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14 Fun & Festive Holiday Marketing Ideas for 2017

With pumpkin spice lattes back in season, it is hard not to have the holidays on our minds. Halloween is creeping up on us, and we’re about to be in full-out holiday season. What could be more exciting!

While it might seem early to plan for winter, it isn’t! The earlier the better. After all, Mariah Carey already has her Christmas tree up…

holiday marketing ideas and tips

While not all of us love baking reindeer-shaped cookies and belting our rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” the holiday season is a perfect time to connect with your customers in a cheery way. Whether it be to show your loyal clients you care, to warm up current leads, or even entice new ones with some powerful branding campaigns, there’s a tremendous chance to use the seasons to your marketing benefit.

Here are 14 captivating holiday marketing ideas to get the wheels turning.

#1: Create Seasonal AdWords Campaigns

Whether you’re in retail, B2B, finance, or insurance, AdWords is a great place to get seasonal! How can one do this? Create a campaign targeting holiday shoppers!

For instance, if you sell women’s apparel, you can target keywords like “gifts for mother” or “holiday sweaters.” Then create specific ads and landing pages offering incentives to shop with your store during the holiday season.

ugly christmas sweaters

Perhaps you give free shipping if they purchase over $100 worth of clothing? Or let’s say you gift wrap for free? Maybe you offer $20 off if the gift is ordered before a certain date? Highlight these benefits and make sure your landing pages capture the spirit of the holidays.

Not in B2C? Not to worry! There are still ways to get creative with your AdWords campaigns during the holidays. As holiday shopping goes underway everyone is looking for ways to cut costs, so promote some special seasonal discounts on AdWords. Take advantage of ad extensions to take up more space in the results, get a higher chance of site visits, and highlight the special things your company is doing for the season.

Here are a few quick AdWords holiday marketing tips to remember:

  • Use seasonal ad copy! Include words and phrases like “holiday” and “tis the season.”
  • Ad extensions are your friends – Eat-up more real estate on the SERP during this competitive time.
  • Highlight special offers and seasonal deals.
  • Instill a sense of urgency with copy like “40% off if you order before Nov 15!” or “Take Advantage Before It’s Too Late!”
  • Make sure you’re relevant – Conduct holiday-related keyword research.
  • Set up ad scheduling to bid on the times when your shoppers are searching.

seasonal adwords ads

Keep in mind that everyone is looking for a deal during the holiday season! Pairing this with a sense of urgency in your AdWords ad copy is a way is a great way to win over hectic seasonal shoppers.

#2: Gift Yourself with Some Shopping Campaigns

If you sell physical products and you’re not using Google Shopping, now is the time to treat yourself to your first Google Shopping Campaign! These are the perfect treat for your busy online holiday shoppers because they’re extremely convenient and can lead to purchases happening almost instantaneously.

Of course, the challenge will be standing out next to your competition in such a visual manner, but as long as your images are enticing and your campaign is set up properly, these babies can work wonders on converting shoppers during the holiday season. Check out our guide to get started if you’re new to Google Shopping.

holiday shopping campaigns

#3: Break into the Instagram Ads Game

Instagram is the perfect place to make your holiday game shine! Users are already there posting family selfies and pictures of their decorations, so why not break through the clutter with a fun holiday ad? While posting organically to your account is great as well, to really stand out it’s worth throwing some money behind your very best holiday pics.

Whether it be your team dressed in ugly sweaters or your office dog with a monster mask on, get creative and cheery and bring in those Instagram hearts! Check out this example from a restaurant in my neighborhood. Not only did they get seasonal with a new drink recipe (pumpkin margarita, yum!), but they placed it near a carved pumpkin and used some seasonal emoji’s in their ad copy.

marketing on instagram for the holiday season

Here are some more great tips for marketing a restaurant on Instagram.

#4: Run a Holiday Giveaway on Social

Speaking of Instagram, another great way to utilize the platform is by running a social holiday giveaway. I’d recommend running a social campaign across all the major platforms your business uses (Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.) to get more and more eyes on your business.

And who doesn’t like free stuff, especially during the holidays (hello, re-gifting!)? Whether it be a big discount, a free add-on with an order or just something completely for free, get into the holiday spirit of giving. Typically, asking followers to comment, share, like, etc. are great tactics to get even more engagement on your giveaway.

holiday marketing on instagram

Check out Dan’s guide on how to use an Instagram giveaway to grow your following, and for even more ideas and inspiration check out some Instagram Marketing Campaigns we loved!

#5: Get Seasonal in Email

If you’re not incorporating the holidays into your email marketing campaigns, you’re making a big mistake! Holidays instill powerful memories into your shoppers’ minds, so enticing them with fun seasonal emails is a great way to connect in their inboxes.

For instance, this marketing email from Rent the Runway instantly caught my eye. I may not have ended up renting for Halloween specifically, but it did remind me that I could use their service for an upcoming wedding.

holiday season email marketing ideas

Pay close attention to your email subject lines when marketing for the holidays. Similar to ad copy in your seasonal AdWords campaigns,it’s important to give them an incentive to shop with you, and instilling urgency is a great stategy for your subject lines. Here are a couple examples that work well.

email marketing for the holidays

#6: Amp Up Your Remarketing Game

Remember that time you almost bought that dress, and then you saw it again and took that as a sign, so you went ahead and bought it? Sadly, that was not fate, that was remarketing! Remarketing is when you cookie your audience to later remind them what they’re missing out on.

Hopefully you’re already remarketing, but if you aren’t you need to be! Remarketing gives you a chance to remind potential customers that they abandoned their shopping cart or landing page. The holiday season is a what I like to call a mandatory remarketing season because people are busy and making decisions fast. Therefore, if they dropped off your website or left their cart half full, they might just need a quick reminder.

holiday remarketing

This is where remarketing comes into play. When configuring your remarking lists for the holidays, ensure your membership duration is shorter than normal. For instance, if you typically allow users to be added to your remarking list for 30 days, reduce that to 15 days. That will increase the chances of the individual seeing your ads more frequently closer to the holiday. 

And make sure you’re remarketing on all the channels you’re advertising on (Facebook, Google, Instagram, Bing, etc.)

#7: Segment Users Based On What You Know

As a digital marketer, you and I know both know that you’re sitting on piles of user data that you can use to your benefit for future campaigns. The question is, are you actually using this data?

If not, there is no better time to get crafty with your segmentation messaging then the holiday season! Personalizing your messaging is a proven strategy to connect with consumers on a deeper level. If you have a large segment of mothers that express interest in your products or services, create content that shows how your business empathizes with how stressful the holidays can be with a full house of kids. Target a segment of leads with similar hobbies with ad copy relevant to those interests.

marketing segmentation on facebook

Utilizing the data you’ve collected through platforms like Facebook, Google Analytics, and AdWords is a great place to start. Also take advantage of lookalike audiences on these platforms to go after a new segment of leads similar to a high converting audience.

#8: Conduct a Holiday Themed Webinar

Does your company hold a weekly, monthly, or even quarterly webinar for customers or prospects? Webinars are a great way to teach your audience in a more personalized manner, which can in-turn lead to a natural sale or upsell.

However, webinars are common. I probably get about 20-60 webinar invites in my inbox every month from various companies I’ve come across over the years, but the problem is those webinar invites often go unnoticed. This is where holidays can really help add a fun element to an otherwise rudimentary webinar invite.

HubSpot is no stranger to this strategy. They often take advantage of the festive season to promote seasonal webinars like the one below.

holiday themed marketing campaigns

To make your webinar even more enticing, tempt your audience with a free gift. For example, at the end of the webinar offer attendees a holiday discount code or free shipping on their next order.

#9: Pull at the Heart Strings

When I picture the holidays I see Christmas lights, cookies, Santa Claus, and reindeer, but what I feel is that warm fuzzy feeling of enjoying time with family. While holidays may not be loved by all, most people have an emotional tie to them. And we all know that emotions drive action, so now is the time to get emotional with your marketing.

Emotional doesn’t mean you need to make every one of your audience members cry – even using humor in your messaging can go a long way during the holiday season. If you need some inspiration, check out Huffington Post’s article featuring some of 2016’s best holiday ads.

holiday ad examples

#10: Get Creative with Video

There is no better way to communicate a holiday message than with video. Whether it’s a festive webinar invite video that you send via email, a video added to your customer page to wish all of your customers holiday cheer, or a wacky video that you post on social media of your CEO dressed as a reindeer, get creative, and have fun with video to spread the cheer throughout your marketing campaigns.

holiday marketing video ideas

A fun fall-themed video from the team at Wistia

#11: Throw a Holiday Party

Throw a holiday party? Ho-ho-hold up! That sounds expensive… Well, it can be, but you can be strategic as to who you invite. For instance, you may decide to focus your invitations on a select group of your hottest local leads, and simply have them come to the office for some holiday drinks, appetizers, and games. There’s no better way to build strong relationship with prospects and customers then giving them actual face time, so why not use the holidays as an excuse to do just that. Create a festive e-invite, and get the eggnog cooking!

#12: Advertise on Amazon

If you’re in the retail business, you need to be putting some money into your Amazon ads.

amazon marketing campaigns

James Thomson, President of Prosper Show, has some advice for Amazon advertisers to abide by during the holidays. “If you sell on Amazon, be sure to get your FBA inventory to Amazon by November 10, at the latest,” says Thomson. “If you expect to sell through most inventory, calculate the cost of a stock-out vs. holding more inventory…. It’s usually better to have more inventory in FBA. And don’t forget to plan for inventory you expect to sell in January…so many companies run out of inventory in early January when suppliers are slow to replenish.”

Unfamiliar or unsure if you want to advertise on Amazon? Check out this guide to learn all the details about advertising on Amazon.

#13: Create Festive & Entertaining Display Ads

Do you have an in-house designer? Perfect! If not, you might want to start thinking about your needs from outside resources soon to plan for your holiday display campaigns.

Festive images on Facebook and the display network can really help create a cheerful connection between your brand and your leads. The example ad below from Hotel Tonight’s holiday campaign last year really hit the nail on the head. The image pops out and immediately grabs you in, and makes you laugh because who doesn’t have the one (or more than one) crazy relative? This ad is relatable, entertaining, and festive all at once.

holiday ad campaigns

#14: Build Customer Loyalty with Personalized Gifts

Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget about marketing to your customers.

Last year, in my previous role managing a large set of high-paying and strategic customers, I spent several weeks planning the physical gifts I wanted to mail out to people. I also ordered a huge set of family-style holiday postcards with festive pictures of my colleagues on them, and organized a card-writing party (which of course was accompanied by homemade holiday cookies and Mariah Carey’s Christmas album).

Small acts of personalized kindness towards your customers make a huge impact, and can strengthen the relationship, turning a happy customer into a brand advocate.

Use these tips to make all of your holiday marketing dreams come true!

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on:

Twitter: @margotshealthub

Instagram: @margotshealthhub   


from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream


Google Shares Details About the Technology Behind Googlebot

Posted by goralewicz

Crawling and indexing has been a hot topic over the last few years. As soon as Google launched Google Panda, people rushed to their server logs and crawling stats and began fixing their index bloat. All those problems didn’t exist in the “SEO = backlinks” era from a few years ago. With this exponential growth of technical SEO, we need to get more and more technical. That being said, we still don’t know how exactly Google crawls our websites. Many SEOs still can’t tell the difference between crawling and indexing.

The biggest problem, though, is that when we want to troubleshoot indexing problems, the only tool in our arsenal is Google Search Console and the Fetch and Render tool. Once your website includes more than HTML and CSS, there’s a lot of guesswork into how your content will be indexed by Google. This approach is risky, expensive, and can fail multiple times. Even when you discover the pieces of your website that weren’t indexed properly, it’s extremely difficult to get to the bottom of the problem and find the fragments of code responsible for the indexing problems.

Fortunately, this is about to change. Recently, Ilya Grigorik from Google shared one of the most valuable insights into how crawlers work:

Interestingly, this tweet didn’t get nearly as much attention as I would expect.

So what does Ilya’s revelation in this tweet mean for SEOs?

Knowing that Chrome 41 is the technology behind the Web Rendering Service is a game-changer. Before this announcement, our only solution was to use Fetch and Render in Google Search Console to see our page rendered by the Website Rendering Service (WRS). This means we can troubleshoot technical problems that would otherwise have required experimenting and creating staging environments. Now, all you need to do is download and install Chrome 41 to see how your website loads in the browser. That’s it.

You can check the features and capabilities that Chrome 41 supports by visiting or (Googlebot should support similar features). These two websites make a developer’s life much easier.

Even though we don’t know exactly which version Ilya had in mind, we can find Chrome’s version used by the WRS by looking at the server logs. It’s Chrome 41.0.2272.118.

It will be updated sometime in the future

Chrome 41 was created two years ago (in 2015), so it’s far removed from the current version of the browser. However, as Ilya Grigorik said, an update is coming:

I was lucky enough to get Ilya Grigorik to read this article before it was published, and he provided a ton of valuable feedback on this topic. He mentioned that they are hoping to have the WRS updated by 2018. Fingers crossed!

Google uses Chrome 41 for rendering. What does that mean?

We now have some interesting information about how Google renders websites. But what does that mean, practically, for site developers and their clients? Does this mean we can now ignore server-side rendering and deploy client-rendered, JavaScript-rich websites?

Not so fast. Here is what Ilya Grigorik had to say in response to this question:

We now know WRS’ capabilities for rendering JavaScript and how to debug them. However, remember that not all crawlers support Javascript crawling, etc. Also, as of today, JavaScript crawling is only supported by Google and Ask (Ask is most likely powered by Google). Even if you don’t care about social media or search engines other than Google, one more thing to remember is that even with Chrome 41, not all JavaScript frameworks can be indexed by Google (read more about JavaScript frameworks crawling and indexing). This lets us troubleshoot and better diagnose problems.

Don’t get your hopes up

All that said, there are a few reasons to keep your excitement at bay.

Remember that version 41 of Chrome is over two years old. It may not work very well with modern JavaScript frameworks. To test it yourself, open using Chrome 41, and then open it in any up-to-date browser you are using.

The page in Chrome 41 looks like this:

The content parsed by Polymer is invisible (meaning it wasn’t processed correctly). This is also a perfect example for troubleshooting potential indexing issues. The problem you’re seeing above can be solved if diagnosed properly. Let me quote Ilya:

“If you look at the raised Javascript error under the hood, the test page is throwing an error due to unsupported (in M41) ES6 syntax. You can test this yourself in M41, or use the debug snippet we provided in the blog post to log the error into the DOM to see it.”

I believe this is another powerful tool for web developers willing to make their JavaScript websites indexable. We will definitely expand our experiment and work with Ilya’s feedback.

The Fetch and Render tool is the Chrome v. 41 preview

There’s another interesting thing about Chrome 41. Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render tool is simply the Chrome 41 preview. The righthand-side view (“This is how a visitor to your website would have seen the page”) is generated by the Google Search Console bot, which is… Chrome 41.0.2272.118 (see screenshot below).

Zoom in here

There’s evidence that both Googlebot and Google Search Console Bot render pages using Chrome 41. Still, we don’t exactly know what the differences between them are. One noticeable difference is that the Google Search Console bot doesn’t respect the robots.txt file. There may be more, but for the time being, we’re not able to point them out.

Chrome 41 vs Fetch as Google: A word of caution

Chrome 41 is a great tool for debugging Googlebot. However, sometimes (not often) there’s a situation in which Chrome 41 renders a page properly, but the screenshots from Google Fetch and Render suggest that Google can’t handle the page. It could be caused by CSS animations and transitions, Googlebot timeouts, or the usage of features that Googlebot doesn’t support. Let me show you an example.

Chrome 41 preview:

Image blurred for privacy

The above page has quite a lot of content and images, but it looks completely different in Google Search Console.

Google Search Console preview for the same URL:

As you can see, Google Search Console’s preview of this URL is completely different than what you saw on the previous screenshot (Chrome 41). All the content is gone and all we can see is the search bar.

From what we noticed, Google Search Console renders CSS a little bit different than Chrome 41. This doesn’t happen often, but as with most tools, we need to double check whenever possible.

This leads us to a question…

What features are supported by Googlebot and WRS?

According to the Rendering on Google Search guide:

  • Googlebot doesn’t support IndexedDB, WebSQL, and WebGL.
  • HTTP cookies and local storage, as well as session storage, are cleared between page loads.
  • All features requiring user permissions (like Notifications API, clipboard, push, device-info) are disabled.
  • Google can’t index 3D and VR content.
  • Googlebot only supports HTTP/1.1 crawling.

The last point is really interesting. Despite statements from Google over the last 2 years, Google still only crawls using HTTP/1.1.

No HTTP/2 support (still)

We’ve mostly been covering how Googlebot uses Chrome, but there’s another recent discovery to keep in mind.

There is still no support for HTTP/2 for Googlebot.

Since it’s now clear that Googlebot doesn’t support HTTP/2, this means that if your website supports HTTP/2, you can’t drop HTTP 1.1 optimization. Googlebot can crawl only using HTTP/1.1.

There were several announcements recently regarding Google’s HTTP/2 support. To read more about it, check out my HTTP/2 experiment here on the Moz Blog.


Googlebot’s future

Rumor has it that Chrome 59’s headless mode was created for Googlebot, or at least that it was discussed during the design process. It’s hard to say if any of this chatter is true, but if it is, it means that to some extent, Googlebot will “see” the website in the same way as regular Internet users.

This would definitely make everything simpler for developers who wouldn’t have to worry about Googlebot’s ability to crawl even the most complex websites.

Chrome 41 vs. Googlebot’s crawling efficiency

Chrome 41 is a powerful tool for debugging JavaScript crawling and indexing. However, it’s crucial not to jump on the hype train here and start launching websites that “pass the Chrome 41 test.”

Even if Googlebot can “see” our website, there are many other factors that will affect your site’s crawling efficiency. As an example, we already have proof showing that Googlebot can crawl and index JavaScript and many JavaScript frameworks. It doesn’t mean that JavaScript is great for SEO. I gathered significant evidence showing that JavaScript pages aren’t crawled even half as effectively as HTML-based pages.

In summary

Ilya Grigorik’s tweet sheds more light on how Google crawls pages and, thanks to that, we don’t have to build experiments for every feature we’re testing — we can use Chrome 41 for debugging instead. This simple step will definitely save a lot of websites from indexing problems, like when’s JavaScript SEO backfired.

It’s safe to assume that Chrome 41 will now be a part of every SEO’s toolset.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog

Does Googlebot Support HTTP/2? Challenging Google’s Indexing Claims – An Experiment

Posted by goralewicz

I was recently challenged with a question from a client, Robert, who runs a small PR firm and needed to optimize a client’s website. His question inspired me to run a small experiment in HTTP protocols. So what was Robert’s question? He asked…

Can Googlebot crawl using HTTP/2 protocols?

You may be asking yourself, why should I care about Robert and his HTTP protocols?

As a refresher, HTTP protocols are the basic set of standards allowing the World Wide Web to exchange information. They are the reason a web browser can display data stored on another server. The first was initiated back in 1989, which means, just like everything else, HTTP protocols are getting outdated. HTTP/2 is one of the latest versions of HTTP protocol to be created to replace these aging versions.

So, back to our question: why do you, as an SEO, care to know more about HTTP protocols? The short answer is that none of your SEO efforts matter or can even be done without a basic understanding of HTTP protocol. Robert knew that if his site wasn’t indexing correctly, his client would miss out on valuable web traffic from searches.

The hype around HTTP/2

HTTP/1.1 is a 17-year-old protocol (HTTP 1.0 is 21 years old). Both HTTP 1.0 and 1.1 have limitations, mostly related to performance. When HTTP/1.1 was getting too slow and out of date, Google introduced SPDY in 2009, which was the basis for HTTP/2. Side note: Starting from Chrome 53, Google decided to stop supporting SPDY in favor of HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 was a long-awaited protocol. Its main goal is to improve a website’s performance. It’s currently used by 17% of websites (as of September 2017). Adoption rate is growing rapidly, as only 10% of websites were using HTTP/2 in January 2017. You can see the adoption rate charts here. HTTP/2 is getting more and more popular, and is widely supported by modern browsers (like Chrome or Firefox) and web servers (including Apache, Nginx, and IIS).

Its key advantages are:

  • Multiplexing: The ability to send multiple requests through a single TCP connection.
  • Server push: When a client requires some resource (let’s say, an HTML document), a server can push CSS and JS files to a client cache. It reduces network latency and round-trips.
  • One connection per origin: With HTTP/2, only one connection is needed to load the website.
  • Stream prioritization: Requests (streams) are assigned a priority from 1 to 256 to deliver higher-priority resources faster.
  • Binary framing layer: HTTP/2 is easier to parse (for both the server and user).
  • Header compression: This feature reduces overhead from plain text in HTTP/1.1 and improves performance.

For more information, I highly recommend reading “Introduction to HTTP/2” by Surma and Ilya Grigorik.

All these benefits suggest pushing for HTTP/2 support as soon as possible. However, my experience with technical SEO has taught me to double-check and experiment with solutions that might affect our SEO efforts.

So the question is: Does Googlebot support HTTP/2?

Google’s promises

HTTP/2 represents a promised land, the technical SEO oasis everyone was searching for. By now, many websites have already added HTTP/2 support, and developers don’t want to optimize for HTTP/1.1 anymore. Before I could answer Robert’s question, I needed to know whether or not Googlebot supported HTTP/2-only crawling.

I was not alone in my query. This is a topic which comes up often on Twitter, Google Hangouts, and other such forums. And like Robert, I had clients pressing me for answers. The experiment needed to happen. Below I’ll lay out exactly how we arrived at our answer, but here’s the spoiler: it doesn’t. Google doesn’t crawl using the HTTP/2 protocol. If your website uses HTTP/2, you need to make sure you continue to optimize the HTTP/1.1 version for crawling purposes.

The question

It all started with a Google Hangouts in November 2015.

When asked about HTTP/2 support, John Mueller mentioned that HTTP/2-only crawling should be ready by early 2016, and he also mentioned that HTTP/2 would make it easier for Googlebot to crawl pages by bundling requests (images, JS, and CSS could be downloaded with a single bundled request).

“At the moment, Google doesn’t support HTTP/2-only crawling (…) We are working on that, I suspect it will be ready by the end of this year (2015) or early next year (2016) (…) One of the big advantages of HTTP/2 is that you can bundle requests, so if you are looking at a page and it has a bunch of embedded images, CSS, JavaScript files, theoretically you can make one request for all of those files and get everything together. So that would make it a little bit easier to crawl pages while we are rendering them for example.”

Soon after, Twitter user Kai Spriestersbach also asked about HTTP/2 support:

His clients started dropping HTTP/1.1 connections optimization, just like most developers deploying HTTP/2, which was at the time supported by all major browsers.

After a few quiet months, Google Webmasters reignited the conversation, tweeting that Google won’t hold you back if you’re setting up for HTTP/2. At this time, however, we still had no definitive word on HTTP/2-only crawling. Just because it won’t hold you back doesn’t mean it can handle it — which is why I decided to test the hypothesis.

The experiment

For months as I was following this online debate, I still received questions from our clients who no longer wanted want to spend money on HTTP/1.1 optimization. Thus, I decided to create a very simple (and bold) experiment.

I decided to disable HTTP/1.1 on my own website ( and make it HTTP/2 only. I disabled HTTP/1.1 from March 7th until March 13th.

If you’re going to get bad news, at the very least it should come quickly. I didn’t have to wait long to see if my experiment “took.” Very shortly after disabling HTTP/1.1, I couldn’t fetch and render my website in Google Search Console; I was getting an error every time.

My website is fairly small, but I could clearly see that the crawling stats decreased after disabling HTTP/1.1. Google was no longer visiting my site.

While I could have kept going, I stopped the experiment after my website was partially de-indexed due to “Access Denied” errors.

The results

I didn’t need any more information; the proof was right there. Googlebot wasn’t supporting HTTP/2-only crawling. Should you choose to duplicate this at home with our own site, you’ll be happy to know that my site recovered very quickly.

I finally had Robert’s answer, but felt others may benefit from it as well. A few weeks after finishing my experiment, I decided to ask John about HTTP/2 crawling on Twitter and see what he had to say.

(I love that he responds.)

Knowing the results of my experiment, I have to agree with John: disabling HTTP/1 was a bad idea. However, I was seeing other developers discontinuing optimization for HTTP/1, which is why I wanted to test HTTP/2 on its own.

For those looking to run their own experiment, there are two ways of negotiating a HTTP/2 connection:

1. Over HTTP (unsecure) – Make an HTTP/1.1 request that includes an Upgrade header. This seems to be the method to which John Mueller was referring. However, it doesn’t apply to my website (because it’s served via HTTPS). What is more, this is an old-fashioned way of negotiating, not supported by modern browsers. Below is a screenshot from

2. Over HTTPS (secure) – Connection is negotiated via the ALPN protocol (HTTP/1.1 is not involved in this process). This method is preferred and widely supported by modern browsers and servers.

A recent announcement: The saga continues

Googlebot doesn’t make HTTP/2 requests

Fortunately, Ilya Grigorik, a web performance engineer at Google, let everyone peek behind the curtains at how Googlebot is crawling websites and the technology behind it:

If that wasn’t enough, Googlebot doesn’t support the WebSocket protocol. That means your server can’t send resources to Googlebot before they are requested. Supporting it wouldn’t reduce network latency and round-trips; it would simply slow everything down. Modern browsers offer many ways of loading content, including WebRTC, WebSockets, loading local content from drive, etc. However, Googlebot supports only HTTP/FTP, with or without Transport Layer Security (TLS).

Googlebot supports SPDY

During my research and after John Mueller’s feedback, I decided to consult an HTTP/2 expert. I contacted Peter Nikolow of Mobilio, and asked him to see if there were anything we could do to find the final answer regarding Googlebot’s HTTP/2 support. Not only did he provide us with help, Peter even created an experiment for us to use. Its results are pretty straightforward: Googlebot does support the SPDY protocol and Next Protocol Navigation (NPN). And thus, it can’t support HTTP/2.

Below is Peter’s response:

I performed an experiment that shows Googlebot uses SPDY protocol. Because it supports SPDY + NPN, it cannot support HTTP/2. There are many cons to continued support of SPDY:

    1. This protocol is vulnerable
    2. Google Chrome no longer supports SPDY in favor of HTTP/2
    3. Servers have been neglecting to support SPDY. Let’s examine the NGINX example: from version 1.95, they no longer support SPDY.
    4. Apache doesn’t support SPDY out of the box. You need to install mod_spdy, which is provided by Google.

To examine Googlebot and the protocols it uses, I took advantage of s_server, a tool that can debug TLS connections. I used Google Search Console Fetch and Render to send Googlebot to my website.

Here’s a screenshot from this tool showing that Googlebot is using Next Protocol Navigation (and therefore SPDY):

I’ll briefly explain how you can perform your own test. The first thing you should know is that you can’t use scripting languages (like PHP or Python) for debugging TLS handshakes. The reason for that is simple: these languages see HTTP-level data only. Instead, you should use special tools for debugging TLS handshakes, such as s_server.

Type in the console:

sudo openssl s_server -key key.pem -cert cert.pem -accept 443 -WWW -tlsextdebug -state -msg
sudo openssl s_server -key key.pem -cert cert.pem -accept 443 -www -tlsextdebug -state -msg

Please note the slight (but significant) difference between the “-WWW” and “-www” options in these commands. You can find more about their purpose in the s_server documentation.

Next, invite Googlebot to visit your site by entering the URL in Google Search Console Fetch and Render or in the Google mobile tester.

As I wrote above, there is no logical reason why Googlebot supports SPDY. This protocol is vulnerable; no modern browser supports it. Additionally, servers (including NGINX) neglect to support it. It’s just a matter of time until Googlebot will be able to crawl using HTTP/2. Just implement HTTP 1.1 + HTTP/2 support on your own server (your users will notice due to faster loading) and wait until Google is able to send requests using HTTP/2.


In November 2015, John Mueller said he expected Googlebot to crawl websites by sending HTTP/2 requests starting in early 2016. We don’t know why, as of October 2017, that hasn’t happened yet.

What we do know is that Googlebot doesn’t support HTTP/2. It still crawls by sending HTTP/ 1.1 requests. Both this experiment and the “Rendering on Google Search” page confirm it. (If you’d like to know more about the technology behind Googlebot, then you should check out what they recently shared.)

For now, it seems we have to accept the status quo. We recommended that Robert (and you readers as well) enable HTTP/2 on your websites for better performance, but continue optimizing for HTTP/ 1.1. Your visitors will notice and thank you.

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How to Create the Ultimate Facebook Business Page

Facebook business pages are a place where you can develop the relationship between your brand and the world at large.

Whether you’re responding to customer feedback, nurturing prospects, sharing content, or simply informing some subset of Facebook’s 2 billion users what time your widget shop closes on Tuesday evenings, Pages are one of the most important online properties that you can plant your flag on. They’re a necessary tool for businesses operating in the 21st century.

They also have a boatload of moving parts, which is a nice way of saying that creating a business page can be a major pain in the ass.

See all those red squares?

creating a facebook business page is a multistep process 

Some would call them headaches: I’ll call them opportunities.

Today, we’re going to tackle the challenge of making a great Facebook page for your small business.

But first…

Getting Started with your Facebook Business Page

Once you’re good and ready, navigate over to Facebook’s “Create a Page” page to get started.

There are six different types of Pages that can be created on Facebook, but today we’re going to focus specifically on “Local Business or Place.” If the other top-row options (“Company, Organization or Institution” and “Brand or Product”) describe your organization more effectively, pick one of those: most of the steps will end up being the same.

facebook local business or place page creation 

You’ll notice that there’s also a second row of page types you can choose from. These options are tailored to promoting art, entertainment, and causes/online communities. Since there’s less commercial intent in these niches, some of the nuances we touch on in this guide won’t be applicable. Many components of these pages do overlap with those of SMBs: if you’re starting from scratch, there’s value to be had from this here post.

Select the first option on the menu and the adorable little storefront will slide out of view, revealing the following form:

facebook business information initialization 

Pretty straightforward stuff, but filling in the fields now will save you doing it again later. If you’re having trouble with the “Page Category” field, just choose something that relates to your business in any way; you can edit your selection later.

Once completed, click the blue “Get Started” button and you’ll be taken to your brand new empty shell of a Facebook business page.

Templates & Tabs: The Foundation of Your Facebook Business Page

Before we start adding images and writing copy, we’re going to spend some time getting everything juuust right in the “Settings” tab. You’ll see the link in the top right-hand corner of the Facebook UI.

facebook business page setting tab location 

Congratulations! You’ve officially been transported to Page creation’s most intimidatingly bland page. Despite having the aesthetic appeal of multigrain Cheerios soaking in wood glue, this page is riddled with useful information you’re going to want to check out after you’ve created your page in earnest.

First thing’s first, though: let’s shift your page template to something a bit more business friendly.

 facebook business page template

Under the “Edit Page” option on you’ll notice a section called “Templates.”

Changing your page’s template will alter the tabs that visitors can access on your page. Your new tabs will be as follows:

  • Home
  • Posts
  • Reviews
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • About
  • Community
  • Offers
  • Groups

(Note that you can remove or adjust the order of your Page’s tabs directly below the “Templates” section of the Edit Page menu.)

facebook business template for managing posts 

In addition to providing you with a tailored suite of available tabs to help your page visitors, using the “Business” template will also add a customizable CTA button (more on that in a minute) to your page. Before heading back to your business page itself, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the mound of customizable options available to you in the page settings interface.

While this probably isn’t the time to set page roles or enable more engaging chatbot functionality (you’ve got the rest of forever for that), you should establish a preferred page audience…

facebook preferred audiences 

Facebook will use this information to help connect the users you identify as most valuable to your business to your page. It works in the same way as audience creation does within the Facebook Business Manager UI. There’s no need to get too granular here, but painting a picture of your ideal prospect will help Facebook suggest your page to people who may very well dig it.

Eye Candy: Page Profile and Cover Pictures

Now that you’ve bounced back over to your business’s page, it’s time to add the first bits of flair.

Your cover photo (or video!) is the first thing a page visitor is going to notice. As a result, it needs to serve a purpose. You might share a video of your team members solving a common goal to hammer home the collaborative nature of your workplace (particularly if you plan to use your Facebook page to promote company culture and grow brand awareness).

You can also use the cover photo to advertise an impending event, offer a discount code, or simply convey the benefits of your product or service.

facebook cover image gif example 

I say that to say this: you need a killer cover photo.

Profile pictures, on the other hand, are a straight-up brand play. Due to size constraints, you’re better off using your logo than trying to cram something elaborate into a tiny square frame tucked in the top-left corner.

With that, here are some more guidelines and best practices for both profile and cover pictures.

Your Facebook profile picture

Your profile picture only needs two things to be successful: familiarity and scalability.

facebook profile picture upload 

In truth, most folks won’t even notice that it exists. Their eyes will be drawn to the larger, more dynamic cover picture or down the screen to where pertinent information resides. You shouldn’t attempt to distract with your profile picture. It should be to your page what the hidden arrow is to the FedEx logo: a subtle complement.

On a computer, your profile picture will display at 170×170 pixels; on a smartphone, it’s 128×128. This is why it’s so important to steer clear of text: nobody’s going to be able to read it. Instead, opt for something clean. If you don’t have time to develop something elaborate, that’s totally fine: just use your logo. Heck, that’s what we do:

wordstream facebook profile picture  

You should also note that, when you begin to use Facebook ads or engage with page visitors, your profile picture will be shaved down into an even smaller circular image.

resizing example facebook profile picture 

If key components of your logo live on the fringes of the frame, consider repositioning the image so that design elements aren’t cast asunder.

Your Facebook cover picture (or video)

This one’s a bit trickier because you’re got so much more space to work with.

If you haven’t already added a cover element to your business page, you should see an expansive grey wasteland atop your content. Click the “Add a Cover” button in the corner of this space to give yourself the option of either adding a photo or a video.

 adding a cover photo to your facebook business page

Your cover photo Displays at 820×312 on computers and 640×360 on smartphones. If you want to use a video instead, it must be between 20 and 90 seconds and no smaller than a cover photo.

Regardless of whether you decided to roll with an image or a video, avoid clutter at all costs. Visitors can scroll down your page to find swaths of copy to read. Your cover element should be a brand play, something fun, and evocative, not a how-to guide. Take Whole Paycheck for example:

 example of a seasonal cover photo facebook business page

Assorted gourds aren’t unique to the upscale grocery chain, but they certainly indicate seasonality and provide a lovely backdrop for the litany of Fall-centric recipes you can find on the page. Sometimes, simple is best.

Oh, and be sure to switch your cover element out frequently to see how it impacts engagement (those pumpkins might look a little funky come July).

A Memorable Facebook Page Username is Essential

Having a username associated with your business page will allows prospects, customers, and total strangers to tag your business in posts and comments. The username is an essential component of establishing and maintaining brand engagement. it’s also, like, the easiest thing to implement.

facebook business page username 

Now, the obvious play is to use the name of your business as your username.

If someone’s already commandeered your name (you can’t claim a username that someone else is already using), you’re going to have to get a bit creative. Provided you can stick to alphanumeric characters and come up with something that’s at least five characters in length and devoid of bigotry or foul language, you’re good to go.

One suggestion here: If your business is hyper-local or the page you’re creating is for a single location, append a geo-modifier to your username (instead of just “@businessname,” use “@businessnamelocation”). This can help to convey trust and gives you the ability to share the most relevant content.

Bolster Engagement with a Button

Adding a button to your business page is a simple, low-stakes way to push visitors towards action. Whether you’d like someone to schedule a consultation, download an app, or make a purchase, pinning a button to the space below your cover image is a free way to incite action that you might otherwise have paid for.

 facebook business page shop now button

To add a button to your business page, click “+Add a Button.”

 adding a button to your facebook page

From there, you’ll be directed to an overlay that outlines the five different CTA options available to you. These include:

  • Book Services
  • Get in Touch
  • Learn More
  • Make a Purchase or Donation
  • Download App or Game

For the sake of maximizing business value, let’s say you select “Make a Purchase.”

gallery of various buttons that can be added to facebook pages 

Simply click the “Make a Purchase or Donation” option…

faecbook shop now button is perfect for ecommerce 

If you plan to bake offers into your page (this was one of the pages you added by switching over to the business template) you could use your button to promote them. That being said, I’m a proponent of asking people to take actions that have a more direct impact on business.

 facebook business page button link URL

For that reason, I’d suggest choosing the “Shop Now” option (if you’re selling a product). Once selected, enter the URL of your product page and voila: prospects who dig your business page now have a direct path to purchase. (For lead generation outfits, the “Book Services” button will allow you to link to a relevant page on your website. Setup will look the exact same as outlined above.)

Add Relevant Business Details to Help Customers Find You

You’ve gussied up your Facebook business page with eye-catching visuals and interactive elements: now it’s time to input some information.

Jump over to the “About” tab and click the “Edit Page Info” link at the top of the page.

facebook page business details 

This will open a single, streamlined menu through which you can enter basic information about your business, including:

  • General – This is where you can alter your business’s category and add a brief (255 character) description of what it is you do.
  • Contact – Phone number, link to website, email address. You can also link to additional pages here (product-centric content, careers, etc.).
  • Location – You can opt out of including your location on your page by unchecking the “Customers visit my business at my street address” box below the map.
  • Hours- Pretty self-explanatory.

Upon completion, double-check your business information for accuracy, kick your feet up and crack open a cold one: you’re finally ready to start posting content and promoting your business on Facebook!

Promoting Your Business on Facebook

While a business page is going to give you the ability to provide general information about your offerings and share new content to existing fans, it isn’t going to function as an explicit lead generation tool without advertising.

promote your facebook business page with advertising 

We’ve got a wealth of content (and, you know, some pretty great software) that can help you get started with Facebook Ads. Now that you’ve got a killer Facebook business page, it’s time to put the platform to use.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

Writing Headlines that Serve SEO, Social Media, and Website Visitors All Together – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Have your headlines been doing some heavy lifting? If you’ve been using one headline to serve multiple audiences, you’re missing out on some key optimization opportunities. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand gives you a process for writing headlines for SEO, for social media, and for your website visitors — each custom-tailored to its audience and optimized to meet different goals.

Writing headlines that serve SEO, Social Media, and Website Visitors

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about writing headlines. One of the big problems that headlines have is that they need to serve multiple audiences. So it’s not just ranking and search engines. Even if it was, the issue is that we need to do well on social media. We need to serve our website visitors well in order to rank in the search engines. So this gets very challenging.

I’ve tried to illustrate this with a Venn diagram here. So you can see, basically…


In the SEO world of headline writing, what I’m trying to do is rank well, earn high click-through rate, because I want a lot of those visitors to the search results to choose my result, not somebody else’s. I want low pogo-sticking. I don’t want anyone clicking the back button and choosing someone else’s result because I didn’t fulfill their needs. I need to earn links, and I’ve got to have engagement.

Social media

On the social media side, it’s pretty different actually. I’m trying to earn amplification, which can often mean the headline tells as much of the story as possible. Even if you don’t read the piece, you amplify it, you retweet it, and you re-share it. I’m looking for clicks, and I’m looking for comments and engagement on the post. I’m not necessarily too worried about that back button and the selection of another item. In fact, time on site might not even be a concern at all.

Website visitors

For website visitors, both of these are channels that drive traffic. But for the site itself, I’m trying to drive right visitors, the ones who are going to be loyal, who are going to come back, hopefully who are going to convert. I want to not confuse anyone. I want to deliver on my promise so that I don’t create a bad brand reputation and detract from people wanting to click on me in the future. For those of you have visited a site like Forbes or maybe even a BuzzFeed and you have an association of, “Oh, man, this is going to be that clickbait stuff. I don’t want to click on their stuff. I’m going to choose somebody else in the results instead of this brand that I remember having a bad experience with.”

Notable conflicts

There are some notable direct conflicts in here.

  1. Keywords for SEO can be really boring on social media sites. When you try and keyword stuff especially or be keyword-heavy, your social performance tends to go terribly.
  2. Creating mystery on social, so essentially not saying what the piece is truly about, but just creating an inkling of what it might be about harms the clarity that you need for search in order to rank well and in order to drive those clicks from a search engine. It also hurts your ability generally to do keyword targeting.
  3. The need for engagement and brand reputation that you’ve got for your website visitors is really going to hurt you if you’re trying to develop those clickbait-style pieces that do so well on social.
  4. In search, ranking for low-relevance keywords is going to drive very unhappy visitors, people who don’t care that just because you happen to rank for this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, because you didn’t serve the visitor intent with the actual content.

Getting to resolution

So how do we resolve this? Well, it’s not actually a terribly hard process. In 2017 and beyond, what’s nice is that search engines and social and visitors all have enough shared stuff that, most of the time, we can get to a good, happy resolution.

Step one: Determine who your primary audience is, your primary goals, and some prioritization of those channels.

You might say, “Hey, this piece is really targeted at search. If it does well on social, that’s fine, but this is going to be our primary traffic driver.” Or you might say, “This is really for internal website visitors who are browsing around our site. If it happens to drive some traffic from search or social, well that’s fine, but that’s not our intent.”

Step two: For non-conflict elements, optimize for the most demanding channel.

For those non-conflicting elements, so this could be the page title that you use for SEO, it doesn’t always have to perfectly match the headline. If it’s a not-even-close match, that’s a real problem, but an imperfect match can still be okay.

So what’s nice in social is you have things like Twitter cards and the Facebook markup, graph markup. That Open Graph markup means that you can have slightly different content there than what you might be using for your snippet, your meta description in search engines. So you can separate those out or choose to keep those distinct, and that can help you as well.

Step three: Author the straightforward headline first.

I’m going to ask you author the most straightforward version of the headline first.

Step four: Now write the social-friendly/click-likely version without other considerations.

Is to write the opposite of that, the most social-friendly or click-likely/click-worthy version. It doesn’t necessarily have to worry about keywords. It doesn’t have to worry about accuracy or telling the whole story without any of these other considerations.

Step five: Merge 3 & 4, and add in critical keywords.

We’re going to take three and four and just merge them into something that will work for both, that compromises in the right way, compromises based on your primary audience, your primary goals, and then add in the critical keywords that you’re going to need.


I’ve tried to illustrate this a bit with an example. Nest, which Google bought them years ago and then they became part of the Alphabet Corporation that Google evolved into. So Nest is separately owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Nest came out with this new alarm system. In fact, the day we’re filming this Whiteboard Friday, they came out with a new alarm system. So they’re no longer just a provider of thermostats inside of houses. They now have something else.

Step one: So if I’m a tech news site and I’m writing about this, I know that I’m trying to target gadget and news readers. My primary channel is going to be social first, but secondarily search engines. The goal that I’m trying to reach, that’s engagement followed by visits and then hopefully some newsletter sign-ups to my tech site.

Step two: My title and headline in this case probably need to match very closely. So the social callouts, the social cards and the Open Graph, that can be unique from the meta description if need be or from the search snippet if need be.

Step three: I’m going to do step three, author the straightforward headline. That for me is going to be “Nest Has a New Alarm System, Video Doorbell, and Outdoor Camera.” A little boring, probably not going to tremendously well on social, but it probably would do decently well in search.

Step four: My social click-likely version is going to be something more like “Nest is No Longer Just a Thermostat. Their New Security System Will Blow You Away.” That’s not the best headline in the universe, but I’m not a great headline writer. However, you get the idea. This is the click-likely social version, the one that you see the headline and you go, “Ooh, they have a new security system. I wonder what’s involved in that.” You create some mystery. You don’t know that it includes a video doorbell, an outdoor camera, and an alarm. You just hear, “They’ve got a new security system. Well, I better look at it.”

Step five: Then I can try and compromise and say, “Hey, I know that I need to have video doorbell, camera, alarm, and Nest.” Those are my keywords. Those are the important ones. That’s what people are going to be searching for around this announcement, so I’ve got to have them in there. I want to have them close to the front. So “Nest’s New Alarm, Video Doorbell and Camera Are About to Be on Every Home’s Must-Have List.” All right, resolved in there.

So this process of writing headlines to serve these multiple different, sometimes competing priorities is totally possible with nearly everything you’re going to do in SEO and social and for your website visitors. This resolution process is something hopefully you can leverage to get better results.

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

Video transcription by

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from Moz Blog

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application

One of the slyest tricks you’ll come across on a job application is the part where it says that attaching a cover letter is optional.

 How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application

Sure, some companies genuinely may not care if you include a cover letter with your application or not, but most hiring managers use this as a way to weed out applicants long before anyone in HR starts sending out emails. They know candidates that care about the job will go the extra mile, and the cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression.

Although there are as many ways to write a cover letter as there are to skin a cat, the best way is often the simplest way.

In this article, we’ll show you how to write a cover letter that will send your job application to the top of the pile and land you that first crucial phone screen or first interview.

Here are 10 things you need to know about writing a great cover letter. Let’s get into it!

1. What’s the Point of Writing a Cover Letter?

In brief, your job cover letter is a way to tell the people that you want to hire you why they should hire you. It should illustrate your fitness for the role, your professionalism, and your competence, all while revealing a little bit of your personality.

It’s also your opportunity to provide some context for what’s in your resume, explaining anything your resume leaves out and highlighting the parts of your resume that are most relevant to the role.

Sound tough? We promise, it’s not that hard, and once you get the basics down, it’s easy to modify your cover letter slightly for each role, so it’s as relevant as possible to the exact job you’re applying for.

2. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

As with resumes, cover letters shouldn’t exceed one page in length; any longer and you risk turning off the hiring manager before they’ve even glanced at your resume.

In terms of word count, this means that you should be aiming for around 500 words.

As a rule of thumb, try to stick to around three paragraphs (four at most), not counting the salutation and sign-off.

How to write a cover letter for a job application newspaper job advertisement 

Apply today for immediate consideration!

3. What Should a Job Cover Letter Include?

A great cover letter for a job application includes the following parts:

  1. An address and salutation
  2. An introduction that tells the hiring manager who you are and what role you’re applying for
  3. A statement about your interest in the role, and why you’re the best person for the job
  4. A brief section outlining your qualifications and relevant past experience
  5. A quick conclusion that reiterates your interest in the job, the best ways to reach you, and closes with a friendly but professional sign-off

4. What’s the Proper Format for a Cover Letter?

A basic cover letter for a job application should look something like this:

cover letter template

As you can see, the cover letter includes your name, address, and contact information at the top, followed by the date and the recipient’s name and address. The body of the cover letter (again, three paragraphs should do the job) should all fit on one page with room for your sign-off.

(Protip: You can find this and other cover letter templates in Microsoft Word.)

5. What Salutation and Sign-Off Should You Use in a Cover Letter?

As a general rule, you should tailor the language, style, and tone of your cover letter to the type of role and company to which you’re applying. A cover letter for a job at a prestigious law firm, for example, would be very different from a cover letter for a part-time retail position.

How to write a cover letter for a job application old-timey Victorian gentlemen portrait

“I say, old chap, did that candidate address you as ‘sir’ just a moment ago?
I like the cut of his jib.”

That said, the basic salutation that works in almost any situation is “Dear Mr./Ms. [Name].” If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, you can use a generic salutation like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiting Manager.” (Experts recommend avoiding “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” as they sound antiquated.)

Note: You should also avoid using “Mrs.” when addressing a female hiring manager, even if you know for a fact that she’s married. Use the politely ambiguous “Ms.” instead.

As a sign-off, stick to something simple and professional like “Sincerely” or “Regards.”

6. How Should Your Open Your Cover Letter?

How to write a cover letter for a job application introduction salutation 

Solid advice. Image via WikiHow.

Typically, a cover letter introduction (the first paragraph) should accomplish three goals. It should tell the reader:

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re writing to the recipient
  • Why that person should continue reading

Although there are a few “clever” ways to open your cover letter, most tend to be pretty formulaic. For example:

“My name is Dan Shewan, and I am writing to apply for the position of Staff Writer.”

The line above addresses two of our three goals; it establishes who I am and why I’m writing to the recipient. It’s up to you whether to include where you saw the vacancy. (I don’t tend to include this, as the hiring manager already knows where they’re advertising, so why bother?)

If you happen to be a referral or you know someone at the company, this would be a good place to mention that, i.e. “My name is Dan Shewan, and I am writing to apply for the position of Staff Writer, which I heard about from your magazine’s editorial assistant, Jane Doe.”

We still need to deal with the third objective of our cover letter’s introduction, though, which is to give the recipient a reason to keep reading. This is where you get a chance to mention how awesome you are:

“With more than a decade of editorial experience across a wide range of publications in print and online, I believe I would be an excellent candidate for the role.”

By including this line, I’m giving the hiring manager that reason to keep reading. I mention how long I’ve been doing what I do, offer a glimpse of the kind of experience they’ll see on my resume, and conclude with a strong, confident statement of intent.

At this point, I’m ready to segue into the real meat of my cover letter.

7. What Goes in the Body of the Cover Letter?

Remember, cover letters are an opportunity to prove you can be the very specific individual that the hiring manager is looking for. This is what the body of your cover letter, the second paragraph, should illustrate.

A great way to do this is to picture yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes.

The hiring manager responsible for screening candidates probably has someone pretty specific in mind. She knows what her ideal candidate’s major was at college, what specific skills they have, how many years they’ve been in their field, and the kind of projects they’ve worked on. When it comes to cover letters, hiring managers are looking for one thing – relevance. In short, the hiring manager knows exactly who she’s looking for.

How to write a cover letter for a job application HR interview

“It says here you can walk AND chew gum. I’m impressed – so impressed I’m
going to continue leaning on my keyboard with my elbow absentmindedly.”

Your cover letter is an opportunity to prove that you are that person, by aligning yourself perfectly with the hiring manager’s idea of her dream candidate.

The second paragraph of your cover letter (which should be the longest and most substantial part) is where you should do that. Tell the recipient, in about 5-7 sentences, why you’re the absolute best person for the job, by highlighting specific elements of your education and past job or life experience that you can bring to the table.

If you’re truly passionate about the job and your field, make sure that shows! Nobody wants to hire someone who’s just desperate for a job, any job.

Here’s an example of a great cover letter body via Ask a Manager:

As you will see from the attached resume, I’ve built my career in a variety of roles and industries, mostly in small companies where I was not just the admin but also gatekeeper, technology whiz, bookkeeper and marketing guru. I’m not only used to wearing many hats, I sincerely enjoy it; I thrive in an environment where no two work days are exactly the same. In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details – particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.

Notice how the cover letter backs up claims (like “fanatic for details”) with specific examples and evidence ($1.5 million grant award).

8. How Closely Should Your Cover Letter Match the Job Description?

Pretty closely!

Because the person making the decision on who to hire knows what they want, it’s a good idea to look for clues in the job description and mirror those back in your cover letter.

Tailoring cover letters to the requirements laid out in the job description is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition. In fact, many companies actually use software that scans applicants’ cover letters for specific keywords or phrases from the job description, and failing to include these keywords could exclude you from consideration altogether before the real screening process even begins. This is another reason why matching your cover letter to the job description is so crucial.

We get it: If you’ve been out of work for even a moderate length of time, applying for jobs can be a soul-destroying grind, and after a few months on the market, it’s easy to see why so many people fail to customize every single cover letter they send out, especially if they’re playing a numbers game by applying to dozens of companies every week.

How to write a cover letter for a job application writer's block classic painting

“Must have a Master’s degree or greater, 10+ years of professional experience. Starting
salary of $35,000 per annum.”

Don’t make this mistake!

Because the hiring manager has done the lion’s share of the thinking for you, the easiest way to make your cover letter more relevant to the specific job you’re applying for is to “mirror” the structure of the job spec in the cover letter. Let’s say you’re applying for an opening for an office and events coordinator role. Here are some of the key job functions and requirements:

How to write a cover letter for a job application sample job description 

You should use exact terms and language from this list in your cover letter to describe your own applicable experience and skills.

For example, you could open your cover letter with something like this:

“As an experienced events coordinator with considerable expertise in the planning and execution of ambitious corporate events including customer functions, conferences, and executive meetings, I believe I would be an excellent candidate for the role.”

Notice how the list of events from the first bullet point is mirrored here?

As above, you should back up your claims with examples, borrowing words from the job description itself so that the hiring manager can clearly see you’ve paid attention to the job listing and are a good fit for the job:

“In 2016, I was responsible for the travel and accommodation arrangements of 40 staff members traveling from San Diego, CA to Boston, MA for the INBOUND marketing conference. My primary responsibilities included negotiating with commercial airlines to secure cost-effective flights, handling individual needs such as unique dietary requirements for several delegates for the duration of their stay, and liaising with several nationwide logistics firms to ensure conference booth materials were delivered and set up on time. As a result, we achieved a 35% reduction in year-over-year travel and accommodation expenditure, and secured a more favorable rate with a more efficient nationwide logistics operator.”

In the paragraph above, we’re mirroring the original job spec, but we’re making it more interesting, specific, and relevant. We’ve demonstrated that we can definitely handle the rigors of the job and backed up our assertions with a nice little humblebrag about how we also saved the company a ton of money.

How to write a cover letter for a job application INBOUND marketing conference show floor

Mad props to HubSpot’s event planning team

9. What’s the Right Tone for a Cover Letter?

Pay close attention to the language used in the job listing, and reflect this with the language of your cover letter. Be formal when applying for a role with a formal job description. If the description is more fun and “kooky,” you can be a little more creative and casual (within limits).

Many job descriptions reflect a company’s brand voice and values. This means that mirroring the kind of language used in the job description in your cover letter doesn’t just make sense stylistically, but also offers you an additional opportunity to prove that you’re a good culture fit.

10. Do I Need a Cover Letter When Applying to Jobs on LinkedIn?

This might shock you, but cover letters used to be actual paper letters that served as the cover of a person’s resume. That they would physically mail to an employer. In an envelope.

Today, of course, most job applications are processed online, and a huge number of these are handled through LinkedIn.

As you might already know, LinkedIn offers an amazingly convenient way to send prospective employers your information, known as “Easy Apply.” This essentially sends a truncated version of your LinkedIn profile directly to a hiring manager’s InMail inbox (LinkedIn’s internal messaging and mail service), from which they can view your entire profile and application package.

How to write a cover letter for a job application LinkedIn Easy Apply

A beacon of light amidst the darkness

Remember how I said that one of the sneakiest tricks in a job application is the part where it says cover letters are optional? Well, I’ll be honest with you – I don’t think I’ve ever included a cover letter for an Easy Apply role on LinkedIn.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, however.

How Do LinkedIn Cover Letters Differ from Regular Cover Letters?

There are even fewer carved-in-stone rules about LinkedIn cover letters than there are for ordinary cover letters. There are, however, some unique considerations you should bear in mind when crafting a cover letter for LinkedIn applications.

For one, there’s the fact that your LinkedIn profile itself combines elements of both your resume and a well-written cover letter. Your LinkedIn profile’s summary essentially functions as its own cover letter, and your profile hopefully contains a great deal of detail about your professional accomplishments (as well as those vital connections that are becoming increasingly important in today’s job market). As such, LinkedIn cover letters may be a little shorter and more rudimentary than the type of cover letter I’ve outlined above.

However you choose to structure your LinkedIn cover letter, keep it brief; the hiring manager already has a lot of information to look over, so don’t waste time.

Many Thanks for Your Time and Consideration

There are almost as many ways to write a cover letter as there are jobs to apply for. However, as long as you manage to pique the hiring manager’s curiosity and maintain a professional and respectful tone, cover letters are just a chance to get your foot in the door.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

Do iPhone Users Spend More Online Than Android Users?

Posted by MartyMeany

Apple has just launched their latest flagship phones to market and later this year they’ll release their uber-flagship: the iPhone X. The iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone yet, at a cool $999. With so many other smartphones on the market offering similar functionality, it begs the question: Do iPhone users simply spend more money than everyone else?

At Wolfgang Digital, we love a bit of data, so we’ve trawled through a massive dataset of 31 million iPhone and Android sessions to finally answer this question. Of course, we’ve got some actionable nuggets of digital marketing strategy at the end, too!

Why am I asking this question?

Way back when, before joining the online marketing world, I sold mobile phones. I couldn’t get my head around why people bought iPhones. They’re more expensive than their Android counterparts, which usually offer the same, if not increased, functionality (though you could argue the latter is subjective).

When I moved into the e-commerce department of the same phone retailer, my team would regularly grab a coffee and share little nuggets of interesting e-commerce trends we’d found. My personal favorite was a tale about Apple users spending more than desktop users. The story I read talked about how a hotel raised prices for people booking while using an Apple device. Even with the increased prices, conversion rates didn’t budge as the hotel raked in extra cash.

I’ve always said this story was anecdotal because I simply never saw the data to back it up. Still, it fascinated me.

Finding an answer

Fast forward a few years and I’m sitting in Wolfgang Digital behind the huge dataset that powered our 2017 E-Commerce Benchmark KPI Study. It occurred to me that this data could answer some of the great online questions I’d heard over the years. What better place to start than that tale of Apple users spending more money online than others?

The online world has changed a little since I first asked myself this question, so let’s take a fresh 2017 approach.

Do iPhone users spend more than Android users?

When this hypothesis first appeared, people were comparing Mac desktop users and PC desktop users, but the game has changed since then. To give the hypothesis a fresh 2017 look, we’re going to ask whether iPhone users spend more than Android users. Looking through the 31 million sessions on both iOS and Android operating systems, then filtering the data by mobile, it didn’t take long to find the the answer to this question that had followed me around for years. The results were astonishing:

On average, Android users spend $11.54 per transaction. iPhone users, on the other hand, spend a whopping $32.94 per transaction. That means iPhone users will spend almost three times as much as Android users when visiting an e-commerce site.

Slightly smug that I’ve finally answered my question, how do we turn this from being an interesting nugget of information to an actionable insight?

What does this mean for digital marketers?

As soon as you read about iPhone users spending three times more than Android users, I’m sure you started thinking about targeting users specifically based on their operating system. If iOS users are spending more money than their Android counterparts, doesn’t it make sense to shift your spend and targeting towards iOS users?

You’re right. In both Facebook and AdWords, you can use this information to your advantage.

Targeting operating systems within Facebook

Of the “big two” ad platforms, Facebook offers the most direct form of operating system targeting. When creating your ads, Facebook’s Ad Manager will give you the option to target “All Mobile Devices,” “iOS Devices Only,” or “Android Devices Only.” These options mean you can target those high average order value-generating iPhone users.

Targeting operating systems within AdWords

AdWords will allow you to target operating systems for both Display Campaigns and Video Campaigns. When it comes to Search, you can’t target a specific operating system. You can, however, create an OS-based audience using Google Analytics. Once this audience is built, you can remarket to an iOS audience with “iPhone”-oriented ad texts. Speaking at Wolfgang Essentials this year, Wil Reynolds showed clips of people talking through their decision to click in SERPs. It’s incredible to see people skipping over year-old content before clicking an article that mentions “iPhone.” Why? Because that user has an iPhone. That’s the power of relevancy.

You’ll also be able to optimize and personalize your bids in Search, safe in the knowledge that iPhone users are more likely to spend big than Android users.

There you have it. Don’t let those mad stories you hear pass you by. You might just learn something!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog

6 SEO Tests You Need to Try

Nobody actually knows anything about SEO with 100% certainty.

There are ~200 ranking factors. We think. Give or take. Links, content, and RankBrain top the list. We infer.

seo ranking factors

(Image source)

But never, ever, ever, does Google come out and say, “Here’s exactly what you should do. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.”

The deck is also stacked against most of us. The algorithm (we think) rewards well-known brands. Things like frequent brand mentions, “high-quality” backlinks, and amazing content.

New or underfunded? Good luck.

Hitting all 16 on-page optimization points you read about on some blog post won’t cut it. Those are table stakes.

Instead, if you want to grow site traffic in a serious way, you need to experiment, do what big brands won’t do, and discover what works best for you (instead of reading someone else’s best guess.)

Ready to get your hands dirty? Here are 7 SEO tests you need to try on your own site.

But first, let’s cover one thing…

How to Run SEO Tests Responsibly

Every marketer worth their salt knows about testing.

You test landing pages to see which one drives a higher conversion rate. You test offers to see which ones result in more leads. You test headlines to see which brings in more readership. You test your button colors. (Even though they don’t do anything in the long run.)

And yet, SEO?

“Meh. Just sprinkle some keywords on this page before it goes live, please.”

how to run seo tests

Obviously, that’s not ideal. It’s not even good. It’s mediocre at best.

We’re not in this for mediocre. Your competition isn’t mediocre. They’re spending 2x on this stuff. In response, you need to be running tests for SEO.

First, check out Rand Fishkin’s advice for running successful SEO tests. Then follow these simple steps:

  1. Experiment vs. control: You’d never, ever, ever change every single headline on all landing pages for paid campaigns. So don’t do it organically, either. You tweak a single element and run it against the control group to limit your risk.
  2. Segmentation: Similarly, you’d never throw up a new landing page for each paid campaign. Instead, you’d pick one keyword. One campaign. Or 10% of the traffic. Again, you’d use a much smaller-than-usual segment to control variations.
  3. Repeatability: Got some decent results? Good. Do it again. One-time blips won’t pay the bills.

Point is, proceed with caution on this stuff. You don’t want to do something you can’t undo. You don’t want to de-index your site if you don’t know exactly how to roll back those changes.

Now, roll up your sleeves and get ready to run some SEO experiments.

1. Remove bold tags

Keyword density used to be a thing. You wanted to place oh-so-many keywords into a piece to hit the 1-2% that guaranteed nirvana.

Keyword stuffing quickly became a thing, too. (In fact, it still works on YouTube.)

The theory is, if a little of something works, a lot of something will kill.

Fast forward a few years, and we’re still going for the same tricks. For example, bolding keywords.

You know, try to work them into the H2 if you can. Then slap at least a few bolds on before they go out the door. This sounds silly. It can’t work… can it? Because it starts to look ridiculous, too.

Turns out, one SEO experiment showed that, unsurprisingly, being overzealous with <strong> tags can backfire.

Alistair Kavalt at Sycosure decided to put this to the test after reading about it from SEOPressor. Here’s what happened: On September 7, 2016, Alistair decided to add bold tags to primary keywords on the following page. Take a wild guess at what that keyword was:

bold tags for seo

(image source)

Looks like, right?

He made these changes to just a single page on the site and used a combination of manual rank checks with SerpBook to see how results would fluctuate.

Alistair didn’t have to wait long. Only three days later, the page “dropped 53 positions,” virtually disappearing from the SERPs for “parasite SEO.”

why remove bold tags

(image source)

A few days later he’d had enough. He removed the bold tags and again waited to see what (if anything) would happen.

On September 17, one week after disappearing from the rankings and only a few days after removing the bold tags, the page shot back up to the first position for “parasite SEO.”

seo test removing bold tags

(image source)

The page eventually settled back down, but the implications were clear.

Bold tags do matter – but not quite in the way you’d think. If you’re still bolding keywords on a lot of your pages, try removing those bold tags and see what happens to your rankings.

2. Strip dates from URLs

Chances are, you created your blog years ago. Before you knew what you were doing – or maybe your business started it before you were even around.

The bummer is that decisions made back then can (and often do) come back to haunt you today.

Take permalinks. It’s normal to assign a custom permalink structure in WordPress when you’re first getting started.

For example, select one of the following, and you’re stuck with dates in your URLs for good:

dates in urls for seo

The reason? Changing permalink settings later would cause mass 404 errors to ripple throughout your site. It would be like SEO suicide unless you knew exactly what you were doing (and how to fix it).

So. What, exactly, is the optimal permalink structure? Are dates in the URL good or bad?

Harsh from ShoutMeLoud decided to find out. Initially, he claimed that “removing dates had a positive impact on the overall search engine ranking.”

Then he tested it.

The reasoning here comes back to content relevancy. Some of his old blog posts dated back to 2008. The content was evergreen. It was still legit. But anyone seeing that “2008” in the URL string would immediately question its validity.

So he experimented with both approaches: date and date-less (like me in high school) blog posts.

Adding dates turns out, only drove down his traffic:

seo test dates in urls

(image source)

Removing the dates caused rankings and traffic to come back up:

how do dates in url strings affect seo

(image source)

One potential hypothesis comes back to SERP click-through rates. Outdated content inevitably looks outdated.

If you see two equally compelling results, all other things being equal, you might skip over the old one in favor of the new:

seo tests

Removing dates from your post metadata is usually fairly easy. You might need some technical help, but it’s usually just removing a line of code from your site or theme.

When removing dates from your permalinks, proceed with caution. Make sure you know your way around redirects.

3. Optimize for dwell time

Originally introduced by Duane Forrester, previously of Bing, dwell time refers to the length of time a visitor spends on a page before heading back to the search engine that sent them there. (We all know it was Google. Sorry Bing.)

Ideally, the longer the dwell time, the better.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it.

SEO isn’t about rankings, keywords, etc., contrary to popular belief. It’s about answering search queries. It’s about being the best at giving people what they’re looking for.

Your goal is to match search intent.

Someone hitting your site and then the back button seconds later would result in a low dwell time. And it’s a bad sign that you haven’t been able to give them what they were looking for.

So it’s kinda like the Bounce Rate or Time on Page you’re already used to. But not really. A little more nuance is involved.

Dwell time is an important concept because it dictates how we should design pages and what should go on them. It’s why long-form posts tend to rank better than short-form ones – not because people like reading (they don’t), but because it helps keep people glued to your screen a little longer.

Yeeeears ago (one e for each year), Dan Shewan at WordStream pointed to two different examples that suggest Google can measure your dwell time.

The first was the option for visitors to block results from a specific domain:

google dwell time

And the second is the reverse: the ability to get more content from that source.

google author results

Since then, we’ve had several more studies come out confirming that dwell time does have some sort of impact on rankings.

Testing this one can be relatively easy. Start by improving the content. Take a post that ranks well, but not that well. Think, “top of the second page.”

dwell time and seo

Look for evidence that it’s not quite meeting the searcher’s intent, like high bounce and exit rates with low time on the page.

Then do nothing but improve content quality.

  1. Update the stats.
  2. Enhance readability and scannability.
  3. Add new sections.
  4. Upgrade the visuals.
  5. Insert a table of contents to help people jump around.
  6. Use audio or video to better summarize the page information.
  7. Include internal links for related articles to create ‘webs’ of content.

Now, monitor results.

4. Prune your site

Bigger is better. More pages = more traffic. Right?

Not exactly. Counterintuitively, less can bring in more, according to one SEO test featured on Moz.

Everett Sizemore makes a case for “pruning” your site by proactively removing stuff that doesn’t enhance quality. Brian Dean has suggested a similar pruning idea.

The theory goes that the less junk you have, the higher the overall quality signal of your site. This would work similarly to AdWords’ Quality Score, giving an indication of how well your ads and campaigns are aligning with users.

Everett uses QualityRank as a way to explain how this signal works. “Pruning” your low-quality, low-traffic pages increases your site’s overall average score.

For example, you cut the bottom 30-50% of your site’s low-quality content. Now, you’re only left with the middle and upper portions. Fewer pages overall, but killing the low-value pages drives the average page quality up with it.

site audit and pruning

(image source)

Here’s what that same example would look like after removing the bottom half of their less-than-useful content.

organic quality rank

You’ve instantly raised the overall “QualityRank” by ten points without doing anything else. The junk, therefore, was only holding the rest of your stuff down.

Sounds crazy, right?

Everett shares a few case studies and examples to prove it works.

First up, 1800doorbell used a combo of technical tweaks + pruning low-quality content to increase revenue from organic search by 96%.

how to prune old site content

(image source)

Ahrefs shared their own results of a similar test that showed a massive lift over the course of a year. Again, they placed a big emphasis on pruning (in addition to other technical improvements.)

site cleanup how-to

(image source)

Everett recommends running a content audit first to uncover your worst performing pages. For example, you can go through to find pages with:

  1. No organic search traffic
  2. Ranking > 50
  3. No backlinks
  4. No social shares

Removing the content entirely could create unintended consequences and broken links.

Instead, start by just adding a noindex tag on these low-quality pages. That way, they technically still exist on the site – but not from a search engine’s point of view.

5. Don’t sleep on nofollow links

You already know that links matter. You already know that link quality matters.

For example, links from the New York Times are worth more than ones from Bob’s SEO Fairy Dust Farm.

In the same vein, “followed” links are worth more than “nofollowed” ones. (More on the difference between these here.)

Picture blog comments. All of those people spamming their way to get links would be disappointed to find out that many commenting systems automatically “nofollow” their links.

It’s basically a way for sites to tell search engines not to attribute value to those links. (Because they’re leaving spammy comments. In 2017.)

The common thought is that “nofollowed” links are completely useless when it comes to SEO value. However, that might not always be the case. Those comment spammers might be onto something (God help us).

Rand and his rag-tag IMEC Lab group confirmed this suspicion in a series of tests.

Forty-two nofollow links were pointed towards a page ranking in the ninth position for a “low competition query.”

nofollow link seo test

(image source)

So what happened?

The page started climbing to the sixth position after those links were indexed.

seo value of nofollow links

(image source)

Removing the nofollow tags on the links helped the page rise to the fifth position.

This experiment suggests that at least for queries that aren’t super competitive, nofollow links aren’t as useless as previously thought. And it does give some credence to the idea that, “the more links, the better.”

6. Improve site loading times

Google released a mobile page speed industry benchmark report in February. Turns out, “The probability of someone bouncing from your site increases by 113 percent if it takes seven seconds to load.”

page loading times and seo

(image source)

People really, REALLY don’t like waiting around for pages to load. Especially on mobile devices.

The problem is that the same report found that most mobile pages take three times that longto load (22 seconds.)

Slow page loading times have a trickle-down effect. The longer a page takes to load, the less traffic, more bounces, and less conversions you’ll see.

“Similarly, as the number of elements—text, titles, images—on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95 percent.”

It’s not just the page loading time that drives worse performance. It’s something a little more geekily referred to as Time to First Byte (TTFB).

Billy Hoffman worked with Moz years ago to run an experiment. They collected 100,000 pages to evaluate. They then used 40 different page loading metrics to base their analysis.

They then recorded the median page loading time based on average search position to see if there was any correlation.

In other words, they expected to see better-ranking pages have a lower average page loading time. But that wasn’t always the case.

load time seo test

(image source)

Instead, they found a much stronger correlation between rankings and TTFB.

The higher a page ranked, the lower its TTFB.

time to first byte vs. google organic ranking

(image source)

Billy reasoned that “TTFB is likely the quickest and easiest metric for Google to capture,” which can help explain why it seems to be such an influential factor.

Ok, great. That would actually mean something if you knew what Time to First Byte was in the first place.

Basically, it’s the time it takes for search engines to “receive the first byte of data from the server.”

what is time to first byte

(image source)

Someone types in your web address and hits “Enter.” That request is sent to your server to send the appropriate data. Your server processes that request. It gathers data from different places and assembles it for transmit. Then it’s sent back to the original client or browser that requested it in the first place.

Now, multiply that sequence, by tens of thousands of visitors, spread across the planet, at all hours of the day. Every additional or redundant issue, like massive image files or poor code, can throw a wrench in this process. Even a bad WiFi connection can slow it down.

In other words, page loading isn’t the only issue to be aware of or test. Delivering relevant content, faster, is too.

That’s why Lazy Loading images or using a Content Delivery Network can help. They can both speed up page loading times, sure. But they do that through lessening the initial load that’s transmitted each time someone requests content from your site.

Keep on testin’

PPC is fairly transparent in comparison to SEO. You know how much keywords cost. Many tools can show you what your competitors are paying or what their ad text and landing pages look like.

However, in SEO, there’s no shortage of myths and urban legends out there.

We can look for best practices to help guide the way. But at the end of the day, we have to test and run experiments for ourselves to really know for sure.

The good news is that you don’t have to start in the dark. You can begin with these six SEO tests that have already worked for others to start finding out what works, and what doesn’t, for you.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

How to Turn Low-Value Content Into Neatly Organized Opportunities – Next Level

Posted by jocameron

Welcome to the newest installment of our educational Next Level series! In our last post, Brian Childs offered up a beginner-level workflow to help discover your competitor’s backlinks. Today, we’re welcoming back Next Level veteran Jo Cameron to show you how to find low-quality pages on your site and decide their new fate. Read on and level up!

With an almost endless succession of Google updates fluctuating the search results, it’s pretty clear that substandard content just won’t cut it.

I know, I know — we can’t all keep up with the latest algorithm updates. We’ve got businesses to run, clients to impress, and a strong social media presence to maintain. After all, you haven’t seen a huge drop in your traffic. It’s probably OK, right?

So what’s with the nagging sensation down in the pit of your stomach? It’s not just that giant chili taco you had earlier. Maybe it’s that feeling that your content might be treading on thin ice. Maybe you watched Rand’s recent Whiteboard Friday (How to Determine if a Page is “Low Quality” in Google’s Eyes) and just don’t know where to start.

In this edition of Next Level, I’ll show you how to start identifying your low-quality pages in a few simple steps with Moz Pro’s Site Crawl. Once identified, you can decide whether to merge, shine up, or remove the content.

A quick recap of algorithm updates

The latest big fluctuations in the search results were said to be caused by King Fred: enemy of low-quality pages and champion of the people’s right to find and enjoy content of value.

Fred took the fight to affiliate sites, and low-value commercial sites were also affected.

The good news is that even if this isn’t directed at you, and you haven’t taken a hit yourself, you can still learn from this update to improve your site. After all, why not stay on the right side of the biggest index of online content in the known universe? You’ll come away with a good idea of what content is working for your site, and you may just take a ride to the top of the SERPs. Knowledge is power, after all.

Be a Pro

It’s best if we just accept that Google updates are ongoing; they happen all.the.time. But with a site audit tool in your toolkit like Moz Pro’s Site Crawl, they don’t have to keep you up at night. Our shiny new Rogerbot crawler is the new kid on the block, and it’s hungry to crawl your pages.

If you haven’t given it a try, sign up for a free trial for 30 days:

Start a free trial

If you’ve already had a free trial that has expired, write to me and I’ll give you another, just because I can.

Set up your Moz Pro campaign — it takes 5 minutes tops — and Rogerbot will be unleashed upon your site like a caffeinated spider.

Rogerbot hops from page to page following links to analyze your website. As Rogerbot hops along, a beautiful database of pages is constructed that flag issues you can use to find those laggers. What a hero!

First stop: Thin content

Site Crawl > Content Issues > Thin Content

Thin content could be damaging your site. If it’s deemed to be malicious, then it could result in a penalty. Things like zero-value pages with ads or spammy doorway pages — little traps people set to funnel people to other pages — are bad news.

First off, let’s find those pages. Moz Pro Site Crawl will flag “thin content” if it has less than 50 words (excluding navigation and ads).

Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with Google’s Quality Guidelines. Think long and hard about whether you may be doing this, intentionally or accidentally.

You’re probably not straight-up spamming people, but you could do better and you know it. Our mantra is (repeat after me): “Does this add value for my visitors?” Well, does it?

Ok, you can stop chanting now.

For most of us, thin content is less of a penalty threat and more of an opportunity. By finding pages with thin content, you have the opportunity to figure out if they’re doing enough to serve your visitors. Pile on some Google Analytics data and start making decisions about improvements that can be made.

Using as an example, I’ve found 3 pages with thin content. Ta-da emoji!

I’m not too concerned about the login page or the password reset page. I am, however, interested to see how the local search page is performing. Maybe we can find an opportunity to help people who land on this page.

Go ahead and export your thin content pages from Moz Pro to CSV.

We can then grab some data from Google Analytics to give us an idea of how well this page is performing. You may want to look at comparing monthly data and see if there are any trends, or compare similar pages to see if improvements can be made.

I am by no means a Google Analytics expert, but I know how to get what I want. Most of the time that is, except when I have to Google it, which is probably every second week.

Firstly: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > Paste in your URL

  • Pageviews – The number of times that page has been viewed, even if it’s a repeat view.
  • Avg. Time on Page – How long people are on your page
  • Bounce Rate – Single page views with no interaction

For my example page, Bounce Rate is very interesting. This page lives to be interacted with. Its only joy in life is allowing people to search for a local business in the UK, US, or Canada. It is not an informational page at all. It doesn’t provide a contact phone number or an answer to a query that may explain away a high bounce rate.

I’m going to add Pageviews and Bounce Rate a spreadsheet so I can track this over time.

I’ll also added some keywords that I want that page to rank for to my Moz Pro Rankings. That way I can make sure I’m targeting searcher intent and driving organic traffic that is likely to convert.

I’ll also know if I’m being out ranked by my competitors. How dare they, right?

As we’ve found with this local page, not all thin content is bad content. Another example may be if you have a landing page with an awesome video that’s adding value and is performing consistently well. In this case, hold off on making sweeping changes. Track the data you’re interested in; from there, you can look at making small changes and track the impact, or split test some ideas. Either way, you want to make informed, data-driven decisions.

Action to take for tracking thin content pages

Export to CSV so you can track how these pages are performing alongside GA data. Make incremental changes and track the results.

Second stop: Duplicate title tags

Site Crawl > Content Issues > Duplicate Title Tags

Title tags show up in the search results to give human searchers a taste of what your content is about. They also help search engines understand and categorize your content. Without question, you want these to be well considered, relevant to your content, and unique.

Moz Pro Site Crawl flags any pages with matching title tags for your perusal.

Duplicate title tags are unlikely to get your site penalized, unless you’ve masterminded an army of pages that target irrelevant keywords and provide zero value. Once again, for most of us, it’s a good way to find a missed opportunity.

Digging around your duplicate title tags is a lucky dip of wonder. You may find pages with repeated content that you want to merge, or redundant pages that may be confusing your visitors, or maybe just pages for which you haven’t spent the time crafting unique title tags.

Take this opportunity to review your title tags, make them interesting, and always make them relevant. Because I’m a Whiteboard Friday friend, I can’t not link to this title tag hack video. Turn off Netflix for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Pro tip: To view the other duplicate pages, make sure you click on the little triangle icon to open that up like an accordion.

Hey now, what’s this? Filed away under duplicate title tags I’ve found these cheeky pages.

These are the contact forms we have in place to contact our help team. Yes, me included — hi!

I’ve got some inside info for you all. We’re actually in the process of redesigning our Help Hub, and these tool-specific pages definitely need a rethink. For now, I’m going to summon the powerful and mysterious rel=canonical tag.

This tells search engines that all those other pages are copies of the one true page to rule them all. Search engines like this, they understand it, and they bow down to honor the original source, as well they should. Visitors can still access these pages, and they won’t ever know they’ve hit a page with an original source elsewhere. How very magical.

Action to take for duplicate title tags on similar pages

Use the rel=canonical tag to tell search engines that is the original source.

Review visitor behavior and perform user testing on the Help Hub. We’ll use this information to make a plan for redirecting those pages to one main page and adding a tool type drop-down.

More duplicate titles within my subfolder-specific campaign

Because at Moz we’ve got a heck of a lot of pages, I’ve got another Moz Pro campaign set up to track the URL I find this handy if I want to look at issues on just one section of my site at a time.

You just have to enter your subfolder and limit your campaign when you set it up.

Just remember we won’t crawl any pages outside of the subfolder. Make sure you have an all-encompassing, all-access campaign set up for the root domain as well.

Not enough allowance to create a subfolder-specific campaign? You can filter by URL from within your existing campaign.

In my Moz Blog campaign, I stumbled across these little fellows:

This is a classic case of new content usurping the old content. Instead of telling search engines, “Yeah, so I’ve got a few pages and they’re kind of the same, but this one is the one true page,” like we did with the rel=canonical tag before, this time I’ll use the big cousin of the rel=canonical, the queen of content canonicalization, the 301 redirect.

All the power is sent to the page you are redirecting to, as well as all the actual human visitors.

Action to take for duplicate title tags with outdated/updated content

Check the traffic and authority for both pages, then add a 301 redirect from one to the other. Consolidate and rule.

It’s also a good opportunity to refresh the content and check whether it’s… what? I can’t hear you — adding value to my visitors! You got it.

Third stop: Duplicate content

Site Crawl > Content Issues > Duplicate Content

When the code and content on a page looks the same are the code and content on another page of your site, it will be flagged as “Duplicate Content.” Our crawler will flag any pages with 90% or more overlapping content or code as having duplicate content.

Officially, in the wise words of Google, duplicate content doesn’t incur a penalty. However, it can be filtered out of the index, so still not great.

Having said that, the trick is in the fine print. One bot’s duplicate content is another bot’s thin content, and thin content can get you penalized. Let me refer you back to our old friend, the Quality Guidelines.

Are you doing one of these things intentionally or accidentally? Do you want me to make you chant again?

If you’re being hounded by duplicate content issues and don’t know where to start, then we’ve got more information on duplicate content on our Learning Center.

I’ve found some pages that clearly have different content on them, so why are these duplicate?

So friends, what we have here is thin content that’s being flagged as duplicate.

There is basically not enough content on the page for bots to distinguish them from each other. Remember that our crawler looks at all the page code, as well as the copy that humans see.

You may find this frustrating at first: “Like, why are they duplicates?? They’re different, gosh darn it!” But once you pass through all the 7 stages of duplicate content and arrive at acceptance, you’ll see the opportunity you have here. Why not pop those topics on your content schedule? Why not use the “queen” again, and 301 redirect them to a similar resource, combining the power of both resources? Or maybe, just maybe, you could use them in a blog post about duplicate content — just like I have.

Action to take for duplicate pages with different content

Before you make any hasty decisions, check the traffic to these pages. Maybe dig a bit deeper and track conversions and bounce rate, as well. Check out our workflow for thin content earlier in this post and do the same for these pages.

From there you can figure out if you want to rework content to add value or redirect pages to another resource.

This is an awesome video in the ever-impressive Whiteboard Friday series which talks about republishing. Seriously, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t watch it.

Broken URLs and duplicate content

Another dive into Duplicate Content has turned up two Help Hub URLs that point to the same page.

These are no good to man or beast. They are especially no good for our analytics — blurgh, data confusion! No good for our crawl budget — blurgh, extra useless page! User experience? Blurgh, nope, no good for that either.

Action to take for messed-up URLs causing duplicate content

Zap this time-waster with a 301 redirect. For me this is an easy decision: add a 301 to the long, messed up URL with a PA of 1, no discussion. I love our new Learning Center so much that I’m going to link to it again so you can learn more about redirection and build your SEO knowledge.

It’s the most handy place to check if you get stuck with any of the concepts I’ve talked about today.

Wrapping up

While it may feel scary at first to have your content flagged as having issues, the real takeaway here is that these are actually neatly organized opportunities.

With a bit of tenacity and some extra data from Google Analytics, you can start to understand the best way to fix your content and make your site easier to use (and more powerful in the process).

If you get stuck, just remember our chant: “Does this add value for my visitors?” Your content has to be for your human visitors, so think about them and their journey. And most importantly: be good to yourself and use a tool like Moz Pro that compiles potential issues into an easily digestible catalogue.

Enjoy your chili taco and your good night’s sleep!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog

Listen to MozPod, the Free SEO Podcast from Moz

Posted by BrianChilds

We’re marketers. We know from firsthand experience that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to get done. And that’s even more true once you commit to leveling up and learning new skills.

The learning curve for developing digital marketing skills can be steep, and staying informed as things evolve and change (thanks, Google) can feel like a full-time job. Our Moz Training has classes to help accelerate the learning process, but as startup folks ourselves, we understand the importance of multitasking.

Learn SEO on the go

We’re thrilled to introduce MozPod, an SEO podcast focused on sharing lessons from digital marketing experts. Episodes are led by instructors from Moz Academy and we discuss a wide variety of digital marketing concepts, from common terminology to recent changes and best practices.

Check it out on iTunes

Where can I listen in?

Upcoming episodes

Our first series covers conversion rate optimization, PageRank, and link building:

Ep. 1: The Science of Crawling and Indexing

Guest: Neil Martinsen-Burrell of Moz

Dr. Neil Martinsen-Burrell shares his perspective as a statistician on the development of Page Authority and Domain Authority. Great data and interesting stats.

Ep. 2: What’s a Good Conversion Rate?

Guest: Carl Schmidt of Unbounce

Carl discusses the Unbounce Conversion Rate Benchmark Report and what SEOs can learn from an analysis of over 74 million landing page visitors. Great for content writers.

Ep. 3: Link Building Fundamentals

Guest: The PageOnePower team

MozPod interviews PageOnePower about how search engines place value on links. Collin, Cody, and Nicholas share the personal wisdom they’ve gained from working at a link building company.

Want to be a guest on MozPod?

If you’d like to share your recent SEO analysis or have a topic you think MozPod listeners would find valuable, please send us your ideas! MozPod is a place for our community of SEOs and digital marketers to learn. We’d love to hear from you.

Simply fill out this form to share your idea: Be on MozPod

Give it a listen and let us know what topics you’d like to hear about in the comments!

Listen to MozPod on iTunes

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog