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Learning SQL – Retro is the New Trend in DB Development

As opposed to being unnecessarily flexible and having a wide variety of uses, SQL is designed for a singular purpose: accessing and manipulating databases. It truly is the bread and butter of any developer.

The post Learning SQL – Retro is the New Trend in DB Development first appeared on PPC Hero.


Reblogged 4 hours ago from

5 Ways to Identify Customer Pain Points So You Can Nail Your Marketing Messages

Knowing your customers can have a big impact on your marketing, and on your business overall. Identifying customer pain points is a key part of this.

People don’t buy a product or service just because it’s cheap or has flashy features. While these reasons might influence someone’s purchase decision, they’ll ultimately buy something because it solves a problem.

Don’t have time to eat an expensive sit-down meal? Grab food at McDonald’s.

Can’t sleep because your neighborhood is noisy? Get a pair of earplugs or a white noise machine.

Tired of driving to the gym every day? Purchase an at-home workout program on DVD.

Once you understand your customers and their problems, you can position your product or service as the solution. And you’ll sell a lot more stuff.

What are customer pain points?

Customer pain points are common problems your target customers have that your product or service solves.

We outlined a few examples of customers’ pain points above, but what matters is what your customers’ pain points are. You can be in the same market with other competing products, but if your product solves your target audiences’ pain points in a different way than your competitors, you may want to be targeting a slightly different audience.

For example:

You sell boots. You sell ultralight hiking boots for long-distance hikers who want great ankle support with minimal weight, even if that means they have to pay more than they would on regular boots. Their pain point is finding lightweight, supportive boots.

Your competitor also makes boots, but they make duck boots. They sell duck boots to people who want a pair of boots that will last. Their ideal customers are people who value durability. Their pain point is finding boots that won’t fall apart.

Your other competitor also sells boots, but they sell fashion boots. Their customers must have a boot that looks great and is in line with the current style. Their pain point is not being able to find a good-looking boot.

See where we’re going with this? Different pain points, different products. 

Ironically, one person could be the ideal customer for all these boot sellers, because each one of us can have multiple pain points, depending on which situations we find ourselves in.

By understanding customer pain points, you can promote your product or service more effectively and write convincing marketing copy. Your audience is much more likely to buy if you can clearly articulate how you’ll solve their problems or pain points.

LL Bean’s product page about their duck boots is a masterclass in how to use customer pain points to write better copy. Here’s an image from that page. If you were a customer who wanted boots that last, would this convince you to buy these?

An example of how to use customer pain points in a product description

5 ways to identify your customers’ pain points

Now that you understand the power of customer pain points, let’s show you how to find the pain points of your audience – and to be able to describe those points and address them in a way that makes your product the no-brainer solution to those problems.

You don’t have to do all these things to find common pain points, but try at least two or three.

 1. Survey your customers

Share a survey on your social channels or within an email and ask people to explain what they’re currently struggling with.

Think very carefully about how you write your survey, and keep the number of questions you ask to a minimum. Surveys with ten questions or fewer tend to perform better. 

In our own surveys, we often ask email subscribers to share their biggest email marketing challenge. We can then create educational content to resolve those challenges.

For instance, we created our What to Write in Your Emails and Email List Growth Blueprint courses after receiving survey feedback requesting help with email copywriting and list growth.

Here’s a very simple sample survey to get you started:

  • What’s the biggest problem you have with [thing you help people with, like “public speaking,” or “tax preparation”]?
  • What have you done to try to solve this problem?
  • How well did that work?
  • What would solving this problem look like? How will your life be better or different once you’ve solved this problem?

2. Ask them about pain points in your welcome emails

Sometimes when people first sign up for an email list, they are at their most motivated to engage with you. They may also be actively looking for a way to solve their problem and might tell you quite a lot about their pain points. 

Thinkific, an online course hosting platform, asks subscribers to share what’s stopping them from creating an online course in their automated welcome series. 

Asking a simple question in an automated email is an easy way to learn more about your customers’ pain points.

An example of a welcome email that asks what specific problems its readers are having.

The answers to this question can show them what educational content they should create to resolve customer pain points. Plus, they can write case studies that explain how Thinkific helps people overcome common problems with course creation.

3. Talk to your customers

Digital research is great, but there’s nothing like talking to a real customer in person (or at least via a Zoom call). Conversations allow for more back and forth. They are often the best way to learn about problems your customers face that you might not even know about. If you can, try to start with a couple of open-ended questions so the person you’re interviewing feels like you’re having a conversation with them, rather than just completing an in-person survey. 

If you can talk to your customers in person, they’ll tell you all sorts of things you didn’t even know to ask about. You’ll also get to hear them describe their pain points in their own words – words that you can rephrase or use verbatim in your marketing messages, your website copy, and your emails.

It is more work to talk individually with people, but especially if you’re starting a business or if you don’t do a lot of direct customer service work with your customers, these conversations will be worth your time. There’s an old saying that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Talking to your customers can reveal a lot that you don’t know, but should.   

4. Look through product reviews

Product reviews are a terrific way to learn about prospective customers’ pain points. They’re also great if you’re having trouble finding people to talk to, or if you don’t have a large enough email list for a survey. 

Amazon has the largest collection of product reviews, but check niche sellers, too. Pay special attention to the reviews with two or three stars, as these are often people who wanted to like a product or who really needed a product to work, but were disappointed with their purchase. 

Here’s an example of a review like this. It’s for a low-priced, portable Bluetooth speaker. The speaker is very highly reviewed (4.5+ stars), but if you look through the three-star reviews, there’s a pattern of people complaining about the Bluetooth initial pairing or the device dropping the pairing at random times.

You can learn a lot about customer pain points from product and book reviews.

These people might not even know that they have a “pain point” about Bluetooth pairing issues, but it’s clearly a problem for them. They might buy a speaker simply because it had a super-easy setup, “never-drop” Bluetooth connection.

Pro tip: Look through your competitors’ product reviews.

5. Participate in Facebook Groups 

Social listening is a great way to research your audience’s pain points. There are plenty of social listening tools, but most of the free tools focus on Twitter. If your audience is heavily focused on Twitter, great – try TweetDeck or Twitter Advanced Search. Google Alerts can also give you some good information.

But nothing is as good as finding an online tribe of people who are passionate about a topic. And nowhere is this easier to do than with Facebook Groups.

There are Facebook groups about every imaginable topic under the sun. You can search these groups to find conversations around specific topics. You can even contribute ideas to these groups to see how those ideas are received. If you ask permission from the group’s admin, you might even be able to post a short survey or possibly send direct messages to group members. However, do all of this carefully and politely. Do not be that person that just crashes into a group to do research, sends unwanted direct messages, and then leaves. You might get yourself banned from the group for behavior like that. 

There are, of course, other groups online. LinkedIn still has some active groups, and there are tens of thousands of independent sites with online groups. 

How to use customer pain points in copywriting and content marketing

So let’s say you’ve done your research and you know about your customers’ pain points. Now how do you apply all this?

Here’s an example of it in action:

Imagine you’re a social media expert who offers hourly consulting services to help businesses improve their social media strategy. Here are a few pain points your potential customers might struggle with:

  1. They’re too busy to regularly post on social media.
  2. They don’t know what content to share on their social platforms.
  3. They know they should be using Facebook ads, but they don’t know how to set them up or get them to work.
  4. They’re unsure how to grow their social following.
  5. They have a large social media audience, but they don’t know how to get those followers to buy.

Using this example, let’s say you want to focus on acquiring customers who need help with #3: Facebook ad strategy.

You know that a common customer pain point is not understanding how to set up a Facebook ad. So you decide to create a digital guide called 5 Simple Steps to Set Up Your First Facebook Ad, and you use it as an incentive (aka a “freebie” or a “lead magnet”) on your sign up form.

When people subscribe to your list, you send them the following automated email sequence:

Email 1: Here’s your free guide to Facebook ads!

In this email, you welcome subscribers to your email list and you give them your free guide 5 Simple Steps to Set Up Your First Facebook Ad.

Email 2: Why Facebook ads are the best way to acquire leads

This email proves that Facebook ads are worth investing in compared to all the other ways your reader could be doing lead generation.

Email 3: Here’s how I helped one business earn $50,000 with Facebook ads

To demonstrate that your expert advice helps people get results, you share a case study that explains how you helped one business launch successful Facebook ads.

Email 4: Need help launching effective Facebook ads?

In the final email of your series, you sell your Facebook ad services. You explain that you can help the reader launch effective Facebook ads and grow their business. Then, you ask them to purchase a consultation session with you.

This entire email series is based on a simple customer pain point. It’s effective because it positions the business’ service as a solution to that pain point.

How will you use what you learn about customer pain points?

Now it’s your turn. How will you find out your customers’ pain points? Or, if you already know what those pain points are, how could you be using that information in your marketing and your emails? Tell us about it in the comments. 

The post 5 Ways to Identify Customer Pain Points So You Can Nail Your Marketing Messages appeared first on AWeber.

Reblogged 9 hours ago from

How to ensure influencers help your SEO campaigns

If you are looking to make an impact in your business with your SEO strategy, influencer marketing is one of the most efficient techniques to increase reach, engagement and influence traffic and conversions.

The State of Influencer Marketing in 2022 report by Hype Auditor shows that Global Instagram influencer marketing market could reach $15.2 billion in 2022 and by 2025 this figure could reach $22.2 billion.”

While working with influencers is growing in popularity, this tactic comes with some challenges. With so many questions and myths around this activity, how can SEOs and businesses ensure that influencers have the desired impact on their SEO campaigns? 

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Before the term “influencer” was so popular, businesses and SEO agencies relied on working with influencers for various reasons. For SEOs, the most important is links

So, is it still a good tactic to work with influencers? Short answer: yes. Here’s why:

A Kantar study found that 58% of people born between 1995 and 2010 are influenced by reviews when making a purchasing decision. 

This generation is a digital native: having grown up with the internet, social media and mobile devices. This has resulted in a hypercognitive generation accustomed to gathering and consuming a wide range of information sources. They take into account virtual and offline experiences.

And reviews, in a way, are a source of experience.

What about SEO? Suppose there is a link within a piece of coverage or review that is relevant to your audience and supports the influencer’s work. In that case, the direct benefits will be on traffic and revenue, aside from others such as brand awareness.

However, as link building evolves, it also becomes how we work with influencers. While there is little question on whether influencers may have a beneficial impact on traffic and SEO, demonstrating the ROI of influencers is still proven to be a challenge.

3 challenges of working with influencers (and solutions)

Challenge 1: Using the wrong metrics to choose influencers

One of the most common issues for businesses when choosing an influencer is using metrics that don’t reveal anything about the influencer and their work.

One of those metrics is Domain Authority (DA) of a website (if you are looking for an influencer who, apart from their social media channels, also has a website). 

Domain Authority is an unhelpful metric for evaluating an influencer’s website. DA is a metric invented by an SEO tool provider, and Google does not use it for indexing, crawling or ranking. 

Choosing an influencer based on the number of followers is not a substantial metric as followers can be purchased. 

Solution: Clear KPI definition

The KPIs behind every campaign with an influencer should be unique. 

Many years ago, a popular KPI when working with influencers was to get a link on their blogs. In 2022, business objectives when working with an influencer can be one of the following (or all of them in some cases):

  • Traffic.
  • Exposure.
  • Engagement.
  • Quality content.
  • Sales.

Working with influencers is exciting. However, there are also a few things to look at to make sure your collaboration reaches genuine people and not fake followers.

When reviewing influencers, it is worth looking at:

  • Engagement rate: The ratio of people who see the influencer’s content and the people who interact with it. The tool Grin can help you to calculate that.
  • Follower count.
  • Monthly impressions

This is not a metric but it is always a good idea to ask the influencer for a collaboration portfolio. This is when an influencer pitches a collaboration to your business, you can request this to have an idea of how they work with other brands.

Useful influencer analysis. Two fantastic tools to help you to find out more insights into your influencers and their followers:

  • Hype Auditor
  • Sparktoro’s Fake Follower Audit

Remember that the metrics we are looking to influence by working with influencers are traffic, conversions and revenue.

Challenge 2: A result that does not bring any value to anyone 

A collaboration that ends with a mention and without a link won’t drive any SEO value for your business or brand.

You ultimately have a temporary story lost among all the other stories (on Instagram, Snapchat, or elsewhere) or posts that won’t bring you any traffic or engagement.

Solution: Clear goals and communication from the start

Determining your goals lets you choose what kind of influencers to work with, types of content, distribution platforms, etc.

However, your broad marketing and business objectives are not for your influencer campaign to meet. 

When working with influencers, make sure that your goals are campaign-specific so you aren’t accidentally under-estimating the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Challenge 3: Irrelevancy 

Irrelevant content happens when an influencer’s audience doesn’t find the topic of your collaboration interesting, relevant or useful. Most likely, their followers probably won’t even click on it.

Even if your team secures a collaboration with a high-end influencer, you might get a temporary traffic boost. However, any traffic the collaboration drives probably will quickly bounce and is unlikely to convert.

Solution: Choosing the appropriate influencer for your audience

Consumers’ views on influencer content are critical. The most appropriate influencers for your campaigns and audience are more valuable than the amount of followers they might have. 

Whether influencer work aligns with brand values, the effect of their work should be evaluated based on quality by analyzing the interaction of their community with the influencers’ content to determine whether their work contributes to shaping customer opinions on a product or company.

Tips to make the best of a collaboration with an influencer

Best practices

When working with influencers, it is important to stay within best practices. This means that your business’s content and collaborations with influencers must include labels such as:

  • #AD (advertisement)
  • #GIFT (gifted)
  • #SPON (sponsored)

In the UK, for instance, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) states in its rules and regulations the importance of influencers fully disclosing the nature of their posts to their followers. 

If you are working with influencers, creating content on their websites or blogs, then these should be labeled too, especially if the influencer adds a link to your business in their content. Not doing this correctly could violate Google’s Quality Guidelines (link schemes).

Follower count doesn’t matter

Influence isn’t merely a numbers game. When it comes to influencer marketing, size isn’t everything.

Because of their familiarity with the audience and shared interests, influencers with smaller audiences are more likely to generate more engagement.

More brands are working with influencers than ever. The days of only chasing influencers based solely on their follower count and no other metric are long gone. 

Relevancy and engagement rate and the rise of the micro-influencer give businesses and brands a plethora of options.

The post How to ensure influencers help your SEO campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Reblogged 16 hours ago from

Case Study: How the Cookie Monster Ate 22% of Our Visibility

Last year, the team at Homeday — one of the leading property tech companies in Germany — made the decision to migrate to a new content management system (CMS). The goals of the migration were, among other things, increased page speed and creating a state-of-the-art, future-proof website with all the necessary features. One of the main motivators for the migration was to enable content editors to work more freely in creating pages without the help of developers. 

After evaluating several CMS options, we decided on Contentful for its modern technology stack, with a superior experience for both editors and developers. From a technical viewpoint, Contentful, as a headless CMS, allows us to choose which rendering strategy we want to use. 

We’re currently carrying out the migration in several stages, or waves, to reduce the risk of problems that have a large-scale negative impact. During the first wave, we encountered an issue with our cookie consent, which led to a visibility loss of almost 22% within five days. In this article I’ll describe the problems we were facing during this first migration wave and how we resolved them.

Setting up the first test-wave 

For the first test-wave we chose 10 SEO pages with high traffic but low conversion rates. We established an infrastructure for reporting and monitoring those 10 pages: 

  • Rank-tracking for most relevant keywords 

  • SEO dashboard (DataStudio, Moz Pro,  SEMRush, Search Console, Google Analytics)

  • Regular crawls 

After a comprehensive planning and testing phase, we migrated the first 10 SEO pages to the new CMS in December 2021. Although several challenges occurred during the testing phase (increased loading times, bigger HTML Document Object Model, etc.) we decided to go live as we didn’t see big blocker and we wanted to migrate the first testwave before christmas. 

First performance review

Very excited about achieving the first step of the migration, we took a look at the performance of the migrated pages on the next day. 

What we saw next really didn’t please us. 

Overnight, the visibility of tracked keywords for the migrated pages reduced from 62.35% to 53.59% — we lost 8.76% of visibility in one day

As a result of this steep drop in rankings, we conducted another extensive round of testing. Among other things we tested for coverage/ indexing issues, if all meta tags were included, structured data, internal links, page speed and mobile friendliness.

Second performance review

All the articles had a cache date after the migration and the content was fully indexed and being read by Google. Moreover, we could exclude several migration risk factors (change of URLs, content, meta tags, layout, etc.) as sources of error, as there hasn’t been any changes.

Visibility of our tracked keywords suffered another drop to 40.60% over the next few days, making it a total drop of almost 22% within five days. This was also clearly shown in comparison to the competition of the tracked keywords (here “estimated traffic”), but the visibility looked analogous. 

As other migration risk factors plus Google updates had been excluded as sources of errors, it definitely had to be a technical issue. Too much JavaScript, low Core Web Vitals scores, or a larger, more complex Document Object Model (DOM) could all be potential causes. The DOM represents a page as objects and nodes so that programming languages like JavaScript can interact with the page and change for example style, structure and content.

Following the cookie crumbs

We had to identify issues as quickly as possible and do quick bug-fixing and minimize more negative effects and traffic drops. We finally got the first real hint of which technical reason could be the cause when one of our tools showed us that the number of pages with high external linking, as well as the number of pages with maximum content size, went up. It is important that pages don’t exceed the maximum content size as pages with a very large amount of body content may not be fully indexed. Regarding the high external linking it is important that all external links are trustworthy and relevant for users. It was suspicious that the number of external links went up just like this.

Increase of URLs with high external linking (more than 10)
Increase of URLs which exceed the specified maximum content size (51.200 bytes)

Both metrics were disproportionately high compared to the number of pages we migrated. But why?

After checking which external links had been added to the migrated pages, we saw that Google was reading and indexing the cookie consent form for all migrated pages. We performed a site search, checking for the content of the cookie consent, and saw our theory confirmed: 

A site search confirmed that the cookie consent was indexed by Google

This led to several problems: 

  1. There was tons of duplicated content created for each page due to indexing the cookie consent form. 

  2. The content size of the migrated pages drastically increased. This is a problem as pages with a very large amount of body content may not be fully indexed. 

  3. The number of external outgoing links drastically increased. 

  4. Our snippets suddenly showed a date on the SERPs. This would suggest a blog or news article, while most articles on Homeday are evergreen content. In addition, due to the date appearing, the meta description was cut off. 

But why was this happening? According to our service provider, Cookiebot, search engine crawlers access websites simulating a full consent. Hence, they gain access to all content and copy from the cookie consent banners are not indexed by the crawler. 

So why wasn’t this the case for the migrated pages? We crawled and rendered the pages with different user agents, but still couldn’t find a trace of the Cookiebot in the source code. 

Investigating Google DOMs and searching for a solution

The migrated pages are rendered with dynamic data that comes from Contentful and plugins. The plugins contain just JavaScript code, and sometimes they come from a partner. One of these plugins was the cookie manager partner, which fetches the cookie consent HTML from outside our code base. That is why we didn’t find a trace of the cookie consent HTML code in the HTML source files in the first place. We did see a larger DOM but traced that back to Nuxt’s default, more complex, larger DOM. Nuxt is a JavaScript framework that we work with.

To validate that Google was reading the copy from the cookie consent banner, we used the URL inspection tool of Google Search Console. We compared the DOM of a migrated page with the DOM of a non-migrated page. Within the DOM of a migrated page, we finally found the cookie consent content:

Within the DOM of a migrated page we found the cookie consent content

Something else that got our attention were the JavaScript files loaded on our old pages versus the files loaded on our migrated pages. Our website has two scripts for the cookie consent banner, provided by a 3rd party: one to show the banner and grab the consent (uc) and one that imports the banner content (cd).

  • The only script loaded on our old pages was uc.js, which is responsible for the cookie consent banner. It is the one script we need in every page to handle user consent. It displays the cookie consent banner without indexing the content and saves the user’s decision (if they agree or disagree to the usage of cookies).

  • For the migrated pages, aside from uc.js, there was also a cd.js file loading. If we have a page, where we want to show more information about our cookies to the user and index the cookie data, then we have to use the cd.js. We thought that both files are dependent on each other, which is not correct. The uc.js can run alone. The cd.js file was the reason why the content of the cookie banner got rendered and indexed.

It took a while to find it because we thought the second file was just a pre-requirement for the first one. We determined that simply removing the loaded cd.js file would be the solution.

Performance review after implementing the solution

The day we deleted the file, our keyword visibility was at 41.70%, which was still 21% lower than pre-migration. 

However, the day after deleting the file, our visibility increased to 50.77%, and the next day it was almost back to normal at 60.11%. The estimated traffic behaved similarly. What a relief! 

Quickly after implementing the solution, the organic traffic went back to pre-migration levels


I can imagine that many SEOs have dealt with tiny issues like this. It seems trivial, but led to a significant drop in visibility and traffic during the migration. This is why I suggest migrating in waves and blocking enough time for investigating technical errors before and after the migration. Moreover, keeping a close look at the site’s performance within the weeks after the migration is crucial. These are definitely my key takeaways from this migration wave. We just completed the second migration wave in the beginning of May 2022 and I can state that so far no major bugs appeared. We’ll have two more waves and complete the migration hopefully successfully by the end of June 2022.

The performance of the migrated pages is almost back to normal now, and we will continue with the next wave. 

Reblogged 20 hours ago from

What are your secrets to overcoming marketing challenges? Take our survey

Catching your prospect’s eye and moving them along the buyer’s journey has never been easy. Add the pandemic to the equation, and we know your job as a marketer has probably never been as challenging as it is today.

We invite you to take the marketing challenges survey so we can better understand what you’ve been challenged with the most and how you’ve overcome these obstacles. The survey results will help you see how your peers take on these challenges and prove ROI.

The first 100 people who fully complete the survey will be automatically entered in a drawing to win $250 to donate to a charity of your choice or a $250 Amazon gift card.

The post What are your secrets to overcoming marketing challenges? Take our survey appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Reblogged 20 hours ago from

Content marketing strategy for small businesses: top 11 tips

Content marketing is creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined audience – to drive profitable customer action. The more content you create, the better your chances are for success.

Here are 11 tips to create a smart content marketing strategy for small businesses.

1. Mission: Define your company’s mission to create a clear goal for your content. 

The mission defines the goal or purpose behind every piece of content, and not all content will yield the same results. 

Some goals may overlap, but it still needs to be inherently defined.

  • Generate qualified leads
  • Build brand awareness
  • Increase retention
  • Increase customer engagement
  • Turn leads into devoted customers
  • Build thought leadership

For example, if you are a local restaurant, your “why” might be to share great recipes or cooking tips.

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2. Audience: Know whom you’re talking to so you know what they want to hear from you. Not only defining your mission’s content is important, but also who the content will be targeting. 

You may have more than one audience you want to speak to, but these personas should know exactly who it is you want to attract and where they are:

  • Semrush (paid): Has a great content marketing platform that lets you research topics based on keyword phrases. You can even enter a domain that will assist you in finding topic ideas. 
  • Quora (free): Will also give you great ideas about what questions people are asking. It will give your insight into what people are asking and what people are responding to regarding the questions.
  • Content Crowd (paid): This isn’t a tool but a service. If you do have some budget to invest in but do not have the time, then Crowd Content will give you access to thousands of freelance writers. This type of professional service can help you better scale your content needs.

3. Objectives: Create objectives for each of your goals so you know what success looks like. For example, if an objective is to build authority, then:

  • Reach out to others in your industry and have them be interviewed, share that content on your site and promote it. 
  • Share educational content, how-tos tips, and more. Let’s say you’re an interior designer. Share insights on how to decorate with small spaces, trending colors, and any DIY hacks that are cost-effective and impact a space.

4. Goals: Make sure your goals are measurable and realistic. How will you measure results and your performance?

Make sure you also have tools in place and ensure they are installed properly so you can measure effectively. Some content marketing measurements can be:

  • Revenue: How many sales, subscriptions, or paid downloads (if applicable) has your site acquired month-over-month (MoM).
  • Leads: Form submissions, newsletter subscriptions, conversion rate, opt-ins.
  • Brand awareness: Site visitors, video views, engagement within your social media accounts.
  • Loyalty: Returning customers, bounce rate, subscriptions minus unsubscribes to anything subscription-based.
  • Engagement: Social media growth over time, reactions, comments, shares, views, retweets.

5. Resources: Figure out how much time, money, or staff you have available for content creation and promotion. Start with your budget, goals, and objectives with your content strategy.

Need additional resources? Sites like Upwork and FreeUp are a couple that could help with any needs regarding the content or virtual assistants.

6. Content calendar: A content calendar is the main tool to keep you on time and task. It doesn’t have to be done in any project management tool if that’s not accessible.

All you need is a simple spreadsheet. Form fields to include are:

  • Topic
  • Date
  • Platform (paid social, blogs, videos, listicles, whitepapers, social media posts, etc.)
  • Focused keywords
  • Inspiration (preliminary research you’ve done) 

Start with the idea of what format would be suitable for the topic and decide what platform would have the most impact on this topic(s).

7. Optimize content. Keyword research is key. Start by finding keywords with high volume and low competition. 

Researching what other people type when doing research will make your content easier to find, but it will appeal to the audience. Google’s autocomplete is a quick and easy way to find ideas on what people are searching for.

Additionally, the content must be visually appealing, so put effort into the images associated with your content. Make sure your CTA (calls to action) are in the right area.

8. Repurpose content. Look into your data (Google Analytics, YouTube, social posts that got great engagement) and see if you can recycle that content into fresh blogs, social media posts, infographics or videos. This tactic can save you a lot of time, as the initial legwork has been done. 

9. Update evergreen content and pages. Make a note every quarter to go through old content and see what evergreen content needs to be updated. Every industry is different, but many industries’ rules, regulations and/or stipulations will change. Your content must be updated, so you don’t appear outdated or not abreast of what industry information is coming out.

10. Ongoing content promotion. Similar to repurposing content, evergreen or popular content should be promoted not just once or twice, but as long as possible. Make sure to spread it out. You’ve invested time, effort, and budget into the content. Make sure you get the most out of it.

11. Analyze. Once you know what you’re tracking (see step four) you can easily see what worked and what didn’t. Look into ways you can replicate it. Maybe it’s short-form content, maybe it’s the topic. If you’re constantly looking into analytics, it will uncover new opportunities that can help with your goals.

The post Content marketing strategy for small businesses: top 11 tips appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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What’s your SEO learning style?

SEO is a complex topic. Not only are SEO fundamentals complex, but we live in a world where search engines are constantly evolving. That is why in order to get a proper SEO education, you need layers of training throughout the year.

Some educational theories say that every person has a preferred learning style. For example, the VARK model highlights four common types of learning styles:

Visual: You prefer graphic elements over words.

Auditory: You prefer lectures and discussions.

Read/write: You prefer written information.

Kinesthetic: You learn through doing.

People aren’t limited to just one learning style, however. Other factors can influence how you like to consume content. One of them is your current circumstances, as this article points out:

”You’re a sales rep and you are driving to a meeting with a client. This morning, you saw that some features of a top-selling product were just updated. Would you rather listen to a brief podcast that reviews the changes; read a sales brochure; or watch an animated video that allows you to answer questions and match features to products? If you’re in your car and just need a quick update, the podcast is the most appropriate choice. Does that make you an auditory learner?”

Given the massive amounts of content created and consumed every minute, what’s the best way to get and retain an SEO education?

Information stands no chance of becoming knowledge unless it sticks.

So which format is best for your SEO learning?

If you are on a quest to up your SEO game, you need access to learning tools that suit your preferred learning style and circumstances. Here are five SEO learning formats, their pros and cons, and recommendations:

  1. Online training
  2. Classroom training
  3. Books
  4. Supplemental learning
  5. Membership websites

1. Online training

There are a variety of online training formats. E-learning options for SEO run the gamut from videos and webinars to full online courses with supplemental materials.

Pros: Most legitimate online training courses are self-paced so you can learn in your own time. Online courses typically cost less than in-person training or consulting, and many offer payment options.

Cons: Completion rates for online courses rarely rise above 15 percent. Video training doesn’t come with the same accountability or engagement that an in-person class does. Also, video training can fail if you don’t have access to the experts to ask questions and clarify the material.

Recommendations: Enroll in online training courses throughout the year that have an interactive component for best results (more on that later). Find the courses that will help you solve the specific issues you are facing. Visual learners will enjoy this format most, but so will busy professionals.

2. Classroom 

In-person SEO training is less likely to happen since the pandemic. If and when it’s available, it typically mimics a classroom environment — lectures, discussions and even hands-on practice. This type of training happens either at the trainer’s location, on-site at a company or at conference workshops.

Pros: Classroom SEO training can offer university-level content in a setting that allows for clarification of the materials through live discussion. As a real-time format, the curriculum can be tweaked to discuss current trends in SEO. Oftentimes, you get customized advice that is specific to your biggest SEO problems right on the spot. Plus, classroom training is the best way to sync SEO knowledge across teams if multiple members attend together.

Cons: Research shows that passively listening to lectures is not a good way to learn. To succeed with face-to-face learning, you need to be an active listener, ask questions and participate in the work. The cost of travel and missing work is also a concern for some, but many find it to be worth the investment in the long run.

Recommendations: Classroom training appeals most to auditory and kinesthetic learners. But anyone can greatly benefit from in-person SEO training to get a comprehensive understanding of the subject. I taught in-person SEO training classes for many years (pre-pandemic), and many attendees would return once per year to get a core refresh.

3. Books

With the availability of digital content today, you might expect that print books are becoming less desirable. Not so. In fact, data coming from Pew Research Center shows that print books still prevail over audiobooks and e-books.

Side note: This is why I’ve continued to update our “Search Engine Optimization All in One for Dummies” book with Wiley (now in its fourth edition). It’s a big effort at almost 800 pages, but worth it for those who learn best on paper.

Pros: Books can offer thorough, cover-to-cover insights into a topic like SEO. Also, research shows that people can comprehend information better in print versus on-screen. A good book is something you can keep on your shelf and refer to again and again.

Cons: Some books (like mine) are not something you’d likely take on a subway ride for a casual read. However, reading them at home or at work can be an issue, too. The average American only reads 16 minutes per day. Also, buying books and never reading them is a real problem. Finally, print books are not as easily updated as digital content, so they can get out of date quickly. 

Recommendations: Print books still appeal to people in the read/write category of learning. If you are dedicated to reading, you can get a lot out of a book on SEO.

4. Supplemental learning

Two popular forms of marketing content today can help enhance your SEO learning: e-books and white papers.


The e-book I’m referring to here is the type that brands use in their marketing funnels, not an e-book you purchase on Amazon, for example. These are designed to give a general overview of a topic in a short amount of time. E-books are often lighter in text and heavier on visuals and white space. 

Pros: E-books are good as an introduction to a topic. Their portable format allows for learning on any device, on the go, without the bulk of a traditional book. Interactive elements, such as links to more resources like articles and videos, allow you to explore more about the topic at your leisure.

Cons: Just like print books, e-books fall prey to being acquired but never read. Also keep in mind that most e-books are a marketing tool, so the information within them could be biased in some way.

Recommendations: E-books largely appeal to the read/write learning style or to someone who is on the go. Read an e-book on SEO to get a high-level overview of a topic, or use it as light reading when you’re standing in line.

White papers / technical content

White papers offer a well-researched, in-depth analysis of a topic delivered in a digital format. This type of content is often used to build a business case and can help a reader make a decision about a solution (whether it’s a service, product or viewpoint).

Pros: The in-depth format of a white paper allows you to get a deeper understanding of a topic or problem you may be facing. Oftentimes, these take a deep dive into one aspect of SEO; for example, you might have a white paper just on schema and its effect on search rankings.

Cons: Often used as a marketing tool, white papers persuasively present info in a way that leads the reader to the publisher’s solution or viewpoint. This is not a con unless the reader doesn’t do their own due diligence. And because white papers are text-heavy documents, they may not appeal to everyone.

Recommendations: White papers are most suited to those in the read/write category of learning. Read a white paper on SEO to get a deep dive into a particular issue — but make the time to do it.

5. Membership site

An SEO training membership site can give you the best of both worlds: a virtual format with lots of types of content for all learning styles and interactive components that can mimic the live classroom experience.

As businesses all over the world adapt to a changing environment, virtual learning is also evolving. Simply pressing play on a video is no longer what people want.

People need updated information and the ability to interact and collaborate with others, especially as so many feel isolated working and learning from home.

We’ve addressed this need with our new membership website. We’ve taken our world-famous, in-person SEO classroom curriculum and reimagined it virtually.

Our membership website offers something for every type of learner:

  • Online SEO training course (over 15 hours of updated video lessons)
  • Live Q&A sessions
  • Discussion forums and support
  • Downloadable presentations
  • FAQs
  • “Ask us Anything” videos
  • E-books and guides
  • Mini-courses
  • SEO tools

You can learn more by reading It’s Time to Rethink Your SEO Training or visiting

In an age of information overload with a heavy emphasis on digital content, it’s important to think about how you like to learn. For most people, a mix of interactive, online learning and print materials fits best with their preferences, lifestyle and SEO goals.

The post What’s your SEO learning style? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Webinar: Dominate your competition with Google auction insights and search intelligence

Auction insights is a powerful tool we’ve all come to use for understanding campaign performance against competitors. Search intelligence adds another layer of granularity to ensure you’re one step ahead of your competition.

Join Sean O’Connor, Senior CSM and Sales Engineer at Adthena, to explore three easy search intelligence tactics that will help you dominate your competitors along with use-cases from L’Oreal and Avanti West Coast trains.

Register today for “Dominate Your Competition with Google Auction Insights and Search Intelligence” presented by Adthena.

The post Webinar: Dominate your competition with Google auction insights and search intelligence appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Smashing Podcast Episode 46 With Vitaly Friedman: Who Is Elliot Jay Stocks?

In this episode, we ask how one man can go from designing websites for local bands to heading up Google Fonts Knowledge. Smashing’s Vitaly Friedman talks to Elliot Jay Stocks to find out.

Show Notes

Weekly Update


Vitaly Friedman: He loves topography from the bottom of his heart. And in recent years, he’s led creative direction for several products and services, including the print magazines 8 Faces and Lagom. He worked as a creative director of Adobe Typekit now called Adobe Fonts, and these days he’s running things at Google Fonts Knowledge.

Vitaly: Outside of the realm of design, he also does electronic music as other form, and has also released music on several independent labels. Well, we know that he’s an expert in typography and electronic music, but did you know that he’s an avid fan of underground Icelandic techno music from the late ’90s and usually dreams about pixels, font sizes, and REM units.

Vitaly: My Smashing friends, please welcome Elliot Jay Stocks. Elliot, hello and how are you doing today?

Elliot Jay Stocks: I am smashing, thank you.

Vitaly: Oh, well you look smashing as well if I may so. You haven’t changed a bit.

Elliot: That’s very kind of you to say. I was going to already say that I feel smashing even before I was directed to do so.

Vitaly: Oh, I don’t know who directed you to do that at all. Don’t you reveal the secrets that we have here.

Vitaly: Elliot, when we actually look back now, I don’t know, we saw each other when like the last time, was it like 15 years ago?

Elliot: I was going to say, “That’s crazy. No way,” but actually, I mean maybe, yeah.

Vitaly: 15? No, not 15.

Elliot: When we saw each other, oh, sorry. I thought you meant when we first met. When we first met, maybe it was 15 years ago.

Vitaly: Yes. And when did we see each other last time?

Elliot: Oh, wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anybody.

Vitaly: Yeah. Well you do see a lot of electronic music though.

Elliot: Yes. That’s true.

Vitaly: So that counts for something.

Elliot: Oh, boy. I think it was in, I don’t know, Jonathan Snook was there. Where were we? It was you, me and Jonathan Snook. I don’t know. Was it during a talk, maybe?

Vitaly: I have a feeling it was maybe, probably a room with people and the stage and you probably were speaking. Right?

Elliot: Maybe.

Vitaly: That’s probably… But before we actually dive into the specifics, I know that many of our listeners will have heard about your work and your blog post and also your music and all the wonderful things that you’re doing. But I’m always interested in people, like really coming back to the roots, there must be something that started all of this, right?

Vitaly: And so I really want to hear a little bit about your backstory. So how does a boy with curly hair born in the suburbs of London gets his life through kind of thoroughly defined by web topography and design and electronic music. How does that happen? Tell us.

Elliot: Well, thank you for the question. I think a lot of it is all just accidents, happy accidents, and just trying stuff out and seeing where that goes and not being too worried about the future plans, I suppose. I suppose I think that’s kind of probably the thing that’s defined my career path as it were.

Elliot: So when I was a kid, I did a lot of drawing. I remember like my dad teaching me things about perspective and stuff when I was young and I used to do things like a lot of illustrations for the school, they’d have like a play on and I’d do the little pamphlet illustration for the program of the play and all sorts of things like that.

Elliot: So I was always kind of doing drawing for fun and then asked by people to do with the school, to do like other stuff around that. It was always kind of art based. And I didn’t really dabble with design properly until I suppose I graduated from high school. And before I went to uni, I took a year out and I worked in a music shop in Virgin Megastores, when they still existed.

Elliot: And I was doing a little bit of music at the time with some other people who worked there and we released a CD, which sounds very quaint now doesn’t it?

Vitaly: Yeah. Oh a little bit. How old were you then?

Elliot: Well, so I would’ve been 18, I guess.

Vitaly: Yeah. Okay. So, that’s what cool people do then in nowadays.

Elliot: Yeah.

Vitaly: They just sing on CDs.

Elliot: That’s right. Well maybe, and the managers of the store allowed us to put the CD on sale in the store. And so it fell to me to design the cover and I’d started dabbling with… I don’t know what it was.

Elliot: It was like some sort of version of Photoshop, like a free version of Photoshop or something like that. And I was doing kind of stuff with terrible Photoshop filters and things like that. And-

Vitaly: So that’s where it’s all started. I can see that, now.

Elliot: Yeah. It was all this kind of thing. And I did the POS and the website for it. And it was the first website I’d kind of done. Well, yeah, it was my first experience. And the web was relatively new at this time. And I used an editor called Homestead, which was like a sort of WYSIWYG editor. And that whole thing was just kind of my first experience of design, I suppose.

Elliot: Web design and print design. And that kind of, I guess, ignited that interest in that. And then for a few years at university, I did a lot of stuff on the side for music, for bands’ websites and stuff like that.

Elliot: And then when I graduated from university, I got a job working for the record label, EMI working on a bunch of music sites. So, that was kind of how that all came about, really. I was working a lot of web stuff. It was all very music related and it sort of just happened, I guess, a little bit by accident and gradually over the years, I kind of… I don’t think I’m a web designer anymore.

Elliot: I kind of realized recently that’s in the past that I’ve sort of gone on to do other things. But everything kind of came from there and there’s been a really strong, I suppose, musical current throughout the whole thing and lots of side projects.

Elliot: And this is also what I’m going to be talking about at Smashing Conf as well, in fact. This whole thing and how it’s all interrelated and how a lot of side projects have led to, as I said, these kind of happy accidents, doing stuff that’s really fun just by sort of trying it out and not having too much of a plan.

Vitaly: No, it’s interesting because every time I think about my childhood and how things used to be when I was growing up, I always think about these important people who kind of defined my career, my view on things. I don’t know, but I always, I mean especially over the last couple of weeks now, I’ve been for some reason thinking about the blog post by Mark Bolton and the blog that you were writing.

Vitaly: And this was a very exciting time for me. I mean, you have no idea just how I just really felt that this is it, this is really changing my life. I kind of had this feeling in my head when I was kind of working through this and in my heart as well. So maybe just kind of throwing this question at you, maybe you could talk about people who really defined your way of thinking about design?

Vitaly: Like what really made the most significant impact. Was it maybe a talk somewhere? Maybe it’s an article that you read, a book? I don’t know, just a random coincidence where you just met somebody and they said something? What was that really kind of defined your work in many ways?

Elliot: Yeah, oh, wow. I remember those years as well. That felt really fun and everything on the web was new and we were all sort of just figuring it out and it was kind of the wild west of the web design days. I loved it.

Elliot: But yeah, I guess from my own perspective, I’ve definitely been, in the early days, I was really influenced by a lot of those people doing some really cutting edge Flash websites. So this is probably around 2001, 2002, 2003, I guess, to advanced PreyStation, tokyoplastic, My Pet Skeleton.

Vitaly: Oh, those were the times.

Elliot: Yeah. The real heady days of Flash-based web design. And they were very influential on me, not just for the web, but they just, like you said, something you felt in your heart, it’s just this exciting, “Wow, this is this just amazing stuff going on. It’s not just the web, but about design in general and creativity in general.” And that really, really was just a very exciting time, and that kind of influenced me a lot in those early years.

Elliot: I think that whole kind of grungy style and that very kind of David Carson influence thing. I don’t think I realized until later that it was a lot of David Carson influence on that lot. You know, people like JUXT Interactive who I loved at the time and kind of looking back now, it’s a very David Carson kind of thing. But that was very influential on me.

Elliot: And then I got into, when I was working in the music industry and I was working at EMI, we started to move away from Flash and web standards was becoming a thing. And obviously like Zeldman’s writing and Eric Meyer and Dave Shay was doing the CSS Zen Garden. And then that again was like this really exciting, like, “Oh, wow, what is this whole new way of exploring the web and building on the web and designing on the web and working within these new constraints?”

Elliot: And I think aesthetically, I went away from that kind of outlandish grungy stuff. Well, I mean, eventually I did, to more kind of like clean and eventually my focus on typography and things like that. And I think it was probably, I mean, Erik Spiekermann obviously is a hugely influential person anyway. And his kind of… I think sort of knowing Erik and getting to know him through projects like 8 Faces and things like that, his influence on the real minutiae of typographic design, the real specific geeky details, that kind of led me down that path into less focused on, I guess, some of the big, “How do you design something from scratch?” But more into like, how do we really tweak and refine this very small part of a design to be the best it can possibly be?

Elliot: And I think almost like Erik is kind of at the opposite end to the David Carson side of design. But I think in sort of recent years, I’ve gone a bit more in that direction. And as you get older, I think your interest change. And for a long time, I was very, I don’t know, I guess really distrustful of people who were kind of involved in design, but didn’t want to do the whole thing.

Elliot: And I was really distrustful of people who were kind of like directors, but they weren’t necessarily at the coalface doing the design work. Whereas now I’ve sort of come round to being okay with just focusing on one part of it and letting other people kind of get concerned with design systems, and developing things.

Elliot: And I don’t know, web design is such a different beast these days anyway, I think.

Vitaly: Yeah, I don’t know. Is it just me, Elliot? But I feel like every time somebody brings up a notion of web designs, isn’t it like a term from 2000 somehow? Or 2010 or something, web design? Like we’re just UX designs. We are UX engineers. We are… I don’t know. There are so many old kind of different roles. What role do you see yourself now? Who are you today? Like if you had to define your role, like something that really, I don’t know, a term that really defines and captures your essence, what would that be?

Vitaly: I don’t know, if it’s a good answer, question to answer.

Elliot: It’s a great question to answer. And one, I’m constantly asking myself. Yeah, I don’t know. At the moment I am sort of describing, well, I’m not really actively describing myself, but I suppose the work that I’ve done recently and I’m doing at the moment is more of, I guess I’m sort of a … Oh boy, I don’t know. I guess it’s like a typographic consultant, I suppose, in that I’m doing a lot of work that is very… I mean, all design is and should be typography focused in many ways, but it is very focused on typography with… I’m doing very little in terms of like hands-on design these days, but it’s more kind of helping steer something from a typographic perspective, and advising people on that.

Elliot: And the work that I’ve been doing with Google is all about sort of education around typography in general.

Elliot: But prior to this, I was doing a lot of creative director roles. So I sort of stopped being a designer in the more traditional sense and was more just a creative director. Sort of from my time when I was a Typekit. And then the roles that I then had after that, they were all kind of creative director roles.

Elliot: But and again, fairly recently when the pandemic kind of hit and I lost the job that I was currently working in at the time as creative director for an agency in London called Maido, Everyone kind of, that sort of had to disband, and I found myself doing some… Sort of going back to, well 2020 was a really weird year and everyone had to kind of go and do these different, sort of take on different kind of work to make ends meet and everything.

Elliot: And then after that, I think I realized that I didn’t really want to go back into that design leadership thing for a while. I think I’d got a little bit jaded by just sort of… It’s not that I wanted to be at the coalface, designing everything and building everything again, but I also wanted to do something that was a little bit more, I guess, kind of insular and kind of self-contained. And not involving big teams and stuff like that.

Elliot: And yeah, that’s kind of led me even further away from web design in a way, which has been nice. For a while, I was having this real existential crisis of trying to answer that question of who am I, what am I doing? And I think-

Vitaly: But I think we have pretty good understanding now, do we?

Elliot: Yeah. I think now I’m comfortable with where I am at for now. Ask me tomorrow, I’ll change my mind.

Vitaly: Okay. I will definitely ask tomorrow as well. But now actually and it interesting looking back with, because you had all the different roles and you worked with all the different people and we just briefly talked about some influential people and who changed your view on things. And in my life it was you. You don’t even remember, I’m sure. I think you don’t even remember.

Elliot: That’s very kind of you.

Vitaly: I remember us. Yeah, I will explain in a moment why. Because when we were working on some project, who knows what project that was over the last, I don’t know, 11, 12 years now, 15, maybe. I remember you saying one thing. I think it was a navigation design that we changed in Smashing of 2013, ’14 something.

Vitaly: And you said, “Well, if something is different, you need to make it look very different. It can’t be just close enough or a little bit different. It has to be bold and decisive and different enough, so people can notice that this is a decision and not a mistake.”

Vitaly: Right. And I remember this, we were there. I mean, this has stuck with me for quite some time and actually many things that you’re mentioning about paying attention to details and being very careful and all those things, they kind of define my kind of way of working as well.

Vitaly: But I didn’t spend a lot of time working with different agents in all the different roles. Basically I have for last, what 12 years, I’ve been in the same, more or less the same position. But looking at you now, because you’ve been working with all the different teams and all the different people, is there something that you would recommend to yourself when you’re working with them?

Vitaly: Maybe do some… A little bit more of that. Do a little bit less of this in your career, as you kind of keep the ball and keep rolling. Is there something that you wish you would have done differently?

Elliot: Mm yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for saying that’s, that’s really awesome to know that that was influential and helpful. And yeah, I don’t quite remember that, but that is awesome. And that must have been when we were doing the Smashing redesign, which was-

Vitaly: Yeah, I think so.

Elliot: Yeah. A while ago now.

Vitaly: Like six, seven, eight years ago now.

Elliot: Yeah. Wow. Yeah. In terms of the sort of career advice, things I wish I’d known when I was younger, stuff like that, I think learning to trust your gut is super important. And there were definitely times when I look back on projects that I said yes to that maybe I’d already got that gut feeling that they might not be great and perhaps I shouldn’t have taken them on. And I did anyway.

Elliot: And I think listening to your gut, if you’ve got a feeling that says, “I shouldn’t be doing this,” for whatever reason, then there’s probably a valid reason for why you’re feeling that way. I’ve got a print that Erik did that I bought from his print shop P98A and it says, “Don’t work with assholes, don’t work for assholes.” Or maybe the other way round. But the meaning is the same.

Elliot: And that again is like I think sometimes you can tell quite early on how someone is going to be, and it’s useful to not persevere with projects that are perhaps run by or with assholes. So I wish that I had had that framed on my wall earlier on in my career. It’s on my wall now, but it perhaps should have been a mantra that was adopted sooner.

Elliot: But I think one of the things that I’m very grateful for is, that I’ve been in the position where I’ve been able to pursue things that I really care about. And although passion is this thing that’s kind of, this term that everyone says, it’s bandied about the whole time.

Elliot: I think it’s really important. And I’ve always thought it’s important, to really care about what you’re doing. And the reality is that we are at work for most of the day, most of the hours that we are awake in the day. And so we should be spending those hours doing something we love.

Elliot: Now, that’s all well and good. You know, that’s not necessarily helpful advice to give to somebody who may be stuck in a job that they absolutely need to stay in to pay the bills.

Elliot: But I think it’s not necessarily about just going, “Right. I’m going to quit my job and going pursue my dreams.” It’s about sort of finding meaning in what you’re doing. And if there isn’t a direct way to do that in your day job, then I think side projects have always been a great outlet for that.

Elliot: And for me personally, being able to, I guess, seek creative fulfillment through side projects has led me to pursue those passions almost, as I said before, by accident. It’s the side projects and just sort of going for them and not worrying too much about the consequences that have, later on, led to the really good work.

Elliot: So even if you can’t leave your current job now that you might hate because you want to pursue your passions, I think finding a way to work your passions into it somehow, or to express yourself through a side project will help you eventually get involved with projects that you do really care about. And I’ve certainly been fortunate enough that that’s been the case.

Elliot: And some of the jobs I’ve had have been direct results of the work that I’ve done on side projects. And then those jobs in themselves have led to further things. And there’s always been kind of that snowball effect. And so I mean, it’s hard to, I think when you’re younger and you’re starting out, it’s hard to necessarily… There’s on the one hand, that you can be sort of like full of this youthful naivety and kind of go, “Yeah, let’s go for it and do whatever,” but that can also lead to some not great situations.

Elliot: But definitely looking back, being slightly older and having done this for a while now, I can definitely say that the times where things really worked or where I was really happy were because I sort of just followed what I was interested in, rather than what was the kind of sensible perceived route that I should take.

Vitaly: Yeah. I think it’s, for me personally, it’s really a matter of being strategic and there are so many things I wish I had known earlier and not solely related to design or UX or web or topography or anything. But it’s just, sometimes you might even think about just very routine, basic life stuff. Right?

Vitaly: I mean, you know me, but I’ve been exploring the world of cutting cucumbers and watermelons for, I don’t know how many months and years now, and I still haven’t found the right way. And I’m always disappointed with my outcome. The same goes for coffee and for so many other things, which could be just small things that would be really, really enjoyable. Right?

Vitaly: And so, for example, one thing that I really wish I would know a bit more about is just how to do basic simple accounting. How to estimate better, how to deliver on time, how to get a bit more disciplined and things. Because these are all the things that I had to learn over time.

Vitaly: But, oh, my. I’ve been overestimating, underestimating, going wild and just literally guess working all the way. Do you have sort of a structure, system? How do you work? Are you one of those people who are very like, Paul Maduro and 45 minutes and then this. The alarm goes on and off I go making a break. Or how do you work?

Elliot: Yeah, no, I’m definitely not one of those people. I really struggle, to be honest, I have.

Vitaly: Oh, by the way, not to say that we have anything against these people. They’re very kind, they very productive. Don’t mean to be kind of disapproving in any way, just looking about different ways of how we all work today.

Elliot: Yeah. I have, so somewhat, I guess, it’s a little bit of a contradiction, but I try and set up a relatively focused schedule because I’m very easily distracted. So someone might look at my calendar or my approach to productivity and perhaps think that I’m quite well organized. And I think it’s, I’m not. This is why I’m using these things to try and and focus myself.

Elliot: So a few years ago, Jessica Hische posted a thing about her calendar, that she’d blocked out part parts of the day to kind of be productive. And it was really interesting. And I think I wrote a blog post, where I sort of had my own take on it. Although, I’ve since kind of changed that.

Elliot: But still the idea is basically blocking out time on your calendar to say, “This is productivity time. This is client work time. This is freelance project time, or this is family time, whatever.” That sort of helps. That part of that structure’s been forced on me in a good way by having a family.

Elliot: So I have two young kids now and I always stop at five o’clock to go and have dinner with them. And I usually pick up some work stuff later on in the evening, even if it’s just kind of messages and stuff like that. But I have a pretty rigid stop time, which is, which is really nice because it means that I get some time with my family.

Elliot: And it also just forces a bit of a structure on my day. Plus I have things like school pickups and clubs that the kids do. And lunch and very specific things that aren’t that movable these days, which is good, which is really good.

Elliot: But I’ve also recently, I think to try and combat the fact that I’m quite easily distracted and just go down different rabbit holes, I’ve started moving to a paper based to-do list. So I still use things which I love as an app for that. And I use Notion for all kinds of general to-dos. But for my every single day, I write down on a little card, all of my tasks.

Elliot: So I was influenced by Jeff Sheldon and his project, I think it’s called Analog, where he did a nice kickstart with these beautifully designed a little cards. And he had a little system going for the priorities in his card and a nice little case for it, and all this kind of thing. I wanted to sort of take that, but make a much more low-fi version.

Elliot: So I made this system called Today And Soon, although I’ve since kind of changed it to just be focused on Today’s, which is basically I made a little template, a Moo card template that you can just download for free and get it printed. And it’s a series of tick boxes and there’s something about writing it down.

Elliot: You know, I’ve got my where you can’t see this. I can show you, but you won’t be able to hear this. And this is written down. And it’s some basic stuff that I want to do every day. You know, I want to Duolingo every day, and I’ve got to call this person today and I’ve got to finish this particular bit of work and all this kind of stuff.

Elliot: But just having it written down and like literally sat there next to my iMac, like balancing against my monitor there. And I get to do a big check mark with a big Sharpie every time I finish something, big or small, has really helped recently. Really helped with just keeping me focused. And I have stuff on there that’s like a big work task or it’s buy new flea medication for the dog or something.

Elliot: But the sense of being productive by checking those things off the list is really nice. And so that coupled with a fairly rigid calendar and time kind of blocked off, has really helped my productivity. And I think that’s kind of, I suppose that’s kind of how I work.

Elliot: But it’s still, my work day-to-day is a lot of like flitting between different things. It’s like some time in Figma working on some illustrations for Google Fonts Knowledge. And it’s time in Google Docs writing or editing, and it’s time in Notion doing some planning and it’s time on social media stuff, doing bits for my music project.

Elliot: And it’s a little bit, and time in chat talking to colleagues and planning stuff and meetings and whatnot. And it’s quite varied. And I think that variation can easily lead to distraction, but also I do quite like having things varied. I’ve realized over time that I’m not very good at just staying and doing one thing. I can’t sort of sit down there at nine o’clock and design all day and then finish at five.

Elliot: Like that’s never really been me and I’ve certainly failed when I’ve tried to do that.

Vitaly: Yeah. So I think it’s interesting because for me, sometimes I feel like we are maybe twins from different universes or something like that, I don’t even know. Because I mean, I have moved my calendar quite a bit and I actually, I think my partner in late December, just planning ahead for the next year. We were sitting down, we just really thinking about what was the year like, and what’s the next year it’s going to be like? And of course it’s a very common thing, and some people would say, “Well, everybody’s doing that or whatever,” but it was really critical because I really had to kind of question everything.

Vitaly: That’s really been on my agenda for the last couple of months now. I just, it’s impossible for me to read a book. I’m questioning every single sentence in the book, now. It’s just really, really hard and it really changed because then I totally revamped my calendar.

Vitaly: And so I block out Fridays altogether, and there are dedicated times for meetings. And that’s it. And this kind of structure thing again, is probably something that gives you sort of, I don’t know, comfortable framework to work within?

Elliot: Yeah.

Vitaly: Right. So you just know that, okay, you’re going to do this and you have limitations in terms of the amount of time you will spend on this, because this is going to be a cutoff at five o’clock or six o’clock.

Vitaly: So I can totally see how kind of how it all comes together, how it’s all working for you as well.

Vitaly: Are there any things that you just let go? This was actually quite important for me as well, because I’ve been working with a couple of projects and we had to think about not the design strategy, but the deleting strategy or archiving strategy-

Elliot: Oh yeah. Interesting.

Vitaly: … for very old and outdated content. So what are some things that you just recently let go or just stopped doing and that helped you as well?

Elliot: Yeah, that’s a really good question because I think it is so important to say no. And I remember doing talks a few years ago when I was kind of talking about freelance life and stuff like that, and talking a lot about being confident in saying no to clients and turning away work that you didn’t agree with and stuff like that. In terms recently, I guess it’s been sort of juggling stuff.

Elliot: I’ve, for a long time, had the opportunity to do maybe like a little bit of freelance work on the side and stuff like that. And I’ve recently with Google Fonts Knowledge and stuff, just settled into doing kind of one fixed kind of solid thing all day. Just working on Google Fonts Knowledge pretty much. And that’s been really nice to do.

Elliot: That said, I mean, I still have my music projects and a lot of admin around running the label and stuff like that. So that still happens in the evenings and things like that. And as I said, there’s bit of like social media posts and stuff like that. So my mind is still bouncing around these different things, but I’ve definitely turned down a lot of freelance projects that have come my way, just because it’s… I know that it’d be so easy to fill the hours doing that stuff.

Elliot: And I’m personally not very good at sitting there and just relaxing. Like I have this often detrimental need to be creating or making something. And I don’t really, I’m not great at playing video games and stuff because I feel like, “Oh, I should be making some music or taking a thing on or doing more work or whatever.”

Elliot: Like I said, having kids has definitely helped in that my time with them is my time with them. And that’s really nice because nothing really eats into that, apart from the very occasional meeting or something like that. But on the whole, it’s dedicated.

Elliot: But yeah, I think there’s nothing recently apart from just saying no to some other freelance projects coming in. But I should do more sitting down and relaxing and just being okay with not doing much.

Vitaly: I think everybody’s saying that. And then nobody really does. I think personally I find it so difficult to just sit and do nothing. It’s just so, I mean, maybe I’m just impatient and I always have these questions raising up. These question marks coming up in my head. It’s sometimes it’s just difficult to fall asleep because I think, “Oh, I have this idea for that thing and I should be following this and I should be writing it down and I should not be writing this down, but then maybe I want to write it down.” Kind of this ongoing story.

Elliot: Yeah, yeah.

Vitaly: But I mean, you’re adventurous, you’re just exploring and it’s just… I know that we’ll be kind of wrapping up shortly, but I do want to just find out how do you end up becoming or getting, kind of embarking on this journey from music on a new level? Because I know that for a while you have not been on that journey, you’ve been doing a lot of design and maybe I’m wrong. Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

Vitaly: But it’s only recently that we had this conversation, a few potentially on DJing at Smashing Conferences as well. And that’s something I wouldn’t imagine, like I say, 10 years ago when I saw you speaking on stage.

Vitaly: So you really fell deeply in love with electronic music again and now having your own label and all. And can you tell us just briefly that story? It’s like, why and how, and just how it happened and also where it goes?

Elliot: Yeah, sure. I mean, so I have actually been doing music for many, many years, in a very non-serious way. So I sort of started releasing some of my own music when I was in that year off that I mentioned before university. So I was like 18, and I released self-released a couple of EPs after that, but I was never really serious about it.

Elliot: And it wasn’t until, I think it was like 2015, something like that, 2014, 2015, where there were a couple of catalysts. One is that I’d kind of always liked some electronic music, but I was more into kind of rock and metal and stuff like that. And it wasn’t until then that I discovered some techno that for me, I thought, “Wow, this is really interesting music. This is people doing something that I haven’t really heard.”

Elliot: And although it was kind of dance music, it’s not just about dancing. There’s just way more to it than that. And it was really interesting to me. There were a few different artists doing some cool stuff around this time, Monique and Shifted and KiloWatt and Manny D and some people that I just come across. And I found their music genuinely really interesting as a listener.

Elliot: But it spurred me on to kind of say, “Oh, maybe I could do some stuff like this.” And then at exactly the same time I bought some hardware synths from… You can see them, they’re in the background there, these Volcas from, from Korg. And they’re really cheap. They’re analog synths, but they a really, really cheap, really dirty, and they’re just really fun to play with.

Elliot: And as soon as I was playing with them and like tweaking, turning knobs and moving sliders and just playing with the hardware and all those kind of happy accidents, again, that come with playing around with stuff like that. And coupled with the influence of these new artists, I thought, “Wow, this is really interesting. Maybe I could make this kind of thing.”

Elliot: And it just sort of, I suppose, made me start taking it a little bit more seriously. And there was one other catalyst. So in 2015, we had our first daughter and sort of from then, my time to be productive musically, but in general has definitely been very limited.

Elliot: And ironically that’s the time when I spent the most kind of going, “Right, I have to do this thing, I have to be serious about music now.” But I really do think that having that limited time to do this in, whereas before where the world is your oyster, you can spend all the time in the world, having a tiny window in which to be productive has actually helped me focus.

Elliot: Again, that was sort of happened to me rather than anything that… I didn’t kind of like plan for that level of productivity, but that really did help.

Elliot: And so I released my first EP as other form in 2017 and since, and even then I did it and then I kind of went quiet for a bit, but around 2019, things started to pick up again. Started to be making a lot more music, put something else out on a different label. And then I played a gig in Berlin at the end of 2019 and was like, “Hey, this is the start of playing live in like some clubs around the world and stuff.”

Elliot: And then of course, we all know how 2020 went, but during that time, during the pandemic and everything, I really kind of doubled down on getting music out and growing the label and releasing other people’s music not just my own stuff. And it’s been just a whole other adventure, as you say. Just kind of working out that side of things and I love it.

Elliot: It’s very different to design. I don’t think there are many parallels, really. There are certain organizational things that have helped. I mean, I kind of run my design life and my music life on Notion, for instance. But in terms of like their creativity and the kind of label admin stuff, I think it’s very different to my kind of day jobby stuff, and also takes up quite a lot of time. But it’s all fun.

Elliot: As soon as it stops being fun, I’m going to stop doing it.

Vitaly: Yeah. Well, I think that it’s incredible to see this energy in your eyes when I can see it now.

Elliot: Thank you.

Vitaly: And it’s wonderful to see you really kind of shining through, and maybe who knows maybe in a couple of months or so, we’ll see you all over the world. And I know that you will be in some parts of the world, that will be San Francisco.

Elliot: That’s right.

Vitaly: For the smashing conference. So that might be the time when we should be expecting your live performance, as well. What is a snippet of it, right?

Elliot: Maybe, maybe.

Vitaly: Well, maybe we’ll see about that. Well, if you, dear listener would like to hear more from Elliott. You can find him on Twitter where he’s well, what a big surprise, Elliot @elliotjaystocks, and also on his website, which is also a big surprise, So you can always follow along and see what Elliot has to say, and also what he’s working on.

Vitaly: Well, thank you so much today for joining us, Elliot. Do you have any parting words of wisdom with the wonderful peoples listening to us today?

Elliot: No, I don’t have any parting words of wisdom. I hope you didn’t come here expecting wisdom.

Vitaly: Well, that counts for something, right? Well, thank you so much, Elliot and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco.

Elliot: You too. Thank you for having me, Vitaly.

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Google Search Console page experience report now tracks more desktop search features

Google has updated some of the reporting within Google Search Console to track additional desktop features for the page experience report, the company noted. That means you may see an increase in desktop impressions in the page experience report and the performance reports when filtered by “good page experience.”

The announcement. The original announcement was posted yesterday and it was super confusing, but this morning, Google has clarified the announcement to read:

“Search Console now logs impressions in the Page Experience report for additional desktop features, such as Top Stories. As a result, you may see an increase in your desktop impressions in the Page Experience report, as well as in the Search and News performance reports when filtering by the “Good Page Experience” search appearance.”

What changed. Google did not track some desktop features in the page experience report. Now that Google is tracking and logging those impressions for additional desktop features for the page experience report, you may see an increase in impressions starting on and after May 13th. This also can impact the Google Search Console Search and News performance reports when you specifically filter those reports using the “Good Page Experience” search appearance.

What to look out for. If you see a spike or increase in impressions starting on May 13th, you can drill in and filter by “Good Page Experience” search appearance in the Search and News performance reports to see if this is likely from the new logging of additional desktop features.

Google has always logged those impressions in the other reports, but not specifically for when it comes to desktop page experience.

Why we care. This is a reporting change that you should be aware of in Google Search Console. Make sure to annotate your reports and take note of this change and if you notice significant changes in your reporting on or shortly after May 13th, it may be attributed to this change.

The post Google Search Console page experience report now tracks more desktop search features appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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