it from a use case, cross-border payments are definitely going to be a primary use case.

But when you think about the effect that having an internet of value exists, or protocol for money on top of the existing internet, and all of the things that can be built on top of a low-cost system. Microtransactions are things that we’ve been talking about for decades and haven’t materialized because the amounts we are trying to transact are actually lower than the transaction fees. When all of these things change and you can move value around the Internet in a really easy way I think profound changes might happen.

Read the Libra White Paper

There’s Never Been a Better Moment For Us To Do This

I have a slightly contrarian view on this (trust). I don’t think there’s ever been a better moment for us to do this because of the way we’re doing it. We’re actually going to launch this new blockchain at some point next year. We’ve launched a test net today that people can start experimenting with. This new blockchain is actually going to be decentralized and run by the members of an association.

We’re just going to be one among many to govern over this new network and currency. When you look at how much effort we’ve put to limit our influence and limit our control over this network I think it’s a new way of operating. We don’t have control over the network and we don’t have control over the currency. What we have control over is going to be the wallets that are going to operate within Facebook and on top of the network.

We Aren’t Going To Be the Defacto Wallet

We aren’t going to be the defacto wallet. There will be plenty of competition. To earn people’s trust we are going to have to make strong commitments notably on privacy, ensuring that financial data and social data never get commingled and really earn people’s trust over very long periods of time. There are going to be a number of wallets that are going to compete with us on the network we helped create.

Designed From the Ground Up To Be a Great Medium Of Exchange, Says Facebook Calibra Head David Marcus

The post Designed From the Ground Up To Be a Great Medium Of Exchange, Says Facebook Calibra Head appeared first on WebProNews.


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Leaning into SEO as Google shifts from search engine to portal

How to prepare your company for Google’s new customer journey for search.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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How to Guard Your Google Business Profile from Becoming a Running Joke

Posted by MiriamEllis

When customers walk into your place of business, phone you, or reach out to you via email or social media with a question that’s clearly a lead, you’d never, ever answer:

“Who knows?”

But it’s exactly this, and several related scenarios of absurdity, that have resulted from Google positioning itself as the dominant middle man between customers and local brands while failing to adequately communicate or enforce product policies.

Examples of Google Business Profiles gone bad are often comical, but it’s no laughing matter for your business to shed revenue for the sake of some jester’s joke. Then, spammers jump into the game, and that’s about as humorous as hitting your funny bone. And, sometimes, it’s even somebody on your own staff or a marketer you’ve hired who goofs.

Good local companies work so hard to develop exceptional customer service and a sterling reputation, and the Google Business Profile can brilliantly showcase both when carefully curated. But lack of vigilance over five key sections of this most visible online asset can cumulatively undermine offline goals.

Today, let’s look at some serious gaffes, get you set up to mitigate them, and put a watchdog mindset in your local place of business.

Naming nonsense

One of my favorite Local Tech Leads at Moz, Robert Reis, recently pointed out to me that Google’s sternest local guidelines actually reveal their greatest vulnerabilities. This is certainly true when it comes to Google not wanting brands to keyword stuff business names, because it so clearly appears to impact local pack rankings. Take a look at this all-too-common tomfoolery:

Credit: @DarrenShaw_

Then, there are other cases in which a business listing can be maliciously edited or hijacked by a competitor, an angry customer, or another third party. In this example, not only has the business name been edited, but the website URL has been pointed to ripoffreport.com:

Credit: @keyserholiday

What to do:

Customers may laugh, but certainly, they will not trust business names like these. If someone in your own company has been keyword stuffing, show them Google’s explicit guidelines regarding formatting names to match real-world business titles and edit the name to conform to the rules. Any other course risks losing customers and being reported by the public to Google for a violation.

If you suspect that a competitor’s high rankings are stemming, at least in part, from keyword stuffing, do a little research. Look at the name on their street signage in Google Street View. Take a photo in person if necessary. Look at the name on their website. Phone them to see how they answer the phone. Then, if you’re convinced that the guidelines are being broken, submit your evidence via the Business Redressal Complaint Form. There is no guarantee that Google will act on your report, but this is the main vehicle for seeking action.

If your listing has been hijacked and maliciously edited, I recommend starting by reporting the full details at the Google My Business Help Community. Ask the volunteers there to give you current steps for resolving the hijack. You can’t ever be totally safe from the possibility of hijacking, but do be sure you’ve claimed any GMB listing for your company. Some local SEOs also recommend making occasional null edits (hitting the submit button in your GMB dashboard without changing any of the listing data) as this activity might make your listing less prone to third-party edits.

Review roguery

I like to give business owners the benefit of the doubt for making a judgment call error when they review themselves. But it’s always embarrassing to see any company misusing reviews to sing their own praises, and particularly so when their family members point this out in public:

Credit: @ordacowski

More often, the business is the victim of review shenanigans. Google’s forum is continuously emitting distress signals from business owners who feel they’ve received one or more negative reviews from people they’ve never had a transaction with, as illustrated by this interchange:

And, the hard truth is that some entities have made a business model out of competitive sabotage via negative reviews. The problem has become large enough to make televised news.

What to do:

Falsifying reviews is illegal and has resulted in multi-million-dollar FTC fines in the United States. If you own or market local businesses, adhere to the Consumer Review Fairness Act and read the guidelines of any online platform on which you are receiving or writing reviews. Don’t review your own business or have past or present staff do so. Don’t review your competitors. Don’t incentivize reviews in any way, or post reviews on behalf of anyone else. Don’t hire any marketing firm or use any review management software that violates guidelines.

If your business becomes the subject of a review spam attack, screenshot and document all of the fake reviews, then flag them from inside of your Google My Business dashboard via the three little dots associated with each review. After three days, contact Google through their online chat option to follow up.

Google will make the ultimate decision on whether to remove the reviews and they are quite strict about what they view as negative vs. fake. If Google doesn’t remove the reviews, I would suggest two things. First, I would report the reviews to ReviewFraud and then, if the sentiment in the reviews is damaging enough, you might need to contact an attorney to see if further steps can be taken to prompt removal.

If you suspect a competitor is trying to boost their own rankings with review spam, document what you see and report it via the Google My Business Help Community.

Fatuous photos

“I cannot for the life of me believe that you would allow a normal user to upload photos to my business listing without my approval and you do not give THE OWNER OF THE PAGE the ability to delete them!” – from Google’s Forum.

The above quote typifies the frustration business owners feel regarding yet another element of their Google listing that is open to public contributions. Brands often think of these listings as belonging to them, when, in fact, they belong to Google. Images are considered to be a strong factor in CTR, so it’s particularly aggravating when user-uploaded photos either misrepresent or embarrass the business.

I’ve been shown cases in which people have mysteriously uploaded images that have nothing to do with a business. More often, though, I see photos like the following which highlight some aspect of the company that has disgusted or angered customers:

When something goes wrong with photos, like a bug on Google’s end, failure to size images correctly, or possibly the owner removing images that were previously there, this public warning symbol is definitely not a good look:

Google can also pull random images from website pages into your profile, resulting in your business being represented by something like … melted ice cream?

Credit: @tomwaddington8

Claire Carlisle recently documented Google’s penchant for pointing European users to Google Image Search instead of the photo section of listings. There is some reason to suspect this may happen in the US in the future, which could result in all kinds of strange optics popping up in association with brands.

What to do:

If an image accurately represents a lack of proper management at a location of your business, fix the issue or such imagery will continue to surface. You can then try flagging the photo, identifying yourself as the business owner, and explaining what you’ve done to correct the problem. However, unless the photo violates Google’s guidelines, it’s unlikely to be removed. Barring removal, be sure you are adding as many high-quality photos as possible to your listing to lessen the impact of a single image.

If the image violates Google’s guidelines, click on the name of the person who uploaded it and copy their profile URL. Then, report the user via the Google My Business Help Community, requesting that the profile be removed for failing to adhere to the guidelines.

If you see something like the warning symbol appearing instead of a photo you’ve tried to upload, check the above forum for reports of known bugs. You can always remove your own photos via the trash can symbol in your Google My Business dashboard.

Hours of inconvenience

“This is not a sustainable way to treat a business or customers.” – A reviewer experiencing unmanaged hours of operation

When customers feel that it’s your business playing a joke on them, they’re unlikely to return. This collage of 1-star reviews captures the collateral damage of neglecting to properly manage hours of operation on the web:

What to do:

A consistent theme in these damaging reviews is that customers are checking multiple places on the web to be sure an establishment is open on a given day. We’ve all come to depend on websites and business listings to provide this information, and it’s truly inconvenient when these assets mislead us. Few businesses can afford to let multiple customers down and no business can survive customers sensing they’ve been tricked!

The good news is that the fix for this is quite simple. Google’s tutorial for setting special hours if foolproof, and it will only take you a few minutes each year to ensure your profile displays correct information every day of the year. And, of course, update your website to reflect this data, too.

There are no dumb questions, but…

Sorry to say it, but there are actually some answers that are far from smart. I’ve saved for last the most extreme example of real-world businesses becoming the butt of online jokes.

Google Q&A is beginning to have all the earmarks of an experiment gone astray, and if you’re not actively managing this feature of the Google Business Profile, chances are good that your customers are experiencing a bizarre substitute for customer service.

Brace yourself for this collage:

What to do:

A quick study of the public responses to real consumer questions shows the state of total confusion surrounding this GBP feature. For example, one customer has mistaken it for a “discussion board” not associated with the business; this is incorrect. Others are proclaiming that they aren’t associated with the brand and don’t want to “lead people”, despite responding. Still, others are steering potential patrons away from the brand to a competitor (yikes!).

But, predominantly, we have wags replying to questions without having any information to share. “IDK” and “Why don’t you call them yourself?” typify this ridiculous behavior. Why would anyone waste time doing this, you might ask? We can put it down to two things: the old adage about idle hands and Google’s still-new program of perks for participation. Note how many of the individuals in our collage have achieved Local Guide status for giving out these useless answers. Raise your hands if you’re not impressed.

But now, put your hands back on your keyboard for a little work. Unlike the review medium in which guidelines forbid you being an initiator, Google Questions & Answers invites businesses to post and answer their own FAQs. All you have to do is spend a few minutes populating this area of the Google Business Profile with common questions and responses. Then monitor this feature on an ongoing basis so that customers are receiving a helpful, authoritative response to questions. Q&A is a lead-generating asset and conversions are totally within your control.

Adopting a local watchdog



All five cases of Google Business Profile hijinx share the requirement of vigilance for prevention and mitigation. Manually checking on multiple features week after week is a serious drain on local business owners’ limited time. Businesses with multiple locations are especially prone to becoming distracted from or worn out by the effort.

Putting a devoted watchdog between pranksters, spammers, and your vital Google listings is the smartest thing you can do to maintain them as an influential source of truth about your brand.

Adopt the new and improved Moz Local at your place of business and feel secure knowing:

  • If a third party edits your business name, our software will recognize the change and override it with the authoritative data you’ve provided.
  • Moz Local continuously alerts you to incoming Google reviews so that you can catch any emerging reputation problems quickly and respond to them.
  • You’ll be alerted every time a user-uploaded photo gets added to your Google listing. This is tracked in a continuous feed in your dashboard, and you can even set up email alerts if that’s easier for you. Either way, you’ll be the first to know if someone is uploading images that violate Google’s guidelines.
  • You aren’t disappointing customers anymore with inaccurate hours, because you can set them up well in advance in the Moz Local dashboard. We recommend setting special hours at least 7 days in advance of a known closure.
  • You’ll see all incoming Q&A queries in a continuous dashboard feed, facilitating fast, authoritative responses from your business instead of “IDK”s from random users.

Moz Local is the faithful companion you’re seeking to ensure you’re publishing trustworthy business data, taking maximum control of your online reputation, and maintaining a high level of spam awareness, all in an intuitive, organized dashboard.

Everybody likes a good joke, but your Google Business Profile isn’t the place for one! Ready to put a serious watchdog at your place of business? Learn more about the new Moz Local!

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