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8 Image SEO Best Practices to Make Your Content More Discoverable

To consider the importance of visual search in 2021, let’s start with an example.

The other day, I Googled “how to conduct a vlookup in Excel”. I skimmed a few articles but still felt dissatisfied — I didn’t want to read about vlookups, I wanted to see it.

Enter: The power of images.

Once I clicked on “Images”, I found what I needed quickly:

how to conduct a vlookup in excel image results page

I know I’m not alone. In fact, nowadays, half of all Google searches end on the search results page, without the user clicking through to any results.

In 2021 and beyond, it’s critical marketers begin paying attention to the importance of visual images as a powerful opportunity to reach new audiences on the SERPs.

Plus, as HubSpot’s Marketing Manager Kristen Baker told me, “After running an image experiment on the HubSpot Blog, I discovered that ranking in Google’s image packs increases impressions and clicks to our content.”

But … easier said than done, right?

Here, let’s explore what image SEO is, and the best practices you’ll want to follow to make your webpages more discoverable in image search results.

Image SEO Best Practices

1. Use relevant, accurate alt text for user accessibility and SEO.

As a quick refresher: Alt text is written copy that describes an image. For instance, if you click on Pipcorn’s popcorn product and inspect the page, you’ll see the alt text describes the product image accurately as “Popcorn Family Pack Popcorn Pipsnacks LLC”:

the alt text of popcorn family pack pipsnacks product

Alt-text plays two critical roles in SEO.

First, alt text — also known as alt tags, or alt descriptions — helps search engine crawlers index your website more effectively, which has a positive effect on search results.

In fact, Google states on its Developers page, “You can aid in the discovery process by making sure that your images and your site are optimized for Google Images … [and] increase the likelihood that your content will appear in Google Images search results.”

Second, alt text improves the user experience. Alt text can describe an image to a visually impaired reader, and also helps if a reader can’t load or see the image correctly on their device.

To get a full run-down of how to write high-quality alt text, take a look at Image Alt Text: What It Is, How to Write It, and Why It Matters to SEO.

2. Consider using captions to describe an image.

Captions aren’t typically necessary if the context of the page can help readers understand what the image is depicting — for instance, in this blog post I haven’t used any captions because I’ve used text to introduce each image I’ve shown.

However, if you have a visual-heavy website, consider using captions to help readers understand an image in context. For instance, on Tom Hull’s photography portfolio, he captions his images so viewers can contextualize where, or what, the image represents:

Tom Hulls photography portfolio

Use good judgment when it comes to adding captions, but if you feel it can help readers (and bots) better discern an image, then it might be a worthwhile addition to a page.

3. Compress images for faster load time.

Compressing images is a vital component of any good website optimization strategy.

Why?

Because, simply put, it helps your web pages load faster, which provides a better user experience and also helps boost your website’s search engine rankings.

To compress your images effectively, try a tool like Compress JPEG or Squoosh.

Typically, less than 100 KB is ideal in terms of good file size.

However, it’s important to note — Google doesn’t look at each individual image size. Instead, it looks at total page size.

So, if you have a small image where quality differences are less substantial, then you might try compressing that image to 30-50 KB … which gives you extra room to keep another image 30 KB bigger, particularly if that image loses quality after compression.

If you’re still worried about image quality after compression, take a look at How to Ensure Your Images are High Resolution.

4. Post original images — not just stock photos.

Ultimately, Google (and readers) prioritize original content — which means, if you’re hoping your images will rank on image results pages, it’s vital you use original, unique images. 

This is particularly important if you work for an ecommerce website and you’re posting visuals of your product. Many shoppers use images to shop for consumer goods. In fact, 50% of online shoppers say images helped them decide what to buy.

If your image doesn’t accurately demonstrate your product, it will get buried under better, higher-quality images from competitors. 

Consider using products like Canva to design in-house infographics, graphs, or animated images to help your brand stand out on search results pages and make your images more shareable.

5. Name your file images before uploading them.

Your file name can impact how easy it is for search engine crawlers to interpret your image, so it’s helpful to rename your file before uploading it onto your webpage.

Rather than keeping the name a generic “IMG_0883”, try using relevant keywords to describe what’s in the image, similar to your alt text. This can also help ensure your image appears on the image search results page, which will increase traffic to your site.

6. Use responsive images.

Responsive images are critical for ensuring your readers can see your images on any type of device. Nowadays, it’s vital your pages are optimized for mobile to impact search engine rankings, as well as user experience.

If your images aren’t responsive, the page won’t appear as clean on mobile as it does on desktop — which negatively affects SEO, as well as your reader’s perception of your brand.

Fortunately, some website hosting services, including HubSpot, automatically ensure your images are responsive.

However, if need be, you can make your images responsive by using quick code. For instance, you can add this code to your HTML:

<img src=”nature.jpg” alt=”Nature” class=”responsive”>

Or this code to your CSS:

.responsive {

  width: 100%;

  height: auto;

}

7. Leverage images as a backlinking opportunity.

Creating high-quality, unique, original images isn’t just great for your own website — it’s also a fantastic opportunity to earn backlinks when other websites use your image for their own pages.

For instance, consider the following graph created by Broadband Search:

mobile share of organic search visits graph

The image currently ranks in the first spot on the image search results page for the keywords, “how many people use mobile to search”.

Additionally, according to Ahrefs, this blog post has over 3,000 backlinks. I’m willing to bet that those backlinks are, in part, due to other companies wanting to use Broadband Search’s unique graphs for their own content.

If you create high-quality images, other companies may want to showcase those images on their own sites — with links back to your business. This means, ultimately, images can have a direct impact on the amount of traffic, leads, and customers you get for your business through your marketing efforts.

8. Add images to an existing sitemap.

Google suggests adding images to an existing sitemap — or creating a separate sitemap just for images — to help search engines discover your images. In particular, this is helpful for images Google can’t find through crawling, such as those accessed via JavaScript forms.

Here’s a sample sitemap, with two images included:

code to add images to an existing sitemap

Fortunately, if you don’t want to add images to a sitemap manually, you’re in luck — there are tools, such as Angeldigital.Marketing (one of the only free ones available!), that will automatically generate an image sitemap once you input a URL.

Hopefully, you can use these best practices to level up and earn new traffic through search image results pages. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words … so just imagine the value of an SEO-optimized picture. 

marketing

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

How To Use Hashtags on LinkedIn [Step-by-Step Guide]

Even though LinkedIn has been around since 2003, the platform didn’t allow the use of clickable hashtags until 2016.

Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram have encouraged hashtag use for years as a way for users to connect with their communities. They even offer analytics, allowing content creators and influencers to gauge their impact.

Now that LinkedIn has fully embraced the use of hashtags, brands can too.

Let’s get into the basics of using hashtags on the platform and dive into how to find the top trending ones in your industry.

Do hashtags work on LinkedIn?

Yes, hashtags do work on LinkedIn. You can add them to your status update, your published article, and your business page to reach an audience beyond your network. You can also browse through hashtag feeds to see what conversations are happening surrounding those topics.

How To Use Hashtags on Your LinkedIn Status Update

There are a few ways to add hashtags to your status update.

GIF showing how to add LinkedIn hashtag to status update

As the GIF illustrates, you can add a hashtag by:

  1. Typing out the pound sign followed by the word or phrase. As you type out your hashtag, LinkedIn will auto-generate hashtag suggestions based on what’s trending and popular.
  2. Clicking on the “Add Hashtag” button located on the bottom left of the box.
  3. Selecting one of the related hashtags next to the “Add Hashtag” button.

Pro-tip: Don’t add spaces or symbols in your hashtags, as they will no longer be clickable.

How To Use Hashtags on Your LinkedIn Article

As it currently stands, users cannot add clickable hashtags in the body of their articles published on LinkedIn. However, they can make it discoverable by adding hashtags to the article description box.

GIF showing how to add a hashtag to an article on LinkedIn

How To Use Hashtags on Your Business Page

If you have a business page on LinkedIn, you can associate it with relevant hashtags. This will put you right in the center of conversations surrounding those hashtags and allow you to connect with relevant audiences. Here are the steps to add them:

  1. Start on your business page’s homepage.LinkedIn business page homepage

  2. Click on the “Add” button on the bottom right under “Hashtags.” A smaller page will open up.

    LinkedIn page where users can add three hashtags related to their business page

  3. Click “Add a hashtag” and select up to three hashtags.

    Example of three hashtags LinkedIn users can put on their business pageYou’re all set.

Should I use hashtags on LinkedIn?

The short answer is yes, hashtags are a great way to reach audiences beyond your direct connections on LinkedIn.

Let’s say you only have 200 connections on LinkedIn. You publish an article on SEO and don’t use any hashtags. For it to make a substantial impact, you’ll need a lot of post engagement from second- and third-degree connections.

Why place such limits on your content? By using hashtags, you maximize your post’s reach potential. If the SEO hashtag has 100,000K followers and you use it, your post engagement can easily triple what it was without hashtags.

With that said, here are a few things to keep in mind when using them:

  • Don’t go overboard – LinkedIn’s former senior director of product management, Pete Davies, recommends sticking to three hashtags. That should be enough to target the main keywords without looking spammy.
  • Hashtags don’t replace copy – Hashtags don’t provide context, they should only be used to improve your discoverability. You should still have descriptions in everything you post.
  • Mix the popular with the niche – When you only use popular hashtags, your content can get lost. If you go too niche, you may not reach enough people. Using a little bit of both strikes the perfect balance.

Once you get comfortable with the use of hashtags, you can start identifying which ones are performing the best. You may find that some lead to higher engagement rates than others. If so, those are worth reusing.

How to Find Top LinkedIn Hashtags

There are three types of hashtags that LinkedIn recommends to its users based on their network and industry: recommended, popular, trending. LinkedIn’s ‘Discover More’ page is the first – and best – place to look when considering which hashtags to use in your posts.

To access this page, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “Discover More” button.
    • On the mobile app, this will appear when you click on your profile picture on the top left corner of the page.
    • On desktop view, it will be at the bottom of the left sidebar.
  2. On this page, you’ll see trending pages, recommended connections and pages, and hashtags toward the bottom of the page.

As a marketer, LinkedIn recommends me many marketing-related hashtags, such as #digitalmarketing, #seo, and #contentwriter. However, this list will vary from one user to the next.

LinkedIn Trending Hashtags

In 2020, LinkedIn released data on the top trending hashtags for Q1 in 2020.

LinkedIn top trending hashtags in 2020

Image Source

In January and February, the list was virtually identical. However, conversations shifted in March when the pandemic started. Searches for topics on remote working tripled and the #remotework hashtag also started trending.

The best way to optimize your hashtag use is by referring to your recommended hashtags and analyzing their performance on your posts.

How To Follow Hashtags on LinkedIn

Following hashtags will allow you to see what other content creators are posting, how users are responding, and get ideas for future posts.

  1. Head to the search bar and type the hashtag you want to follow.
  2. Select an option from the dropdown menu.
  3. That will take you to the hashtag’s feed where you can see all content published with this hashtag. Click “Follow” at the top of the page.

See the GIF below to see the steps in action.

GIF showing how to follow hashtags on LinkedIn

Now that you’re following the hashtag, you’ll see it on the left sidebar under “Followed Hashtags” when navigating on a computer. When using the LinkedIn mobile app, you can access the hashtags you’re following by clicking on your profile picture on the top left of the window and scrolling down to the “Followed Hashtags” dropdown menu.

Hashtags are integral to the success of your content. By relying on LinkedIn’s hashtag recommendations and your analytics, you can ensure your posts are reaching the right audience.

How to Use LinkedIn for Business and Marketing

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Good, Better, Best: Untangling The Complex World Of Accessible Patterns

Marc Benioff memorably stated that the only constant in the technology industry is change. Having worked in tech for over 15 years, I can confirm this. Fellow tech dinosaurs can attest that the way the web worked in the early days is drastically different than many of us could have even imagined.

While this constant change in the technology industry has led to innovation and advancements we see today, it has also introduced the concept of choice. While choice — on the surface — may seem like an inherently positive thing, it does not always equal rainbows and roses. The influx of technological change also brings the splintering of coding languages and the never-ending flavors of programming “hotness.” Sometimes this abundance of choice turns into overchoice — a well-studied cognitive impairment in which people have difficulty making a decision due to having too many options.

In this article, we will attempt to untangle the complex world of accessible patterns — one step at a time. We will kick things off by reviewing current accessible patterns and libraries, then we will consider our general pattern needs and potential restrictions, and lastly, we will walk through a series of critical thinking exercises to learn how to better evaluate patterns for accessibility.

What A Tangled Web We Weave

Overchoice has crept its way into all aspects of technology, including the patterns and libraries we use to build our digital creations — from the simple checkbox to the complex dynamic modal and everything in between. But how do we know which pattern or library is the right one when there are so many choices? Is it better to use established patterns/libraries that users encounter every day? Or is it better to create brand new patterns for a more delightful user experience?

With the myriad of options available, we can quickly become paralyzed by the overabundance of choices. But if we take a step back and consider why we build our digital products in the first place (i.e. the end-user) doesn’t it make sense to choose the pattern or library that can add the most value for the largest number of people?

If you thought choosing a pattern or library was an already daunting enough process, this might be the point where you start to get worried. But no need to fret — choosing an accessible pattern/library isn’t rocket science. Like everything else in technology, this journey starts with a little bit of knowledge, a huge heaping of trial and error, and an understanding that there is not just one perfect pattern/library that fits every user, situation, or framework.

How do I know this? Well, I have spent the past five years researching, building, and testing different types of accessible patterns while working on the A11y Style Guide, Deque’s ARIA Pattern Library, and evaluating popular SVG patterns. But I have also reviewed many client patterns and libraries on every framework/platform imaginable. At this point in time, I can say without qualms that there is an innate hierarchy for pattern accessibility that starts to develop when you look long enough. And while there are occasionally patterns to avoid at all costs, it isn’t always so clear-cut. When it comes to accessibility, I would argue most patterns fall into gradients of good, better, best. The difficult part is knowing which pattern belongs in what category.

Thinking Critically About Patterns

So how do we know which patterns are good, better, best when it comes to accessibility? It depends. This often invoked phrase from the digital accessibility community is not a cop-out but is shorthand for “we need more context to be able to give you the best answer.” However, the context is not always clear, so when building and evaluating the accessibility of a pattern, some fundamental questions I ask include:

  • Is there already an established accessible pattern we can use?
  • What browsers and assistive technology (AT) devices are we supporting?
  • Are there any framework limitations or other integrations/factors to consider?

Of course, your specific questions may vary from mine, but the point is you need to start using your critical thinking skills when evaluating patterns. You can do this by first observing, analyzing, and then ranking each pattern for accessibility before you jump to a final decision. But before we get to that, let’s first delve into the initial questions a bit more.

Is There Already An Established Accessible Pattern?

Why does it seem that with each new framework, we get a whole new set of patterns? This constant reinvention of the wheel with new pattern choices can confuse and frustrate developers, especially since it is not usually necessary to do so.

Don’t believe me? Well, think about it this way: If we subscribe to the atomic design system, we understand that several small “atoms” of code come together to create a larger digital product. But in the scientific world, atoms are not the smallest component of life. Each atom is made of many subatomic particles like protons, neutrons, and electrons.

That same logic can be applied to our patterns. If we look deeper into all the patterns available in the various frameworks that exist, the core subatomic structure is essentially the same, regardless of the actual coding language used. This is why I appreciate streamlined coding libraries with accessible patterns that we can build upon based on technological and design needs.

Note: Some great reputable sources include Inclusive Components, Accessible Components, and the Gov.UK Design System, in addition to the list of accessible patterns Smashing Magazine recently published (plus a more detailed list of patterns and libraries at the end of the article).

What Browsers And Assistive Technology (AT) Devices Are We Supporting?

After researching a few base patterns that might work, we can move on to the question of browser and assistive technology (AT) device support. On its own, browser support is no joke. When you add in AT devices and ARIA specifications to the mix, things begin to get tricky…not impossible, just a lot more time, effort, and thought-process involved to figure it all out.

But it’s not all bad news. There are some fabulous resources like HTML5 Accessibility and Accessibility Support that help us build a greater understanding of current browser + AT device support. These websites outline the different HTML and ARIA pattern sub-elements available, include open source community tests, and provide some pattern examples — for both desktop and mobile browsers/AT devices.

Are There Any Framework Limitations Or Other Integrations/Factors To Consider?

Once we have chosen a few accessible base patterns and factored in the browser/AT device support, we can move on to more fine-grained contextual questions around the pattern and its environment. For example, if we are using a pattern in a content management system (CMS) or have legacy code considerations, there will be certain pattern limitations. In this case, a handful of pattern choices can quickly be slashed down to one or two. On the flip side, some frameworks are more forgiving and open to accepting any pattern, so we can worry less about framework restrictions and focus more on making the most accessible pattern choice we can make.

Besides all that we have discussed so far, there are many additional considerations to weigh when choosing a pattern, like performance, security, search engine optimization, language translation, third-party integration, and more. These factors will undoubtedly play into your accessible pattern choice, but you should also be thinking about the people creating the content. The accessible pattern you choose must be built in a robust enough way to handle any potential limitations around editor-generated and/or user-generated content.

Evaluating Patterns For Accessibility

Code often speaks louder than words, but before we jump into all of that, a quick note that the following pattern examples are not the only patterns available for each situation, nor is the one deemed “best” in the group the best option in the entire world of accessible patterns.

For the pattern demos below, we should imagine a hypothetical situation in which we are comparing each group of patterns against themselves. While this is not a realistic situation, running through these critical thinking exercises and evaluating the patterns for accessibility should help you be more prepared when you encounter pattern choice in the real world.

Accessible Button Patterns

The first group of patterns we will review for accessibility are ubiquitous to almost every website or app: buttons. The first button pattern uses the ARIA button role to mimic a button, while the second and third button patterns use the HTML <button> element. The third pattern also adds aria-describedby and CSS to hide things visually.

See the Pen Accessible Button Patterns by Carie Fisher.

Good: role="button"
<a role="button" href="[link]">Sign up</a>
Better: <button>
<button type="button">Sign up</button>
Best: <button> + visually hidden + aria-describedby
<button type="button" aria-describedby="button-example">Sign up</button>
<span id="button-example" class="visually-hidden"> for our monthly newsletter</span>

While the first patterns seem simple at first glance, they do evoke some accessibility questions. For example, on the first button pattern, we see ARIA role="button" is used on the “good” pattern instead of an HTML <button> element. Thinking in terms of accessibility, since we know the HTML <button> element was introduced in HTML4, we can reasonably speculate that it is fully supported by the latest versions of all the major browsers and will play nicely with most AT devices. But if we dig deeper and look at the accessibility support for ARIA role=”button” we see a slight advantage from an assistive technology perspective, while the HTML <button> element is missing some areas of browser + AT coverage, especially when we consider voice control support.

So then why isn’t the ARIA pattern in the “better” category? Doesn’t ARIA make it more accessible? Nope. In fact, in cases like this, accessibility professionals often recite the first rule of ARIA — don’t use ARIA. This is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying use HTML elements whenever possible. ARIA is indeed powerful, but in the wrong hands, it can do more harm than good. In fact, the WebAIM Million report states that “pages with ARIA present averaged 60% more errors than those without.” As such, you must know what you are doing when using ARIA.

Another strike against using ARIA in this situation is that the button functionality we need would need to be built for the role="button" pattern, while that functionality is already pre-baked into the <button> element. Considering the <button> element also has 100% browser support and is an easy pattern to implement, it edges slightly ahead in the hierarchy when evaluating the first two patterns. Hopefully, this comparison helps bust the myth that adding ARIA makes a pattern more accessible — oftentimes the opposite is true.

The third button pattern shows the HTML <button> element coupled with aria-describedby linked to an ID element that is visually hidden with CSS. While this pattern is slightly more complex, it adds a lot in terms of context by creating a relationship between the button and the purpose. When in doubt, anytime we can add more context to the situation, the better, so we can assume if coded correctly, it is the best pattern when comparing only these specific button patterns.

Accessible Contextual Link Patterns

The second group of patterns we will review are contextual links. These patterns help give more information to AT users than what is visible on the screen. The first link pattern utilizes CSS to visually hide the additional contextual information. While the second and third link patterns add ARIA attributes into the mix: aria-labelledby and aria-label, respectively.

See the Pen Accessible Link Patterns by Carie Fisher.

Good: visually-hidden
<p>“My mother always used to say: The older you get, the better you get, unless you’re a banana.” — Rose (Betty White)<a href="[link]">Read More<span class="visually-hidden"> Golden Girl quotes</span></a></p>
Better: visually-hidden + aria-labelledby
<p>“I'm either going to get ice cream or commit a felony...I'll decide in the car.” — Blanche (Rue McClanahan)<a href="[link]" aria-labelledby="quote">Read More</a><span class="visually-hidden" id="quote">Read more Golden Girl quotes</span></p>
Best: aria-label
<p>“People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever’s in the glass.” — Sophia (Estelle Getty)<a href="[link]" aria-label="Read more Golden Girls quotes">Read More</a></p>

While all three of the contextual link patterns look the same, when we inspect the code or test them with AT devices, there are some obvious differences. The first pattern uses a CSS technique to hide the content visually for sighted users but still renders the hidden content to non-sighted AT users. And while this technique should work in most cases, there is no real relationship formed between the link and the additional information, so the connection is tentative at best. As such, the first link pattern is an OK choice but not the most robust link pattern of the three.

The next two link patterns are a bit more tricky to evaluate. According to the ARIA specs from the W3C “The purpose of aria-label is the same as that of aria-labelledby. It provides the user with a recognizable name of the object.” So, in theory, both attributes should have the same basic functionality.

However, the specs also point out that user agents give precedence to aria-labelledby over aria-label when deciding which accessible name to convey to the user. Research has also shown issues around automatic translation and aria-label attributes. So that means we should use aria-labelledby, right?

Well, not so fast. The same ARIA specs go on to say “If the interface is such that it is not possible to have a visible label on the screen (or if a visible label is not the desired user experience), authors should use aria-label and should not use aria-labelledby.” Talk about confusing — so which pattern should we choose?

If we had large-scale translation needs, we might decide to change the visual aspect and write out the links with the full context displayed (e.g. “Read more about this awesome thing”) or decide to use aria-labelledby. However, let’s assume we did not have large-scale translation needs or could address those needs in a reasonable/accessible way, and we didn’t want to change the visual — what then?

Based on the current ARIA 1.1 recommendations (with the promise of translation of aria-label in ARIA 1.2) plus the fact that aria-label is a bit easier for devs to implement versus aria-labelledby, we could decide to weight aria-label over aria-labelledby in our pattern evaluation. This is a clear example of when context weighs heavily in our accessible pattern choice.

Accessible <svg> Patterns

Last, but certainly not least, let’s investigate a group of SVG image patterns for accessibility. SVGs are a visual representation of code, but code nonetheless. This means an AT device might skip over a non-decorative SVG image unless the role="img" is added to the pattern.

Assuming the following SVG patterns are informational in nature, a role="img" has been included in each. The first SVG pattern uses the <title> and <text> in conjunction with CSS to visually hide content from sighted users. The next two SVG patterns involve the <title> and <desc> elements, but with an aria-labelledby attribute added to the last pattern.

See the Pen Accessible SVG Patterns by Carie Fisher.

Good: role="img" + <title> + <text>
<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" version="1.1" role="img" x="0px" y="0px" viewBox="0 0 511.997 511.997" style="enable-background:new 0 0 511.997 511.997;" xml:space="preserve">
    <title>The first little pig built a house out of straw.</title>
    <text class="visually-hidden">Sadly, he was eaten by the wolf.</text>...
</svg>
Better: role="img" + <title> + <desc>
<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" version="1.1" role="img" x="0px" y="0px" viewBox="0 0 511.997 511.997" style="enable-background:new 0 0 511.997 511.997;" xml:space="preserve">
    <title>The second little pig built a house out of sticks.</title>
    <desc>Sadly, he too was eaten by the big, bad wolf.</desc>...
</svg>
Best: role="img" + <title> + <desc> + aria-labelledby="[id]"
<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" version="1.1" role="img" aria-labelledby="pig3house pig3wolf" x="0px" y="0px" viewBox="0 0 511.997 511.997" style="enable-background:new 0 0 511.997 511.997;" xml:space="preserve">
    <title id="pig3house">The third little pig built a house out of bricks.</title>
    <desc id="pig3wolf">Thankfully he wasn't eaten by the wolf.</desc>...
</svg>

Let’s first look at the first pattern using <title> and <text> and visually hidden CSS. Unlike previous visibly hidden text in patterns, there _is_ an inherent relationship between the <title> and <text> elements since they are grouped under the same SVG element umbrella. However, this relationship is not very strong. In fact, if you look back at my research on SVG patterns, we see that only 3 out of 8 browser/AT combinations heard the complete message. (Note: Pig pattern #1 is equivalent to light bulb pattern #7.)

This is true though the working W3C SVG specs define the <text> element as “a graphics element consisting of text…the characters to be drawn are expressed as character data. As a result, text data in SVG content is readily accessible to the visually impaired.” This first pattern is OK, but we can do better.

The second pattern removes the <text> element and replaces it with a <desc> element. The W3C SVG specs state:

“The <title> child element represents a short text alternative for the element… and the <desc> element represents more detailed textual information for the element such as a description.”

Meaning the <title> and <desc> elements in SVGs can be used similarly to image alternative text and long description options found traditionally in <img> elements. After adding the <desc> element to the second SVG, we see similar browser/AT support with 3 out of 8 combinations hearing the complete message. (Note: Pig pattern #2 is equivalent to light bulb pattern #10.) While these test results seem to mirror the first pattern, the reason this pattern gets a bump into the “better” category is it is slightly easier to implement code-wise and it impacts more AT users, as it worked on JAWS, VoiceOver desktop, and VoiceOver mobile, while the first pattern supported less popular browser/AT combinations.

The third pattern again uses the <title> and <desc> elements but now has an aria-labelledby plus ID added into the mix. According to the same SVG tests, adding this additional piece of code means we can fully support 7 out of 8 browser/AT combinations. (Note: Pig pattern #3 is equivalent to light bulb pattern #11.) Out of the three SVG patterns, this third one is the “best” since it supports the most AT devices. But this pattern does have a draw-back in using some browser/AT combinations; you will hear duplicate image title/description content for this pattern. While potentially annoying to users, I’d argue it is generally better to hear duplicated content than none at all.

Closing Thoughts

While we all certainly value choice in tech, I wonder if we’ve come to a point in time where the overabundance of options has left us paralyzed and confused about what to do next? In terms of picking accessible patterns, we can ask straight-forward questions around pattern/library options, browser/AT device support, framework limitations, and more.

With the right data in hand, these questions are easy enough to answer. However, it becomes a bit more complicated when we go beyond patterns and really consider the people using them. It is then that we realize the impact our choices have on our users’ ability to succeed. As Prof. George Dei eloquently states:

“Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists — it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.”

By taking a bit more time to critically think about patterns and choose the most accessible ones, we will undoubtedly create a more inclusive space to reach more users — on their terms.

Related Resources

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Pattern Libraries
Reblogged 1 year ago from smashingmagazine.com

Twitter trending topics: How they work and how to use them

Twitter is known for its always-changing trending topics. These topics can be as broadly popular as the gossip or current events, or personally tailored to an individual level that reflects your own account’s interests, industry, and brand.

Over the last few years, Twitter has continued to refine how trending topics work by adding different layers of context to the way they display on desktop and mobile.

Understanding how Twitter trending topics work can give you deeper insight into what your audience is paying attention to, and help you shape your brand’s Twitter strategy.  Let’s explore how trending topics work, how to personalize them, and ways you can leverage them as part of your social media marketing campaigns.

How Twitter trending topics work

Trending topics on Twitter are determined by the platform’s algorithm. They can be tailored to the people you interact with, your interests, and your location. Depending on the view you select, you can see either what’s popular on a broader scale, or what’s trending within your specific interest groups.

For example, if most of the people you follow are in the social media niche you’re more likely to see personalized trends associated with social media. The algorithm also prioritizes fresh content. So you’ll see topics that people are talking about right now, in the moment, rather than older trends.

When using Twitter’s mobile app, you’ll find these topics listed in the “For You” and “Trending” section of the Explore tab. If you’re using Twitter on desktop, you’ll see your trends in a few different places, including the “What’s Happening” sidebar, which can be expanded to an explore page with a wider range of tabs and subtopics.

Twitter trending topics on desktop view

How to find trending topics on Twitter

To get the most out of Twitter trends, you need to make sure that the trends you see are catered specifically to your brand. Luckily there are a few different ways to let Twitter know what you’re most interested in seeing.

Personalize your trend page

For the best Twitter experience, you need to personalize your trend preferences. Twitter now lets you personalize the trending topics you see based on a few factors. You can set geographic preferences so that you only see location-based trends depending on your current location. Within this setting, you can also choose a specific region whose trends you want to see.

To make these personalizations, navigate to your Trends page by clicking “show more” on the right-hand side of your Twitter desktop site. On Twitter’s mobile app, navigate to your Explore page and click the gear icon at the top, next to the search bar. From these pages, you can tailor your preferences to reflect the kind of trends you want to see on your feed.

How to personalize Twitter trends on desktop

For Twitter to accurately show you trends you are interested in, you also need to give it data to work with. This means following accounts, interacting with with posts about your niche, industry or interest, and being active enough on the platform that it begins to recognize more of your interests.

Search for keywords or hashtags in your industry

While the Trends page will show you popular Twitter hashtags and topics according to your interests, it might not always predict what you want to see. If you want to drill down into a less widely discussed topic or hashtag, you’ll want to figure out key terms to search for around those conversations.

Twitter’s native search feature lets you search for hashtags, trending topics or just general terms. You can use this feature to search for your brand’s name to see if people are talking about it, or for hashtags such as industry chats or campaign hashtags to find out what people are saying and how they’re incorporating them into their posts.

Screenshot of a Twitter search

If you’re using Sprout Social, you can streamline the process by creating filters to track keywords in your Smart Inbox, or even set up alerts when specific terms show up.

Sprout Social also lets you set up more complex queries that can help you track trending topics on Twitter. By including and excluding variations of the keywords you’re looking for, Sprout’s Twitter listening feature helps you cut through the noise and find highly relevant conversations, especially those that you can’t uncover with a simple hashtag search or @ mention of your brand.

Using Twitter trending topics as a starting point, social listening can help you hone in on the most important news, conversations and influential accounts that are active at a given moment. This helps you stay on top of emerging trends that your audience is already buzzing about and maintain a competitive advantage.

Subscribe to Twitter Topics

Just like you can follow specific people on Twitter, you can now follow overall topics so you can view a wide range of posts on a certain subject. This is a great way of expanding your base of followed accounts meaningfully and finding out who is influential in specific topic areas.

To access the list of topics you can follow, go to your Twitter feed and navigate to the button that says “More” on the left side of your feed. From this menu bar, click “Topics.” This will take you to a page of Twitter-recommended topics that you can follow.

How to follow Twitter Topics

In addition to the list of suggested topics to follow, you can click “More Topics” and search or browse for topics based on industry or interests.

Categories of Twitter Topics to follow

Once you follow a topic, you’ll see Tweets about that topic in your newsfeed, even if you don’t follow the person who Tweeted it. Some of these Tweets will prompt you to “see more about this Topic.” If you get this call to action, you can click it and see a full list of Tweets on that topic.

How can marketers strategically leverage Twitter trends?

Utilizing Twitter trends is not as simple as knowing what’s trending. You need to know how to use this information to market your brand, build better campaigns and connect with your audience.

Understand audience sentiment around major topics

Twitter trends can help you understand the sentiment around trending topics and how people are responding to them. What makes Twitter trends so helpful is that you can see in real-time not only that people are talking about something, but exactly what they’re saying.

If your brand launches a new product, you want to know more than just the volume of posts discussing it–you also need to know if those mentions are positive (which can in turn inspire future campaigns and user generated content) or if they’re negative so you can uncover an addressable issue. A quick browse through the Tweets can reveal how your audience generally feels about the product.

Screenshot of Twitter users praising a trending product

Use hashtags to join the conversation (when relevant)

In the early days of Twitter, it wasn’t uncommon to see brands jumping on every trending hashtag as an attempt to gain exposure. While this might have made sense as a viral marketing strategy early on, Twitter users have become more sophisticated about how the platform works, and no longer like seeing companies participating in unrelated trends just to stay visible.

It’s important to stay true to your values and voice by only using hashtags that are on-brand. That’s not to say that brands can’t participate in broader, more popular hashtags. But it’s crucial that it makes sense and doesn’t come off like you’re trying too hard to enter a conversation.

Plan a content calendar based on past and upcoming trends

Twitter gives you an at-a-glance look at what is going, at that moment, on social media. This makes it a great resource when it comes to forecasting trends and planning out your content calendar.

After a while, you’ll notice certain trends becoming predictable. Recurring hashtags like #motivationmonday or #transformationtuesday, will trend every week. This makes it easy to incorporate those trends into your schedule or content plan.

Other predictable events like seasonal events, holidays and hashtag holidays are also great opportunities to plan out your content in advance with the knowledge that this is what people will be talking about on Twitter that day.

Published on 
Categories

    Create an effective hashtag holiday strategy

    Hashtag holidays are one way of participating in trends on Twitter. Find out how to identify the most relevant and effective ones for your brand.
    Published on 

    Use Twitter Promoted Trends for a paid marketing solution

    Promoted trends are a paid option that businesses can utilize to appear on the “Trending” list on the homepage and the Explore tab on Twitter.

    Screenshot of a Promoted Tweet on the Trends page

    These trends are usually complemented with other Promoted Tweets that show up in users’ timelines. Promoted Trends work well for brands who are launching a new campaign or product and want to promote it to a specific audience.

    One of the benefits of using Promoted Tweets is that Twitter has an exclusivity policy. This policy only allows one client per day per country to run a Promoted Trend. So unlike other advertising platforms, you won’t compete with any other advertisers in your area on Twitter for 24 hours.

    Twitter trends are here to stay

    Trending topics can help brands capitalize on trends in their industry and gauge what their audience is paying attention to. Twitter trends help marketers keep a finger on the pulse and actively join the conversation in real-time. As the platform continues to grow, the ways to engage with your audience through trends and relevant topics are also growing.

    For a deeper dive into how brands are using specific Twitter trends check out our take on when and how to know which trends you should participate in.

    This post Twitter trending topics: How they work and how to use them originally appeared on Sprout Social.

    Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

    Google tests displaying cost estimates in local search results

    Google has confirmed the company is showing cost estimates from Homewyse for some local queries.

    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

    Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

    Google My Business: What It Is, How To Use It, and Why

    Posted by MiriamEllis

    Google My Business is both a free tool and a suite of interfaces that encompasses a dashboard, local business profiles, and a volunteer-driven support forum with this branding. Google My Business and the associated Google Maps make up the core of Google’s free local search marketing options for eligible local businesses.

    Today, we’re doing foundational learning! Share this simple, comprehensive article with incoming clients and team members to get off on the right foot with this important local business digital asset.

    An introduction to the basics of Google My Business

    First, let’s get on the same page regarding what Google My Business is and how to be part of it.

    What is Google My Business?

    Google My Business (GMB) is a multi-layered platform that enables you to submit information about local businesses, to manage interactive features like reviews and questions, and to publish a variety of media like photos, posts, and videos.

    What is GMB eligibility?

    Eligibility to be listed within the Google My Business setting is governed by the Guidelines for representing your business on Google, which is a living document that undergoes frequent changes. Before listing any business, you should consult the guidelines to avoid violations that can result in penalties or the removal of your listings.

    You need a Google account to get started

    You will need a Google account to use Google’s products and can create one here, if you don’t already have one. It’s best for each local business to have its own company account, instead of marketing agencies using their accounts to manage clients’ local business profiles.

    When a local business you’re marketing has a large in-house marketing department or works with third party agencies, Google My Business permits you to add and remove listing owners and managers so that multiple people can be given a variety of permissions to contribute to listings management.

    How to create and claim/verify a Google My Business profile

    Once the business you’re marketing has a Google account and has determined that it’s eligible for Google My Business inclusion, you can create a single local business profile by starting here, using Google’s walkthrough wizard to get listed.

    Fill out as many fields as possible in creating your profile. This guide will help you understand how best to fill out many of the fields and utilize many of the features. Once you’ve provided as much information as you can, you’ll be given options to verify your listing so that you can control and edit it going forward.

    Alternatively, if you need to list 10+ locations of a business all at the same time, you can do a bulk upload via spreadsheet and then request bulk verification.

    Where your Google My Business information can display

    Once your data has been accepted into the GMB system, it will begin showing up in a variety of Google’s local search displays, including the mobile and desktop versions of:

    Google Business Profiles

    Your comprehensive Google Business Profile (GBP) will most typically appear when you search for a business by its brand name, often with a city name included in your search language (e.g. “Amy’s Drive Thru Corte Madera”). In some cases, GBPs will show for non-branded searches as well (e.g. “vegan burger near me”). This can happen if there is low competition for a search term, or if Google believes (rightly or wrongly) that a search phrase has the intent of finding a specific brand instead of a variety of results.

    Google Business Profiles are extremely lengthy, but a truncated view looks something like this, located to the right of the organic search engine results:

    Google Local Packs

    Local packs are one of the chief displays Google uses to rank and present the local business information in their index. Local packs are shown any time Google believes a search phrase has a local intent (e.g. “best vegan burger near me”, “plant-based burger in corte madera”, “onion rings downtown”). The searcher does not have to include geographic terms in their phrase for Google to presume the intent is local

    Most typically these days, a local pack is made up of three business listings, with the option to click on a map or a “view all” button to see further listings. On occasion, local packs may feature fewer than three listings, and the types of information Google presents in them varies .

    Local pack results look something like this on desktop search, generally located above the organic search results:

    Google Local Finders

    When a searcher clicks through on the map or the “view all” link in a local pack, they will be taken to the display commonly known as the Local Finder. Here, many listings can be displayed, typically paginated in groups of ten, and the searcher can zoom in and out on the map to see their options change.

    The URL of this type of result begins google.com/search. Some industries, like hospitality have unique displays, but most local business categories will have a local finder display that looks like this, with the ranked list of results to the left and the map to the right:

    Google Maps

    Google Maps is the default display on Android mobile phones, and desktop users can also choose to search via this interface instead of through Google’s general search. You’ll notice a “maps” link at the top of Google’s desktop display, like this:

    Searches made via Google Maps yield results that look rather similar to the local finder results, though there are some differences. It’s a distinct possibility that Google could, at some point, consolidate the user experience and have local packs default to Google Maps instead of the local finder.

    The URL of these results begins google.com/maps instead of google.com/search and on desktop, Google’s ranked Maps’ display looks like this:

    The GMB dashboard is where you manage most of this

    Once you’ve created and claimed your Google Business Profiles, you’ll have access to managing most (but not all) of the features they contain in your Google My Business dashboard, which looks like this:

    The GMB dashboard has components for ongoing management of your basic contact info, reviews, posts, images, products and other features.

    GMB Insights

    The GMB dashboard also hosts the analytical features called GMB Insights. It’s a very useful interface, though the titles and functions of some of its components can be opaque. Some of the data you’ll see in GMB Insights includes:

    • How many impressions happened surrounding searches for your business name or location (called Direct), general searches that don’t specify your company by name but relate to what you offer (called Discovery), and searches relating to brands your business carries (called Branded).
    • Customer actions, like website visits, phone calls, messaging, and requests for driving directions.
    • Search terms people used that resulted in an impression of your business.

    There are multiple other GMB Insights features, and I highly recommend this tutorial by Joy Hawkins for a next-level understanding of why reporting from this interface can be conflicting and confusing. There’s really important data in GMB Insights, but interpreting it properly deserves a post of its own and a bit of patience with some imperfections.

    When things go wrong with Google My Business

    When engaging in GMB marketing, you’re bound to encounter problems and find that all kinds of questions arise from your day-to-day work. Google relies heavily on volunteer support in their Google My Business Help Community Forum and you can post most issues there in hopes of a reply from the general public or from volunteer contributors titled Gold Product Experts.

    In some cases, however, problems with your listings will necessitate speaking directly with Google or filling out forms. Download the free Local SEO Cheat Sheet for robust documentation of your various GMB support options.

    How to use Google My Business as a digital marketing tool

    Let’s gain a quick, no-frills understanding of how GMB can be used as one of your most important local marketing tools.

    How to drive local business growth with Google’s local features

    While each local business will need to take a nuanced approach to using Google My Business and Google Maps to market itself, most brands will maximize their growth potential on these platforms by following these seven basic steps:

    1) Determine the business model (brick-and-mortar, service area business, home-based business, or hybrid). Need help? Try this guide.

    2) Based on the business model, determine Google My Business eligibility and follow the attendant rules laid out in the Guidelines for representing your business on Google.

    3) Before you create GMB profiles, be certain you are working from a canonical source of data that has been vetted by all relevant parties at the business you’re marketing. This means that you’ve checked and double-checked that the name, address, phone number, hours of operation, business categories and other data you have about the company you are listing is 100% accurate.

    4) Create and claim a profile for each of the locations you’re marketing. Depending on the business model, you may also be eligible for additional listings for practitioners at the business or multiple departments at a location. Some models, like car dealerships, are even allowed multiple listings for the car makes they sell. Consult the guidelines. Provide as much high quality, accurate, and complete information as possible in creating your profiles.

    5) Once your listings are live, it’s time to begin managing them on an ongoing basis. Management tasks will include:

    • Analyzing chosen categories on an ongoing basis to be sure you’ve selected the best and most influential ones, and know of any new categories that appear over time for your industry.
    • Uploading high quality photos that reflect inventory, services, seasonality, premises, and other features.
    • Acquiring and responding to all reviews as a core component of your customer service policy.
    • Committing to a Google Posts schedule, publishing micro-blog-style content on an ongoing basis to increase awareness about products, services, events, and news surrounding the locations you’re marketing.
    • Populating Google Questions & Answers with company FAQs, providing simple replies to queries your staff receives all the time. Then, answer any incoming questions from the public on an ongoing basis.
    • Adding video to your listings. Check out how even a brand on a budget can create a cool, free video pulled from features of the GMB listing.
    • Commiting to keeping your basic information up-to-date, including any changes in contact info and hours, and adding special hours for holidays or other events and circumstances.
    • Investigating and utilizing additional features that could be relevant to the model you’re marketing, like menus for goods and services, product listings, booking functionality, and so much more!
    • Analyzing listing performance by reviewing Google My Business Insights in your dashboard, and using tactics like UTM tagging to track how the public is interacting with your listings.

    Need help? Moz Local is Moz’s software that helps with ongoing management of your listings not just on Google, but across multiple local business platforms.

    6) Ongoing education is key to maintaining awareness of Google rolling out new features, altering platforms, and adjusting how they weight different local ranking factors. Follow local SEO experts on social media, subscribe to local SEO newsletters, and tune in to professional and street level industry surveys to continuously evaluate which factors appear to be facilitating maximum visibility and growth.

    7) In addition to managing your own local business profiles, you’ll need to learn to view them in the dynamic context of competitive local markets. You’ll have competitors for each search phrase for which you want to increase your visibility and your customers will see different pack, finder, and maps results based on their locations at the time of search. Don’t get stuck on the goal of being #1, but do learn to do basic local competitive audits so that you can identify patterns of how dominant competitors are winning.

    In sum, providing Google with great and appropriate data at the outset, following up with ongoing management of all relevant GMB features, and making a commitment to ongoing local SEO education is the right recipe for creating a growth engine that’s a top asset for the local brands you market.

    How to optimize Google My Business listings

    This SEO forum FAQ is actually a bit tricky, because so many resources talk about GMB optimization without enough context. Let’s get a handle on this topic together.

    Google uses calculations known as “algorithms” to determine the order in which they list businesses for public viewing. Local SEOs and local business owners are always working to better understand the secret ranking factors in Google’s local algorithm so that the locations they’re marketing can achieve maximum visibility in packs, finders, and maps.

    Many local SEO experts feel that there are very few fields you can fill out in a Google Business Profile that actually have any impact on ranking. While most experts agree that it’s pretty evident the business name field, the primary chosen category, the linked website URL, and some aspects of reviews may be ranking factors, the Internet is full of confusing advice about “optimizing” service radii, business descriptions, and other features with no evidence that these elements influence rank.

    My personal take is that this conversation about GMB optimization matters, but I prefer to think more holistically about the features working in concert to drive visibility, conversions, and growth, rather than speculating too much about how an individual feature may or may not impact rank.

    Whether answering a GMB Q&A query delivers a direct lead, or writing a post moves a searcher further along the buyer journey, or choosing a different primary category boosts visibility for certain searches, or responding to a review to demonstrate empathy wins back an unhappy customer, you want it all. If it contributes to business growth, it matters.

    Why Google My Business plays a major role in local search marketing strategy

    As of mid-2020, Google’s global search engine market share was at 92.16%. While other search engines like Bing or Yahoo still have a role to play, their share is simply tiny, compared to Google’s. We could see a shift of this dynamic with the rumored development of an Apple search engine, but for now, Google has a near-monopoly on search.

    Within Google’s massive share of search, a company representative stated in 2018 that 46% of queries have a local intent. It’s been estimated that Google processes 5.8 billion global daily queries. By my calculation, this would mean that roughly 2.7 billion searches are being done every day by people seeking nearby goods, services, and resources. It’s also good to know that, according to Google, searches with the intent of supporting local business increased 20,000% in 2020.

    Local businesses seeking to capture the share they need of these queries to become visible in their geographic markets must know how to incorporate Google My Business marketing into their local SEO campaigns.

    A definition of local search engine optimization (local SEO)

    Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business’s web presence for increased visibility in local and localized organic search engine results. It’s core to providing modern customer service, ensuring today’s businesses can be found and chosen on the internet. Small and local businesses make up the largest business sector in the United States, making local SEO the most prevalent form of SEO.

    Local SEO and Google My Business marketing are not the same thing, but learning to utilize GMB as a tool and asset is key to driving local business growth, because of Google’s near monopoly.

    A complete local SEO campaign will include management of the many components of the Google My Business profile, as well as managing listings on other location data and review platforms, social media publication, image and video production and distribution, and a strong focus on the organic and local optimization of the company website. Comprehensive local search marketing campaigns also encompass all the offline efforts a business makes to be found and chosen.

    When trying to prioritize, it can help to think of the website as the #1 digital asset of most brands you’ll market, but that GMB marketing will be #2. And within the local search marketing framework, it’s the customer and their satisfaction that must be centered at every stage of on-and-offline promotion.

    Focus on GMB but diversify beyond Google

    Every aspect of marketing a brand contains plusses, minuses and pitfalls. Google My Business is no exception. Let’s categorize this scenario into four parts for a realistic take on the terrain.

    1) The positive

    The most positive aspect of GMB is that it meets our criteria as owners and marketers of helping local businesses get found and chosen. At the end of the day, this is the goal of nearly all marketing tactics, and Google’s huge market share makes their platforms a peerless place to compete for the attention of and selection by customers.

    What Google has developed is a wonder of technology. With modest effort on your part, GMB lets you digitize a business so that it can be ever-present to communities, facilitate conversations with the public which generate loyalty and underpin everything from inventory development to quality control, and build the kind of online reputation that makes brands local household names in the offline world.

    2) The negative

    The most obvious negative aspects of GMB are that its very dominance has cut Google too much slack in letting issues like listing and review spam undermine results quality. Without a real competitor, Google hasn’t demonstrated the internal will to solve problems like these that have real-world impacts on local brands and communities.

    Meanwhile, a dry-eyed appraisal of Google’s local strategy observes that the company is increasingly monetizing their results. For now, GMB profiles are free, but expanding programs like Local Service Ads point the way to a more costly local SEO future for small businesses on tight budgets

    Finally, local brands and marketers (as well as Google’s own employees) are finding themselves increasingly confronted with ethical concerns surrounding Google that have made them the subject of company walkouts, public protests, major lawsuits, and government investigations. If you’re devoting your professional life to building diverse, inclusive local communities that cherish human rights, you may sometimes encounter a fundamental disconnect between your goals and Google’s.

    3) The pitfall

    Managing your Google-based assets takes time, but don’t let it take all of your time. Because local businesses owners are so busy and Google is so omnipresent, a pitfall has developed where it can appear that GMB is the only game in town.

    The old adage about eggs in baskets comes into play every time Google has a frustrating bug, monetizes a formerly-free business category, or lets competitors and lead generators park their advertising in what you felt was your space. Sometimes, Google’s vision of local simply doesn’t match real-world realities, and something like a missing category or an undeveloped feature you need is standing in the way of fully communicating what your business offers.

    The pitfall is that Google’s walls can be so high that the limits and limitations of their platforms can be mistaken as all there is to local search marketing.

    4) The path to success

    My article on how to feed, fight, and flip Google was one of the most-read here on the Moz blog in 2020. With nearly 14,000 unique page views, this message is one I am doubling down on in 2021:

    • Feed Google everything they need to view the businesses you’re marketing as the most relevant answers to people in close proximity to brand locations so that the companies you promote become the prominent local resources in Google’s index.
    • Fight spam in the communities you’re marketing to so that you’re weeding out fake and ineligible competitors and protecting neighbors from scams, and take principled stands on the issues that matter to you and your customers, building affinity with the public and a better future where you work and live.
    • Flip the online scenario where Google controls so much local business fate into a one-on-one environment in which you have full control over creating customer experiences exceptional enough to win repeat business and WOM recommendations, outside the GMB loop. Turn every customer Google sends you into a keeper who comes directly to you — not Google — for multiple transactions.

    GMB is vital, but there’s so much to see beyond it! Get listed on multiple platforms and deeply engage in your reviews across them. Add generous value to neighborhood sites Nextdoor, or on old school fora that nobody but locals use. Forge B2B alliances and join the Buy Local movement to become a local business advocate and community sponsor. Help a Reporter Out. Evaluate whether image, video, or podcasting media could boost your brand to local fame. Profoundly grow your email base. Be part of the home delivery revival, fill the hungry longing for bygone quality and expertise, or invest in your website like never before and make the leap into digital sales. The options and opportunities are enticing and there’s a right fit for every local brand.

    Key takeaway: don’t get stuck in Google’s world — build your own with your customers from a place of openness to possibilities.

    A glance at the future of Google My Business

    By now, you’ve likely decided that investing time and resources into your GMB assets is a basic necessity to marketing a local business. But will your efforts pay off for a long time to come? Is GMB built to last, and where is Google heading with their vision of local?

    Barring unforeseen circumstances, yes, Google My Business is here to stay, though it could be rebranded, as Google has often rebranded their local features in the past. Here are eight developments I believe we could see over the next half decade:

    1. As mentioned above, Google could default local packs to Maps instead of the local finder, making their network a bit tidier. This is a good time to learn more about Google Maps, because some aspects of it are quite different.
    2. Pay-to-play visibility will become increasingly prevalent in packs, organic, and Maps, including lead generation features and trust badges.
    3. If Apple Maps manages to make Google feel anxious, they may determine to invest in better spam filters for both listings and reviews to defend the quality of their index.
    4. Location-based image filters and search features will grow, so photograph your inventory.
    5. Google will make further strides into local commerce by surfacing, and possibly even beginning to take commissions from, sales of real time inventory. The brands you market will need to decide whether to sell via Google, via their own company websites, or both.
    6. Google could release a feature depicting the mapped delivery radii of brick-and-mortar brands. Home delivery is here to stay, and if it’s relevant to brands you market, now is the time to dive in.
    7. Google has a limited time window to see if they can drive adoption of Google Messaging as a major brand-to-consumer communications platform. The next five years will be telling, in this regard, and brands you market should discuss whether they wish to invite Google into their conversations with customers.
    8. Google could add public commenting on Google Posts to increase their interactivity and push brands into greater use of this feature. Nextdoor has this functionality on their posts and it’s a bit of a surprise that Google doesn’t yet.

    What I’m not seeing on the near horizon is a real commitment to better one-on-one support for the local business owners whose data makes up Google’s vast and profitable local index. While the company has substantially increased the amount of automated communications it sends GMB listing owners, Google’s vision of local as an open-source, DIY free-for-all appears to continue to be where they’re at with this evolving venture.

    Your job, then, is to be vigilant about both the best and worst aspects of the fascinating Google My Business platform, taking as much control as you can of how customers experience your brand in Google’s territory. This is no easy task, but with ongoing education, supporting tools, and a primary focus on serving the customer, your investment in Google My Business marketing can yield exceptional rewards!

    Ready to continue your local SEO education? Read: The Essential Local SEO Strategy Guide.

    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

    Join us tomorrow for free at MarTech

    Discover actionable tactics to some of your most crucial marketing challenges at MarTech, online this week for free!

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

    Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

    CDPA: Untangling personal, public and sensitive data

    A close look at Virginia’s data privacy law reveals potential loopholes and regulatory uncertainty

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

    Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

    The 20 Best Marketing Articles of All Time, According to HubSpot's Marketing Team

    One of the best ways to tell if a show or movie is worthwhile is if people never get tired of re-watching it. Whether it’s the hit television show Friends or the classic movie Forrest Gump, most people never turn down an opportunity to watch Ross pivot his couch or witness Forrest develop into a ping pong celebrity — even if they’ve already watched it 27 times.

    Content marketing is in its infancy compared to television and film, but some of the best writers and publications in our industry have already crafted articles that we revere as the Friends or Forrest Gump of the space.

    To pinpoint some of these articles and share them with you, I asked nine marketers at HubSpot what their favorite marketing article is and why. Check out the ones they read on repeat.

    To pinpoint some of these articles and share them with you, I asked a few marketers at HubSpot what their favorite marketing article is and why. Check out the ones they read on repeat, plus a few articles that HubSpot’s marketing, content, and blog teams refer to time and again.

    1. What Creativity Looks Like in Marketing Today | Harvard Business Review

    Recommended By: Caroline Forsey, Editor at HubSpot, Marketing Blog

    Why She Loves It:

    “It’s tricky to choose a single marketing article as my favorite, but the one that has had a lasting impression on me is HBR’s ‘What Creativity in Marketing Looks Like Today’. Mark Bonchek and Cara France do a great job distilling the wisdom of senior marketing executives from dozens of top brands, varying from Old Navy to OpenTable. One of my favorite lines is this one — ‘People are the new channel. The way to amplify impact is by inspiring creativity in others’. Ultimately, I’m a fan of anything HBR, and this piece in particular is a good one to check out if you want to learn more about what top brands are doing to stand out in the industry today.”

    2. We Analyzed 11.8 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO | Backlinko

    Recommended By: the HubSpot SEO Team

    Why They Love It:

    “Part original data and part SEO guide, this is one of Brian Dean’s best articles. The algorithm has changed since its publication, but this article helps new marketers understand how SEO works and why. It’s a how-to guide on SEO, only without the how-to in the title, with data that supports each component of an SEO strategy. We love this article because it reminds us that while the Google algorithm changes every day, one factor never changes: search engine optimization must be human-first above all else.”

    3. SEO Is Back. Thank God. | New York Magazine – Intelligencer

    Recommended By: Braden Becker, Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot

    Why He Loves It:

    “This article took a brilliant position on search engine optimization (SEO) and how search engines have stood the test of time as new channels break into a marketer’s arsenal. Lots of articles assert the importance of SEO, but few of them consider the implications sites like Google have on how the public finds, consumes, and expects to see information online. The piece boldly defends the positive role ranking algorithms play in an industry that is often saturated with manipulation and clickbait. It’s something both consumers and marketers can learn from, and I gained a ton of respect for New York Magazine after reading this.”

    4. How Google Analytics Ruined Marketing | TechCrunch

    Recommended By: the HubSpot Blog Team

    Why They Love It:

    “In our field, we tend to uphold data above emotional appeal, relatability, and empathy (well, maybe those are all the same thing). As a result, marketing has become less and less human. This article is one of our favorites because it takes us back to the roots of marketing and tells us why it’s critical to take a holistic look at a brand’s performance across different channels. Most important, creativity reigns over numbers and hard data. People will remember a creative, targeted campaign that appeared once more than they’ll remember — and like — a spam-like campaign that appears everywhere.”

    5. How to Create 10x Content | Moz

    Recommended By: Amanda Sellers, Marketing Manager at HubSpot, Historical Optimization

    Why She Loves It:

    “This is a content marketing classic — probably the first post you’ll ever read as a content marketing professional. If you’re familiar with Moz at all, you’ve likely watched one of its whiteboard Fridays. Rand Fishkin’s guide for creating what he calls ‘10X content’ came about after the rise of the ‘Content is king’ industry adage. Even years after its initial publication, this guide will tell you how you can write strong, authoritative content that will draw in more readers and improve in rankings as a result.”

    6. ‘We want these platforms to be healthy’: Why top marketers won’t quit Facebook | Digiday

    Recommended By:Amanda Zantal-Wiener, Senior Content Strategist at HubSpot

    Why She Loves It:

    “This is an oldie but a goodie — still relevant years after it was written, especially as we continue to be wary toward Facebook. As someone who lives a ‘double life’ as a marketer and a tech writer, I found this article both intriguing and valuable. It explores Facebook’s rocky year from an interesting lens: one that’s of interest to those who live in the trenches of the tech industry and those who cover it alike. I studied and reported on the consumer sentiment toward and use of Facebook, despite these events. But it’s important to ask an audience of marketers and growth companies the same questions. This article does a great job of that.”

    7. Marketing in the Age of Resistance | Harvard Business Review

    Recommended By: the entire HubSpot Marketing Team

    Why We Love It:

    “‘Being about it instead of just talking about it’ is a huge priority not just for the marketing team, but for HubSpot as a whole. We love this article because it tells us that our blog, advertising, and website campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum that’s separate from societal injustices. In our team, we often begin with representation — but that’s only the precursor to more institutional and large-scale change within our organization. Marketing teams everywhere will benefit from saving and rereading this article.”

    8. How to Become a Customer Acquisition Expert | Brian Balfour

    Recommended By: Christina Perricone, Content Marketing Manager at HubSpot, Pillar and Acquisition

    Why She Loves It:

    “Marketing has expanded into a field with countless designations — simply calling yourself a marketer is no longer a sufficient response to the question, ‘What do you do?’ Balfour explains how to build yourself into an indispensable, T-shaped marketer by layering your skills as you progress. This evergreen piece teaches us that marketers are experimenters, risk takers, and problem solvers, proving that nearly anyone has the propensity to be successful in this field if they have the patience to build and stick to a plan. It’s a gem for any marketer who is struggling to determine their path.”

    9. 7 Ancient Archetypes Your Brand Storytelling Should Use | Content Marketing Institute

    Recommended By:the HubSpot Blog Team

    Why They Love It:

    “Writing a blog post is like writing a short story. The introduction is the exposition, the bulk of the post is the rising action, and the conclusion is the denouement. Seems pretty straightforward, right? But without establishing emotional stakes and placing your reader as the hero, you risk your messaging falling flat. We love this post because it’s like a condensed version of Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand. Easy to refer to as we write posts.”

    10. An Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language for Startups and Tech | Buffer

    Recommended By:Karla Cook, Team Senior Manager at HubSpot, All Blogs

    Why She Loves It:

    “This article is a must-read for anyone who creates content. It’s a reminder that the seemingly inconsequential choices we make about language on a daily basis actually hold a lot of power. Creating content with inclusive language in mind can seem tricky or even silly to some (especially when the word choices seem minor), but this article poses the question: why not just try?”

    11. Why Be Everywhere is Bad Advice | Racheal Cook

    Recommended By:the HubSpot Sales Blog Team

    Why They Love It:

    “Being everywhere and being in front of everyone is very, very bad marketing and sales advice. We have no idea how this became such an accepted stance in the industry. This blog post is a great guide for both marketers and budding entrepreneurs on how to hone messaging so that it appeals to the one buyer who’ll actually buy, use, and appreciate your product. It’s especially useful to content writers, too. Our pieces don’t have to be everywhere. Simply in the right place at the right time. ”

    12. Why Marketing Analytics Hasn’t Lived Up to Its Promise | Harvard Business Review

    Recommended By: Josh Chang, Manager at HubSpot, Acquisition Analytics

    Why He Loves It:

    “I love this article because while everyone knows marketing analytics is important, it’s challenging to do marketing analytics right so that it has a significant impact on the overall business. Many companies suffer from having too much data and not knowing what to do with it. But if you have the right data, systems, processes, and people in place, you can better ensure that marketing analytics isn’t wasted and has a tangible and positive impact.”

    13. How Redesigning HubSpot’s Website Doubled Conversion Rates | HubSpot

    Recommended By: the HubSpot Website Blog Team

    Why They Love It:

    “‘Not another HubSpot plug,’ you might say, but this post is one of our best ones — we constantly refer to it to remind ourselves how small changes can create a lasting impact. You can see, process-by-process, how the new website came about. Written in a case study format, this article is a great primer for marketing teams everywhere on how and why they should consider a website redesign and what to take into consideration. While the post was published a few years ago, its relevance stays high.”

    14. 4 Lessons We’ve Learned, Sometimes the Hard Way, About Inclusive Marketing | Think With Google

    Recommended By: Sammi Kim, Marketing Manager at HubSpot, HubSpot Research

    Why She Loves It:

    “Written by the SVP of Global Marketing at Google, this article speaks to the importance of inclusive marketing. I was impressed by how the first lesson was that the diversity among marketers at Google directly impacted their marketing campaigns. And based on the article’s third lesson on the importance of excluding stereotypes from marketing campaigns, I strongly believe that having diverse marketing teams will help run more nuanced, empathetic campaigns.”

    15. 20 Types of Evergreen Content that Produce Lasting Results for Your Business | Copyblogger

    Recommended By:the HubSpot Blog Team

    Why They Love It:

    “Most, if not all, blog posts should try to be evergreen. We took ideas from this article and continue to take ideas as we create an editorial calendar each quarter. Though published a few years ago, this article is still highly relevant and useful. Numbered lists, how-to lists, and original research will always do well. This article has never failed us and it should be in every content marketer’s arsenal.”

    16. Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company | Medium – Startups

    Recommended By: Nate Medina, Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot

    Why He Loves It:

    “I love this article because it tells the intimate story of a founder who had ambitious dreams, but ultimately, his plans didn’t pan out the way he expected. In the pursuit of trying to create a billion dollar company, however, he learned that success isn’t just about money. It’s about creating something you’re truly interested in rather than something that you chase revenue with.”

    17. How We Used the Pillar-Cluster Model to Transform Our Blog | HubSpot Marketing Blog

    Recommended By: Basha Coleman, Marketing Manager at HubSpot, Historical Optimization

    Why She Loves It:

    “This article is a stellar introduction to a new and improved way of doing content marketing — not just on blogs, but on websites as well. Before the pillar-cluster model, we truly built blogs like a tree, with a multitude of branches that didn’t interconnect. Relevance, authority, and organic traffic all suffered. But the pillar-cluster model changed everything, and we swear by it to this day. Our team constantly refers to the establishment of the pillar-cluster model as the turning point for the HubSpot blogs.”

    18. What I Learned From Developing Branding for Airbnb, Dropbox and Thumbtack | FirstRound

    Recommended By: the HubSpot Content Team

    Why They Love It:

    “We love this article because it gives us a close look at how some of the world’s best-loved brands become so well-loved. This post is part original think piece and part how-to guide. While none of us work in brand management directly, we come back to this article again and again for its helpful insight on how we can play a part in making HubSpot a better brand. All marketers would benefit from alluding to this article again and again during their campaigns and positioning efforts.”

    19. Will Marketers Return to Offices in 2021? What Companies Need to Know | HubSpot Marketing Blog

    Recommended By: Ivelisse Rodriguez, Associate Marketing Manager at HubSpot, Historical Optimization

    Why She Loves It:

    “This article takes everything that happened in 2020 and turns it into actionable feedback that marketing leaders can use to manage their new hybrid workforce. The trends and data indicate that remote work is here to stay — and while some companies may resist it, they may sacrifice their marketers in doing so. In an industry that’s always changing, adaptability is key and will continue to be key in 2021 and beyond. I love that this post drives that point home for marketing teams and leaders.”

    20. The Strange Thing That Happens In Your Brain When You Hear a Good Story — And How to Use It to Your Advantage | HubSpot Marketing Blog

    Recommended By: the HubSpot Content Team

    Why They Love It:

    “Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, marketing executives at Contently, wrote a book called The Storytelling Edge. They promoted it by releasing one of the book’s chapters on our marketing blog. This is one of our favorite marketing articles because it uses neuroscience to prove that storytelling is much more than a trendy buzzword. In their excerpt, Joe and Shane weave in compelling psychological and neurological evidence into a narrative about how storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their brains, and forge close, personal bonds. And in an industry where 5% of branded content attracts 95% of attention, their article makes you realize that content marketers can’t just write listicles and ultimate guides anymore. We must tell gripping stories.”

    Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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