Tag Archive | "Questions"

Want Better Results? Ask Better Questions. Here’s How

First things first: Our workshop on effective selling with Tim Paige is back on the schedule! We had to adjust the calendar, but we’ve got Tim set to teach us his low-pressure but effective techniques for sales. We’ll host the workshop (it’s free) on Tuesday, June 26 at 12:00 Noon Eastern U.S. Time. I’ve had
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Google asking dissatisfied searchers to submit questions manually in the search results

If Google doesn’t have content for your query, it may ask you to help content creators to make content that will eventually answer your query.

The post Google asking dissatisfied searchers to submit questions manually in the search results appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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How to Diagnose SEO Traffic Drops: 11 Questions to Answer

Posted by Daniel_Marks

Almost every consultant or in-house SEO will be asked at some point to investigate an organic traffic drop. I’ve investigated quite a few, so I thought I’d share some steps I’ve found helpful when doing so.

Is it just normal noise?

Before you sound the alarm and get lost down a rabbit hole, you should make sure that the drop you’re seeing is actually real. This involves answering two questions:

A.) Do you trust the data?

This might seem trivial, but at least a quarter of the traffic drops I’ve seen were simply due to data problems.

The best way to check on this is to sense-check other metrics that might be impacted by data problems. Does anything else look funky? If you have a data engineering team, are they aware of any data issues? Are you flat-out missing data for certain days or page types or devices, etc.? Thankfully, data problems will usually make themselves pretty obvious once you start turning over a few rocks.

One of the more common sources of data issues is simply missing data for a day.

B.) Is this just normal variance?

Metrics go up and down all the time for no discernible reason. One way to quantify this is to use your historical standard deviation for SEO traffic.

For example, you could plot your weekly SEO traffic for the past 12 months and calculate the standard deviation (using the STDEV function on Google Sheets or Excel makes this very easy) to figure out if a drop in weekly traffic is abnormal. You’d expect about 16% of weeks to be one standard deviation below your weekly average just by sheer luck. You could therefore set a one-standard-deviation threshold before investigating traffic drops, for example (but you should adjust this threshold to whatever is appropriate for your business). You can also look at the standard deviation for your year-over-year or week-over-week SEO traffic if that’s where you’re seeing the drop (i.e. plot your % change in YoY SEO traffic by week for the past 12 months and calculate the standard deviation).

SEO traffic is usually pretty noisy, especially on a short time frame like a week.

Let’s assume you’ve decided this is indeed a real traffic drop. Now what? I’d recommend trying to answer the eleven questions below, at least one of them will usually identify the culprit.

Questions to ask yourself when facing an organic traffic drop

1. Was there a recent Google algorithm update?

MozCast, Search Engine Land, and Moz’s algorithm history are all good resources here.

Expedia seems to have been penalized by a Penguin-related update.

If there was an algorithm update, do you have any reason to suspect you’d be impacted? It can sometimes be difficult to understand the exact nature of a Google update, but it’s worth tracking down any information you can to make sure your site isn’t at risk of being hit.

2. Is the drop specific to any segment?

One of the more useful practices whenever you’re looking at aggregated data (such as a site’s overall search traffic) is to segment the data until you find something interesting. In this case, we’d be looking for a segment that has dropped in traffic much more than any other. This is often the first step in tracking down the root cause of the issue. The two segments I’ve found most useful in diagnosing SEO traffic drops specifically:

  • Device type (mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet)
  • Page type (product pages vs. category pages vs. blog posts vs. homepage etc.)

But there will likely be plenty of other segments that might make sense to look at for your business (for example, product category).

3. Are you being penalized?

This is unlikely, but it’s also usually pretty quick to disprove. Look at Search Console for any messages related to penalties and search for your brand name on Google. If you’re not showing up, then you might be penalized.

Rap Genius (now Genius) was penalized for their link building tactics and didn’t show up for their own brand name on Google.

4. Did the drop coincide with a major site change?

This can take a thousand different forms (did you migrate a bunch of URLs, move to a different JavaScript framework, update all your title tags, remove your navigation menu, etc?). If this is the case, and you have a reasonable hypothesis for how this could impact SEO traffic, you might have found your culprit.

Hulu.com saw a pretty big drop in SEO traffic after changing their JavaScript framework.

5. Did you lose ranking share to a competitor?

There are a bunch of tools that can tell you if you’ve lost rankings to a competitor:

If you’ve lost rankings, it’s worth investigating the specific keywords that you’ve lost and figuring out if there’s a trend. Did your competitors launch a new page type? Did they add content to their pages? Do they have more internal links pointing to these pages than you do?

GetStat’s Share of Voice report lets you quickly see whether a competitor is usurping your rankings

It could also just be a new competitor that’s entered the scene.

6. Did it coincide with a rise in direct or dark traffic?

If so, make sure you haven’t changed how you’re classifying this traffic on your end. Otherwise, you might simply be re-classifying organic traffic as direct or dark traffic.

7. Has there been a change to the search engine results pages you care about?

You can either use Moz’s SERP features report, or manually look at the SERPs you care about to figure out if their design has materially changed. It’s possible that Google is now answering many of your relevant queries directly in search results, put an image carousel on them, added a local pack, etc. — all of which would likely decrease your organic search traffic.

Celebritynetworth.com lost most of its SEO traffic because of rich snippets like the one above.

8. Is the drop specific to branded or unbranded traffic?

If you have historical Search Console data, you can look at number of branded clicks vs. unbranded clicks over time. You could also look at this data through AdWords if you spend on paid search. Another simple proxy to branded traffic is homepage traffic (for most sites, the majority of homepage traffic will be branded). If the drop is specific to branded search then it’s probably a brand problem, not an SEO problem.

9. Did a bunch of pages drop out of the index?

Search Console’s Index Status Report will make it clear if you suddenly have way fewer URLs being indexed. If this is the case, you might be accidentally disallowing or noindexing URLs (through robots.txt, meta tags on the page, or HTTP headers).

Search Console’s Index Status Report is a quick way to make sure you’re not accidentally noindexing or disallowing large portions of your site.

10. Did your number of referring domains and/or links drop?

It’s possible that a large number of your backlinks have been removed or are no longer accessible for whatever reason.

Ahrefs can be a quick way to determine if you’ve lost backlinks and also offers very handy reports for your lost backlinks or referring domains that will allow you to identify why you might have lost these links.

A sudden drop in backlinks could be the reason you’re seeing a traffic drop.

11. Is SEM cannibalizing SEO traffic?

It’s possible that your paid search team has recently ramped up their spend and that this is eating into your SEO traffic. You should be able to check on this pretty quickly by plotting your SEM vs. SEO traffic. If it’s not obvious after doing this whether it’s a factor, then it can be worth pausing your SEM campaigns for specific landing pages and seeing if SEO traffic rebounds for those pages.

To be clear, some level of cannibalization between SEM and SEO is inevitable, but it’s still worth understanding how much of your traffic is being cannibalized and whether the incremental clicks your SEM campaigns are driving outweigh the loss in SEO traffic (in my experience they usually do outweigh the loss in SEO traffic, but still worth checking!).

If your SEM vs. SEO traffic graph looks similar to the (slightly extreme) one above, then SEM campaigns might be cannibalizing your SEO traffic.


That’s all I’ve got — hopefully at least one of these questions will lead you to the root cause of an organic search traffic drop. Are there any other questions that you’ve found particularly helpful for diagnosing traffic drops? Let me know in the comments.

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Five questions to ask to understand customer motivation

Understanding customer motivation can provide a solid base for your marketing that allows you to be one step ahead throughout the entire buyer’s journey. By asking yourself these five questions, you can get to the bottom of what is driving your customers to purchase — and why they might be falling off.
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Creating Google doodles that ‘Surprise & Delight’: 5 Questions with Doodler Sophie Diao

Offering a behind the scenes glance at the doodle team in action, Diao shares what she appreciates most about her work.

The post Creating Google doodles that ‘Surprise & Delight’: 5 Questions with Doodler Sophie Diao appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Ask Yourself These 3 Simple Questions to Craft Better Headlines

answer these questions to write better headlines

Last week, when I wrote about how to become a writer, I forgot to mention something about why you’d want to be a writer.

Writers are communicators. If you’re proud of your ideas, you want to be able to communicate them clearly and precisely.

Headlines are your first opportunity to present your message to the audience you want to reach. The language you use should appeal to those people and make them want to find out more.

To review the next headline you write from the perspective of an editor who is focused on audience engagement, here are three simple questions you can ask yourself.

A guide to finding the right words

Once you’ve written a draft of your headline and article (or you’ve recorded a podcast episode or video), use the questions below to ensure your headline is the most effective it can be:

  1. Who will benefit from this content?
  2. How do I help them?
  3. What makes this content special?

The answers to these questions most likely won’t produce the exact headline you’ll use. Rather, they’ll help mold your headline draft into a persuasive message that reaches and connects with the people you want to attract to your content.

To keep the process of infusing your headline with meaning and fascination simple, I recommend answering each question in one to two sentences.

If you need to write more, recognize your opportunity to fine-tune your goal for the content before revisiting these headline questions.

Let’s look at the important information each question will help you cultivate and how the answers will transform your headline.

1. Who will benefit from this content?

As Brian wrote yesterday:

“The point is to bond strongly with someone rather than boring everyone.”

When you define your audience, you can review your headline to make sure you use language that intrigues those individuals.

For example, your target audience may be marine biologists who have a tendency to procrastinate.

If your headline only says, “10 Tips to Beat Procrastination,” you can look for ways to add words that will attract marine biologists. And you don’t have to explicitly announce, “Hey marine biologists who have a tendency to procrastinate, this content is for you!”

You could try:

10 Tips to Beat Procrastination Faster than a Black Marlin

(A black marlin is one of the fastest fish.)

2. How do I help them?

People don’t necessarily wake up in the morning excited to read content.

The promises that certain pieces of content make to expand people’s understanding or knowledge of a topic persuade them to read content throughout the day. The content may even change their lives.

Your tips might help marine biologists accomplish tasks faster, and if they can accomplish tasks faster, they’re less likely to put them off.

Here, you can add another benefit to the headline:

10 Time-saving Tips to Beat Procrastination Faster than a Black Marlin

3. What makes this content special?

You may now realize that while a lot of other articles focus on “beating procrastination,” your content is special because it shows how to simplify and organize your daily marine biology to-do list so that each task is manageable.

Now you’ll want to revise a few words from your original headline:

10 Time-saving Tips to Zip Through Your Work Day Faster than a Black Marlin

Custom-tailored headlines for your content

We started this exercise with the headline:

10 Tips to Beat Procrastination

The final result is:

10 Time-saving Tips to Zip Through Your Work Day Faster than a Black Marlin

If you’re a marine biologist with a tendency to procrastinate, which headline would you click on?

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6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials

what to ask to get powerful testimonials

Most of us ask for testimonials. And if we follow up and pester our customers enough, we receive testimonials.

There’s only one problem. These testimonials have no power.

Testimonials are stories. And stories potentially have power and grace, flow and rhythm. Look around you and you’ll see none of that in most testimonials.

Limp testimonials are a fact of life because clients don’t always know how to give testimonials and we often don’t have a clue about how to ask for testimonials.

We’re going to fix that today by examining six key questions you can use when asking for testimonials.

Ask these 6 questions to get a powerful testimonial

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What are three other benefits of this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Some folks may use slightly different terms for Question 1, like “What was your main concern about buying this product?”

You can tailor this question for your specific product or service, but don’t stray too much away from asking about objections and obstacles; it’s critical to learn about objections and the reasons why this customer (and others) may have been hesitating to buy.

Why these 6 smart questions work

Let’s discuss each of these six questions.

1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?

We ask this question because no matter how ready the customer is to buy, there’s always a hitch. The hitch could be money, time, availability, or relevance — or a whole bunch of issues.

When you ask this question, it brings out those issues. And it does something more. When the client reaches into his memory to see what could have been the deal-breaker, it gives you insight into issues you may not have considered.

There’s always an obstacle, and it’s often something you may not have thought of. So when the customer brings up this obstacle, it presents an angle that’s unique, personal, and dramatic.

2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?

This question is important because it defuses that obstacle. When a client answers this question, he talks about why the purchase was worth it, despite the obvious obstacles.

3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?

Now you’re digging deeper.

If you ask the customer to focus on the entire product, his response may be vague. That’s why you want to focus on a single feature or benefit that the customer liked most. This method brings out that one feature in explicit richness and detail.

4. What are three other benefits of this product?

Since you already got information about one important feature, you can now go a little wider and see what else the customer found useful.

You can substitute the number “three” with “two” or even remove the number completely. But the number does make it easier for your customer to address the question. It lets her focus on a limited number of factors and give you the ones that were most useful to her.

5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?

You may not think this is an important question, but psychologically it’s very important. When a customer recommends something, there’s more than your product at stake. The customer’s integrity is at stake too.

Unless the customer feels strongly about the product, she won’t be keen to recommend it. And when she does recommend it, she communicates to prospective buyers: “Hey, I recommend it, and here are the reasons why!”

6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

At this point, the customer has often said everything she has to say. But there’s never any harm in asking this question.

The questions before this one tend to “warm up” the customer, and sometimes you get the most amazing parting statements that you never could have imagined.

Use testimonials to discover and address objections

This detailed method of constructing testimonials brings us to a very interesting observation: the testimonial is the answer to the objection.

Look at the first question we asked the customer:

What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?

That “obstacle” the customer talks about is really their biggest objection.

So, what does this tell us about how we should plan our testimonials?

We should plan our testimonials to directly defuse each objection

Let’s say you’re selling a trip to see the wildlife on the Galápagos Islands.

Obviously, the trip is appealing to travelers seeking a wildlife adventure, but even thrill-seekers have their objections.

If you did your homework and interviewed a potential customer, you’d hear objections such as:

  • It’s too expensive.
  • It’s too far to travel.
  • There are no comfortable accommodations.

Now, let’s assume these are the three main objections

What are the testimonials going to say?

  • I thought it was too expensive, but (here’s what I found).
  • I thought it was too far to travel, but (here’s what I found).
  • I thought we’d have to rough it, but (here’s what I found).

Each testimonial is a mirror image of each objection

Even if you have already addressed objections earlier in your sales copy, prospects get a third-party perspective when current customers also defuse objections in testimonials.

A third party is always far more believable to your prospective customers. And because each testimonial is specifically linked to an objection, it systematically reduces the risk.

How do you control the angle of the testimonial?

You may want the customer to talk about expense, distance, or comfort. But the customer may want to talk about her fear of seasickness or dangerous animals. So, how do you control the angle?

You don’t.

You’re in the business of helping construct the testimonial. You ask questions that give the testimonial structure; you don’t need to control the process.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t influence responses. Here’s how you attempt to get the angle you desire.

Start with the key objections you need to address

Reach out to the customer. Ask him if expense, distance, or comfort was one of his big objections.

If he says yes, follow up to find out the specifics of why expense, distance, or comfort was an issue.

But if he disagrees, and mentions a completely different issue, keep following that customer’s train of thought.

For example, he might say, “I thought bad weather would spoil the trip.”

That feedback reveals an objection you hadn’t considered, and it may be a valid objection that hasn’t come to your attention yet.

However, you may decide that the stray objection isn’t worth pursuing and you can’t use the objection and corresponding testimonial. No problem. If you decide you can’t use the testimonial, you can always reach out to other clients to get the angle you’re looking for.

With this process, you’re going to get the exact objections and exact testimonials that help defuse key objections. Which means that the testimonial is going to do some real grunt work to overcome objections.

Get detail-rich, complex, believable testimonials

Testimonials are so powerful because they’re delivered from a third-party perspective rather than the point of view of the seller.

When a customer produces a testimonial that is rich in detail and emotion, the testimonial becomes complex but also believable. And that’s the main job of the testimonial.

In the comments below, share your tips for collecting persuasive testimonials.

Editor’s note: This is the second part of The Secret Life of Testimonials. The original version of this post was published on April 8, 2010.

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Which Link Building Techniques For SEO Work Today And Questions To Answer During Your Funding Pitch

Two episodes ago we had a reader question from John Paul who asked about link building techniques. [ Download MP3 | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] We spent the first half of this podcast episode, Everything Entrepreneurship #15, talking about where link building is at today, a topic I am very interested in because I spent…

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I Have 3 Questions For You (And A Bonus For Answering!)

As you know if you read my recent article about common email mistakes and the 50+ comments along with it, a big part of my new advanced blogging formula involves getting to know my audience better. I am pleased to say that the first part of this process is now…

The post I Have 3 Questions For You (And A Bonus For Answering!) appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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What Is a Content Library? Plus Answers to 9 More Questions about This Innovative Lead Gen Approach

how to create a content library

In May 2013, a small company with fewer than 40 unusual employees made a historic lead generation move that resulted in stunning lead generation results. (I stress “unusual” in a good way.)

The company with those odd employees, of course, was Copyblogger Media (now known as Rainmaker Digital). The story of what happened follows.

The historic move:

Up until that point, Copyblogger had been offering an email newsletter to attract and capture email subscribers. Pretty standard in the online business world.

We wanted to up the ante.

So we launched My.Copyblogger.com — a free membership site, where people sign up to access (at the time) 15 free ebooks and a 20-part email course.

Think of a content library as a password-protected source of premium content that you can access once you register with your email address.

That’s essentially what a “content library” looks like. But how did it perform? Let’s look at the results to see.

The historic results:

According to the case study by Marketing Sherpa,

  • Through the first seven weeks, the free subscription page averaged a 67 percent conversion rate.
  • The first week’s growth was 300 percent bigger than the best week of growth for Internet Marketing for Smart People (a previous Copyblogger 20-part email course) — closer to 400 percent, if you include new paid subscribers.
  • The most visited page on Copyblogger at the time was behind the paywall — with almost a third of all traffic logging in after arrival.

Those are some substantial results, particularly in such a competitive space as content marketing.

Now, I can’t promise you the exact same outcome, but I can promise you that a content library will, at the very least, increase the number of subscribers you capture.

The key, as always, is to build trust first by providing a ton of value before asking for anything in return.

If that concept is new to you, then you can review how to build the know-like-trust factor.

In the meantime, let’s dig a little deeper into the common questions surrounding lead generating content libraries.

1. What’s a “content library?”

You’ll hear sales and marketing people refer to a content library as a bank of all the content assets owned by a company that is placed in a central, internal portal so other departments within that company can access that content.

That’s not what we are talking about here.

Yes, a content library is a bank of content, but in the way we will be using the phrase, it is full of resources that your audience can access once they register with an email address.

In other words, the public can access these resources, which makes this type of content library a lead generation tool.

2. What type of content goes into a content library?

You could include:

  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Audio seminars
  • Podcast episodes
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Tutorials
  • Data and analysis reports

And more.

The trick is to offer enough value that prospects view signing up for your content library as a no-brainer — an insane bargain.

See Question 5 for some examples of ways you could structure your content library.

3. What makes a content library better than a conventional email newsletter?

When you offer more resources for the same price (in this case, an email address), you are naturally going to get better results.

Our case study is one such example.

With a content library, you are likely to elevate more of your visitors into an ongoing relationship — in other words, a content library will help you convert more prospects into solid leads.

But not just any type of lead.

See, the main difference between a typical email newsletter and a content library offer is that with the content library, you can now identify your site visitors, which ultimately helps you convert more leads into sales.

Let me explain.

4. What’s the difference between an email sign up and website registration?

In both cases, it’s true that the prospect gives you an email address. With a sign-up, you have permission to send that person email — namely, your email newsletter or latest published blog posts.

With a content library registration, you give your prospect access to a site — access to exclusive resources like ebooks, videos, webinars, forums, and more.

In the first situation, the content marketer is throwing stuff at the prospect. In the second, the content marketer is inviting you to his place — which is loaded with useful resources.

And like I said before, when people visit your site as signed-in members, you can customize your promotional messages, which leads to higher conversions.

5. How many resources should you put into a content library?

There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

However, you need to include more than one piece of content. Don’t forget: you are trying to create a sense of great value.

For example, a content library with two, five-page ebooks is not going to suggest high value. But four 50-page ebooks and seven 30-minute training videos, however, will suggest high value.

Here’s another way you could structure your content library:

  • 30 exclusive podcast episodes
  • 10 articles
  • 3 worksheets

As you can see, the numbers of ways you can structure your content library is limitless. Which leads us to our next question.

6. Do I give access to all the content at once?

The short answer is to start by giving away a large amount of content to create a sense of high value.

The ebooks in the original My.Copyblogger content library ranged between 31 and 142 pages — and there were 15 ebooks, plus a 20-part email course.

However, you can start small and build as time goes on.

For example, make the promise of adding more content once a month (or the frequency that works for you).

That strategy has a number of benefits.

It brings all those members back to your site every time you release a new piece of exclusive content.

In other words, you don’t need all the resources in place before you launch.

If you only have four ebooks and two podcast episodes, you can launch with that offer. But as you add more resources, don’t forget to update your content library’s promotional copy and alert your members.

7. How do I get people to my content library?

If you already have an email list in place, then promote your content library to that list.

With My.Copyblogger, an announcement was sent out to our general email list, and because there were 15 ebooks, there were 15 unique email promotions sent out, each one customized to that particular topic.

We sent out one of these emails a week, usually on a Friday.

Depending on the number of resources you have, your campaign might end up lasting two or three months.

Before sending each email, suppress the email addresses of people who have already registered, so those members of your community aren’t annoyed by seeing the same pitch multiple times.

If you don’t have a list (or want to continue promoting the content library after you’ve finished the campaign to your email list), the next step is to create high-quality, tutorial-type blog content that leads to a promotion of the content library.

Once people are on your site because of this high-quality, tutorial-type blog content, give them an opportunity to register.

Here are four useful ideas:

  • Include a footer at the end of each blog post that encourages visitors to register for your content library.
  • Add a sidebar that appears on every page of your website.
  • Create feature boxes that appear in the header of your website.
  • Use pop-overs and pop-ups (yes, there is a difference).

Learn more about these strategies in Beth Hayden’s article, 4 Quick Solutions that Spawn Radical Email List Growth.

8. Won’t content that requires a registration hurt SEO efforts?

No.

True, the content behind the registration wall won’t get crawled or indexed by Google (or any search engine for that matter).

However, search “copywriting” on Google and you’ll see that Copyblogger ranks at the top of the first page of search results. The rest of the topics in our content library are also on the first page of Google for terms like “content marketing,” “landing pages,” and “SEO copywriting.”

And every single one of those pages is what we call a cornerstone content page — which drives social and search traffic to register for the content library on My.Copyblogger.

9. Do I have to call it a “content library?”

Nope.

You can call it whatever you want to call it.

Here are my ideas for different industries like health, fashion, and cooking:

  • The Cross-Fit Foundation
  • 8 Beautiful Wardrobe Basics
  • Your Wok Recipe Essentials

It’s a good idea to mention in the description copy that this is a library of resources — and be very specific about what is in it.

You want to give your prospect the sense that there are some really juicy resources behind that registration wall.

10. Does this mean I’m starting a membership site?!?!

I added all those question marks and exclamation points because what most people say immediately after asking that question is … I’m not ready for that!

You get a real sense they are scared out of their wits.

If that’s you, relax, because registering people as members doesn’t mean you’re suddenly running a full-fledged membership site.

It just means people are joining your community.

However, if you achieve critical membership mass, a nice touch to your content library would be to offer a simple forum where your members could chat, share ideas, and ask you questions.

Our Rainmaker Platform enables someone who is dumber than a bag of bricks when it comes to coding (like me) to set up a password-protected content library — plus a forum — by simply grunting and pointing (like I do).

In the end, what really matters is that members of your community — even if what you offer them is free — benefit from content that’s tailored to their customer journeys.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Chief Content Writer for Rainmaker Digital

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