Tag Archive | "generate"

Seven SEO tips for image link building to generate more traffic

A picture is worth a thousand words. If we talk about digital marketing, a strategically used picture could be worth a thousand links. Links play a pivotal role in the success of your digital marketing and eventually, your brand’s growth strategy and that’s why image-based link building is a key factor for your search engine ranking.

Put simply, link building is getting your website including your blog, articles, and resources linked by other websites. Your images, infographics, and memes, too, can be used for link building and turn your page into a link magnet.

Readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. According to research by Brain, three days after reading or hearing a piece of information, people can remember only 10% of it. However, if the information is presented in an easy to grasp graphic, that percentage goes up to 65%.

And for that reason, 32% of marketers insist that images are the most important type of content in their digital marketing strategy.

Images can increase your website traffic by 12%Social media updates with images get 150% more shares than those without any image.

Want to see your images generating backlinks and generating traffic? Check out the following:

1. Create images that others want to engage with

If you are a digital marketer, you cannot avoid using images. But, creating images that encourage people to take some kind of action – such as to share or to fill up the contact form – requires strategic efforts.

The best way to do that is to create something that your users might be interested in. Share something that revolves around and resolves their pain points.

Keep your images simple and the information in it easy to digest. Some of the most engaged-with images are those that have facts, how-to guides, tips, and quotes.

Shares by content type

Source: Buzzsumo

Be regular with your posting and keep monitoring the behavior of your audience on each of your updates. The ones that get most shares, likes, comments, and downloads are the ones your audience likes to see and the ones you should center on.

2. Use image resources and creation tools

First, you need images to support your articles, blogs, web content, and social media updates. Then, you will need to fine-tune those images to fit into your requirements.

ShutterStock, iStockPhoto, and AdobeStock are some of the top platforms to get high-quality graphics for your updates and articles. If you are looking for high-quality images without stressing your marketing budget, Pexels, Pixabay, StockSnap, and Unsplash are a few places to visit.

For editing and creation, you could use Canva, the best online platform for creating compelling graphics for your texts and social media updates. With their sea of pre-loaded templates, this task becomes a cakewalk. Some other image editing tools are AdobeSpark, Fotor, and Pixlr.

3. Use infographics to make your content easy to digest

Although there is a mention of infographic in the article earlier, the point is vast and important that it gets a separate cover.

In modern digital marketing, the use of infographics allows marketers to increase their text’s readability and drive engagement. Infographics grab more attention. In fact, an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a purely textual article.

About 65% of B2B marketers use infographics for their marketing emails, presentations, and blogs. And 30% of them create infographics on their own.

Creating engaging infographics requires hours and days of research, along with a creative mindset to come up with an interactive, interesting, and unique layout.

You could use tools like Piktochart, Venngage, Visme, and Easel.ly to create infographics like a pro. You can also create infographics with Microsoft PowerPoint.

4. Make your images discoverable

So, now you know how to create graphics for your website and social media. What if people can’t find your image?

No matter how impressive your images are, if no one can find them when they need it most or if no one seeing it, it is of no worth.

To be found on search engines, your images will need to be crawled by crawlers or robots sent by search engines to your website. Since these robots cannot decipher images, you will need to make some alternative arrangements so search engine robots can understand and index your images.

On social media, you will need to follow a completely different strategy in order to make your graphics easy to find by users. On Twitter and LinkedIn, there is an option to add a short description for your images. Pinterest too asks you to add a description to each of your posts.

On Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms including Twitter and LinkedIn, you can increase the visibility of your posts by using the right and trending hashtags.

The easier it is to find your images, the higher is its visibility and engagement.

5. Find out who is using your image

As a marketer, you should know how many websites link to your images and how many are using them without your permission. It is an important metric for your business and digital marketing strategy building.

If you have uploaded an image on the Internet, you cannot actually control it or stop people from using it. But, there are ways to find out who all are using your graphics.

There is no harm if you are given credit or backlink. But if someone unauthorized or without allowance is using your image, it could have an impact on your search engine ranking.

Open Google Image Search, and upload or paste the link of your picture. You shall see a list of similar images being used by others.

A couple of similar tools to locate your images on the World Wide Web are TinEye and ImageRaider. Using both these tools, you can also figure out if your images have been cropped, reversed or flipped.

Once you have found unauthorized use of your images, ask the webmaster or admin of the page to give you credit or remove it from their database.

6. Instagram and Pinterest paid marketing

Social media is an unavoidable practice for a digital marketer. It is an immense boost to your SEO efforts.

To make the most of your high-quality images, you could turn to Instagram and Pinterest – the most happening image sharing platforms – that are also in the list of top 10 most used social networks.

That makes Instagram a very popular and super-active marketing platform. With Instagram marketing, you can connect with your audience across multiple channels. You can also create eye-attracting ads that have high engagement rate and improved ROI.

86% of brands use Instagram and at an average 72% of these brands post at least 1 picture every week. Engagement on Instagram graphics is growing with every passing year and Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter. In fact, Pinterest Marketing converts more and faster than any other social media platform. Another plus side about Pinterest is that it has fewer steps from discovery to conversion and it saves marketers a lot of time.

Posting and tracking Instagram and Pinterest activities on a day-to-day basis could be is challenging. So, you could consider using social media management tools. which can ease your day by allowing you to check analytics and schedule your updates.

7. Analyze your competitor’s images

Checking out the activities of competitors has always been a part of traditional marketing strategies. Even in the era of digital and social, you should always be aware of what your competitors are doing.

Follow their feeds anonymously and check out their social media updates and website more often.

Doing so, you can keep yourself updated with the latest marketing trends. This also helps find out the type of content they are leveraging to draw traffic and engagement.

With that, you can take inspiration for your content strategy and gain customer attention through your marketing campaigns. You can even engage with your competitors, sometimes, to draw engagement and attention.

Take an exchange of Tweets between Audi and BMW from last year. BMW tweeted a marketing material using the logo of Audi.

 Image link building example BMW and Audi

 

Taking a note of it, Audi commented with the following:

Image link building example Audi

That simply shows that Audi not only follows BMW but doesn’t hesitate in engaging with their update. BMW, too, didn’t ignore their mention. They came quickly with a hilariously mouth-shutting reply.

It is both an example of keeping an eye on competitor’s activities as well as never letting a chance of engagement slip. Both BMW and Audi are competitors both follow each other on all social networks.

PostPlanner has compiled a list of top brands to follow to take inspiration from for your social media graphics. This list compilation includes brands from different industries. So, no matter what industry you belong to, this list is going to be a great help for you.

There is another way, you can perform competitor analysis. Find free and paid productivity tools based on your budget and requirement. One such tool is a must-have resource for your SEO and SMO teams these days.

I hope these tips help you create outstanding visual graphics for your brand, boost your social and on-site engagement, and generate more traffic to your website. The focus should be on creating pictures that offer users some information they can use. And that is the most important point here.

Moving forward, prepare a list of your on-site images that Google and other search engines have indexed. Make another list pointing out the images that have been used legally by others. They are an authentic backlink for your image and site. Make efforts for the ones used illegally and turn them into an official backlink.

The post Seven SEO tips for image link building to generate more traffic appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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10 ways to generate links with online influencers

Columnist Kevin Rowe shares tips on working with online influencers to boost your brand’s link profile, its brand visibility and traffic to your site.

The post 10 ways to generate links with online influencers appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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How to Use Whatsapp to Generate More Sales

Since launching in 2009, WhatsApp has become one of the most popular ways for people to communicate with each other across the globe. Today, the mobile app’s active user base is second only to its parent company, Facebook, with over 1.2 billion people using it to send messages and share data every month.

Social network sites ranked by number of active users (in millions) as of April 2017

For most users, WhatsApp is a chatting application for casual conversations between friends and family. However, the app also has a lot of potential for doing business.

Here are a few reasons Whatsapp makes a great business tool:

  • Easily send brochures, catalogs, e-books, images, and videos.
  • Get customer feedback by using WhatsApp as a survey tool.
  • Send alerts and notifications about sales and events.
  • Accept sales inquiries
  • Receive payment from purchases instantly.
  •  Direct engagement via phone calls.

Getting Started With Whatsapp

Perhaps one of the reasons behind WhatsApp’s popularity is its advertisement free experience. However, the lack of advertisement opportunities has caused business people to believe that there is no revenue to gain in WhatsApp.

The thing is there are no media to invest in or ad space to purchase, and you most certainly can’t get away with spamming people you don’t know.  Fortunately, there are still a number of ways to make the app a useful business tool. Here’s how to get started:

1. Build a Phone Database

Image result for people using whatsapp

The one thing that can stand between your messages and your target audience in WhatsApp is their phone number. Without a phone number, you cannot send messages to prospective customers which means you’ll have to earn their contact invitation.  You can do this by offering something of value to catch their interest, such as a special promo, a free service, or a free item.

2. Establish User Loyalty

Take advantage of WhatsApp’s extremely loyal users. The group lists on Whatsapp have shown more brand loyalty than any other social media groups. Couple this with a friendly and personal brand persona, and you will be able to develop a great reputation with your target audience.

3. Be Quick on Your Feet

WhatsApp has an amazing 70 percent open rate, which means that more often than not, your target audience is online and will see your messages. If you receive an inquiry, you must respond promptly. The worst thing you can do is establish a massive phone list and fail to reply to your customers.

4. Create Quality Content

You’ll have to stop thinking of WhatsApp as a mere chatting application. That being said, you must ensure that you deliver top notch quality content. Similar to how you would advertise on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, your WhatsApp ads must adhere to your brand’s style and format.

WhatsApp is a very direct and personal app, so it pays to make sure that your brand is represented by a friendly persona to engage with customers. Like any other social media platforms, you’ll have to prioritize your target audience to get the most out of it.

The post How to Use Whatsapp to Generate More Sales appeared first on WebProNews.


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Generate 100+ Blog Topic Ideas in Seconds

Posted by BrianChilds

Coming up with blog titles and topics can be a struggle. Most small businesses aim to publish blogs 3-10 times a month and then use these blog articles to populate everything from newsletters to conversion funnels. When you publish content on a regular basis it’s easy to burn through your initial list of blog titles in a few months. Coming up with good titles also takes a lot of time, and when you work on a team defining what’s “good” becomes subjective.

Because regular blogging has such a positive impact on inbound traffic, the process of coming up with ideas shouldn’t be a burden. Never worry about blog topics again: I’ll show you how to generate 100+ long-tail blog title ideas that include estimates of search volume and competitiveness.

What makes a good blog title?

Before jumping into how to generate 100+ blog topics quickly, let’s discuss the importance of having good titles.

I think of blog content development as having two parts: blog articles that form the core of my SEO or inbound marketing strategy, and a backup list of blog ideas I can pull from in a pinch. Both types benefit from having great titles.

Good topics generally follow some basic rules, including:

  • Your posts should answer common/valuable questions.
  • They should focus on your target buyer’s search intent.
  • They should tap into sufficient organic traffic to make them worth blogging about.

When it comes to generating a great backup list of blog topics quickly, it can be hard to identify titles that meet those criteria without succumbing to clickbait. There are several blog title generator tools available, but I find that they tend toward clickbait or “catchy” titles that are more useful for paid channels rather than the long-term value expected from organic search.

Some of the more popular blog title generators are:

HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

Impact’s BlogAbout Title Generator

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Linkbait Generator

It should come as no surprise that there’s been a backlash against clickbait titles recently.

I recommend against using traditionally clickbait titles since they often result in only one type of beneficial metric: page views. To positively impact both search rank position and on-site conversions you need to focus on valuable content that delivers high engagement measured by things like better-than-average time on page, good page depth, and low bounce rates. Clickbait titles and content generally do not provide this.

A better way to generate

Okay, so let’s take a look at a quick way to generate blog titles. Read it, try it, and time it.

  1. In Moz Pro, navigate to Keyword Explorer and enter in your target keyword. (Even if you don’t have a subscription, you can try it free or get Moz Pro free for 30 days.)
  2. On the Overview page, click on Keyword Suggestions.
    Robot Army- KWE screengrab.jpg
  3. Use the “Display keyword suggestions that” dropdown to select “are questions.”
    Robot Army - Suggestions page - KWE.jpg
  4. Here’s your list of potential blog titles for your topic. Note: The “Relevancy” column shows how closely the search term matches the initial query you used, and the “Volume” column displays estimates of monthly organic search traffic.
  5. Access Difficulty and Opportunity scores for your search queries by selecting all the relevant check boxes and clicking the “Add selected to” drop-down to create or add them to a Keyword List in Moz Pro. (Rand put together a great presentation on how to do this.) In the Keyword List, you’re able to view, segment, and sort your blog titles by all the factors available in the Keyword Explorer Overview.

Boom! There you have it. Never hunt for blog titles again. You’ve created a list you can choose from in a pinch, knowing you have quality titles based on search volume, difficulty, and opportunity.

See how fast you can create a great list of blog titles!

More tips for professional marketers

As you analyze results from the Keyword Suggestions feature in Keyword Explorer, here are some additional things you can do to learn about your target customers:

Look for trends in the questions people ask. Do most questions center on a specific pain point, such as cost, quality, or ease of use? Consider segmenting your users based on these different pain points and their associated value drivers.

Find the “best question.” In your list of blog titles, look for the one question that best aligns with your target customer. Then run a Keyword Explorer query on that question by selecting the magnifying glass icon on the right side of the webpage. Often, these results will display an even longer, more targeted list of questions to choose from.

Hope this helps your blogging efforts! Tell us about your experience using Keyword Explorer to generate targeted blog titles. If you want to keep mastering keywords and blog titles after your Moz Pro free trial ends, check out Moz Pro Medium or Keyword Explorer standalone subscriptions.

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Here’s How to Generate and Insert Rel Canonical with Google Tag Manager

Posted by luciamarin

In this article, we’re going to learn how to create the rel canonical URL tag using Google Tag Manager, and how to insert it in every page of our website so that the correct canonical is automatically generated in each URL.

We’ll do it using Google Tag Manager and its variables.

Why send a canonical from each page to itself?

Javier Lorente gave us a very good explanation/reminder at the 2015 SEO Salad event in Zaragoza (Spain). In short, there may be various factors that cause Google to index unexpected variants of a URL, and this is often beyond our control:

  • External pages that display our website but use another URL (e.g., Google’s own cache, other search engines and content aggregators, archive.org, etc.). This way, Google will know which one is the original page at all times.
  • Parameters that are irrelevant to SEO/content such as certain filters and order sequences

By including this “standard” canonical in every URL, we are making it easy for Google to identify the original content.

How do we generate the dynamic value of the canonical URL?

To generate the canonical URL, dynamically we need to force it to always correspond to the “clean” (i.e., absolute, unique, and simplified) URL of each page (taking into account the www, URL query string parameters, anchors, etc.).

Remember that, in summary, the URL variables that can be created in GTM (Google Tag Manager) correspond to the following components:

URL variables in Google Tag Manager

We want to create a unique URL for each page, without queries or anchors. We need a “clean” URL variable, and we can’t use the {{Page URL}} built-in variable, for two reasons:

  1. Although fragment doesn’t form part of the URL by default, query string params does
  2. Potential problems with protocol and hostname, if different options are admitted (e.g., SSL and www)

Therefore, we need to combine Protocol + Host + Path into a single variable.

Now, let’s take a step-by-step look at how to create our {{Page URL Canonical}} variable.

1. Create {{Page Protocol}} to compile the section of the URL according to whether it’s an http:// or https://

page protocol

Note: We’re assuming that the entire website will always function under a single protocol. If that’s not the case, then we should substitute the {{Page Protocol}} variable for plain text in the final variable of Step #4. (This will allow us to force it to always be http/https, without exception.)

2. Create {{Page Hostname Canonical}}

We need a variable in which the hostname is always unique, whether or not it’s entered into the browser with the www. The hostname canonical must always be the same, regardless of whether or not it has the www. We can decide based on which one of the domains is redirected to the other, and then keep the original as the canonical.


How do we create the canonical domain?

  • Option 2.1: Redirect the domain with www. to a domain without www. via 301
    Our canonical URL is WITHOUT www. We need to create Page Hostname, but make sure we always remove the www:
    Page hostname canonical without www
  • Option 2.2: Redirect the domain without www. to a domain with www. via 301
    Our canonical URL is WITH www. We need to create Page Hostname without www (like before), and then insert the www in front using a constant variable:

    Page hostname canonical with www

3. Enable the {{Page Path}} built-in variable

Enabled Built-in variables

Note: Although we have the {{Page Hostname}} built-in variable, for this exercise it’s preferable not to use it, as we’re not 100% sure how it will behave in relation to the www (e.g., in this instance, it’s not configurable, unlike when we create it as a GTM custom variable).

4. Create {{Page URL Canonical}}

Link the three previous variables to form a constant variable:

{{Page Protocol}}://{{Page Hostname Canonical}}{{Page Path}}


Summary/Important notes:

  1. Protocol: returns http / https (without ://), which is why we enter this part by hand
  2. Hostname: we can force removal of the www. or not
  3. Path: included from the slash /. Does not include the query, so it’s perfect. We use the built-in option for Page Path.

Page URL canonical

Now that we have created {{Page URL Canonical}}, we could even populate it into Google Analytics via custom dimensions. You can learn to do that in this Google Analytics custom dimensions guide.

How can we insert the canonical into a page using Tag Manager?

Let’s suppose we’ve already got a canonical URL generated dynamically via GTM: {{Page URL Canonical}}.

Now, we need to look at how to insert it into the page using a GTM tag. We should emphasize that this is NOT the “ideal” solution, as it’s always preferable to insert the tag into the <head> of the source code. But, we have confirming evidence from various sources that it DOES work if it’s inserted via GTM. And, as we all know, in most companies, the ideal doesn’t always coincide with the possible!

If we could insert content directly into the <head> via GTM, it would be sufficient to use the following custom HTML tag:

<link href=”{{Page URL Canonical}}” />

But, we know that this won’t work because the inserted content in HTML tags usually goes at the end of the </body>, meaning Google won’t accept or read a <link rel=”canonical”> tag there.

So then, how do we do it? We can use JavaScript code to generate the tag and insert it into the <head>, as described in this article, but in a form that has been adapted for the canonical tag:

<script>
 var c = document.createElement('link');
 c.;
 c.href = {{Page URL Canonical}};
 document.head.appendChild(c);
</script>

And then, we can set it to fire on the “All Pages” trigger. Seems almost too easy, doesn’t it?

REL Canonical

How do we check whether our rel canonical is working?

Very simple: Check whether the code is generated correctly on the page.

How do we do that?

By looking at the DevTools Console in Chrome, or by using a browser plugin like like Firebug that returns the code generated on the page in the DOM (document object model). We won’t find it in the source code (Ctrl+U).

Here’s how to do this step-by-step:

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Press F12
  3. Click on the first tab in the console (Elements)
    elements tab
  4. Press Ctrl+F and search for “canonical”
  5. If the URL appears in the correct form at the end of the <head>, that means the tag has been generated correctly via Tag Manager
    tag generated correctly

That’s it. Easy-peasy, right?

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you also use Google Tag Manager to improve your SEO? Why don’t you give us some examples of when it’s been useful (or not)?

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How to Generate Content Ideas Using Screaming Frog in 20(ish) Minutes

Posted by Todd_McDonald

A steady rise in content-related marketing disciplines and an increasing connection between effective SEO and content has made the benefits of harnessing strategic content clearer than ever. However, success isn’t always easy. It’s often quite difficult, as I’m sure many of you know.

A number of challenges must be overcome for success to be realized from end-to-end, and finding quick ways to keep your content ideas fresh and relevant is invaluable. To help with this facet of developing strategic content, I’ve laid out a process below that shows how a few SEO tools and a little creativity can help you identify content ideas based on actual conversations your audience is having online.

What you’ll need

Screaming Frog: The first thing you’ll need is a copy of Screaming Frog (SF) and a license. Fortunately, it isn’t expensive (around $ 150/USD for a year) and there are a number of tutorials if you aren’t familiar with the program. After you’ve downloaded and set it up, you’re ready to get to work.

Google AdWords Account: Most of you will have access to an AdWords account due to actually running ads through it. If you aren’t active with the AdWords system, you can still create an account and use the tools for free, although the process has gotten more annoying over the years.

Excel/Google Drive (Sheets): Either one will do. You’ll need something to work with the data outside of SF.

Browser: We walk through the examples below utilizing Chrome.

The concept

One way to gather ideas for content is to aggregate data on what your target audience is talking about. There are a number of ways to do this, including utilizing search data, but it lags behind real-time social discussions, and the various tools we have at our disposal as SEOs rarely show the full picture without A LOT of monkey business. In some situations, determining intent can be tricky and require further digging and research. On the flipside, gathering information on social conversations isn’t necessarily that quick either (Twitter threads, Facebook discussion, etc.), and many tools that have been built to enhance this process are cost-prohibitive.

But what if you could efficiently uncover hundreds of specific topics, long-tail queries, questions, and more that your audience is talking about, and you could do it in around 20 minutes of focused work? That would be sweet, right? Well, it can be done by using SF to crawl discussions that your audience is having online in forums, on blogs, Q&A sites, and more.

Still here? Good, let’s do this.

The process

Step 1 – Identifying targets

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify locations where your ideal audience is discussing topics related to your industry. While you may already have a good sense of where these places are, expanding your list or identifying sites that match well with specific segments of your audience can be very valuable. In order to complete this task, I’ll utilize Google’s Display Planner. For the purposes of this article, I’ll walk through this process for a pretend content-driven site in the Home and Garden vertical.

Please note, searches within Google or other search engines can also be a helpful part of this process, especially if you’re familiar with advanced operators and can identify platforms with obvious signatures that sites in your vertical often use for community areas. WordPress and vBulletin are examples of that.

Google’s Display Planner

Before getting started, I want to note I won’t be going deep on how to use the Display Planner for the sake of time, and because there are a number of resources covering the topic. I highly suggest some background reading if you’re not familiar with it, or at least do some brief hands-on experimenting.

I’ll start by looking for options in Google’s Display Planner by entering keywords related to my website and the topics of interest to my audience. I’ll use the single word “gardening.” In the screenshot below, I’ve selected “individual targeting ideas” from the menu mid-page, and then “sites.” This allows me to see specific sites the system believes match well with my targeting parameters.

ssd:private:var:folders:m2:wh1vdy452ps54mq15f_w0jlh0000gn:T:qJyinA:Google Chrome.png

I’ll then select a top result to see a variety of information tied to the site, including demographics and main topics. Notice that I could refine my search results further by utilizing the filters on the left side of the screen under “Campaign Targeting.” For now, I’m happy with my results and won’t bother adjusting these.

Step 2 – Setting up Screaming Frog

Next, I’ll take the website URL and open it in Chrome.

Once on the site, I need to first confirm that there’s a portion of the site where discussion is taking place. Typically, you’ll be looking for forums, message boards, comment sections on articles or blog posts, etc. Essentially, any place where users are interacting can work, depending on your goals.

In this case, I’m in luck. My first target has a “Gardening Questions” section that’s essentially a message board.

ssd:private:var:folders:m2:wh1vdy452ps54mq15f_w0jlh0000gn:T:f8grAc:Google Chrome.png

A quick look at a few of the thread names shows a variety of questions being asked and a good number of threads to work with. The specific parameters around this are up to you — just a simple judgment call.

Now for the fun part — time to fire up Screaming Frog!

I’ll utilize the “Custom Extraction” feature found here:

Configuration → Custom → Extraction

…within SF (you can find more details and broader use-case documentation set for this feature here). Utilizing Custom Extraction will allow me to grab specific text (or other elements) off of a set of pages.

Configuring extraction parameters

I’ll start by configuring the extraction parameters.

ssd:private:var:folders:m2:wh1vdy452ps54mq15f_w0jlh0000gn:T:6CLiO7:SEOSpiderUI.png

In this shot I’ve opened the custom extraction settings and have set the first extractor to XPath. I need multiple extractors set up, because multiple thread titles on the same URL need to be grabbed. You can simply cut and paste the code into the next extractors — but be sure to update the number sequence (outlined in orange) at the end to avoid grabbing the same information over and over.

Notice as well, I’ve set the extraction type to “extract text.” This is typically the cleanest way to grab the information needed, although experimentation with the other options may be required if you’re having trouble getting the data you need.

Tip: As you work on this, you might find you need to grab different parts of the HTML than what you thought. This process of getting things dialed can take some trial-and-error (more on this below).

Grabbing Xpath code

To grab the actual extraction code we need (visible in the middle box above):

  1. Use Chrome
  2. Navigate to a URL with the content you want to capture
  3. Right-click on the text you’d like to grab and select “inspect” or “inspect element”

ssd:private:var:folders:m2:wh1vdy452ps54mq15f_w0jlh0000gn:T:x5zaHV:Google Chrome.png

Make sure you see the text you want highlighted in the code view, then right-click and select “XPath” (you can use other options, but I recommend reviewing the SF documentation mentioned above first).

ssd:private:var:folders:m2:wh1vdy452ps54mq15f_w0jlh0000gn:T:KGwqPz:Google Chrome.png

It’s worth noting that many times, when you’re trying to grab the XPath for the text you want, you’ll actually need to select the HTML element one level above the text selected in the front-end view of the website (step three above).

At this point, it’s not a bad idea to run a very brief test crawl to make sure the desired information is being pulled. To do this:

  1. Start the crawler on the URL of the page where the XPath information was copied from
  2. Stop the crawler after about 10–15 seconds and navigate to the “custom” tab of SF, set the filter to “extraction” (or something different if you adjusted naming in some way), and look for data in the extractor fields (scroll right). If this is done right, I’ll see the text I wanted to grab next to one of the first URLs crawled. Bingo.

ssd:private:var:folders:m2:wh1vdy452ps54mq15f_w0jlh0000gn:T:fDZAyI:SEOSpiderUI.pngResolving extraction issues & controlling the crawl

Everything looks good in my example, on the surface. What you’ll likely notice, however, is that there are other URLs listed without extraction text. This can happen when the code is slightly different on certain pages, or SF moves on to other site sections. I have a few options to resolve this issue:

  1. Crawl other batches of pages separately walking through this same process, but with adjusted XPath code taken from one of the other URLs.
  2. Switch to using regex or another option besides XPath to help broaden parameters and potentially capture the information I’m after on other pages.
  3. Ignore the pages altogether and exclude them from the crawl.

In this situation, I’m going to exclude the pages I can’t pull information from based on my current settings and lock SF into the content we want. This may be another point of experimentation, but it doesn’t take much experience for you to get a feel for the direction you’ll want to go if the problem arises.

In order to lock SF to URLs I would like data from, I’ll use the “include” and “exclude” options under the “configuration” menu item. I’ll start with include options.

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Here, I can configure SF to only crawl specific URLs on the site using regex. In this case, what’s needed is fairly simple — I just want to include anything in the /questions/ subfolder, which is where I originally found the content I want to scrape. One parameter is all that’s required, and it happens to match the example given within SF ☺:

  • http://www.site.com/questions/.*

The “excludes” are where things get slightly (but only slightly) trickier.

During the initial crawl, I took note of a number of URLs that SF was not extracting information from. In this instance, these pages are neatly tucked into various subfolders. This makes exclusion easy as long as I can find and appropriately define them.

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In order to cut these folders out, I’ll add the following lines to the exclude filter:

  • http://www.site.com/question/archive/.*
  • http://www.site.com/question/show/.*

Upon further testing, I discovered I needed to exclude the following folders as well:

  • http://www.site.com/question/genus/.*
  • http://www.site.com/question/popular/.*

It’s worth noting that you don’t HAVE to work through this part of configuring SF to get the data you want. If SF is let loose, it will crawl everything within the start folder, which would also include the data I want. The refinements above are far more efficient from a crawl perspective and also lessen the chance I’ll be a pest to the site. It’s good to play nice.

Completed crawl & extraction example

Here’s how things look now that I’ve got the crawl dialed:

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Now I’m 99.9% good to go! The last crawl configuration is to reduce speed to avoid negatively impacting the website (or getting throttled). This can easily be done by going to Configuration → Speed and reducing the number of threads and URIs that can be crawled. I usually stick with something at or under 5 threads and 2 URIs.

Step 3 – Ideas for analyzing data

After the end goal is reached (run time, URIs crawled, etc.) it’s time to stop the crawl and move on to data analysis. There a number of ways to start breaking apart the information grabbed that can be helpful, but for now I’ll walk through one approach with a couple of variations.

Identifying popular words and phrases

My objective is to help generate content ideas and identify words and phrases that my target audience is using in a social setting. To do that, I’ll use a couple of simple tools to help me break apart my information:

The top two URLs perform text analysis, with some of you possibly already familiar with the basic word-cloud generating abilities of tagcrowd.com. Online-Utility won’t pump out pretty visuals, but it provides a helpful breakout of common 2- to 8-word phrases, as well as occurrence counts on individual words. There are many tools that perform these functions; find the ones you like best if these don’t work!

I’ll start with Tagcrowd.com.

Utilizing Tagcrowd for analysis

The first thing I need to do is export a .csv of the data scraped from SF and combine all the extractor data columns into one. I can then remove blank rows, and after that scrub my data a little. Typically, I remove things like:

  • Punctuation
  • Extra spaces (the Excel “trim” function often works well)
  • Odd characters

Now that I’ve got a clean data set free of extra characters and odd spaces, I’ll copy the column and paste it into a plain text editor to remove formatting. I often use the one online at editpad.org.

That leaves me with this:

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In Editpad, you can easily copy your clean data and paste it into the entry box on Tagcrowd. Once you’ve done that, hit visualize and you’re there.

Tagcrowd.com

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There are a few settings down below that can be edited in Tagcrowd, such as minimum word occurrence, similar word grouping, etc. I typically utilize a minimum word occurrence of 2, so that I have some level of frequency and cut out clutter, which I’ve used for this example. You may set a higher threshold depending on how many words you want to look at.

For my example, I’ve highlighted a few items in the cloud that are somewhat informational.

Clearly, there’s a fair amount of discussion around “flowers,” seeds,” and the words “identify” and “ID.” While I have no doubt my gardening sample site is already discussing most of these major topics such as flowers, seeds, and trees, perhaps they haven’t realized how common questions are around identification. This one item could lead to a world of new content ideas.

In my example, I didn’t crawl my sample site very deeply and thus my data was fairly limited. Deeper crawling will yield more interesting results, and you’ve likely realized already how in this example, crawling during various seasons could highlight topics and issues that are currently important to gardeners.

It’s also interesting that the word “please” shows up. Many would probably ignore this, but to me, it’s likely a subtle signal about the communication style of the target market I’m dealing with. This is polite and friendly language that I’m willing to bet would not show up on message boards and forums in many other verticals ☺. Often, the greatest insights besides understanding popular topics from this type of study are related to a better understanding of communication style, phrasing, and more that your audience uses. All of this information can help you craft your strategy for connection, content, and outreach.

Utilizing Online-Utility.org for analysis

Since I’ve already scrubbed and prepared my data for Tagcrowd, I can paste it into the Online-Utility entry box and hit “process text.”

After doing this, we ended up with this output:

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There’s more information available, but for the sake of space, I’ve grabbed only a couple of shots to give you the idea of most of what you’ll see.

Notice in the first image, the phrases “identify this plant” & “what is this” both show up multiple times in the content I grabbed, further supporting the likelihood that content developed around plant identification is a good idea and something that seems to be in demand.

Utilizing Excel for analysis

Let’s take a quick look at one other method for analyzing my data.

One of the simplest ways to digest the information is in Excel. After scrubbing the data and combining it into one column, a simple A→Z sort, puts the information in a format that helps bring patterns to light.

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Here, I can see a list of specific questions ripe for content development! This type of information, combined with data from tools such as keywordtool.io, can help identify and capture long-tail search traffic and topics of interest that would otherwise be hidden.

Tip: Extracting information this way sets you up for very simple promotion opportunities. If you build great content that answers one of these questions, go share it back at the site you crawled! There’s nothing spammy about providing a good answer with a link to more information if the content you’ve developed is truly an asset.

It’s also worth noting that since this site was discovered through the Display Planner, I already have demographic information on the folks who are likely posting these questions. I could also do more research on who is interested in this brand (and likely posting this type of content) utilizing the powerful ad tools at Facebook.

This information allows me to quickly connect demographics with content ideas and keywords.

While intent has proven to be very powerful and will sometimes outweigh misaligned messaging, it’s always great to know as much about who you’re talking to and be able to cater messaging to them.

Wrapping it up

This is just the beginning and it’s important to understand that.

The real power of this process lies in its usage of simple, affordable, tools to gain information efficiently — making it accessible to many on your team, and an easy sell to those that hold the purse strings no matter your organization size. This process is affordable for mid-size and small businesses, and is far less likely to result in waiting on larger purchases for those at the enterprise level.

What information is gathered and how it is analyzed can vary wildly, even within my stated objective of generating content ideas. All of it can be right. The variations on this method are numerous and allow for creative problem solvers and thinkers to easily gather data that can bring them great insight into their audiences’ wants, needs, psychographics, demographics, and more.

Be creative and happy crawling!

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Longer Tweets Generate More Clicks on Twitter [New Data]

Over the course of the last few years of presenting data about Twitter, I’ve been asked a few common questions that, at the time, I didn’t have the data to answer. One of the most common questions asked has been regarding click-through-rates (CTR).

I started by analyzing the length of 200,000 link-containing tweets as well as the CTR the links in those tweets generated. I calculated CTR as the number of clicks on a link divided by the number of followers the user had when he/she tweeted it.

What I found was a little surprising. Up to about 130 characters, as the length of the tweet increased, so did the CTR.

tweet len ctr

The takeaway here is pretty straightforward. If you want more clicks on the content you post to Twitter, use longer tweets, but don’t surpass 130 characters.

So it seems as though Twitter users are more likely to click on links in tweets if they’re accompanied by something else, such as a description of the link. When publishing content to Twitter, choose your characters wisely, and use that space to encourage others to click the links you post by including an enticing description or teaser of the content you’re linking to.

Did this data surprise you? Why do you think Twitter users are more likely to click on longer tweets?

intro-to-twitter-ebook

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9 Email Marketing Best Practices to Generate More Leads

emailThis is a guest post written at Dreamforce by Jamie Turner, founder of the 60 Second Marketer. He is an in-demand marketing speaker and is currently writing a book entitled Go Mobile with Jeanne Hopkins, the director of marketing for HubSpot.

I’m here at the Dreamforce event in San Francisco to learn about some of the new tools and techniques Salesforce.com and other vendors are promoting to businesses like yours. Some of the information I’ve collected is about cutting-edge tools like Heroku, Radian6, and Chatter. But I’ve also collected information about some of the more traditional marketing tools, most notably email marketing.

While email marketing may not get the attention some of the newer tools get, it’s still a terrific way for you to generate leads and convert more prospects for your business. With that in mind, I wanted to share some email marketing best practices you can use to generate more leads for your business.

9 Email Marketing Best Practices for Lead Gen

1. Use Incentives to Increase Open Rates: When you include an incentive in your subject line, you can increase open rates by as much as 50%. “Free shipping when you spend $ 25 or more” and “Receive a free iPod with demo” are examples of good, incentive-focused subject lines.

2. Stick to Fewer Than 3 Typefaces: The less clutter you have in your email, the more conversions you’ll experience. Don’t junk up your email with more than 2, or at maximum, 3 typefaces.

3. Keep the Main Message and Call-to-Action Above the Fold: If your main call-to-action falls below the fold, then as many as 70% of recipients won’t see it. Also, any call-to-action should be repeated at least 3 times throughout the email.

4. Keep Your Email 500-650 Pixels Wide: If you go wider than 650 pixels, then you’re asking users to scroll horizontally to read your entire message. That’s a no-no.

5. Put Your Logo in the Upper Left-Hand Side of the Email: Eye tracking studies have found that people instinctively look for logos in the upper left-hand side of emails. Put your logo in the upper left-hand side to ensure it gets the most visibility.

6. Write Compelling Subject Lines: A good subject line should contain no more than 30 to 50 characters. It should also create a sense of urgency, and it should give readers some indication of what to expect once they open the email.

7. Use Auto-Responders for Opt-Ins: Be prepared for your readers to forget they opted in. Set up an auto-responder that reminds people they opted in to your email database. The auto-responder should be sent out 1 day, 5 days, and 10 days after the person registers. Each auto-responder email should include additional content or bonus material to reward the reader for opting in.

8. Closely Tie Emails to Landing Pages: Your landing page should match the email in terms of headline, copy, and content. The look and feel of your landing page should also match the email. And make sure you’re utilizing tracking tools to see which emails and landing pages performed the best.

9. Conduct a 5-Second Test: Send a copy of the email to a friend or business associate. Can they quickly tell what your call-to-action is? If so, you’re golden. If not, keep working.

There are a lot of new tools in a marketer’s tool chest that are getting a good amount of attention these days. But don’t forget about old, yet reliable and faithful tools that can still really help you get the most out of your marketing initiatives.

What are your experiences with email marketing? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Image Credit: Jonathon Narvey

7-email-marketing-steps-cta

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