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They’re Simply the Best: The Top 25 Moz Blog Posts of 2020

Posted by morgan.mcmurray

Here we are again — that time of year filled with wrap-ups and lookbacks and “best of” compilations. 2020 was a year like no other, and that’s certainly reflected in the topics covered by the blogs in the list below.

We published 170 blog posts this year (including Whiteboard Friday episodes) — not too shabby for a year rife with personal and professional challenges! We’re looking forward to what 2021 has in store, but in case you missed anything, we’ve compiled the top 25 most-read pieces from the last 12 months*. You’ll find several Whiteboard Friday episodes (past and present), local SEO tips, and advice for empathetic marketing, along with the optimistic SEO predictions for 2020 and beyond — made in pre-COVID times. 

So without further ado, here are the best Moz Blog posts of 2020. Enjoy!



*The top 25 Moz Blog posts listed below were published between January 1 – December 22, 2020, and are in order by unique pageviews generated during that timeframe.


1. What Readers Want During COVID-19: Content Ideas for Every Niche

Author: Amanda Milligan | Published: March 31, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 49,889

Amanda tested a variety of keywords to see which ones exhibited a trend during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and might warrant some attention from content marketers. Here’s what she found. 

2. Pay Attention to These SEO Trends in 2020 and Beyond

Author: Suganthan Mohanadasan | Published: February 4, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 45,553

In the past several years, we’ve already seen a sea of change in how we think and execute on SEO, but the future holds even more change — and more opportunity. Explore a rundown of key SEO topics to keep an eye on in the future.

3. Are H1 Tags Necessary for Ranking? [SEO Experiment]

Author: Cyrus Shepard | Published: February 25, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 35,414

In earlier days of search marketing, SEOs often heard the same two best practices repeated so many times it became implanted in our brains: Wrap the title of your page in H1 tags and use only one H1 tag per page. Despite assertions from one of Google’s most trusted authorities that sites “can do perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags”, many SEOs didn’t believe it. So of course, we decided to test it scientifically.

4. Google My Business: FAQ for Multiple Businesses at the Same Address

Author: Miriam Ellis | Published: February 17, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 31,883

How should I get listed in Google My Business if I’ve got multiple businesses at the same address? How many listings am I eligible for if I’m running more than one business at my location? Get answers to your top questions in this comprehensive FAQ.

5. Google’s January 2020 Core Update: Has the Dust Settled?

Author: Dr. Peter J. Meyers | Published: January 27, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 31,800

The January 2020 Core Update peaked from January 13-15. We dig into the numbers, including winners and losers.

6. Google’s May 2020 Core Update: Winners, Winnerers, Winlosers, and Why It’s All Probably Crap

Author: Dr. Peter J. Meyers | Published: May 14, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 24,159

The May 2020 Core Update was the second-hottest update since the August 2018 “Medic” Update. Dr. Pete takes a hard look at the numbers, including why measuring winners and losers has turned out to be a tricky business.

7. Core Web Vitals: The Next Official Google Ranking Factor

Author: Cyrus Shepard | Published: July 17, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 21,281

There’s a new ranking factor in town: Core Web Vitals. Expected in 2021, this Google-announced algorithm change has a few details you should be aware of. 

8. SEO for 2020

Author: Britney Muller | Published: January 31, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 20,783

SEO Scientist Britney Muller offers a seventeen-point checklist of things you ought to keep in mind for executing on modern, effective SEO. You’ll encounter both old favorites (optimizing title tags, anyone?) and cutting-edge ideas to power your search strategy into the future.

9. 4 Google My Business Fields That Impact Ranking (and 3 That Don’t)

Author: Joy Hawkins | Published: October 23, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 20,330

Joy and her team at Sterling Sky have come to the conclusion that there are only four things inside the Google My Business dashboard that a business owner or a marketing agency can edit that will have a direct influence on where they rank in the local results on Google.

10. Crawled — Currently Not Indexed: A Coverage Status Guide

Author: Christopher Long | Published: March 9, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 18,354

Within Google’s Index Coverage report, there are many different statuses that provide webmasters with information about how Google is handling their site content. While many of the statuses provide some context around Google’s crawling and indexation decisions, one remains unclear: “Crawled — currently not indexed”. This post will help you identify some of the most common reasons this mysterious status might be affecting your website, and how to address them.

11. How to Get Backlinks in 2020 [Series]

Author: Britney Muller | Published: June 26, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 15,523

A little creativity and smart tactics can uncover high-quality link building opportunities. This week, Britney Muller kicks off a new Whiteboard Friday series on modern link building.

12. Position Zero Is Dead; Long Live Position Zero

Author: Dr. Peter J. Meyers | Published: February 5, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 14,825

On January 22, 2020, Google started removing Featured Snippet URLs from organic listings. We take a deep dive into the before and after of this change, including its implications for rank-tracking.

13. 2020 Local SEO Success: How to Feed, Fight, and Flip Google

Author: Miriam Ellis | Published: January 6, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 13,969

Feed Google the right information, fight spam, and flip it into an opportunity: these are the top three ways to chase local SEO success.

14. Which of My Competitor’s Keywords Should (& Shouldn’t) I Target?

Author: Rand Fishkin | Published: February 21, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 13,638

Which of your competitor’s keywords are worth targeting, and which can be ignored? Learn how to tell the difference in this fan favorite Whiteboard Friday.

15. 10 Basic SEO Tips to Index + Rank New Content Faster

Author: Cyrus Shepard | Published: October 16, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 13,381

When you publish new content, you want users to find it ranking in search results as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks in the SEO toolbox to help you accomplish this goal. 

16. 7 SEO Processes That Get Easier with Increased PageRank/Domain Authority

Author: Cyrus Shepard | Published: February 7, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 12,883

What factors are affected as you improve PageRank or Domain Authority, and how? Cyrus details seven SEO processes that are made easier by a strong investment in link building and growing your authority.

17. Marketing in Times of Uncertainty

Author: Rand Fishkin | Published: April 3, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 12,861

Our work as marketers has transformed drastically in 2020. Our good friend Rand talks about a topic that’s been on the forefront of our minds lately: how to do our jobs empathetically and effectively through one of the most difficult trials in modern memory.

18. A Beginner’s Guide to Ranking in Google Maps

Author: Alex Ratynski | Published: March 16, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 12,836

The majority of your potential customers still use Google to find local businesses near them. In fact, 80% of searches with “local intent” result in a conversion. This begs the question: “What’s the best way to catch the attention of local searchers on Google?” The answer: through Google Maps marketing.

19. The Rules of Link Building

Author: Britney Muller | Published: February 28, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 12,532

Are you building links the right way? Or are you still subscribing to outdated practices? Britney Muller clarifies which link building tactics still matter and which are a waste of time (or downright harmful) in one of our very favorite classic episodes of Whiteboard Friday.

20. How We Ranked a Single Page for 2.6K Keywords Driving 30K Monthly Searches [Case Study]

Author: Kristin Tynski | Published: May 4, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 12,359

In rare cases, SEOs create content that generates results so far beyond what was anticipated that a single project can greatly move the needle. Kristin walks through one such instance for her team’s client, ADT.

21. Understanding & Fulfilling Search Intent

Author: Britney Muller |  Published: June 12, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 12,262

Understanding what your target audience is searching and why is more important than ever. Britney Muller shares everything you need to begin understanding and fulfilling search intent, plus a free Google Sheets checklist download to help you analyze the SERPs you care about most.

22. Title Tags SEO: When to Include Your Brand and/or Boilerplate

Author: Cyrus Shepard | Published: August 31, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 11,850

If your websites are like most, they include a fair amount of extra “stuff” in the title tags: things like your brand name or repeating boilerplate text that appears across multiple pages. But should you include these elements in your titles automatically?

23. How to Query the Google Search Console API

Author: Brian Gorman | Published: March 18, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 11,095

If you’ve been an SEO for even a short time, you’re likely familiar with Google Search Console (GSC). It’s a valuable tool for getting information about your website and its performance in organic search. That said, it does have its limitations. In this post, you’ll learn how to get better-connected data out of Google Search Console and increase the size of your exports by 400%.

24. How to Choose Google My Business Categories (With Cool Tools!)

Author: Miriam Ellis | Published: September 9, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 10,873

Your choice of your primary and secondary categories contributes a lot to Google’s understanding and handling of your business. With so much riding on proper categorization, let’s empower you to research your options like a pro today!

25. A Must-Have Keyword Research Process for Winning SEO

Author: Cyrus Shepard | Published: May 8, 2020 | Unique Pageviews: 10,745

Smart keyword research forms the basis of all successful SEO. Cyrus Shepard shares the basics of a winning keyword research process that you can learn and master in a short amount of time. 

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!

Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

Getting off on the right foot with DAM

Taking the first steps to kick off, or refine, your digital asset management program.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Video: Joe Beccalori on the importance of blending SEO with other digital marketing

Make sure to build R&D into your firm because being one step ahead of your competition is so much more important today than it ever was.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

The 8 Best Books on Working from Home for Remote Work Employees

Remote work is incredible. Goodbye soul-draining commute, uncomfortable “business professional” outfits, and expensive takeout salads.

Hello leisurely mornings, hoodies and slippers, and delicious home-cooked meals.

But remote work is also tough. You’re hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from your colleagues; your home workspace probably lacks some of the bells and whistles of a traditional office; and your work-life boundaries can quickly become nonexistent.

To learn how to conquer these challenges — plus many you haven’t discovered yet — take a look at these books on remote work.

1. Working Remotely: Secrets to Success for Employees on Distributed Teams

By Teresa Douglas, Holly Gordon, and Mike Webber

Unlike many remote work books aimed at leaders and solopreneurs, Douglas, Gordon, and Webber focus on the front-line remote worker. This book is divided into seven chapters, each dedicated to a pillar of WFH success.

You’ll learn how to battle isolation and loneliness, work well with your peers, and manage your inbox. Along with concrete tips, the authors include examples and anecdotes to bring their points home (no pun intended).

2. Work-From-Home Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Get Organized, Stay Productive, and Maintain a Work-Life Balance While Working from Home!

By Aja Frost

On March 20th, I left HubSpot’s Boston office with my monitor and keyboard. I thought I’d use them for a few weeks, a month at the most — then we’d all be back in the office.

Of course, eight months later most of our team is still working from home … and that will be the case for years to come. Maybe forever!

This book is packed with all the advice I wish I’d had when I transitioned to permanent remote work. It covers common scenarios like maintaining boundaries between work and the rest of your life (when your office is also your bedroom or kitchen), combating loneliness and isolation, and overcoming the “out of sight, out of mind” effect. Plus, if you’re a parent, freelancer, or manager, there’s special advice just for you.

By the time you finish, you’ll know everything you need to be successful and happy as a remote worker.

3. The Holloway Guide to Remote Work

By Juan Pablo Buriticá and Katie Womersley, along with contributing authors

This manual will help leaders through common remote work challenges and choices, including hiring, onboarding, and compensating remote employees; creating communication channels and setting expectations; implementing a healthy company culture across time zones; and more.

Buriticá and Womersley draw on their experience as leaders of distributed engineering teams at Splice and Buffer, respectively. Employees from Angel List, Doist, Remote.com, and other remote organizations contributed, as well. As a result, every recommendation is practical, realistic, and often backed by case studies, examples, and/or data.

4. REMOTE: Office Not Required

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of Basecamp

If you’re looking for a manifesto on the benefits of remote work, this one’s for you. Fried and Hansson spend most of REMOTE: Office Not Required refuting the arguments against allowing folks to work from wherever they’d like, such as:

  • You don’t need an office for collaboration
  • Your company size and industry doesn’t matter
  • Your pool of potential employees won’t shrink — it’ll grow

Already believe in remote work? Looking for practical tips on how to do it well? I’d suggest other books, like Work-From-Home Hacks or the Holloway Guide.

5. Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions

By Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran

Microaggressions — or Subtle Acts of Exclusion (SAEs) as Jana and Baran call them — happen whether you’re remote or co-located.

But SAEs are harder to handle when you’re not all in the same room: You can’t drop by someone’s desk to let them know what they said was hurtful, or stop a conversation in its tracks by asking the offender to leave.

And if you’re the one who committed the SAE? The relationship damage is harder to undo without the rapport-building effects of sharing an office.

That makes Jana and Baran’s book an essential read for distributed teams. Learn how to spot, deal with, and most importantly, prevent SAEs so that everyone feels safe and included.

6. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

By Herminia Ibarra

If you’re like me — or any of the other managers I talked to — your professional self-confidence might suffer after going remote.

Why? Because you lose a ton of positive feedback. You’re no longer bumping into your coworkers in the hall, seeing their smiles and nods when you present, hearing their cheers when you win a big account, or getting celebratory drinks after a great quarter.

All the subtle signs that said, You’re doing a great job! are gone.

This book will help restore your confidence. According to Ibarra, the best way to feel like a leader is to act like one. In other words: Your thoughts follow your actions, not the other way around.

She provides you with actionable recommendations to do just that. Whether you’re an individual contributor, executive, or anyone in between, you’ll discover how to step up at work — and boost your self-esteem in the process.

7. The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide

By Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris

Running remote meetings is both science and art. As Clacey and Morris point out in their introduction, virtual meetings are:

  1. More intimidating than in-person ones, as attendees feel isolated from each other and can’t read everyone’s faces
  2. Harder to focus in; eight in ten people multitask
  3. More dependent on the facilitator’s mood and style

To combat these issues, the authors condensed research, personal anecdotes, and strategies into a short but powerful book. In just 153 pages, you’ll get a veritable PhD in remote meeting facilitation. One GoodReads reviewer said, “Everyone who does online meetings should read this book.”

8. The ultimate guide to remote work

By Wade Foster, with content from Danny Schreiber, Matthew Guay, Melanie Pinola, Bethany Hills, Alison Groves, Jeremey DuVall, and Belle Cooper

Zapier has been a remote-first company since its 2011 founding. Safe to say, the team has spent a lot of time thinking about common remote work issues and coming up with scalable solutions.

This guide (which is available online for free) is broken into fifteen chapters. First, you’ll learn how to hire and manage remote employees. Next, you’ll delve into building and maintaining a strong virtual culture, followed by tips on productivity, multi-time-zone collaboration, and avoiding burnout.

And, finally, you’ll discover how to get a remote job (likely easier now than when the e-book was first written) and work smarter, not harder with the remote work tool-kit.

Hopefully, this remote work reading list helps you avoid many of the pitfalls of working from home … while maximizing its benefits.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Search engine saturation: The ever evolving SERP and how brands are responding

30-second summary:

  • The evolution of search results in addition to this crazy pandemic has changed search results more than ever. Including new features to drill down by brand, see news, and reviews.
  • Brands who appear in both paid and organic listings were at the lowest level in 11 years with just 8% of brands appearing in both categories.
  • Google local map pack results are appearing in 47% of search results. The highest since this study has been conducted in four years.

Yes, we know, this year is unlike any other. The world is always changing around us, but this year the pace of change is faster and more jarring than ever. The search engine marketing world has had massive changes. This made my annual look at search engine results very interesting. Starting back in 2010 I started trying to understand how brands handled bidding on paid search when they were also in organic search. Recently, this has also included how often the local map pack + shopping results were included. At a macro level, this year caused massive changes – for example, travel is basically shut down, curbside is now a word that not only we are all familiar with but expect brands to deliver, and ecommerce has experienced explosive growth.

Search engine saturation at the lowest level in 11 years

So how did these macro changes impact the number of brands who appeared in both paid and organic search? Simply put it crashed. Overall, it was down by 60% year over year and 78% from 2018. This was mostly driven by a reduction in paid search results overall. Travel alone was down 78% since 2019. Travel down is very logical and makes sense given the reduction in both consumer and business travel. Travel brands are choosing to not make the investment in paid traffic at this point given the low likelihood of conversion. 

percentage of brands appearing in paid and organic search

What is surprising was the reduction in the retail overlap. Retail volume hasn’t been reduced, instead, it’s simply shifted to a more digitally forward DTC model. Retail search overlap is down 77% year over year to just 3%. That means that just 3% of the page one listings had the same brand in both organic listings and either Paid Search or Shopping listings. This stat is really incredible. We had retail peaking at 33% of brands having listings in both areas just a few years ago. So why the decrease? I think you can directly attribute this to two key factors:

1. The rise of DTC brands

This year has seen the massive growth of brands that are direct to consumers. Take a look at the screenshot below. The search results seen without scrolling are all ads and the top two are DTC brands (Bombas and Mack Weldon). These brands increase the number of competitors to “traditional brands” who would have traditionally competed for these listings. This makes it more difficult to have your listing in both paid and organic search.

2. Google Shopping moving from paid to free

This democratizes smaller brands’ ability to appear in shopping results. The move from paid to free has not only removed any financial barrier allowing more brands to enter. It also lets those brands who were only submitting just portions of their product feed to submitting the entire feed. 

Search Engine Saturation - Google Shopping moves from paid to free

Shopping and local map listings appear on 40% of search results

Long gone are the days of 10 blue links. Now search results are filled with an assortment of various results from the local map pack, shopping results, news, images, “brand refinement,” and reviews to name a few. These results complicate things for brands. Understanding how all these pieces fit together and impact the customer journey and customer experience isn’t easy. 


Search results for ecommerce related queries

For the purposes of this article let’s just focus on how often these various types of listings appear. Starting with Shopping listings. The frequency of times a shopping listing is included in a search result has been fairly consistent at around 40%. One theory would be change from paid to free listings would decrease the number of shopping ads Google would show to maximize revenue. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, the results are consistent with Google’s overall strategy to continue to provide consumer choice and fight against Amazon as the first source for retail searches.

Stats on retail search

It’s a different story for the local map pack. This has continued to grow year on year. This year it was the highest since I started tracking this 4 years ago at 47%. This finding was fascinating given the economic environment we are in. However, Google continues to want to provide choices to consumers and support local businesses. There have been a lot of updates to the Google My Business product over the past few years and those investments are showing up by being included in more search results.

Search engine saturation - Stats on industries

Maximize your SERP for your customers

There are three things we recommend our clients think about when trying to determine how to best optimize their search engine strategy.

1. Understand the customer experience

You should always walk through the experience that your customers would be having. Understand what they might be seeing and experiencing. Are landing pages and ad copy aligned? Is another brand providing a better-optimized schema that provides direct answers for a key consumer query? You need to understand what they are experiencing to be able to create a strong search engine marketing strategy.

2. Understand your KPIs

Not everyone can afford $60 for a car insurance paid search click. Understanding what you can afford and what your key business drivers are is key. Your strategy and ability to be aggressive might be different for different targets, keywords, etc… This is a great place to understand your various customers, some are more valuable than others and can impact your bid modifiers. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is the key to this important pillar.

3. Always be testing

As you can see from these results things have changed a lot over the years and will continue to do so. Personalization will continue to drive these results based on the specific individual making it even harder to understand what’s driving impact. The key is to accept change and build a plan that enables testing and optimization. This will help keep your continue fresh on your site, the big strategy agile, and your technical architecture held accountable for SEO results. These elements will help you stay ahead of the competition who might be distracted by other elements or relying on previous success.

Jason Tabeling is CEO at AirTank. He can be found on Twitter @jtabeling.

The post Search engine saturation: The ever evolving SERP and how brands are responding appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

What to expect from SEO in 2021?

30-second summary:

  • The pace of technological advances and progress in the SEO sector isn’t slowing down, and you should expect major changes and updates in 2021.
  • Google has already announced two algorithm updates slated for March and May 2021.
  • There are various trends for SEO in 2020 like UX SEO and feature snippets which appear to become more prominent in the upcoming year.

From the humble beginnings of the Internet and online advertising, we’ve reached an era where the Internet is an essential communication tool, and online advertising is valued at more than 400 billion dollars a year, more prominent than even the TV ad industry. The global pandemic only accelerated this trend and pushed more companies online. So, what can we expect out of SEO in 2021? Which trends should we be looking forward to? Which changes will impact the industry? In this article, we’ll discuss the main trends we expect to have an impact and change the direction of SEO in the coming year.

Direct changes to search engines

SEO is entirely dependent on the major search engines, primarily Google. Any changes to Google’s modus operandi, algorithm, and priorities will have direct, wide-ranging impacts on SEO in 2021. These changes lead to losses in billions of dollars for some businesses while leading to gains of billions of dollars for others. It is important to be aware of the upcoming changes and how to best prepare for them.

#1 Page experience as a ranking factor on Google [May 2021]

As of May 2021, you should expect what Google dubs as “page experience signals” to be a ranking factor. The page experience refers to the way the visitors feel as they interact with the web page. It is determined by a multitude of attributes from mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and the others. These were already ranking factors previously, but they’ve been more institutionalized and work within the “page experience” framework. Furthermore, Google is introducing Core Web Vitals as part of ‘page experience’. They’re considered to be user-centric metrics that try to determine the quality of the user experience. These user-centric metrics will measure the loading speed (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay), and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). The first two items that go into Core Web Vitals seem quite self-evident, so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to spend more time explaining them in this article.

Although, the third item might confuse some people. Visual stability refers to how much the layout shifts and jumps around. For example, imagine if a button tracks your mouse and jumps around whenever you get close to it, this is quite a self-evidently bad user experience, and this variable aims to capture this. The self-advertised purpose of adding an explicit page experience ranking factor is so that Google can provide higher-quality, more engaging content to its users. Considering the variables that it takes account of, a website with a high page experience score will load faster, be more interactive, more stable, more secure, more mobile-friendly, and much more. These all combined, admittedly, will lead to a superior experience.

Get featured in top stories without AMP

Another purpose of the introduction of the new page experience ranking framework is to make non-AMP content eligible to appear in the Top Stories feature for mobile phones. It is one of the main ways websites drive traffic to their content from mobile, so this could be a significant change that would disrupt the rankings of many websites on mobile. This change will also roll out in May of 2021, which makes May a hell of a busy month for SEO specialists.

We need to be ready for all the drastic changes this change in the algorithm can bring. We can’t possibly ascertain its impact at this stage.

#2 Mobile-first indexing for all websites on Google [March 2021]

Mobile-first indexing is certainly not new, Google has been using it for more than several years. It was first introduced as an answer to a widespread problem: more and more people are using their phones to look up stuff and browse the net. The problem is that the mobile and desktop versions of websites don’t always match up in content, and Google usually only indexes one version, which traditionally was the PC version. This creates a mismatch between the rankings on mobile and the content on these pages. To alleviate this mismatch as it was becoming a growing problem due to the increasing popularity of mobile, Google decided to implement mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing refers to the practice of indexing the mobile version of the website first in Google’s databases instead of the desktop version. This would accurately gauge the amount of content on mobile sites and their relevance before displaying the results.

Going from an entirely desktop-first indexing scheme to an entirely mobile-first one would’ve been a massive step, however, and this is why Google has been taking years implementing this change. It started by allowing the option to webmasters to change their website indexing to mobile-first. It was followed by making mobile-first the default option for crawling new websites. The final and latest update is going to come in March 2021 when Google will start making mobile-first indexing the default option for all websites. This means that the way your website is indexed and the content that’s considered might change in March. It is hard to determine how big of an impact this will make beforehand, but you should expect some instability.

Thankfully, Google has published a basic guideline to ensuring the transition to mobile-first indexing goes smoothly on your website:

  • Make sure the content of your website is visible to Google crawlers and bots.
  • Ensure you fill out all the relevant meta tags on both the mobile and the desktop

versions of your landing pages.

  • Ensure that your mobile website loads quickly by enabling lazy loading.
  • Ensure that you are not blocking any relevant mobile-specific URLs in your robots.txt file.
  • Although it is hard to ensure identical content, you should try to have at least identical primary content on both versions.
  • Check the alt tags of both image and video embeds.

Wider SEO trends

Aside from specific updates to algorithms, we have prior information about, some wider trends in the sector that are going to change how we engage with SEO. Some of these trends have been going on for years and only just accelerating and others are new. Below, we’ll cover the most prominent ones.

#1 Voice search is becoming more and more prominent

Voice search was virtually non-existent just five years ago. Still, the development and proliferation of Alexa, Google Assistant, and a multitude of other voice assistants over the last few years have popularized voice search beyond our wildest dreams. According to data, voice search revenue will more than quadruple from 2017 to 2022 from just 2 billion to 40 billion dollars. This explosion in popularity presents opportunities and challenges to traditional SEO approaches. Just as an example, in voice searches, getting the first position is much more important than it is in traditional text searches. That’s why you need different approaches to capitalize on this new, emerging SEO arena fully.

#2 Feature snippets and microdata

Google is trying to introduce more and more types of featured snippets to its home page. These range from recipes to news and tutorials. These snippets aim to make searching faster for users and keep traffic on Google’s website. It is nevertheless beneficial for websites to implement it because you have a chance to be featured, which would drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Of course, getting featured doesn’t always mean you’ll see exponential growth in traffic, but data from Ahrefs shows it matters a lot! On average, getting featured means you’ll get, on average, around 8,6% CTR while the top ‘natural result’ will get 19,6% of the traffic. This is extremely impressive and shows that the featured snippet steals a substantial amount of clicks from the top position, which would get around 26% CTR in SERPs without a featured snippet. Although, you have to be careful about how Google features you. You should monitor your ranking and readjust your snippet and optimize it for more clicks.

#3 Non-textual content

As we move into the next year, we’re seeing an Internet saturated with blogs and landing pages. and it is becoming increasingly difficult to rank for noteworthy keywords with decent traffic. That’s why many SEO agencies are trying to expand their reach by diversifying the type of content they produce and publish. Infographics are one of the easier ways to create engagement and rank higher. Although, even they’ve been overused in recent years. A much more promising frontier for 2021 seems to be videos. These could be uploaded to Youtube as standalone content or embedded in your website too. It’ll help you gain more traffic from Youtube views, which seems way less saturated than Google’s traditional search engine currently. This doesn’t mean it is any less important. YouTube generates 15 billion dollars for Google each year. It is a platform you can’t afford to ignore.

It is also worth mentioning that there are specific video snippets on SERPs that you can only rank for through video content, and these video snippets are really prominent on search queries beginning with “how-to”, asking for tutorials, and other forms of educational content. They are prime real estate that you can potentially rank for with a reasonably produced video.

#4 UX SEO

The days where SEO was just about meta-tags and titles have long gone. Nowadays, SEO is an intricate subject that combines expertise from many different fields from marketing to software engineering and creative writing to achieve the best result. A recent trend in SEO that is gaining more and more stream is the UX SEO framework.

UX SEO refers to the practice of optimizing the user experience of a website to achieve better conversion rates and engagement. It isn’t only important that your site gets regular visitors, but it is also equally important to ensure that these visitors engage with your website. UX redesign success stories are almost limitless, for example, ESPN found out that just a homepage redesign increased their revenues by 35%. There is no reason why UX optimization could not be an integral part of your SEO strategy, and UX SEO gives you a framework to achieve this.

Conclusion

Each year, Google introduces more than 3600 small changes to their algorithms, and each year, trends emerge in this volatile sector that nobody has been able to predict. You need to continually keep up with the news to be on top of your SEO game, reading an article on the trends in the upcoming year isn’t enough. Nevertheless, I tried to make this article as comprehensive as possible, and you should be moderately prepared for the challenges ahead if you pay attention to all the trends that I’ve featured here.

Adrian Kempiak is CTO at Neadoo Digital – SEO agency. Adrian is a tech enthusiast, in the SEO industry for over 9 years. Consultations and audits for businesses from various markets. Responsible for running both worldwide SEO campaigns for ecommerce stores and local SEO for businesses worldwide (UK, USA, Australia, Spain, and much more).

The post What to expect from SEO in 2021? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Which Social Networks Should You Advertise on in 2021?

Whether you use it to supplement your existing inbound marketing efforts or it makes up your entire strategy, you’ve probably used social media to meet your marketing objectives.

There are various social media platforms to choose from, and each comes with a user base that brings different advertising potential. Even though there are so many platforms, HubSpot marketing experts Kelly Hendrickson and Andrew Delaney don’t think that you should be using all of them.

Featured Resource: Digital Advertising Training Course

Hendrickson says, “When it comes to choosing which social platforms to invest in, there’s often not a one-size-fits-all answer.” This is because, based on your business’s buyer personas and marketing goals, certain channels will help your advertisements gain more traction, while others may not be as impactful.

This post covers six different social media platforms to give you an understanding of when you should and shouldn’t elect to use them in your social media advertising strategy.

Which social networks should you advertise on?

When deciding which social networks to use, Delaney says, “It’s difficult to recommend one platform or another for social advertising.” It’s best to take a holistic view of your needs, what the platform has to offer and go from there.

That being said, some social networks are better equipped for meeting overall marketing needs than others, and we’ll discuss those below.

Facebook

Facebook has around 1.82 billion daily active users and is one of the most popular social media platforms. It is also the leading marketing platform worldwide, with 91% of B2B and 96% of B2C marketers using it for advertising and marketing.  

Given this, Hendrickson says, “For better or for worse, every business needs a Facebook advertising presence.” The platform has the most powerful tools for optimizing and targeting, enabling marketers to create a true buyer’s journey within the platform. Hendrickson adds, “It’s also a lot of bang for your buck,” meaning that conversion rates on the platform are high (4.7%, to be exact).

Whether you’re a software company or a clothing business, you’ll likely find success on Facebook, especially if you use their ad management tool and create a Facebook marketing strategy that carefully considers your target audiences.

You can think of it like this: 15% of Facebook users use the platform to find and shop for products. Suppose you’re an eCommerce business that has targeted the right audiences for your advertisements. In that case, the networks’ high conversion rates say that your target market, who are already using the platform to shop, are likely to make purchases based on your ads.

Should you choose to use Facebook, you can use automation software, like Perfect Audience, to ensure that you’re continuously nurturing leads and targeting the most qualified customers. Perfect Audience helps you generate lists of users on Facebook that are most likely to become customers and re-targets them for continuous influence.

If you’re a HubSpot user, the tool integrates with Marketing Hub, and you can analyze campaign success and track conversions. Once you understand who your most qualified customers are, Perfect Audience helps you continuously re-target those customers to maximize your influence. The image below displays a summary of a campaign analysis on the Perfect Audience platform.

perfect audience hubspot integration campaign analysis demo

When shouldn’t you advertise on Facebook?

Despite being useful for most businesses, there are still times where advertising on the platform is not as beneficial.

For example, if you don’t have a deep understanding of who your target audience is, it might be best to place Facebook on the back burner until you can gain a thorough understanding of who they are. While ad targeting on Facebook is specific, and the algorithm learns from your leads over time, the process begins with a pre-existing list of groups to target.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual social media platform, favoring high-quality images and video content. The network has around 500 million daily active users, and 62.7% of its global audience are between 18-34 years old. In terms of user activity, 70% of shopping enthusiasts report using the app for product discovery.

Considering those facts, Instagram can be very profitable for B2C businesses (82% of B2C marketers are already using it), especially those that use high-quality photos and visuals to attract leads and drive conversions. Instagram has recently re-designed their mobile application to be more shopping focused than ever before, making it easier to advertise and sell products without needing customers to navigate to a website storefront.  

In addition, Instagram is beneficial for eCommerce businesses as a means of customer service. Rather than having users email questions or call customer service, you can ask followers to directly message you with questions, comment on your posts, and you can even post instructional videos explaining how your products work.

So, in sum, if you’re an eCommerce business that can produce high-quality visual content to attract and engage leads, Instagram is worth considering.

When shouldn’t you advertise on Instagram?

Unlike Facebook, Instagram really only caters to B2C businesses. If you’re a more corporate business not focused on individual consumer purchases, you’ll likely have some trouble marketing on Instagram and cultivating engagement.

However, using Instagram and not producing the high-quality content that the app requires won’t aid in your marketing efforts. Users on the app expect high-quality content, so having these visuals is crucial, regardless of your business type. If you don’t have the time or the means, turning to a different platform will likely bring more success as you dedicate time to learn about Instagram and create high-quality visual content for future use.

Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging social media platform, with 330 million monthly active users and 145 million daily active users. It’s popular in 20 different countries, and its users send out around 500 million tweets per day.  It’s also popular with businesses, as 59% of B2B marketers and 53% of B2C marketers use the platform to meet their marketing goals.

Like Facebook, the possibilities for exposure on the app are incredibly high because of user count. Hendrickson says that, because of this, “Twitter is great to build awareness for your brand and reputation as a thought leader.”

social network advertising

Some of Twitter’s main features, like hashtags, make it easy to reach a wide variety of audiences without having to target them specifically (plus, hashtags don’t come with a price tag). It’s worth noting that tweets with hashtags get 100% more engagement.

In addition to organic advertising, Twitter also has targeted marketing options that allow you to promote content to your key audiences.

In short, there are a variety of businesses that can advertise on Twitter. Smaller companies that may not have a large advertising budget can use free targeting with business-related hashtags. So can larger B2B enterprise businesses (as HubSpot does) that use paid advertising. Twitter can also be beneficial for any business with a significant understanding of their customer base, as ad targeting allows you to select relevant categories and demographic groups that may become qualified leads after seeing your campaigns.

However, Twitter is not the platform that will bring in a significant amount of site traffic conversions.

When shouldn’t you advertise on Twitter?

Hendrickson says, “Looking for site traffic? Twitter is probably not your friend. It’s tough to ask that audience to click and leave the platform.” If your overall marketing goal is to drive conversions to generate site traffic, it’s best to look elsewhere for those metrics.

Even though there are ways to target specific groups through hashtags without spending money, there is only so much you can do organically on Twitter to generate consistent engagement without consistent virality. If you’re a smaller business with a limited budget, relying on hashtags and mentions to advertise your business will make it challenging to hold out against larger, established businesses on the platform.

It may be best to then choose a platform that speaks more to your needs and use Twitter as a supplementary marketing channel.

Which social networks shouldn’t you advertise on?

All of the above platforms work for specific advertising needs. However, marketers with different goals can still develop a presence on the app and build their strategy until they need those marketing objectives. Delaney says, “Your success on different social media platforms can vary depending on your goal or objective, as well as your industry and where your target audience spends your time.”

social media channels to advertise on

There are other social media platforms whose audience and target demographics are so specific that it will be challenging to find success without meeting their niche requirements, like LinkedIn and TikTok.

That being said, this doesn’t mean that you should never consider these platforms. Instead, their user base is so niched that businesses who don’t have an explicit need for what the platform has to offer likely can’t make use of it.

Below, we’ll go over these two platforms, what they can be used for, and give marketers an idea of when they may be able to make use of these platforms in the future.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a unique social media platform, catered entirely towards businesses and working professionals. Although its user base is extremely specific, LinkedIn has powerful, targeted ad capabilities that can help marketers reach over 690 million users.

The costs of running LinkedIn ad campaigns are relatively high. Still, the audiences you’ll reach are higher-quality than other sites because leads are much more qualified than other social media channels. Your ads will always be seen by business-minded individuals targeted based on relevant demographic information like job title, claimed industry, and working location.

In addition to its higher costs, LinkedIn doesn’t have high click-through rates (the average is .45% lower than Facebook).

Because of its exclusivity, eCommerce businesses and B2C businesses will likely have little success in their LinkedIn marketing efforts, as platform users don’t browse with the intent of making purchases as they would on Instagram or Facebook, and even less than they would on Twitter.

Having said that, B2B businesses that use the platform may have something to gain.  

When should you advertise on LinkedIn?

82% of B2B marketers report using LinkedIn as a means of networking and making professional connections. Whether you’re hoping to raise brand awareness, get event registrations, advertise job opportunities, or recruit new employees, LinkedIn’s ad manager will help you designate target audiences and draw in the leads you need.  

If you’re looking to advertise a new job opportunity, use LinkedIn. If you’re hoping to network and grow connections in your field, use LinkedIn. If you’re a recruiter, use LinkedIn. The cost of advertising on the platform pays off for those who use it because, as mentioned above, the leads are significantly more qualified than they would be if you were to advertise a job on Facebook.

If you choose to incorporate LinkedIn into your B2B marketing strategy, using a platform like RollWorks can help you track campaign success and understand if the platform is worthwhile for your marketing strategy. RollWorks will give you campaign metrics in the form of activity graphs that provide overviews of conversions, cost per click (CPC), and return on investment (ROI).

RollWorks can be integrated with HubSpot, allowing you to get an overview of your campaign success across all platforms.

Nevertheless, B2C businesses do have opportunities to use LinkedIn for a variety of different scenarios besides engagement and conversions. For example, if you’re a B2C company looking to open a new storefront in an entirely different city, using LinkedIn to advertise job postings can be beneficial. The ad targeting will help you segment relevant audiences in that location and recruit professionals best suited for those positions.

TikTok

TikTok is a relatively new advertising platform for marketers to use. The company recently launched TikTok For Business, where marketers can learn about TikTok advertising and create ads that are best suited for the app.

The social media network has recently taken off and is available in 155 different countries, with over 600 million active monthly users. These users spend more time on the app than any other social media site, having an average session time of 10.85 minutes. Given this, the advertising potential on TikTok is high, especially when it comes to awareness and engagement.

TikTok, like over visual platforms, favors high-quality videos, but the preferred type of video content is different, which makes it more difficult to find success. This is because TikTok is popular among Generation Z, and most of its users are between the ages of 10 and 19. While the app can give you exposure to a younger audience than most other social media apps, this demographic is very specific in the types of content they enjoy. They shy away from ‘sales-to-drive’ leads promotions and prefer informal behind the scenes content ads.

They like to see a more human side of your business, like who creates the products you produce and what day-to-day looks like for your business employees. If your business is not prepared to meet these needs, it will be hard to benefit from the high engagement rates that TikTok has to offer. However, there is always room for growth and businesses to devise a marketing plan that favors TikTok preferences.

When should you use TikTok?

Businesses that will find the most success on the app are ready to, or already, create and post behind the scenes, organic content on their account. If you’re a clothing company, this could look like a behind the scenes video of a photoshoot for your new clothing line.

If your brand or business is B2B focused and typically creates sales-driven formal content, utilizing the platform would require a significant amount of focus diverted to a TikTok marketing strategy to make the content it prefers. Henrickson says, “When it comes to newer or more experimental channels like TikTok, they’re worth trying if you have the resources. Beating the competition to a platform and succeeding is great, but if your other tried and true channels suffer because of it, it probably isn’t the right move for your brand in the long run.”

advertising on social media platforms

That being said, if your business is looking to branch out and produce content to display a new, human side of your company, TikTok is a great place to start, especially since engagement rates are higher than Instagram and Twitter across all follower levels. Using the platform can help you diversify your content types and share a creative side of your business.

Additionally, TikTok does favor influencer marketing and influencer content. If your business already uses this type of advertising, using TikTok as a place to post this content is worth considering.

Making Your Final Decision

Choosing the platform you’ll use to execute your marketing strategy depends on your overall business goals and business type. If you’re consumer-purchase focused, you want to use a platform that will entice your audience to purchase your products, like high-quality Instagram photos. If you’re a recruiting company, you want professionals to know that you’re serious about your efforts and not running a scam, like LinkedIn job postings.

Delaney says, “I’m usually in favor of testing out various types of creative content across different objectives and audiences on multiple platforms, iterating on those results, and comparing over time.” You may find that a platform you initially thought was best doesn’t draw in the results you were hoping for.

If you analyze your campaign metrics and pay attention to the campaigns you run, you’ll get the information you need to make educated decisions about your marketing efforts. You can determine which platform offers the best results for your business and use that to inform future media placements.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

11 Public Speaking Tips From the World's Best Speakers & Communication Experts [SlideShare]

On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in one of the most captivating product launches in history. Indeed the iPhone was a revolutionary product, but it wasn’t the iPhone that inspired thousands of people to camp out in the cold over night. It was Jobs’ unique presentation style — which Apple fans referred to as a “Stevenote” — that helped make this among the most awe-inspiring, memorable keynotes ever delivered.

As Carmine Gallo puts it in his book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Steve “transformed the typical, dull, technical, plodding slideshow into a theatrical event complete with heroes, villains, a supporting cast, and stunning backdrops. People who witness a Steve Jobs presentation for the first time describe it as an extraordinary experience.”

Steve Jobs was one of the world’s most captivating communicators. Even if you’re not the star of a highly anticipated product launch or a best-selling author and entrepreneur, chances are, you’re going to be standing in front of an audience at some point in your career.

Take these lessons from the world’s most captivating presenters and communication experts and apply them to your next presentation.

1. Start with a clear message and purpose.

 “If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.”

 

Dianna Booher, Communication Expert

Chances are, if you don’t know what’s most important for your audience to know, they won’t either.

Don’t even begin your presentation without first understanding what, in simple terms, you want the audience to take away. This purpose and message becomes your guiding star. Once you can convey it in the simplest terms, you’ll be able to build from that foundation to support your points.

2. Begin on paper, not PowerPoint.

 “The single most important thing you can do to dramatically improve your presentations is to have a story to tell before you work on your PowerPoint file.”

 

— Cliff Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points

Think back to the last time you prepared for a presentation. Did you start by outlining the story you would tell on paper? Did you then gradually weave in meaningful data, examples, and supporting points, based on that outline? Did you have a clear unifying message that your audience would remember even without the benefit of a transcript or notes?

Chances are, you answered “no” to those questions. If you’re like most people, you probably “prepared” by opening up PowerPoint the night before your presentation, cobbling together a few dozen slides from decks you or your colleagues have used in the past, peppering in a few stock photos, and counting on your ability to “wing it” in person.

The world’s most captivating communicators know better. They invest more time in the idea than the slides. Don’t sell yourself short by jumping head-first into presentation software. Take the time to thoughtfully craft your story on paper before you even think about creating a single slide.

3. Think of your presentation as a story.

 “Personal stories are the emotional glue that connects the audience to your message.”

 

Nancy Duarte, Communication Expert

Expert speakers carefully, painstakingly plan, storyboard, script, design, and rehearse their presentations like an Oscar-winning Hollywood director prepares their film for the big screen. They’ve seen the impact that a carefully crafted story can have on influencing an audience, and they know that skipping this crucial first step is what separates average communicators from extraordinary ones.

According to Nancy Duarte, the communications expert behind Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, presenters should dedicate roughly 30 hours to researching, organizing, sketching, storyboarding, scripting, and revising the story for a one-hour presentation.

4. Tell your story in 3 acts.

“The way something is presented will define the way you react to it.”

 

Neville Brody, Designer

Most presentations follow some variation on the following format:

  1. Who I am 
  2. What I do (or what my company does)
  3. How my product/company/idea is different
  4. Why you should buy/invest/support me now

The world’s most captivating communicators typically rely on a three-act structure, more common in modern storytelling than in corporate conference rooms. The narrative is divided into three parts — the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution — and comes complete with vivid characters, heroes, and villains.

The following image provides a snapshot of the three-act structure and which critical questions are answered for the audience in each:

Notice that this structure turns the typical presentation “flow” on its head.

Instead of following a WHO > WHAT > HOW > WHY flow, master communicators like Steve Jobs prefer a WHY > HOW > WHAT format:

  1. Why should the audience care
  2. How the idea/product will make their lives better
  3. What action they need to take

This works because expert speakers recognize that the first thing they need to do when standing in front of an audience is get them to care.

By structuring your presentation with a clear and compelling beginning, middle, and end, you’ll take your audience on an exciting journey… the kind that inspires action, sells products, and funds businesses.

5. It’s not always about being unique. 

 “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.”

 

Malala Yousafzai, Activist and Speaker

Writers and communicators often agonize over how they can be innovative and different. However, sometimes it’s better to be universal and resonant.

Malala’s story has been described as inspiring, courageous, and touching, yet “Malala does not consider herself extraordinary. That is ‘simply Malala,’ as she would describe herself” (Source).

Nonetheless, her speaking and advocacy helps to fight for girls’ education on an international scale.

If you bring authenticity and passion to your audience, saying something new becomes less of a concern.

6. You don’t need to memorize word-for-word.

 “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

Maya Angelou, Poet and Activist

It’s natural to want to deliver your speech “perfectly” every time. Your inclination might be to memorize each word or read directly from your speaker’s notes. This can cause a lot of undue nervousness. But guess what? You can let that all go.

Your audience doesn’t know what you were going to say; they only hear what you are saying. And, as Maya Angelou said, they won’t remember the exact words you spoke but rather how you spoke them and how it made them feel.

Instead of memorization, rely on the topic you know well. Practice explaining it off the cuff.

7. Speak from the heart.

 “Emotionally charged events persist much longer in our memories and are recalled with greater accuracy than neutral memories.”

 

— John Medina, Brain Rules

Maya Angelou’s quote in the previous tip isn’t just about memorization, though. There’s another point she’s making.

While virtually every presentation relies on some form of data to illustrate or emphasize the core point, master communicators like Steve Jobs know that data alone ain’t enough.

Science again comes to our aid in explaining how and why this is important. In his book, Brain Rules, molecular biologist John Medina has this to say about the role of emotion on the human brain:

“An emotionally charged event (usually called an ECS, short for emotionally competent stimulus) is the best-processed kind of external stimulus ever measured.” 

Chip and Dan Heath further elaborate on the impact that emotion can have on persuasive communication in their book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The authors describe an exercise that Chip does with his students at Stanford University. The students are tasked with giving a one-minute persuasive speech. Everyone must present on the same topic, with half the class arguing for one point of view and the other half arguing for the opposite point of view.

After everyone has given their one-minute speech, the students are invited to rate each other on the effectiveness of the presentations, and then instructed to write down key points made by each speaker.

Here’s the data they collected from this exercise:

  • On average, the students used 2.5 statistics during their one-minute speeches
  • 1/10 of the students used a personal story to make their point
  • 63% of the class remembered details from the speeches that used stories
  • Only 5% remember the statistics that were shared

The Heaths drew this conclusion from the data:

“The stars of stickiness are the students who made their case by telling stories, or by tapping into emotion, or by stressing a single point rather than ten.”

With this in mind, make sure your presentation content goes beyond pure “facts.” Triggering audience emotion is a guaranteed way to increase retention and impact of your core message. You can do that by speaking from the heart.

8. Use compelling imagery as a component in your speech.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words.”

There’s a reason why expressions like, “Seeing is believing” and, “A picture is worth 1000 words” are so universally recognized — and that reason is based in science.

It’s called the Picture Superiority Effect, and it refers to a large body of research, which shows that humans more easily learn and recall information that is presented as pictures than when the same information is presented in words.

In one experiment, for instance, subjects who were presented with information orally could remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. Those who were presented with information in picture format were able to recall 65% of the content.

Picture superiority effect demonstrated with the word circle vs. an image of a circle

Not only do we remember visual input better, but we also process visual information 60,000x faster in the brain than we do text.

Sure, it takes more time to find and select awesome images to replace text, but master communicators know that it’s worth the extra effort to achieve maximum impact and maximum audience retention.

9. Ditch the bullet points.

 “The minute you put bullet points on the screen, you are announcing ‘write this down, but don’t really pay attention to it now.’ People don’t take notes at the opera.”

 

— Seth Godin, Really Bad PowerPoint

Seth’s right. Researchers have demonstrated time and time again that text and bullet points are the least effective way to deliver important information. Yet despite clear evidence that wordy, bullet-point-heavy slides don’t work, the average PowerPoint slide has 40 words. No wonder SlideRocket has found that 32% of people fall asleep during PowerPoint presentations, and 20% would rather go to the dentist than sit through another one!

This may be hard to believe, but Steve Jobs never used a single bullet point. Not once. His presentations were always remarkable spare, relying on a few powerful images and carefully selected words or phrases.

Even during product demos where Jobs explains or demonstrates key benefits of a new product, his slides are refreshingly devoid of bullet points. 

Our short-term memory can hold onto fewer than 7 items for no longer than 10-15 seconds.

So, imagine you’re introducing the world’s thinnest notebook. Replace the bulleted list of techie product features with a photograph of a large, manila office envelope.

Or perhaps you’re trying to inspire an audience to help your nonprofit end the water crisis? Skip the bulleted list of statistics in favor of a short, powerful video that shows rather than tells why everyone in the room should care.

10. Spend time rehearsing.

 “Spending energy to understand the audience and carefully crafting a message that resonates with them means making a commitment of time and discipline to the process.”

 

— Nancy Duarte, Communications Expert

Creating a presentation that informs, entertains, AND inspires an audience takes a lot of time. The first 30 hours will be spent researching, sketching, planning, and revising your story. The next 30 hours will go toward building simple, highly visual slides with very few words and NO BULLETS.

But the final 30 hours will go toward rehearsing the delivery.

It takes 90 hours to craft a world-class, 60-minute presentation.

When was the last time you spent 30 hours rehearsing for a presentation?

Of all of the lessons revealed above, this one is undoubtedly the most often overlooked. Don’t be the person who does everything by the book, only to blow it all at the very end by failing to practice. A lot.

30 hours of rehearsing may be painful. It’s definitely time-consuming. But there are no shortcuts to excellence.

11. Use plain English.

 “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.”

 

— Steve Jobs

When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPod, he could have said something like this: 

“Today we’re introducing a new, portable music player that weighs a mere 6.5 ounces, is about the size of a sardine can, and boasts voluminous capacity, long battery life, and lightning-fast transfer speeds.”

But he didn’t. Instead, he said: “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.”

Jobs could have described the MacBook Air as a “smaller, lighter MacBook Pro with a generously-sized 13.3-inch, 1280- by 800-pixel, glossy LED screen and a full-size keyboard.”

Instead, he walked on stage with an office-sized manila envelope, pulled the notebook out and simply said, “What is MacBook Air? In a sentence, it’s the world’s thinnest notebook.”   

Steve Jobs introduces the MacBook Air

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Jobs generally avoided complicated stats, technical data, buzzwords, and jargon in his presentations. Instead, he relied on simple, clear, direct language that was easy to understand, easy to remember, and better yet, extremely “tweetable.” Jobs frequently used metaphors and analogies to bring meaning to numbers.

A closer look at some of Jobs’ most famous keynotes reads like a presentation in “headlines” — powerful, memorable, specific statements that consistently add up to fewer than 140 characters.

Now take a look at one of your recent presentations. Is it buoyant with simple, specific, tweetable headlines? Does the script read like plain English that a 7-year-old could understand? Do you put data and stats in context so their meaning is clear and easy-to-digest? Have you ruthlessly pruned out all of the jargon, including overused, meaningless terms like “integrated,” “platform,” “leading-edge,” “synergy,” and so on?

If you want to improve your ability to persuade an audience, do your best Steve Jobs impression. Use simple language, free of jargon. Make sure your key messages are concrete and consistent. And don’t forget to use vivid metaphors or analogies to provide context and clarity around big numbers and complex ideas. 

Final Thoughts on These Public Speaking Tips

On September 28, 1997, Apple debuted its now famous “Think Different” ad campaign, which featured a series of black-and-white images of iconic figures like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., and Amelia Earhart. While their images flashed on the screen, the following words were spoken:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

The goal of the “Think Different” campaign was to sell computers. Notice how the word “computer” didn’t appear even once in the script.

I point this out as a final thought, because it summarizes a crucial, remarkable quality shared by most of the world’s most captivating communicators. They may have wildly different presentation styles, but they all have this in common:

They don’t just provide “information;” they convey meaning — and they do it with passion.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

The Beginner's Guide to Keyword Density

Keywords are a critical part of your SEO strategy.

Along with relevant content and optimized website design, ranking for the right keywords helps your site stand out from the crowd — and get closer to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

So it’s no surprise that a substantial amount of SEO advice centers on keywords: Doing your research can help you select and rank for top-performing keywords in your market, in turn boosting user engagement and increasing total sales.

But how many keywords are enough? How many are too many? How do you know? And what happens if Google and other search engines determine your site is “stuffed” with keywords?

In our beginner’s guide to keyword density we’ll cover the basics, dig into why it matters, and offer functional formulas and simple tools that can help make sure your keyword strategies are working as intended.

What is keyword density?

Keyword density — also called keyword frequency — describes the number of times a specific keyword appears on a webpage compared to the total word count.

It’s often reported as a percentage or a ratio; the higher the value, the more your selected keyword appears on your page.

Why Keyword Density Matters

Keywords drive searches. When users go looking for products or services they’ll typically use a keyword that reflects their general intent, and expect search engines to serve up relevant results.

While tools like Google now take into account factors such as geographical area and page authority — defined in part by the number of visitors to your webpage and in part by “dofollow” links from reputable sites that link back to your page — keywords remain a critical factor in website success.

The caveat? You can’t simply “stuff” as many keywords as possible into your content and expect reliable results.

During the wild west days of the first search engines, brands and SEO firms would write low-value content and cram it with keywords and keyword tags, along with links to similarly-stuffed pages on the same site. Not surprisingly, visitors grew frustrated and search engine providers realized they needed a better approach.

Now, keyword stuffing has the opposite effect — search engines will penalize the page rankings of sites that still choose to keyword stuff.

By the Numbers: The Keyword Density Formula

How do you calculate keyword density? The formula is straightforward: Divide the number of times a keyword is used on your page by the total number of words on the page.

Here’s an easy example: Your page has 1,000 words and your keyword is used 10 times. This gives:

10 / 1000 = .001

Multiply this by 100 to get a percentage, which in this case is 1%.

There’s also another formula sometimes used to assess keyword usage: TF-IDF, which stands for “term frequency-inverse document frequency”. The idea here is to assess the frequency of a keyword on specific pages (TF) against the number of times this word appears across multiple pages on your site (IDF). The result helps determine how relevant your keyword is for specific pages.

While TF is straightforward, it’s easy to get sidetracked by IDF. Here, the goal is to understand the rarity of your keyword across multiple documents. IDF is measured in values between 0 and 1 — the closer to 0, the more a word appears across your pages. The closer to 1, the more it appears on a single page and no others.

This is the “inverse” nature of the calculation: lower values mean more keyword use.

Consider this formula in practice. Applied to very common words such as “the” or “but”, the TD-IDF score will approach zero. Applied to a specific keyword, the value should be much closer to 1 — if not, you may need to reconsider your keyword strategy.

Understanding Optimal Keyword Density

While there are no hard and fast rules for keyword density beyond always-relevant “don’t keyword stuff” advice, many SEOs recommend using approximately one keyword for each 200 words of copy.

Your content may perform similarly with slightly more or slightly less, but general wisdom holds that Google and other search engines respond well to keyword density around 0.5%.

It’s also worth remembering the value of keyword variants — words and phrases that are similar, but not identical, to your primary keyword. Let’s say your website sells outdoor lighting solutions. While your highest-value keyword for SERPs is “outdoor lighting”, stuffing as many uses of this keyword into as many pages as possible will reduce rather than improve overall SEO.

Instead, consider keyword variants; terms that are close to your primary keyword but not an exact copy. In the case of “outdoor lighting”, variants such as “garden lighting”, “patio lighting”, “deck lighting” or “landscape lighting” can help your page rank higher without running afoul of keyword-stuffing rules.

Not sure what variants make the most sense for your website? Use the “searches related to” section at the bottom of Google’s SERP for your primary keyword. Here’s why: Google has put significant time and effort into understanding intent, so the “searches related to” section will show you similar terms to your primary keyword.

Keyword Density Tools

While you can do the math on keyword density yourself by calculating the total word and keyword counts across every page on your website, this can quickly become time- and resource-intensive as your website expands and page volumes increase.

Keyword density tools help streamline this process. Potential options include:

1. SEO Review Tools Keyword Density Checker

This free tool is browser-based — simply input your site URL or page text, then complete the “I’m not a robot” captcha to perform a keyword density check. While this tool doesn’t offer the in-depth analytics of other options on the list, it’s a great way to get an overview of current keyword density.

2. SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer

Similar to the tool above, the SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer is free — but it does require an account to use. Along with basic keyword density reports, this tool also lets you search for your target keyword in Google, pull data for five of the top-ranked pages using the same keyword, then analyze them to see how your keyword stacks up.

3. WordPress SEO Post Optimizer

If you’d prefer a WordPress plugin for keyword density assessment, consider the WordPress SEO Post Optimizer. This tool comes with a cost — $19 — but checks a host of SEO conditions including keyword density to help ensure your content can rank highly on the SERPs.

4. WPMUDEV SmartCrawl

Another WordPress pluging, WPMUDEV SmartCrawl is free for seven days and then costs $5 per month. Along with keyword density assessment the tool includes automated SEO checkups and reports, assessments for titles and metadata along with in-depth site crawls, scans and reports.

Key(words) to the Kingdom

Want to improve your SERP position and boost site impact? Start with strong keywords.

The caveat? Keyword balance is key to search success. By finding — and regularly assessing — the keyword density of both specific pages and your site at scale, it’s possible to boost relevant SEO impact and avoid the ranking pitfalls of overly-dense keyword distribution.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Six Direct Response Copywriting Tips (and Examples)

Connecting with potential customers is critical to boost interest in your website and drive sales conversions.

But this is often easier said than done — while many site owners understand the value of compelling content, creating copy that resonates with visitors is more complicated than it appears.

Here’s why: Gone are the days of keyword-stuffed content designed only to drive up SEO values. When it comes to successful website marketing and sales campaigns, action is the driving force.

But with the typical consumer now owning and using at least three digital devices on average, the amount of time content has to make an impact is diminishing quickly.

To both boost up-front engagement and encourage immediate action, many businesses are leveraging a new approach: Direct response copywriting.

In this piece, we’ll dive into direct response copywriting details, offer some actionable examples and provide six tips to help boost the benefits of direct response copywriting.

What is direct response copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is all about right now. It’s about inspiring consumers to action the moment they’re done reading your copy.

As a result, successful direct response content creators are highly valued (and well-paid) professionals since they’re able to generate significant return on investment (ROI) for organizations.

They accomplish this aim by combining a deep understanding of target markets with substantial writing skills to create copy that evokes emotional or logical responses from readers.

From understanding key pain points to highlighting immediate needs or offering specific solutions, direct response copywriting done right delivers familiarity and personalization combined with market knowledge and authority to create a sense of trust.

While your specific aim may vary, direct response copywriting typically focuses on actions such as:

  • Purchasing an item or service
  • Signing up for email newsletters or product updates
  • Downloading free resources such as e-guides or whitepapers
  • Following brands on social media sites

Metrics are critical to ensure direct copywriting is having the desired effect. These may include total sales volumes, new email list sign-ups, the number of times resources are downloaded, or the uptick in total followers on social sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

When it comes to creating direct response copywriting, businesses have two options: in-house or outsourced.

While in-house content creation may offer up-front cost savings, the highly targeted nature of direct deliverables comes with a steep learning curve — initial efforts may not have the intended effect if they’re too generalized or fail to strike the right balance between authority and accessibility.

Alternatively, while best-of-breed direct response copywriting services aren’t cheap, they can often deliver ROI between 5X and 10X their initial cost.

Direct Response Copywriting Examples

So what does direct response copywriting look like in practice? Let’s break down a few examples.

1. Fizzle

This banner is from Fizzle, which provides resources for entrepreneurs. It speaks to the fundamental nature of these self-starter businesses: Earning a living that isn’t tied to traditional corporate or retail frameworks and that brings a sense of personal satisfaction.

The copy is short, targeted, and to-the-point and encourages immediate action to click-through and see what the company has to offer.

2. Dropbox

File service Dropbox has made significant enterprise in-roads by offering streamlined and secure collaboration.

Here, their direct response copy makes their value proposition abundantly clear: Users can collaborate on anything, anytime, anywhere. It speaks to the pain points experienced by main companies trying to find collaborative common ground and offers Dropbox as the simplest solution.

3. MailChimp

This direct response copy is from automation platform MailChimp. It offers four key benefits laid out in an easy-to-read format, along with more in-depth details and links below.

For companies looking to improve customer connections, boost brand impact, or get more from their data, MailChimp’s copy makes it clear they can help — and makes it easy for companies to take the first step.

Six Direct Response Copywriting Tips

Here’s the hard truth: With customers now inundated by online advertisements across multiple platforms and devices, it’s hard for content to stand out. As a result, companies need direct response copywriting that is immediately engaging and compelling — and that’s no easy task.

Here are six direct response copywriting tips to boost your in-house efforts or help you evaluate the potential copy providers.

1. Know your market.

Understanding your target audience is key for any copywriting, but it’s fundamental for direct response efforts.

For content to compel action, readers need to feel like copywriters “get” them — that they understand their specific pain points, and can offer immediately applicable solutions.

This is by far the most labor-intensive step of the process, but is well worth the effort.

2. Start strong.

The first thing prospective customers see when they look at your copy? The headline. If it doesn’t grab attention, chances are prospective purchasers won’t read the rest of your content and you won’t compel action. Headlines should reference the reader directly with “you” statements or questions — done well, headlines can stand on their own as effective actionable content.

Worth noting? If a great headline doesn’t present itself immediately, try writing the rest of the copy first, since this may help you find the best first-line fit. It’s also a good idea to walk away from your content for a few days after you’re done — if it doesn’t have the same impact when you look again, consider making changes.

3. Apply AIDCA were possible.

AIDCA stands for “attention, interest, conviction, desire and action.” Ideally, you want all five in your copy. Start with an attention-grabbing headline, then drive interest with a compelling product or service hook.

If you’re creating longer-form copy, conviction can take the form of a customer testimonial or review, but this isn’t necessary for quick-hitter content.

Desire speaks to your value proposition — why would customers want your product or service? Action is your goal; make it clear what you’re looking for and provide direct links.

4. Ask for action.

While your direct response copywriting content should always end with a call-to-action (CTA), it’s also a good idea to reinforce this idea two or three times throughout your content.

Best bet? Always start and end with a call-to-action and include another actionable mention in the middle of longer copy.

5. Prioritize the second person.

Effective direct response copywriting centers on the consumer, not the company. As a result, businesses are best-served by prioritizing the second person with “you” statements and questions that speak to readers directly.

While “I” and “we” statements might offer great insight about your company, its processes or its current accolades, these first-person pronouns won’t encourage action. 

Simply put? “You” is the fastest way to “yes”.

6. Write fast, edit hard.

Overthinking direct response copywriting can slow the process and hamper overall effectiveness. Why? Because this action-driven framework demands a unique combination of instinct and information to create compelling content.

Instead, companies should take a write fast, edit hard approach: Draft content quickly to establish key themes and pinpoint critical outcomes, then edit ruthlessly to eliminate extraneous words. Direct response copywriting isn’t about literary loquaciousness — it’s about crisp, clear, compelling content that connects with your target audience.

And … Action!

The ultimate goal of direct response copywriting? Connecting with your audience to drive immediate action. It’s no easy task — but by knowing your market, starting strong, applying AIDCA, asking for action, prioritizing the second person, and editing with intention it’s possible to create content that delivers reliable consumer response on-demand.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com