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Semantic search drives expanded outreach to potential customers

30-second summary:

  • Semantic search enables retailers to reach a broader audience of potential consumers who are outside their traditional targeted approach.
  • For semantic search to be effective, websites must provide a rich landscape of relevant content for context.
  • Effectively influencing semantic search requires the right tools and technology to achieve results.

Search capability is an obvious, integral aspect of any online marketing. But, more savvy marketers look beyond the traditional lexical search capability where the search engine looks for exact matches to a query or search term and respond with a text tag to a specific keyword set to also explore the viability of semantic search. Taking intent and contextual meaning into account broadens the search and is beneficial to those retailers attempting to reach an audience who might not know exactly what they want but are interested in starting a purchase journey.

Taking search to the next level

Using retargeting and social ads is effective to reach out to a group of potential consumers based on what you think your customer base looks like and your established profiles. You need to be visible in that space for a chance to win that business. However, it’s not enough to reach out to those who likely fit your traditional personas. It’s vital to think both in terms that are broader and more refined by being visible to those who are interested in what you have to offer but might not yet know about your product or brand.

Paid search is a tried and true method for reaching customers who already are raising their hand to say they’re interested in what you have to offer. It’s the digital advertising channel to ensure you show up in the right space to meet customers where they’re already searching. That’s great if you sell lawnmowers or boat lifts and someone is searching for a specific type or brand of lawnmower or boat lift. However, what if a customer has only a vague idea in mind and isn’t searching for a specific product or service? Semantic search takes paid search to a new level by considering both contextual meaning and the intent behind the search. It leverages machine learning to better understand what a customer is looking for and appropriately applies a response.

Making semantic search work

To influence semantic search, you must have current content, with all your alt tags, and image tags that are current and relevant to the specific audiences you want to reach. The algorithms within the search change constantly, so to stay in the game you have to offer enough relevant content to provide surrounding context. Everyone knows about SEO, but you need enough substance around the terms for them to rank. For semantic search to be effective, there has to be enough content material to support the full meaning of the concepts.

That content runs the gamut from localized landing pages and website experiences to specific brand pages on a retailer’s site. It includes key product descriptions, promotional information, and local dealer information. Whether it’s a product catalog page, a promo page, or a basic conversion landing page, all the content feeds into the algorithms to give the site a fair chance to rank in a search.

Moving from search to viable consumer action

If you’re a retailer who sells a range of products, channeling a prospective customer to the right information is critical. A dealer who sells lawn equipment, power tools, and hardware might show up when someone searches for mowers but the key is to direct that inquiry to specific information on the brand and product at your store. The customer might only know he wants to find out about lawn equipment, the context of semantic search can help you to direct him to the section of your site with information about a specific brand of mower you want to sell.

By responding to a potential customer’s search with relevant, contextual information, you’re streamlining the search process and putting them on a more concentrated conversion path to purchase. From the retailer perspective, there’s more actionable information on a viable sales lead. This consumer has let the retailer know of a valid interest, now the retailer can follow up and close a sale.

By taking advantage of semantic search opportunities, a retailer offers a potential customer more tangible, relevant information on a product of interest, and the retailer has a clear path to an already interested buyer for a specific product. The consumer learns about what he wants to find without having specific product knowledge beforehand, and the retailer has direct access to an interested customer.

Nikki Vegenski is Chief Strategy Officer at PowerChord.

The post Semantic search drives expanded outreach to potential customers appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

The future of Google and what it means for search

30-second summary:

  • Something that all of us in the search industry are guilty of is our over-reliance on Google telling us what is coming next.
  • Understanding Google’s considerations as a business, provide context to many of its recent decisions and provides a sense of what is coming down the road.
  • Global digital agency Croud’s Organic Strategy Director looks discusses the future of Google, right from Google’s antitrust lawsuit to Apple as a future rival, and more.

It occurs to me that I am part of a cult.

Or at least, something that displays the hallmarks of one. An unchallenged authoritarian leadership, prophets and oracles who deign to share only select information from a mysterious entity, who engage in coercive behaviors, who punish for non-compliance, and followership who are indoctrinated into special teachings and practices and whom parrot back the mantras and sayings of the leaders. Yes, I of course refer to the SEO industry and yes, you may take a small pause here to go through the above statement to see if it works. It does.

Something that all of us in the search industry are guilty of is our over-reliance on Google telling us what is coming next. Whether through announcing prescriptive updates on Google Search Central or retrospectively announcing algorithm updates on Twitter – we rely too heavily on the limited information Google shares with us and, as such, only get a very short-sighted view on the future of our industry.

This needs to change, and in order for that to happen, we need to stop thinking of Google as a search engine.

Google is first and foremost a business, and as such has a responsibility to its shareholders to continue to defend and grow its market capitalization. Understanding Google’s considerations as a business, provide context to many of its recent decisions and provides a sense of what is coming down the road.

Section 230 in the spotlight – Google to factor truth in determining search results

The Storming of the US Capitol came as the culmination of a five-year disinformation campaign that went unchallenged and unadulterated by big tech. They cited concerns over the First Amendment, freedom of speech, and public interest as the reasons for a lack of intervention on even the most palpable mistruths, but the events at the Capitol prompted a shift change. Twitter and Facebook de-platformed Donald Trump, Google removed dangerous channels that called for violence from YouTube, and Apple, Google, and Amazon joined forces to take down Parler.

Though the events at the Capitol provoked big tech into action, the shadow of the incoming Biden-Harris administration had already moved them into action (Twitter flagging Trump’s tweets, for instance). As part of the ongoing swathe of antitrust cases against big-tech, protections currently available for platforms under Section 230 will be thrust into the spotlight for review. The crux of it is whether or not platforms are treated as the publisher of third-party content. Currently, platforms are not treated as the publisher and therefore resign any responsibility for the content that appears on their platforms.

Biden, during his election campaign, said,

“The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms.” He added, “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”

His recent appointee, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, has told lawmakers that she will pursue changes to Section 230.

If – and it seems likely – Section 230 is at least amended, this evidently raises issues for big tech. It is unlikely that it will be completely revoked – such a decision would likely have a net negative effect. It is more likely that Google will need to demonstrate efforts to moderate content at scale, and have a mechanism by which content flagged by users or other parties. Such mechanisms already exist – such as the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ (in the EU) or DMCA takedown requests for copyright infringements. In these cases, individual URLs can be flagged by users and organizations. Though a much bigger undertaking, in this case, it is likely that such a process will be used to deal with issues of veracity, libel, incitement to violence, and so on. The difficulties here will be firstly manpower to deal with these requests, and secondly the criteria by which these complaints are assessed.

What does this mean for search?

Websites that produce editorial and opinion-based content will need to be confident that what they produce will not contravene guidelines agreed by big tech and governments. Individual infringements might see de-indexing of individual URLs, but continued and flagrant non-conformity could see full domains removed from search results entirely (as is the case with DMCA takedowns).

Antitrust – Google loses market share in search

There are numerous antitrust lawsuits currently filed against Google, which examine its monopoly status in the search market. Google has an estimated almost 90% share of the search market in the US, and this is the foundation upon which its gargantuan online advertising business rests. Its path to monopoly may have seemed organic to most, but the tactics the company used to secure such dominance are now under scrutiny. The purchase of DoubleClick in 2007 gave Google end-to-end ownership of the process of matching advertisers to users, which many at the time raised as a concern, in that it would give Google too much power in this space. The purchase of the Android operating system also allowed Google to push its apps, such as Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, and more onto nine out of 10 mobile devices sold globally each year.

All of the above, and more, will be considered in the DoJ’s case against Google. The precedent for such a case was set by the EU Commission where it determined that Google had broken antitrust laws by abusing its market dominance with Android and had to pay a fine of five billion dollars. Included within the decision, was a ruling that for all new Android devices, Google must offer users a choice in their default search engine. Google created an auction system for rival search engines to appear in the “choice screen”, leading many to once again accuse it of abusing its market dominance for profit, and placing barriers to entry for smaller players that cannot compete. DuckDuckGo wrote a blog post that stated, “This EU antitrust remedy is only serving to further strengthen Google’s dominance in mobile search by boxing out alternative search engines that consumers want to use and, for those search engines that remain, taking most of their profits from the preference menu.”

There is precedent for such an approach to introduce competition, with a similar case launched by Russia’s competition watchdog, and Yandex growing market share by 20% in the years post its introduction. However, it seems to have had little impact in the EU thus far, with smaller search engines either unable to afford to compete in the auction or, even when doing so, getting little traction from it. This could be because the choice screen is only displayed on new Android devices, and, according to the rather cumbersomely named Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager,

“very few Android phones have been shipped due to the Covid crisis.”

In this case, it may be too early to make a strong conclusion as to the effectiveness of measures.

Watching this all from across the Atlantic, the DoJ has slowly collected and built evidence to take on Google. There are a number of different cases, some looking over the aforementioned issues and some looking at new potential avenues to introduce competition to the search industry. The Justice Department has cast its net wide and spoken to third parties within the advertising industry, as well as search competitors as to their thoughts on how to reduce Google’s market share. One such line of enquiry was around which parts of Google’s vast ecosystem it could be forced to sell off. One leading suggestion; Chrome.

Now, they didn’t ask me but had they, I would have said why not force them to spin off the second biggest search engine – YouTube.

Apple – A future rival to Google Search?

Another big investigation point is Google’s continued payments to Apple to remain the default search engine on its devices. It pays $12 billion to do so and has said that if this were ever challenged, it would amount to a code red scenario for the business. However, as an active part of the antitrust lawsuits, this could be something that becomes a reality for Google. In such a scenario, would Apple open up a bidding war for the opportunity, or would it do something fairly shocking… create its own search engine.

Apple has already begun to tantalize the market with a couple of nods in this direction. First, in 2018 it hired the former Head of Search from Google, John Giannandrea. Second, it is hiring a huge amount of search engineers. Third, Applebot has significantly increased its crawling activity recently. Fourth, in the iOS 14 update, Apple has started showing its own search results when a search is made from the home screen. Fifth, it updated its Applebot guidelines last year in a way that is remarkably similar to guidelines in Google’s Developer Blog. Included are guidance for webmasters around the robots.txt and noindex tags and even what it takes into account for ‘Search Rankings’.

If Apple were to enter the space, it would be the first true contender for Google from a search perspective. Although Google’s years of development and investment into its search ecosystem would certainly be a high barrier to entry, Apple’s massive user base and commitment to privacy would certainly capture a significant portion of market share. In such an event, how would this impact the web? If Google and Apple deviated from each other in search ranking factors – could SEOs be in the position where we have to dance different dances for different masters. Even if Apple does not enter the market, effective antitrust legislation would open up the market for new compelling offerings such as Neeva, You, and Mojeek, as well as existing search engines – such as DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, Baidu, and Bing – attracting more market share. Many of these offer Privacy as a major selling point – and as these issues become more evident in the public consciousness, there will likely be a gradual ebb of users to these other engines. There is a greater risk, however, that in the very public antitrust case, if any major news breaks around how Google uses data collected in search engines, that it could see a max exodus of its user base, as happened recently with WhatsApp and the flocking to Telegram and Signal

What does this mean for search?

  • If Google loses dominance in search, SEOs will need to be fluent in multiple search engines’ best practices. Though likely to be similar in some regards, other search engines may not use, or weight, ranking factors in the same way. They might also have different features in their search results. Consider how different Google and Baidu search results are for instance.
  • Adoption of different search engines could vary across markets, demographics and audiences, and therefore specific verticals may align their websites more to the best practices of one rather than another.
  • Reporting and analysis of the ‘Organic’ channel will become more complex and have a higher cost base.

The battle for ecommerce heats up

Covid has created many new trends and behaviors but has just as importantly served as a catalyst for many pre-existing trends. The penetration of ecommerce as a percentage of total retail sales skyrocketed during the early stages of the global pandemic and has remained high ever since. Amazon was the largest beneficiary of this trend, with its share of ecommerce sales in the US at a whopping 47%. This statistic, and the fact that more product searches begin on Amazon than any other platform, spurred Google into action.

In 2019, Google made clear its intent to recapture market share in this space, with a somewhat understated relaunch of its Shopping platform. It seemed the plan was to slowly capture market share with a gradual introduction of new features across its platform. With the arrival of Covid, however, it began to release features rapidly. Free organic shopping listings came out of nowhere, and the new Google Pay app, which allows retailers to offer targeted coupons and deals to users, is a bold offering.

One of Google’s more unique offerings in this space is enabling and facilitating ROPO (research online, purchase offline) behavior. Its acquisition of Pointy, a software allowing local retailers to list their inventory online and appear in local results, will greatly increase the importance of listing optimization for products and services. Product searches already have a filter for nearby – which will certainly abet impulsive purchases.

Additionally, local has already slowly been building up its integration services with booking engines to allow users to book or buy directly through local listings. 

Google will continue this process of “ecommercification” of its ecosystem. With the likes of Instagram and Pinterest looking to commercialize their content by allowing people to buy products directly from their platform, Google has been fairly transparent about its intentions to do the same with YouTube in the near future. The role of video has largely been seen as an awareness medium up until now, but changes here could very quickly see the video platform having a much more immediate relationship to conversion.

What does this mean for search?

  • Local search becomes far more important as both an awareness and conversion channel – especially for brands that invest in joined-up experiences across online and offline.
  • The value of video and YouTube content is made clearer, playing an increasingly important role in both awareness and conversion for brands. Image search too.
  • Augmented Reality features may be integrated into search results. This has already been tested with Dogs and Dinosaurs, but the early adopters’ program documentation demonstrates this is clearly to be used for ecommerce.
  • Expect further opportunities for brands listing their product inventory on Google and a more advanced version of the fairly rudimentary analytics product currently on offer. 

An ever-changing landscape

The above outlines just a few examples of the challenges facing Google as a business, which will likely have a tangible impact on search.  Here are a few other areas we’ll be keeping a close eye on in the coming months:

  • Google’s acquisition of Fitbit and how this might be used in its Google Health arm
  • Drone delivery legislation, which could enable Alphabet’s drone delivery company Wing to enter the fulfillment space
  • Australia’s new law forcing Google to pay news publishers for the right to link to their content, and the way News might appear in search results
  • Android being installed as a leading main operating system in driverless cars, and the potential impact on search

Pete Eckersley is an Organic Strategy Director at global digital agency Croud, where he oversees organic strategy across the brands within the IWG group.

The post The future of Google and what it means for search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Email Split Tests You Can Set Up in 1 Minute

In marketing, sometimes you don’t know what works until you try. Thankfully, with email split testing, you can easily find out what content your subscribers prefer and send messages that get more opens, clicks, and sales.

Too often, people focus almost exclusively on subject line split testing. They optimize their subject lines and boost open rates. However, they rarely split test the content inside their emails.

This is a big mistake. After all, a high open rate doesn’t matter if subscribers don’t read the content inside your email and take action.

There are simple email content split tests that can have a big impact, like these 9 easy split tests below.

Email split test #1: Headline vs. no headline

Does having a bold and colorful headline at the top of your email content grab your subscribers’ attention and keep them reading?

To find out,  send two emails — one with a eye-catching headline and one without a headline.

For example, let’s say you’re a fitness blogger, and you’re sending an email about the five stretches you recommend before a workout. You could run a split test with one variant that has no headline and one variant with a headline at the top of the email content that says, “5 pre-workout stretches to prevent injuries.”

headline vs. no headline email split test
Headline vs. no headline

Pro tip: Like the email template from the example above? It’s called Wane Light and you can find it in your AWeber account. (Don’t have AWeber? Try AWeber free.)

Email split test #2: Personal salutation vs. no salutation

Do your subscribers like to feel that your emails were written specifically for them? Run a split test to find out!

Try using their first name in the salutation of your email (for example, “Dear John,” “Hi John,” “How’s it going, John,” etc.) and see if you get a higher click-through rate. You can also incorporate someone’s name at the end of a sentence or in another natural (yet unexpected!) place in your email.

personal greeting vs. no personal greeting
Personal salutation vs. no salutation

Pro tip: If you have an AWeber account, you can easily add a first name to your email subject line or content to personalize your messages.

Email split test #3: Images vs. no images

Are your subscribers visual people that like images in their emails? Or, do images distract them from your content and call-to-action?

Create an a/b test where one email variant has an image and the other does not. Compare the results of your test and find out which your audience prefers.

Images vs. no images
Images vs. no images

Related: How to Create Amazing Photos for Your Emails on Zero Budget

Email split test #4: Long content vs. short content

Perhaps your subscribers like short emails that get straight to the point. Or, maybe they need more information before they’re ready to make a decision.

Find out with a split test that compares two email copy variants:

  1. a lengthy email that describes all the details of your offer
  2. a short and easily digestible email that summarizes the same information
Long content vs. short content
Long content vs. short content

Email split test #5: P.S. vs. no P.S.

Since subscribers often skim emails, including a  P.S. at the end of your emails can be an effective way to boost your click-through rates. A subscriber might glance over your content, but carefully read the P.S.

To see if this is true of your subscribers, send your first email variant without a P.S. and your second email variant with a P.S. at the bottom of your content.

P.S. vs. no P.S.
P.S. vs. no P.S.

Email split test #6: Call-to-action button vs. hyperlinked text

Are your subscribers more likely to click on a button or hyperlinked text? If you don’t know, a split test is a great way to find out! After all, if your call to action (CTA) isn’t optimized, you’re missing out on valuable clicks.

Try two variations of an email — one with a button as a CTA and the other with hyperlinked text as a CTA. Just make sure to use identical text for both calls to action.

Call-to-action button vs. hyperlinked text
Call-to-action button vs. hyperlinked text

Email split test #7: Video vs. no video

Videos have the power to explain complicated topics simply. How? Some people are visual and like to see and hear about a topic, instead of reading about it. If you’re trying to teach your audience about a topic, you may want to consider adding a video to your email. 

In fact, some research shows that including video in email campaigns can increase click through rates nearly 300%

Will your subscribers watch a video in an email? You don’t know until you run a split test 

Video vs. no video
Video vs. no video

Email split test #8: Image A vs. image B

We talked about image vs. no image, but you can also test whether one image receives more click throughs than a different image. 

For instance, you may want to see whether including images of people or images of objects resonate more with your audience. Run a test and see which image receives more click throughs. 

Different images a/b test
Different images email split test

Email split test #9: Social proof vs. no social proof

You know those quotes from customers attesting that your product or service is great and others should purchase from you? That’s a testimonial, and it’s a powerful form of social proof.

Social proof makes you more credible in the eyes of your prospects. People are more likely to listen to people who have been there, done that. It may just be the thing that convinces others to buy from you. 

Including social proof in your emails can be a powerful way to drive sales. And there’s more than one way to do it. You can include a testimonial, a Twitter feed, a video from a customer, or ratings and reviews.

Social proof vs. no social proof email split test
Social proof vs. no social proof email split test

Start split testing

Now that you have a few tests to start with, you can begin improving your emails and your bottom line.

Ready to discover even more tests you can use to optimize your email marketing strategy? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Email A/B Testing to learn everything you need to know about split testing your emails.

Additional reporting by Liz Willits

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The post Email Split Tests You Can Set Up in 1 Minute appeared first on AWeber.



Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.aweber.com

How HubSpot's Blog Team Comes Up With High-Performing Post Ideas

When I used to work at a marketing agency, I would read expert industry blogs, such as HubSpot, Marketing Brew, and Backlinko (to name a few).

One of my main questions every day was, “How do these brands do it? How do they constantly come up with brilliant blog ideas?”

Now, obviously, I work at HubSpot and I know what a blog strategy looks like at a big company with a recognizable brand.

By taking the time to do solid research and idea brainstorming, you can come up with blog topics that drive thousands of readers, like me, in — while boosting traffic, authority, and credibility.

Today, I want to pull the curtain back for you. We’ll discuss how the HubSpot blog continuously comes up with high-performing blog ideas.

How the HubSpot Blog Comes Up With Ideas

Before we get started, it’s important to know that when the HubSpot team comes up with blog ideas, several teams are involved (SEO, blog, and lead generation). Because of this, we divide our brainstorming process into two parts: trend research and SEO topic research. We then combine these efforts in our Insights Report on a quarterly basis (which you can download a copy of below).

Featured Resource: Search Insights Report Template

Search Insights report template by HubSpot.

Let’s dive into both those processes below.

How the HubSpot Blog Generates Trend-Responsive Blog Post Ideas

Blog topics that relate to trends, research, or thought leadership yield bursts in non-organic traffic that can help you gain visitors while you’re waiting for SEO-driven posts to rank. Because they often include data, quotes, or other exclusive information, these posts can also earrn backlinks, which indirectly boost your search authority.

However, finding trendy non-organic post topics isn’t always straightforward and often requires brainstorming.

Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Audience Growth Manager, leads the charge with our team’s brainstorming efforts while also managing the blog’s non-organic content strategy.

She says, “While our SEO team uses specialized tools to identify blog posts that will pull in organic traffic, I leverage a number of trend research tactics to identify post ideas that will pull in non-organic traffic from sources like email, social media, and referrals.”

Below is the process she asks bloggers to use during our virtual idea brainstorms.

1. Focus on your blog categories.

Before you get started, it’s important to have some sort of road map in mind. Choose the most important clusters, or blog categories, that you want to focus on for the quarter and develop ideas around them.

Immediately, just knowing the clusters you want to focus on could spark a few ideas for thought-leadership or data-driven research posts.

Each quarter, the HubSpot acquisition team chooses seven to ten clusters for each blog property — for us, that’s marketing, sales, service, and website. Usually the clusters relate to things like business goals or industry trends.

Additionally, we include other categories besides those clusters, such as Audience Growth, Lead Acquisition, and User Acquisition to help us brainstorm topics that are related to our lead generation goals.

2. Review the content you’ve already written to inspire new topics.

Now that you’ve done a quick brainstorm of some new ideas, let’s see what’s already been written in each cluster that you’re focusing on.

To do this, search your site for the cluster. We do site searches at HubSpot, but just typing in “site:blog.hubspot.com/service customer experience” in Google. With this formatting, you can change the link and change the keyword to be whatever you’re looking for. Then, Google will find posts on that keyword on that site specifically.

When you’re coming up with blog ideas, searching the site to see if the topic has been covered is very important. The reason you’ll want to do this is that you can find high-performing posts that give you inspiration for new angles or you can find posts that you want to update with more quotes, data, or new research. Additionally, this will help you avoid keyword cannibalization.

Caroline Forsey, the HubSpot Marketing Blog property manager, says. “Think of different angles for popular topics you’ve already covered. For instance, let’s say you have plenty of content regarding LinkedIn — but you have none from a thought leader in the space. Perhaps you could conduct an interview with a LinkedIn employee for a thought leadership angle, like ‘Top X Tips from a LinkedIn Marketer’.”

3. See what the competition is doing.

While you never want to copy your competitors, it’s important to see what topics they’re writing about. This will help you fill in gaps that your competitors are missing and perhaps improve on blog topics they’re discussing.

This also lets you know what’s going on in your industry. What’s the latest news and should you be writing about it?

Additionally, you can browse social media for this reason as well. Social media can let you know the pain points of your audience and check-in with what’s going on with your target audience.

Staying up on industry news is one of the best ways to brainstorm blog ideas.

Forsey adds, “When new features become available for a social media platform or tool, there’s often plenty of opportunities to explore new angles there, as well — recently, LinkedIn released its own version of Stories, so perhaps you brainstorm a topic like ‘X Best LinkedIn Stories We’ve Seen’, or ‘LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook Stories: Which is Best?'”

4. Have a checklist of blog topic idea criteria.

Once you’ve created some blog ideas, you should check and make sure each blog post topic is aligned with your overall blog criteria. If you don’t have blog criteria yet, maybe it’s time to set some standards around what each blog topic should cover.

For example, at HubSpot, all our blog posts need to provide value to your blog audience, align with a cluster or lead-gen goal, provide non-organic opportunities, be either trend-responsive or evergreen, and have some keyword opportunities.

5. Stay organized.

You should track your blog ideas in an organized fashion. At HubSpot, we use an idea generation spreadsheet where writers and editors can brainstorm ideas for quarterly clusters, or just write down ongoing ideas.

Ultimately, this process helps keep us organized when it comes to generating consistent blog post ideas.

Jay Fuchs, a blog writer at HubSpot, describes his process. He says, “I try to find topics that reconcile engaging subject matter with practicality when coming up with research or trend-based blog topics. That means finding buzzy, intriguing subject matter that lends itself to an article with a compelling title, interesting supporting materials, and — perhaps most importantly — actionable advice.”

Fuchs explains, “That could mean a piece about something like avoiding common pricing mistakes or sales strategies that will become prominent in the near future. One way or another, you need to pick topics that hook and help — ones that command your reader’s attention and let you make the most of it with insight that they’ll be able to apply, going forward.”

Now that you know the HubSpot process when it comes to generating non-organic blog ideas, let’s dive into the SEO side.

Brainstorming SEO-Optimized Ideas

While Bump and the blog writers brainstorm non-organic ideas, our SEO team is hard at work creating blog topics that have an organic goal in mind. This is their process:

1. Look at your company’s products, goals, and customer base.

To start, HubSpot’s SEO team will review our products, goals, and customer base.

Amanda Kopen, an SEO Strategist at HubSpot, says, “When coming up with blog post ideas, first you need to look at your company’s products, goals, and customer base. At HubSpot, we brainstorm blog posts as they relate to our different products (marketing, sales, service, etc.). Then, we narrow it down to topics where we have expertise but are potential pain points for our customers (social media marketing).”

During this phase, our SEO team is reviewing our personas, prioritizing blog clusters (decided by SEO and lead-gen teams), and brainstorming what would be helpful to our audience.

Additionally, the SEO team will identify large topics, underperforming topics, and old but high-performing topics.

2. Conduct keyword research and run a content gap analysis.

After the initial brainstorm, it’s time to do your keyword research and content gap analysis.

Kopen explains, “Once we have a potential pain point in mind, we use SEO best practices — like conducting keyword research and running content gap analyses — to see exactly what people want to learn about (how often should I post on LinkedIn), and we start writing from there.”

During this part of the process, our SEO team will gather domains with similar audiences and conduct a content gap analysis (find out what these sites are ranking for that HubSpot isn’t).

We’ll also look at related searches on Google to see what people are searching for. Then, we’ll identify opportunities where we can update old blog posts or recycle the URL (so we don’t lose the SEO juice, but have updated content for that topic).

3. See if there are any linking opportunities.

Finally, the SEO team will also communicate with HubSpot’s product and academy teams to see if there are linking opportunities such as any courses or products of ours we should be linking to.

Creating Traffic-Generating Ideas

And that’s how the HubSpot blog comes up with high-performing blog post ideas consistently. To learn more about our process, you can learn how SEO works for the HubSpot Blog with our Insights Report course on HubSpot Academy.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com


How to Put Together a Great Whitepaper

Whitepapers are a valuable asset for your company, and there are several great reasons to create them as part of your content marketing efforts. When used correctly, whitepapers can provide your prospects with a resource they’ll use time and time again — and can provide a boost of authority for your brand (as well as…

The post How to Put Together a Great Whitepaper appeared first on Benchmarkemail.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.benchmarkemail.com


LinkedIn B2B Marketing: Three Underused Ways to Engage Prospects and Customers

We’re all scrambling for new ways to connect with customers during COVID, but the easiest method could be right on our desktops: LinkedIn. The platform is more popular than ever, and many companies are overlooking features that could factor into 2021 marketing plans. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.marketingprofs.com


Using STAT to Identify Featured Snippet Opportunities

Posted by Zoe.Pegler

Winning the featured snippet for a target keyword means increased traffic to that page, and you can use STAT to achieve those wins. In this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, Moz Learning and Development Specialist Zoe Pegler walks you through how you can do so in five easy steps.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi. I’m Zoe from Moz’s Learning Team. Today I’m going to be showing you how to use STAT to identify featured snippet opportunities. If you’re not familiar with STAT, it’s a ranking tool which is very good at pulling big data.

What’s a featured snippet? 



For those of you that might not know what a featured snippet is, it’s one of those answer boxes that appear at the top of a search results page. It’s the result that shows up directly beneath the ads after the search is performed. So, for example, if you did a search for something like “Is coffee good for you,” you’re going to see an answer box saying, “Recent studies found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from some of the leading causes of death.”

Websites that have URLs ranked in the featured snippet often experience heightened brand visibility and the majority of available traffic from the associated keyword. Where do you start if you want to become a part of that featured snippet box? How do you target those opportunities? Well, the first step here is keyword research.

1. Upload keywords to STAT and filter

You want to discover keywords that you can start monitoring optimizing for. Ideally, you want to find keywords that you rank on page one for that also have a featured snippet. STAT’s keywords tab is a great place to start with this. In this feature, you can upload a bunch of keywords, and once you’ve allowed some time for the data to gather, you can really dig into what keywords you have that are triggering answer boxes and what opportunities there are.

There’s an extremely useful feature in STAT where you can filter a table of keywords to show earned SERP features and specifically answers. You can filter for specific answer subtypes too. STAT currently parse lists, paragraphs, tables, carousels, and videos.

So you can check out all of these. You should also filter for keywords specifically on page one. So do that. Filter the “Rank” column to show results ranking between one and 10. Once you have found all of those keywords, there’s a really smart, useful way of collecting them all together, and that’s by putting them into a dynamic tag.

2. Create a dynamic tag

This lets you group those keywords together and label them. You could call this tag featured snippet opportunities for example. The magic of putting the keywords into that dynamic tag is that it acts like a smart playlist. These fancy segments automatically populate each day with keywords that match the specific criteria you set for them, making it quick and easy to see which of your keywords are featured snippet opportunities.

Being able to segment keywords into these dynamic tags is what makes STAT so much more valuable. Being able to create reports in granular keyword levels is powerful stuff.

3. Check the data set over time

Okay, so what is the next step to prioritize your featured snippet opportunities by the highest potential ROI keywords? It’s usually much easier to take a featured snippet or to steal one if you’re also on page  one.

Taking a look at STAT’s SERP Features tab can help out here. There’s a nifty graph which allows you to see how answer boxes appear if your keywords have changed over time. Using this will help you to access opportunity. You can then start pulling out and comparing some of that data and digging into things like average monthly search volume, current featured snippet URLs, and the featured snippet type.

Is it a paragraph, a list, or a table? Is there any markup? What’s your rank? How does the page look in general? You might want to start investigating which long-tail keywords you could potentially optimize your site for. There are a couple of reports you can pull in STAT which can definitely help you in this research.

4. Set up reports

The People Also Ask report will show you questions and their rank within the box as well as the URL sourced in each answer. It’s worth taking a look at the Related Searches report as well to see related search queries offered by Google which users may also be searching. Once you’ve identified long-tail keywords you want to track and keep an eye on, you can copy and paste those keywords into Google Keyword Planner or even back into STAT.

That way you can see what the rankings, search volume, and CPC look like. You can use one of those smart dynamic tags in STAT to group and label them again as you start optimizing on the keywords you think will be valuable to your site. Once you’ve identified and optimized your site, you’ll want to keep careful watch over your hard work, so monitor.

5. Set up and monitor alerts

I recommend setting up alerts for this. STAT lets you do this so you’ll be notified any time your ranking goes up or down for your featured snippet target keywords, meaning you’re not going to miss seeing an opportunity. I hope this has been helpful and you’re feeling more prepared to try some of this.

If you already have a STAT subscription and want to get even more familiar with the tool features, think about taking the STAT Fundamentals Certification course. Have a great day, and thank you for watching this edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com


ON24 shares surge on first day of trading

ON24 asks the market to bet on the continued value of virtual engagement.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com


How Special Olympics is supporting digital health and strength

The nonprofit leverages Brightspot, Falcon and EveryAction to support programs for athletes, donors and volunteers.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com


Designing Better Tooltips For Mobile User Interfaces

Ideally, mobile designs would be seamless with no need for technical documentation, online help, or tooltips. In reality, even the best designs can benefit from supplemental information. A tooltip provides this supplemental information when users tap an icon, image, hyperlink, or other elements in a mobile user interface (UI). For example:

By identifying the “Solid Fill” and “Radial Fill” functions, the tooltips shown above make it easy for users to find the drawing function they need. These tooltips appear in the proper context and are not obtrusive. A first-time user can easily understand the meaning of each icon while an experienced user is unlikely to find these tooltips distracting. In short, the designer has balanced the needs of new and seasoned users. The result of this successful balance is a set of tooltips that users will perceive as a natural extension of the design experience.

Too often, however, tooltips are an afterthought as shown in the following example of a mobile contrast checker:

While the explanation about the contrast checker is clear, the text is too long and covers important information on the screen. The result is a clunky tooltip that confuses as much as it elucidates. Avoiding troublesome tooltips requires thought and planning.

How To Design Effective Tooltips

The key to designing tooltips that fit seamlessly into the overall design is to plan for them early in the design process. Specifically, designing useful tooltips requires:

  • Proper timing
    Paying attention to tooltips and related design techniques during the sketching and early prototyping stages.
  • Proper implementation
    Carefully considering tooltip context, placement, and clarity.

Timing

Timing refers to when during the design process to consider tooltips. By referring to the widely use design sprint, developed by Jake Knapp, we can identify the right stages in the design process to make decisions about design elements like tooltips.

Knapp’s sprint process consists of mapping out the problem, sketching solutions, choosing one solution, building a prototype, and then testing that prototype. In short, generate an idea, build it, and test it. The following image shows Knapp’s five-day design sprint process. I’ve added text to the sketching and prototype days to show when designers and developers should start thinking about tooltips.

Sketching is the logical place to begin when considering tooltips because potential points of confusion emerge as the layout and preliminary content take shape. Because initial sketches often do not include complete or detailed content, it is not necessary to identify every possible tooltip or even to include all designated tooltips at this stage. Rather, the point is to identify parts of the UI where a well-designed tooltip would help users complete the task at hand or more easily understand content.

For example, a tooltip on a field label makes it easier to fill out the form while also reducing data-entry errors. If it’s not yet clear whether a tooltip is necessary, simply include a callout with a question as shown in the figure below.

The callout shown above serves as a reminder for the team to discuss before building the prototype. In the “CVV” example above, the team might decide that one persona represents users who are unfamiliar with financial terms and abbreviations. For this group, a CVV tooltip would likely be useful and could easily be incorporated into the prototype as shown below.

Considering the need for tooltips and other supplemental information early in the design process increases the chance of developing a useful and usable prototype.

Implementation

The increasing complexity of mobile apps and limited space on mobile devices pose a significant challenge to designing effective tooltips.

Designers can meet this challenge by focusing on:

  • Context
    Check, check, and re-check the context for every tooltip. What might appear obvious to you as the designer could easily confuse a first-time user. The principle of attending to context applies to all aspects of UX and UI design. It’s especially important for tooltips because their necessary brevity will leave users confused if the context is not clear.
  • Placement
    Tooltips should be prominent and easy to find but should not obstruct important information on the screen.
  • Clarity and brevity
    Edit each tooltip for clarity and brevity. As many editors tell their writers: “Cut, cut, and cut some more.” It’s okay to write longer tooltip text in early iterations as long as you remember to keep editing and condensing for clarity.

The tooltip in the following example fulfills these criteria by providing essential information without disrupting the flow in the mobile form.

Because space is limited on mobile devices, clarity, brevity, and placement are essential. The tooltip on the Mint registration screen shown above is well designed. It is clear, concise, and appears directly below the zip code field when users tap the information icon.

The Square mobile app shown below provides another example of good tooltip design by helping bi-lingual users select their preferred language.

The “English/Español” tooltip shown above is clear, brief, and properly placed. When users tap the flag icon or “English” text, a tooltip appears with the option to select “English” or “Español.”

Well-placed tooltips enhance visual design by providing short, specific explanations when users need them. In the example above, users who are seeking information in other languages know immediately that they can choose between English or Spanish for this website. The language tooltip helps native Spanish speakers who might read English well but feel more comfortable using the Square app in their native language.

Utility is essential but not sufficient. Effective tooltips should be discreet to the point that users barely register their presence. Users only miss tooltips when they aren’t there. This approach to tooltips is an example of the long-standing view that great design is invisible. From this perspective, users never notice the design. Instead, they feel engaged and easily complete the task at hand.

The tooltip shown below on the Google Maps app is easy to find yet subtly integrated into the existing design:

  • The icon for muting/unmuting appears in a vertical row of icons.
  • The placement of these icons on the right makes them easy to see without obscuring important information on the map.
  • The mute/unmute icon follows the same style and color scheme as the search icon immediately above.

This Google map tooltips works because:

  • The context is clear. The option to toggle on sound (before pulling out of the driveway) is useful because it’s easier and safer to listen to directions while driving than to look at the phone.
  • The placement of the mute/unmute icon in a group of existing icons makes it easy to see without obscuring important information on the map.
  • The one-word tooltip is brief, and its meaning is clear.

In contrast, the tooltip shown in the MyZone fitness mobile app below is poorly designed.

While the context is clear, there are problems with the MyZone app tooltip:

  • The placement is clunky because it obscures important information.
  • The tooltip text is lengthy, and the explanation of “Max HR” is confusing.

To accommodate this lengthy text and the distracting green bar at the top, the tooltip is unnecessarily large. The result is a tooltip that is not discrete; it does not feel like a natural extension of the design.

Poor placement and confusing explanations are not the only problems users experience with mobile tooltips. A surprisingly common issue is the redundant tooltip. The tooltip example below is part of an illustration of cascading style sheets (CSS) smooth animation. The animation works and the illustration itself is clear; the problem is that the tooltip simply repeats the button text.

In the article about CSS animation, the illustration shown above is only for demo purposes. Nonetheless, the image would be more useful with a clear and useful tooltip. As used here, the tooltip is not useful.

While redundant tooltips are useless, tooltips that appear in the wrong part of the UI are especially problematic because they distract users from the task at hand.

The screen shown above includes a title in large font with a statement about increasing income. Yet, the tooltip refers to a grid system tip icon that supposedly “boosts the value of your design.” At best, there is a tenuous connection between the tooltip and the main theme on this screen, increasing income. The icon and tooltip might be important, but they are in the wrong place in this app.

More broadly, context is a bedrock UX principle and applies to all design elements. For example, an image of a $150,000 sports car on a site or app targeting budget car shoppers would look and feel incongruous because the image would not match the user’s expectations. In short, the image would likely confuse the targeted user group.

Context is particularly important for tooltips because the purpose of a tooltip is to clarify and provide additional information. A misplaced tooltip does the opposite; it causes confusion.

Where To Use Tooltips

Context is also a critical consideration when deciding where to use tooltips. Because tooltips work best when they amplify a well-designed UI, they are particularly effective for:

  • Contextual Help,
  • Brief instructions,
  • New features.

Contextual Help

Contextual help appears when users are in a specific part of the UI. The following example is from Airbnb. Tapping the icon or “3 reviews” text displays a tooltip with an explanation of reviews and a link that takes users to reviews about the individual shown on screen (the author, in this example).

The tooltip shown above is informative because it explains what reviews mean in the Airbnb app and, specifically, in the context of a single profile. In short, contextually specific tooltips appear at the precise moment users need additional information.

Brief Instructions

Instructional tooltips should also appear when users need more information. The difference is that certain aspects of a mobile app might require an explanation at each step to ensure that users can complete the task at hand. For example:

Each tooltip in this part of the IRS app is paired with a specific task such as entering a social security number, date of birth, or street address. Because each tooltip is context-specific, users can easily learn what they need to do during each step and why the IRS needs this information.

New Features

As Sofia Quintero explains in Tooltips: your secret weapon for improving feature discovery, tooltips are an effective way to draw the user’s attention to new features, “To promote and publicize its new GIFs, Twitter displayed a full-screen message to users before gently directing them on how to incorporate GIFs into their tweets using a traditional tooltip.”

The GIF feature was introduced a few years ago, but it holds up as a useful presentation of a new feature. It’s clear and clean, standing out without dominating the UI. New users will see it while experienced users can proceed without distraction because the tooltip is well-integrated into the UI and does not cover up other screen elements.

Conclusion

Tooltips amplify a mobile UI by providing supplemental information precisely when users need it. Leverage the power of tooltips by considering them when sketching designs and building early prototypes. During implementation, ensure that tooltips will help users by focusing on:

  • Context
    Effective tooltips appear precisely when users need them.
  • Placement
    Tooltips should be prominent and easy to find but should not obstruct important information on the screen.
  • Clarity and brevity
    Review every tooltip in your app to ensure that it makes sense. Edit for brevity.

For tooltips to reinforce a well-designed UI, use them in parts of the UI where they work best such as:

  • Contextual Help,
  • Brief instructions,
  • New features.

Tooltips are a powerful design pattern with a light footprint that enhances mobile designs when used judiciously.

Additional Resources

Reblogged 1 year ago from smashingmagazine.com