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Nine site audit issues we always see and tips to tackle them

March 17, 2020 No Comments

After carrying out thousands of site audit activities across varying industries and site sizes, there are some stand out issues that are repeated over and over again.

Certain CMS platforms have their downfalls and cause the same technical issues repeatedly but most of the time these issues are caused by the sites being managed by multiple people, knowledge gaps, and simply the factor of time.

We tend to use two crawlers at Zazzle Media which will be mentioned throughout this post. The first being Screaming Frog, which we make use of when we need raw exports or need to be very specific with what we are crawling. The second being Sitebulb, which is much more of a site audit tool, rather than a crawler. We tend to make use of Sitebulb more due to being able to manage projects and the overall progress a site is making.

So let’s get started, with the issues we see time and time again.

1. Broken internal links

One of the more simple issues, but something that can be missed, if you aren’t looking out for it. Broken links can disrupt the user journey, and for the search engines, this disables crawl bots from connecting pieces of content.

Internal links are mainly utilized to connect pieces of content, and in terms of Google’s algorithm, internal links allow link equity to be distributed from one page to another. A broken link can disrupt this as if the link is broken causing failure of equity transfer from one page to another. In terms of PageRank, Google’s algorithm evaluates the number of high-quality links to a page in order to determine page authority.

Put simply, a broken internal link can negatively affect page authority and stop the flow of link equity.

The scale of this issue will vary dramatically depending on the type of site you are running. However, on most sites there will be some form of broken links.

Quick tip

A simple crawl will pick these up, running a tool such as Screaming Frog with a basic configuration will provide a full list of broken links, alongside the parent URL.

2. Meta title length

Based on the number of times this occurs, it can be a very minimal problem or something that could dramatically alter a whole business.

Short meta titles could indicate a lack of targeting while long titles would cause truncation and in turn, lower click-through rates.

Quick tip

To write the perfect meta title and descriptions which maximize pixel usage and CTA, we recommend using the Sistrix SERP generator tool.

3. Redirecting internal links

Redirecting internal links can cause problems for your site architecture as it takes slightly longer for users and search engines to find content. With content changing or products becoming sold out, either a permanent (301) or temporary (302) redirection is used. A 302 redirection tells a search engine to keep the old page, as the 302 redirection is simply a temporary measure. A 301 redirection instructs the search engine that the page has permanently moved, and will be replaced at the new location.

Redirection loops are when your browser tells the search engine to redirect to a page, which once again tells your browser to redirect to another page – which can happen over and over again until it hits the final destination. Redirection loops should be avoided at all costs, as this will increase crawl time and can send mixed signals to search bots.

The problem isn’t with redirecting a URL (if completed correctly), the issue lies within the links pointing to the URL redirection. For example, URL A redirects to a new URL B. But URL C still points to URL A – which is incorrect.

Sitebulb can crawl and find all the URLs that currently link to the redirecting URL, where you can then change the href target to point to the new URL via the CMS.

Quick tip

Redirecting URLs should be avoided where possible, as this can increase a search bots crawl time, in turn, potentially leading to the website’s URL being skipped within the allocated crawl.

4. Outdated sitemaps

XML sitemaps do not have to be static, as with larger websites to continuously update the XML file directory will be very time-consuming. It is recommended to use a dynamic .xml sitemap, as this ensures every time a piece of content, or media is added, your CMS automatically updates this file directory. A Sitebulb audit will highlight that your website has a missing sitemap.

It is really important to use Dynamic XML sitemaps correctly, as in some cases, the dynamic sitemap can end up adding URLs you do not want in the sitemap

Quick tip

If you are using a standard CMS such as WordPress search/sitemap.xml to the end of your domain, this should show your website’s sitemap.

5. Orphan URLs

Orphan pages, otherwise known as “floating pages” are URLs that are indexed and published but can neither be found by users nor search engines by following internal links. This means that an orphan page can end up never being crawled. A typical scenario of an orphan page could be a winter sale, where the page was once needed, but now due to the season isn’t needed anymore.

Essentially, when there are a few this is not harmful, however, when there is a large amount this it can bloat your website. The result, poor link equity distribution, keyword cannibalization (for which we have a separate guide here) and a poor internal linking experience for both search bot and user.

Quick tip

As this is a specific type of crawl, Zazzle Media uses Screaming Frog to crawl the sitemap data. At the same time, we run another crawl with either Screaming Frog or Sitebulb to find the orphan pages by comparing the two data sets.

Read our quick guide that concerns orphan URLs and how to deal with them for a more in-depth approach.

6. Site speed

Google has previously indicated that site speed is a crucial ranking factor, and more specifically is a part of its ranking algorithm for search engine results. This is because site speed is closely related to good user experience, slow websites have high bounce rates due to content taking a long time to load. A benefit from improving your websites site speed is that it will better the user experience, but also could reduce website bounce rate too.

Page speed checking during site audits

Source: Search Influence, 2017

Additionally, as site speed is directly related to lowering bounce rate, this should in turn boost revenues – as users are actively remaining engaged on your website for longer.

Quick tip

To check your website’s site speed, we recommend using Google’s very own page speed insights tool, where this will not only give you a page speed score, but also a host of recommendations on how to best improve your site speed and how you compare to search competition!

7. Hierarchy/structure

A website’s Hierarchy structure, otherwise known as information architecture, is essentially how your website’s navigation is presented to a search engine or user. The fundamental issue that most websites suffer from is page rank distribution.

Websites’ main pages or most profitable pages should be within three clicks from the homepage. Pages that are more than three clicks away from the homepage, subsequently receive less page rank distribution, and in other scenarios will only occasionally be crawled (if ever).

Without an effective hierarchy, crawl budget can be wasted. This can mean for pages within the depths of your website (more than three clicks away from the root) could rank poorly as Google is unsure of the importance of the page and link equity could be spread thinly.

Quick tip

An SEO and user-friendly site architecture is all about allowing search bots and users to seamlessly navigate your website. Flattening your site architecture can increase indexation, allow more keyword rankings, and in turn boost organic traffic.

8. Internal linking

Internal linking is an important feature of a website as this allows users to navigate your website, and most importantly (from an SEO perspective) allows search engine crawlers to understand the connections between content. An effective internal linking strategy could have a big impact on rankings.

It is no surprise to us when a Sitebulb audit states to review your internal linking strategy, as complex sites, with thousands of pages can get messy. A typical example of a messy internal linking structure could be anchor texts that do not contain a keyword, URL linking inconsistencies in volume (for PageRank distribution), and links not always pointing to the canonical version of a URL. Issues such as the ones listed can create mixed signals for search engine crawlers and ultimately confuses a crawler when it comes to indexing your content.

Quick tip

Sitebulb can complete an audit where this highlights any issues with link distribution, shows which pages receive the most internal links, shows any broken internal links / incorrectly used and so much more. We then digest this data to devise a strategy of how we can best optimize your website’s internal linking strategy.

9. Thin content

Writing unique pieces of content that provides value to a user can be incredibly challenging, and most importantly time-consuming! Hence, this is one of the most frequent issues we always see on website audits. More specifically, thin content is directly against Google’s guidelines and can result in a penalty worst-case scenario.

Search engines when crawling your website are looking for functional pieces of content to understand your business services and product offerings. Not only are search engines looking for functional pieces of content, but search bots also want to see your expertise, quality, and trust. Google has a huge 166 page ‘Search Quality Guidelines‘ document that explains what search quality constitutes. We recommend familiarizing yourself with this document to ensure that you write quality content for your website which is in line with Google’s search guidelines.

This is a regular issue that many websites overlook, but is a critical route to organic success.

Quick tip

A Sitebulb audit will identify any URLs with thin content, and prioritize the severity of the issue. Aim for about 350 – 500 words per page to succinctly communicate your information. However, the quality of this content is still a very important factor.

In conclusion

These are just some of the most common types of issues discovered from an SEO audit, and technical changes can be tricky as well as incredibly time-consuming to implement at times. Completing a technical audit of your website, and correcting any issues can lead to improving keyword rankings, organic traffic, and if the products/services are right, achieve more sales.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to search engine optimization and with the landscape constantly changing, this is a superior strategy to achieve long term competitive advantage in the digital landscape.

Fraser Gilbey is a Senior SEO Executive at Zazzle Media.

The post Nine site audit issues we always see and tips to tackle them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five tips to establish a successful content creation process

March 13, 2020 No Comments

In this digital age where around 90% of all digital marketers use content marketing, there is no shortage of content that is flowing around, even in niches you probably never heard of.

Unfortunately, a big chunk of that content is a spammy mess that exists only to build a link, promote things we do not need, and push an agenda that doesn’t care about facts.

Despite all of that, there is always room for more quality content that can put your business on the map. To do that effectively, you need two things – consistency and a strategic approach to content creation.

Why should you have a consistent content publishing schedule?

If you are pumping out mediocre content on a regular basis to try and “trick” Google into favoring you over other domains, you are probably wasting your time. That’s if you want to listen to Google’s own John Mueller.

Now, here’s why this discussion doesn’t really matter. On one side, there is a whole list of stronger search ranking factors to focus on. On the other hand, even if publishing frequency doesn’t directly affect your rankings, there are plenty of other reasons you want to be consistent with your content creation and publishing process.

Some do it because they want to run a newsletter, others simply want to keep their blog fresh and have something to share on their social channels. However, most marketers that look to run content consistently are those who want to grow their businesses with content marketing.

For them, creating consistent content with a purpose is not an option, it’s a necessity. In continuation of this article, we’ll take a look at five tips on how to do exactly that.  

1. Do the groundwork

What does it mean to create quality content? I believe most of us know how to intuitively recognize it, but some would have trouble coming up with a clear definition. 

Here is a snapshot from the guidelines we share with all of our writers that represent how we look at quality content:

Writing to the right audience and solving their problems with actionable advice is hard to do if you only have a vague idea of who you are targeting. That’s why it is crucial to properly research your target audience. Go to Quora and Reddit, visit niche forums, run surveys among existing customers and subscribers, follow top blogs in your niche, analyze your competitors.

If you’re planning to create content consistently, it pays to know both big and small problems your target audience is running into on a regular basis.

If you do extensive research, you should have a substantive list of issues to cover. However, not all of those issues are worth covering on your blog. Creating personalized content is great, but spending 20 hours on a piece that solves an issue exactly three people have is just not worth it.

This is where keyword research comes into play. Using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and even Google Trends is a great way to find out what is the scope of the issues you identified and which are, subsequently, worth covering.

If you’re a start-up looking to grow through content marketing efforts, keyword research and target audience analysis are the foundation to build upon. For brands with an already active blog, they can expand this preparation step by also doing content audit and content gap analysis.

2. Create content with a purpose

I do not know about you, but we like to publish content with a certain goal in mind. In an ideal situation, content should satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It talks about a real problem your target audience has
  2. It can be optimized around a keyword with a worthwhile monthly search volume
  3. It aims to generate brand awareness, nurture gathered leads or has another specific purpose listed below

Now, there are only so many content pieces that will be able to check all three boxes, and that’s just fine. Since you plan to create content consistently, you will have to branch out anyway at some point. The trick is not branching out too far. Always look that your content satisfies at least two of the stated criteria.

One example of content with a purpose that satisfies “only” two criteria (but is still worth creating) is content for nurturing your hard-earned leads.

Depending on who you ask, the sales funnel can have between three and six phases. For the purpose of this example, we can hold on to the version with four that is on the illustration above.

Let’s assume that, during your audience research, you defined four different target audience personas you want to cover. Let’s also assume that you decided to create two different pieces of content for every persona at every stage of the funnel.

This leads us to four personas x four funnel stages x two content pieces for each = 32 content pieces! 

Some of those 32 pieces will not bring you any organic traffic but they will be an integral part of your email sequences, your Facebook funnels and/or any other strategy that uses content for lead nurturing. 

3. Plan three months in advance

The key point of this section is planning ahead, the number of months is up for discussion. If you have enough resources and the ability to stick to the schedule, you can plan six months ahead or more. For many businesses, however, that is not necessary.

For example, we push out one to three content pieces each month and our average time to produce a piece (involves keyword research, outline, writing, polishing, custom images, promotion plans, SEO optimization) is about three weeks (but keep in mind that people don’t work on the content every day).

Considering our available resources, time to produce a single piece, and the number of pieces we publish each month, planning two months ahead is enough to keep everything on track. By “keeping everything on track” I mean ensuring we never end up in a situation where: 

  • We do not have anything to publish because a single article got delayed
  • We do not have resources to schedule in an additional content piece that shares important company news or discusses nig industry trends/news that just popped up  

As you scale up those numbers, you should look to plan three-plus months ahead, especially if you are doing a lot of research, round-ups, longer video content, and interactive content. 

These types of content pieces are more likely to get delayed and increase your average production time, which means they should be scheduled well in advance.

4. Watch what you outsource

At some point, you might wish to scale content production or realize that you just don’t have enough resources to create content consistently on your own. While outsourcing can work well when done properly, if you are working with the wrong people, it will waste you a ton of time you don’t have. 

To anyone that looks to outsource part of their content creation process, here are two important tips:

A. Do not be satisfied with mediocre talent

Even if it takes a long time, run job posts until you find people that meet all of your requirements. Otherwise, you will spend more time reviewing and editing the content than you would spend on creating it yourself in the first place. So if a platform like Upwork fails you, run paid adds on another one like ProBlogger or similar platforms until you find a good match.

B. Give the advantage to people with actual experience in your niche

There are many people out there that can write pretty well. A chunk of those has good research skills and can create a decent piece on almost any topic. However, there usually aren’t that many people with a lot of personal experience that can actually give actionable advice.

I put a lot of value in personal experience because of one thing – authenticity. If the only thing you have to say is just a rehash of what other people said, you are not bringing anything new to the table and it limits the ability to provide actionable tips. That will undoubtedly be reflected in the reduced engagement of your content pieces. 

Since we are talking about outsourcing, I’d also like to point out that there are some content types that I would recommend producing internally whenever possible such as:

  • Pieces that describe a step-by-step process of how your service/product works
  • Pieces that contain a lot of screenshots/videos/graphics that have to be produced internally
  • Very specific pieces where you have to give the freelancer so many details you’re better of doing it yourself

I’m not saying that there aren’t amazing freelancers out there who can cover even promotional pieces to the level you need them to, but I am saying that they are hard to find and small business owners can rarely afford them.

5. Don’t discard guest contributors

Many blogs decide not to publish content from guest contributors because they believe that the average quality of the pieces that are sent over does not justify the time you need to put into managing the whole process. 

While that is true to a certain extent, there are ways to streamline the process to actually be cost-effective. I know that because we have implemented it on our blog. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Setup “write for us page” that outlines what kind of content you are looking for. 
  2. Create a guest contribution form people need to apply through and include it somewhere on the write for us page. You can reply only to people you want to work with which eliminates a lot of unnecessary email communication. 
  3. Create detailed writing guidelines that you send to every guest author. 
  4. Do not be afraid to say “no”. Do not waste time on contributors that do not match your requirements or do not respect your guidelines.

Using questions like the ones you can see on the screenshot below, you will be able to filter out bad submissions fairly quickly. 

If you want to take this a step further, you can even prepare content briefs. For example, guest authors that apply to our blog and are open to writing on a topic we suggest, get a list of primary and secondary keywords to orient their posts around and a list of major sections the article should discuss. 

As long as you have a reasonable linking policy and at least a moderate site authority, good pitches will come. Why not use them to help you push out content more consistently?

Ensuring content quality

One thing that tends to suffers when you put focus on volume is content quality. That is natural, but it can be easily avoided.

The best way to enforce consistent content quality is to set up detailed guidelines (and stick to them). These rules include (but are not limited to):

  • Tone of voice
  • Target audience
  • Linking policy for outgoing links 
  • Formatting guidelines
  • Visual guidelines and the use of rich content
  • Focus on examples and actionable advice

The above guidelines allow you to run every piece through a simple checklist and see if anything needs to be improved before the content goes live. 

When all of this is done as a part of a strong content marketing strategy, it is going to make you happy, it is going to make your customers happy, and it is going to make your bottom line very happy.

Dario Supan is a content strategist and editor at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing custom outreach and link building service.

The post Five tips to establish a successful content creation process appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Top tips to grease your email marketing wheels in 2020

March 10, 2020 No Comments

Sometime back the COO of Facebook had blurted out some unfortunate things about email marketing – that emails are going away and that marketers will have to focus on teenagers of today to finalize the marketing strategies of tomorrow, and so on and so forth.

Food for thought

Emails are timeless, dependable, unsung moneymakers that have invariably found continued success and more customers for almost 50 years now. And still, there’s no stopping it.

In fact, researches by Radicati Group found out that there were 3.9 million email users in 2019, and the market is expected to grow over to 4.3 million by the end of 2023.

email marketing

This means, over half of the world population has been using emails in 2019 and the medium happens to generate more ROI than what meets the eye – $ 44 per dollar spent

Underlining the strength of emails, yet another research by Drift and Survey Monkey revealed that 65% of respondents in the past 12 months have communicated with organizations via emails, ranking it way above the rest.

email marketing

Being around for so long, this phenomenon in economics is known as the Lindy effect.

The Lindy effect

Author Nassim Taleb in his popular book ‘Antifragile’ speaks about the Lindy Effect. According to him, the life expectancy of a business or an idea is in proportion to its current age.

Taleb states, “If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. And, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy.”

Now, emails have already been around for 50 years, and so we could expect to see it around in 2070 as well. But then no, you can’t just get out there and shoot emails.

As email marketers, first and foremost, you will have to think about re-inventing the existing email marketing strategies in a big bang way if you wish to sustain your business’ email ROI in 2020 and beyond.

Simply put, email marketing will have to embrace videos, personalization, data, mobile, among many other strategies to retain their respective audience base.

This post is an attempt to highlight the key strategies that businesses need to adopt in 2020 to grease their email campaigns in 2020.

1. Mobile-centric emails

If anything, the mobile-mindset is sweeping across the digital marketing spectrum. According to email usage stats by emailmonday, email opens are happening more on mobile than desktop.

email marketing

This means, if you still haven’t got your emails mobile-responsive, you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

Now, the question is how to optimize your emails for mobile?

Simple, you need to cut down the size of your copy, images and the overall design to suit the mobile format. A concise copy gives a clear view of the CTA button, which, in turn, leads to more visitors to your landing pages, blogs or product pages. More importantly, shorter copies make the emails much more scannable.

Here’s an example by campaignmonitor on how short copies offer clean, easy-on-your-eyes email experience to subscribers while checking their messages on mobile.

Unlike the first image, the second image is perfectly tailor-made for mobile screening.

The benefits of such copies can be seen clearly when you open such an email on mobile:

  • Sufficient white space in the copy offers an easy reading experience
  • The image on the first fold inspires further scrolling
  • A short copy means the CTA appears clearly. This saves the recipient from scrolling further down to reach a CTA button.

In case any additional copy or data needs to be added, you could accommodate that on the landing page to which your email CTA directs.

Further, make sure to test your emails from a user perspective. You cannot leave this to chance because users might spare only some time to check your emails on their phones. If they don’t like what they see, they are sure to delete your emails at once, let alone read the message.

2. Voice-friendly emails

Being mobile-centric is just one thing. By and by, you will have to make it voice-technology-friendly as well as the use of voice technology is growing worldwide.

In 2019, almost 112 million people, in the US alone, used a voice assistant, at least monthly, on different devices.

If you look at it, that’s quite a huge pool of users who’d love using voice-enabled emails as the technology progresses in the future. Some of the popular voice-assistant technologies currently in use include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby, and Microsoft Cortana.

Presently, if you are using Amazon Alexa it will help you do five basic things with your email.

  •  Read it
  •  Reply to it
  •  Delete it
  •  Archive-it
  •  Switch to the next message

This could prove to one of the most effective and ingenious email marketing strategies of this century as it makes your message heard despite the busy schedule of subscribers. So, even if your email recipient is busy pursuing some other activity, a voice-enabled email would help you to quickly figure out the content of your email.

Even Apple’s Siri is programmed to offer you similar functionalities. You can check out How Alexa Reads Your Emails & Impacts Email Marketing blog to get further ideas on how to use Alexa for your emails.

3. AI-driven emails

Not long ago, email marketing was purely driven by human instinct, be it the subject line or the send time. It was spray and pray strategy, more or less.

No more. AI has taken the hassle out of email marketing as marketers can now make accurate predictions, that too, not just with the subject lines but the send time as well. Plus, it also offers amazing recommendations.

How does AI do that?

AI, powered by machine learning, makes use of massive data to arrive at decisions that keep evolving as it learns. Though humans are involved in AI training initially, but then, by and by, they evolve themselves to find their own solutions and pathways.

Here are a few top use cases of AI in email marketing:

A. Craft outstanding subject lines

AI-powered by NLG, which runs on large and structured data sets, is quite good at churning out outstanding subject lines that could even beat copywriters’ hands down. In addition to subject lines, AI is quite capable of generating content for social shares, press releases and more. From word choice to emojis and sentiments, the copies are spot on and delivered quickly.  And, more than anything generates more opens for your emails.

B. Optimization of  send times

In 2020, marketers will have to optimize email send times based on historical open patterns of the audience. Say, for example, if Jonny opens his inbox between 10.00 am and 1.00 pm then you need to make sure that your emails reach his inbox during that period of time and not later.

But then, his sister Joanna opens her inbox around 5.00 pm. Manually it’s almost impossible for marketers to shoot so many emails, at different points in time, especially when tens of thousands of customers are involved.

This is where AI could chip in with its expertise. AI is programmed to handle problems of scale easily. The technology dissects mountains of data to come up with a predictive model for every contact on your list. This way, every individual, on your list, is sent an email at a time when they are most likely to open it.

C. Smarter segmentation of email marketing lists

Segmentation of the email list enables marketers to develop a relevant buyer persona, which, in turn, helps them shoot tailor-made emails.  Such segmented email campaigns are known to increase revenues by a whopping 760%. However, such segmentation, though it yields good results, isn’t good enough.

Combined with AI, smarter segmentation, on the other hand, helps you generate a list that significantly accelerates open and click rates. This is because it thoroughly analyzes the behavior of the current customers and finds patterns that help you segment the audience in new ways. And, the brilliance of it is, that it gets the job done faster than what any humans could do.

Customization is central to capturing today’s audiences. And with smarter segmentation, you get optimized email lists that help your emails perform better.

4. Video centered emails

Yet another way to bolster your email marketing efforts is to add videos to your email campaign. It’s one of the proven ways to increase leads, educate customers and, in the process, enhance brand awareness.

And being a clear differentiator in terms of content, it manages to stand out from the mass of emails that you receive every day. They offer several advantages:

  • Immediately hooks the audience and drives engagement
  • More impactful than plain text as it communicates product or service information better and faster. This, in turn, ensures a faster response rate from users.
  • Complex topics are easily explained
  • Videos are viral in nature
  • Wide social media sharing, thus boosting a brand’s SEO ranking

Also, don’t forget, if your client’s emails are not HTML5-compatible, they won’t be able to view your videos. In such cases, you could do two things: One, you could create an image that looks like a video image. Once the user clicks on it, it would direct the user to YouTube. Just ensure that your video is on an autoplay mode. Two: Embed GIFs or cinemagraphs. According to Experian Research, 72% percent of brands using animated GIF or a cinemagraph experience higher transaction rates.

5. AMP for emails

As it turns out, AMP or accelerated mobile pages was introduced by Google to speed up the mobile web, specifically the landing pages, blog posts, and even full websites.  Now, with millions of domains already under the “AMP”ed umbrella, the open-source technology is expanding its reach to emails as well.

AMP for emails will allow email marketers to create more interactive and actionable emails with the help of AMP elements. Broadly put, when you add interactive features such as accordions, confirmation, carousels, and purchase buttons in your email, AMP will allow you to take actions inside their emails without opening a new tab or visiting the website.

Additionally, emails can be updated in terms of news articles, weather, stock prices, and so on.

Of course, each of these things is possible when you run a third party script Javascript inside these emails. However, according to Google experts, running a third party script inside an email may cause loads of security issues, which is not the case with AMP for emails.  In this case, the documents are analyzed for spam, phishing, among many other things, which, in turn, ensures the safety of the user.

Other benefits of AMP for Emails

The technology will swap static content with a more dynamic web-page like the content. So users will be able to receive highly personalized content on-demand in the form of current product prices, weather updates, news, and so forth.

It’s a red hot technology. Only a few marketers are experimenting with this technology. This means you have the edge over your rivals if you have a clear cut idea on how to use AMP elements inside your emails while interacting with the users.

Known email service providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook support AMP technology. This means you can add AMP elements into the emails for most of your subscribers.

Examples of AMP emails

Pinterest: AMP allows you to enlarge each of the images, inside the email, and see more detailed information, instead of visiting the Pinterest webpage.  

Source: sendpulse

Doodle: With the help of the Doodle website, AMP for emails can help you create, manage, and respond to polls. Plus, you can set dates for meetings without opening a new tab.

Source: sendpulse

Bonus point

Overall quality should be the goal

Integrating all the latest technology and all is fine, but then don’t forget it’s the rudimentary aspects that make your emails click-worthy, that is content and design. So, by all accounts, take into consideration the following points while designing your email.

A. Content

An email shouldn’t have more than 50 words because a reader won’t be putting in more than 13.4 seconds to read it.

So, how do you write a compelling copy in 50 words?  Litmus recommends the following tips:

  • Short sentences
  • Limited jargons
  • Localization

B. Design

Some simple ways to make email designs accessible and effective to a broader audience:

  • Use Real text HTML
  • Be cognizant of font sizes, line spacing, and text justification
  • High contrasting colors
  • Ensure visual hierarchy

C. Code

To make sure that your emails can be read as soon as they are opened you need to slightly tweak your code. A solid code-base assures accessibility.

So how do you ensure a solid code-base?

  • Enter alternative text for images
  • Make HTML tables accessible to screen readers
  • Use semantic HTML
  • Specify a language in the HTML

Going by the Lindy Effect, email marketing, at the very least, is going to around for the next 50 years. So, no matter what, make it a point to update your current email marketing tactics with the latest technologies, be it AI, voice, video or AMP for emails.

The post Top tips to grease your email marketing wheels in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Four tips to help your brand thrive despite Google’s notification changes

March 5, 2020 No Comments

The browser Google Chrome (v80) is following in the footsteps of Mozilla Firefox (v72) and Apple Safari (v12.1) for notifications—websites that ask for opt-in immediately will now be only able to use quiet notification prompts.

These prompts are far less visible than the standard prompts that show up below the address bar.  What’s more, in Chrome, users can now receive all opt-in requests quietly if they choose.

Many brands—retailers and publishers, in particular—have experienced tremendous success with web notifications. For instance, Asda’s George.com gets an astonishing 40% conversion rate with notifications on abandoned carts and a 27% clickthrough rate on segmented alerts.

While web browsers give users more control, brands must adapt. Here are five ways of dealing with these changes:

1. Be clear about the benefits of opting-in 

What value does your website messaging offer? Will subscribers get exclusive content or offers or get alerts when their product shipped? It’s key to highlight such value in a soft-prompt before triggering the browser’s actual notification prompt.

2. Provide granular preferences

Offer visitors a preference center for them to customize settings to receive only notifications they truly want. For instance, a merchant may offer notifications for daily flash sales, weekly specials, new product arrivals and/or transaction updates. More control over notifications equals more customer happiness.

3. Don’t rush the “ask”

Like needy people, needy brands are a turn-off. Therefore, consider waiting until they’ve taken an action that signals interest before asking them to opt-in. Have they looked at a promotion, watched a video or searched for a specific product? Pinpoint the moment when asking for the opt-in will streamline the customer journey instead of stalling it.

4. Test various flows 

Web opt-ins are often the largest addressable audiences for brands, hence marketers don’t want to wait too long before making the ask. You should continuously A/B test your opt-in prompts, including timing, language, and offers. While browsers will judge your site by opt-in rate, brands should be focused on better long-term engagement, more conversions, higher frequency, and greater lifetime value.

5. Reward opens 

Last but not least, notifications have become central to the customer experience for both apps and mobile platforms, which explains why the opt-in rate for apps exceeds 50%. Website marketers should reward customers for notification engagement. For example, they can offer double loyalty point days, early access to the biggest deals or notifications when wish list items go on sale.

Mike Stone is the SVP of marketing at Airship.

The post Four tips to help your brand thrive despite Google’s notification changes appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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10 “Real” Marketing Tips for Wealth Management Firms

March 5, 2020 No Comments

Are you getting tired of sifting through countless marketing articles trying to get some actual tangible advice to grow your Wealth Management company? Finding out that many of them fall short in terms of specific strategies by merely stating the obvious? Well, this article is different. I will cut through the gibberish and provide actual “hands-on” strategies that can help either a wealth management office or even financial consultants looking to grow their online presence.

#1 Basic Digital Marketing

Most of the public associates Google with SEO (Search Engine optimization) and even though they are somewhat correct, it’s much more than that. Even though PPC (Pay-Per-Click) has been a staple in digital marketing longer than algorithm-optimized SEO, they are both still a major factor in generating traffic and sales to websites. However, (SEM) Search Engine Marketing has evolved immensely, and industries such as Legal, Banking and Wealth Management communities need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

Honestly, there’s a reason why Google’s offices serve Gelato and Filet Mignon at lunch for their employees. It’s because they can charge outrageous amount of $ $ for specific keyword based on their alleged value. Let’s face it, Google Ads is not always cost-effective. For example, anything with the keyword “Wealth Manager, Estate Planning, ” is crazy expensive. The only way that this might be profitable is if you Cost/Conversion or “life-time value” metric that meets your requirements. To help explain, I will provide some “outside the box” strategies that can help ease the $ $ pain

Here’s an example of Google Ads Pricing (These are lower than in reality)

#2 Outside the Box Matters

When thinking about search marketing, the most important metrics to consider are (1) search volume and (2) estimated value of the content/keywords. However, when doing PPC Marketing keyword research, it’s not so easy. For example: Bidding on general legal keywords (IRA Rollover, Wealth Management) can result in the following dilemmas:

  • Highly competitive
  • Very Expensive
  • Higher risk for click fraud
  • Loss of Ad serving due to budget constraints

How do we remedy the problem?

Below are a few examples on how to classify keyword research in order to evaluate ROI and overall understanding of searching behaviors.

  • Long-Tail Keywords: These are longer specific phrases to filter out general searches
    • (wealth management services for veterans, retirement planning for military widows)
  • Intent Classification: Grouping keyword terms that are segmented by an interaction potential
    • High Intent: (wealth management office in Wayne, PA)
    • Medium Intent: (Finance planner in PA)
    • Low Intent: (Financial Consultant)
  • Industry Specific Terms: These terms are highly specific in their service and can provide less competition and lower CPCs
    • “HNWI Financial Planning”
    • “REIT’s Consultants”
    • “UITs Unit Investment Trusts”

#3 Stock Portfolio (No Pun Intended)

Yes, in the digital marketing world, the stock portfolio approach is a virtual must. We are “fishing where the fish are” in today’s world that is EVERYWHERE.

  • Google Ads (search, display)
  • Bing Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Ad Retargeting
  • Organic Search

#4 Ever Heard of LinkedIn

Yes, LinkedIn can be used as a marketing tool not just for gloating about a job promotion and posting articles; it is also a powerful B2B and B2C advertising platform. In fact, LinkedIn Ads has impressive targeting abilities that include targeting specific industries and individuals based on job position levels.

#5 Team vs. Player

In some cases, many Wealth Management offices would rather NOT want to advertise specific employee and just focus on the generalization of their law services. However, in some instances, it can be a marketing “gold-mine” based on news and/or buzz online. If a firm is known for a specific service and is written up in a magazine where the representing attorney has received an award, then having that persons’ name in marketing efforts will most likely provide a higher intent to convert at a lower cost.

#6 Bridging the Channel Gap

This is sort of an “oldie but goodie” strategy. If a Firm is advertising outside of the online world, it is always a good idea to compliment the same branding and messaging online. For example, if a Firm’s slogan/tagline on TV is “ Were the Money Makers”, then there should be the following online:

  • Google Ads campaign with keywords related to “Were the Money Makers”
  • Creation of a content-heavy landing page (within the existing website) about “Were the Money Makers”
  • Banner Ads that say “Were the Money Makers”

#7 Free, Free, Free

Once in a while, it is nice to generate website traffic and visibility for basically nothing. In this case, I am talking about Google Places and pushing content/blog posts through social media.

In the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), Google Places is a very lucrative position, especially on mobile devices within a specific geographic. In the Legal world, this is golden. It doesn’t cost anything, includes the ability to post photos, receive reviews/feedback, etc..

Pushing content via Social media: Now, it may cost money to hire a writer to develop content, but it does not cost anything to make it viral through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others.

#8 Little Secret from Comedians

You’re probably wondering where I am going with this. Well, it has been widely known that “Timing” is a crucial part of a successful comedy. Moreover, the same can be said for online marketing. For example, let’s suppose there is a big news story about a lawsuit regarding a case involving Estate Charitable Giving. Well, since “Estate Charitable Giving” is in the public eye, the shelf life will eventually dissipate by the next day or so. To leverage this, a Law Firm that provides Estate Charitable Giving could benefit by pushing their own content, provide opinions in social media, or even create a small PPC Marketing campaign around these terms.

#9 That Annoying Retargeting:

I’m sure everyone has experienced that annoying banner that follows you everywhere you go, but in the same breath, you want to do the same to others than visited your website. Well, there are more refined strategies to retargeting that can help filter out that annoyance. For example, here are some retargeting options:

  • Target people who only visit specific pages or interactions to limit wasteful ad dollars
  • Upload email lists of current and past leads/customer into Google Ads and Facebook Ads (called RSLA)
  • You can create “Look-a-like” audiences in Facebook Ads were Facebook can identify similar audiences and target ads to them directly. (little scary but works)

#10 Ever Heard of Analytics?

Analytics is the key to everything. The biggest issue Law Firms face is not only trying to understand what the data means but also to make sure their website is being accurate tracked for every interaction point. For example:

  • Phone Calls
  • All Online Forms
  • Online Chats
  • Visits of a specific highly relevant page

Besides validating that the Analytics tracking code is correctly tracking information, advertisers also need to have a firm understanding of at least the following metrics:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What pages did they visit most?
  • Where are my leads coming from?
  • What is their GEO location?
  • Which days of the week are better than others?
  • Did that TV commercial increase traffic for a specific day?

In conclusion:

The purpose of this article was to provide actual “tangible” strategies that have been used with legal clients in the past (and present). If you are a wealth management firm of in the financial planning industry and would like to connect with us, please feel free to reach out to me greg@afterclicks.com


PPC Marketing | Google Ads Consultant


Sheets & Excel Tips for PPC Newbies

February 19, 2020 No Comments

Learn some helpful excel and sheets tips and how to apply them to everyday PPC account management, so you can excel at your job.

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Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses

February 18, 2020 No Comments

The start of international expansion is an incredible milestone for any business, and gearing up to take your venture around the world will be one of the most exciting moments of your career. But just because your business is thriving at home doesn’t mean that it will be a success abroad. To achieve that, you’ll need to give attention to your international SEO strategy.

Achieving online visibility on an international scale can be tricky, particularly when you factor in differences in language, culture, and search habits. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one size fits all across all regions. However, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the challenges of international SEO once you’ve followed these six must-know tips, and should soon see your business soaring in search rankings across the globe.

1. Pick an effective domain strategy

A .com TLD is usually considered the cream of the crop when it comes to domains and the authority afforded to them by search engines. But this can be far too generic to attract international customers. Instead, your domain should clearly target your country of choice and show users around the world that your website is catered specifically to them.

A ccTLD, for example, cocacola.fr, is often popular because the country code immediately shows users and search engines what the target country is. However, if you have multiple localized versions of the website across a number of ccTLDs, search engines will treat these as separate entities, meaning each domain will need to build up backlinks and authority from scratch.

A subdirectory, like, nike.com/fr maintains all your pre-existing SEO efforts as you’re simply adding a localized folder to your current domain. However, this risks causing internal cannibalization if different international landing pages are optimized for the same keywords, such as a US subfolder and an Australian subfolder where the language is largely the same.

A subdomain (such as fr.airbnb.com) is often the default for CMS tools, but users are less likely to associate your site with their country as the country code comes first rather than last, meaning click-through-rates could take a hit.

All domain strategies have pros and cons, so it’s important to ascertain how each option would work for your business specifically. Matthew Finn, one of the SEO specialists at Go Up, highlights several points that could determine your international domain strategy decision. Budget obviously comes into play – ccTLDs can be particularly expensive – and your branding could be a factor too.

As they explain: “If your company has a logo which features your domain, or brand guidelines which stipulate talking about your business as YourBrand.com, then a ccTLD wouldn’t work.” You also need to consider possible limitations of your CMS and current domain. For instance, subdirectories and subdomains only work with an existing generic top-level domain like .com.

Look at the domain structures of competitors in your new target countries to see what Google favors. You might decide to use a combination of all three strategies to target different markets.

2. Conduct localized keyword research

You may feel like you have a good understanding of your current audience’s search habits, but these keywords may not be popular across the board. Conducting localized keyword research will help you judge the online queries likely to serve you best in each country.

This isn’t so difficult when you’re targeting other English speakers, though you still have to take slang and regional variations into account. For example, if you’re a shoe business going after an Australian audience, you would probably be better off targeting “thong” rather than “flip flop” keywords. This is especially relevant to voice search.

Of course, things become more complicated when dealing with entirely different languages. You may not understand the words themselves and also need to consider how cultural context can impact intent. Findings from Webcertain showed significant differences between the search habits of US and Chinese users. Roughly 60% of US searches about chairs related to style and shape, yet only 20% of Chinese searches had the same intent. In fact, 5% more Chinese searches were action-based – what to do with the chair. Culture can hugely influence how people formulate their online queries and you can’t ignore this factor when choosing location-specific keywords.

3. Don’t assume one language means one culture

One size does not fit all when it comes to international expansion, especially considering the diversity of languages. There are many differences in Standard Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, while there are plenty of Spanish variations spoken across North America, South America, and the Caribbean, let alone the many regional dialects in Spain itself. You may think that translating your website into a “standard” language will enable you to connect with all relevant markets, but you risk alienating millions of potential customers if you don’t tailor your content to each target location.

First of all, remember that idioms or colloquialisms may make sense in one place but not in another, even if the same language is spoken. If an Ireland-based furniture business used the word “press”, it’s highly unlikely any English-speakers outside the country would realize this referred to a kitchen cupboard. Similarly, some words, images, and practices are accepted in one place but offensive in another. Though Arabic is the official language of both Morocco and Saudi Arabia, references to alcohol would only be permissible when targeting the former as drinking is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. You also need to use the correct measurements, currencies, and other details, which may vary from country to country regardless of language. French-speaking Canadians would be puzzled to see prices in euros rather than Canadian Dollars.

Errors like this could deter users and damage a business’s trust, authority, and click-through-rate. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to focus on accurate translations without considering the unique historical and cultural factors making every place unique. Consulting people familiar with the nuances of each target location will ensure your content is suitable for all the potential customers living there.

4. Think beyond Google

Google is normally the holy grail when it comes to all SEO efforts, but there may be other search engines to prioritize during international expansion. The majority of users in China and Russia, two of the largest markets in the world, direct the majority of their online queries to entirely different platforms, so focusing on Google alone could be detrimental to your visibility and profits.

In Russia, the leading search engine is Yandex which holds 56% of the market share. This success has been put down to the search engine’s deeper understanding of Slavic languages. Meanwhile, Google has been blocked in China under the country’s Internet censorship policy. Most Chinese users conduct their online searches through Baidu, which held between 60 to 77% of the search engine market share in China during 2019.

You can’t afford to ignore alternative search engines when targeting markets like these, and it’s also important to recognize each has its own unique algorithms. There will be some similarities—for example, Google, Yandex and Baidu all reward quality content – but you’ll need to be aware of the differences. Indexing can be very slow for both Yandex and Baidu which means it will take longer to see the benefits of your efforts, so long-term results should be the priority. Paid search is crucial to Baidu, as paid results are given much greater precedence than organic results. Meanwhile, Yandex still values meta keywords – a metric that Google removed from its ranking algorithm some time ago.

5. Implement hreflang tags

Hreflang tags signpost which languages and locations your pages are aimed at, helping Google to understand which version of a page is most appropriate for its users. For example, if someone in Paris typed in a search term relevant to your product page, the hreflang tag signals to Google that the French version of the page should appear in search results.

To target users as accurately as possible, you should include hreflang tags for both language and region. For instance, an ‘en’ tag shows Google that your page is for all English speakers, but you could also add tags to emphasize the specific geographic locations you’re targeting, en-ca for English speakers in Canada and en-us for English speakers in the US. It’s crucial you use the correct codes—for instance, the UK is ‘gb’ rather than ‘uk’—and a hreflang tag generator like Aleda Solis’ SEO tools recommended by Moz that could help minimize mistakes.

6. Start localized link building

Just as with any domestic SEO strategy, links are essential in building the authority of your website within a target locale. To elevate your brand in local search, it’s vital to source links from local platforms within your industry. The more hyperlocal, the better. For example, if you’re opening a new hotel in Berlin, links from travel platforms in the German capital will be more valuable than those in Munich or Hamburg.

Seek out journalistic opportunities and serve as a source of expertise, guest post on influential sites within a region, and use social channels to build connections with local influencers and businesses. It’s also recommended that you use a translator or someone accustomed to the language and customs of a target region to handle the outreach. The more you extend your brand in a target market, the more you will be rewarded with high authority backlinks.

Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.

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Tips for Easier PPC Analysis

February 17, 2020 No Comments

Analysis can be overwhelming. Sometimes even the word “analysis” will cause panic in folks. Where do I start? How the heck do I pull insights out of all these numbers? Below you’ll find a few tips to help guide you in your analysis adventures.

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Social Tips: Facebook Bulk Edits and UTMs

February 10, 2020 No Comments

Simplify your work in Facebook with these necessary bulk editing tips. They are relatively simple tools but will save you time when working in the platform.

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Three crucial podcast tips from Fractl’s Marketing Director

February 4, 2020 No Comments

A few years ago, I hosted a podcast called ‘Ask Amanda About Marketing’. It ran for 30 episodes before going on a hiatus for over a year. Now, I’m relaunching it under a new name and with a more focused goal, and I’ve been reflecting on what I learned during the first go-around and the podcast tips I’ve acquired while getting ready to publish this next iteration.

Here are my biggest takeaways.

1. Have a narrow focus

This tip comes directly from Joe Pulizzi. I saw he and Robert Rose were relaunching their This Old Marketing podcast, so I reached out to see if he could share any wisdom.

I explained that ‘Ask Amanda About Marketing’ involved me (and sometimes guests) answering various questions people had about digital marketing.

The first thing he said? Narrow your focus.

There are hundreds of marketing podcasts out there, so in order to provide value that isn’t duplicative of what people can already access, you have to hone in your objective. Who exactly do you plan to help, and how exactly do you plan to help them?

He had a point. While I loved the first iteration of the show, it was topically scattered, and I knew we could benefit from honing in our purpose.

We landed on ‘Cashing in on content marketing’, a show all about proving content marketing ROI and getting buy-in. 

Armed with a narrow focus, it was time to book guests.

2. Don’t hide behind the mic

It’s convenient to be able to podcast from home and have conversations with incredibly smart people all over the world through Zoom or Skype or some other platform.

But don’t forget to attend in-person events. While you can cold-pitch people (and we certainly have), you can build much better connections when you meet people in the real world.

Of the first 11 people I have booked to be guests on the show, seven of them are people I met in the last year at marketing events.

Because when you meet people in person, you’re forming a much stronger connection than people you sometimes interact with online. There’s still value in online interactions, of course, but nothing surpasses good ol’ fashioned IRL (in real life) meeting.

If you don’t have a lot of event budget, many conferences have free or cheap community passes, like Inbound. Also, check for local events; some companies host events and meetups in their cities, and these community connections can be just as important. For example, Orbit Media hosts affordable monthly events in Chicago.

3. Do your research

Once you book guests, it’s time to figure out what you’ll talk about. 

My personal style is to keep it conversational, but you still need to set up a framework of questions so you make sure the chatting stays on-topic and that your guest feels guided through the conversation.

I generally have at least five questions that shape the direction of what I want to talk about. If the person has written blog posts, books, or conference presentations that are relevant, I read those and ask questions that refer to those materials.

Not sure if these materials exist? Ask them in advance. 

Give them an idea of what you want to talk about, but allow them to switch up the angle based on what they’re passionate about and have expertise in.

For example, when talking to Mark Schaefer before having him on the show, I told him we could talk about his newest book “Marketing Rebellion,” but he suggested focusing on “The Content Code” since it might be more in line with the podcast’s goals. 

When you touch base before the show, you’re able to establish directions that are better for your audience. And you can prepare accordingly. I brushed up on both books and asked questions about referencing material from them.

As a result, Mark said,

“Thank you so much for reading my books and being so well-prepared with your questions – it was a pleasure.”

Don’t underestimate how much prepping for the interview can set you up for success. You want your questions to be different from everyone else’s, otherwise, you’ll end up with a show that doesn’t stand out.

Conclusion

If you follow this advice – focus and differentiate your podcast’s mission, meet marketing professions IRL, and go above and beyond when preparing for interviews – you’ll be setting a solid foundation for your podcasting endeavor. 

But most importantly – Keep your audience in mind. You’re not creating this for yourself, or your company, or your guests. You’re creating it to help, inspire, or inform your listeners. Don’t lose sight of that, and you’ll continue making the ideal decisions for your show.

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 Three crucial podcast tips from Fractl’s Marketing Director appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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