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UI Design Testing Tools I Use All The Time

When I started in web design 27 years ago, testing with users was time-consuming and expensive, but a new generation of tools has changed all of that. Most of us have heard of some of the more popular tools such as Userzoom or Hotjar, but in this post, I want to explore some of the hidden gems I use to test the interfaces I am involved in creating.

Please note that I’m by no means affiliated with any tools mentioned here — I just use them all the time. Hopefully, they prove useful to you as well.

We begin at the very start of a project with user research.

Run Surveys With Survicate

User research is vital, especially when it comes to identifying problems with an existing website. As a result, I almost always survey users early on in a redesign process.

Although both Usability Hub and Maze allow me to create surveys, the functionality they offer is relatively limited for my taste, and it is a bit difficult to embed surveys on your website. That is a shame because exit-intent surveys can be a powerful way to gain insights into why users are abandoning a website or failing to act.

One solution to running user research surveys I found useful is Qualaroo which does an excellent job. Unfortunately, it can prove a bit expensive in some situations, so if you are looking for an alternative, you might want to check out Survicate instead.

Survicate offers both website surveys and the ability to send a survey via email or social media. It even allows you to add a permanent feedback button on your site if you want.

Testing visuals with Usability Hub

When it comes to testing, most of the testing I carry out is nearer the start of a project than the end. That is when it is easiest to make changes, so I often test with nothing more than a design concept. At that stage, I don’t even have a clickable prototype, so I use Usability Hub.

Usability Hub is a simple app that supports:

It is an excellent way of addressing stakeholder concerns about a design concept. I can get results from testing within an hour, and Usability Hub will even handle participants’ recruitment if I want.

“Spell Check” Your Designs with Attention Insights

Once I start to design an interface, there is a lot to consider from messaging and aesthetics to visual hierarchy and calls to action. As a result, it can be all too easy to end up with the wrong focus on a page. If I am not careful, I lead the user’s attention in the wrong direction, and they miss critical content or calls to action.

Although the best way of checking this is usability testing, sometimes I want a quick sanity check that I am heading in the right direction. Attention Insights takes thousands of hours of eye-tracking studies and uses that data to predict where users might look on a design.

Although not as accurate as a real eye-tracking study, it can act slightly as a spelling or grammar checker does for your copy. It can help flag potential issues and help you make a judgment call.

Modernize Your Card Sorting with UXOps

When it comes time to work on a website’s information architecture, I almost always turn to UXOps.

Like more well-established app OptimalSort, UXOps allows you to run card sorting exercises online to ensure your site reflects a user’s mental model. If I am being perfectly honest, I prefer UXOps because it is a bit more affordable and focuses on a single task. However, I also found it a very easy tool for participants to understand, and for me to interpret the data afterwards.

Remote and Unfaciliatated Testing with Lookback

When it comes to usability testing, we all are likely to explore remote testing these days. It is actually more convenient than in-person testing, not to mention I have been able to continue testing throughout the pandemic! Although this can be done using an app like Zoom, I personally prefer a tool called Lookback.

I love Lookback because it has been optimized for usability testing with features such as note-taking, in-app editing of video, and automatically recording the user’s screen and webcam. However, where Lookback really shines is that it allows unfacilitated usability testing.

Unfacilitated testing is a real boon when your time is tight, and you want to test with lots of people. With Lookback, I send participants a link, and the app will guide them through the process without the need for me to moderate the sessions.

Quantify Your Testing Using Maze

I like to test with more users the nearer a site gets to going live. While qualitative testing is great early on, I am more interested in understanding how the site will operate at scale as we near launch. Unfortunately, analyzing a large number of unfacilitated test sessions can prove time-consuming. That is where Maze can prove invaluable.

Maze has a wealth of tools that are useful for all kinds of usability testing. However, its real strength lies in its ability to aggregate data. This means that instead of having to watch each session; you can get quantitative data such as:

  • The number of users who gave up.
  • Those who went either via the most direct or indirect route to complete a task.
  • Heat maps of any misclicks users made.
  • How long it took people to complete the task.

Combined with its overall flexibility, Maze is an excellent all-round choice at a manageable price, no matter your budget.

Find Test Participants with Testing Time

As I am sure you know, one of the biggest pains with usability testing is recruitment. Although apps like Maze, Usability Hub and Lookback all offer the option to recruit participants for you, they come with some limits regarding the people you reach.

When I need to recruit a particular type of person, I tend to use a service like Testing Time, if I cannot recruit people myself. That is because Testing Time allows me a lot more control over the type of person I get.

Testing Time does not just help me with recruitment. It also provides tools for screening potential candidates, managing their tests, and paying them afterwards.

Gather Data with Microsoft Clarity

Once my new design is finally launched, my attention shifts to monitoring and improving those designs. I do this by watching how site visitors are behaving and identifying any issues they are encountering. The two tools I use to identify and diagnose problems with a site are heat map monitoring and session recorders.

The most well-known tool in this field is Hotjar, although Fullstory has superior tools in many ways. If you are looking for a slightly more affordable alternative, Microsoft has released a free competitor called Clarity which gives you the ability to watch individual sessions, see scroll heatmaps and see visualizations of where people are clicking on pages.

Visualize Your Research with Evolt

Of course, I rarely get to make arbitrary decisions about the direction of a site. There are almost always other stakeholders to win over. To do that I need to communicate the research and testing I have undertaken, and that is where Evolt comes in. Evolt helps me visualize my research, but it doesn’t stop there.

It is actually the ideal tool for working on user personas, journey maps and even moodboards with your stakeholders. Miro can be great for these kinds of tasks as well, and it’s often used for the same purpose, but in my personal experience Evolt seems to be optimized specifically for designers.

No Excuse

With so many great tools available, there really shouldn’t be any excuse for not testing with users these days. It is fast, easy and cheap. But we don’t even need to limit ourselves to testing. These tools also make user research and visualization easier than ever before, making them ideal all the way from discovery through prototype to post-launch optimization.

But these are just the tools I make use of. There’s no doubt that you use tools that are not included in the list. If so, please post them in the comments below — I’d love to hear your stories, and the tools that you find useful in your work!

Reblogged 1 year ago from smashingmagazine.com

Why progressive web apps (PWAs) are poised to dominate moving forward

30-second summary:

  • Progressive web apps (PWAs) offer app-like experiences without requiring users to download anything from an app store
  • PWAs are also much less of a burden for developers than native apps, which require ongoing updates, review management, and shared profits with app stores
  • Nick Chasinov, Founder and CEO of Teknicks, outlines a few of the major business benefits of using PWAs

If Apple was threatened by “Fortnite” trying to bypass the App Store, it’s not going to be happy when progressive web apps take off. PWAs disrupt the tech giant’s granular control over the Apple App Store because they offer app-like experiences without the need to download an actual app. They’re designed for the everyday website user but provide many features that are exclusive to native apps.

Although many companies love the idea of building a native app, this approach can be a hassle for developers. You have to update them, manage reviews, attract downloads, and pay most stores a 30 percent cut of every sale — this includes paid apps and in-app purchases, which can add up quickly. Apple raked in $64 billion from the App Store in 2020.

That’s part of the reason Google is an advocate for PWAs, encouraging developers to build and distribute them. The search engine also leads Project Fugu, which aims to expand browser capabilities and help web apps “do anything native apps can“. This dream could become a reality: Almost 65 percent of internet users already rely on Chrome, and its open-source Chromium foundation lets other browsers use its PWA technology.

Since the pandemic has been sending more people online than ever before, much of the focus in 2021 will remain on the user experience. So, would you rather take cues from Apple or Google? The PWA vs. native app war has begun, and if you’re looking to stand out and get a leg up on the competition, then a PWA may be the way to go.

The business benefits of PWAs

PWAs provide users with numerous benefits. For example, they are smaller files than native apps, which frees up space on people’s devices. However, PWAs can also impact your goals and bottom line as a business. Here are three key advantages of progressive web apps:

1. Rapid connections

Consumers have options: There are plenty of places to browse news, buy clothes, and watch videos. If your website isn’t up to speed (literally), people will take their attention and spending power elsewhere. For instance, the Forbes website used to take anywhere from three to 12 seconds to fully load, those delays caused 53 percent of users to abandon the website. Once the company switched to a PWA, browsing sessions increased by 43 percent.

PWAs can increase speed for all users, but the acceleration is particularly important for browsers on slow connections. By caching content after the first visit, PWAs make it possible for more people to access your products. That increase in speed also translates to improvements in discoverability for all users. According to Google’s 2018 announcement, mobile speed factors heavily into overall page ranking.

2. SEO capabilities

Aside from the fact that speed affects your page rankings, PWAs are also SEO-friendly. Because they live on the web, their content is visible to search engines. This can boost your ability to generate traffic and leads. For example, when Alibaba turned its website into a PWA, it saw 76 percent more conversions.

Native apps are limited to the SEO constraints of app stores. Typically, only the app profile page is listed in Google search results, forcing companies to rely on the app’s description, pictures, and positive reviews to improve visibility and land more downloads.

With a PWA, you have the same unlimited flexibility as a website to create custom user experiences and optimized resourceful content that will rank on Google and showcase your app’s features and benefits. App store optimization is limited, but a PWA enables you to execute all SEO strategies.

3. Engagement opportunities

PWAs support push notifications, creating opportunities for companies to reach out to their customers with personalized product recommendations, news updates, and other relevant communications. This can improve customer engagement and help increase brand loyalty.

PWAs can also boost engagement with your social media pages because they’re able to use device tools like cameras and Global Positioning System (GPS). And as augmented reality (AR) becomes available on PWAs, all kinds of exciting possibilities will open up. Imagine a customer trying on your company’s latest apparel in AR and then sharing their selfies on social media — all without a native app that has to be developed for multiple operating systems and tweaked to support dozens of devices.

Decreasing coronavirus case numbers and accelerating vaccine distribution efforts are contributing to optimism in many parts of the world. Still, it will likely be a while before life returns to normal. As people continue to spend more time at home (and on the internet), organizations need to prioritize their digital transformation strategies.

For the reasons above, this should include building PWAs. While web apps aren’t new developments, they are uniquely positioned to help companies achieve their goals in the current environment. Companies can focus their efforts on one web app that prioritizes the user experience instead of wasting energy on multiple native apps designed for different operating systems with limited search engine visibility.

Nick Chasinov is the Founder and CEO of Teknicks, a research-based agile internet marketing agency certified by Google in Analytics, Tag Manager, and Ads.

The post Why progressive web apps (PWAs) are poised to dominate moving forward appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Congresswoman drops social media report on Republicans who tried to overturn the election for Trump

Congresswoman drops social media report on Republicans who tried to overturn the election for Trump

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f95914%252f1d613c90 bfe8 47b7 ad8f 580a88d3f83c.png%252f930x520.png?signature=mbmc1tmh4z2pspsfmck77yr6vdc=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws Read more…

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More about Donald Trump, Social Media, Republican, Culture, and Web Culture

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.mashable.com

AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Beyond search Google controls the leading distributed ad network, the leading mobile OS, the leading web browser, the leading email client, the leading web analytics platform, the leading mapping platform, the leading free video hosting site.

They win a lot.

And they take winnings from one market & leverage them into manipulating adjacent markets.

Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

AMP is an utterly unnecessary invention designed to further shift power to Google while disenfranchising publishers. From the very start it had many issues with basic things like supporting JavaScript, double counting unique users (no reason to fix broken stats if they drive adoption!), not supporting third party ad networks, not showing publisher domain names, and just generally being a useless layer of sunk cost technical overhead that provides literally no real value.

Over time they have corrected some of these catastrophic deficiencies, but if it provided real value, they wouldn’t have needed to force adoption with preferential placement in their search results. They force the bundling because AMP sucks.

Absurdity knows no bounds. Googlers suggest: “AMP isn’t another “channel” or “format” that’s somehow not the web. It’s not a SEO thing. It’s not a replacement for HTML. It’s a web component framework that can power your whole site. … We, the AMP team, want AMP to become a natural choice for modern web development of content websites, and for you to choose AMP as framework because it genuinely makes you more productive.”

Meanwhile some newspapers have about a dozen employees who work on re-formatting content for AMP:

The AMP development team now keeps track of whether AMP traffic drops suddenly, which might indicate pages are invalid, and it can react quickly.

All this adds expense, though. There are setup, development and maintenance costs associated with AMP, mostly in the form of time. After implementing AMP, the Guardian realized the project needed dedicated staff, so it created an 11-person team that works on AMP and other aspects of the site, drawing mostly from existing staff.

Feeeeeel the productivity!

Some content types (particularly user generated content) can be unpredictable & circuitous. For many years forums websites would use keywords embedded in the search referral to highlight relevant parts of the page. Keyword (not provided) largely destroyed that & then it became a competitive feature for AMP: “If the Featured Snippet links to an AMP article, Google will sometimes automatically scroll users to that section and highlight the answer in orange.”

That would perhaps be a single area where AMP was more efficient than the alternative. But it is only so because Google destroyed the alternative by stripping keyword referrers from search queries.

The power dynamics of AMP are ugly:

“I see them as part of the effort to normalise the use of the AMP Carousel, which is an anti-competitive land-grab for the web by an organisation that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming the web, probably ultimately to it’s own detriment. … This enables Google to continue to exist after the destination site (eg the New York Times) has been navigated to. Essentially it flips the parent-child relationship to be the other way around. … As soon as a publisher blesses a piece of content by packaging it (they have to opt in to this, but see coercion below), they totally lose control of its distribution. … I’m not that smart, so it’s surely possible to figure out other ways of making a preload possible without cutting off the content creator from the people consuming their content. … The web is open and decentralised. We spend a lot of time valuing the first of these concepts, but almost none trying to defend the second. Google knows, perhaps better than anyone, how being in control of the user is the most monetisable position, and having the deepest pockets and the most powerful platform to do so, they have very successfully inserted themselves into my relationship with millions of other websites. … In AMP, the support for paywalls is based on a recommendation that the premium content be included in the source of the page regardless of the user’s authorisation state. … These policies demonstrate contempt for others’ right to freely operate their businesses.

After enough publishers adopted AMP Google was able to turn their mobile app’s homepage into an interactive news feed below the search box. And inside that news feed Google gets to distribute MOAR ads while 0% of the revenue from those ads find its way to the publishers whose content is used to make up the feed.

Appropriate appropriation. 😀

Thank you for your content!!!

The mainstream media is waking up to AMP being a trap, but their neck is already in it:

European and American tech, media and publishing companies, including some that originally embraced AMP, are complaining that the Google-backed technology, which loads article pages in the blink of an eye on smartphones, is cementing the search giant’s dominance on the mobile web.

Each additional layer of technical cruft is another cost center. Things that sound appealing at first blush may not be:

The way you verify your identity to Let’s Encrypt is the same as with other certificate authorities: you don’t really. You place a file somewhere on your website, and they access that file over plain HTTP to verify that you own the website. The one attack that signed certificates are meant to prevent is a man-in-the-middle attack. But if someone is able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack against your website, then he can intercept the certificate verification, too. In other words, Let’s Encrypt certificates don’t stop the one thing they’re supposed to stop. And, as always with the certificate authorities, a thousand murderous theocracies, advertising companies, and international spy organizations are allowed to impersonate you by design.

Anything that is easy to implement & widely marketed often has costs added to it in the future as the entity moves to monetize the service.

This is a private equity firm buying up multiple hosting control panels & then adjusting prices.

This is Google Maps drastically changing their API terms.

This is Facebook charging you for likes to build an audience, giving your competitors access to those likes as an addressable audience to advertise against, and then charging you once more to boost the reach of your posts.

This is Grubhub creating shadow websites on your behalf and charging you for every transaction created by the gravity of your brand.

Shivane believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders. … it appears GrubHub has set up several generic, templated pages that look like real restaurant websites but in fact link only to GrubHub. These pages also display phone numbers that GrubHub controls. The calls are forwarded to the restaurant, but the platform records each one and charges the restaurant a commission fee for every order

Settling for the easiest option drives a lack of differentiation, embeds additional risk & once the dominant player has enough marketshare they’ll change the terms on you.

Small gains in short term margins for massive increases in fragility.

“Closed platforms increase the chunk size of competition & increase the cost of market entry, so people who have good ideas, it is a lot more expensive for their productivity to be monetized. They also don’t like standardization … it looks like rent seeking behaviors on top of friction” – Gabe Newell

The other big issue is platforms that run out of growth space in their core market may break integrations with adjacent service providers as each want to grow by eating the other’s market.

Those who look at SaaS business models through the eyes of a seasoned investor will better understand how markets are likely to change:

“I’d argue that many of today’s anointed tech “disruptors” are doing little in the way of true disruption. … When investors used to get excited about a SAAS company, they typically would be describing a hosted multi-tenant subscription-billed piece of software that was replacing a ‘legacy’ on-premise perpetual license solution in the same target market (i.e. ERP, HCM, CRM, etc.). Today, the terms SAAS and Cloud essentially describe the business models of every single public software company.

Most platform companies are initially required to operate at low margins in order to buy growth of their category & own their category. Then when they are valued on that, they quickly need to jump across to adjacent markets to grow into the valuation:

Twilio has no choice but to climb up the application stack. This is a company whose ‘disruption’ is essentially great API documentation and gangbuster SEO spend built on top of a highly commoditized telephony aggregation API. They have won by marketing to DevOps engineers. With all the hype around them, you’d think Twilio invented the telephony API, when in reality what they did was turn it into a product company. Nobody had thought of doing this let alone that this could turn into a $17 billion company because simply put the economics don’t work. And to be clear they still don’t. But Twilio’s genius CEO clearly gets this. If the market is going to value robocalls, emergency sms notifications, on-call pages, and carrier fee passed through related revenue growth in the same way it does ‘subscription’ revenue from Atlassian or ServiceNow, then take advantage of it while it lasts.

Large platforms offering temporary subsidies to ensure they dominate their categories & companies like SoftBank spraying capital across the markets is causing massive shifts in valuations:

I also think if you look closely at what is celebrated today as innovation you often find models built on hidden subsidies. … I’d argue the very distributed nature of microservices architecture and API-first product companies means addressable market sizes and unit economics assumptions should be even more carefully scrutinized. … How hard would it be to create an Alibaba today if someone like SoftBank was raining money into such a greenfield space? Excess capital would lead to destruction and likely subpar returns. If capital was the solution, the 1.5 trillion that went into telcos in late ’90s wouldn’t have led to a massive bust. Would a Netflix be what it is today if a SoftBank was pouring billions into streaming content startups right as the experiment was starting? Obviously not. Scarcity of capital is another often underappreciated part of the disruption equation. Knowing resources are finite leads to more robust models. … This convergence is starting to manifest itself in performance. Disney is up 30% over the last 12 months while Netflix is basically flat. This may not feel like a bubble sign to most investors, but from my standpoint, it’s a clear evidence of the fact that we are approaching a something has got to give moment for the way certain businesses are valued.”

Circling back to Google’s AMP, it has a cousin called Recaptcha.

Recaptcha is another AMP-like trojan horse:

According to tech statistics website Built With, more than 650,000 websites are already using reCaptcha v3; overall, there are at least 4.5 million websites use reCaptcha, including 25% of the top 10,000 sites. Google is also now testing an enterprise version of reCaptcha v3, where Google creates a customized reCaptcha for enterprises that are looking for more granular data about users’ risk levels to protect their site algorithms from malicious users and bots. … According to two security researchers who’ve studied reCaptcha, one of the ways that Google determines whether you’re a malicious user or not is whether you already have a Google cookie installed on your browser. … To make this risk-score system work accurately, website administrators are supposed to embed reCaptcha v3 code on all of the pages of their website, not just on forms or log-in pages.

About a month ago when logging into Bing Ads I saw recaptcha on the login page & couldn’t believe they’d give Google control at that access point. I think they got rid of that, but lots of companies are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot through a combination of over-reliance on Google infrastructure AND sloppy implementation

Today when making a purchase on Fiverr, after converting, I got some of this action

Hmm. Maybe I will enable JavaScript and try again.

Oooops.

That is called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My account is many years old. My payment type on record has been used for years. I have ordered from the particular seller about a dozen times over the years. And suddenly because my web browser had JavaScript turned off I was deemed a security risk of some sort for making an utterly ordinary transaction I have already completed about a dozen times.

On AMP JavaScript was the devil. And on desktop not JavaScript was the devil.

Pro tip: Ecommerce websites that see substandard conversion rates from using Recaptcha can boost their overall ecommerce revenue by buying more Google AdWords ads.

As more of the infrastructure stack is driven by AI software there is going to be a very real opportunity for many people to become deplatformed across the web on an utterly arbitrary basis. That tech companies like Facebook also want to create digital currencies on top of the leverage they already have only makes the proposition that much scarier.

If the tech platforms host copies of our sites, process the transactions & even create their own currencies, how will we know what level of value they are adding versus what they are extracting?

Who measures the measurer?

And when the economics turn negative, what will we do if we are hooked into an ecosystem we can’t spend additional capital to get out of when things head south?

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Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

New Keyword Tool

Our keyword tool is updated periodically. We recently updated it once more.

For comparison sake, the old keyword tool looked like this

Whereas the new keyword tool looks like this

The upsides of the new keyword tool are:

  • fresher data from this year
  • more granular data on ad bids vs click prices
  • lists ad clickthrough rate
  • more granular estimates of Google AdWords advertiser ad bids
  • more emphasis on commercial oriented keywords

With the new columns of [ad spend] and [traffic value] here is how we estimate those.

  • paid search ad spend: search ad clicks * CPC
  • organic search traffic value: ad impressions * 0.5 * (100% – ad CTR) * CPC

The first of those two is rather self explanatory. The second is a bit more complex. It starts with the assumption that about half of all searches do not get any clicks, then it subtracts the paid clicks from the total remaining pool of clicks & multiplies that by the cost per click.

The new data also has some drawbacks:

  • Rather than listing search counts specifically it lists relative ranges like low, very high, etc.
  • Since it tends to tilt more toward keywords with ad impressions, it may not have coverage for some longer tail informational keywords.

For any keyword where there is insufficient coverage we re-query the old keyword database for data & merge it across. You will know if data came from the new database if the first column says something like low or high & the data came from the older database if there are specific search counts in the first column

For a limited time we are still allowing access to both keyword tools, though we anticipate removing access to the old keyword tool in the future once we have collected plenty of feedback on the new keyword tool. Please feel free to leave your feedback in the below comments.

One of the cool features of the new keyword tools worth highlighting further is the difference between estimated bid prices & estimated click prices. In the following screenshot you can see how Amazon is estimated as having a much higher bid price than actual click price, largely because due to low keyword relevancy entities other than the official brand being arbitraged by Google require much higher bids to appear on competing popular trademark terms.

Historically, this difference between bid price & click price was a big source of noise on lists of the most valuable keywords.

Recently some advertisers have started complaining about the “Google shakedown” from how many brand-driven searches are simply leaving the .com part off of a web address in Chrome & then being forced to pay Google for their own pre-existing brand equity.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

The Beginner's Guide to the Competitive Matrix [Template]

Have you ever been playing a game with your loved ones and you have to look around to suss out the competition?

Whether you currently own or you’ re looking to start your own business, you need to do the same thing.

A competitive analysis will help you identify your competitors and research their products, sales, and marketing strategies. By doing this, you’ ll learn your place in the market, how to differentiate yourself from your competition, and how to improve on their processes.

Below, let’ s learn what a competitive matrix is, and review some templates and examples.

Before you dive into the world of competitive matrices, it’ s important to understand that there are different types that you can use to compare your company to your competitors:

  • Features and benefits analysis
  • SWOT analysis
  • Competitive strategic overview
  • Content marketing strategies
  • Review tracking

Essentially, you can use a competitive matrix to compare any characteristics of your company with a competitor.

Sometimes these matrices will be more visual in nature (a plotted graph), but sometimes it’ s just an excel doc with the information listed in columns.

The goal of the competitive matrix is to be able to see at a glance the competitive landscape and your position in the marketplace. This will help you see gaps in the marketplace and hone in on your unique value proposition.

Perhaps, after looking at a competitive matrix, you brainstorm new product ideas, or new tools or features that you hadn’ t considered before. Or maybe you come out of it with a ton of ideas on how to improve your content marketing strategy.

Regardless, you can use a competitive matrix for a lot of reasons. You can use it to develop new ideas, or you can use it to train sales staff on how to differentiate your company from the competition.

After figuring out what you’ re going to do with the information, make sure you write down your ideas, develop KPIs, and regularly conduct this analysis so you can stay up to date with your strategy.

Now that you know what a competitive matrix is and how to use one, let’s review some templates that you can use for your own strategy.

Competitive Matrix Templates

1. Two-Feature Competitive Landscape Chart

One type of competitive matrix you can do is a simple comparison of features. You can use this information to plot where your company is compared to competitors.

The features could be something like price or customization potential. Then, you’ d place the logos of each company (including yours) on the graph depending on how well a company executes a certain feature. The point of this matrix is to visualize who does what better, so you can see what you have to work on and how to differentiate yourself against the competition.

HubSpot template for a competitive matrix.

Download this Template

2. Content Marketing Analysis Template

As a content marketer, this is my favorite template. With this template, you can compare social media followers, blog strategy, email strategy, SEO, etc. This will help you decide where you need to focus your content strategy — should you place an emphasis on Twitter, rather than Facebook? If you download this template, it also includes a graph and more strategies to analyze.

HubSpot template for a content marketing competitive analysis.

Download this Template

3. SWOT Analysis Template

A basic competitive matrix is the SWOT analysis. Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you identify areas where you could improve. You should conduct a SWOT analysis for yourself, but also for your competition. Knowing what weaknesses your competition has will help your sales reps and help you make improvements in those areas.

HubSpot template for a SWOT analysis.

Download this Template

4. Review Tracker

A review tracker matrix will help you see at a glance the types of reviews you get versus your competitors. It’ s important not to forget about reviews because they can have a big impact on a business. With this template, you can also use a scoring system to normalize the averages.

HubSpot template for a review tracker competitive matrix.

Download this Template

After reviewing those templates, it’ s time to see what a competitive matrix looks like in action. Let’ s see some examples below.

Competitive Matrix Examples

1. HubSpot

This is a public HubSpot competitive matrix comparing the overall pricing of our CRM versus Salesforce. This is a standard matrix that’s meant to help people see the difference between the CRMs at a glance.

HubSpot vs. Salesforce competitive matrix.

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2. SugarSync

This is a great example of what a feature matrix might look like. SugarSync compares its feature offerings against the competition in an easy-to-understand visualization.

SugarSync competitive matrix.

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3. 360iResearch

In this example, 360iResearch reports on survey management software. This is a plotted graph showing which companies have the best product satisfaction and business strategy.

360iResearch competitive matrix.

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Competitive matrices are great tools to help you uncover how you’ re different from your competitors. You can learn your unique value proposition and identify areas for improvement.

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How to Resolve Duplicate Content

Posted by meghanpahinui

What is duplicate content, and why is it a concern for your website? Better yet, how can you find it and fix it?

In this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, Moz Learn Team specialist, Meghan, walks through some handy (and hunger-inducing) analogies to help you answer these questions! 

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m Meghan, and I’m part of the Learn Team here at Moz. Today we’re going to talk a bit about duplicate content. 

So why are we talking about duplicate content?

Well, this is a pretty common issue, and it can often be a bit confusing. What is it? How is it determined? Why are certain pages on my site being flagged as duplicates of one another? And most importantly, how do I resolve it if I find that this is something that I want to tackle on my site? 

What is duplicate content?

So first off, what is duplicate content?

Essentially, duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place on the Internet. But this may not be as cut and dry as it seems. Content that is too similar, even if it isn’t identical, may be considered duplicates of one another. 

When thinking about duplicate content, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about what human visitors see when they go to your site and compare two pages. It’s also about what search engines and crawlers see when they access those pages. Since they can’t see the rendered page, they typically go off of the source code of the page, and if that code is too similar, the crawler may think that it’s looking at two versions of the same page. 

Imagine that you go to a bakery and there are two cupcakes in front of you that look almost identical. They don’t have any signs. How do you know which one you want? That’s what happens when a search engine encounters two pages that are too similar. 

This confusion between pieces of content can lead to things like ranking issues, because search engines may not be able to figure out which page they should rank or they may rank the incorrect page. Within the Moz tools, we have a 90% threshold for duplicate content, which means that any pages with code that is at least 90% the same will be flagged as duplicates of one another.

Solutions

So now that we’ve briefly covered what duplicate content is, what do we do about it? There are a few different ways that you can resolve duplicate content. 

301 redirects

First is the option to implement 301 redirects. This option would be similar to having a VHS copy of a movie, which maybe isn’t so relevant anymore.

So you want to be sure to provide folks with the digital version that’s streaming online. On your site, you can redirect older versions of pages to new, updated versions. This is relevant for issues with subdomain or protocol changes as well as content updates where you no longer want people to be able to access that older content.

Rel=canonicals

Next is the option to implement rel=canonicals on your page. Say you’re at a bake sale and you have two types of cookies with you, sugar and chocolate chip. You consider your sugar cookies to be top-notch. So when folks ask you which one they should try, you point them to the sugar cookies even though they still have the option to try the chocolate chip.

On your site, this would be similar to having two items for sale that are different colors. You want human visitors to be able to see and access both colors, but you would use a canonical tag to tell crawlers which one is the more relevant page to rank. 

Meta noindex

You also have the option to mark pages as meta noindex.

For example, you may have two editions of your favorite book. You’re going to read and reference that second edition because it’s the newest and most relevant. But you still want to be able to read and access edition one should you need to. Meta noindex tags tell the crawler that they can still crawl that duplicate page, but they shouldn’t include it in their index. This can help with duplicate content issues due to things like pagination. 

Add content

But what if you have two pages that really aren’t duplicates of one another? They are about different topics, and they should be treated as separate pieces of content. Well, in this case, you may opt to add more content to each of these pages so it’s less confusing to the crawler.

This would allow them to stand out from one another, and it would be similar to say adding sprinkles and a cherry to one cupcake and maybe a different color frosting to the other. 

Use Moz Pro to help identify and resolve duplicate content

If you ever need help identifying which pages on your site may be considered duplicates of one another, Moz Pro Site Crawl and On-Demand Crawl can help.

Within both of these tools, we’ll flag which pages are considered duplicates of one another, and you can even export that data to CSV so you can analyze it outside of the tool. Just a little pro tip here. In the CSV export of that data, the duplicate content group will tell you which pages are considered duplicates of one another.

So any pages with the same duplicate content group number are part of the same group of duplicate pages. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways you can resolve duplicate content, but I do hope that it helps to point you in the right direction when it comes to tackling this issue. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO fundamentals and strategy, be sure to check out the SEO Essentials Certification that’s offered through the Moz Academy.

Thanks for watching.

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If you’re betting big on webinars or podcasts, make sure you can add value first

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