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11 Changes & New Features Coming to AdWords: What You Need to Know

Every spring, Google unleashes a slew of big announcements. One year, the big announcement was Enhanced Campaigns. Last year, they dropped the spectre of Expanded Text Ads on us.

Today, our own Mark Irvine was live in person at Google’s Marketing Next event in Mountain View to get the scoop on what big changes and new features are coming to AdWords, and we’ve got a roundup of all the updates right here.

Google Marketing Next

Between sweeping aesthetic alterations, a bunch of new audience features, and oodles of buzzwords, Google Marketing Next did not disappoint.

The good news: our AdWords overlords have bestowed on us a bounty of exciting new features that’ll enhance your digital marketing strategy.

The bad news: you’ve got some learnin’ to do! (But don’t worry! We’ll guide you through all the changes in our free webinar tomorrow. Sign up here!)

google marketing next 2017 keynote themes 

The overarching themes of the day (and upcoming year) were user intent, data, and machine learning.

I’d say the event was underpinned by another word: context.

adwords shift towards context vs keyword targeting 

Recent changes to AdWords (I’m looking at you, Exact-ish Match keywords) have led the digital marketing community to declare the beginning of the end for keyword-centric advertising; in its stead, we’ll work with semantic and contextual information, targeting audiences, not clicks.

Between machine learning and the rise of voice search (which apparently makes up 20% of all mobile searches) today’s announcement did little to slow the march towards a keywordless future.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Some of the new features announced today will make it easier to find prospects, while others will help you cater to their explicit needs from your first interaction the point of sale and beyond.

Intrigued?

Let’s dig into the 11 most interesting features and changes announced at Google Marketing Next.

1. AdWords Has a New UI

Google is billing this as “the most powerful change [they’ve] made to how advertisers visualize and manage their campaigns in over 15 years.” And it’s easy to see why. The new AdWords UI is sleek. It’s sexy. It’s everything the clunky old UI, with its overlapping shades of grey and unfindable sub-menus, is not.

the new adwords ui 

That being said, you needn’t worry about wrapping your mind around the whirring new labyrinth just yet: despite the fact that millions of advertisers already have access (and can vacillate between the old and new UI’s at will) the “new AdWords experience” won’t be available to everyone until December.

Stay tuned: we’ll have a more in-depth post on the new AdWords UI later this week!

2. Life Events Targeting Comes to YouTube and Gmail Ads

There are some things that can be categorized as everyday purchases. Hand soap. Corn Chips. Cigarettes. Whatever.

For purchases that tend to happen around or because of YUGE life events (think weddings and graduations), though, things are a bit different.

There are patterns of behavior that tend to indicate an impending life event. Looking for an apartment and working on your resume and upgrading from kegs of swill to four-pack microbrews, for example, might establish that someone is graduating. If your product or service could help someone at this stage in your life, your advertising to them is a mutually beneficial proposition.

Check this out:

adwords gmail life event targeting 

By using this exact strategy, smart-speaker company Sonos saw huge improvements in both ad recall and search intent.

Now, AdWords will allow you to use Life Events as a targeting option in both your YouTube and your Gmail Ads. Big, bold, targeted creative. What’s not to love?!

3. In-Market Audiences Come to Search

Machine learning was mentioned by virtually every speaker, but the bit that piqued my interest most was about in-market audiences finally coming to the Search network.

As you know, in-market audiences, which have been available on the Display Network for some time now, help advertisers find prospects who are nearing the end of the buying cycle. Through the synthesis of search query data and activity analysis, Google is now able to identify these hyper-valuable subsets of your target demo on the search network.

4. Location Extensions for YouTube Ads

Good: A totally disinterested stranger finds and watches your video on YouTube.

Better: A prospect sees your video on YouTube.

Best: A prospect sees your video, notices the new location extensions beneath it, then heads to your brick-and-mortar joint to buy bespoke shoelaces or chewing gum that never loses its flavor or [insert your product or service here].

Welcome to the new PPC reality.

5. Google Surveys 360

Account managers rejoice!

Surveys 360 allows users to:

  • Create a survey
  • Find a specific audience sample across the web
  • Generate results quickly

Why does this matter? It promises to make A/B testing SO MUCH EASIER, by giving you the ability yo solicit feedback from customers. By asking someone why they clicked your ad, you can get an idea as to what’s working (and what isn’t) straight from the horse’s mouth.

google surveys 360 

This was the feature that elicited the most favorable response from members of our Managed Services team. Nic D’Amato, a Senior Paid Search Strategist, said “It’ll help with remarketing, with ad copy testing: it’s got a bunch of applications and I’m excited to try this out.”

6. AMP Ads and Landing Pages for Search & Display

Mobile matters. (Duh.)

According to Google, every additional second of landing page load time represents a 20% dip in conversion rate. This is no good. You need fast(er) landing pages and you need them yesterday.

google announces amp for search and display ads 

AMP landing pages are Google’s latest answer to improving page speed.

But wait: it gets better.

In addition to sending search traffic to AMP pages (as you can already do organically), Google has also unveiled Display ads for AMP pages. These ads allegedly load up to 5 seconds faster than regular Display creative: even though the ads look the exact same!

7. Google Optimize: The Landing Page Solution We’ve Been Waiting For?

After the big shiny new UI, this has the potential to be the most interesting announcement to come out of Marketing Next.

Google Optimize will now integrate with AdWords, giving advertisers more agility in the often clunky, belabored world of landing page testing.

google optimize makes landing pages testing even easier 

Per Google: “With the Optimize and AdWords integration, you can quickly and easily create new versions of your landing pages and then apply them to any combination of AdWords campaigns, ad groups, and keywords – no coding or webmaster required.”

Just let that sink in for a minute.

Landing page variants with no coding required. It’s a PPC fever dream like no other.

Simplified landing page testing will give advertisers a massive advantage over their current selves (especially when you consider the new Quality Score reporting available in AdWords, which allows us to view landing page experience on its own).

I’m really curious to see exactly how this works and begin using it in my own clients’ accounts.

8. Hello, Google Attribution

Another new product!

The complexity of the average customer journey, which often traverses the digital and physical worlds, far exceeds my pay grade. Most attribution solutions don’t really make life any easier on this front, so the majority of marketers are stuck in “where did that conversion actually come from” limbo.

google unveils new attribution modeling tool 

Google Attribution will allow you to view the true impact of your digital marketing efforts from 10,000 feet. For free.

Attribution modeling is a pain (unless you’re some kind of data scientist or something). This will make it easier. What’s not to love?

9. New Landing Page Report

More mobile stuff. Shocker.

For my money, this is the most actionable takeaway of the lot. Google has baked a nuanced, upgraded version of the PageSpeed tool right into the new AdWords UI.

adwords mobile landing page test 

Outside of providing suggestions for optimizing the load time for a specific page, this new Landing Page Report will allow you to review a site-wide usability report and ask experts questions.

10. Google Assistant Makes Buying Easy

Offering users a simple way to pay for your goods or services would be fantastic, right?

What if they could do so from their phone? Using only their voice?

Interested? Cool.

So is Google.

 making a purchase on phone using google assistant

Per the announcement today, mobile devices (plural: people using multiple devices, like up to 5 in a day, is a thing) will afford prospects much faster checkout times. That’s not the neatest part, though. That honor belongs to the way Google Assistant is being integrated.

By uploading local inventory, a searcher can be alerted to the exact number of X product in stock at your shop in real time.

adwords google voice assistant purchase GIF 

This one’s got some stringent caveats (prospects must use Android Pay, the Play Store, or some form of payment stored in Chrome), but it represents the future, man.

11. Cookie the Dog

Last but definitely not least. Cookie, Bhanu Narasimhan’s dog, stole the show.

cookie 

Still got questions, about Cookie or about how all these new updates and features are going to affect your AdWords campaigns? There’s still time to sign up for our webinar on WEDNESDAY, MAY 24. We’ll talk you through everything you need to know.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2rRgIE9

Lessons from 1,000 Voice Searches (on Google Home)

Posted by Dr-Pete

It’s hardly surprising that Google Home is an extension of Google’s search ecosystem. Home is attempting to answer more and more questions, drawing those answers from search results. There’s an increasingly clear connection between Featured Snippets in search and voice answers.

For example, let’s say a hedgehog wanders into your house and you naturally find yourself wondering what you should feed it. You might search for “What do hedgehogs eat?” On desktop, you’d see a Featured Snippet like the following:

Given that you’re trying to wrangle a strange hedgehog, searching on your desktop may not be practical, so you ask Google Home: “Ok, Google — What do hedgehogs eat?” and hear the following:

Google Home leads with the attribution to Ark Wildlife (since a voice answer has no direct link), and then repeats a short version of the desktop snippet. The connection between the two answers is, I hope, obvious.

Anecdotally, this is a pattern we see often on Google Home, but how consistent is it? How does Google handle Featured Snippets in other formats (including lists and tables)? Are some questions answered wildly differently by Google Home compared to desktop search?

Methodology (10K –> 1K)

To find out the answer to these questions, I needed to start with a fairly large set of searches that were likely to generate answers in the form of Featured Snippets. My colleague Russ Jones pulled a set of roughly 10,000 popular searches beginning with question words (Who, What, Where, Why, When, How) from a third-party “clickstream” source (actual web activity from a very large set of users).

I ran those searches on desktop (automagically, of course) and found that just over half (53%) had Featured Snippets. As we’ve seen in other data sets, Google is clearly getting serious about direct answers.

The overall set of popular questions was dominated by “What?” and “How?” phrases:

Given the prevalence of “How to?” questions, I’ve broken them out in this chart. The purple bars show how many of these searches generated Featured Snippets. “How to?” questions were very likely to display a Featured Snippet, with other types of questions displaying them less than half of the time.

Of the roughly 5,300 searches in the full data set that had Featured Snippets, those snippets broke down into four types, as follows:

Text snippets — paragraph-based answers like the one at the top of this post — accounted for roughly two-thirds of all of the Featured Snippets in our original data set. List snippets accounted for just under one-third — these are bullet lists, like this one for “How to draw a dinosaur?”:

Step 1 – Draw a small oval. Step 5 – Dinosaur! It’s as simple as that.

Table snippets made up less than 2% of the Featured Snippets in our starting data set. These snippets contain a small amount of tabular data, like this search for “What generation am I?”:

If you throw your money recklessly at your avocado toast habit instead of buying a house, you’re probably a millennial (sorry, content marketing joke).

Finally, video snippets are a special class of Featured Snippet with a large video thumbnail and direct link (dominated by YouTube). Here’s one for “Who is the spiciest memelord?”:

I’m honestly not sure what commentary I can add to that result. Since there’s currently no way for a video to appear on Google Home, we excluded video snippets from the rest of the study.

Google has also been testing some hybrid Featured Snippets. In some cases, for example, they attempt to extract a specific answer from the text, such as this answer for “When was 1984 written?” (Hint: the answer is not 1984):

For the purposes of this study, we treated these hybrids as text snippets. Given the concise answer at the top, these hybrids are well-suited to voice results.

From the 5.3K questions with snippets, I selected 1,000, excluding video but purposely including a disproportionate number of list and table types (to better see if and how those translated into voice).

Why only 1,000? Because, unlike desktop searches, there’s no easy way to do this. Over the course of a couple of days, I had to run all of these voice searches manually on Google Home. It’s possible that I went temporarily insane. At one point, I saw a spider on my Google Home staring back at me. Fearing that I was hallucinating, I took a picture and posted it on Twitter:

I was assured that the spider was, in point of fact, not a figment of my imagination. I’m still not sure about the half-hour when the spider sang me selections from the Hamilton soundtrack.

From snippets to voice answers

So, how many of the 1,000 searches yielded voice answers? The short answer is: 71%. Diving deeper, it turns out that this percentage is strongly dependent on the type of snippet:

Text snippets in our 1K data set yielded voice answers 87% of the time. List snippets dropped to just under half, and table snippets only generated voice answers one-third of the time. This makes sense — long lists and most tables are simply harder to translate into voice.

In the case of tables, some of these results were from different sites or in a different format. In other words, the search generated a Featured Snippet and a voice answer, but the voice answer was of a different type (text, for example) and attributed to a different source. Only 20% of Featured Snippets in table format generated voice answers that came from the same source.

From a search marketing standpoint, text snippets are going to generate a voice answer almost 9 out of 10 times. Optimizing for text/paragraph snippets is a good starting point for ranking on voice search and should generally be a win-win across devices.

Special: Knowledge Graph

What about the Featured Snippets that didn’t generate voice answers? It turns out there was quite a variety of exceptions in play. One exception was answers that came directly from the Knowledge Graph on Google Home, without any attribution. For example, the question “What is the nuclear option?” produces this Featured Snippet (for me, at least) on desktop:

On Google Home, though, I get an unattributed answer that seems to come from the Knowledge Graph:

It’s unclear why Google has chosen one over the other for voice in this particular case. Across the 1,000 keyword set, there were about 30 keywords where something similar happened.

Special: Device help

Google Home seems to translate some searches as device-specific help. For example, “How to change your name?” returns desktop results about legally changing your name as an individual. On Google Home, I get the following:

Other searches from our list that triggered device help include:

  • How to contact Google?
  • How to send a fax online?
  • What are you up to?

Special: Easter eggs

Google Home has some Easter eggs that seem unique to voice search. One of my personal favorites — the question “What is best in life?” — generates the following:

Here’s a list of the other Easter eggs in our 1,000 phrase data set:

  • How many letters are in the alphabet?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  • What generation am I?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What would you do for a Klondike bar?
  • Where do babies come from?
  • Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
  • Where is my iPhone?
  • Where is Waldo?
  • Who is your daddy?

Easter eggs are a bit less predictable than device help. Generally speaking, though, both are rare and shouldn’t dissuade you from trying to rank for Featured Snippets and voice answers.

Special: General confusion

In a handful of cases, Google simply didn’t understand the question or couldn’t answer the exact question. For example, I could not get Google to understand the question “What does MAGA mean?” The answer I got back (maybe it’s my Midwestern accent?) was:

On second thought, maybe that’s not entirely inaccurate.

One interesting case is when Google decides to answer a slightly different question. On desktop, if you search for “How to become a vampire?”, you might see the following Featured Snippet:

On Google Home, I’m asked to clarify my intent:

I suspect both of these cases will improve over time, as voice recognition continues to advance and Google becomes better at surfacing answers.

Special: Recipe results

Back in April, Google launched a new set of recipe functions across search and Google Home. Many “How to?” questions related to cooking now generate something like this (the question I asked was “How to bake chicken breast?”):

You can opt to find a recipe on Google search and send it to your Google Home, or Google can simply pick a recipe for you. Either way, it will guide you through step-by-step instructions.

Special: Health conditions

A half-dozen or so health questions, from general questions to diseases, generated results like the following. This one is for the question “Why do we sneeze?”:

This has no clear connection to desktop search results, and I’m not clear if it’s a signal for future, expanded functionality. It seems to be of limited use right now.

Special: WikiHow

A handful of “How to?” questions triggered an unusual response. For example, if I ask Google Home “How to write a press release?” I get back:

If I say “yes,” I’m taken directly to a wikiHow assistant that uses a different voice. The wikiHow answers are much longer than text-based Featured Snippets.

How should we adapt?

Voice search and voice appliances (including Google Assistant and Google Home) are evolving quickly right now, and it’s hard to know where any of this will be in the next couple of years. From a search marketing standpoint, I don’t think it makes sense to drop everything to invest in voice, but I do think we’ve reached a point where some forward momentum is prudent.

First, I highly recommend simply being aware of how your industry and your major keywords/questions “appear” on Google Home (or Google Assistant on your mobile device). Look at the recipe situation above — for 99%+ of the people reading this article, that’s a novelty. If you’re in the recipe space, though, it’s game-changing, and it’s likely a sign of more to come.

Second, I feel strongly that Featured Snippets are a win-win right now. Almost 90% of the text-only Featured Snippets we tracked yielded a voice answer. These snippets are also prominent on desktop and mobile searches. Featured Snippets are a great starting point for understanding the voice ecosystem and establishing your foothold.

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13 of the Best Instagram Ads We’ve Ever Seen

As I was writing this post, I reached out to coworkers and friends to screenshot their favorite Instagram ads. The responses were, unfortunately, lacking to non-existent.  When I kept bugging them, most responded saying that they either only saw terrible ads, or none at all. Which got me thinking…

The best Instagram ads don’t look like ads at all.

They look like Instagram photos. Kind of like the best movies we see are those that we can relate to—the best acting mimics real life!

Instagram Ads

What we noticed? As social media platforms push consumers toward video, businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity. We also saw a lot of cool carousel ads, creative boomerangs, and high-quality photos.

Welcome to the Oscars of Instagram Ads. It’s going to be a star-studded post. Even better, we’ll take you behind the scenes and show you just how to duplicate their award-winning looks.

Best Actor

Let’s hit this red carpet running! Look at that adorable face. You just know he had to pose 12 different ways with his ears getting tugged to produce this adorable ad. This creative gets right to the point—it’s a grooming service marketing itself to you by showing a picture of a groomed puppy. Sometimes, the best way to get your result is a straight line. Congratulations, Krisers Pets!

Best Instagram Ads

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Cute animals will stop your prospects in their tracks
  • The “Call now” CTA makes it easy to take action

Best Picture

Look. At. That. Cheesy. Goodness.

Hats off to you, Domino’s. You know what draws hungry college kids coming home from the bars, posting late night Instagrams: cheap—yet delicious—pizza.

More than just the gorgeous picture of a pie, food pictures are huge on Instagram right now. (And did you know that the #1 most Instagrammed food is pizza?) These kinds of ads blend in and stand out appropriately; no one is going to get annoyed that you’re showing up, and they might just be intrigued enough to place a delivery order or head into the store.

Dominos Instagram Ad

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • It looks “native” (like an organic Instagram post)
  • Emojis in the ad text are a nice touch to resonate with hungry millennials

Best Director

This artistic ad from Dance and Beyond is slightly mind-bending, like looking at an illusion on your phone screen. Props for some awesome photography skills—you know the photographer (director) had to rearrange these legs 10,000 different times and take 10,000 shots to get this exactly right.

Don’t be afraid to up the ante on Instagram. If you have an amateur photographer on staff—or if you run a photography studio—show off your skills! Everyone is always looking for the perfect angles. Capture your audience!

Dance Direction

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Eye-catching, artsy photography begs to be “liked”

Best Original Screenplay

This Chik-fil-a Instagram won the show with a pregnancy announcement. To be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed the play on the typical bun-in-the-oven announcement but I truly identified with Dad. He was upset that there was only one mini chicken sandwich in his box! The emotions were so real!

To create an Instagram ad like Chik-fil-a’s, think about how your brand or product can unexpectedly be involved in the personal milestones of your customers. Everyone loves a great success story; do you run a boutique where your salesperson had a meet-cute with a customer? Do you have a restaurant that hosted a surprise birthday party recently? Tell your story through a video ad! 

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Uses self-deprecating humor—exactly what you’re looking for from a fast food restaurant
  • Tells a complete story quickly

Best Animated Feature

This adorable Haagen-Dazs ad combined a very real-looking ice cream cone with some very animated bumble bees to celebrate Free Cone Day. They even included a nice play on the “busy bee” idiom in the caption!

This advertisement isn’t too flashy or cartoonish, but draws awareness to the endangered honey bee population and the free cone event in a cute way. You know that they considered featuring real bumble bees, then immediately realized it would be a terrible idea. Way to go, Haagen-Dazs!

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Latches onto a popular event and a popular environmental issue
  • Creative use of hashtags

Best Adapted Screenplay

Though this might be a stretch for an ad, the popular show 13 Reasons Why is based on a book, and was adapted for television by Netflix. This carousel ad features the show’s main characters with some dramatic overlay quotes.

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Eye-catching carousel without being a full-blown trailer
  • Intrigues your audience, drives subscription conversions

Best Cinematography

This ad must have been filmed with a high-def, fisheye drone (or something like that, I’m not a photography expert). The footage is amazing! It makes the viewer feel as though they are in the crowd with the best seats in the house. And it never gets boring, with quick action shots, clips of an excited audience, and sporadic camera flashes.

Have Go Pro, will travel? This type of ad is great for travel agencies, car share companies, boutique hotels, or any business that assists their customers getting from point A to point B. Make your audience fight the FOMO with some fast and slow video compilations.

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Incredibly well-taken video
  • Makes the audience feel present but not as though they are being swindled

Best Costume

This adorable Starbucks ad wins best costume for that great camouflage! On top of the adorable factor, it has all the makings of a great Instagram on a personal account. Don’t kid yourself, one of your more photography-inclined friends could have captured this for a ludicrous amount of likes.

Take advantage of scenery! If you have an especially cool mural or view around your business, take photos of it—maybe with your products strategically placed in the shot.

Starbucks Best Instagram Ad

Why this Instagram ad works:

Best Makeup and Hair

Just looking at this ad from Glossier brings the great, classic song to mind, “My lip gloss is poppin’, my lip gloss is cool!” Glossier has a series of strong ads featuring their products, which closely resemble make-up tutorials that you would find on Instagram organically. This advertisement draws your eye with the enhanced sparkles, and can provide swift gratification with a click of a button to order the same gloss.

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Like so many of the best Instagram ads, it mimics a great organic ‘gram
  • Clever copywriting is the icing on the cake

Best Comedy

Who doesn’t love a good pet-shaming? Not only does this Instagram ad blend in with the rest of my feed full of naughty puppies and silly cats, it includes a plot twist! This naughty goat head-butting a car door is the perfect advertisement for car insurance—because who knows when a trip to the petting zoo could go awry.

Want to make an ad like this? Simply find a way to incorporate cute animals into your business proposition. Works like a charm.

Insurance Agency

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Great repurposing of the pet-shaming meme
  • Copy and CTA both reinforce the next step: Calling for help

Best Set Design

Mrs. Meyer’s subtle boomerang ad could be from any parent’s Instagram—spilled milk on some cookies that you know left the kitchen covered in flour and sprinkles. The real eye-catcher is the great title, “Perfect is Boring” that steals the show.

Face it, good cleaning products aren’t the most thrilling selling point. If your product is similarly sleep-inducing, try putting a fun twist on it! Sell cat litter? Pictures of silly kittens. Paper products? Find some way to work The Office into the conversation. You got this.

Boomerang Mrs. Meyer's

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Perfectly paired image and caption
  • Blends in with an Instagram newsfeed, but is eye-catching enough to create pause

Best Dance

Shout out to Brooklinen for having the best boomerang jump-into-bed dance that everyone can identify with. #BedGoals, am I right? This Instagram ad features (what I can only assume is) a sweet Brooklyn loft, a beautifully made bed, and a satisfying “poof” when that attractive man somersaults into it.

As so many Instagram models can tell you, being scantily clad goes a long way (ahem, every Kardashian, ahem). However, I would recommend duplicating the relatable satisfaction displayed in this ad—the bed jump—like pulling a cheesy slice of pizza or perfectly landing a water bottle flip.

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Boomerangs are always effective at drawing attention
  • The caption boasts a sale!

Humanitarian Award

Last, but absolutely not least, our Humanitarian Award goes to Donate Life America! Doesn’t that sweet face stop your scroll in its tracks? This simple and to-the-point ad is for a great cause, too.

Humanitarian Award 

Why this Instagram ad works:

  • Well-taken photo for a good cause

Congratulations to all our winners! Did we miss an outstanding Instagram ad that you’ve seen? Send it our way!

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Location Data + Reviews: The 1–2 Punch of Local SEO

Posted by MiriamEllis

localseocombo.jpg

My father, a hale and hearty gentleman in his seventies, simply won’t dine at a new restaurant these days before he checks its reviews on his cell phone. Your 23-year-old nephew, who travels around the country for his job as a college sports writer, has devoted 233 hours of his young life to writing 932 reviews on Yelp (932 reviews x @15 minutes per review).

Yes, our local SEO industry knows that my dad and your nephew need to find accurate NAP on local business listings to actually find and get to business locations. This is what makes our historic focus on citation data management totally reasonable. But reviews are what help a business to be chosen. Phil Rozek kindly highlighted a comment of mine as being among the most insightful on the Local Search Ranking Factors 2017 survey:

“If I could drive home one topic in 2017 for local business owners, it would surround everything relating to reviews. This would include rating, consumer sentiment, velocity, authenticity, and owner responses, both on third-party platforms and native website reviews/testimonials pages. The influence of reviews is enormous; I have come to see them as almost as powerful as the NAP on your citations. NAP must be accurate for rankings and consumer direction, but reviews sell.”

I’d like to take a few moments here to dive deeper into that list of review elements. It’s my hope that this post is one you can take to your clients, team or boss to urge creative and financial allocations for a review management campaign that reflects the central importance of this special form of marketing.

Ratings: At-a-glance consumer impressions and impactful rankings filter

Whether they’re stars or circles, the majority of rating icons send a 1–5 point signal to consumers that can be instantly understood. This symbol system has been around since at least the 1820s; it’s deeply ingrained in all our brains as a judgement of value.

So, when a modern Internet user is making a snap decision, like where to grab a taco, the food truck with 5 Yelp stars is automatically going to look more appealing than the one with only 2. Ratings can also catch the eye when Schema (or Google serendipity) causes them to appear within organic SERPs or knowledge panels.

All of the above is well-understood, but while the exact impact of high star ratings on local pack rankings has long been speculative (it’s only factor #24 in this year’s Local Search Ranking Factors), we may have just reached a new day with Google. The ability to filter local finder results by rating has been around for some time, but in May, Google began testing the application of a “highly rated” snippet on hotel rankings in the local packs. Meanwhile, searches with the format of “best X in city” (e.g. best burrito in Dallas) appear to be defaulting to local results made up of businesses that have earned a minimum average of 4 stars. It’s early days yet, but totally safe for us to assume that Google is paying increased attention to numeric ratings as indicators of relevance.

Because we’re now reaching the point from which we can comfortably speculate that high ratings will tend to start correlating more frequently with high local rankings, it’s imperative for local businesses to view low ratings as the serious impediments to growth that they truly are. Big brands, in particular, must stop ignoring low star ratings, or they may find themselves not only having to close multiple store locations, but also, to be on the losing end of competing for rankings for their open stores when smaller competitors surpass their standards of cleanliness, quality, and employee behavior.

Consumer sentiment: The local business story your customers are writing for you

Here is a randomly chosen Google 3-pack result when searching just for “tacos” in a small city in the San Francisco Bay Area:

taco3pack.jpg

We’ve just been talking about ratings, and you can look at a result like this to get that instant gut feeling about the 4-star-rated eateries vs. the 2-star place. Now, let’s open the book on business #3 and see precisely what kind of story its consumers are writing. This is the first step towards doing a professional review audit for any business whose troubling reviews may point to future closure if problems aren’t fixed. A full audit would look at all relevant review platforms, but we’ll be brief here and just look at Google and Yelp and sort negative sentiments by type:

tacoaudit.jpg

It’s easy to ding fast food chains. Their business model isn’t commonly associated with fine dining or the kind of high wages that tend to promote employee excellence. In some ways, I think of them as extreme examples. Yet, they serve as good teaching models for how even the most modest-quality offerings create certain expectations in the minds of consumers, and when those basic expectations aren’t met, it’s enough of a story for consumers to share in the form of reviews.

This particular restaurant location has an obvious problem with slow service, orders being filled incorrectly, and employees who have not been trained to represent the brand in a knowledgeable, friendly, or accessible manner. Maybe a business you are auditing has pain points surrounding outdated fixtures or low standards of cleanliness.

Whatever the case, when the incoming consumer turns to the review world, their eyes scan the story as it scrolls down their screen. Repeat mentions of a particular negative issue can create enough of a theme to turn the potential customer away. One survey says only 13% of people will choose a business that has wound up with a 1–2 star rating based on poor reviews. Who can afford to let the other 87% of consumers go elsewhere?

There are 20 restaurants showing up in Google’s local finder for my “tacos” search, highlighted above. Taco Bell is managing to hold the #3 spot in the local pack right now, perhaps due to brand authority. My question is, what happens next, particularly if Google is going to amplify ratings and review sentiment in the overall local ranking mix? Will this chain location continue to beat out 4-star restaurants with 100+ positive reviews, or will it slip down as consumers continue to chronicle specific and unresolved issues?

No third-party brand controls Google, but your brand can open the book right now and make maximum use of the story your customers are constantly publishing — for free. By taking review insights as real and representative of all the customers who don’t speak up, and by actively addressing repeatedly cited issues, you could be making one of the smartest decisions in your company’s history.

Velocity/recency: Just enough of a timely good thing

This is one of the easiest aspects of review management to teach clients. You can sum it up in one sentence: don’t get too many reviews at once on any given platform but do get enough reviews on an ongoing basis to avoid looking like you’ve gone out of business.

For a little more background on the first part of that statement, watch Mary Bowling describing in this LocalU video how she audited a law firm that went from zero to thirty 5-star reviews within a single month. Sudden gluts of reviews like this not only look odd to alert customers, but they can trip review platform filters, resulting in removal. Remember, reviews are a business lifetime effort, not a race. Get a few this month, a few next month, and a few the month after that. Keep going.

The second half of the review timing paradigm relates to not running out of steam in your acquisition campaigns. One survey found that 73% of consumers don’t believe that reviews that are older than 3 months are still relevant to them, yet you will frequently encounter businesses that haven’t earned a new review in over a year. It makes you wonder if the place is still in business, or if it’s in business but is so unimpressive that no one is bothering to review it.

While I’d argue that review recency may be more important in review-oriented industries (like restaurants) vs. those that aren’t quite as actively reviewed (like septic system servicing), the idea here is similar to that of velocity, in that you want to keep things going. Don’t run a big review acquisition campaign in January and then forget about outreach for the rest of the year. A moderate, steady pace of acquisition is ideal.

Authenticity: Honesty is the only honest policy

For me, this is one of the most prickly and interesting aspects of the review world. Three opposing forces meet on this playing field: business ethics, business education, and the temptations engendered by the obvious limitations of review platforms to police themselves.

I recently began a basic audit of a family-owned restaurant for a friend of a friend. Within minutes, I realized that the family had been reviewing their own restaurant on Yelp (a glaring violation of Yelp’s policy). I felt sorry to see this, but being acquainted with the people involved (and knowing them to be quite nice!), I highly doubted they had done this out of some dark impulse to deceive the public. Rather, my guess was that they may have thought they were “getting the ball rolling” for their new business, hoping to inspire real reviews. My gut feeling was that they simply lacked the necessary education to understand that they were being dishonest with their community and how this could lead to them being publicly shamed by Yelp, if caught.

In such a scenario, there is definitely opportunity for the marketer to offer the necessary education to describe the risks involved in tying a brand to misleading practices, highlighting how vital it is to build trust within the local community. Fake positive reviews aren’t building anything real on which a company can stake its future. Ethical business owners will catch on when you explain this in honest terms and can then begin marketing themselves in smarter ways.

But then there’s the other side. Mike Blumenthal recently wrote of his discovery of the largest review spam network he’d ever encountered and there’s simply no way to confuse organized, global review spam with a busy small business making a wrong, novice move. Real temptation resides in this scenario, because, as Blumenthal states:

Review spam at this scale, unencumbered by any Google enforcement, calls into question every review that Google has. Fake business listings are bad, but businesses with 20, or 50, or 150 fake reviews are worse. They deceive the searcher and the buying public and they stain every real review, every honest business, and Google.”

When a platform like Google makes it easy to “get away with” deception, companies lacking ethics will take advantage of the opportunity. All we can do, as marketers, is to offer the education that helps ethical businesses make honest choices. We can simply pose the question:

Is it better to fake your business’ success or to actually achieve success?

On a final note, authenticity is a two-way street in the review world. When spammers target good businesses with fake, negative reviews, this also presents a totally false picture to the consumer public. I highly recommend reading about Whitespark’s recent successes in getting fake Google reviews removed. No guarantees here, but excellent strategic advice.

Owner responses: Your contributions to the consumer story

In previous Moz blog posts, I’ve highlighted the five types of Google My Business reviews and how to respond to them, and I’ve diagrammed a real-world example of how a terrible owner response can make a bad situation even worse. If the world of owner responses is somewhat new to you, I hope you’ll take a gander at both of those. Here, I’d like to focus on a specific aspect of owner responses, as it relates to the story reviews are telling about your business.

We’ve discussed above the tremendous insight consumer sentiment can provide into a company’s pain points. Negative reviews can be a roadmap to resolving repeatedly cited problems. They are inherently valuable in this regard, and by dint of their high visibility, they carry the inherent opportunity for the business owner to make a very public showing of accountability in the form of owner responses. A business can state all it wants on its website that it offers lightning-quick service, but when reviews complain of 20-minute waits for fast food, which source do you think the average consumer will trust?

The truth is, the hypothetical restaurant has a problem. They’re not going to be able to resolve slow service overnight. Some issues are going to require real planning and real changes to overcome. So what can the owner do in this case?

  1. Whistle past the graveyard, claiming everything is actually fine now, guaranteeing further disappointed expectations and further negative reviews resulting therefrom?
  2. Be gutsy and honest, sharing exactly what realizations the business has had due to the negative reviews, what the obstacles are to fixing the problems, and what solutions the business is implementing to do their best to overcome those obstacles?

Let’s look at this in living color:

whistlinggutsy.jpg

In yellow, the owner response is basically telling the story that the business is ignoring a legitimate complaint, and frankly, couldn’t care less. In blue, the owner has jumped right into the storyline, having the guts to take the blame, apologize, explain what happened and promise a fix — not an instant one, but a fix on the way. In the end, the narrative is going to go on with or without input from the owner, but in the blue example, the owner is taking the steering wheel into his own hands for at least part of the road trip. That initiative could save not just his franchise location, but the brand at large. Just ask Florian Huebner:

“Over the course of 2013 customers of Yi-Ko Holding’s restaurants increasingly left public online reviews about “broken and dirty furniture,” “sleeping and indifferent staff,” and “mice running around in the kitchen.” Per the nature of a franchise system, to the typical consumer it was unclear that these problems were limited to this individual franchisee. Consequently, the Burger King brand as a whole began to deteriorate and customers reduced their consumption across all locations, leading to revenue declines of up to 33% for some other franchisees.”

Positive news for small businesses working like mad to compete: You have more agility to put initiatives into quick action than the big brands do. Companies with 1,000 locations may let negative reviews go unanswered because they lack a clear policy or hierarchy for owner responses, but smaller enterprises can literally turn this around in a day. Just sit down at the nearest computer, claim your review profiles, and jump into the story with the goal of hearing, impressing, and keeping every single customer you can.

Big brands: The challenge for you is larger, by dint of your size, but you’ve also likely got the infrastructure to make this task no problem. You just have to assign the right people to the job, with thoughtful guidelines for ensuring your brand is being represented in a winning way.

NAP and reviews: The 1–2 punch combo every local business must practice

When traveling salesman Duncan Hines first published his 1935 review guide Adventures in Good Eating, he was pioneering what we think of today as local SEO. Here is my color-coded version of his review of the business that would one day become KFC. It should look strangely familiar to every one of you who has ever tackled citation management:

duncanhines.jpg

No phone number on this “citation,” of course, but then again telephones were quite a luxury in 1935. Barring that element, this simple and historic review has the core earmarks of a modern local business listing. It has location data and review data; it’s the 1–2 punch combo every local business still needs to get right today. Without the NAP, the business can’t be found. Without the sentiment, the business gives little reason to be chosen.

Are you heading to a team meeting today? Preparing to chat with an incoming client? Make the winning combo as simple as possible, like this:

  1. We’ve got to manage our local business listings so that they’re accessible, accurate, and complete. We can automate much of this (check out Moz Local) so that we get found.
  2. We’ve got to breathe life into the listings so that they act as interactive advertisements, helping us get chosen. We can do this by earning reviews and responding to them. This is our company heartbeat — our story.

From Duncan Hines to the digital age, there may be nothing new under the sun in marketing, but when you spend year after year looking at the sadly neglected review portions of local business listings, you realize you may have something to teach that is new news to somebody. So go for it — communicate this stuff, and good luck at your next big meeting!

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WordStream Welcomes Howard Kogan Aboard as President

Hot on the heels of our first acquisition earlier this month, I’ve got more big news – WordStream has just expanded its executive team, bringing on Howard Kogan as president!

We’ve been growing like crazy lately – in fact we were just named the 16th fastest growing private company in Massachusetts, thanks to our growth rate of nearly 400% over the past three years. In December, we moved into a new office space to make room for all these new employees. At our all-company meeting each month, I’m usually introducing eight or nine new WordStreamers every time!

WordStream wins Fast50 award

At the FAST50 awards with WordStreamers from across the company

The time has come to add more depth to the WordStream executive team. Howard Kogan joins us from C Space, a customer agency owned by Omnicom. Over the last seven years he has served as President of the Americas region, Chief Technology Officer, and most recently as global Chief Operating Officer leading product innovation, technology development, and acquisitions. He’ll be starting in the brand new role of president on June 12, adding even more horsepower to our executive team. As president, Howard will be focusing on running the day-to-day operations of the company, owning and driving our internal strategy.

I will remain CEO and this additional executive bandwidth will allow me to focus fully on our external growth strategy including exploration of future additional acquisitions, managing our partnerships with companies like Google, Bing, and Facebook, and exploring new partnership opportunities to further fuel our growth.

Howard Kogan

I worked with Howard in the past at my first startup, Molecular, so I know exactly how much he’s going to bring to the table. He’s a great person with exceptional values that match everything we stand for here at WordStream.

howard kogan and ralph folz at wordstream

Please join me in welcoming Howard to the team, and thank you for all your support!

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7 Advanced Google Shopping Strategies [Infographic]

Competing in Google Shopping is hard.

google shopping tips because its harder than search

If you want to succeed as a retailer a successful strategy is essential, especially when you consider the fact that 56% of Google PPC budget is spent on shopping. That’s right: In the USA, Shopping is more popular than search.

To help you get the most out of Google Shopping, our friends at London-based digital marketing agency Clicteq have put together an infographic outlining some advanced techniques that advertisers can leverage to find success in the highly competitive world of eCommerce.

The 7 advanced strategies for Google Shopping success include:

  1. Segment campaigns based on intention
  2. Keep pricing competitive
  3. Test bids extensively
  4. Add keywords to product titles
  5. Segment by product ID
  6. Use dayparting
  7. Add RLSA to Shopping campaigns

With that, the infographic!

 7 advanced google shopping strategies infographic clicteq

As the infographic suggests, Google Shopping can be a tangled web, a place where finding success (measured in ROI) is anything but easy.

Doing so starts with segmentation. By breaking products out based on their Item ID, you can take control of your search queries and product bid. Creating separate campaigns for different types of searchers means you can bid differently for branded vs non-branded terms, limiting wasted spend.

Google’s emphasis on pricing—particularly ensuring that your pricing is competitive relative to other advertisers—is a key component of success: if your goods are overpriced, conversions volume can decrease by over 60%. In a similar vein, bidding mechanics are hyper sensitive on Google Shopping compared to Google Search. A small change, even just a few cents, has the potential to double or half your revenue: talk about volatility. 

The message from Google, at least when it comes to Shopping, is clear: if you want more, better impressions for a certain product, you need to strike the perfect balance between keyword implementation (using search queries in your product headlines is a great place to start) and bidding.

Doing so will pay dividends, especially when you consider that on Google Shopping conversion rates change hourly: your bids should do the same. Advertisers who use historical data to adjust their bids on a daily or even hourly basis see an average increase in conversion volume of 11%. And it gets even better: by using RLSA to apply remarketing lists to your shopping ads you can expect to see significant increases in CTR and conversion rate for pre-qualified audiences.

This infographic was originally published on and re-posted here with permission from clicteq.com.

About the Author

Wesley Parker is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages an AdWords portfolio across a range of different sectors. His writing is regularly featured in leading search publications such as Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Econsultancy.

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Blog Post Ideas: Maximize Your Reach with the Right Topics – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

With the ubiquity of blogs, one of the questions we hear the most is how to come up with the right topics for new posts. In today’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores six different paths to great blog topic ideas, and tells you what you need to keep in mind before you start.

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Blog post ideas

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 blog post ideas, how to have great ones, how to make sure that the topics that you’re covering on your blog actually accomplish the goals that you want, and how to not run out of ideas as well.

The goals of your blog

So let’s start with the goals of a blog and then what an individual post needs to do, and then I’ll walk you through kind of six formats for coming up with great ideas for what to blog about. But generally speaking, you have created a blog, either on your company’s website or your personal website or for the project that you’re working on, because you want to:

  • Attract a certain audience, which is great.
  • Capture the attention and amplification, the sharing of certain types of influencers, so that you can grow that audience.
  • Rank highly in search engines. That’s not just necessarily a goal for the blog’s content itself. But one of the reasons that you started a blog is to grow the authority, the ranking signals, the ability to rank for the website as a whole, and the blog hopefully is helping with that.
  • Inspire some trust, some likeability, loyalty, and maybe even some evangelism from your readers.
  • Provide a reference point for their opinions. So if you are a writer, an author, a journalist, a contributor to all sorts of sources, a speaker, whatever it is, you’re trying to provide a home for your ideas and your content, potentially your opinions too.
  • Covert our audience to take an action. Then, finally, many times a blog is crafted with the idea that it is a first step in capturing an audience that will then take an action. That could be buy something from you, sign up for an email list, potentially take a free trial of something, maybe take some action. A political blog might be about, “Call your Congress person.” But those types of actions.

What should an individual post do?

From there, we get into an individual post. An individual post is supposed to help with these goals, but on its own doesn’t do all of them. It certainly doesn’t need to do more than one at a time. It can hopefully do some. But one of those is, generally speaking, a great blog post will do one of these four things and hopefully two or even three.

I. Help readers to accomplish a goal that they have.

So if I’m trying to figure out which hybrid electric vehicle should I buy and I read a great blog post from someone who’s very, very knowledgeable in the field, and they have two or three recommendations to help me narrow down my search, that is wonderful. It helps me accomplish my goal of figuring out which hybrid car to buy. That accomplishment of goal, that helping of people hits a bunch of these very, very nicely.

II. Designed to inform people and/or entertain them.

So it doesn’t have to be purely informational. It doesn’t have to be purely entertainment, but some combination of those, or one of the two, about a particular topic. So you might be trying to make someone excited about something or give them knowledge around it. It may be knowledge that they didn’t previously know that they wanted, and they may not actually be trying to accomplish a goal, but they are interested in the information or interested in finding the humor.

III. Inspiring some amplification and linking.

So you’re trying to earn signals to your site that will help you rank in search engines, that will help you grow your audience, that will help you reach more influencers. Thus, inspiring that amplification behavior by creating content that is designed to be shared, designed to be referenced and linked to is another big goal.

IV. Creating a more positive association with the brand.

So you might have a post that doesn’t really do any of these things. Maybe it touches a little on informational or entertaining. But it is really about crafting a personal story, or sharing an experience that then draws the reader closer to you and creates that association of what we talked about up here — loyalty, trust, evangelism, likeability.

6 paths to great blog topic ideas

So knowing what our blog needs to do and what our individual posts are trying to do, what are some great ways that we can come up with the ideas, the actual topics that we should be covering? I have kind of six paths. These six paths actually cover almost everything you will read in every other article about how to come up with blog post ideas. But I think that’s what’s great. These frameworks will get you into the mindset that will lead you to the path that can give you an infinite number of blog post ideas.

1. Are there any unanswered or poorly answered questions that are in your field, that your audience already has/is asking, and do you have a way to provide great answers to those?

So that’s basically this process of I’m going to research my audience through a bunch of methodologies, going to come up with topics that I know I could cover. I could deliver something that would answer their preexisting questions, and I could come up with those through…

  • Surveys of my readers.
  • In-person meetings or emails or interviews.
  • Informal conversations just in passing around events, or if I’m interacting with members of my audience in any way, social settings.
  • Keyword research, especially questions.

So if you’re using a tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or I think some of the other ones out there, Ahrefs might have this as well, where you can filter by only questions. There are also free tools like Answer the Public, which many folks like, that show you what people are typing into Google, specifically in the form of questions, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Do?” etc.

So I’m not just going to walk you through the ideas. I’m also going to challenge myself to give you some examples. So I’ve got two — one less challenging, one much more challenging. Two websites, both have blogs, and coming up with topic ideas based on this.

So one is called Remoters. It’s remoters.net. It’s run by Aleyda Solis, who many of you in the SEO world might know. They talk about remote work, so people who are working remotely. It’s a content platform for them and a service for them. Then, the second one is a company, I think, called Schweiss Doors. They run hydraulicdoors.com. Very B2B. Very, very niche. Pretty challenging to come up with good blog topics, but I think we’ve got some.

Remote Worker: I might say here, “You know what? One of the questions that’s asked very often by remote workers, but is not well-answered on the internet yet is: ‘How do I conduct myself in a remote interview and present myself as a remote worker in a way that I can be competitive with people who are actually, physically on premises and in the room? That is a big challenge. I feel like I’m always losing out to them. Remote workers, it seems, don’t get the benefits of being there in person.'” So a piece of content on how to sell yourself on a remote interview or as a remote worker could work great here.

Hydraulic doors: One of the big things that I see many people asking about online, both in forums which actually rank well for it, the questions that are asked in forums around this do rank around costs and prices for hydraulic doors. Therefore, I think this is something that many companies are uncomfortable answering right online. But if you can be transparent where no one else can, I think these Schweiss Doors guys have a shot at doing really well with that. So how much do hydraulic doors cost versus alternatives? There you go.

2. Do you have access to unique types of assets that other people don’t?

That could be research. It could be data. It could be insights. It might be stories or narratives, experiences that can help you stand out in a topic area. This is a great way to come up with blog post content. So basically, the idea is you could say, “Gosh, for our quarterly internal report, we had to prepare some data on the state of the market. Actually, some of that data, if we got permission to share it, would be fascinating.”

We can see through keyword research that people are talking about this or querying Google for it already. So we’re going to transform it into a piece of blog content, and we’re going to delight many, many people, except for maybe this guy. He seems unhappy about it. I don’t know what his problem is. We won’t worry about him. Wait. I can fix it. Look at that. So happy. Ignore that he kind of looks like the Joker now.

We can get these through a bunch of methodologies:

  • Research, so statistical research, quantitative research.
  • Crowdsourcing. That could be through audiences that you’ve already got through email or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Insider interviews, interviews with people on your sales team or your product team or your marketing team, people in your industry, buyers of yours.
  • Proprietary data, like what you’ve collected for your internal annual reports.
  • Curation of public data. So if there’s stuff out there on the web and it just needs to be publicly curated, you can figure out what that is. You can visit all those websites. You could use an extraction tool, or you could manually extract that data, or you could pay an intern to go extract that data for you, and then synthesize that in a useful way.
  • Multimedia talent. Maybe you have someone, like we happen to here at Moz, who has great talent with video production, or with audio production, or with design of visuals or photography, or whatever that might be in the multimedia realm that you could do.
  • Special access to people or information, or experiences that no one else does and you can present that.

Those assets can become the topic of great content that can turn into really great blog posts and great post ideas.

Remote Workers: They might say, “Well, gosh, we have access to data on the destinations people go and the budgets that they have around those destinations when they’re staying and working remotely, because of how our service interacts with them. Therefore, we can craft things like the most and least expensive places to work remotely on the planet,” which is very cool. That’s content that a lot of people are very interested in.

Hydraulic doors: We can look at, “Hey, you know what? We actually have a visual overlay tool that helps an architect or a building owner visualize what it will look like if a hydraulic door were put into place. We can go use that in our downtime to come up with we can see how notable locations in the city might look with hydraulic doors or notable locations around the world. We could potentially even create a tool, where you could upload your own visual, photograph, and then see how the hydraulic door looked on there.” So now we can create images that will help you share.

3. Relating a personal experience or passion to your topic in a resonant way.

I like this and I think that many personal bloggers use it well. I think far too few business bloggers do, but it can be quite powerful, and we’ve used it here at Moz, which is relating a personal experience you have or a passion to your topic in some way that resonates. So, for example, you have an interaction that is very complex, very nuanced, very passionate, perhaps even very angry. From that experience, you can craft a compelling story and a headline that draws people in, that creates intrigue and that describes something with an amount of emotion that is resonant, that makes them want to connect with it. Because of that, you can inspire people to further connect with the brand and potentially to inform and entertain.

There’s a lot of value from that. Usually, it comes from your own personal creativity around experiences that you’ve had. I say “you,” you, the writer or the author, but it could be anyone in your organization too. Some resources I really like for that are:

  • Photos. Especially, if you are someone who photographs a reasonable portion of your life on your mobile device, that can help inspire you to remember things.
  • A journal can also do the same thing.
  • Conversations that you have can do that, conversations in person, over email, on social media.
  • Travel. I think any time you are outside your comfort zone, that tends to be those unique things.

Remote workers: I visited an artist collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I realized that, “My gosh, one of the most frustrating parts of remote work is that if you’re not just about remote working with a laptop and your brain, you’re almost removed from the experience. How can you do remote work if you require specialized equipment?” But in fact, there are ways. There are maker labs and artist labs in cities all over the planet at this point. So I think this is a topic that potentially hasn’t been well-covered, has a lot of interest, and that personal experience that I, the writer, had could dig into that.

Hydraulic doors: So I’ve had some conversations with do-it-yourselfers, people who are very, very passionate about DIY stuff. It turns out, hydraulic doors, this is not a thing that most DIYers can do. In fact, this is a very, very dramatic investment. That is an intense type of project. Ninety-nine percent of DIYers will not do it, but it turns out there’s actually search volume for this.

People do want to, or at least want to learn how to, DIY their own hydraulic doors. One of my favorite things, after realizing this, I searched, and then I found that Schweiss Doors actually created a product where they will ship you a DIY kit to build your own hydraulic door. So they did recognize this need. I thought that was very, very impressive. They didn’t just create a blog post for it. They even served it with a product. Super-impressive.

4. Covering a topic that is “hot” in your field or trending in your field or in the news or on other blogs.

The great part about this is it builds in the amplification piece. Because you’re talking about something that other people are already talking about and potentially you’re writing about what they’ve written about, you are including an element of pre-built-in amplification. Because if I write about what Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has written about last week, or what Danny Sullivan wrote about on Search Engine Land two weeks ago, now it’s not just my audience that I can reach, but it’s theirs as well. Potentially, they have some incentive to check out what I’ve written about them and share that.

So I could see that someone potentially maybe posted something very interesting or inflammatory, or wrong, or really right on Twitter, and then I could say, “Oh, I agree with that,” or, “disagree,” or, “I have nuance,” or, “I have some exceptions to that.” Or, “Actually, I think that’s an interesting conversation to which I can add even more value,” and then I create content from that. Certainly, social networks like:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Forums
  • Subreddits. I really like Pocket for this, where I’ll save a bunch of articles, and then I’ll see which one might be very interesting to cover or write about in the future. News aggregators are great for this too. So that could be a Techmeme in the technology space, or a Memeorandum in the political space, or many others.

Remote workers: You might note, well, health care, last week in the United States and for many months now, has been very hot in the political arena. So for remoters, that is a big problem and a big question, because if your health insurance is tied to your employer again, as it was before the American Care Act, then you could be in real trouble. Then you might have a lot of problems and challenges. So what does the politics of health care mean for remote workers? Great. Now, you’ve created a real connection, and that could be something that other outlets would cover and that people who’ve written about health care might be willing to link to your piece.

Hydraulic doors: One of the things that you might note is that Eater, which is a big blog in the restaurant space, has written about indoor and outdoor space trends in the restaurant industry. So you could, with the data that you’ve got and the hydraulic doors that you provide, which are very, very common, well moderately common, at least in the restaurant indoor/outdoor seating space, potentially cover that. That’s a great way to tie in your audience and Eater’s audience into something that’s interesting. Eater might be willing to cover that and link to you and talk about it, etc.

The last two, I’m not going to go too into depth, because they’re a little more basic.

5. Pure keyword research-driven.

So this is using Google AdWords or keywordtool.io, or Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or any of the other keyword research tools that you like to figure out: What are people searching for around my topic? Can I cover it? Can I make great content there?

6. Readers who care about my topics also care about ______________?

Essentially taking any of these topics, but applying one level of abstraction. What I mean by that is there are people who care about your topic, but also there’s an overlap of people who care about this other topic and who also care about yours.

hydraulic doors: People who care about restaurant building trends and hydraulic doors has a considerable overlap, and that is quite interesting.

Remote workers: It could be something like, “I care about remote work. I also care about the gear that I use, my laptop and my bag, and those kinds of things.” So gear trends could be a very interesting intersect. Then, you can apply any of these other four processes, five processes onto that intersection or one level of an abstraction.

All right, everyone. We have done a tremendous amount here to cover a lot about blog topics. But I think you will have some great ideas from this, and I look forward to hearing about other processes that you’ve got in the comments. Hopefully, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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How to Promote a Book: 8 Lessons from Bestsellers

Publishers publish. They don’t necessarily promote.

They might “distribute” (heavy on the air quotes).

But…to where? Borders?

How to Promote a Book 

Oh that’s right. They don’t exist anymore. And good luck finding a Barnes & Noble or any other needle-moving retail chain out there.

You want a bestseller? The fact is, you’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and make it a bestseller. And you can do that by thinking like a smart marketer.

The time to think about promoting your book is before it comes out. Here’s how to do it, with book promotion lessons learned from bestselling authors who’ve taken matters into their own hands.

1. The Old Guards are Gone. Here’s What to Do Instead

Steven Pressfield, acclaimed author of The Legend of Bagger Vance (among many others), also wrote a book for first-time authors looking to hit it big.

The title? Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.

 How to promote a book Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit Pressman

I’m sure your book is fantastic. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not going to get the Oprah’s Book Club sticker.

But that’s ok. You don’t need her. You don’t need Oprah. (I know you’re reading this Oprah, so just go with me on this).

What used to be the norm for book promotion isn’t anymore. Instead, a targeted, niche approach will see more results than a traditional “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” campaign.

Michael Ellsberg learned this firsthand after trying out the old ways first:

  • Radio interviews
  • National media
  • And an email blast to a miniscule list

Even after all this, his book didn’t break the 1,000 rank marker on Amazon.

But then his 4-Hour Work Week buddy, Tim Ferriss, came along.

Tim wrote up a blog post featuring Ellsberg and recommending it highly. Within an hour, the book reached 45 on Amazon. It even hit #1 in the Job Hunting and Career Guides section on the site.  

In the weeks to follow, Ellsberg tried to capitalize on the increased attention, continuing to do traditional press. Nothing, though, was ever able to give him another boost like Ferriss’s post.

So why did one simple blog post perform better than weeks of tireless promotion?

2. Solo Author Blogs Benefit from the ‘Halo Effect’

The Halo Effect is a real thing.

It’s a cognitive bias that explains why some people (or brands or products) are seen as more credible, smarter, or more attractive than their peers. That’s why Apple gets the benefit of the doubt over Microsoft. Or Samsung, Google, and any of their other competitors for that matter.

The Halo Effect commonly applies to people with devoted followings, too. Like crazy televangelists. And Oprah.

The “Oprah Effect” was coined because if she featured you on her show, you became an overnight sensation.

How to promote a book James Frey Million Little Pieces sales figures Oprah trade paperback edition 

Nielsen sales data for James Frey’s heavily embellished memoir, ‘A Million Little Pieces’ in both
hardcover and Oprah Trade Paperback editions

Popular solo-author blogs cultivate the same devotion. Even if their numbers pale in comparison.

One reason is convenience. Get featured on the biggest radio show (I literally cannot name one), and someone still needs to wait until they get home or to the office to remember to look you up.

Online, you’re just a link away. So there’s no delay. Less friction between the devoted reader and the Amazon One-Click to Purchase button.

 How to promote a book Amazon One Click button

Ferriss has spent years cultivating a following. So when he recommended Michael Ellsberg’s work, it translated into intense action. (More so than anything CNN or the New York Times was able to generate).

Because Ferriss was appealing to a tight-knit group that was primed and engaged.

Online marketer Beth Hayden agrees, and even goes one step further. If you don’t have a Tim Ferriss type to write for you (and not everyone does), connect with blogs with an audience that looks just like yours. This gives you a chance to claim your status as an expert in your book’s topic and puts your book in front of the right people.

Do a little digging and research high-traffic blogs in your book’s niche. Hayden suggests coming up with a few topic ideas that would connect well with the blog’s readers, and then email the blogger to pitch a guest submission.

3. Your Title Is a Headline. So Test It

In Tom Hanks’ 1996 cult hit That Thing You Do, the fledgling band the “Oneders” are taken under the wing of Hanks’ character, record-label exec Mr. White. Mr. White eventually gives them a fresh look and image, but first deals with the most pressing issue: the band’s baffling name.

How to promote a book Tom Hanks That Thing You Do

“Next, this ‘Oneders,’ with the O-N-E, it doesn’t work. It’s confusing. From now on, you boys’ll just be simply, The Wonders,” White said.

“As in, I wonder what happened to the O’Needers?” quipped bandmate Kenny.

Why am I telling you all this? First, because you should see the movie—it’s great.

But, second, because no one cares about, or understands, your obscure or kitschy title. When it comes to marketing your book, picking a bad title can be catastrophic.

Instead, think of book titles as an ad or article headline. Because they, like book titles, are often the single biggest determinant of who sees your finished work. A great headline entices people to read what’s inside.

How to promote a book children's book parody 

Masterful.

Ogilvy once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

Some headlines will routinely work better than others. That’s why you do things like use power words and headline formulas online to boost your chances of success.

The point is that even book titles should be tested in order to determine what works best, and what should eventually appear on that book cover. A simple Google AdWords test can give you some insight into what your potential reader wants to see. AdWords made all the difference for Tim Ferriss.

 How to promote a book Tim Ferriss 4 Hour Work Week

For a quick $200, Ferriss tested six different title and subtitle combinations using AdWords and creating text ads for the titles, monitoring the click-through rates for each.

The 4-Hour Work Week” emerged from what could have been “Broadband and White Sand” or “Millionaire Chameleon.” The winning title and subtitle combo were not even his first choice, proving how important it is to test the market first (instead of relying solely on your own intuition, or worse, your publisher’s).

4. Go to Where Your Most Devoted Target Audience Is

When Lewis Howes of The School of Greatness fame set out to market his book, he knew he needed to identify his audience and then go to every one of their favorite corners of the internet.

He outlined the interests of his readers, their professions, where they lived, and even their age – basically he defined a customer persona. From there, he designed a plan tailored to their interests.

He then created content based on themes and ideas from his book, but more digestible for the format. In other words, he repurposed his content so that it could expand into:

  • Scannable blog posts
  • Pithy social updates
  • Short videos for Instagram and Snapchat
  • Interviews on related podcasts
  • And longer-form clips for YouTube that still stay on message and on brand for the book

James Altucher turned to Reddit when promoting his book Choose Yourself. He hosted an AMA (ask me anything) conversation with the help of marketing agency Brasscheck, and ended up with 3,200 comments and questions between him and interested readers.

 How to promote a book Stephen King Reddit AMA

One of the more memorable moments from Stephen King’s Reddit AMA
from several years ago.

“The ability to put a link on the page where people are seeing you talk about your product is really powerful,” said Mignon Fogarty, creator of Grammar Girl and Reddit user.

“It’s much easier to get people to take action online than it is on radio or TV where they have to take that extra step to go to their computer or phone to find the address or page. I really like doing things online where you can provide links to what you’re talking about. It’s very effective.”

5. Incentivize the Action You Want People to Take

Years ago, there was the videotape.

You know, that big, blocky, black thing that would literally have film coiled up inside.

 How to promote a book Blockbuster Video store ruins overgrown

You find yourself in a small clearing, in which the ruins of a once-great civilization
are being slowly reclaimed by the vegetation that surrounds them…

Then DVDs started appearing. Not only was the quality superior. But the storage capacity was too.

So in order to actually raise the price, DVDs started offering extra bonus material or footage to those who decided on the more expensive purchase.

In other words, consumers were incentivized to spend a few more dollars than they were used to.

James Altucher did a good job going to where his audience was in order to promote his book. But then he took it one step further with a too-good-to-be-true incentive.

Altucher created a special Slideshare to promote his latest book (to business people).

On Slideshare, authors can upload their own PowerPoint presentations and visitors to the site can search for slide decks by keyword or topic. Good presentations should be full of pictures and exclusive snippets from the book.

Altucher did all of that. But then at the very end, he included a call to action, promising the reader their money back if they could prove they bought and read the book.

 How to promote a book Slideshare presentation

In other words, he was creating his own echo-chamber, incentivizing people to leave reviews (that would only help to expose others to his work) and further cultivating the relationship with his audience.

6. Establish Your Own Halo Effect By Recording an Audiobook

Initially, a professional voice actress was going to perform Geraldine DeRuiter’s memoir.

Geraldine was a first-time author. And this was like “standard procedure.”

However, Geraldine didn’t like the idea. She’d spent years building a loyal audience at her blog The Everywhereist. The story was personal. And so she wanted the performance for listeners to be personal, too.

Recording your own audiobook is like the equivalent of someone having a conversation with you for ~10 hours during their commutes.

 How to promote a book audiobook concept

That was no small hurdle, though. She had to convince her agent. Who then had to convince her publisher, Hachette. When they relented, it took another 18-23 hours of studio recording time.

But it was worth it.

In the first three quarters of 2016, audiobook sales have continued to climb by nearly 30 percent.

And with everyone carrying around a portable library in their pocket (thank you iPhone!), audiobooks are becoming more the norm. In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently called audiobooks the “fastest growing format in publishing.”

Even Altucher saw a 500% profit on his initial investment to record an audiobook.

 How to promote a book book sales by format 2015 to 2016

Recording your own audiobook is a powerfully simple way to establish your expertise in your field. Your reader is not just seeing your words, but hearing them come out of your mouth. It’s like listening to a good friend give you advice or tell you an interesting story.

Is this thing on? Get recording!

Put that smooth, buttery voice of yours out there for all to hear! Embrace the age of the multitasker and give “readers” the opportunity to listen to your book while doing one of their 42 other tasks for the day.

7. Sell Your Writing Better with through a Visual Book Trailer

Tim Ferriss had dabbled with book trailers in the past.

But for the release of The Four Hour Chef, he had two professional trailers created with the help of an ad agency.

http://ift.tt/rkuAara%20href=

The extra expense was worth it in the end, generating 1.5 million and 550 thousand views respectively. Here’s what Tim had to say about the process:

“The [previous] book trailers were all fairly dry and they were relatively low budget; maybe there was some sort of Animoto type text being used. I wanted to make a book trailer that from a cinematic standpoint looked just like a movie trailer.”

Tim pointed to the success of other cooking-related online properties, like Epic Meal Time (and their three million subscribers), as evidence of these “micro communities” that are rabid online.

Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn, sees five obvious benefits of book trailers:

  1. Videos are popular
  2. They are easy to share
  3. They help the reader get to know you
  4. They keep your book fresh in the reader’s head
  5. They can be easy to make and don’t require further investment.

You don’t necessarily need a Michael Bay Transformers-level budget to create a quality trailer. Write the script for the video and pick the photos you want to include. If you’ll be featured on screen, come up with a good location or backdrop for filming. Wistia has everything you need to create a DIY studio.

How to promote a book book trailer shoot 

And if your production skills aren’t Oscar-caliber just yet, there are lots of apps and programs out there that take the guesswork out of the final product.

Finally, make sure people actually see your book trailer! You can promote your video through platforms like Facebook.

8. Get as Many Reviews as Possible

You’ve found who’s gonna read your book. You’ve found who they follow (and who will tell them to read your book). And you’ve found where they find out about your books.

Now, find the people who’re gonna talk about your book.

 How to promote a book How to Avoid Huge Ships

How to promote a book How to Avoid Huge Ships review

 

A Dimensional Research study found that 90% of those surveyed consider positive reviews when making a purchasing decision. And the more reviews you have, the higher your book goes in the Amazon search rankings. So play the algorithm-game and get as many stars as humanly possible.

Start with the low-hanging fruit.

You should have advance copies at the ready (whether galley editions or simple digital copies) for readers from previous books or publications.

From there, connect with Amazon’s top reviewers. Their reviews are highly-valued and can be the push that your book needs. Top reviewers are public domain on Amazon, and you can search for those who write reviews in your book’s topic or genre. Milena Canizares of Blurb.com suggests coming up with a list of 100 or more in hopes of walking away with 25 or so reviews.

 How to promote a book Amazon reviews

Explore outside of Amazon, too, to connect with book bloggers who would be willing to read and review your book. You can search a nerdy SEO tool like Followerwonk to find niche-specific bloggers on Twitter.

 How to promote a book Followerwonk

And Blogmetrics.com will rank bloggers, so you can prioritize which ones will come with the most cachet and biggest following.

Where the Hell is Tesla author Rob Dirks used this method to help sell 10,000 copies of his book. By his own account, no one knew he was, and yet he was able to self-publish and sell lots of books. On his publish day, he had already lined up 25 reviews to be live on Amazon. He gave free books to reviewers and reaped the rewards of credibility of having others confirm his book’s quality.

Conclusion

Authors can’t afford to write anymore.

Literally.

Instead, the promotion-monkey is now falling squarely on the backs of authors themselves. And because of your already jam-packed schedule (of you know, actually writing the damn book in the first place), you need a viable, repeatable promotion system.

Start by recognizing the ramifications. And how you’ll need to find the new influencers, like solo author blogs within your niche, who’ll promote your book to those that matter most.

You can also take a cue from mainstream digital marketing campaigns, like testing your headlines, repurposing content for different formats (even video), and then incentivizing them to leave reviews that will help bring in brand new people in the future.

It’s not easy. It takes time and tons of effort. But it also means that the ultimate success of your soon-to-be bestseller is entirely within your own control.

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9 Tips for Writing Great Headlines in 2017

If an advertisement or a content piece lacks a great headline, it doesn’t matter how good what’s inside is. You might as well toss out the effort you spent writing it and setting up your campaign.

There’s no sense in dedicating any time to creating content or running ads if your headlines aren’t compelling. It’s like writing a wonderful book and giving it an awful cover. Potential readers won’t click to read more if there’s nothing to pique their interest. (For example, if this post was titled “Headline Advice” you probably wouldn’t be reading it right now.)

tips for writing great headlines 2017

So what strategies work for creative, clickable headlines right now? Let’s take a look at nine powerful, reproducible ways to write a great headline this year, with plenty of examples. Let’s make sure your content gets the traffic it deserves!

Tip #1: Use Simple but Powerful Language

The language you choose naturally impacts the click-worthiness of your headline. When using words that are bland, uninspiring, or unknown by most, your potential readers are going to be turned off.

Instead stick with language that is simple, but powerful. For example, try turning your headline into a call-to-action with words such as “Try” or “Click,” or addressing the reader directly by using the word “You.” Transform a generic headline with a power word like “never.”

outbrain headline research

Positive vs. negative headlines

Keeping the language simple will be your best bet to getting more eyes on your post. Don’t use the word “utilize” when the word “use” will do.

Examples of headlines with simple but powerful language:

  • How to fix all your sleep problems with science – via Bright Side
  • NASA released a ton of software for free and here’s some you should try – via TechCrunch

Tip #2: Target a Keyword with High Search Volume

What use is running an ad or creating a video if people aren’t even interested in the topic? Every headline you write should target a specific keyword with significant search volume – this not only ensures that your headline is optimized to drive targeted traffic through organic or paid search, but it proves that people are actively looking for information related to the topic. Is the keyword you’re targeting something that people are actually searching for? If the answer is no, then it’s useless.

There are plenty of tools you can use to find high-volume keywords to use in your headlines, from WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool to paid tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer. If you have an AdWords account, you can use their Keyword Planner (under “Tools” > “Keyword Planner”).

Type in some potential keywords to get an idea of their volume, and target terms with medium to high search volume. Just keep in mind that for keywords with very high search volume, the competition is going to be much steeper, and your content will have to be that much more amazing to rank on the SERP.

keyword research for headline writing

Using Keyword Planner to research keyword volume for “tropical vacations”

Tip #3: Make a Bold Statement

Introducing a shock factor into your headline will almost always ensure high click-through rates. Think about ways to spice your title up, and word it in a way that instantly draws readers in. Making a bold, opinionated or controversial statement is a sure way to do this.

One brand that absolutely kills their headline game time and time again is Refinery29, an online publication that caters to women readers. I have to actively resist opening their email newsletters, since I’ll end up spending 30 minutes more then I planned to on my phone (but it’s hard because their subject lines are so enticing!).

The reason Refinery29 excels at this is because their headlines are typically very opinionated, and leave the reader wanting more. Check out the examples below – Chrissy Teigen had cosmetic surgery?! Why would I want to anger Beyonce’s publicist? You get the point!

extra bold headlines

Controversy!

Here are a few more examples of headlines that make bold claims:

  • Become a millionaire by age 30 – via Business Insider
  • There’s no such thing as a good Trump voter – via Slate

Tip #4: Include Numbers in Your Headline

This tip may seem obnoxiously obvious, but I couldn’t leave it out because it’s proven time and time again to be effective. People are inherently attracted to numbers and lists. They’re easy for the brain to process, and they ensure your future reader that the format is going to be easy to digest (like this post, and mostly every single post I write).

“Numbers work well in headlines because humans like predictability and dislike uncertainty,” says Buffer’s Courtney Seiter. Conductor also conducted a study where they found that headlines with numbers significantly outperform headlines without numbers.

headlines with numbers data

Headlines with numbers are 36% more popular

Examples of great headlines with numbers:

  • 45 Productivity Tips for Extremely Busy People – via The Muse
  • 9 Things You Should Never Say When Asking for a Raise – via Salary.com
  • 40 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2017 – via this blog right here

Tip #5: Do Your Competitive Research

Have your competitors written articles or run ads around the same topic you’re planning to cover? What headlines did they use? What are the headlines of the pages that are already ranking in Google? How can you make yours better?

These are the types of questions you should be asking in order to write more compelling headlines. If your headline doesn’t stand out from the millions that are laid upon us every single day, then the chances of grabbing high CTR’s are low.

headline writing

Buzzsumo research reveals popular headlines on the topic of “tattoos”

Google your keyword and see what pops up in that #1 ranking. Also, use content curation tools like Buzzsumo to search for your keyword/topic, and see which related articles have gotten the most shares. Why was that? A great headline often drives people to reshare it with their audience. How can you craft a headline that’s even more enticing? Research is critical!

Tip #6: Ask a Strange or Funny Question

Questions, especially weird ones, are the perfect way to grab someone’s attention in a way that leaves them wanting more, creating a so-called curiosity gap. Why? Because the instinct is to want to uncover the answer, which can’t be done unless they click on the headline and visit your website. If used right, this method guarantees high CTR’s.

perpexed emoji

“Questions appeal to reader emotions like few others can,” says Helen Nesterenko of Writtent. “It promotes that ever-important conversational tone vital to a good blog post. It makes readers want to know more.”

It’s important to be strategic about your question asking strategy. Copyhackers recommends never asking questions in a misleading way, which could turn potential readers away.

Examples of great headlines based on questions:

  • Why are you still using Microsoft Word? – via Gizmodo
  • Could you pass a 1954 Home Economics class? – via Buzzfeed
  • Is bloody pink chicken safe to eat? – via Epicurious 

Tip #7: Create a Sense of Urgency

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, and it works tremendously well when writing headlines. Instill a sense of urgency by giving a date when a special offer expires and using urgent language like in the example AdWords ad below.

headlines with urgency

The description line reads, “Book Now & Get Extra $15 on JetBlue Airlines, Flights Tickets. Hurry!” By using the word “Hurry!” you’re urging your reader to click-through and take advantage of this limited-time offer. This can work even better when giving an exact deadline time, for example “3 hours left!” or “Limited Tickets! 20% Discount Expires Tonight.” Learn more about using countdown customizers in your ads to make this process automated here, and try this technique out in your headlines too.

Examples of headlines that build urgency:

  • Marketers: Are you ready for Canada’s July 1 spam law? – via Venture Beat
  • 19 Simple Tips to Reduce Your Bounce Rate Today – via ConversionXL

Tip #8: Leave an Air of Mystery

There’s an art to how much information you should divulge in a headline, but you should never reveal your main takeaway. If you do, the reader will have no reason to click-through and read the rest of your content.

For example, check out the three articles trending on Today.com below. All three of them are intriguing, and all of them leave the reader wanting to learn more.

great headline writing

For example, the first headline reveals that Jimmy Kimmel has an update on his baby, but we aren’t sure what that update is. The second headline implies that Chrissy Metz wore a tight dress to the MTV movie awards, but we can’t see the full dress, and we’re also not given the message she delivered to body shamers. Finally, the third headline doesn’t tell us whether talcum powder causes cancer or not. We have to click to get the answers!

There’s a fine line, though, between too much and too little information, so make sure you’re giving enough information to build interest, but not so much that the reader feels fully informed just by reading the headline.

Examples of great headlines that will make you oh-so-curious:

  • 17 Facts You Won’t Believe Are True – via Buzzfeed
  • Three Job Interview Mistakes You Think You Avoided But Actually Didn’t – via Fast Company
  • Earthworms are more important than pandas (if you want to save the planet) – via The Conversation
  • 7 Reasons the Best Employees Quit, Even When They Like Their Job – via Inc.
  • Here’s Why You Should Never Get Up To Pee In The Middle Of The Night – via Little Things

Tip #9: Write Multiple Headlines and Vote on the Best

This is a strategy I’ve used ever since I started writing headlines for articles and titles for presentations. Let yourself do a complete brain dump of all the headline ideas you have. Think about ways that you can mix and match them together. Then share the top three to five best headlines with your team and ask them to vote. You’ll likely come to a clear consensus in no time.

best headline writing tips

With these tips, your headline writing game has the potential to reach new click-through rate highs!

About the Author:

Margot is a Customer Success Manager at Wistia. She loves all things digital, and spends her free time running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on:

Twitter: @ChappyMargot

Google+: +Margot da Cunha

Blog: http://ift.tt/2o7a6TV

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2pU0w4j

Tasty SEO Report Recipes to Save Time & Add Value for Clients [Next Level]

Posted by jocameron

Reporting can be the height of tedium. You spend your time making those reports, your client may (or may not) spend their time trying to understand them. And then, in the end, we’re all left with some unanswered questions and a rumble in the tum of dissatisfaction.

I’m going to take some basic metrics, throw in some culinary metaphors, and take your client reporting to the next level.

By the end of this article you’ll know how to whip up intelligent SEO reports for your clients (or potential clients) that will deliver actionable insights any search chef worth their salt would be proud of.

[Part one] Freshly foraged keywords on sourdough to power your campaign

I’ve got intel on some really tasty keywords; did you know you can scoop these up like wild porcini mushrooms using your website categories? The trick is to find the keywords that you can use to make a lovely risotto, and discard the ones that taste nasty.

The overabundance of keywords has become a bit of a challenge for SEOs. Google is better at gauging user intent — it’s kind of their thing, right? This results in the types of keywords that send traffic to your clients expanding, and it’s becoming trickier to track every. single. keyword. Of course, with a budget big enough almost anything is possible, but why hemorrhage cash on tracking the keyword minutiae when you can wrangle intelligent data by tracking a sample of keywords from a few pots?

With Keyword Explorer, you can save your foraged terms to lists. By bundling together similar “species,” you’ll get a top-level view of the breadth and depth of search behavior within the categories of your niche. Easily compare volume, difficulty, opportunity, and potential to instigate a data-driven approach to website architecture. You’ll also know, at a glance, where to expand on certain topics and apply more resources to content creation.

With these metrics in hand and your client’s industry knowledge, you can cherry-pick keywords to track ranking positions week over week and add them to your Moz Pro campaign with the click of a button.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Pluck keywords from the category pages of your client’s site.

Step 2: Find keyword suggestions in Keyword Explorer.

Step 3: Group by low lexicon to bundle together similar keywords to gather up that long tail.

Step 4: Analyze and save relevant results to a list

Step 5: Head to the Keyword Lists and compare the metrics: where is the opportunity? Can you compete with the level of difficulty? Is there a high-volume long tail that you can dig in to?

Step 6: Add sample keywords from your pots directly to your campaign.

Bonus step: Repeat for products or other topic segments of the niche.

Don’t forget to drill into the keywords that are turning up here to see if there are categories and subcategories you hadn’t thought of. These can be targeted in existing content to further extend the relevancy and reach of your client’s content. Or it may inspire new content which can help to grow the authority of the site.

Why your client will be impressed

Through solid, informed research, you’ll be able to demonstrate why their site should be structured with certain categories on the top-level navigation right down to product pages. You’ll also be able to prioritize work on building, improving, or refining content on certain sections of the site by understanding the breakdown of search behavior and demand. Are you seeing lots of keywords with a good level of volume and lower difficulty? Or more in-depth long tail with low search volume? Or fewer different keywords with high search volume but stronger competition?

Let the demand drive the machine forward and make sure you’re giving the hordes what they want.

All this helps to further develop your understanding of the ways people search so you can make informed decisions about which keywords to track.

[Part two] Palate-cleansing lemon keyword label sorbet

Before diving into the next course you need to cleanse your palate with a lemon “label” sorbet.

In Part One, we talked about the struggle of maintaining gigantic lists of keywords. We’ve sampled keywords from our foraged pots, keeping these arranged and segmented in our Moz Pro campaign.

Now you want to give those tracked keywords a more defined purpose in life. This will help to reinforce to your client why you’re tracking these keywords, what the goal is for tracking them, and in what sort of timeframe you’re anticipating results.

Types of labels may include:

  • Local keywords: Is your business serving local people, like a mushroom walking tour? You can add geo modifiers to your keywords and label them as such.
  • Long-tail keywords: Might have lower search volume, but focused intent can convert well for your client.
  • High-priority keywords: Where you’re shoveling more resources, these keywords are more likely impacting the other keyword segments.
  • Brand keywords: Mirror, mirror on the wall… yeah, we all want those vanity keywords, don’t lie. You can manage brand keywords automatically through “Manage Brand Rules” in Moz Pro:

A generous scoop of tasty lemon “label” sorbet will make all the work you do and progress you achieve infinitely easier to report on with clear, actionable focus.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Label your keywords like a pro.

Step 2: Filter by labels in the Ranking tab to analyze Search Visibility for your keyword segments.

In this example, I’m comparing our visibility for “learn” keywords against “guide” keywords:

Step 3: Create a custom report for your keyword segments.

Step 4: Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar by triggering the Optimize button — now you can send the latest on-page reporting with your super-focused ranking report.

Why your client will be impressed

Your ranking reports will be like nothing your client has ever tasted. They will be tightly focused on the segments of keywords you’re working on, so they aren’t bamboozled by a new slew of keywords or a sudden downward trend. By clearly segmenting your piles of lovely keywords, you’ll be proactively answering those inevitable queries about why, when, and in what form your client will begin to see results.

With the on-page scores updating automatically and shipping out to your client’s inbox every month via a custom report, you’ll be effortlessly highlighting what your team has achieved.

[Part three] Steak sandwich links with crispy competitor bacon

You’re working with your client to publish content, amplifying it through social channels and driving brand awareness through PR campaigns.

Now you want to keep them informed of the big wins you’ve had as a result of that grind. Link data in Moz Pro focuses on the highest-quality links with our Mozscape index, coming from the most prominent pages of authoritative sites. So, while you may not see every link for a site within our index, we’re reporting the most valuable ones.

Alongside our top-quality steak sarnie, we’re add some crispy competitor bacon so you can identify what content is working for the other sites in your industry.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Check that you have direct competitors set up on your campaign.

Step 2: Compare link metrics for your site and your competitors.

Step 4: Head to Top Pages to see what those competitors are doing to get ahead.

Step 5: Compile a delicious report sandwich!

Step 6: Make another report for Top Pages for the bacon-filled sandwich experience.

Why your client will be impressed

Each quality established link gives your client a clear idea of the value of their content and the blood, sweat, and tears of your team.

These little gems are established and more likely to have an impact on their ranking potential. Don’t forget to have a chat with your client where you explain that a link’s impact on rankings takes time.

By comparing this directly with the other sites battling it out for top SERP property, it’s easier to identify progress and achievements.

By highlighting those pesky competitors and their top pages by authority, you’re also getting ahead of that burning question of: How can we improve?

[Part four] Cinnamon-dusted ranking reports with cherry-glazed traffic

Rankings are a staple ingredient in the SEO diet. Much like the ever-expanding keyword list, reporting on rankings has become something we do without thinking enough about that what clients can do with that information.

Dish up an all-singing, all-dancing cinnamon-dusted rankings report with cherry-glazed traffic by illustrating the direct impact these rankings have on organic traffic. Real people, coasting on through the search results to your client’s site.

Landing Pages in Moz Pro compares rankings with organic landing pages, imparting not just the ranking score but the value of those pages. Compliments to the chef, because that good work is down to you.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Track your target keywords in Moz Pro.

Step 2: Check you’ve hooked up Google Analytics for that tasty traffic data.

Step 3: Discover landing pages and estimated traffic share.

As your SEO work drives more traffic to those pages and your keyword rankings steadily increase, you’ll see your estimated traffic share go up.

If your organic traffic from search is increasing but your ranking is dropping off, it’s an indication that this keyword isn’t the driving force.

Now you can have a dig around and find out why that keyword isn’t performing, starting with your on-page optimization and following up with keyword research.

Why your client will be impressed

We all send ranking reports, and I’m sure clients just love it. But now you can dazzle them with an insight into what those rankings mean for the lifeblood of their site.

You can also take action by directing more energy towards those well-performing keywords, or investigate what worked well for those pages and replicate it across other keywords and pages on your site.

Wrapping up

It’s time to say “enough is enough” and inject some flavor into those bland old SEO reports. Your team will save time and your clients will thank you for the tasty buffet of reporting delight.


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