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The 12 Types of Content Marketing in a Marketer's Arsenal

When it comes to content marketing, it can be tough to know which ones to use and which ones will make a statement. There are a variety of content marketing types that marketers can choose from. For example, Southwest likes to mix it up by posting gifs, blog posts, commercials, and retweets on their Twitter page. Delta has recently been on a video and gif kick, posting strictly commercials, videos, and gifs about flight.

It’s ultimately about what type of content marketing promotes your business effectively. And there are a handful of different content marketing types to choose from when you want to make a splash in your campaigns.

1. Blogs

Having a blog on your website that corresponds with your product and its market attracts potential customers looking for the answer your business solves. Blog posts improve SEO and can be a low-cost way to boost organic traffic.

When writing blog posts, be sure to keep these things in mind:

  • Optimize your content for SEO
  • Use a pillar or cluster model to organize your blog topics
  • Keep your content focused and relevant to your product.

For example, Jeff Bullas has been named one of the top influential global marketing officers. Therefore, his website has blog posts about content marketing and global social media. For example, this post is about turning followers into customers.

2. Videos

Videos engage an audience quickly. According to HubSpot research, 54% of audiences want to see videos from brands they support, which is more than any other type of content.

Videos are also a versatile medium; you can create a variety of content in your industry that engages your market and leaves them wanting more. In this post, we walk you through how to use video marketing to your advantage.

For instance, design businesses can benefit from AR video marketing, which delivers a digital model of what you view using a smartphone. In 12 steps, including how to shoot with an iPhone, you can learn how to video market like a pro.

Microsoft uses their technology to empower everyone. Their recent commercials have shown just how inclusive their definition of “everyone” is, producing powerful messages about how technology can inspire many to achieve their goals.

3. Infographics

Infographics are so fun and can wake up a marketing strategy with eye-catching content. They’re bright, visually captivating ways to present stats or processes. Infographics are quick and low-cost music to a marketer’s ears.


Image Source: Towards Data Science

This infographic about content marketing gives 10 ways an infographic can make a difference in landing leads. For example, if it doesn’t gain that much traction on Twitter or Instagram, try uploading it to Facebook.

Data can be easier to recognize and understand when presented in mediums like this. Further, infographics can make your product more reputable if there’s hard data involved.

4. Case Studies

Case studies are effective for leads who want to learn more about your business from the customers themselves. With case studies, buyers see a customer’s journey from start to finish and see similar use cases in real life.

Image Source: LinkedIn

This case study by LinkedIn, provides an in-depth look at how Adobe uses LinkedIn to market their business and drive applicants. It provides data and screenshots of Adobe’s campaign and demonstrates how the brand measured their success using the workplace platform. This case study could help similar businesses see how using LinkedIn in a similar way could improve their applicants.

LinkedIn also conducts video case studies, like this one about HSBC. It shows how LinkedIn’s marketing strategy includes diversifying the way their content is presented.

5. eBooks

If you’ve never created an eBook before, think of them as long-form blog content. They’re not a novel, they’re not a multiple-page ad for your business. Instead, they’re a way to give potential clients valuable information.

The Experience Optimization Playbook by Optimizely is a free eBook that explores optimization strategies from Fortune 500 companies. For an in-depth guide on how to create eBooks, including tips on how to write effective copy (keep it short, use keywords, and check font sizes) click here.

6. User-generated content

User-generated content is an amazing content marketing method because it gets customers involved. People respond to others like them, and it’s more likely to make them interested in your business.

UG content examples

Image source: Netflix Is A Joke

These are user-generated content examples from Twitter. Netflix has a stand-up from Hannah Gadsby and this retweet is from a fan tweeting a quote from the special they enjoyed. A single tweet provided instantly shareable content for Netflix’s comedy account.

Image source: Wendy’s

This Wendy’s fan tweet gave the fast-food giant a way to celebrate Friday the 13th, and promote their customers as well as their fries. As a bonus, Twitter users got to see a spooky Jason/Wendy mashup.

7. Checklists

Checklists provide value to potential customers, especially for SMB customers. They show a step-by-step method for solving a problem and can be formatted to fit your social media pages.

This example, by HubSpot Academy, shows how marketing is tied to the content with the last checkbox. It’s as easy as thinking of how your product fits into your target audience’s daily routine. You can also create an internal checklist to use for the team, making sure some content is always client-specific.

8. Memes

A form of content marketing best described as, “Don’t knock it ’til you try it.” Memes are a relatively new type of content marketing, but they work extremely well. A meme is an image set with culturally relevant text that is rapidly circulated online. If you can time a meme perfectly, and align it with your social aesthetic, it’s a savvy way to increase traffic.

Image source: Hulu

Hulu loves using memes to promote what’s on its streaming service. That’s not surprising, considering they’re some of Hulu’s most popular tweets. Memes require digging into the current social climate and seeing where your company fits. Social listening can help with that.

9. Testimonials and customer reviews

Like user-generated content, testimonials and customer reviews are content generated straight from your audience. If you’re operating in a niche market, testimonials give a short synopsis of why your company stands out.

Nike uses testimonials from top athletes to market their shoes. In fact, most of their Instagram and commercial content comes from celebrity endorsements and reviews. Smaller businesses can benefit from adding customer reviews on their website or in emails (because we all can’t have tennis pro Simona Halep take over our social accounts).

10. Whitepapers

These often misunderstood pieces are not eBooks. Both are forms of lengthy content, but whitepapers are more densely packed with data and information. Whitepapers pay attention to detail and are a key part of the research phase for 71% of buyers, according to the Demand Gen Survey Report.

Image source: Tata Communications

This whitepaper, by Tata Communications, about network optimization is a great example of an in-depth, visually stunning document that breaks down data using charts and graphs.

Whitepapers can be visually appealing, even if the content is more … uh … utilitarian. Keep design in mind when you’re formatting page layout and key takeaways. And use appealing and easy-to-read fonts when constructing your pages, so readers are more inclined to keep turning the page.

11. How-to guides/academies

If you’re offering a product like a CRM, or any other kind of software, how-to guides are a must in content marketing. From Google Ads to Skillshare and even HubSpot, training courses are an interactive way for new and potential buyers to test drive your product before committing.

academy for ads quora

Image source: Quora

If you’re a smaller business and an academy isn’t feasible for your company, Instagram Carousels might be the answer. Carousels allow for further explanation of products/services on Instagram in a visual way. Instead of creating an entire guide, you can upload 30-second clips or multiple photos in one post and make it a highlight.

12. Influencers

Industry influencers can be highly beneficial to a marketing campaign. Having influencers promote your content can attract an entire audience you weren’t previously able to reach.

Vegan YouTuber Caitlin Shoemaker does sponsorships with other vegan brands on her socials to boost her reach and the brands’ reach as well.

To connect with an influencer in your industry, simply email their representation with a press release or reach out to their company or manager directly.

While these are our must-haves for content marketing, this definitely isn’t a definitive list of content marketing types. When it comes to content marketing, choose the types that fit your business the best and don’t be afraid to experiment. For a complete guide on content marketing, be sure to check out this post.

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Why We Removed 3,000 Pieces of Outdated Content From the HubSpot Blog

You know what sounds like a really bad idea?

Deleting 3,000 pages from the HubSpot Blog.

You know what our SEO and Web Dev teams did in February?

Deleted 3,000 pages from the HubSpot Blog.

No, this wasn’t some Marie Kondo-ing team-bonding exercise gone horribly, horribly wrong (although those posts were definitely not sparking joy).

It was a project that our head of technical SEO, Victor Pan, and I had wanted to run for a long time — because counterintuitively, getting rid of content on your site can actually be fantastic for SEO.

In the SEO world, this practice is called “content pruning”. But, while a good idea in theory, content pruning doesn’t mean you should go crazy and hack away at your content like it’s a tree and you’ve got a chainsaw. Content pruning is far more methodical than that — like trimming a bonsai.

I’ll get to the results we saw at the end of this post. But first, let’s explore what content pruning is, and then dive into a step-by-step content audit process, so you’ll have a detailed blueprint of how to do this for your own property (or your client’s).

Which brings us to the next question:

How often should you run a content audit?

Like almost everything in SEO, it depends. If you have a large site, you may want to audit a different section every month. If you have a small site, consider evaluating the entire site every six months.

I typically recommend starting with a quarterly audit to see how much value you receive from doing one. If you end up with so many next steps you feel overwhelmed, try running them more often. If you’re not learning that much, run them less often.

Why run a content audit?

When my team kicked off this project, we already knew there were a ton of older pages on the HubSpot blog that were getting essentially zero traffic — we just didn’t know how many. Our goal from the start was pruning this content.

However, even if that wasn’t the case, there are still several reasons to run periodic content audits:

  1. Identify content gaps: where are you missing content?
  2. Identify content cannibalization: where do you have too much content?
  3. Find outdated pages: do you still have legacy product pages? Landing pages with non-existent offers? Pages for events that happened several years ago? Blog posts with out-of-date facts or statistics?
  4. Find opportunities for historical optimization: are there any pages that are ranking well but could be ranking higher? What about pages that have decreased in rank?
  5. Learn what’s working: what do your highest-traffic and/or highest-converting pages have in common?
  6. Fix your information architecture: is your site well-organized? Does the structure reflect the relative importance of pages? Is it easy for search engines to crawl?

Choosing your goal from the beginning is critical for a successful content audit, because it dictates the data you’ll look at.

In this post, we’ll cover content audits that’ll help you prune low-performing content.

1. Define the scope of your audit.

First, determine the scope of your audit — in other words, do you want to evaluate a specific set of pages on your site or the whole enchilada?

If this is your first time doing a content audit, consider starting with a subsection of your site (such as your blog, resource library, or product/service pages).

The process will be a lot less overwhelming if you choose a subsection first. Once you’ve gotten your sea legs, you can take on the entire thing.

2. Run a crawl using a website crawler.

Next, it’s time to pull some data.

I used Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider for this step. This is a fantastic tool for SEO specialists, so if you’re on the fence, I’d go for it — you’ll definitely use the spider for other projects. And if you’ve got a small site, you can use the free version, which will crawl up to 500 URLs.

Ahrefs also offers a site audit (available for every tier), but I haven’t used it, so I can’t speak to its quality.

Additionally, Wildshark offers a completely free crawler that has a very beginner-friendly reputation (although it only works on Windows, so Mac users will need to look elsewhere).

Finally, if you want to run a one-time audit, check out Scrutiny for Mac. It’s free for 30 days and will crawl an unlimited amount of URLs — meaning it’s perfect for trying before buying, or one-off projects.

Once you’ve picked your weapon of choice, enter the root domain, subdomain, or subfolder you selected in step one.

For instance, since I was auditing the HubSpot blog, I only wanted to look at URLs that began with “”. If I was auditing our product pages, I would’ve wanted to look at URLs that began with ““.

If you’re using Screaming Frog, select Configuration > Spider. Then, deselect:

  • Check Images
  • Check CSS
  • Check JavaScript
  • Check Links Outside Folder
  • Crawl All Subdomains
  • Crawl Outside Folder

Next, tab over to “Limits” and make sure that “Limit Crawl Depth” isn’t checked.

What if the pages you’re investigating don’t roll up to a single URL? You can always pull the data for your entire website and then filter out the irrelevant results.

After you’ve configured your crawl, hit “OK” and “Start”.

The crawl will probably take some time, so meanwhile, let’s get some traffic data from Google Analytics.

Since we’re evaluating each page, we need the “Site Content > All Pages” report.

If you have a view set up for this section of the site, go to it now. I used the view for “”.

If you don’t have a view, add a filter for pages beginning with [insert URL path here].

Adjust the date range to the last six to twelve months, depending on the last time you ran an audit.

(Also, don’t forget to scroll down and change “Show rows: 10” to “Show rows: 5000”.)

Then, export that data into a Google Sheet.

Title the sheet something like “Content Audit [Month Year] for [URL]”. Name the tab “All Traffic [Date Range]”.

Then go back to GA, click “Add Segment”, uncheck “All Users”, and check “Organic Users”. Keep everything else the same.

(It’s a lot easier to pull two reports and combine them with a V-LOOKUP then add both segments to your report at once.)

Once it’s finished processing, click Export. Copy and paste the data into a new tab in original content audit spreadsheet named “Organic Traffic [Date Range]”.

Here’s what you should have:

At this point, I copied the entire spreadsheet and named this copy “Raw Data: Content Audit May 2019 for” This gave me the freedom to delete a bunch of columns without worrying that I’d need that data later.

Now that I had a backup version, I deleted columns B and D-H (Pageviews, Entrances, % Exit, and Page Value) on both sheets. Feel free to keep whatever columns you’d like; just make sure both sheets have the same ones.

Hopefully, your Screaming Frog crawl is done by now. Click “Export” and download it as an CSV (not .xslx!) file.

Now, click “File > Import” and select your Screaming Frog file. Title it “Screaming Frog Crawl_[Date]”. Then click the small downward arrow and select “Copy to > Existing spreadsheet”.

Name the new sheet “Content Pruning Master”. Add a filter to the top row.

Now we’ve got a raw version of this data and another version we can edit freely without worrying we’ll accidentally delete information we’ll want later.

Alright, let’s take a breath. We’ve got a lot of data in this sheet — and Google Sheets is probably letting you know it’s tired by running slower than usual.

I deleted a bunch of columns to help Sheets recover, specifically:

  • Content
  • Status
  • Title 1 Length
  • Title 1 Pixel Width
  • Meta Description 1
  • Meta Description 1 Pixel Width
  • Meta Keyword 1
  • Meta Keywords 1 Length
  • H1-1
  • H1-1 Length
  • H2-1
  • H2-1 Length
  • Meta Robots 1
  • Meta Robots 2
  • Meta Refresh 1
  • Canonical Link Element 2
  • rel=”next” 1 (laughs bitterly)
  • rel=”prev” 1 (keeps laughing bitterly)
  • Size (bytes)
  • Text Ratio
  • % of Total
  • Link Score

Again, this goes back to the goal of your audit. Keep the information that’ll help you accomplish that objective and get rid of everything else.

Next, add two columns to your Content Pruning Master. Name the first one “All Users [Date Range]” and “Organic Users [Date Range]”.

Hopefully you see where I’m going with this.

Unfortunately, we’ve run into a small roadblock. All the Screaming Frog URLs begin with “http://” or “https://”, but our GA URLs begin with the root or subdomain. A normal VLOOKUP won’t work.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix. First, select cell A1, then choose “Insert > Column Right”. Do this a few times so you have several empty columns between your URLs (in Column A) and the first row of data. Now you won’t accidentally overwrite anything in this next step:

Highlight Column A, select “Data > Split text to columns”, and then choose the last option, “Custom”.

Enter two forward slashes.

Hit “Enter”, and now you’ll have the truncated URLs in Column B. Delete Column A, as well as the empty columns.

This is also a good time to get rid of any URLs with parameters. For instance, imagine Screaming Frog found your landing page, It also found the parameterized version of that URL:

Or, perhaps you use a question mark for filters, such as “”.

According to GA, the latter URLs will get little organic traffic. You don’t want to accidentally delete these pages because you’re looking at the parameterized URL stats, versus the original one.

To solve this, run the same “split text to columns” process as before, but with the following symbols:

  • #
  • ?
  • !
  • &
  • =

This will probably create some duplicates. You can either remove them with an add-on (no, Sheets doesn’t offer deduping, which is a little crazy) or download your sheet to Excel, dedupe your data there, and then reupload to Sheets.

3. Evaluate pages with non-200 HTTP status codes.

I recommend filtering the URLs that triggered a non-200 response and putting them into a separate sheet:

Here’s what to investigate:

Redirect audit:

  • How many redirects do you have?
  • Are there any redirect chains (or multi-step redirects, which makes your page load time go up)?
  • Do you have internal links to pages that are 301ing?
  • Are any of your canonicalized pages 301ing? (This is bad because you don’t want to indicate a page is the canonical version if it’s redirecting to another page.)

404 error audit:

  • Do you have internal links to pages that are 404ing?
  • Can you redirect any broken links to relevant pages?
  • Are any of your 404 errors caused by backlinks from mid- to high-authority websites? If so, consider reaching out to the site owner and asking them to fix the link.

4. Pull in traffic and backlink data.

Once you’ve standardized your URLs and removed all the broken and redirected links, pull in the traffic data from GA.

Add two columns to the right of Column A. Name them “All Traffic [Date Range]” and “Organic Traffic [Date Range]”.

Use this formula for Column B:

=INDEX(‘All Traffic [Date Range]’!C:C,(MATCH(A2,’All Traffic [Date Range]’!A:D,0)))

My sheet was called All Traffic January-May 19, so here’s what my formula looked like:

=INDEX(‘All Traffic January-May 19′!C:C,(MATCH(A2,’All Traffic January-May 19’!A:A,0)))

Use this formula for Column C:

=INDEX(‘Organic Traffic [Date Range]’!C:C,(MATCH(A2,’Organic Traffic [Date Range]’!A:A,0)))

Here was my formula:

=INDEX(‘Organic Traffic January-May 19′!C:C,(MATCH(A2,’Organic Traffic January-May 19’!A:A,0)))

Once you’ve added this, click the small box in the lower right-hand corner of cells B2 and C2 to extend the formulas to the entire columns.

Next, for each URL we need backlinks and keywords by URL.

I used Ahrefs to get this, but feel free to use your tool of choice (SEMrush, Majestic, cognitiveSEO, etc.).

First, enter the root domain, subdomain, or subfolder you selected in step one.

Then, select “Pages > Best by links” in the left-hand sidebar.

To filter your results, change the HTTP status code to “200” — we only care about links to live pages.

Click the Export icon on the right. Ahrefs will default to the first 1,000 results, but we want to see everything, so select “Full export”.

While that’s processing, add a sheet in your spreadsheet titled “Live Backlinks by URL”. Then add three columns (D, E, and F) to the Content Pruning Master sheet named “Backlinks”, “URL Rating”, and “Referring Domains”, respectively.

Import the Ahrefs CSV file into your spreadsheet. You’ll need to repeat the “Split text to column” process to remove the transfer protocol (http:// and https://) from the URLs. You’ll also need to delete Column A:

In Column D (Backlinks), use this formula:

=INDEX(‘Live Backlinks by URL’!E:E,(MATCH(A2,’Live Backlinks by URL’!B:B,0)))

In Column E (Referring Domains), use this formula:

=INDEX(‘Live Backlinks by URL’!D:D,(MATCH(A2,’Live Backlinks by URL’!B:B,0)))

In Column F (URL Rating), use this formula:

=INDEX(‘Live Backlinks by URL’!A:A,(MATCH(A2,’Live Backlinks by URL’!B:B,0)))

5. Evaluate each page using predefined performance criteria.

Now for every URL we can see:

  • All the unique pageviews it received for the date range you’ve selected
  • All the organic unique pageviews it received for that date range
  • Its indexibility status
  • How many backlinks it has
  • How many unique domains are linking to it
  • Its URL rating (e.g. its page authority)
  • Its title
  • Its title length
  • Its canonical URL (whether it’s self-canonical or canonicalizes to a different URL)
  • Its word count
  • Its crawl depth
  • How many internal links point to it
  • How many unique internal links point to it
  • How many outbound links it contains
  • How many unique outbound links it contains
  • How many of its outbound links are external
  • Its response time
  • The date it was last modified
  • Which URL it redirects to, if applicable

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of information. However, when you’re removing content, you want to have as much information as possible — after all, once you’ve deleted or redirected a page, it’s hard to go back. Having this data means you’ll make the right calls.

Next, it’s finally time to analyze your content.

Click the filter arrow on Column C (“Organic Traffic [Date Range]”), then choose “Condition: Less than” and enter a number.

I chose 450, which meant I’d see every page that had received less than 80 unique page views per month from search in the last five months. Adjust this number based on the amount of organic traffic your pages typically receive. Aim to filter out the top 80%.

Copy and paste the results into a new sheet titled “Lowest-Traffic Pages”. (Don’t forget to use “Paste Special > Values Only” so you don’t lose the results of your formulas.) Add a filter to the top row.

Now, click the filter arrow on Column B (“All Traffic [Date Range]”), and choose “Sort: Z → A.”

Are there any pages that received way more regular traffic than organic? I found several of these in my analysis; for instance, the first URL in my sheet is a blog page that gets thousands of views every week from paid social ads:

To ensure you don’t redirect or delete any pages that get a significant amount of traffic from non-organic sources, remove everything above a certain number — mine was 1,000, but again, tweak this to reflect your property’s size.

There are three options for every page left:

Here’s how to evaluate each post:

  • Delete: If a page doesn’t have any backlinks and the content isn’t salvageable, remove it.
  • Redirect: If a page has one or more backlinks and the content isn’t salvageable, or there’s a page that’s ranking higher for the same set of keywords, redirect it to the most similar page.
  • Historically optimize: If a page has one or more backlinks, there are a few obvious ways to improve the content (updating the copy, making it more comprehensive, adding new sections and removing irrelevant ones, etc.), and it’s not competing with another page on your site, earmark it for historical optimization.

Depending on the page, factor in the other information you have.

For example, maybe a page has 15 backlinks and a URL rating of 19. The word count is 800 — so it’s not thin content — and judging by its title, it covers a topic that’s on-brand and relevant to your audience.

However, in the past six months it’s gotten just 10 pageviews from organic.

If you look a bit more closely, you see its crawl depth is 4 (pretty far away from the homepage), it’s only got one internal link, and it hasn’t been modified in a year.

That means you could probably immediately improve this page’s performance by making some minor updates, republishing it, moving it a few clicks closer to the homepage, and adding some internal links.

I recommend illustrating the parts of the process you’ll use for every page with a decision tree, like this one:

You’ll notice one major difference: instead of “historically optimize”, our third option was “syndicate”.

Publishing the articles we removed to external sites so we could build links was a brilliant idea from Matt Howells-Barby.

Irina Nica, who’s the head of link-building on the HubSpot SEO team, is currently working with a team of freelancers to pitch the content we identified as syndication candidates to external sites. When they accept and publish the content, we get incredibly valuable backlinks to our product pages and blog posts.

To make sure we didn’t run into any issues where guest contributors found a post they’d written several years ago for HubSpot on a different site, we made sure all syndication candidates came from current or former HubSpot employees.

If you have enough content, syndicating your “pruned” pages will reap you even more benefits from this project.

Speaking of “enough” content: as I mentioned earlier, I needed to go through this decision tree for 3,000+ URLs.

There isn’t enough mindless TV in the world to get me through a task that big.

Here’s how I’d think about the scope:

  • 500 URLs or fewer: evaluate them manually. Expense that month’s Netflix subscription fee.
  • 500-plus URLs: evaluate the top 500 URLs manually and hire a freelance or VA to review the rest.

No matter what, you should look at the URLs with the most backlinks yourself. Some of the pages that qualify for pruning based on low traffic may have hundreds of backlinks.

You need to be extra careful with these redirects; if you redirect a blog post on, say, “Facebook Ads Best Policies” to one about YouTube Marketing, the authority from the backlinks to the former won’t pass over to the latter because the content is so different.

HubSpot’s historical optimization expert Braden Becker and I looked at every page with 60+ backlinks (which turned out to be roughly 350 pages) and manually tagged each as “Archive”, “Redirect”, or “Syndicate.” Then, I hired a freelancer to review the remaining 2,650.

Once you’ve tagged all the posts in your spreadsheet, you’ll need to go through and actually archive, redirect, or update each one.

Because we were dealing with so many, our developer Taylor Swyter created a script that would automatically archive or redirect every URL. He also created a script that would remove internal links from HubSpot content to the posts we were removing. The last thing we wanted was a huge spike in broken links on the blog.

If you’re doing this by hand, remember to change any internal links going to the pages you’re removing.

I also recommend doing this in stages. Archive a batch of posts, wait a week and monitor your traffic, archive the next batch, wait a week and monitor your traffic, etc. The same concept applies with redirects: batch them out instead of redirecting a ton of posts all at once.

To remove outdated content from Google, go to the URLs removal page of the old Search Console, and then follow the steps listed above. 

This option is temporary — to remove old content permanently, you must delete (404) or redirect (301) the source page.

Also, this won’t work unless you’re the verified property owner of the site for the URL you’re submitting. Follow these instructions to request removal of an outdated/archived page you don’t own.

Our Results

So, what happened after we deleted those 3,000 blog posts?

First, we saw our traffic go up and to the right:

It’s worth pointing out content pruning is definitely not the sole cause of growth: it’s one of many things we’re doing right, like publishing new content, optimizing existing content, pushing technical fixes, etc.

Our crawl budget has been significantly impacted — way above Victor’s expectations, in fact.

Here’s his plain-English version of the results:

“As of two weeks ago, we’re able to submit content, get it indexed, and start driving traffic from Google search in just a matter of minutes or an hour. For context, indexation often takes hours and days for the average website.”

And the technical one:

“We saw a 20% decrease in crawls, but 38% decrease in the number of URIs crawled, which can partially be explained by the huge drop in JS crawls (50%!) and CSS crawls (36%!) from pruning. When URIs crawled decreases greater than the total number of crawls, existing URI’s and their corresponding images, JS, and CSS files are being ‘understood’ by GoogleBot better in the crawl stage of technical SEO.”

Additionally, Irina built hundreds of links using content from the pruning.

Finally, our Ahrefs rank moved up steadily — we’re now sitting at 249, which means there are only 248 websites in the Ahrefs database with stronger backlink profiles.

Ultimately, this isn’t necessarily an easy task, but the rewards you’ll reap are undeniably worth the hassle. By cleaning up your site, you’re able to boost your SEO rankings on high-performing pages, while ensuring your readers are only finding your best content, not a random event page from 2014. A win, win.

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Video: Dr. Pete on why tracking Google ranking updates is important

The creator of Mozcast talks about his work and passion for tracking Google search changes.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to do keyword research for SEO and beyond

It’s common knowledge that keywords help you find a place in search engine results. But improving search engine visibility isn’t their only purpose. Keywords can also help you brainstorm intriguing content ideas, understand what your audience needs, optimize your social posts and more.

With that said, not every keyword is going to make sense for your business, and not every query related to your niche is actually going to turn out to be a highly searched keyword. This makes it crucial to learn how to do keyword research so you can narrow down on the most relevant and profitable ones.

That’s exactly what this post is going to help you with.

You’ll learn how to identify how keywords on a website are used and conduct keyword research. You’ll also discover some excellent keyword research tips and tools.

What are keywords and why are they important?

But first, what are keywords anyway?

Simply put, keywords or key phrases are the terms that people use to conduct online searches and find the information they need.

For example, someone needs help baking a cake so they search on Google for “cake baking tips”. Here, the search phrase they are using is the keyword phrase.

Keywords also help to define what your content is all about. And using them strategically can help you turn up in the right search results, making sure you attract a relevant audience.

Keywords are most commonly used in SEO, where website owners optimize their content using a specific target keyword. Each webpage may have a different target keyword based on the topic and content of the page.

You would typically use keywords in your website copy, meta tags, product descriptions, blog posts, social posts, image alt text and more. This improves your chances of getting discovered in search results, as it helps search engine crawlers to understand the content of your webpages.

See for instance how the top search results for “London travel guide” all use the target keyword or its variation in the titles and meta descriptions.

search results for london travel guide

The uses and benefits of keyword research

While keyword research is a necessary part of every SEO strategy, it has many other uses besides SEO. Here are some of the major reasons why you should learn how to do keyword research.

1: It helps you understand your audience

Keyword research is essentially a process of discovering the search terms that your audience is using. So by identifying what terms they are searching for, you can understand who your audience is, what they need and what they are looking for in a product or service.

These insights will help you narrow down on your target audience and group them into different personas based on what drives them. You should also be able to understand how to meet their needs more effectively.

2: It can strengthen your content strategy

Keyword research also helps you identify what topics people are most interested in within your industry. This can help you come up with content ideas that will engage them and cater to their needs, thus strengthening your content strategy.

For example, the top search results for “social media marketing” can give you an idea of what topics are performing well in the industry. While we’ll dig more into how to use Google search results for research later, you can see that the suggested related questions also help you understand what kind of information most people seek. Combining these insights can help you brainstorm content ideas that would appeal to your audience.

SERP example

3: It helps you measure brand sentiment

If you conduct keyword research using branded keywords, you’ll discover some of the most common search terms people are using to find information about your brand.

In addition, you can use branded keywords to conduct social media searches and find out what people are saying about your brand. These search results can give you a general idea about people’s sentiment toward your brand.

Twitter search results for Sprout

4: It helps you monitor your competitors

Just as you conduct branded keyword research for your brand, you can also conduct branded keyword research on your competitors. This is an excellent way to understand what keywords they are ranking for, what people are saying about them and more. Keyword research can help you get granular about exactly where they stand and how you compare against them.

How to do keyword research

Now that you have an idea of how important keywords can be, let’s find out how to do keyword research not just for SEO but also for social media posts, blogs and more.

The basics

While there will be slight variations in how to do keyword research for various marketing strategies and channels, the key steps remain more or less the same. Let’s take a look at the basic steps to conduct keyword research:

1: Make a list of relevant topics

The process starts with a rough list of topics that are relevant to your business. What are the first things that come to mind when you think about your business or industry?

For instance, if you’re a digital marketer, your topics will include things like:

  • SEO
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Blogging
  • Inbound marketing

Keep in mind that these are not keywords but broad topics that will help you narrow down on more specific keywords later on.

2: Get keyword suggestions from Google

Now build a more robust keyword list by typing those topics into Google and listing down the suggestions.

Google suggestions for email marketing

3: Discover related searches

You can further find more keywords to add to this list under the “searches related to…” section at the bottom of the page. This section shows you popular keywords that are closely related to the search term you’re using.

searches related to email marketing

This is one of the keyword research tips that you can use to come up with engaging content ideas as it helps you discover what other relevant terms people are searching for.

4: Filter your keyword list

While you have some idea that these keywords are popular and relevant, you have no quantitative data proving that. So now you need to narrow down your list to find keywords that are actually going to deliver results.

This step involves using keyword research tools like the Google Keyword Planner. You will need an AdWords account to use this tool.

Enter the keywords from your list and the tool will provide you with search volumes and traffic estimates for each of them. You’ll be able to get an estimate of how many clicks and impressions you can get for each search term.

Google keyword planner keyword forecasts

Under “Keyword Ideas” you can also view the number of average monthly searches for each keyword along with its competition level. This is particularly important for organic SEO efforts since it lets you know how large to total potential audience for a keyword might be.

Google keyword planner keyword ideas

Putting this data all together, you should ideally target keywords with high average monthly searches, impressions and clicks along with medium to low competition. This is where the typical keyword research process for SEO would end.

When conducting keyword research for PPC campaigns, you will need to consider the sections such as cost and CPC. You might notice that keywords with a high amount of clicks and impressions also cost a lot more. The goal is to choose keywords within your advertising budget that can still get you plenty of clicks. Sometimes, this means targeting a more specific term or niche audience that could draw more motivated converting customers compared to a term that may have high volume but be more broad or general.

4 useful keyword research tools

Aside from the Keyword Planner tool from Google, there are a ton of other keyword research tools available in the market. Some of these tools are much easier to use, while others can provide more comprehensive data.

Some of these keyword research tools can also help you find keywords for other aspects of your marketing campaign like social media marketing and content marketing. Here are some excellent options:

1: – All-round keyword research is one of the best alternatives to the Google Keyword Planner. It comes with robust search features that neatly sort out your searches according to channel. This makes it the perfect all-round keyword research tool–whether it’s for SEO, PPC, eCommerce optimization or social media.

The tool lets you conduct keyword research for major search platforms like Google and Bing. You can get access to useful keyword data like search volume, search trends, competition level and CPC for each keyword. Use this to conduct keyword research for your SEO and PPC campaigns.

keywordtool email marketing results

You can also find popular Instagram and Twitter keywords and optimize your social posts for more visibility. The YouTube keyword search feature is another useful feature if you want to create video titles that will get a lot of visibility in YouTube searches.

Besides these, also comes with Amazon and eBay search features for eCommerce marketers and a Play Store search feature for app store optimization.

The Pro version of the tool even shows you the most asked questions related to your chosen keyword. This feature is extremely useful if you want to learn how to do keyword research for a blog, as it helps you come up with topic ideas and long-tail keyword ideas.

2: Moz Keyword Explore – For SEO keyword research + competitor research

This is one of the most comprehensive free keyword research tools. In addition to keyword performance insights, it also gives you keyword suggestions and helps you discover ranking keywords.

You’ll be able to see the monthly search volume, difficulty level, organic CTR and priority level for each individual keyword search. This comprehensive data is perfect to narrow down on the best target keywords for your campaigns.

The ranking keywords discovery feature also comes in handy for competitor research. Maybe you want to learn how to find keywords on a website so you can identify which keywords your competitors are using and ranking for. Just enter their URL in the explorer. And the tool will provide you with a comprehensive list of keywords that their site is ranking for.

From here, you can also see where they’re ranking for each keyword, how difficult it is to rank and how many monthly searches it gets.

moz link explorer competitor overlap

3: BuzzSumo – Keyword research for blogs + social media

BuzzSumo is a leading content research tool and you can also use it for blog and social media keyword research. It may not necessarily provide you with keyword ideas, but it can provide you with some useful insights to fuel your content strategy.

Conduct a BuzzSumo search using one of the keywords from your list. This will help you discover the top-performing content topics related to that keyword. You can get an idea of how popular the topic is based on the number of links, engagements and social media shares. This should help you identify which keywords and topics to target for your blog and social media posts.

The evergreen score is another useful factor to look at if you’re learning how to do keyword research for a blog. It helps you understand how profitable the topic will be in the long run. So you’ll have a much easier time deciding whether it’s worth investing your time and effort in.

buzzsumo social media marketing results

4: Sprout Social – For social media + brand listening

Sprout’s own social media listening tool can also serve as an effective keyword research tool. It lets you build listening queries so you can easily discover relevant conversations around your brand and products. Not only does this help you in your brand listening efforts, it also helps you understand trending topics that you can participate in through relevant social posts.

The Trends Report further narrows down the trending topics and hashtags relevant to your brand, competitors and industry. These will serve as excellent keywords for your social posts as they can improve your post visibility.

trends report on sprout social

There you have it – some essential keyword research tips to help you get started.

As you can see, keyword research isn’t just for SEO or PPC. It can fuel various aspects of your marketing efforts such as content marketing, social media and more. Make the most of these basic keyword research tips and keyword research tools to build more effective marketing campaigns.

Do you have a favorite keyword research tip or a go-to tool to find keywords? Let us know in the comments.

This post How to do keyword research for SEO and beyond originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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10 Link Building Lies You Must Ignore

Posted by David_Farkas

Even though link building has been a trade for more than a decade, it’s clear that there is still an enormous amount of confusion around it.

Every so often, there is a large kerfuffle. Some of these controversies and arguments arise simply from a necessity to fill a content void, but some of them arise from genuine concern and confusion:

“Don’t ask for links!”

“Stick a fork in it, guest posting is done!”

“Try to avoid link building!”

SEO is an everchanging industry; what worked yesterday might not work today. Google’s personnel doesn’t always help the cause. In fact, they often add fuel to the fire. That’s why I want to play the role of “link building myth-buster” today. I’ve spent over ten years in link building, and I’ve seen it all.

I was around for Penguin, and every iteration since. I was around for the launch of Hummingbird. And I was even around for the Matt Cutts videos.

So, if you’re still confused about link building, read through to have ten of the biggest myths in the business dispelled.

1. If you build it, they will come

There is a notion among many digital marketers and SEOs that if you simply create great content and valuable resources, the users will come to you. If you’re already a widely-recognized brand/website, this can be a true statement. If, however, you are like the vast majority of websites — on the outside looking in — this could be a fatal mindset.

In order to get people to find you, you have to build the roads that will lead them to where you want. This is where link building comes in.

A majority of people searching Google end up clicking on organic results. In fact, for every click on a paid result in Google, there are 11.6 clicks to organic results!

And in order to build your rankings in search engines, you need links.

Which brings me to our second myth around links.

2. You don’t need links to rank

I can’t believe that there are still people who think this in 2019, but there are. That’s why I recently published a case study regarding a project I was working on.

To sum it up briefly, the more authoritative, relevant backlinks I was able to build, the higher the site ranked for its target keywords. This isn’t to say that links are the only factor in Google’s algorithm that matters, but there’s no doubt that a robust and relevant backlink profile goes a long way.

3. Only links with high domain authority matter

As a link builder, you should definitely seek target sites with high metrics. However, they aren’t the only prospects that should matter to you.

Sometimes a low domain authority (DA) might just be an indication that it is a new site. But forget about the metrics for one moment. Along with authority, relevancy matters. If a link prospect is perfectly relevant to your website, but it has a low DA, you should still target it. In fact, most sites that will be so relevant to yours will likely not have the most eye-popping metrics, and that is precisely because they are so niche. But more often than not, relevancy is more important than DA.

When you focus solely on metrics, you will lose out on highly relevant opportunities. A link that sends trust signals is more valuable than a link that has been deemed important by metrics devised by entities other than Google.

Another reason why is because Google’s algorithm looks for diversity in your backlink profile. You might think that a profile with over 100 links, all of which have a 90+ DA would be the aspiration. In fact, Google will look at it as suspect. So while you should absolutely target high DA sites, don’t neglect the “little guys.”

4. You need to build links to your money pages

When I say “money pages,” I mean the pages where you are specifically looking to convert, whether its users into leads or leads into sales.

You would think that if you’re going to put in the effort to build the digital highways that will lead traffic to your website, you would want all of that traffic to find these money pages, right?

In reality, though, you should take the exact opposite approach. First off, approaching sites that are in your niche and asking them to link to your money pages will come off as really spammy/aggressive. You’re shooting yourself in the foot.

But most importantly, these money pages are usually not pages that have the most valuable information. Webmasters are much more likely to link to a page with resourceful information or exquisitely created content, not a page displaying your products or services.

Building links to your linkable assets (more on that in a second) will increase your chances of success and will ultimately raise the profile of your money pages in the long run as well.

5. You have to create the best, most informative linkable asset

If you’re unfamiliar with what a linkable asset is exactly, it’s a page on your website designed specifically to attract links/social shares. Assets can come in many forms: resource pages, funny videos, games, etc.

Of course, linkable assets don’t grow on trees, and the process of coming up with an idea for a valuable linkable asset won’t be easy. This is why some people rely on “the skyscraper technique.” This is when you look at the linkable assets your competitors have created, you choose one, and you simply try to outdo it with something bigger and better.

This isn’t a completely ineffective technique, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to do this.

Linkable assets don’t need to be word-heavy “ultimate guides” or heavily-researched reports. Instead of building something that really only beats your competitor’s word count, do your own research and focus on building an authoritative resource that people in your niche will be interested in.

The value of a linkable asset has much more to do with finding the right angle and the accuracy of the information you’re providing than the amount.

6. The more emails you send, the more links you will get

I know several SEOs who like to cast a wide net — they send out emails to anyone and every one that even has the tiniest bit of relevancy of authority within their niche. It’s an old sales principle: The idea that more conversations will lead to more purchases/conversions. And indeed in sales, this is usually going to be the case. 

In link building? Not so much.

This is because, in link building, your chances of getting someone to link to you are increased when the outreach you send is more thoughtful/personalized. Webmasters pore over emails on top of emails on top of emails, so much so that it’s easy to pass over the generic ones.

They need to be effectively persuaded as to the value of linking to your site. If you choose to send emails to any site with a pulse, you won’t have time to create specific outreach for each valuable target site.

7. The only benefit of link building is algorithmic

As I mentioned earlier, links are fundamental to Google’s algorithm. The more quality backlinks you build, the more likely you are to rank for your target keywords in Google.

This is the modus operandi for link building. But it is not the only reason to build links. In fact, there are several non-algorithmic benefits which link building can provide.

First off, there’s brand visibility. Link building will make you visible not only to Google in the long term but to users in the immediate term. When a user comes upon a resource list with your link, they aren’t thinking about how it benefits your ranking in Google; they just might click your link right then and there.

Link building can also lead to relationship building. Because of link building’s very nature, you will end up conversing with many potential influencers and authority figures within your niche. These conversations don’t have to end as soon as they place your link.

In fact, if the conversations do end there every time, you’re doing marketing wrong. Take advantage of the fact that you have their attention and see what else you can do for each other.

8. You should only pursue exact match anchors

Not all myths are born out of complete and utter fiction. Some myths persist because they have an element of truth to them or they used to be true. The use of exact match anchor text is such a myth.

In the old days of SEO/link building, one of the best ways to get ahead was to use your target keywords/brand name as the anchor text for your backlinks. Keyword stuffing and cloaking were particularly effective as well.

But times have changed in SEO, and I would argue mostly for the better. When Google sees a backlink profile that uses only a couple of variations of anchor text, you are now open to a penalty. It’s now considered spammy. To Google, it does not look like a natural backlink profile.

As such, it’s important to note now that the quality of the link itself is far more important than the anchor text that comes with it.

It really should be out of your hands anyway. When you’re link building the right way, you are working in conjunction with the webmasters who are publishing your link. You do not have 100 percent control of the situation, and the webmaster will frequently end up using the anchor text of their choice.

So sure, you should optimize your internal links with optimized anchor text when possible, but keep in mind that it is best to have diverse anchor text distribution.

9. Link building requires technical abilities

Along with being a link builder, I am also an employer. When hiring other link builders, one skepticism I frequently come across relates to technical skills. Many people who are unfamiliar with link building think that it requires coding or web development ability.

While having such abilities certainly won’t hurt you in your link building endeavors, I’m here to tell you that they aren’t at all necessary. Link building is more about creativity, communication, and strategy than it is knowing how to write a for loop in javascript.

If you have the ability to effectively persuade, create valuable content, or identify trends, you can build links.

10. All follow links provide equal value

Not all links are created equally, and I’m not even talking about the difference between follow links and no-follow links. Indeed, there are distinctions to be made among just follow links.

Let’s take .edu links, for example. These links are some of the most sought after for link builders, as they are thought to carry inordinate power. Let’s say you have two links from the same .edu website. They are both on the same domain, same authority, but they are on different pages. One is on the scholarship page, the other is on a professor’s resource page which has been carefully curated.

They are both do-follow links, so naturally, they should both carry the same weight, right?

Fail. Search engines are smart enough to know the difference between a hard-earned link and a link that just about anyone can submit to.

Along with this, the placement of a link on a page matters. Even if two links are on the exact same page (not just the same domain) a link that is above-the-fold (a link you can see without scrolling) will carry more weight.


Link building and SEO are not rocket science. There’s a lot of confusion out there, thanks mainly to the fact that Google’s standards change rapidly and old habits die hard, and the answers and strategies you seek aren’t always obvious.

That said, the above points are some of the biggest and most pervasive myths in the industry. Hopefully, I was able to clear them up for you.

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

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