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Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners

August 11, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Value stream management is the practice that helps businesses to determine the value of the software development process. 
  • By managing value streams, you can improve the flow of value to your SEO agency and monitor the software delivery lifecycle.
  • Mapping value streams will help you improve visibility throughout the whole software development cycle.
  • You can enable value stream management by defining real-time metrics, creating a value stream map, enabling cross-team collaboration, connecting different processes, and automating the workflows.

With the scope of the competition on the market, the delivery of SEO options is becoming harder than ever. To stay competitive, all processes within the software development cycle must be optimized to their best.

If you’re looking to improve the workflows in your SEO agency, consider implementing value stream management. To help you get started, we’ve created this ultimate guide to value stream management. After reading, you’ll get a better idea of what is a value stream and how you can start managing your value streams by creating maps. 

What is value stream management (VSM)?

To define the concept of value stream management, it’s important to understand the fundamentals. Let’s cover the basics and define key terms before moving further to discuss value stream management for SEO businesses. 

A value stream refers to every step of the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC), from the product idea to the production and tools required to deliver your software to the customers. To help you visualize the concept, here’s an example of a value stream for product (not software) development.

value stream management process

Source: Dragon1

In other words, a value stream is a series of activities that build up the value of your SEO software. Value is defined by something a customer gets, like high-quality software, in a fair period of time for a fair price. 

Value stream management flow

Source: Maaw info

Value stream management (VSM) refers to the process of optimizing processes from the very point when you conceptualize an idea to the time when this idea is in production and generating revenue. To put it simply, VSM allows you to manage your SEO software development process from idea to cash. 

The benefits of value stream management for your SEO agency

Value stream management enables SEO software companies to deliver higher quality products faster and more efficiently than their competitors while significantly reducing risks. Besides, proper implementation of VSM enables the following benefits. 

  • VSM helps you find and address the limitations of your workflows. By mapping out all stages of the software development process, you can identify potential limitations and blunders. 
  • VSM enables you to deliver higher quality SEO solutions. By optimizing development processes, you can deliver better quality products. 
  • VSM allows the continuous development of your agency. By investing in optimization and VSM, you can guarantee the success of your business in the long run. 
  • VSM helps you to make the overall flow of information across the entire process visible to people who normally manage separate functions, processes, and departments. 

How does value stream mapping work?

By now you should understand that value stream management allows optimization of all development processes, from the first time an idea of a product is conceptualized to the moment when the product is produced and launched in the marketplace. 

Within value stream management, many capabilities feed that process. Value stream mapping one of these capabilities. 

A value stream map refers to the visualization of all critical steps in the SEO software development process. Value stream maps include a description of each stage and information, like the time, the volume of work, and spendings dedicated to each of the stages. 

By creating value stream maps, you can analyze the current state of your processes and improve your product based on the series of events that take your SEO solution from the initial concept to the finished product your customers receive. To put it simply, value stream mapping allows you to identify where you’re adding value and where you’re wasting it. 

Besides, creating value streams allows you to categorize activities into high priority vs. low priority items. This way, you can prioritize and triage some processes in favor of others. 

How can you enable VSM?

In order to optimize your SEO software development practices and tools, you need total visibility throughout the whole development cycle. Likely, you can achieve this by mapping value streams. 

Not particularly sure where to start? Follow these five steps to enable value stream management for your SEO agency. 

1. Defining real-time metrics and objectives

Defining real-time metrics is the first step toward enabling value stream management. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to define metrics which leads to misleading results and inability to assess the effectiveness of their VSM efforts. 

Choosing the right objectives allows you to understand what’s happening in the development and identify where value is “leaking” in the process. 

Here’s a list of metrics to help you get started: 

  • The development cycle time 
  • The overall volume of change (before and after VSM)
  • Lead time (LT)
  • Process time (PT)
  • Percent complete & accurate (percept of time when the software is received by users in the correct and ready-to-use form)

Collecting these metrics is paramount for the successful evaluation of your VSM efforts. 

2. Creating a value stream map

After you’ve defined the key metrics and objectives, you can start studying your workflows. Create a map (either physical or digital) that explains each step of the software development process, from conceptualizing an idea to delivering the final product to customers. This way, you can see the distribution of resources within your software development cycle. 

Here’s a great example of a value stream map. 

Value stream management map example

Source: ipinimg 

3. Enabling cross-team collaboration

Value stream management requires you to enable cross-team collaboration. Rather than testing business analysts separately from developers and other teams, you want to optimize the workflow across all of these teams. 

4. Connecting multiple processes, teams, and tools 

Now, as you’ve created opportunities for all teams to work together, you should find a way to answer the following question. How do you make sure that all of the work that your employees are doing, the value streams of their development, map to your priorities? 

To answer this question, you have to evaluate the workflows and roles of each team regarding your objectives and priorities. 

5. Coordinating and automating workflows 

VSM tools allow you to embed governance into existing system development cycles. In other words, some platforms allow you to automate the value stream management processes. 

Tom Hayes, a VSM advisor at the Guerrilla Agency shares his expertise,

“By coordinating and automating workflows, you can continually improve your SEO solution and ultimately achieve better results.”

The bottom line

Value stream management is different from other approaches because it’s focused on the idea that everything that happens to your customers, from the idea to the delivery, is important and needs to be managed in a holistic manner. 

By implementing VSM in your SEO agency, you can better understand your system development cycles and workflows. 

Implementing value stream management is easier than it may seem. You can start by mapping value streams and defining your main objectives. Moreover, there are many platforms that will make the VSM process easy and personalized for your SEO agency.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.

The post Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional

August 8, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Emotion is a pivotal component of great content.
  • If you have an opportunity to create emotional content, you’re much more likely to be successful. 
  • A new Fractl study reveals what emotions are most common in highly-linked-to content in each industry.
  • You should explore what emotions are already prevalent in your industry to gain new ideas and understand what already resonates with your audience.
  • When pitching content to writers, highlight the key emotional takeaways so reporters glean them quickly.

Yes, content should be useful. In fact, nine times out of 10, it must be useful in order to make an impact. But emotion is pivotal too. Emotion can form a sense of connection between a reader and a story — between a reader and their place in the world. For this reason, emotion can sometimes carry an entire piece of content because it taps into our common humanity. How do you hit the right chords with emotional content? Here are tips on how to do that.

Sure, it sounds corny. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Emotion matters, and if you have an opportunity to create emotional content, you’re much more likely to be successful. 

1. Understand which emotions resonate in your industry

Before jumping into content creation, it’s good to understand what works well in your particular niche. What content that’s been created has performed well, and why? What emotions are present in some of the most talked-about content?

In a recent Fractl study, we looked at more than 5,000 pieces of content that earned at least 25 backlinks. Then we explored which Facebook reactions were more prevalent in each content niche.

Fractl study on emotions based on niche

This breakdown provides a great overlook of what emotions are already prominent in your niche’s content. Look at how anger appears in sex/relationship stories while love appears often in travel stories. 

Why do you think these emotions may be associated with your niche? What can you cover that hasn’t already been covered that taps into why people are upset or in awe?

To gain more industry insight, before creating content, I would:

  • Pull out my customer personas. What emotions are tied to what they worry about? Struggle with? Seek out? Can I apply these emotions to content?
  • Read my target publications’ content. Which articles are on the front page? Which got the most engagement? What emotions are featured in them?
  • Check BuzzSumo to see what content is most engaged within my industry. Not only will this highlight certain emotions that are prevalent, but it’ll also let you know if an idea you have has already been covered in depth.

Take a look at some of the highly-engaged-with stories that appear on the BuzzSumo content search for “job interview”.

Buzzsumo search emotional content

Just from this snapshot of stories, you can see multiple emotions: humor/laughter regarding funny anecdotes, fear that the job application process might be totally changed by AI, happiness at the kind gesture from Lyft, and contempt at discrimination taking place at interviews.

Perhaps honing in on one of these emotions can spark an idea. What else might people be afraid of regarding the job application process? What else are they angry about? Happy about?

When all else fails, capitalize on the feeling of surprise. Our research on viral emotions revealed that the most common emotion in viral images is “surprise”. People like to learn something new that’s unexpected. If your data reveals data points like this, make sure to highlight it in the project.

2. Identify which emotions to focus on in your content

When trying to come up with content ideas, ask yourself: What emotions are tied to this concept? What are the different circumstances people can encounter, and how do those circumstances make them feel?

For example, for our client The Interview Guys (a job interview advice portal), we considered the variety of issues that can come up related to work. One such idea that hadn’t been fully addressed, in our opinion, was burnout. 

Burnout in and of itself is an emotional topic. It’s associated with stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. After surveying people about burnout, we earned coverage on Inc., Yahoo Finance AU, and International Business Times.

Example emotional content topic - Burnout

But not every idea will be as emotionally straightforward. Perhaps you have an instinct that analyzing a certain data set would yield interesting results.

Push yourself to identify

What would make those results compelling? What insights might this data help us gain, and what emotions are involved with these insights?

For example, in a separate project for the same client, we thought about identifying jobs that pay well that don’t require years of education. What we’d end up with is a list of jobs and what they’d pay. 

On the surface, this may not seem too emotional. But let’s consider the layers involved here:

  1. Less schooling means less stress, less debt, and less pressure.
  2. The potential to make a good salary provides hope.
  3. Struggling to find a job with little to no experience can give someone a lot of financial and emotional anxiety.
  4. Why would people care about this information in the first place? They’re looking to switch jobs. For whatever reason, they’re dissatisfied.

So you have stress, anxiety, hope, and dissatisfaction as some examples of emotions tied into this list of jobs. It’s not just a list anymore, is it?

Call upon these feelings every time you make a decision about the project. It’ll help keep you focused on the real soul of the story.

3. Pitch the emotional angles

When you can identify these emotional elements, you’ll also know how to better promote the idea. 

We pitched the high-paying-jobs project to publications. Take a look at some of the coverage.

Emotional content for job searchers

Source: Reader’s Digest

Reader’s Digest opens with the dilemma of not being able to find a job because you don’t have enough job experience yet. They’re tapping into a common, shared frustration people have, and by starting the article this way, they’re immediately putting the reader in a frame of mind to connect emotionally with the content.

Example of emotional content

Source: MarketWatch

This headline taps into the hope angle; they’re essentially saying, you don’t have to be the typical tech person to make a lot of money with little experience.

When you pitch writers, make sure to include the emotional data points and angles prominently. Include bullets of the most impactful takeaways so the reporter doesn’t have to dig through the data to understand why it matters and why their audience will care.

And don’t do the same thing for every publisher. Consider their particular audiences and what they care about, and then tailor your data points to speak to those readers.

Conclusion

Data is only as powerful as the story it tells, and all of the best human stories are packed with emotion. In every stage of your content creation process, from ideation to design to promotion, keep the emotional components in mind and center them.

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.

The post Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO

August 4, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 
  • Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 
  • It offers a great backend administration that can be tailored. More important, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.
  • Growth Rocket’s Lead Outreach Specialist, Stefanie Slclot, walks you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify.

“If you build it, they will come”.  

This nugget of wisdom may have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in ‘Field of Dreams’ when he’s spurned onward by a disembodied voice to pursue his dream of building a baseball field. 

But in reality, this sort of advice can prove disastrous for entrepreneurs. After all, businesses rely on strategy, planning, and development for long-term success. 

In today’s day and age where online shopping is the new normal, it takes more than just building a great store to draw in more customers. 

Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 

Does Shopify have good SEO?

Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 

Shopify is a great option for your online store because it offers easy backend administration and can be easily tailored to your specific requirements. More importantly, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.  

Optimizing your Shopify store for success

Keep in mind that boosting organic traffic to your online store is different from optimizing other websites for SEO. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify. 

1. Simplify site structure

The way you organize content on your page is crucial to SEO success. 

If shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for on your site, they tend to spend more time on your page. Longer dwell times tell Google that your site offers value, which can give you a solid rankings boost.  

To top that off, a logically structured site makes it easier for Google to crawl your website. Ideally, your site architecture should look something like this: 

Shopify for SEO site structure

If you look at the diagram closely, you’ll see that your product pages (third row)  are only a couple of clicks away from the home page (first row). In turn, organized and user-friendly web design makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. 

Poor site structure, on the other hand, makes it harder for search engine spiders to find and index all the pages on your site.  

Shopify for SEO simplify site structure

Meanwhile, if your site architecture is interlinked, spiders can easily follow your links. A simple site architecture also means that link authority flows a lot easier from pages with more backlinks (your home page) to lower-ranking pages (product pages). 

The graphic below shows what the site structure for a baking blog should look like: 

Shopify for SEO site structure example

2. Eliminate duplicate content 

Duplicate content happens when similar content exists on two separate URLs. The page could either be on your site or someone else’s. 

Duplicate content on Shopify can have a negative impact on your search performance. Search engines tend to be tolerant of internal site duplication. But if it appears as if you’ve copied text from another site, you could get hit by a search engine penalty.  

The good news is that once you’ve wiped your site clean of duplicate content, you can improve your search rankings significantly. 

Consider using tools like Copyscape to check for plagiarism and other external duplicate content. You can also conduct site audits to identify pages with similar content to other URLs. 

Or maybe your site is due for a redesign or content update. Break free from duplicate content by writing a new copy. 

3. Conduct keyword research

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO success. Here are a few tips on how to generate relevant keywords for your store: 

  • Export your keywords from Google Ads, and optimize search terms that generate the most revenue and have the highest conversion rate. 
  • Use Google Search Console to identify keywords with the most impressions and clicks. 
  • Conduct SEO competitor analysis on tools like Ahrefs. Generate the “Content Gap” report to single out keywords your competitors are ranking for. 
  • Analyze buyer personas and track search forums related to your products for topic inspirations and keyword ideas.

4. Optimize product pages 

Now that you have a list of keywords and a simplified site structure, you can start optimizing your pages with your chosen search terms. 

Start with your top pages first, such as your home page and main product collections. The first step to optimizing them is by writing title tags and meta descriptions. Here are some general guidelines for you to follow: 

  • Write unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page 
  • Include a keyword when appropriate 
  • Avoid truncating descriptions and follow the prescribed character limit guidelines 
  • Craft copy that will entice visitors to click 
  • Keep your descriptions brief yet descriptive 

It also pays to add alt texts to your images. Since Google Images is the second largest search engine in the world, you can drive more traffic to your site through your images. That’s why it helps to add alt texts that describe what an image is about. 

Once you’ve finished optimizing your titles, meta descriptions, and alt texts you can work on creating unique content to your product pages.  

Keep in mind that your descriptions should be written from a user-focused POV. The best way to boost the relevance of your content is by discussing your product’s features and benefits. 

5. Set up 301 redirect pages

301 redirects tell search engines that a page is no longer available and that it’s moved permanently to a new URL. After all, you don’t want your customers to move to your competitors after they land on a ‘404 Not Found’ page on your site. 

The goal is for you to lead visitors to a new page, which you can do by creating a URL redirect through your Shopify admin portal. Follow these steps to add 301 redirects: 

  • Click Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects 
  • Select Add URL redirect 
  • Type in the old URL in Redirect from and the new URL in Redirect to 
  • Click add 

Keep in mind that before you can redirect users to the new URL, you’ll need to delete the existing webpage. 

6. Boost page load speed

If your website loads slowly, it could hurt your Google rankings. That’s why you need to put forth the effort to make your site load quickly. 

Check for your store’s site speed through tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. On Shopify, however, you have limited options when it comes to boosting site speed. Here are a few factors you can work with: 

  • Choose a theme from the Shopify Theme Store that loads quickly 
  • Compress your images before uploading them to Shopify 
  • Install only the apps you need so they don’t slow down site performance 

7. Build high-quality backlinks

Search engines rely on link building and outreach to determine how the community at large values your site. Think of backlinks as the word-of-mouth equivalent of SEO. With better quality backlinks, you can build your credibility and boost the organic traffic your shop receives. 

Below is a list of some backlinks you can obtain for your site: 

  • Supplier/Manufacturer links – If you sell products made or supplied by other companies, they may have a policy that lets them link to your store. Reach out in case you’re missing a backlink opportunity. 
  • Competitor links – Use tools such as Link Intersect from Ahrefs to find out who’s linking to your competitors. You have a high chance of obtaining a backlink for sites that already link to other people in your industry. 
  • Influencer voices – Get in touch with industry leaders for interviews that could help you generate better links and content. 
  • Brand mentions – Find out where your brand is being mentioned through websites like mention.com. It may be possible for you to earn a backlink if they choose to include a link to your site along with the mention. 
  • Broken links – Keep an eye out for broken links or services similar to what you offer. When you find one, you could reach out to the site owner telling them to link to your site instead.  

8. Focus on content marketing

Content is the reason why people visit your site. You may feel tempted to skimp on content marketing for your ecommerce site, but crafting content that delivers value adds to the overall user experience. 

People who are ready to buy the moment they visit your shop make up only a small percentage of the marketing funnel. Publishing informational content like blog posts can help you educate people at different stages of the buyer’s journey. In turn, it can also increase the chances of them buying from you in the future. 

Your content is a way for people to get to know your brand without selling to them directly. With well-written content, you can rank for more keywords and earn backlinks. 

Your Shopify store automatically includes a blog called “News.” If you want to create a new blog, select Blog Posts > Create a new post > Create a new blog. 

These steps will help you create a Shopify site experience that is also SEO-ready. Share your thoughts, tips, or queries in the comments section.

Stefanie Slclot is Lead Outreach Specialist at Growth Rocket.

The post Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Podcasts and internet marketing: Are you missing the boat?

August 1, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The drive to be more productive, the thirst to learn something new – these are the primary reasons behind the rising popularity of podcasts.
  • One in every four Americans over the age of 12 listens to podcasts religiously. 
  • Podcasts’ share of the ear is projected to increase by 120% in the next few years, with the total number of listeners exceeding 100 million by 2021.
  • But how exactly can you use podcasts to boost your internet marketing campaign?
  • How can you ensure that creating audio content is a rewarding investment for your particular business? 
  • Internet marketing specialist, Nasirabadi Reza, decode the answers to a lot of these key questions. Hop on!

Not so long ago, commuting was my favorite part of the day. Driving and traffic jams aside, it was the time when I could relax my mind. With music blasting on the car’s audio system (which I had specially upgraded – just so you know), I would zone out and temporarily free myself from thinking about all the workload/household chores waiting for me at the end of the journey.

But then that wave of boosting productivity, managing time, and whatnot hit. And I found myself trading my playlist for podcasts.

Make no mistake, commuting is still my favorite part of the day, but not because the idleness is a welcome change.  

I now love the commute because it’s the most enriching part of my day. Every day is a new learning experience as I tune in to a marketing podcast and get deeper insights into my line of work. If I am not in the mood for that, I just switch to a radio drama or a talk show instead and get entertained on the go. 

People in innumerable quantities all around the world are showing a similar change in preferences.  

And for marketers, this presents the next growth opportunity as podcasting promises to open the door to the future. 

Podcasts paving the path to the future of internet marketing

The drive to be more productive, the thirst to learn something new – these are the primary reasons behind the rising popularity of podcasts. Of course, their convenience and accessibility, and the fact that podcasts present the info in easily digestible pieces, make them all the more crowd-pleasing.  

In the U.S. alone, there were reported to be around 75 million podcast listeners during the last year. One in every four Americans over the age of 12 listens to podcasts religiously. And the trend has only started to pick up pace.  

Based on statistical analysis, podcasts’ share of the ear is projected to increase by 120% in the next few years, with the total number of listeners exceeding 100 million by 2021.

But how exactly can you use podcasts to boost your marketing campaign? How can you leverage these findings in your favor? And how can you ensure that creating audio content is a rewarding investment for your particular business? 

These were the main questions that came up in a discussion with a few of my fellow workers when we sat down to reconsider our branding strategies. One of them held the staunch belief that podcasting works for media brands only.  

When a logical explanation couldn’t convince him, that’s when I had to pull out my phone and show him various non-media brands that have successfully integrated podcast marketing into their internet marketing campaigns. 

If you share a similar viewpoint or are still confused about how podcasting can benefit your brand, consider the following businesses that continue to gain popularity amongst the masses by jumping onto the podcasting bandwagon. 

Examples of brands using podcast marketing

1. General Electric

If you aren’t already aware of ‘The Message’ and ‘Life After’, you must be thinking, “wait, an electric company promoting machines and tech-solutions through podcasts?”

As absurd as it may sound, that’s still happening nonetheless.  

‘The Message’ and ‘Life After’ are two series of a science fiction podcast that follows a journalistic style. The first series follows the work of scientists trying to decode extraterrestrial messages using high-end technology developed by- yes you guessed it – General Electric.

Talk about marketers whose creativity knows no bounds.

The second podcast series has a different storyline, but the same method for bringing GE’s products into the public eye. 

This is an incredible technique to create brand awareness not just among the products’ direct buyers, but way beyond. 

The use of podcasting to promote your business is limited only by your imagination. And these audio dramas created by General Electric are the ultimate proof of this statement. 

2. McDonald’s

McDonald’s podcast marketing serves as a great example for companies that might fall prey to public relations (PR) problems.

Remember the saga of the Szechuan sauce? The special sauce was being sold at McDonald’s outlets for a limited time period when things went out of control. People started fighting with each other to get their share of the popular sauce eventually creating a bad image for the retail chain for poor management and not creating a sufficiently large batch in the first place. 

McDonald’s took an ingenious approach to address the issue and restoring the damage done to its brand image.  

The highly popular yet super-limited Szechuan sauce became the subject of an investigative podcast called ‘The Sauce.’ 

Consisting of just three parts, the series might have been short, but it effectively used the power of audio content to rebuild the brand image in no time. 

Keep in mind this brilliant marketing hack from McDonald’s for times when a seemingly minor customer complaint starts to wreak havoc for your business by going viral. 

3. Sephora collection

Sephora launched a podcast titled #LIPSTORIES in partnership with Girlboss Radio. The main aim was to celebrate the company’s line of lipsticks.  

Each episode of the series revolved around women who either served as an inspiration behind the product or other influential female workers who were inspired by the product itself.  

This is a powerful example for businesses trying to upsell their goods or services while establishing a positive image among their customers at the same time.  

Podcasts that you definitely need to listen

If you are unsure how to get started on podcast marketing, consider tuning in to the following channels to let the tricks of the trade:  

1. IdeaCast by HBR

Who wouldn’t be interested in reading Harvard Business Review? But it can be hard to find the time. If that’s the case, you can explore new ideas and actionable advice on innovation and market leadership by signing up at IdeaCast – HBR’s official podcasting channel. These informative podcasts are based on interviews with renowned entities such as Eric Schmidt and focus on bringing something new in every episode. 

2. Outside In

The Outside In podcast aims to reveal the secrets behind some of the world’s most renowned brands. It discusses their customer-centered approach and gives listeners deep insight into how they can implement those strategies on their own. 

Blogging might still be the favored technique for content marketing. But you cannot simply deny the fact that podcasting is climbing the charts incredibly fast. It is a viable marketing channel that you can easily leverage in your business’s favor.  

Nasirabadi Reza is an internet marketing specialist with a passion for writing and sharing valuable insights gained through years of experience in the industry. He manages the content delivery hub at Zigma and is dedicated to creating smart strategies for clients who want to take their business to the next level. Reza can be found at @MarketingZigma.

The post Podcasts and internet marketing: Are you missing the boat? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five ways SEO and web design go together

July 21, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • If you are thinking about having a site designed or redesigned, it is important to understand the complex relationship between SEO and web design.
  • While designers focus on the aesthetic look of a website, and SEOs focus on optimizing the site for search engine rankings, the desired result is the same – a site that gives visitors what they want and helps your business grow.
  • SEO Expert at UENI, Javier Bello discusses how SEO and web design can work together to create a successful business and attract more visitors to your site.

Do you consider SEO and website design as two separate elements of your website? You shouldn’t. There is no point developing a slick website if nobody will be able to find the site online, and with over 1.2 billion websites on the internet, it can be hard for your website to stand out. To avoid having a website that is not ‘search engine friendly’, we spoke to SEO expert, Javier Bello at UENI, who outlines five ways SEO and Web Design can go together.

1. Mobile-friendliness

Research shows that mobile devices generate over half of global website traffic, so having a website that is mobile-friendly is essential to reach over half your audience. Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in 2015, and mobile indexing was then introduced in 2017, which meant that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.

Therefore, to reach a wider customer base and rank higher on Google, you should spend some extra time working on the mobile version of your site. Is your mobile site just as usable as the desktop version? Are your pictures placed in the same format? Is everything tagged the same way as it is on the desktop version? Understanding that mobile matters will make your SEO better and build your Google rapport.

2. Website speed

There is nothing that will make a visitor click off more quickly than a slow website. All your web pages should load instantly, otherwise, this can impact user experience and SEO performance. If you find that your website speed is lagging, chances are it could have something to do with your website design. Devote your time to optimizing images, removing unnecessary plugins, allowing browser caching, and so on. One study found that 88% of consumers are unlikely to return if they had a bad experience with your site, so it is crucial for your success that you have a high website speed.

3. User friendly

Everyone knows that content strategy is an essential part of SEO, but did you know that the presentation of it can affect your rankings too? Not only is user-friendly, intuitive design an underrated component of SEO, but it will ensure good user experience so that your customers do not click off your web page. Too many hyperlinks, text that is difficult to read against backgrounds, images that take too long to load, and pages with blocks of content in strange places are all examples of bad website design. This might erase the audience you have worked so hard to bring to your site. Treat Google like a regular customer and make it easy for consumers to take in your content, so they stay and click through your site.

4. Site maps

A sitemap is essentially a blueprint of your website that helps search engines find, crawl and index your website’s content. A good sitemap will allow search engine crawlers to more intelligently crawl your site, therefore improving Google rankings and bringing in more traffic. That is if your content is already well prepared and appealing to web users. To create a site map that makes sense, ensure that your design intuitively leads people to the right place and that your internal linking structure makes sense to you. This may sound like a lot of work, but effective SEO is a process and can be considered a technical art.

5. Fresh and engaging content

Without good content, it becomes difficult to create informative web pages or rank highly in search engines. Google loves sites that have a clear content structure, with easy to follow pages and keywords positioned strategically. Also, when existing content is updated it indicates to Google that your site is ‘alive’ and greater crawling frequency is achieved. Popular content included how-to posts, FAQs, and case studies. Use paragraphs, headings, and signal words to display your content nicely on your webpage, allowing for greater user experience. Lastly, if you display or link to related content on your site, consumers can click on another landing page from your site for more information, rather than looking elsewhere.

Javier Bello is an SEO expert at UENI.

The post Five ways SEO and web design go together appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Testimonial link building: Using real experiences for success

July 18, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Link building is one of the most crucial yet most difficult aspects of SEO but testimonial link building can solve that problem for you.
  • Testimonial link building is seen as a great way to harness this raw strength of positive experiences by customers. 
  • Giving a testimonial to a company you have availed service from or purchased from can be a great way to get a link back to your site.  
  • It’s such a simple and straightforward method, which may be one of the reasons why your business should implement testimonials and reviews into your link building strategy. 

In this analytical age, brands are competing on the minutest details. Targeting the right keywords, creating campaigns targeting the right demographic, coming up with effective CTAs, and all those technicalities. However, amidst all that, there is still an element that cannot be measured using an existing tool. That’s where testimonial link building comes into the picture.

Word of mouth from customers can end up making or breaking all the efforts brands put in their campaigns. You as a brand can do everything right but a negative experience by a customer can create negative brand equity that’ll be hard to shed. In the same way, positive word of mouth can boost up your sales manifolds. This why testimonial link building is seen as a great way to harness this raw strength of positive experiences by customers. 

Continue reading below to learn what exactly is testimonial link building, how to get started, and what rules you need to abide by during the entire process. 

What is testimonial link building?

In laymen terms, testimonial link building is using a positive comment from customers that have used your service or product and featuring them on your website. At its core, testimonial link building is meant to provide genuine positive word of mouth for website owners in exchange for a link. In the end, everyone’s happy and it helps brands grow and gain brand recognition. 

There are some finer details involved too such as relevance. Think about it, if you’re a software company, do you want a testimonial from a café from a completely different country? Relevance is key. Just like textual content, you can’t overdo the use of testimonial link building as it’ll end up hurting both parties instead of helping them. There’s no perfect recipe for success in testimonial link building apart from ensuring clarity and relevance. 

Jayson Demers, CEO of Email Analytics says testimonials really fruitful strategy to build links,

“With every testimonial, you will receive Search Engine Crawlers will recognize that your site has an authority” 

Perfection on those true fronts will yield great results for both parties. So, how does it work, and more importantly, how do you get started? Continue reading below to learn more. 

How to build testimonial links 

Without beating around the bush, the whole process boils down to 5 crucial steps that anyone can follow. These are as follows: 

1. Create a target list of products/services

This is where you’ll need to do the most homework. I’d advise you to keep your range of targets as wide as possible but avoid venturing into irrelevant fields. 

Some other things to keep in mind include targeting solution-based products and services. The potential customers looking at this are already at a high engagement point and they’re more likely to convert. I’d also advise making sure you target products and services that you’ve actually used. It would be futile to skip this part as it is a legal requirement. You can still choose to move ahead with this but it’s unlikely any product or service will entertain your testimonial requests if you’re not an existing customer.

Jay Eckert, Founder of Parachute Design also recommends using testimonials for your services,

When you write honest reviews for products or services you are using, it is ultimately benefiting your website’s exposure and visibility in the form of backlinks or through Brand mentions”  

2. Find their contact information 

Once you’ve identified the best possible leads, it’s time to start contacting them. Again, this step requires a lot of elbow grease, so bear that in mind. However, some extensions and tools can help you in this regard and make your job a little easier. 

For instance, ’FindThatLead’ is a tool that  allows you to find your target’s contact details almost at a click of a single button. Just enter the domain you’re targeting and it’ll provide you the details of the right person to contact for your request. Some other similar apps include Hunter.io and Voila Norbert. 

3. Pitch your testimonial via email

This is a crucial part that a lot of people mess up. This is the point where you pitch your testimonial, do not send your testimonial. There is a clear difference between the two and it could save you a lot of time. 

You’re supposed to pitch the idea of giving them a testimonial on the site. While nothing is stopping you from writing up a testimonial and sending it to them, if they reject it, you’ve wasted all that hard work for nothing. 

Write a short and to-the-point email to pitch your testimonial and how it can add value to their overall site. 

4. Write a relevant testimonial

Once you’ve received a green-light to go ahead with a testimonial, you can start working on it. The intent of each testimonial matters a lot, so you must understand what the site owner’s intent is. For instance, if they’re a no-profit organization, they don’t want to sell anything but rather raise awareness. Similarly, a start-up would want to encourage a maximum of new customers. 

Tailor your testimonial based on what the intent of that testimonial on the site is supposed to be. 

5. Create a video backing up that testimonial 

Okay, fair disclaimer, this last step is more of a bonus step. You can skip it if you want but I’d advise against it. There’s a pearl of old internet wisdom to be skeptical of everything you see on the Internet. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you’re someone that’s looking at these testimonials, how do you know they’re real. Yes, they all sound convincing and they have the verification mark guaranteeing they’re real customers. However, there will still be an iota of doubt in their minds. This doubt can be the obstacle between a potential customer converting into an actual customer. You can use video or visual testimonial as well. 

Laws and regulations to consider

Even though testimonials present a tremendous opportunity to sell your product and service using your previous sales’ as proof, there are some strict guidelines on how you need to present them. 

The Federal Trade Commission has an entire set of laws on how businesses can use endorsements and testimonials in their advertising. I wouldn’t go as far as to call these to be stifling but they do require some strict criterion to be followed. The entire document can be found and studied here. 

But in case you’re looking for a short rundown of what this means, there are three things you need to be careful about when using testimonials. 

The context needs to be clear. You can’t throw in a testimonial that was given to you for a different version of the service or the app for instance. If you still want to use that testimonial then you’ll have to specify the details. This is primarily why on the App Store when reading reviews for apps, you’ll find reviews marked “review for a different version” 

In case the testimonials were for quid pro quo, you can still use them but you’ll have to provide all customers full disclosure. This means any behind the scenes deals to prop each other up by brands is a big no-no. 

This should go without saying, but all testimonials you choose to use must be genuine. If found guilty of cultivating fake testimonials, your brand can face heavy fines depending on which state you’re in. Steer clear of quantities when it comes to testimonials and focus on delivering quality and earning genuine, organic testimonials that you can use.

The post Testimonial link building: Using real experiences for success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy

July 14, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction between you and your customers. Proper customer journey mapping can make a huge difference in conversions and help you create a more customer-centric marketing strategy.
  • Customer journey mapping starts with identifying your user personas. This way, you’ll know exactly which customer segment to market.
  • Next, you identify and map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. This will help you learn and later predict customer behavior and buying decisions.
  • Chief content writer, Connie Benton guides you through the customer journey mapping process outline with some great examples and tools to help you.

When it comes to building a robust marketing strategy, most beginner entrepreneurs have nothing to start off with except expert advice they find on digital marketing blogs, let alone the idea of customer journey mapping. While this alone will last you a long way, ultimately, you’re borrowing experiences from somebody else’s business, not building on your own. This is why large corporations spend so much on big data and analytics. 

But it’s not just the corporations that do that. According to OnePath, 67% of SMEs spend over $ 10,000 a year on analytics. Why do they pay this huge price?

The answer is simple. You can only go this far using somebody else’s analytics. At some point, you should start gathering and interpreting data yourself. Without this, you can’t possibly expect to understand your thousands of clients.

If you’re looking for a point where you can start, you can postpone getting into behavioral segmentation and other advanced analytics, and follow a strategy that can yield great results on a shoestring budget. Create a customer journey map. Here’s all the information and tools you’ll need to create one.

How to create a customer journey map

A customer journey map (CJM) is exactly what it sounds to be. A map of the path that a customer makes from their decision to make a purchase or any other action, to successfully making it. Here’s an example of what it looks like from the NNGroup.

Customer journey mapping chart

Source: NNGroup

You can create a customer journey map for most processes that involve customer decisions and use this map for different purposes. A detailed map of going from the latest stage of the sales funnel to making a purchase can be used to improve conversions. A map of making purchases after the initial conversion will help you increase customers’ lifetime value.

For now, we’ll concentrate on the basics and look at how to create a general customer journey map that covers a customer’s path from being interested in your product to making a purchase. It will help you improve your overall marketing strategy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to set the frame of the customer map, where it should start and where it should end. Since we’re making a general map that covers the whole funnel, let’s set the start at being interested in the market, and the end at making the first purchase.

The most important thing, though, is to find the right path to trace. Most businesses have different types of clients that have different journeys. Let’s start by defining your user personas.

1. Define user personas

Needless to say that a user looking for online shopping websites will differ from someone in search of the best online business ideas. That’s why defining user personas is so important for successful customer journey mapping. 

Before you trace the customer’s journey, you need to have an idea of who’s making that journey. To do this, you need to know at least these four core data sets about your customer:

  • Demographic information (for example, age, gender, country)
  • What problems do they solve with your product
  • What do they value from the product
  • Where do they get information

With these points, you’ll be able to learn more about the customers themselves and their journey. Here’s how you can gather this information.

Tools to use

  • Sign-up forms
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Analytics
  • Pop-up surveys (Hotjar or similar)
  • Email surveys (MailChimp or similar)

You can easily gather the most basic demographic information on your leads with the sign-up form. When they’re registering on the website or grabbing a freebie, ask them to fill a bit more than their email address, and you already have a decent database. While you’re at it, you can also gather employment information, which is extremely helpful if you run a B2B company.

If that’s not an option, gather that data with Google or Facebook analytical tools. You can also get an insight into what your users are interested in by looking up Affinity Categories in Google Analytics.

Most likely, you have not one but several main demographics. Look for the largest age and sex groups and run Affinity Category reports on them. You may find that say, men and women in their 30s that buy from you have different interests on average.

The answers to why people buy from you and what do they value the most can only be inferred from user surveys. Do it via pop-ups or send surveys to your newsletter subscribers.

That said, these are just the basic tools that will cover most needs. Feel free to use any advanced analytics tools at your disposal.

2. Identify touchpoints

Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to begin tracing their path towards the purchase. You’ll need to track the touchpoints they have with your brand as they go through every step of the sales funnel.

Asking them how they ended up on your website may not be the perfect idea as a lot of touchpoints will be forgotten before the purchase. Here’s how you can do it more efficiently.

Tools to use

  • Google Analytics
  • Lead scoring software (HubSpot or similar)
  • Sign-up forms

Let’s start by looking at the off-website touchpoints. These are the touchpoints that lead a customer to your website: social media, ads, blog articles in Google search, and other similar online portals. You can gauge these easily by looking at where the traffic comes from in the Google Analytics panel.

Don’t forget to add UTM markers to different links you leave around the web to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

You can also get an approximate picture by including a question like “How did you find us” in your sign-up forms. However, this only shows the bottom of the funnel, and won’t provide the full picture.

The idea behind it is to award more points to actions that lead to conversion. You can use this system to first track what actions do lead to a conversion.

This way, you’ll know what set of actions a potential buyer performs on the website. The other method to learn is to use the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ in Google Analytics.

This tab lets you take a goal from your campaign and see what actions did a person who ended up converting did on the website. This shows you the majority of the on-site customer journey.

3. Draw the map

Now you know who your customers are and what set of actions do they perform before making a purchase. All you have left to do is to actually draw the customer journey map.

You can do it whatever way you want, just make sure it will always be handy for future use.

Tools to use

  • Drawing tool of choice: A piece of paper, an online mindmap, Photoshop, or any such platform that you’re comfortable using

Start with defining the user persona for the map you’re drawing. Since different user personas may have different journeys, you may need to draw several maps.

For now, let’s assume your customer is a 25 to 35-year-old male or female who owns an online store and is looking for SaaS software to help run it. Let’s call them Jessie since it’s a good gender-neutral name.

Start with what drives Jessie to make the purchase. Point out their motivation in this search. Then, track their behavior off-site. Maybe they search for the product reviews online or see several ads before they finally click on one of them.

Follow their path on your website based on the data you received from website analytics, and end the journey on their first purchase. Make sure to state how many users leave at a certain touchpoint and do not covert further.

In the end, you’ll have something like this.

Example - Customer journey map

Source: Digital.gov

How to improve marketing strategy with CJM

There you have it,  you’ve successfully created your first customer journey map. Now, let’s dig into how you can use it to improve your marketing efforts.

1. Search for insights

No customer journey map is complete without the insights, or potential opportunities for improvement, as noted in the map above. Gather your team if you haven’t already, and brainstorm the opportunities for improvement that you can infer from the map.

There’s no single way to go about it and it all depends on the situation you have on the map. For instance, if you see that a particular touchpoint has a conversion rate far below the rest, it’s probably something you should address.

Do more research on it, come up with a hypothesis as to why it underperforms, and try to improve it.

2. Improve messaging

Your customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a huge factor in how they decide what company to stick with. If you find that what your customers are looking for is not what you advertise, it’s a clear sign you should improve it.

3. Focus tangential interests

If you’re doing content marketing, your findings from the ‘Affinity Categories’ could be of good use. Some users can discover your product while reading articles on topics connected to it. For instance, Jessie’s journey to discovering a SaaS tool they need may have begun from reading an article on SMM.

Look up the data on affinity categories, and you can add a few more topics to your content marketing arsenal.

4. Focus on high-converting channels

While we’re on the topic of content marketing, customer journey mapping also allows for figuring out what marketing channels work best. Look at what channels are the most prevalent in the first half of the customer journey and figure out why they work best.

From then on, you have two options. You can either try to fix the channels that do not bring you enough customers or double down on the ones that already bring you the best ROI.

5. Improve on-site conversion

CJM provides some of the best analytics on the on-site actions of your customers. This gives you an opportunity to see what exactly are your customers doing on the website before they convert and improve the whole process.

This goes far beyond just improving the touchpoints you have. You can also change your on-site conversion strategy and add new touchpoints.

For instance, you may notice that people who grab freebies or attend webinars convert much more than regular visitors. You may start including these converting assets in pop-ups, or on the bottom of your blog posts.

If the issue is that your sales reps can’t keep up with the number of customers, you may need a sales funnel software to automate some of the tasks and work with bigger loads.

Improve every business aspect with customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize so much data about your customers and their path to conversion. Create a map that reflects how customers really do, not what you think they’re doing, and you can see all the mistakes your business does in attracting them further to conversion. Gather the data continuously and update the map to see how customer behavior changes, especially during unusual situations like a pandemic.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can improve most business processes that involve customers taking a set of actions towards a goal with a customer journey map. All you have to do is to set another frame and go through every process in this guide again.

This way, you can improve anything from increasing viewership on your blog to reducing customer churn.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.

The post Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Google Analytics 5 day Challenge 30 mins a day

July 11, 2020 No Comments

Learn Google Analytics in a fun and easy way. These challenges are good for anybody who wants to learn Google Analytics

For 5 days, each day you will get

1. A Lesson to teach you the concepts and example.
2. Assignment to follow the instructions and do it on your own site (doing is the best way of learning).
3. Have Access to a Facebook group where you can interact with others and ask question – my team will support you all the way.

At then end of the challenge
1. Understand Google Analytics Structure
2. Setup Google Analytics on your site/blog
3. Pull Various Metrics From Google Analytics
4. Track Campaigns in Google Analytics
5. Setup Goals in Google Analytics

Google Analytics has extensive capability – this challenge will allow you to start on the right foot and build upon it by learning on your own or by taking our course and advanced challenges.

If you can’t finish in 5 days (because we all have other commitments) then you will have 2 extra days (weekend) to get everything in place.

Challenge comes with a Certificate of Completion!

Enroll in Google Analytics Fundamentals Challenge


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If you think you’re link building, you’re doing it wrong

July 7, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Founder and CEO of Organic Growth, Kevin Carney interviewed 39 marketing professionals about their link building practices.
  • He has brilliantly condensed all these thoughts and highlighted a group of eight which is much more strategic about their link building.
  • More insights on what makes them unique and the most preferred link building platforms across the globe.

The hyperbolic title of this article is a conclusion I’ve come to after interviewing 39 people – with titles ranging from Marketing Specialist, Outreach Team Lead, Head of Content, to VP of SEO & Analytics, about their link building practices.

Of the 39 people, 23 work for agencies, 16 work for brands, and out of that group of 39, there are eight who do link building better, by approaching it differently.

So, what do they do that’s different?

First, lets please notice that this is an almost perfect 20/80 Pareto principle split, so kudos to Vilfredo Pareto, who first noticed how common this split is, way back in 1896.

The group of eight have the following in common:

1. It’s not about link building, it’s about something else

The best way I can think to describe this, is these people don’t do link building per se, they do some higher-level activity, which they take VERY seriously, and which includes the intention to attract high-quality links.

While their primary focus is on the higher-level activity, they are very aware of the importance of attracting links, and how their higher-level activity helps them do that.

2. It’s important in its own right

Did I mention they take this VERY seriously? The higher-level activity they do is not something they attend to when they can, it’s not something they “get to”. It is one of their highest marketing priorities. They devote resources to it, and in most cases wish they could devote more.

I think it’s also worth noting that of the group of eight, five are brands and three are agencies.

Examples of their higher-level activities

Below I identify the group of eight and provide a summary of what they do, and how they do it.

1. Matt Zajechowski of Digital Third Coast

Matt Zajechowski is an Outreach Team Lead and Content Marketing Promotions Specialist at Digital Third Coast, a Chicago based digital marketing agency. They work to position their clients as experts through digital public relations, and yes, I know everyone says that.

Early in the interview, Matt said,

“We do a lot of content-based linked building.”

But their idea of content is more involved than what others do.

They employ a primary tool of data-driven stories and articles, where the data comes from surveys involving 1,000 to 3,000 people. They don’t conduct the surveys themselves, but rather make use of online survey platforms such as SurveyMonkey and Amazon Mechanical Turk. These surveys run over the course of weeks and in some cases a few months.

The survey results provide patterns, trends, and stories with which to create highly unique content that provides insights not available elsewhere. The design of their surveys takes into account what articles are already published on the topic in question, as they work to avoid publishing something already covered by someone else.

As you can imagine, these articles make excellent link bait. Not because they are link bait per se, but because they’re good.

Their link building philosophy is that truly unique content, based on large sets of data that provide interesting insights, not only makes initial link building easier but soon attracts links without continued effort on their part.

2. Steve James, Freelance Marketing Consultant

Steve James is a freelance marketing consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia. Steve focuses on helping small, medium, and enterprise businesses.

What Steve does differently is to not focus on “what” to do, but rather to focus on “who” might be interested.

Steve said something I found to be a very interesting perspective:

“You need links to show you’re known by the right people.”

I can best illustrate his approach by sharing a story he told me to explain his approach.

Steve had a client who was a tailor who sold custom made suits. Rather than focus on building links to the tailor’s website per se, Steve thought about who cares about suits at all, let alone custom made suits.

Obviously, people who wear suits. So, who wears suits? Well, the mayor and the members of the City Council wear suits. The next question is, what can he do to get them to notice the tailor?

This resulted in content being published on the tailor’s website that was effectively written for the mayor and other city dignitaries and promoted to them.

This resulted in links from the city government website, and the mayor’s blogs. Being a local business, that was enough to lift the tailor’s website onto the first page of Google.

This led to a whole new market of online prospects, people who follow the Council members, and business professionals that wear suits.

Steve’s link building philosophy is not that he does a set of things related to building links, but he does whatever is appropriate to attract the attention of the right people.

3. Olga Mykhoparkina of Chanty

Olga Mykhoparkina former Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals Chanty, a software company that provides a team messaging tool similar to Slack and MS Team. They’re based in Zurich and Kharkiv, Ukraine. Their approach is public relations, where link building is a side effect of that.

Olga told me,

“We don’t really do anything to just get backlinks….. Links that we get are more of a side effect”.

Their larger effort is “to be known”, not to build links per se.

She then described how their main focus is on maintaining contact with journalists and answering questions of interest to these journalists.

They have people who monitor journalist requests on platforms such as HARO, SourceBottle, and JournoRequest, read every request and respond to every relevant inquiry. Any question they can answer, they do answer.

This is resulting in 20 to 50 quality backlinks per month, some from websites as authoritative as Forbes, American Express, and Business Insider.

This public relations work requires two full-time people.

Their link building philosophy is that by helping journalists, they greatly improve their exposure and their backlink profile.

4. Jamie Kehoe of Venturi

Jamie Kehoe, Former Content Manager at Venturi, an IT recruitment agency located in Manchester, England mentioned that their approach is community management, which helps them greatly with link building.

What encapsulates that idea is Jamie’s statement of,

“We’ve been nurturing this community…..”

A Slack channel is the hub of their community discussions, and their community management also includes content on their blog and a weekly podcast, Venturi’s Voice.

The discussions within their community are focused on teams; recruiting, building, nurturing, managing, and so on.

The podcast gives them unique content not available elsewhere, and each episode is an interview with someone solving problems in interesting ways.

The community management activities, including producing the podcast, are done by multiple people and works out to about two full-time equivalents.

Their link building philosophy involves generating unique interesting content to answer questions their community is asking.

5. Cécilien Dambon of Venngage

Cécilien Dambon is International Growth Manager at Venngage provides a software tool for making infographics and is based in Toronto, Ontario.

An interesting comment Cécilien said is,

“You send the same email to 100 people and you get a 3% conversion rate, and you send that same email super customized to ten people and you get the same result.”

So they focus on relationship building, and yes, I know everyone says that.

At Venngage this shows up as ten people in Venngage marketing maintaining a close relationship with people outside of Venngage with whom they do co-marketing. Co-marketing being a corporate buzzword for helping people who are also helping you.

They are proactive about doing favors for their friends without an expectation of payback for each and every favor.

Of course, there are limits. If someone they co-market with accepts favors and never returns them, that relationship is allowed to wither and is replaced with one that is more mutually beneficial.

This is not a dedicated function with Venngage marketing per se but by virtue of ten people maintaining co-marketing relationships with (give or take) 10 people each, their co-marketing network is strong.

Then when they need favors, they have a network of friends to ask for help.

Their link building philosophy can be summed up in that Beatles lyric: “With a little help from my friends”.

6. Miles Smith of Imaginasium

Miles Smith is Director of Digital & Inbound/Content Marketing at Imaginasium, an agency located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, specializing in helping manufacturing businesses.

Their focus is best summed up in the word “alignment”.

Miles said two things to me that I found to be of great interest:

Marketing is not simply creating demand for what is. It involves changing the business to best meet what demand exists.

Everything is link building, and links indicate the right people know about you.

Item two above is similar to the focus Steve James has on “who” rather than “what” and drives what content they publish, to whom they promote it, and how they promote it to them.

Their focus on “everything is link building” is the principle around which they organize their work.

While from this point on, things do look tactical for a while email outreach jumpstarts their link building, the alignment they worked on earlier helps their link building occur on its own faster, as they have less “content promotion inertia” to overcome.

As they’re an agency, the level of staffing required to make this happens depends upon what their client is paying for, but generally, for a client who takes this seriously, one to two full-time equivalents, consisting of bits and pieces of various team members (in-house and outsourced), are involved in this work.

Their link building philosophy is it’s important to be known by the right people.

7. Chris Eckstrum of Housecall Pro

Chris Eckstrum, former Manager of SEO at Housecall Pro, a company that provides software to tradespeople to help them run more efficient businesses. They’re located in San Diego, California.

They also focus on community management.

The hub of their community is two Facebook groups they own and manage. One is for home service professionals, the other is for women service professionals.

The groups are closed, in the sense that people need to ask to join and Housecall Pro vets them to make sure they are tradespeople, but the group is not limited to Housecall Pro customers. Any tradesperson can join.

Chris told me the discussions within the group provide them with content ideas as well as content amplification and links, as much of their content comes from discussions and interviews with group members, and all content is then shared with the group.

Their management of the groups is very active. They engage frequently with members.

Link building occurs primarily by members of their community directly linking to their content, as well as members of their community promoting the content with others.

Managing those two Facebook groups is a full-time job for two people.

Their link building philosophy is; links come fairly naturally from managing and nurturing their online communities.

8. Araks Nalbandyan of 10Web Inc

Araks Nalbandyan is the Director of Digital Marketing at 10Web an agency that builds, manages, and hosts WordPress websites. They’re based in Newark, Delaware.

They are the exception within this group of eight, as they do what the rest of us do, but more so, and better, which primarily means with a high degree of personalization.

Their primary link building strategy is content promotion via email.

By “more so”, I mean they have two people doing it full time, and by “better” I mean that every pitch is highly personalized. They do not send mass emails.

The degree to which this is true is illustrated by how Araks described the training of the people who do link building. The very first pitch they compose can take four hours to draft. Over time, they get better at it, and four months later they’re able to craft a highly customized pitch in 20 minutes.

What they’re doing is highly customized email pitches at volume, which I am differentiating from the sending of mass email, which is generally very slightly customized by the use of templates.

The other thing they do differently from the bulk of us is they actually and rigorously track their outreach attempts and results, and adjust based on that feedback. They do this in part with the reporting capability of the email product they use (Lemlist), and in part by dumping data from various sources into Google Data Studio and generating information from the data.

She said one that really caught my attention,

“The main reason I separate the Content Promotion (from other link building tactics) is because of the open rate, the click-through rate, and the answer rate of those kinds of emails are super high. One of our campaigns reached an open rate of about 78%, which was huge, and we got a lot of responses and a lot of links from that.”

Their link building philosophy has two prongs:

  1. Highly personalized email pitches are worth the effort.
  2. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

The rest of us are focused on the tactical aspects of link building

Which it appears, is not an effective way to build links at scale. The other 31 people I interviewed aren’t doing link building wrong per se, they’re just being less effective. Their efforts build links, but not on the same scale.

From talking with this group of people, the “issue” if that’s the right word, is their link building approach is much more tactical, and not as strategic as the group of eight listed above.

The group of eight is much more strategic about their link building (by considering it to be part of a higher-level activity) and much more tactical about their higher-level activity, which is what they attend to in their daily to-do lists.

And I appreciate their contribution to this article

For the record, the group of people I interviewed above and beyond the group of eight is:

Agencies

  • Olivier Mamet of Sandbox, located in Mauritius
  • Nick Bennett of Growmeo Marketing, in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Brooks Manley of Egenius, in Greenville, South Carolina
  • Sam White of New Dimension Marketing & Research, in Encinitas, California
  • Greg Heilers of Jolly Content, in Walnut Creek, California
  • Djordje Milicevic of StableWP, in Toronto, Ontario
  • Syed Irfan Ajmal of SyedIrfanAjmal.com, in Peshawar, Pakistan
  • Kyle Douglass of Revium, in Melbourne, Australia
  • Andy Nathan of Smart at the Start, in Chicago, Illinois
  • Jonathan Aufrey of Growth Hackers, in Taipei, Taiwan
  • Amine Rahal of IronMonk Solutions, in Toronto, Ontario
  • Markelle Harden of Knowmad Digital Marketing, in Fort Mill, South Carolina
  • David Kranker of David Kranker Creative, in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Kyle Kasharian of 9Saill, in Fairfield, New Jersey
  • Dean Cacippo of One Click SEO, in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Cory Hedgepeth of Direct Online Marketing, in Wexford, Pennsylvania
  • Jonathan Gorham of Engine Scout, in South Yarra, Australia
  • Irena Zobniów of Insightland.org, in Wroclaw, Poland
  • Celest Huffman of Rocket Web, in Nashville, Tennessee

Brands

  • Shejraj Singh of YoStarter, in Punjab, India
  • Michael Anderson of Geolango Maps, in Pleasanton, California
  • Slisha Kankariya of With Clarity, in New York City
  • Christina Sanders of Lucidpress, in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Erin Osterhaus of CORT, in Austin, Texas
  • Patrick Whatman of Spendesk, in Paris, France
  • Matt Bassos of Vuly Play, in Brisbane, Australia
  • Dana Roth of FortVision, in Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Quincy Smith of Ampjar, in Shanghai, China
  • Taavi Rebane of Messente Communications, in Tartu, Estonia
  • Praveen Malik of PMbyPM, in Delhi, India
  • Jakub Kliszczk of CrazyCall, of Wroclaw, Poland

The software tools used

I thought it would be interesting to know what software tools are used for their link building activities, so I asked and compiled this list.

In the spirit of full disclosure, these are the tools people thought to mention to me when I asked, and I tried not to ask leading questions. As such, it’s possible some people simply didn’t feel that a tool such as Google Sheets was worthy of mention, whereas others did.

What surprised me is that neither Majestic SEO nor Google Custom Search Queries get much respect.

Below is a list of each software tool, and the number of people who said they use it.

  • Ahrefs: 27
  • SEMRush: 21
  • Google Sheets: 15
  • BuzzStream: 8
  • io: 8
  • MozPro: 6
  • Screaming Frog: 5
  • Mailshake: 4
  • VoilaNorbert: 4
  • Google Custom Search Queries: 3
  • MajesticSEO: 3
  • HubSpot: 2
  • MozBar: 2
  • SimilarWeb: 2
  • Trello: 2
  • Answer the Public: 1
  • Asana: 1
  • Boomerang: 1
  • Cision: 1
  • Cora: 1
  • Google Calendar: 1
  • io: 1
  • LemList: 1
  • Link Prospector: 1
  • com: 1
  • PitchBox: 1
  • io: 1
  • Scrapebox: 1
  • SEO Power Suite: 1
  • SEOquake: 1
  • org: 1
  • Spyfu: 1
  • Ubersuggest: 1

The tactics employed

I also asked people about their link building tactics, but since seeing that the difference that makes the difference is not one’s tactical approach to link building, but rather one’s tactical approach to their higher-level activity, I fear I would be leading you astray by publishing this list.

In spite of the fact that I met everyone but one person through HARO, I was surprised to discover how many people consider HARO to be a valuable link building tactic. It was the third most popular tactic, by a long shot.

Below are the top three, and the number of people who stated they use it.

  • Content promotion via email: 24
  • Guest blogging: 23
  • HARO: 18

The fourth most popular tactic was used by only 8 people.

In closing

Link building at scale requires resources. Some companies, even some larger companies, do not devote the one or two full-time equivalents required to do it effectively.

If, due to resource constraints, you can’t be one of the top tier link building players, the way you emulate them is:

Devote bits of pieces of lots of people to make up as many full-time equivalents as you can. Since your more successful competitors are devoting appropriate resources, you’ve got to compensate or be left behind.

Prioritize that work as important enough to get to, even if that requires something else to be less important, and yes, I know that is easier said than done.

While each email might start with a template, make each email highly personalized to the person you’re sending it to. Based on the people I spoke to for this article, fewer highly personalized emails have greater success than mass emails where the personalization is just what’s done in the template.

Kevin Carney is the Founder and CEO of the boutique link building agency Organic Growth.

The post If you think you’re link building, you’re doing it wrong appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Interview with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC

July 4, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The worldwide web is a clear reflection of all the shifts 2020 has brought and as businesses and marketers crunch majority of their budgets and pivot strategies.
  • In light of the current scenario businesses, digital marketers, and content creators continue to face some key problems around digital ad revenue, ad blocking, and more.
  • We caught up with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC, an innovative search engine that reinvents user experience and technology.
  • PUBLC is a new search engine built by everyone, for everyone, that aspires to create an equally distributed web economy using blockchain token economics.
  • Read on to discover insights on how PUBLC serves a more equally distributed web economy using blockchain and token economics, generating a new and native revenue stream for online publishers.

The worldwide web is a clear reflection of all the shifts 2020 has brought and as businesses and marketers crunch majority of their budgets and pivot strategies, these remain some key problems of today’s digital space:

  • Digital ad revenue has taken a hit due to ad blockers.
  • Online publishers struggle to find a native revenue model as an alternative to ad-based models, which only grows bigger now with the COVID-19 impact on the advertising industry. Digital ad revenue is declining, as use of adblockers is increasing
  • Google and Facebook duopoly dominate over 60% of global ad revenue.

We caught up with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC, a search engine that aims to reward the entire web ecosystem by creating an innovative, more equally distributed web economy using blockchain and token economics, generating a new and native revenue stream for online publishers.

Q1. Can you tell us about your background and journey towards becoming the founder of PUBLC?

I was always one of those kids that constantly thought of different business ideas and tried to invent things. The original idea for PUBLC started over 15 years ago when I was frustrated with the existing search engines. I always thought that people know best and there should be a way to add the human element to search for a better-organized web. Back then I had mocked up a few presentations and a family friend even connected me to a VC, but I was so young and had no idea what I was doing. Later in university, I wasn’t keen on academia and dropped out to start my journey as a start-up entrepreneur. In the beginning, I was just playing around with different ideas, and eventually, I saw that I’m always going back to the same original idea of creating a new search engine. I started completely from scratch, learning everything in the process, making mistakes, learning again, and building PUBLC layer by layer.

Q2. What was the biggest challenge you faced while setting up PUBLC? How did you solve it?

Just saying that you want to create a new search engine is a huge challenge by itself, doing it the way PUBLC does, creating a new search engine that completely reinvents the user experience and technology with a token-based business model is an even bigger challenge! If you add new and complicated technologies like blockchain and AI to the mix, the challenge becomes even bigger. Plus, the fact that you’re doing it as a small self-funded startup makes it almost impossible! But eventually, we did it step by step, layer by layer and built this platform that’s backed with AI and a blockchain financial infrastructure.

Q3. Can you give us a brief insight into PUBLC and your token economy?

PUBLC is a new type of search engine built by everyone, for everyone, that aspires to create an equally distributed web economy using blockchain token economics. You can think of PUBLC as a mix between Google and Wikipedia, where we combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) enabling users to categorize the content and “teach” PUBLC how to better organize the web, creating a new search experience, while also rewarding the users for participating in the process.

With regards to the token economics, on the one hand, our token, PUBLX, is granted by PUBLC as a reward to its community that contributes to PUBLC. On the other hand, the tokens are used as the only form of payment for PUBLC’s business services used by advertisers on the platform. This balance between supply and demand is what establishes the token value.

Token earners, be it publishers, brands, influencers, or content categorizers, can either use their token rewards to pay for any of our business services or exchange them on cryptocurrency exchanges, where the tokens can be bought by advertisers. So, we encourage everyone to checkout PUBLC and discover how they could earn PUBLX tokens.

Q5. How can businesses use PUBLC? Any tips on how they can get started with PUBLC?

PUBLC was built with all the different actors of the web ecosystem in mind, as we believe PUBLC is a platform that is meant to serve everyone and reward them for the value they create. Businesses as online publishers, brands, and celebrities benefit from PUBLC as it gives them exposure to new audiences, drives traffic to their websites, and earns them revenue for every time a user clicks on their content and views it. Businesses can get started on PUBLC by submitting their website, categorizing their content, and curating their pages. Our job is to support all those people and help them better achieve their goals, so feel free to reach out to us, we would love to hear from you!

Q6. Would video content be sourced from platforms like YouTube?

Yes! PUBLC curates and displays video content that users upload on YouTube and other such sites. You’ll be surprised to know that we even reward sites like YouTube as they also provide value to the ecosystem for hosting all that content.

Q7. What are your future plans for PUBLC? Will you venture into the digital advertising aspect as well? If yes, we’re assuming it will be in-ecosystem currency of PUBLX tokens?

Besides inventing a new user experience and technology we also had to invent a new revenue model connected to our token economy – and that’s crucial to the success of the platform – having those PUBLX tokens that are given to everyone for their contribution have real-life value. In order to do that we built a new set of business services such as, promoted content, brand awareness, ecommerce, and more, which offer advertisers a new way to enhance their brand awareness or conversions in a native and organic way within the platform without compromising PUBLC’s user experience for the users. 

Our business services work differently than the way it’s done on traditional search engines, and it rethinks this traditional advertising model of just promoting ads over search queries. The usual method is good but it could be different. We put more focus on content and the user experience because when you get ads, whether it’s on Google, Facebook, or any other platform – as a user that harms your experience. We aim to deliver our business services in a very native and organic way that doesn’t harm the user experience. For example, PUBLC offers promoted content that is real, in the form of videos, articles, and other multimedia. These could be campaigns that not only provide advertisers with the worth of their money but also engage and add value for the users. Furthermore, we incorporate PUBLC’s community in the approval of ads, having them take part in flagging spam and fraud, and helping shape PUBLC revenue model.

Q8. Do you use citations? How does the web validate your resources?

We’re focused more on the human element of search. People add domains and content URLs which are then approved by our community, and only then are indexed and crawled, making our sources more credible. There are many parameters that our algorithm evaluates in order to rank content, to give you a better idea I’ll share the three main key elements:

  1. Relevancy: How the content is relevant to the search query or the topic that is searched
  2. Popularity: How many PUBLC users saw and clicked on the content
  3. Content age: How old is it, when was it published

Users are the first gatekeepers of which content gets indexed on the PUBLC search engine. 

Q9. How does PUBLC’s search engine combine human intelligence and AI? Is it curated by people? How do you counter aspects of “subjectivity” and “bias”?

As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly believe that people know best. They would know best about what topic(s) the is content related to or which search queries best describe the content. This is unlike how typical search engines work by mainly analyzing the text of the content. Having users add and categorize content on PUBLC works on a micro-scale for that specific content. However, when you add machine learning and AI to that you can adapt on a much larger scale, learn better about content categorization and indexing in a more precise, user-friendly, and genuine manner. Our search engine intends to broaden users’ horizons by reaching new content that they didn’t even know existed.

Yes, giving too much power to people could bring bias. But I’d like to refer to PUBLC on the lines of Wikipedia where you have a large group of people editing a specific piece of content that could be very controversial, and they still find a way to do it. On PUBLC we have an entire system of a reputation for users and publishers so they’re always building their own reputation simultaneously. 

For example, a user could build their reputation on the PUBLC platform for any niche, let’s assume, blockchain. Now if this user claims something about blockchain, the system considers their subject matter expertise and deems their claim right for crawling, categorizing, and indexing. 

We have everything validated by the users of the community. I think users very quickly know spam when they see it, so they wouldn’t approve spam-like content with the risk of lowering their reputation. We built this set of rules to incentivize people to do good and if they don’t play by the rules, they’re just going to lose.

Q10. Could you give us a small brief on how you’re dealing with privacy? Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about in terms of data privacy?

Privacy is one of PUBLC’s core, crucial elements. In fact, that’s the big problem with the web that we also saw fit to address. Platforms like Facebook and the others make their business out of the users’ data, and in a way compromises their privacy. That’s why there’s a huge loss of trust for users. One of our ambitions and aims is to use blockchain to enable users to have the best, most personal user experience while having 100% privacy. We are now building this element, and plan to have all of our users’ personal data stored on the blockchain and accessed only by them ensuring them with complete control over their data that’s also kept anonymous.

Users would have their own PUBLC IDs but there would be no way that I, the platform, or any of us could access that information. If a user personally chooses to share their information with advertisers and publishers to help them understand the user profile or engagement with their content – that too would be completely anonymized. 

Since it’s still the users’ data giving value to a business they would also be rewarded for it. This way we help users earn some of the revenue made through that data. But again, it would be completely anonymized data ensuring that businesses can’t trace a user to their real-life entity. That’s one of the great potentials that blockchain gives is the bandwidth to build platforms that are more focused on the privacy elements.

Q11. What are your predictions for search and SEO in 2020?

As I’m sure you can already guess, I believe search and SEO will be more focused on the human element, and that we will continue to see improvements in understanding the user’s intent. I think we will also see SEO become more accessible to the creators, and more straightforward, without harming the creativity and user experience of the content. Doing so by making tools to create the best optimization and content categorization. One of the biggest problems I see today is that creative content creators are forced to focus their efforts on SEO rather than on creating better content. I hope that with PUBLC, creators could focus on creating creative content while having the tools to actively influence their content’s SEO, without having the two contradict one another. For me, the prediction would be – better user experience, better content, and hopefully a better web.

The post Interview with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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