Get Your Seattle Exploration on at MozCon 2016!

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

MozCon is fast approaching us! On September 12-14—just two weeks away—1,400 online marketers will descend on Seattle, ready to learn about SEO, content, Google Tag Manager, conversion rate optimization, and so much more. We’ve got fewer than 60 tickets left, so grab yours now.

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

If you haven’t done so, check out all the learning! This post is geared toward the things you can do when MozCon sessions aren’t happening.


Places you’ll want to go as recommended by Mozzers

While you’re in Seattle, we want to make sure you have a fabulous time. Seattle in September is beautiful. It’s still sunny outside, and it’s the time of year people come to Seattle and then want to move here. So we’ve complied a list of great activities and restaurants:

Sights


Brian Childs

Gasworks Park

“Incredible views of the city, float planes landing overhead, Space Needle in the background, Ivar’s Clam Chowder down the street, bikes all over the place.”

— Brian Childs


Megan SingleyVolunteer Park

“This is my favorite place in all of Seattle! Stroll around the park and stop in the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the conservatory, then climb to the top of the water tower for an incredible view. You can also walk through the graveyard and see Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee’s grave. After all that walking, hop over to the adorable and delicious Volunteer Park Cafe.”

— Megan Singley


James DaughertyElliott Bay Trail

“Amazing views, has a mini gravel beach, and lots of park space. Great for running and cycling. I ride my bike along EBT nearly everyday to Moz, and I fall in love with city over and over again.”

— James Daugherty


Maura HubbellAlki Beach

“Alki is a beautiful walk with a spectacular view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. It’s got some good restaurants, and even a little history as the site of the original settlement.”

— Maura Hubbell


Rachel MooreDiscovery Park

“If you’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest (or even if you have!), Discovery Park on a clear day is a great place to see the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, and to get some quality forest walking done all in one fell swoop. Plus, it’s 20 minutes from downtown! (Pro tip: For the easiest view access, park in the lot on W Emerson just before 43rd Ave W.)”

— Rachel Moore


Felicia CrawfordGreen Lake

“People of every ilk converge to exercise, feed ducks, play with dogs, and covet the dogs of others.”

— Felicia Crawford


Activities, tours, and museums


Emily Smollen

The Underground Tour

“What a great way to hear about and experience early-Seattle’s history!”

— Emily Smollen


Alyson MurphyFerry to Bainbridge Island

“Seattle is surrounded by water and mountains. The ferry is the easiest way to experience that scenery. The view of the city is amazing too!”

— Alyson Murphy


Jo CameronThe Pinball Museum

“It is special to me because I’ve only been to Seattle once, as I work remotely in the UK. It was a joy the see how strong the love for pinball is in Seattle. The Pinball Museum houses the world’s biggest pinball machine, and it is really something to behold; it’s like hugging a dining room table.”

— Jo Cameron


Restaurants and bars


Nicelle Herron

Linda’s

“Laid back, good music, cheap food, and nice people.”

— Nicelle Herron


Chiaryn MirandaCyclops

“If you are a vegetarian (or love vegetarian food), the Happy Hippy Burger is a must. It is not only the best veggie burger in Seattle, but it’s the best I have ever had. Cyclops also has great drinks and food for the omnivores, too.”

— Chiaryn Miranda


Jess StipePie Bar

“This hole in the wall has it all! Pie Bar serves up warm, freshly baked slices of heaven with a pint of bliss. Savory pies, sweet pies, pietinis, craft spirits, and beer…all nestled in an elegant, cozy venue where you won’t have to shout over a crowd 3-hipsters-deep to order. And if you’re done with your pie and ready for some pinball and arcade games, John John’s Game Room is directly next door!”

— Jess Stipe


Tawny CaseOddfellows Cafe

“This hip little eatery has some awesomely tasty foods, a sweet little private back patio, a laidback atmosphere, and awesome drinks. Plus, it’s right in the heart of Capitol Hill, one of my favorite ‘hoods in the city.”

— Tawny Case


Bonus! Lightning suggestions:

  • The Fat Hen
  • Smith
  • Bottega Italiana
  • Cafe Turko
  • Shorty’s
  • Omega Ouzeri
  • Sushi Kashiba
  • Métier Seattle
  • General Porpoise Doughnuts
  • Sizzle Pie
  • Holy Mountain Brewing
  • Herb and Bitter
  • Lionhead
  • Optimism Brewery
  • Meet the Moon
  • Bar Melusine

Brian Childs’ recommendation corner

“I put this Google map together for friends visiting the city. Includes lots of breweries, bars, restaurants, and things to do: Get the info!”


Official MozCon evening events

For all our evening events, make sure to bring your conference badge AND your US ID or your passport.


Monday Night MozCrawl

From 7:00pm – 10:00pm, you can head to all the stops at your own pace and in any order. Visit all the stops, fill out your punch card, and return it to the swag store on Tuesday morning to enter to win a golden Roger!

  • Barca hosted by Unbounce
  • Saint John’s hosted by Buffer
  • Comet Tavern hosted by SimilarWeb
  • Linda’s Tavern hosted by WordStream
  • Still Liquor hosted by Whitespark
  • Unicorn hosted by BuzzStream

Making new friends at MozCon 2015


Tuesday MozCon Ignite

If you’re looking for networking, this is event for you! Join us at from 7:00-10:00pm at McCaw Hall for a night of networking and five-minute, Ignite-style passion talks from your fellow attendees. This year, our talks will range from information and unique to heartwarming and life changing. You don’t want to miss this MozCon night.

  • 7:00-8:00pm Networking
  • 8:00-8:05pm Introduction with Geraldine DeRuiter
  • 8:05-8:10pm Help! I Can’t Stop Sweating – Hyperhidrosis with Adam Melson at Seer Interactive
  • 8:10-8:15pm A Plane Hacker’s Guide to Cheap *Luxury* Travel with Ed Fry at Hull.io
  • 8:15-8:20pm Life Lessons Learned as a Special Needs Parent with Adrian Vender at Internet Marketing Inc
  • 8:20-8:25pm How to Start an Underground Restaurant in Your Home with Nadya Khoja at Venngage Inc.
  • 8:25-8:30pm Embracing Fear, Potential Failure, and Plain Ol’ Discomfort with Daisy Quaker at AMSOIL INC.
  • 8:30-8:35pm How Pieces of Paper Can Change Lives with Anneke Kurt Godlewski at Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC
  • 8:35-8:40pm Is Your Family Time for Sale? with Michael Cottam at Visual Itineraries
  • 8:40-9:20pm Networking with desserts and refreshments
  • 9:20-9:25pm Prison and a Girl that Loves Puppies with Caitlin Boroden at DragonSearch
  • 9:25-9:30pm Embracing Awkward: The Tale of a 5′ 10″ 6th Grader with Hannah Cooley at Seer Interactive
  • 9:35-9:40pm Finding Myself in Fiction: LGBTQUIA Stories with Lisa Hunt at Moz
  • 9:40-9:45pm Wooly Bits: Exploring the Binary of Yarn with Lindsay Dayton LaShell at Diamond + Branch Marketing Group
  • 9:45-9:50pm How a Cartoon Saved My Life with Steve Hammer at RankHammer
  • 9:50-9:55pm Flood Survival: Lessons from the Streets of ATL with Sarah Lively at Nebo Agency
  • 9:55-10:00pm Hornets, Soba, & Friends: A Race in Japan with Kevin Smythe at Moz

MozCon Ignite


Wednesday Night Bash!

From 7:00-12:00 midnight: Bowling, pool, Jenga, a slow-motion booth, a photo booth, karaoke, cupcakes, food, drinks, and more! You don’t want to miss our annual bash.

Rent some bowling shoes and go for a turkey. Sing your heart out just like you recently joined Journey. Snap photos with your friends while wearing silly hats. Show off how much of a ringer you are at pool. Get into a chicken strip-eating contest. Hang out with your new MozCon friends one last time, and celebrate all the learning!

Ryan and Char at MozCon Bash 2015


Birds of a Feather lunch tables

If you want to spend your lunchtime getting great advice from your fellow attendees about online marketing or meet people in your specialty, check out our birds of a feather lunch tables:

Monday, September 12

  • Women in Digital hosted by Heather Physioc at Tentacle Inbound, LLC
  • Search Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations hosted by Sheena Schleicher at Schleicher Marketing
  • Content MArketing for E-Commerce hosted by Kane Jamison at Content Harmony
  • Local SEO hosted by Kristina Kledzik at Rover
  • Topical Analysis hosted by Michael Cottam at Visual Itineraries
  • In-house SEO hosted by Andy Odom at Santander Consumer USA
  • Making CRO Work for Your SEO hosted by Patrick Delehanty at Marcel Digital

Tuesday, September 13

  • Local Search hosted by George Freitag at Moz
  • Growth Hacking hosted by Brittanie MacLean at Realty Austin
  • Continuing Marketing Education hosted by Rachel Goodman Moore at Moz
  • Marketing Automation hosted by Ed Fry at Hull.io
  • How to Smartly Mix Search and Content to Aid Overall Business Strategy by Ronell Smith at Ronell Smith Consulting
  • E-Commerce SEO hosted by Everett Sizemore at Inflow
  • SERP Features hosted by Jon White at Moz
  • Technical SEO hosted by Bill Sebald at Greenlane Search Marketing

Wednesday, September 14

  • Google Penalties hosted by Michael Cottam at Visual Itineraries
  • Advanced SEO hosted by Britney Muller at Moz
  • Marketing for USA Manufacturing Companies hosted by Crystal Hunt at Grassroots Fabric Pots
  • Work-Life Balance hosted by Keri Morgret at Inbound.org
  • Local Search hosted by George Freitag at Moz
  • Marketing Automation hosted by Ed Fry at Hull.io
  • Content Marketing hosted by Trevor Klein at Moz

Birds of a feather MozCon table from 2015


Join the Fitbit Group

Track your steps while networking and cheer on your fellow attendees!


Play Roger Patrol!

Ready for some friendly competition between your fellow attendees? We’ve built a special MozCon game just for you. You’ll play as starship, part of Roger Patrol! Try and beat the top score on Roger Patrol video game by zapping asteroids, destroying evil spaceships, and protecting Roger Mozbot’s universe. We’ll provide a download link for attendees, and you’ll also find three arcade-style boxes of the game throughout the MozCon venue.


Visit our Partner Hub, get your photo taken with Roger, and more arcade-style fun

As you head up to registration, entering MozCon, you won’t want to miss all the activities around you and happening when the conference isn’t in active session.


Say hello to our Partners

Every sulk through an exhibitor hall with your head down like you’re in middle school again? Us too. Which is why at MozCon, we wanted to do something different. Our invite-only partners are not only respectful, but we’ve vetted their activities and their products to make sure they are useful to you. So say hello, and we promise you might instead get a postcard to send home, a t-shirt, or a special MozCon coin.

STAT's partner hub from MozCon 2015

Our great partners:

  • Buffer
  • BuzzStream
  • SimilarWeb
  • Slope
  • STAT
  • Tagboard
  • Unbounce
  • Whitespark
  • Wistia
  • Wordstream

Stop each day at the Swag Store!

After the first day, Registration will be transformed into a swag store. You don’t want to miss out on these goodies. On Tuesday, you’ll be able to pick up your official MozCon 2016 t-shirt. On Wednesday, you’ll get your own Lego Roger.

Lego Roger Mozbot


Meet Mozzers to give feedback or Ask an SEO

Make sure to stop by the Moz Hub. We’ll be there to answer your questions about Moz Pro and Moz Local. Learn about our latest offerings and updates. Get insights into how best to use the tools.

And by popular demand, we’ve added Ask an SEO. Mozzers and Associates with expertise in SEO will be there to answer your burning search questions and kickstart you with new ideas for your search campaigns.


Play the Roger claw machine

We’re bringing back the plushie claw machine! If you missed out getting one of our plushie Roger Mozbots, or you just need another as a small child or pet decided Roger was their best friend, now’s your chance. In order to play, you must visit one of our Partners or the Moz Hub for a special shiny coin. Then take that coin to the claw machine!

Don’t worry, we’ve put a TAGFEE spell on this machine, so you may find it a little easier than the ones in the malls of your childhood. 😉


Take a photo with Roger Mozbot

A MozCon tradition you won’t want to miss. Get your annual photo (or maybe it’s your first!) taken with the cuddliest robot in the galaxy, Roger Mozbot.

Erica and Jacob over the years with Roger Mozbot


Donate to charity, on us!

Open up your Monday swag kit and inside you’ll find $5 Roger bucks. You get to donate this to one of three charities (charities selected by Mozzers):

  • PAWS – people helping animals
  • International Justice Mission – a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital – to prevent, treat, and eliminate pediatric disease

Roger Mozbot will then count the bucks and write a check to each charity.


Push pin world map

Ever play pin the tail on the donkey? Well, this is like that, but pin the spot where you are from, minus the blindfold.


In Seattle on Thursday post-MozCon? We have MozPlex tours.

Every wonder where Roger Mozbot lives? Or heard of the stories of cereal bars and rooms named after starships and robots? Is is true that Mozzers have sit/stand desks? Don’t miss out on our Office Tours on Thursday 9/15. Sign up for your time slot.

Glenn at the MozPlex


Even more fun in Seattle

Don’t miss our posts from years past, which are full of restaurant, activity, and more recommendations: 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.


Activities happening around Seattle from Saturday, September 10 – Sunday, September 18

  • September 9-11, San Gennaro Festival in Georgetown
  • September 10, Thai Festival Seattle
  • September 11, Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival
  • September 11, Second Saturday Art Walks
    • Ballard Art Walk
    • Central District Art Walk
    • Madrona Art Walk
    • Georgetown Art Walk
    • Wallingford Art Walk
  • September 11, Historic Tour of the Moore Theater
  • September 15, Columbia City Art Walk
  • September 15, Seattle Center’s “Best Damn Happy Hour”
  • September 16, University District Art Walk
  • September 17-18, Fiestas Patrias – Latin American Independence Festival
  • September 17-18, Seattle Mini Maker Faire
  • September 17, Ballard Civic Orchestra’s “Celebrating Hispanic Cultural Heritage”
  • September 17, White Center Art Walk
  • September 17, Historic Tour of the Neptune Theater

If you’re looking to connect with fellow attendees, please join our MozCon Facebook Group.

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

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

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10 Local Paid Media Marketing Ideas

In the past few years we have seen Google and Bing really pushing the shopping side of search and both the search engines and advertisers have seen massively positive results from the channel. Moving into the latter half of 2016, we are seeing Google turn its attention across to local and this was very evident in their Google Ads & Analytics Keynote that streamed live back in May 2016.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I would really recommend you take a look. It’s an hour long but it is packed full of all the features we can expect to see coming to AdWords and Analytics in the near future.

In this post I am going to share 10 paid media strategies that any business with a local presence can take advantage of. Whether you are looking to drive brand awareness, actual revenue or encourage loyalty among your existing customer base, there will be something here for you.

The Strategies

Local Search Ads

Advertisers now have the ability to show ads within the local listings and on the maps listing on desktop and also on the Google Maps app. Businesses who were previously dominating within the organic local results will start to see organic traffic reduce as an ad is now able to secure that all important top spot. At present we are only seeing one ad but my prediction here is that ads will start to creep in more and more. Have a read about these ads on Wordstream.

This is how an ad looks on desktop:

And this is how an ad looks on a mobile:

Local Search Ad Mobile

Waze Ads

Waze is an app that drivers use to navigate which is very similar to a sat nav but instead is an app on your phone. The difference with Waze for advertisers is that you can easily set up an account and get your local stores advertised to drivers whilst they are on route to their next destination.

This can be a particularly effective way of advertising brands that offer products that people need on the go. For example:

  • Pubs and Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Petrol Stations
  • Hotels & Bed/Breakfasts
  • Etc

Waze Ads

Include Distances within your ads

If you are looking to drive footfall into your local business, you can customise your ads to include distances from certain landmarks to highlight to searchers that you are located nearby. Make sure you choose a landmark or station that most people searching will know so that the ad is still relevant for everyone who sees it.

This technique can be especially powerful if you are using geo-targeting within your campaigns so you know you are only showing the ads to people who are searching nearby. This doesn’t work well for campaigns targeting nationally as much unless you have specific ad groups targeting local keywords such as ‘Restaurants in Bristol’.

Distance in Ads

Promoted Pins – Google

Google will soon be bringing Promoted Pins to Maps which will be very exciting for advertisers who are looking to encourage people to come and visit them in person. This feature is going to be very similar to what Waze Ads offer but will be within Google Maps. The guys over at Wordstream have written about this feature at length so if you want to know more, I would recommend you check out this post: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/06/01/google-maps-local-search-ads

Promoted Pins

Local Inventory Ads

These ads work alongside Google Shopping Ads but instead of trying to solely encourage online purchases, Local Inventory Ads tell searchers whether the product they are searching for is in-stock at their nearby store.

Local Inventory Ads are great if you are selling high value items that customers may want to physically see before they actually make a purchase.

The example below is for a Samsung TV priced at £849. We can see from the listing that it is really localised showing:

  • The address
  • Phone number
  • Map
  • Stock levels
  • Other locations

Local Inventory AdsReview Terms

Many brands don’t actually take advantage of the fact that you can drive low cost traffic to your site if your brand name is included within the search query.

In the example below for Kwik-fit (a tyres, MOT testing and car service garage in the UK) we can see that for the term ‘Kwik-fit Reviews’ the top result is positive but the second and third results are very negative. The actual Kwik-fit site does not appear within the results above the fold at all.

Review Terms

Discount Codes

In the same way as Kwik-fit did not appear for review style terms, a search for ‘Kwik-fit Discount Code’ brings up three external sites that show discount codes that searchers can take advantage of. Again, the brand does not appear above the fold for this search either.

Discount Terms

These types of searches happen very frequently and Kwik-fit could really capitalise on this by showing a paid advert at the top and making use of all the ad extensions possible to push the other listings further down the search results and channel the traffic back into their own website.

Facebook Local Awareness Ads

This ad format is a great way for you to reach customers who are located near to your actual business location. You can tell potential customers all about your product or service offering and at the same time show them more local context such as their proximity to your location.

Ads can also include a call to action to help drive offline sales. You can choose from four messages:

  • Get directions
  • Call now
  • Learn more
  • Send message

Facebook Local Awareness Ads

Location Extensions

Linking your AdWords campaigns up to your Google My Business account and enabling location extensions means that customers who are searching for your product or service who are located close to your business will see your address details in the adverts.

Location extensions take up an additional line within the ad helping it to stand out in the crowded search space and can increase CTR pretty significantly.

Location Extensions

Countdown Ads

A lot of businesses have special events or sales that happen throughout the year and people who are searching online have a tendancy to shop around for deals.

If you are running a special offer on any products or services or maybe you have a wide scale sale on; you can make use of Countdown Ads within Google to create urgency within your ad copy. Countdown ads countdown (believe it or not) to the end of your sale or whatever date you have asked it to countdown to.

Countdown Ads

There are lots of other ways in which local businesses can promote their offering via paid media. I actually spoke about this recently at a MozTalk event in London. You can check out the slides for more ideas here.

Dominating Paid Media in Local Markets from Koozai

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Combining Email and Facebook for a Dynamite Ecommerce Marketing Campaign

Posted by andrewchoco

Most people view email marketing and social advertising as two separate entities, and I’ll be honest, I used to think that as well. However, I’ve discovered that combining multiple different avenues for a coherent marketing campaign yields some pretty impressive results.

We’ve tried this tactic before at Directive Consulting, combining SEO and PPC; but in this blog post, I’m going to break down a few ways to combine email and social advertising for multi-channel success.

More specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to create custom and lookalike audiences on Facebook from an email list
  • Best practices for launching email and social campaigns simultaneously
  • How we used this tactic to increase overall sessions and revenue
  • Some additional strategies to take your ecommerce campaigns to the next level

Using email lists to create Custom Audiences on Facebook

Most (if not all) ecommerce stores require an email address when completing a purchase, and many times you can see what item the person bought. Keeping an organized and segmented email list is the first step to social advertising success. If you’re an online clothing store that specializes in creative t-shirts for men and women, create individual lists segmenting categories (e.g., sports, funny, and cute) and gender. If you’re using a CRM such as Hubspot, Mailchimp, or Salesforce, you can export these contact lists as .CSV files and then upload those to Facebook under the “Audiences” section using Ads Manager.

When logging onto your Ads Manager or Business Manager account, go to your ad account and select the drop-down hamburger menu in the top left-hand corner.

If “Audiences” doesn’t appear in the “Frequently Used” section, hit “All tools” and you’ll find it under the “Assets” section.

xaDakF7.png

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After clicking on “create custom audience,” you’ll need to select the “customer file” section and then “choose a file or copy” and you’ll be prompted to upload your .CSV file into Facebook.

Facebook will then match up the emails with actual Facebook users (you can expect anywhere from a 20% – 70% match rate), but with ecommerce those numbers tend to be on the higher side.

Using email lists to create Facebook Audiences

Another great feature of Facebook ads is the ability to create lookalike audiences from previously uploaded email lists. Facebook will match up the corresponding profiles of your email lists with a broader group of people who have similar profiles based on interests, demographics, and behaviors. As long as your email list consists of more than 100 people, Facebook will be able to create a lookalike audience. Obviously, though, the more people you have in the original email list, the more similar the lookalike audience will be (because Facebook will have more data to pull from.)

tsTPLOb.png

When you create your lookalike audience, you select a country and choose anywhere from 1% – 10% of a country’s population.

3EbgXwD.png

But you don’t have to stop there. Once you have a lookalike audience (we usually use the 10% option so we capture the most people), you can layer additional targeting on top of the lookalike. For the clothing store example, you could take the audience of 20 million and add additional behavior targeting of men’s fashion buyers and online buyers. Now that’s a specific audience!

Launching simultaneous campaigns for maximum reach

Now how can you tie together email marketing and social advertising for optimal reach?

Anytime an ecommerce shop launches a promotion or sale, they send out an email blast.

I usually check my email in the morning, see the promotion, and then promptly forget about it five minutes later. It’s common knowledge that every opportunity needs multiple touches before they end up converting to a sale, but sending three emails a day promoting a sale is a good way to lose a lot of subscribers.

The solution? Launch a social promotion targeted at your specific email list. Then ramp up the budget to ensure that every person sees your ad at least once during the campaign. A good way to do this is by looking at the estimated reach when creating an ad campaign and making sure your budget is high enough that the estimated reach per day matches up with the amount of people on your email list.

n6MXvmG.png

We used this tactic with a client of ours who sells collectable banknotes from countries all around the world.

Their most popular is the Zimbabwean $100 trillion dollar banknote, so they ran a promotion for 10% off. We didn’t segment the audiences like I mentioned earlier, because they were only promoting one country’s banknote, but we did create two different ad images as well as a carousel ad so we could target everyone in the list with multiple products for the same price.

V1trZyg.png

While you may think this is an obnoxious ad and the red circle and arrow is overkill, this ad actually performed the best out of all of them, generating over 180 clicks in three days with a CTR of 8.7%. Little touches like this really draw in your audience’s attention and can lead to much higher engagement.

dMJ9rPk.png

Kk69pjX.png

Carousel ads are great for ecommerce shops because they can show off multiple products without increasing the price of your campaigns. We recently switched over to carousel ads for a client of ours who builds custom fences and had 3,000% more sessions on the site from the carousel ads.

We launched these ads for a three-day period while the sale was running and combed it with an email blast that went out at the beginning of the sale. These are the results we saw when comparing the week of the promotion to the previous week:

y5WTyll.png

We saw our sessions go up, as well as the pages per session and average session duration. We didn’t have a single transaction from Facebook the previous week, but had four during the sale, generating enough revenue to easily cover the cost of that campaign.

Another interesting thing we saw was that the email didn’t directly lead to any sales. I’m not saying it had no effect on the sales that week, but only launching an email campaign wouldn’t have had the same impact as combining these two platforms and working together to create additional touches throughout the sale period.

Additional strategies

1. Use lookalike audiences

For the above example, we only targeted our custom audience of email subscribers (the sale was a special promo just for those customers). But taking it even further, creating a broader audience from the lookalike audience would have been a great audience to target, as well.

What better way to introduce your brand and product to a potential customer than immediately offering a sale? You can also further target these audiences to get extremely specific. For our banknote client, our targeted lookalike audience looks something like this:

DQ9tzji.png

2. Create a new segmented list for sale buyers

If you’re launching a promotion for a sale using this tactic, segment each new email address you receive into its own list titled “sale buyers.” There’s a chance these people have been wanting to buy your product all along and finally waited until a sale came along to do it, but more likely, these people are impulse shoppers who made a purchase because of the exclusivity of the deal you’re promoting. This now gives you a list of customers that you know make purchases during sales, and you can test out other promotional deals later on. If you don’t offer free shipping regularly, have a two-day period when you do, and target these specific people.

3. Use Twitter as another platform to target your audience

Twitter is another social platform that gives you the ability to upload a .CSV of email addresses, and matches up twitter profiles with those corresponding emails.

NpP0NkO.png

In the Twitter Ads platform, go to “Tools” and then “Audience manager.”

RtTZwXV.png

Head over to “Create new audience” and upload your own .CSV, just like you did for Facebook. (A word of warning: You do need 500 or more matches for Twitter to allow you to use the audience for promotions.)

For ecommerce, most people will use their personal email for Twitter as well as buying a product, so this shouldn’t be an issue with a big enough email list.

Now it’s your turn

Now you’re prepared to launch a robust and successful email and social advertising campaign.

Remember, it’s important to ensure your budget aligns with the amount of people you’re trying to reach, and to use eye-popping images to catch your audience’s attention. Let me know in the comments if these tactics worked for you, or if you have any additional strategies for email and social success!

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

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Social Penalty Algorithms: You’ll never believe the future of social media!


I’ve previously ranted about bad content and clickbait, so it was music to my ears when Facebook recently announced a revised algorithm to cut out clickbait. This new penalty algorithm shows the social network is obviously getting just as sick of clickbait as its users are. But what does this update mean for content marketing and the other social networks?

The Latest Algorithm

In case you missed it, at the start of August Facebook introduced the latest algorithm to tackle the growing plague of clickbait in user’s news feeds. Their statement says that they are targeting articles with “clickbait headlines or link titles.”
The algorithm works in two ways:

  1. Identifying articles that have a high bounce rate (Facebook does this by measuring content that a user clicks on via a link but returns to Facebook straight away).
  2. Identifying articles that have headlines that withhold information (which forces the user to click the article), or content that deliberately misleads users.

For the latter point, Facebook manually reviewed thousands of articles that have clickbait headlines to identify common clickbait language such as:

  • “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…” (an example of withholding information)
  • “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” (factually incorrect)

As well as identifying offenders on a domain level, the algorithm also identifies offenders on a page level to deter them from using multiple websites to try and get around the penalty.  The algorithm does not work in a binary fashion, and instead scores offenders on a clickbait scale. The worse the headline and higher the score, the less likely it will be to appear in news feeds.

It’s encouraging to see Facebook take these steps to improve the user experience (although they have their own reasons which I’ll touch on later). What’s even more encouraging though is that they’ve said they would share this with other networks and companies. In an interview with TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of Product Management on News Feed, says:

“I have no problem walking any company through what we did and how we did it so they can borrow it”

 

This is good and important news, because Twitter certainly seems to be having some problems too.

Does Twitter have bigger problems?

Of course, the problem is not just resigned to Facebook as Twitter also has its fair share of clickbait spammers. However due to the nature of Twitter, I feel a different type of deceitful marketing has been born.

Fake Account Networks

This system works by leveraging a wide range of large pop culture, tribute or parody accounts. Many of these accounts are owned by the same company and have amassed large followings due to posting popular niche content. But they use these large followings to then advertise (/stuff down people’s throats) what seems to be poor quality products that many users are warning are scams. The system works as follows:

  • Pop culture accounts promote each other to grow followings.

Fake Account Network Example 1

  • These accounts then retweet fake accounts who are advertising the product. This makes it look like real people appearing in your timeline but, in reality, these are spam accounts created only to sell a product.

Fake Account Network 2

  • The pop culture account then deletes the retweet after a given amount of time, so it looks like a normal account when browsing through its timeline.

The tone and content of the accounts quite clearly targets a young demographic. And while younger demographics are very good at spotting ads, I still feel that this is an extremely manipulative tactic.
Goatcase
Some people may call this a form of influencer marketing, but I feel that slightly stains what is actually a very effective marketing tactic which involves real brands engaging with real people. You only have to look at the likes of Zoella to see how effective influencer marketing can be. These fake account networks are also not abiding to the same advertising standards that influencers have to. Internet personalities have had to up their game in the last 12 months and you only need to glance at a social post to determine quickly that it’s a #ad, making it immediately clear that content is sponsored.

In an article on the Social Chain (an agency that owns a number of popular entertainment accounts that operates in a slightly more ethical manner) the Advertising Standards Agency states:

“If any social media account (including celebrity and ‘parody’ Twitter accounts) are tweeting ads and it’s not clear from the context that these are marketing communications, then they need to be labelled as an ad.”

 

None of the many accounts I looked at show that they are in fact adverts. But it’s a grey and difficult area for Twitter to police.

Social Chain Account
An example of an account from the Social Chain. Their bio states ‘Contains #sp’ which indicates sponsored promotions/posts.

What can Twitter do?

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way of identifying if an account was an actual person?

Oh, well that’s convenient.

Just before the new Facebook algorithm was introduced, Twitter announced that it was opening up applications for users to gain the coveted ‘blue tick’ of authenticity. In their official press release, their VP of User Services said:

“We want to make it even easier for people to find creators and influencers on Twitter so it makes sense for us to let people apply for verification. We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience.”

 

To be verified by Twitter users must provide an authentic:

  • Phone number
  • Email Address
  • Website

If I were creating fake accounts, then it would be still be possible to get all of these without too much hassle. But interestingly Twitter take it a step further by stating the following:

  • The profile and/or header photo reflects the person, the corporation’s branding, or the company’s branding.
  • We may request that you scan and upload a legible copy of your government-issued ID (such as a passport or driver’s license) to confirm your identity.

It’s a whole other ball game having to upload government issue ID. I imagine any attempts to forge this would come with serious consequences.

By making it easier to identify a broader set of influencers, hopefully it’ll make it much easier for users to see fake and deceitful marketing accounts.

You won’t believe this is the end of clickbait

Facebook has been making big strides, and last year it was shown that Facebook was driving more traffic to media sites than Google. But an ever increasing amount of content, (which includes a lot of bad clickbait) has been partially blamed for a recent sharp fall in traffic from Facebook to some publishers’ sites. By introducing this algorithm and actually asking people not to use clickbait, it goes some way to keep genuine publishers (but more importantly advertisers) happy.

In many ways, you can see the echoes of pre-penalty Google. Quite simply, if a user is not engaging with the content that’s displayed to them, then they’re likely to go somewhere else. When a user goes somewhere else, so do the advertisers.

If Facebook really are happy to share this algorithm or process with other networks, then I hope that we’ll get better, more genuine content marketing. Will we finally see the end of clickbait?

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State of Digital is expanding the chiefs team with Barry Adams

“Hire the best people for the job and don’t be afraid to let them do the job.” It’s a management saying you hear a lot. It’s also something most managers don’t do.

When I asked Sam Noble to become chief editor of State of Digital, I tried to do just that: hire the best person for the job. Even though we are all in it on an honorary basis. In the past two years, Sam and I have worked together in a very exciting way. She can truly get stuff done that I can’t. I’m hoping we can continue doing that for years to come.

We also noticed that, partly because of the fact we are all doing this next to our day-to-day jobs, our talents needed some help. Help to get the ideas and challenges we have to actually get done. And help that lies in a different area: there where our knowledge just isn’t as good as that third person.

So in the last year, we started asking our editor Barry Adams for more input and more help. Which, as Barry is, he gave us, without thinking about it.

This is why Sam and I found that our team or chiefs should be expanded. And that there could only be one person for the job: Barry.

This is why I reached out to Barry to ask him to join our small group of chiefs. And I am happy to say that without any hesitation he answered positively.

This means we are expanding our team of chiefs on State of Digital. And it means that again I can say that we’re “hiring the best for the job”.

I’ve known Barry for many years. He’s been around the longest on the sites Searchcowboys, State of Search and currently State of Digital. You could say he earned his trust :-). His great knowledge of SEO, the technical side of things and the industry, will help us move forward again.

We’re planning and talking about how we can adapt to the changing industry and market. You’ll be seeing things about that soon. We’re strong as ever, but we know that in this world, nothing stays the same, not even for a day.

So join me in welcoming Barry Adams to our team! I know he can be grumpy at times, but do say something nice about him anyway 😉

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The Two-Part SEO Ranking Model: Let's Make SEO Simple

Posted by EricEnge

There sure is a lot of interest in SEO ranking factors:

There have been major studies done on this, notably by both Moz and Searchmetrics. These are groundbreaking pieces of research, and if you’re serious about SEO, you need to understand what these studies say.

That said, these are too complex for most organizations to deal with. They need a simpler way of looking at things. At Stone Temple Consulting (STC) we deal with many different types of organizations, including some of the world’s largest companies, and some of the highest-traffic websites in the world. For most of these companies, understanding that there are 200+ ranking factors does more harm than good.

Why, you ask? So many people I talk to are looking for a silver bullet. They want to hear that they should only change their heading tags on the second Tuesday of every month, except during leap years, when they should do it on the first Tuesday, except in February when they should change it on the third Monday. These distractions end up taking away from the focus on the two things that matter most: building great content (and a great content experience) and promoting it well.

Today’s post is going to lay out a basic approach that most companies can use to simplify their thinking about SEO, and keep their focus on the highest priorities.

What Google recently said

Here’s what Google Dublin’s Andrey Lippatsev said in a Hangout that I participated in on March 23, 2016. Also participating in the Hangout was Ammon Johns, who asked Andrey what the two most important ranking factors are:

Andrey Lippatsev: Yes. Absolutely. I can tell you what they are. It is content and links going into your site.

There we go, that’s a start. According to Google, it’s links and content that are the two biggest. Hopefully, the idea that content is a big factor is obvious, but below I’ll break out more what great content really entails. In addition, you can see some backup for the power of links in the study I recently published on links as a ranking factor.

Should we think of the world as consisting only of these two factors? It’s quite simplistic, and possibly too much so, but let’s try to simplify this even more. How many organizations would dramatically improve their SEO if they focused on creating great content and promoting it effectively? I can tell you that from my experience these are two things that many organizations simply don’t do.

Does that mean that we can take our two factors and put them into a (purely) hypothetical ranking score equation that looks like this?

I actually think that this equation is pretty effective, though it has some limitations and omissions that I’ll describe in more detail below. You also need to think about the concept of “great content,” that will get a high Content Score, in the correct manner.

What is “great content?”

If we step back and think about what makes up great content, it seems to me that there are three major components that matter:

  1. Relevancy
  2. Quality
  3. The overall content experience

The first part of this is simple. If the content is not relevant to a query, it shouldn’t rank for that query, ever. That makes sense, right?

The second part is also pretty simple, and that’s the notion of quality. Does it provide information that people are looking for? Is that information relatively unique to your site? Clearly, it makes sense for the quality of the content to matter a lot.

We can combine the notions of quality and relative uniqueness into the notion of material differentiation. Rand covers this brilliantly in his Whiteboard Friday about creating 10X content.

Creating the 220,001st article on how to make French toast is just not going to cut it:

You need to create something new and compelling that also offers a lot of value. That may not be easy, but being the best at something never is.

If you’re in a competitive market, it’s reasonable to guess that your top competitors are making great, relevant content on topics that matter to their target audience. For the most important queries, it’s probable that the top 5 (and maybe more) pieces of content in that space are really, really good (i.e. more comprehensive than other articles on the topic, or brings in new information that others don’t have).

The third part encompasses many pieces.

  • Is your content well-organized and easy to read?
  • Does it effectively communicate its key points? How do people engage with it? If they land on a page on your site that has the answer to their question, can they quickly and easily find that information?

Once again, you’ll find that the major competitors that rank in the top of the SERPs all handle this pretty well too.

Let’s now take a look at what the role of the content score in ranking might look like:

Note that the Y-axis is “Chances of Ranking,” as opposed to “Ranking.” Nonetheless, this curve suggests that the Content Score is a big one, and that makes sense. Only the best of the best stuff should rank. It’s simple.

Digging a bit deeper on what goes into content quality

But what about title tags? Heading tags, use of synonyms? Page layout and design? Stop and think about it for a moment. Aren’t those all either part of creating higher-quality content, or making that content easier to consume?

You bet.

For example, imagine that I wrote this piece of content:

It could be the greatest information in the world, but it’s going to be really hard for users to read, and it will probably have terrible user engagement signals. On the other hand, imagine that my content looks like this:

Would you say the quality of one of these pieces of content is higher? I would. The second one is much easier to read, and therefore will deliver more value to users. It will get better engagement, and yes, it will probably get linked to more often.

Why do links get separate treatment?

You could argue that links are just another measurement of content quality, and there is some truth to that, but we give them separate treatment in this discussion for two reasons:

1. They’re still the best measurement of authority.

Yes, I know I’m ruffling some feathers now, but this is what my experience after more than 15 years in SEO (and seeing hundreds of SEO campaigns) has taught me. To get and sustain a link, someone has to have a website, has to be willing to modify that website, and they have to be willing to have their site’s visitors click on the link to leave their site and go to yours.

That’s a pretty material commitment on the linking site’s part, and the only incentive they have to do that is if they believe that your content is of value to their site’s visitors.

Why not social signals? While I’ve long argued that they have no impact except for aiding in content discovery, let’s for sake of argument say that I’m wrong, and there is some impact here, and explain why social signals can never be a critical part of the Google algo. It’s simple: social signals are under the control of third-party companies that can make them invisible to Google on a moment’s notice (and remember that Google and Facebook are NOT friends). Imagine Google giving Facebook (or any other 3rd party) the power to break their algorithm whenever they want. Not happening!

2. The power of links should cause different actions on your part.

What is that action? It’s called marketing, and within that discipline is the concept of content marketing. Done the right way, these are things you should do to raise the reputation and visibility of your brand.

In fact, this may consume a material amount of your entire company budget. With or without search engines in the world, you’ve always wanted to do two things:

(1) Make really good stuff, and

(2) market it effectively.

In 2016, and beyond, this will not change.

No doubt, part of attracting great links is to produce great content, but there are other overt actions involved to tell the world about that great content, such as active outreach programs.

Expanding on user engagement

Many have speculated that Google is using user engagement signals as a ranking factor, and that it will increase its investment in these areas over time. For example, what about click-through rate (CTR)? I discuss CTR as a ranking factor here, but to net it out simply, it’s just too easy a signal to game, and Google tells us that it uses CTR measurements as a quality control check on other ranking signals, rather than as a direct signal.

You can doubt Google’s statements about this, but if you own or publish a website, you probably get many emails a week offering to sell you links via one scheme or another. However, you never get emails offering you CTR ranking schemes. Why is that, you think? It’s because even the scammers and spammers don’t think it works.

Important note: Rand has done many live CTR tests and a number of these have shown some short-term rankings movement, so CTR could be used in some manner to discover hot trends/news, but still not be a core ranking factor.

What about other user engagement signals? I’d bet that Google is, in fact, doing some things with user engagement signals, though it’s hard to be sure what they are. It’s not likely to be as simple as bounce rate, or its cousin, pogosticking.

Pogosticking sure seems like a good signal until you realize there are many scenarios where they don’t work at all. For example, when users are comparison shopping, they’ll naturally hop from site to site.

Finding good user engagement factors that make for really reliable signals is quite hard. Many have speculated that artificial intelligence/machine learning will be used to derive these types of factors. Here are three pieces of content that cover that topic in some detail:

  1. The Machine Learning Revolution: How it Works and its Impact on SEO, an article here on Moz by yours truly
  2. SEO in a Two-Algorithm World, a Powerpoint by Rand Fishkin
  3. The Past, Present, and Future of SEO, an article by Mike Grehan

Information architecture

Having a solid information architecture (IA) that Google can crawl and easily find your content is also a major requirement. In Andrey Lippatsev’s response, he undoubtedly presumed that this was in good shape, but it would be wrong to leave this out of this discussion.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we’ve helped tons of sites improve their organic traffic simply by working on their IA, eliminating excessive page counts, improving their use of SEO tags like rel=canonical, and things of this nature. This is clearly a big factor as well. Usability also feeds into IA, because people need to be able to find what they’re looking for on your site.

What I’ve left out with the two-factor model

First of all, there are other types of results, such as images, videos, and maps results, that are opportunities to get on the first page, but the above discussion is focused on how to rank in regular web search results.

To be fair, even in the regular web results, I’ve left some things out. Here are some examples of those:

  1. Local links. I’m not referring to “local pack” listings here. If I search on “digital cameras” right now, in the regular web search results, I’ll see some listings for stores near me. Clearly, proximity is a very large factor in ranking those pages.
  2. Query deserves diversity. An example of this is the query “Jaguar.” Chances are that my two-factor algorithm would rank only car sites in the top 10, but Google knows that many people that type that query want information on the animal. So even if the two-factor algo would slant things one way, you’ll see some animal-related sites in the top 10.
  3. In-depth articles. This is a feature that’s hard to spot in the search results, but sometimes Google includes in the bottom of the top 10 results some pieces of content that are particularly comprehensive. These are for queries where Google recognizes there’s a decent chance that the user is engaging in extensive research on a topic. Here’s an example for the query “constitution”:

We conducted a small sample review of 200 SERPs and found that about 6% of the results appeared to be from factors such as these. The two-factor model also doesn’t account for personalization, but this post is looking at ranking factors for regular search results other than personalization, which, of course, also has a large impact.

Looking for ranking hacks?

OK, I’m going to give you one. Make your content, and the experience of consuming that content, unbelievably good. That’s step one. Stick to your knitting, folks, and don’t cop out on the effort to make your content stand out. You have no choice if you want to get sustainably positive results from SEO.

Don’t forget the overall site and page usability, as that’s a big part of what makes your content consumable. This is a critical part of making great content. So is measuring user engagement. This provides a critical feedback loop into what you’re doing, and whether or not it’s working for your target audience.

Then, and only then, your focus should turn to marketing that will help drive your reputation and visibility, and help attract links to your content. Here it is in a nutshell:

If your content isn’t competitive in relevance and quality, links won’t help. If it is, links will make the difference.

Your content has to be elite to have a chance to score highly on any given competitive search result. After that, your superior marketing efforts will help you climb to the top of the heap.

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

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Should You Be Outsourcing SEO Training for Your Team?

Posted by rachelgooodmanmoore

When first looking to offer something new, most businesses fall in line with one of two schools of thought:

  1. Build it internally
  2. Purchase or outsource it

There are pros and cons to both sides of the coin.

Here’s an example: Say you’re looking to expand the selection of products your company sells. Building a new offering in-house would allow you complete control over the size and shape of the new product. The drawback? Building it yourself usually takes significant internal resources and time. If, instead, you chose to purchase a product from another organization (let’s call them Acme Corp) and whitelabel it — or maybe even purchase Acme Corp itself — you’ll be able to go to market sooner, but you’ll almost certainly have less control over the product you’re offering.

The idea of “build internally” or “purchase externally” doesn’t just apply to products — it also includes internal programs like market research, sales strategy development, and even professional training. In fact, it includes almost everything that makes up an organization, from its processes to its people.

Think back to the last product (internal or external) your company released. In which camp is your organization? Whether you go the outsourcing or building in-house route depends on your business and the situation at hand. There are arguments for the merits of both, and some organizations employ a mix of multiple strategies.

Let’s look at some of the considerations and use cases for why you may want to choose one over the other when it comes to training — in particular, SEO training.

Is SEO training unique?

It’s worth examining if (and how) SEO education differs from other flavors of professional training. While SEO training is a different beast than, say, learning to code or how to do business accounting, from my perspective as an online trainer, teaching SEO isn’t remarkably different than teaching any kind of digital marketing.

SEO training: a different type of beast.

At basic and intermediate levels, neither SEO nor digital marketing in general are extremely technical (compared to something like learning JavaScript, MySQL, or setting up a Salesforce CRM), nor do they require an MBA or PhD to master. Both are easier with a fundamental understanding of how websites and the Internet work, and both are at their best when backed by real data and at least a dash of creativity.

SEO versus digital marketing training

Do these two actually differ from each other at all? Search engine optimization is a subset of what digital marketing is all about, so they’re related. But there are differences, nonetheless. Let’s take a closer look:

The training face-off

Digital Marketing Education SEO Education
Focuses on all aspects of how to attract traffic, convert those visitors into leads, and help transform those leads into customers Mainly focuses on how to best attract visitors
Covers ways to attract visitors from all sources Deals almost exclusively with increasing or refining traffic from search engines
Deals with topics like email marketing, marketing automation, social media, content creation, and beyond Hones in on topics like keyword research, site architecture, on- and off-page optimization, and analytics (though may also include topics like content creation as they pertain to generating search traffic)
Typically measures ROI in terms of marketing or sales-qualified leads generated Most direct ROI numbers are around traffic generated by source (namely search engines or search-influenced sources)

The right column, for our purposes in this article, is how we’ll be defining “SEO training.”

Now that we’re on the same page with what we mean when discussing SEO training, let’s dive into the ten-thousand-dollar question*: should you build and run this type of training in-house, or outsource it?

*Yes, some SEO training programs really do cost that much.

Outsourcing: the benefits

Let’s start our tour of outsourcing versus building training in-house by examining the pros of hiring an outside trainer or signing up for an SEO training course:

1. Outsourcing saves time.

Whether it’s hours devoted to developing an SEO curriculum, putting together lessons, actually teaching, or following up with trainees after your session, building and delivering from-scratch training can take an enormous amount of time and effort.

Outsourcing means you get hours in your day back, and because the training is built by professionals, the end product may be higher quality than something built internally.

2. Outsourcing can save you money.

Note “can” (and not “will”) save you money. If you only need training one (or a few) time(s), or if you have a relatively small group of people enrolled, it can be significantly more cost-effective to outsource training.

On the other hand, if you have a large number of people to train or plan on offering a course on a regular basis (for example, as part of new hire onboarding), it may be worth the upfront cost to develop in-house training.

3. Outsourcing lets you put more budget towards day-to-day operations.

It may sound counterintuitive, but companies that “run lean” or dedicate the lion’s share of budget to day-to-day operations may not be able to sacrifice the man hours necessary to develop, deliver, and maintain a training program. Outsourcing one is often significantly less expensive for the scale these organizations need.

4. Don’t have an internal expert, but need new internal expertise? No problem.

If you’re looking to strengthen existing SEO skills or build your company’s SEO expertise from the ground up, but aren’t ready to hire a search marketing manager just yet, finding a good SEO training course or bringing in an outside trainer can provide the skills you’re looking for.

It’s also useful for agencies hoping to offer full SEO services or building an SEO pilot program. Bringing in outside help to train up a few team members on key skills means you don’t need to invest in a net new hire for a program with an uncertain future.

5. Outsourced training makes it easier to reach a remote or multi-lingual team.

It’s as common to hear about companies expanding to open their first satellite office in Beijing as it is to hear that office is in Boston. Thanks to the Internet, today’s world is smaller than ever.

If yours is one of the many companies with international workers or a largely remote workforce, it can be hard to deliver training that’s equally accessible and applicable to everyone. In situations like this — and especially if you have a multilingual workforce — outsourcing training that’s available in various languages can be a great option.

6. Outsourcing may give you access to accreditations or certifications.

Many online and in-person SEO training programs include some sort of certification of completion or proficiency. If that’s a priority, you’ll want to purchase an in-person or online program from an organization with industry name recognition that offers a certification.

7. Outsourcing gives you access to the best quality educators.

Whether you’re a full-fledged Google algorithm guru or just know your way around a site crawl, no one can argue that you’ve got some SEO chops. You already know the material, so it should be no trouble to whip up some training based on your expertise… right?

Maybe, but maybe not. “Doing” skills are different than teaching skills; being skilled at SEO doesn’t automatically correlate to being skilled at teaching SEO. And, perhaps more importantly, teaching doesn’t automatically lead to learning. Just because you have knowledge to share doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be as successful as possible when helping your colleagues actually learn.

One of the biggest benefits of outsourced training is that it gives you access to professional educators, not just folks with practical experience who educate in their free time.

Outsourcing: the drawbacks

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of outsourcing training, let’s give in-house training the same treatment. What are cons of relying on a 3rd-party provider for your SEO training needs?

1. Only relying on outsourced education doesn’t give you any equity.

No, I’m not talking about link equity. The equity I’m referring to here is, metaphorically, the same kind of equity you get from buying a house versus renting an apartment.

As a renter, you’re only paying for access to the property — not an actual stake in it. Buying, on the other hand, may take more effort and investment upfront, but it gives you control (and ownership!) over the actual property itself.

What does this metaphor have to do with in-house versus outsourced training? Only relying on outsourced efforts means you’re continually paying someone else for access to their educational property. If you have training needs that span over many employees or many years, this can get very expensive. In those cases, while it may initially be more costly to develop training in-house, it’s a better long-term investment because of the ‘equity’ it provides.

2. Outsourcing training doesn’t always scale with growing businesses.

Plan ahead for the long-term: If you’re growing your organization and plan on having multiple people involved in creating optimized content for your website, it may be a better long-term investment to build in-house training that grows with your team.

3. Outsourced training generally focuses on best practices and one-size-fits-most processes.

Most training programs center on teaching “best practices” or general strategies. If you have a specific process or way of doing SEO, it may be difficult (if not impossible) for an outside trainer to communicate your optimization process — in your terms, using your tools — to your team. For some organizations, that alone may be enough to tilt the scales towards creating all training in-house.

4. Have specific content needs? Building your own curriculum may be your best bet.

Related to having unique processes, having specific content needs also may mean that outsourcing training isn’t the best bet for you. Only want to learn about optimizing content for mobile search engines and advanced link building strategies, but don’t want to have to pay for access to 30 other courses to get the two you do? While some training providers can build a fully custom program designed around exactly what you want to learn, many may come as standard “packages” with little flexibility around what you can learn as a whole or within each session.

5. Training for large teams often comes with a large price tag.

Almost any type of purchasable training program — be it pre-recorded videos, live sessions, in-person classroom experiences, or otherwise — are priced on a “per seat” basis. If your team either needs access to multiple sessions, you have many team members who’ll all need access to the same courses, or both, outsourced training can quickly get pricey.

6. Your access to training materials may be limited.

Some SEO training providers place legal restrictions on re-using the their training materials. This means you may not be able to record sessions, download slides, or distribute useful materials to your team. If sharing the educational love with your coworkers is a deal breaker for you, consider creating and running your SEO training in-house. If you’re still leaning towards using an outside provider, be sure to read their FAQs or legal materials before pulling the trigger.

Key questions to ask

While there are many benefits of outsourcing your SEO training needs, depending on your specific needs there may be an equal number of drawbacks. When considering the right training route for your team it’s worth taking the time to consider questions like:

  • How many people need to take this training right now? And over the next one to two years?
  • Do I have the internal expertise (or access to it) to create high quality training myself?
  • Will it cost me more to build training than it’s currently worth?
  • Will it take me longer to build training than value it will provide?
  • When do I need my employees trained by? Do I have time to wait, or is there an immediate need?
  • Do I need a general SEO training program, one that focuses on specific topics, or one that details my unique process?
  • Are the outsourced training options available to me worth the price? What do they include?
  • Is it important to get some sort of certification, badge, or other certificate of proficiency upon completion of the training?

The answers to these questions may not give you a black-and-white answer as to whether building training in-house or finding an outside provider is the best choice for you, but they can help make the decision a bit less murky.

Thinking of going the outsourced route for some (or all) of your team’s SEO training? Check out Moz Academy’s online workshops and custom training options.

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

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Why Every Website (Not Just Local Sites) Should Invest in Local Links and Citations – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

At first glance, local links and local citations might seem unnecessary for non-local websites. On a closer look, however, there are strong underlying benefits to gaining those local votes of confidence that could prove invaluable for everyone. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why all sites should consider chasing local links and citations, suggesting a few different ways to discover opportunities in your areas of focus.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to talk about why websites — every website, not just local websites — should be thinking about tactics and a strategy to get local listings and local citations.

Now, this might sound counterintuitive. I’ve actually encountered a lot of folks — especially online-only businesses or even blended online and local businesses — who think, “Are local links really that important to me, or are they off-topic? Could they potentially cause problems and confusion? Should I be trying to get those?” I’m going to try and make the case to you today that you absolutely should.

Recently, I got to visit Scotland to talk to several folks. I visited Skyscanner. I spoke at the Digital Excellence event and spoke, of course, at the Turing Festival, which was a remarkable event in Edinburgh. We actually landed in Glasgow on a Saturday and drove up to a little town called Inveraray. So I’m going to use some examples from Inveraray, Scotland, and I apologize if my accent is miserable.

A few of the businesses we visited there: Loch Fyne Whiskies, they have their own living cask, where they essentially add in whiskies and blends to this cask that keeps evolving; Whisky Shop, which is an online-only shop; and then Inveraray Castle, which is a local business, entirely a local business centered around this lovely castle and estate that I think, if I understood correctly, is run by the Duke of Argyll, Argyll being the region around there. Apparently, Scotland still has dukes in business, which is fantastic.

Local & online business

So for a local and online business, like Lock Fyne Whiskies, they sell whiskies in their specific store. You can go in — and I did — and buy some stuff. They also sell on their website, I believe just in the United Kingdom, unfortunately, for those of you watching around the rest of the world. But there are certainly reasons why they would want to go and get local links from places that link to businesses in Inveraray or in Argyll or in Scotland as a whole. Those include:

  • Boosting their Maps visibility, so that when you’re searching in Google Maps for “whisky” or “whisky shops,” potentially, if you’re near Inveraray, Google Maps will make their business show up higher.
  • Boosting their local ranking so that if you’re searching for “whisky shop Argyll” or “whisky shop Scotland” or “whisky shop near me” and you happen to be there, Google will show this business higher for that ranking as well.
  • Boosting their domain authority, meaning that those local links are contributing to overall ranking ability. That means they can rank for longer-tail terms. That means they can rank more competitively for classic web search terms that are not just in local or Maps.
  • Sending valuable traffic. So if you think about a listing site, like thelist.co.uk has them on there, TripAdvisor has them on there, a bunch of local sort of chamber of commerce — it’s not actually the chamber of commerce there — but chamber of commerce-type sites list them on there, that sends valuable direct traffic to their business. That could be through foot traffic. It could be through referrals. It could be through people who are buying whisky online from them. So a bunch of real good reasons why a local and online business should do this.

Online-only business

But if you’re an online-only business, I think a lot of folks make the case of, “Wait a minute, Rand, isn’t it true that if I am getting local links and local citations, those may not be boosting my relevance, my ranking ability as much as they are boosting my local ranking ability, which I don’t actually care about because I’m not focused on that?”

So, for example, whiskyshop.com, I think they are also based in Scotland, but they don’t have physical locations. It’s an online-only shop. So getting a local link for them in whatever part of the region of Scotland they are actually in would…

  • Boost their domain authority, giving them more ranking ability for long-tail terms.
  • Make it harder for their competitors to compete for those links. This makes link acquisition for an online-only business, even from local sources, a beautiful thing because your competitors are not in that region and, therefore, they can’t go get those same links that you can get simply by virtue of being where you are as a business physically located. Even if you’re just in an office space or working from home, wherever your domain is registered you can potentially get those.
  • Yield solid anchor text. There are a bunch of local sources that will not just point out who you are, but also what you do. When they point out what you do, they can link to your product pages or your different site sections, individual URLs on your site, and provide anchor text that can be powerful. Depending on how those submissions are accepted and how they’re processed, some local listings, obviously, you’re not going to get them, others you are.

There’s one more that I should include here too, which is that…

  • Local information, even citations by themselves, can be a trust signal for Google, where they essentially say, “Hey, you know what, we trust that this is a real business that is really in this place. We see citations for it. That tells us we can trust this site. It’s not spammy. It doesn’t have these spam signals around it.” That’s a really big positive as well. So I’d add that — spam trust issues.

Local-only business

Lastly, a local-only business — I think this is the most obvious one — we know that it…

  • Boosts Maps visibility
  • Boosts local rankings
  • Boosts your long-tail ranking ability
  • Sends valuable direct traffic, just like they do to a local and online business.

Easy ways to find citation/link sources in your locale:

If you’re going to go out and look for some local links, a few quick recommendations that are real easy to do.

  1. Do a search for a business name, not necessarily your business name — in fact, not your business name – anybody, any of your competitors or anyone in the region. It doesn’t have to necessarily be your business. It could be someone in the county or the territory, the state, the city, the town, minus their site, because you don’t want results from their site. You’re actually looking for: What are all the places where their business is talked about? You can add in, if you’d like, the region or city name.
  2. Search for one local business and another one. So, for example, if I was Whisky Shop and I were in Inveraray or I were in Argyll, I could search for “Loch Fyne Whiskies” and “Inveraray Castle,” and I would come back with a list of places that have both of those on their website. That often turns out to be a great source of a bunch of listings, listing opportunities and link opportunities.
  3. Google just by itself the city plus the state, or region or country, and get lots and lots of places, first off that describe that place, but then also that note notable businesses or that have business listings. You can add the word “listings” to this query and get some more great results too.
  4. Try out some tools here — Link Intersect in Moz, or Majestic, or Ahrefs — and get lots of results by plugging in two of these and excluding the third one and seeing who links to these that doesn’t link to this third one.
  5. Use business names in the same fashion that you do in Google in tools like a Mention, a Talkwalker, Google Alerts, or Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer and see who is talking about these local businesses or regions from a news or blog or forum or recent perspective.

So with that, I hope you’ll do me a favor and go out, try and get some of those local links. I look forward to your comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to lose a blogger from one email

Do you ever get those moments when you open up your email inbox in the office and want to hurl your computer out of the window when you start reading your emails? This happens to me on a daily basis as a blogger when I get emails from companies who supply products and services to the digital marketing industry; they’re either pushy or really boring!

Here is one recent example:

Oh go on then, here’s another:

Outreach email for infographic

Would I be interested? Uh, nope. I’m good thanks. This is the point where I have to press delete very quickly, or I get distracted by all of the things that are just wrong, wrong, wrong with the outreach attempts. Sorry if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t replied, but it’s really just better that way.

Most of the time (apart from here!) these emails come and go quickly. Many of you probably wouldn’t even bat an eyelid; as an industry we’re pretty desensitised to outreach as it’s a tactic that we engage in ourselves. But are our own outreach emails this dismal?!

I really hope not. When we represent the brand(s) that we work for, whether in-house or on the agency side, we need to make sure that the emails that come from us to bloggers are engaging, and free of any potential gaffes. Because, guess what? Bloggers will notice.

So if you’re reaching out to bloggers by email, try to avoid doing what I’ve included below, or there’s a very good chance that you’ll lose the chance to work with them from your very first point of contact.

Skip your research

When you’re busy working on a load of projects at once, it can be tempting to take little shortcuts here and there. However, if you’re going to send a blanket email out to all of the people on your list, you’ll find that your lack of research and personalisation will be a massive turn off for bloggers.

You can find out a lot by taking the time to get to know the people you’re reaching out to. At the very minimum, you need to check a couple of blog posts, the ‘about me/us’ page, the ‘contact’ page, and any PR/advertising policies for each blogger.

Make research into the human elements more of a priority than going straight for the metrics of domain authority, number of subscribers, etc.

Skip your research

When I got an email to my food blog beersandburgers.co.uk with someone inviting me to a beauty event, my verbal response was “WTF?!” before I had to reply and let them know the nature of my blog (which as it goes, should be pretty obvious considering the URL).

It’s an irritant, and these things can add up to general annoyance. Other basic things that bug me as a recipient include; brand representatives getting my name wrong, clear use of copy and paste (hello mishmash of fonts!), and lack of relevancy for topic or my location.

Talk about yourself (a lot)

When it comes to the actual outreach email, you can be sure that bloggers will be moving their cursor over to the delete button as soon as they realise you aren’t really interested in them.

This becomes apparent when there’s a noticeable lack of personalised content in the email, as well as a whole heap of these words: “us”, “we”, and “our”. If there are is more emphasis on yourself as a brand than the blogger, they’ll probably wonder why you’re actually reaching out to them – what makes them different from any other blogger?

Therefore, you’re going to want to include these words instead: “you” and “your”, and then use the word “we” as your brand partnership with them, not just when you are speaking about the brand you’re reaching out for.

Talk about yourself

Be unrealistic

Now to the point of your email. Why are you reaching out in the first place? There has to be a true value to a blogger to get them to take action; this will either be to enrich their blog with content they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, or because you’re rewarding them in another way (usually monetary).

The emails I shared with you above do neither of these things. One of them is asking me to do their job on their behalf (potentially “we couldn’t get enough eyeballs on this content so we need you to share it, but it’s a bit of an afterthought”) and the other has given me almost no context or a prompt for me to take action. A simple way to get my attention would be to identify some pain points or open to my eyes to data that reveals how I’d be reducing my chances of converting customers through poor imagery.

Be unrealistic

In the past, I’ve received emails that have more unrealistic expectations than the ones I’ve shared here. The main issue with the examples I’ve highlighted are that they’re too vague to give me an opportunity to engage with them, whereas some outreach emails do the total opposite and give far too much information and instructions.

One example that comes to mind is when a brand contacted me to get me to take part in their campaign, which was effectively a competition but had too many parts. I was told that I would be in with the chance of winning a prize if I wrote an in-depth blog post, and then shared it on social media and included some specific links back to the brand’s website. Can’t. Be. Bothered.

The level of investment versus payoff is instantly weighed up by bloggers. Put it this way, you won’t be the only brand contacting them for their time.

Get specific with your link requests

It isn’t at all unusual to see outreach emails that are really specific with instructions on how a blogger should link back to a website – please don’t do this! This can be most peculiar for some bloggers who may be totally baffled by our industry jargon like do-follow, no-follow.

Link request confusion

What bloggers say

Then again, the bloggers who are wise to this don’t like it either. Check out what Twitter user @HeelsInBackpack had to say about it:

It’s a pretty ugly practice, and certainly doesn’t need to be in your first email. If you’re putting the blogger into the position as your puppet with you as the master, don’t expect them to stay on the strings. Instead, find a way to make your relationship mutually beneficial.

Digital Exec and lifestyle blogger Cat put it this way for other bloggers: “You aren’t about to get arrested if you use do-follow links for a sponsored post/review. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to agree to do-follow links when collaborating with brands. HOWEVER – always, always add a disclaimer for any sponsored content.”

Therefore, be conscious that you should be honest and share the knowledge you have as someone who works in the digital marketing industry. Ultimately you will be reaching out to bloggers as you want to work with them, so make sure you respect them too (plus, that way they won’t shame you on social media…).

Keeping bloggers happy

The landscape of blogger outreach continues to change as search engines change their guidelines and as bigger brands begin to invest more into building more worthy partnerships. It’s important to be aware of what else is going on around you to make sure that these influences don’t impact on the results you want to achieve, or you might need to re-examine how the tactic of outreach fits into your wider campaigns.

I’d love to hear about your stories – both good and bad – when it comes to outreach. What makes it into your inbox that makes you cringe? Or has your past self sent something out yourself which your current self wouldn’t do anymore? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Reasons You Need to Consider Using Chatbots for Business

Chatbots are at the foreground within marketing and digital news, and you would struggle to find many digital trends and prediction posts that don’t have some acknowledgement of the value of chatbots for business in 2016 and beyond.

If you are not familiar with Chatbots, put simply, a chatbox is a form of computer program that has been created to replicate and facilitate effective conversation (spoken, textual, and other mediums), to encourage easy interaction with people. Chatbots take into account known conversation processes and can apply them, often combined with machine learning and some degree of AI (artificial intelligence) to deliver conversations through a number of varying chat interfaces.

Over the past few months, and rapidly growing since 2016, an ever increasing number of brands are looking towards chatbots as a means to add an ever present voice and customer value offering to businesses. In this article, we explore the 5 most prolific reasons why businesses need chatbots, and how robot/computer interaction can help you in 2016.

Reason 1 – Practical applications for any business

This sounds like a bold and presumptuous statement however it is one that can be backed up. The Guardian recently reported on a Chatbot lawyer which overturned 160,000 parking tickets, HealthTap enables people to ask a panel of doctors questions anonymously to receive medical feedback, and chatbots like CNN Breaking News Bot, will make sure that you always stay on top of the news as it happens.

These examples are but a few of the practical applications for chatbots. When you consider the growth of Smartphones and the penetration of m-commerce for business, plus other technology advancements; including spoken search and wearable technology, it is not difficult to see the natural progression towards chatbots.

Smartphone penetration of m-commerce in the UK

Image source: ‘Communicating with the mobile shopper‘ Textlocal.

Reason 2 – Speeding up the buying cycle

User understanding and barrier to conversion removal are key aspects for reducing the time to purchase regardless of industry, brand or product/service being provided. The faster people can find answers to common problems, reinforce their need to purchase, and access the core insights from content buried deep within your website, the quicker they will convert.

Chatbots can be taught what matters most to users, follow expected conversational pathways, and refine through machine learning, to make important information specific, and accessible to users and their unique circumstances. An example of this can be de-generalising broad questions that would typically lead the user to catch-all pages on a website, to take into consideration the user conversation signals and associated data (location, search behaviour, other data information) to offer more tailored end results. A good example of this is weather chatbots answering broad questions like ‘what shoes are on offer today?’ with replies incorporating known data – an example answer to the previous question being ‘the latest men’s shoes in size 10, with online discounts include…’. This is a very basic example of chatbots solving problems and speeding up the buying cycle.

speeding up online buying with chatbots

Reason 3 – Convenience is king

Users demand an easy and effective online experience. One where location, device, time of day and time to engage can be deemed irrelevant. Chatbots facilitate convenient information seeking, application of expertise, and expedient conversation, based on two-way shopping experiences that remove many of the common pitfalls with traditional outlet/store shopping.

Chatbots fit into the modern ‘on the move’ lifestyle choices often associated with millennials and help continue the affiliation with peoples digestion of APP content and usage in periods of limited time availability.

Reason 4 – Stimulating brand conversation

Social media has revolutionalised how business and brands communicate with their current and potential audiences. There are more brand personalities active spanning social media channels than anyone could have imagined a decade ago, and social media is seen as a prerequisite for most marketing channels for business.

Chatbots can empower brands to take social chat and turn it into conversational commerce. A typical issue businesses face with social media is identifying the direct ROI from investment. When combining social media and chatbots, the two can forge a symbiotic approach to delivering ROI from brand chat and extended conversation.

As an example of this in practice – how many people recall the old @AskJeevesBot? Although it had fairly limited conversational functionality, it’s ever present ability to take Twitter search queries, respond to them, and point them in the direction of relevant content located within the Ask Jeeves content database, enabled 24/7 text communication between the brand and its immediate audience needs. Compared to recent developments with social media and chatbots, this interaction is already extremely dated, but the type of servicing of basic customer needs still very much has a place, when implemented effectively.

Chatbots encourage new, repeat, and longer conversations with the brand, enabling businesses to show a broader reflection and representation of their experience, expertise, and trust.

social media and business brands

Reason 5 – Offering innovative solutions

The rewards of effective business innovation can range from expanding market share, differentiating the brand, carving a competitive edge over the competition, and myriad other factors. There are many great examples of chatbots doing exactly this, and it is a good time to reflect how chatbots can be integrated into your business offering.

Taken from ‘11 Examples of Conversational Commerce and Chatbots in 2016‘, it is clear the opportunities are almost endless. A great example of chatbots offering innovation is WeChat. In China there is a growing trend for being able to do everything in a single sitting. WeChat is a mobile APP which enables you to call a cab, order takeaway, send a drink order to the local Starbucks, get an appointment at your doctors, and pay your electric bill. All of this sits within a single chatbot APP and has led to 700 million monthly active users.

What’s Next?

Tell me about your chatbot experiences – if you have used them for your business, it would be great to hear about any results you have seen. What have your conversation experiences with chatbots been like so far? If you have any questions, please also share them.

If you have any quesitons, please also share them.

Images:
Images included have been sourced from https://www.pexels.com/discover/ – “All photos on Pexels are free for any personal and commercial purpose.” – see https://www.pexels.com/photo-license/:

  • https://www.pexels.com/photo/wooden-robot-6069/
  • https://static.pexels.com/photos/34577/pexels-photo.jpg
  • https://www.pexels.com/photo/coffee-smartphone-twitter-application-58639/
  • https://www.pexels.com/photo/marketing-man-person-communication-362/

Additional image credits:

  • Smartphone penetration of m-commerce users in the UK – used with permission Textlocal

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