Tag Archive | "Better"

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Content Marketers (and Start Getting Better Clients)

People in your life mean well. They really do. They want to protect you. They want you to have a…

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Building Better Customer Experiences – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by DiTomaso

Are you mindful of your customer’s experience after they become a lead? It’s easy to fall in the same old rut of newsletters, invoices, and sales emails, but for a truly exceptional customer experience that improves their retention and love for your brand, you need to go above and beyond. In this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, the ever-insightful Dana DiTomaso shares three big things you can start doing today that will immensely better your customer experience and make earning those leads worthwhile.

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

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. My name is Dana DiTomaso. I’m the President and partner of Kick Point, and today I’m going to talk to you about building better customer experiences. I know that in marketing a lot of our jobs revolve around getting leads and more leads and why can’t we have all of the leads.

The typical customer experience:

But in reality, the other half of our job should be making sure that those leads are taken care of when they become customers. This is especially important if you don’t have, say, a customer care department. If you do have a customer care department, really you should be interlocking with what they do, because typically what happens, when you’re working with a customer, is that after the sale, they usually get surveys.

- Surveys

“How did we do? Please rate us on a scale of 1 to 10,” which is an enormous scale and kind of useless. You’re a 4, or you’re an 8, or you’re a 6. Like what actually differentiates that, and how are people choosing that?

- Invoices

Then invoices, like obviously important because you have to bill people, particularly if you have a big, expensive product or you’re a SaaS business. But those invoices are sometimes kind of impersonal, weird, and maybe not great.

- Newsletters

Maybe you have a newsletter. That’s awesome. But is the newsletter focused on sales? One of the things that we see a lot is, for example, if somebody clicks a link in the newsletter to get to your website, maybe you’ve written a blog post, and then they see a great big popup to sign up for our product. Well, you’re already a customer, so you shouldn’t be seeing that popup anymore.

What we’ve seen on other sites, like Help Scout actually does a great job of this, is that they have a parameter of newsletter at the end of any URLs they put in their newsletter, and then the popups are suppressed because you’re already in the newsletter so you shouldn’t see a popup encouraging you to sign up or join the newsletter, which is kind of a crappy experience.

- Sales emails

Then the last thing are sales emails. This is my personal favorite, and this can really be avoided if you go into account-based marketing automation instead of personal-based marketing automation.

We had a situation where I was a customer of the hosting company. It was in my name that we’ve signed up for all of our clients, and then one of our developers created a new account because she needed to access something. Then immediately the sales emails started, not realizing we’re at the same domain. We’re already a customer. They probably shouldn’t have been doing the hard sale on her. We’ve had this happen again and again.

So just really make sure that you’re not sending your customers or people who work at the same company as your customers sales emails. That’s a really cruddy customer experience. It makes it look like you don’t know what’s going on. It really can destroy trust.

Tips for an improved customer experience

So instead, here are some extra things that you can do. I mean fix some of these things if maybe they’re not working well. But here are some other things you can do to really make sure your customers know that you love them and you would like them to keep paying you money forever.

1. Follow them on social media

So the first thing is following them on social. So what I really like to do is use a tool such as FullContact. You can take everyone’s email addresses, run them through FullContact, and it will come back to you and say, “Here are the social accounts that this person has.” Then you go on Twitter and you follow all of these people for example. Or if you don’t want to follow them, you can make a list, a hidden list with all of their social accounts in there.

Then you can see what they share. A tool like Nuzzel, N-U-Z-Z for Americans, zed zed for Canadians, N-U-Z-Z-E-L is a great tool where you can say, “Tell me all the things that the people I follow on social or the things that this particular list of people on social what they share and what they’re engaged in.” Then you can see what your customers are really interested in, which can give you a good sense of what kinds things should we be talking about.

A company that does this really well is InVision, which is the app that allows you to share prototypes with clients, particularly design prototypes. So they have a blog, and a lot of that blog content is incredibly useful. They’re clearly paying attention to their customers and the kinds of things they’re sharing based on how they build their blog content. So then find out if you can help and really think about how I can help these customers through the things that they share, through the questions that they’re asking.

Then make sure to watch unbranded mentions too. It’s not particularly hard to monitor a specific list of people and see if they tweet things like, “I really hate my (insert what you are)right now,” for example. Then you can head that off at the pass maybe because you know that this was this customer. “Oh, they just had a bad experience. Let’s see what we can do to fix it,”without being like, “Hey, we were watching your every move on Twitter.Here’s something we can do to fix it.”

Maybe not quite that creepy, but the idea is trying to follow these people and watch for those unbranded mentions so you can head off a potential angry customer or a customer who is about to leave off at the pass. Way cheaper to keep an existing customer than get a new one.

2. Post-sale monitoring

So the next thing is post-sale monitoring. So what I would like you to do is create a fake customer. If you have lots of sales personas, create a fake customer that is each of those personas, and then that customer should get all the emails, invoices, everything else that a regular customer that fits that persona group should get.

Then take a look at those accounts. Are you awesome, or are you super annoying? Do you hear nothing for a year, except for invoices, and then, “Hey, do you want to renew?” How is that conversation going between you and that customer? So really try to pay attention to that. It depends on your organization if you want to tell people that this is what’s happening, but you really want to make sure that that customer isn’t receiving preferential treatment.

So you want to make sure that it’s kind of not obvious to people that this is the fake customer so they’re like, “Oh, well, we’re going to be extra nice to the fake customer.” They should be getting exactly the same stuff that any of your other customers get. This is extremely useful for you.

3. Better content

Then the third thing is better content. I think, in general, any organization should reward content differently than we do currently.

Right now, we have a huge focus on new content, new content, new content all the time, when in reality, some of your best-performing posts might be old content and maybe you should go back and update them. So what we like to tell people about is the Microsoft model of rewarding. They’ve used this to reward their employees, and part of it isn’t just new stuff. It’s old stuff too. So the way that it works is 33% is what they personally have produced.

So this would be new content, for example. Then 33% is what they’ve shared. So think about for example on Slack if somebody shares something really useful, that’s great. They would be rewarded for that. But think about, for example, what you can share with your customers and how that can be rewarding, even if you didn’t write it, or you can create a roundup, or you can put it in your newsletter.

Like what can you do to bring value to those customers? Then the last 33% is what they shared that others produced. So is there a way that you can amplify other voices in your organization and make sure that that content is getting out there? Certainly in marketing, and especially if you’re in a large organization, maybe you’re really siloed, maybe you’re an SEO and you don’t even talk to the paid people, there’s cool stuff happening across the entire organization.

A lot of what you can bring is taking that stuff that others have produced, maybe you need to turn it into something that is easy to share on social media, or you need to turn it into a blog post or a video, like Whiteboard Friday, whatever is going to work for you, and think about how you can amplify that and get it out to your customers, because it isn’t just marketing messages that customers should be seeing.

They should be seeing all kinds of messages across your organization, because when a customer gives you money, it isn’t just because your marketing message was great. It’s because they believe in the thing that you are giving them. So by reinforcing that belief through the types of content that you create, that you share, that you find that other people share, that you shared out to your customers, a lot of sharing, you can certainly improve that relationship with your customers and really turn just your average, run-of-the-mill customer into an actual raving fan, because not only will they stay longer, it’s so much cheaper to keep an existing customer than get a new one, but they’ll refer people to you, which is also a lot easier than buying a lot of ads or spending a ton of money and effort on SEO.

Thanks!

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Better Than Basics: Custom-Tailoring Your SEO Approach (With Real-World Examples)

Posted by Laura.Lippay

Just like people, websites come in all shapes and sizes. They’re different ages, with different backgrounds, histories, motivations, and resources at hand. So when it comes to approaching SEO for a site, one-size-fits-all best practices are typically not the most effective way to go about it (also, you’re better than that).

An analogy might be if you were a fitness coach. You have three clients. One is a 105lb high school kid who wants to beef up a little. One is a 65-year-old librarian who wants better heart health. One is a heavyweight lumberjack who’s working to be the world’s top springboard chopper. Would you consider giving each of them the same diet and workout routine? Probably not. You’re probably going to:

  1. Learn all you can about their current diet, health, and fitness situations.
  2. Come up with the best approach and the best tactics for each situation.
  3. Test your way into it and optimize, as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

In SEO, consider how your priorities might be different if you saw similar symptoms — let’s say problems ranking anything on the first page — for:

  1. New sites vs existing sites
  2. New content vs older content
  3. Enterprise vs small biz
  4. Local vs global
  5. Type of market — for example, a news site, e-commerce site, photo pinning, or a parenting community

A new site might need more sweat equity or have previous domain spam issues, while an older site might have years of technical mess to clean up. New content may need the right promotional touch while old content might just simply be stale. The approach for enterprise is often, at its core, about getting different parts of the organization to work together on things they don’t normally do, while the approach for small biz is usually more scrappy and entrepreneurial.

With the lack of trust in SEO today, people want to know if you can actually help them and how. Getting to know the client or project intimately and proposing custom solutions shows that you took the time to get to know the details and can suggest an effective way forward. And let’s not forget that your SEO game plan isn’t just important for the success of the client — it’s important for building your own successes, trust, and reputation in this niche industry.

How to customize an approach for a proposal

Do: Listen first

Begin by asking questions. Learn as much as you can about the situation at hand, the history, the competition, resources, budget, timeline, etc. Maybe even sleep on it and ask more questions before you provide a proposal for your approach.

Consider the fitness trainer analogy again. Now that you’ve asked questions, you know that the high school kid is already at the gym on a regular basis and is overeating junk food in his attempt to beef up. The librarian has been on a low-salt paleo diet since her heart attack a few years ago, and knows she knows she needs to exercise but refuses to set foot in a gym. The lumberjack is simply a couch potato.

Now that you know more, you can really tailor a proposed approach that might appeal to your potential client and allow you and the client to see how you might reach some initial successes.

Do: Understand business priorities.

What will fly? What won’t fly? What can we push for and what’s off the table? Even if you feel strongly about particular tactics, if you can’t shape your work within a client’s business priorities you may have no client at all.

Real-world example:

Site A wanted to see how well they could rank against their biggest content-heavy SERP competitors like Wikipedia but wanted to keep a sleek, content-light experience. Big-brand SEO vendors working for Site A pushed general, content-heavy SEO best practices. Because Site A wanted solutions that fit into their current workload along with a sleek, content-light experience, they pushed back.

The vendors couldn’t keep the client because they weren’t willing to get into the clients workload groove and go beyond general best practices. They didn’t listen to and work within the client’s specific business objectives.

Site A hired internal SEO resources and tested into an amount of content that they were comfortable with, in sync with technical optimization and promotional SEO tactics, and saw rankings slowly improve. Wikipedia and the other content-heavy sites are still sometimes outranking Site A, but Site A is now a stronger page one competitor, driving more traffic and leads, and can make the decision from here whether it’s worth it to continue to stay content-light or ramp up even more to get top 3 rankings more often.

The vendors weren’t necessarily incorrect in suggesting going content-heavy for the purpose of competitive ranking, but they weren’t willing to find the middle ground to test into light content first, and they lost a big brand client. At its current state, Site A could ramp up content even more, but gobs of text doesn’t fit the sleek brand image and it’s not proven that it would be worth the engineering maintenance costs for that particular site — a very practical, “not everything in SEO is most important all the time” approach.

Do: Find the momentum

It’s easiest to inject SEO where there’s already momentum into a business running full-speed ahead. Are there any opportunities to latch onto an effort that’s just getting underway? This may be more important than your typical best practice priorities.

Real-world example:

Brand X had 12–20 properties (websites) at any given time, but their small SEO team could only manage about 3 at a time. Therefore the SEO team had to occasionally assess which properties they would be working with. Properties were chosen based on:

  1. Which ones have the biggest need or opportunities?
  2. Which ones have resources that they’re willing to dedicate?
  3. Which ones are company priorities?

#2 was important. Without it, the idea that one of the properties might have the biggest search traffic opportunity didn’t matter if they had no resources to dedicate to implement the SEO team’s recommendations.

Similarly, in the first example above, the vendors weren’t able to go with the client’s workflow and lost the client. Make sure you’re able to identify which wheels are moving that you can take advantage of now, in order to get things done. There may be some tactics that will have higher impact, but if the client isn’t ready or willing to do them right now, you’re pushing a boulder uphill.

Do: Understand the competitive landscape

What is this site up against? What is the realistic chance they can compete? Knowing what the competitive landscape looks like, how will that influence your approach?

Real-world example:

Site B has a section of pages competing against old, strong, well-known, content-heavy, link-rich sites. Since it’s a new site section, almost everything needs to be done for Site B — technical optimization, building content, promotion, and generating links. However, the nature of this competitive landscape shows us that being first to publish might be important here. Site B’s competitors oftentimes have content out weeks if not months before the actual content brand owner (Site B). How? By staying on top of Site B’s press releases. The competitors created landing pages immediately after Site B put out a press release, while Site B didn’t have a landing page until the product actually launched. Once this was realized, being first to publish became an important factor. And because Site B is an enterprise site, and changing that process takes time internally, other technical and content optimization for the page templates happened concurrently, so that there was at least the minimal technical optimization and content on these pages by the time the process for first-publishing was shaped.

Site B is now generating product landing pages at the time of press release, with links to the landing pages in those press releases that are picked up by news outlets, giving Site B the first page and the first links, and this is generating more links than their top competitor in the first 7 days 80% of the time.

Site B didn’t audit the site and suggest tactics by simply checking off a list of technical optimizations prioritized by an SEO tool or ranking factors, but instead took a more calculated approach based on what’s happening in the competitive landscape, combined with the top prioritized technical and content optimizations. Optimizing the site itself without understanding the competitive landscape in this case would be leaving the competitors, who also have optimized sites with a lot of content, a leg up because they were cited (linked to) and picked up by Google first.

Do: Ask what has worked and hasn’t worked before

Asking this question can be very informative and help to drill down on areas that might be a more effective use of time. If the site has been around for a while, and especially if they already have an SEO working with them, try to find out what they’ve already done that has worked and that hasn’t worked to give you clues on what approaches might be successful or not..

General example:

Site C has hundreds, sometimes thousands of internal cross-links on their pages, very little unique text content, and doesn’t see as much movement for cross-linking projects as they do when adding unique text.

Site D knows from previous testing that generating more keyword-rich content on their landing pages hasn’t been as effective as implementing better cross-linking, especially since there is very little cross-linking now.

Therefore each of these sites should be prioritizing text and cross-linking tactics differently. Be sure to ask the client or potential client about previous tests or ranking successes and failures in order to learn what tactics may be more relevant for this site before you suggest and prioritize your own.

Do: Make sure you have data

Ask the client what they’re using to monitor performance. If they do not have the basics, suggest setting it up or fold that into your proposal as a first step. Define what data essentials you need to analyze the site by asking the client about their goals, walking through how to measure those goals with them, and then determining the tools and analytics setup you need. Those essentials might be something like:

  • Webmaster tools set up. I like to have at least Google and Bing, so I can compare across search engines to help determine if a spike or a drop is happening in both search engines, which might indicate that the cause is from something happening with the site, or in just one search engine, which might indicate that the cause is algo-related.
  • Organic search engine traffic. At the very least, you should be able to see organic search traffic by page type (ex: service pages versus product pages). At best, you can also filter by things like URL structure, country, date, referrers/source and be able to run regex queries for granularity.
  • User testing & focus groups. Optional, but useful if it’s available & can help prioritization. Has the site gathered any insights from users that could be helpful in deciding on and prioritizing SEO tactics? For example, focus groups on one site showed us that people were more likely to convert if they could see a certain type of content that wouldn’t have necessarily been a priority for SEO otherwise. If they’re more likely to convert, they’re less likely to bounce back to search results, so adding that previously lower-priority content could have double advantages for the site: higher conversions and lower bounce rate back to SERPs.

Don’t: Make empty promises.

Put simply, please, SEOs, do not blanket promise anything. Hopeful promises leads to SEOs being called snake oil salesmen. This is a real problem for all of us, and you can help turn it around.

Clients and managers will try to squeeze you until you break and give them a number or a promised rank. Don’t do it. This is like a new judoka asking the coach to promise they’ll make it to the Olympics if they sign up for the program. The level of success depends on what the judoka puts into it, what her competition looks like, what is her tenacity for courage, endurance, competition, resistance… You promise, she signs up, says “Oh, this takes work so I’m only going to come to practice on Saturdays,” and everybody loses.

Goals are great. Promises are trouble. Good contracts are imperative.

Here are some examples:

  • We will get you to page 1. No matter how successful you may have been in the past, every site, competitive landscape, and team behind the site is a different challenge. A promise of #1 rankings may be a selling point to get clients, but can you live up to it? What will happen to your reputation of not? This industry is small enough that word gets around when people are not doing right by their clients.
  • Rehashing vague stats. I recently watched a well-known agency tell a room full of SEOs: “The search result will provide in-line answers for 47% of your customer queries”. Obviously this isn’t going to be true for every SEO in the room, since different types of queries have different SERPS, and the SERP UI constantly changes, but how many of the people in that room went back to their companies and their clients and told them that? What happens to those SEOs if that doesn’t prove true?
  • We will increase traffic by n%. Remember, hopeful promises can lead to being called snake oil salesmen. If you can avoid performance promises, especially in the proposal process, by all means please do. Set well-informed goals rather than high-risk promises, and be conservative when you can. It always looks better to over-perform than to not reach a goal.
  • You will definitely see improvement. Honestly, I wouldn’t even promise this unless you would *for real* bet your life on it. You may see plenty of opportunities for optimization but you can’t be sure they’ll implement anything, they’ll implement things correctly, implementations will not get overwritten, competitors won’t step it up or new ones rise, or that the optimization opportunities you see will even work on this site.

Don’t: Use the same proposal for every situation at hand.

If your proposal is so vague that it might actually seem to apply to any site, then you really should consider taking a deeper look at each situation at hand before you propose.

Would you want your doctor to prescribe the same thing for your (not yet known) pregnancy as the next person’s (not yet known) fungal blood infection, when you both just came in complaining of fatigue?

Do: Cover yourself in your contract

As a side note for consultants, this is a clause I include in my contract with clients for protection against being sued if clients aren’t happy with their results. It’s especially helpful for stubborn clients who don’t want to do the work and expect you to perform magic. Feel free to use it:

Consultant makes no warranty, express, implied or statutory, with respect to the services provided hereunder, including without limitation any implied warranty of reliability, usefulness, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, noninfringement, or those arising from the course of performance, dealing, usage or trade. By signing this agreement, you acknowledge that Consultant neither owns nor governs the actions of any search engine or the Customer’s full implementations of recommendations provided by Consultant. You also acknowledge that due to non-responsibility over full implementations, fluctuations in the relative competitiveness of some search terms, recurring changes in search engine algorithms and other competitive factors, it is impossible to guarantee number one rankings or consistent top ten rankings, or any other specific search engines rankings, traffic or performance.”

Go get ‘em!

The way you approach a new SEO client or project is critical to setting yourself up for success. And I believe we can all learn from each other’s experiences. Have you thought outside the SEO standards box to find success with any of your clients or projects? Please share in the comments!

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Want Better Results? Ask Better Questions. Here’s How

First things first: Our workshop on effective selling with Tim Paige is back on the schedule! We had to adjust the calendar, but we’ve got Tim set to teach us his low-pressure but effective techniques for sales. We’ll host the workshop (it’s free) on Tuesday, June 26 at 12:00 Noon Eastern U.S. Time. I’ve had
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Faster, Fresher, Better: Announcing Link Explorer, Moz’s New Link Building Tool

Posted by SarahBird

More link data. Fresher link data. Faster link data.

Today, I’m delighted to share that after eons of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and love, Moz is taking a major step forward on our commitment to provide the best SEO tools money can buy.

We’ve rebuilt our link technology from the ground up and the data is now broadly available throughout Moz tools. It’s bigger, fresher, and much, much faster than our legacy link tech. And we’re just getting started! The best way to quickly understand the potential power of our revolutionary new link tech is to play with the beta of our Link Explorer.

Introducing Link Explorer, the newest addition to the Moz toolset!

We’ve heard your frustrations with Open Site Explorer and we know that you want more from Moz and your link building tools. OSE has done more than put in its time. Groundbreaking when it launched in 2008, it’s worked long and hard to bring link data to the masses. It deserves the honor of a graceful retirement.

OSE represents our past; the new Link Explorer is our fast, innovative, ambitious future.

Here are some of my favorite things about the Link Explorer beta:

  • It’s 20x larger and 30x fresher than OSE (RIP)
  • Despite its huge index size, the app is lightning fast! I can’t stand waiting so this might be my number-one fav improvement.
  • We’re introducing Link Tracking Lists to make managing your link building efforts a breeze. Sometimes the simple things make the biggest difference, like when they started making vans with doors on each side. You’ll never go back.
  • Link Explorer includes historic data, a painful gap in OSE. Studying your gained/lost linking domains is fast and easy.
  • The new UX surfaces competitive insights much more quickly
  • Increases the size and freshness of the index improved the quality of Domain Authority and Spam Score. Voilà.

All this, and we’re only in beta.

Dive into your link data now!

Here’s a deeper dive into my favorites:

#1: The sheer size, quality, and speed of it all

We’re committed to data quality. Here are some ways that shows up in the Moz tools:

  • When we collect rankings, we evaluate the natural first page of rankings to ensure that the placement and content of featured snippets and other SERP features are correctly situated (as can happen when ranking are collected in 50- or 100-page batches). This is more expensive, but we think the tradeoff is worth it.
  • We were the first to build a hybrid search volume model using clickstream data. We still believe our model is the most accurate.
  • Our SERP corpus, which powers Keywords by Site, is completely refreshed every two weeks. We actively update up to 15 million of the keywords each month to remove keywords that are no longer being searched and replace them with trending keywords and terms. This helps keep our keyword data set fresh and relevant.

The new Link Explorer index extends this commitment to data quality. OSE wasn’t cutting it and we’re thrilled to unleash this new tech.

Link Explorer is over 20x larger and 30x fresher than our legacy link index. Bonus points: the underlying technology is very cost-efficient, making it much less expensive for us to scale over time. This frees up resources to focus on feature delivery. BOOM!

One of my top pet peeves is waiting. I feel physical pain while waiting in lines and for apps to load. I can’t stand growing old waiting for a page to load (amirite?).

The new Link Explorer app is delightfully, impossibly fast. It’s like magic. That’s how link research should be. Magical.

#2: Historical data showing discovered and lost linking domains

If you’re a visual person, this report gives you an immediate idea of how your link building efforts are going. A spike you weren’t expecting could be a sign of spam network monkey business. Deep-dive effortlessly on the links you lost and gained so you can spend your valuable time doing thoughtful, human outreach.

#3: Link Tracking Lists

Folks, this is a big one. Throw out (at least one of… ha. ha.) those unwieldy spreadsheets and get on board with Link Tracking Lists, because these are the future. Have you been chasing a link from a particular site? Wondering if your outreach emails have borne fruit yet? Want to know if you’ve successfully placed a link, and how you’re linking? Link Tracking Lists cut out a huge time-suck when it comes to checking back on which of your target sites have actually linked back to you.

Why announce the beta today?

We’re sharing this now for a few reasons:

  • The new Link Explorer data and app have been available in beta to a limited audience. Even with a quiet, narrow release, the SEO community has been talking about it and asking good questions about our plans. Now that the Link Explorer beta is in broad release throughout all of Moz products and the broader Moz audience can play with it, we’re expecting even more curiosity and excitement.
  • If you’re relying on our legacy link technology, this is further notice to shift your applications and reporting to the new-and-improved tech. OSE will be retired soon! We’re making it easier for API customers to get the new data by providing a translation layer for the legacy API.
  • We want and need your feedback. We are committed to building the very best link building tool on the planet. You can expect us to invest heavily here. We need your help to guide our efforts and help us make the most impactful tradeoffs. This is your invitation to shape our roadmap.

Today’s release of our new Link Explorer technology is a revolution in Moz tools, not an evolution. We’ve made a major leap forward in our link index technology that delivers a ton of immediate value to Moz customers and the broader Moz Community.

Even though there are impactful improvements around the corner, this ambitious beta stands on its own two feet. OSE wasn’t cutting it and we’re proud of this new, fledgling tech.

What’s on the horizon for Link Explorer?

We’ve got even more features coming in the weeks and months ahead. Please let us know if we’re on the right track.

  • Link Building Assistant: a way to quickly identify new link acquisition opportunities
  • A more accurate and useful Link Intersect feature
  • Link Alerts to notify you when you get a link from a URL you were tracking in a list
  • Changes to how we count redirects: Currently we don’t count links to a redirect as links to the target of the redirect (that’s a lot of redirects), but we have this planned for the future.
  • Significantly scaling up our crawling to further improve freshness and size

Go forth, and explore:

Try the new Link Explorer!

Tomorrow Russ Jones will be sharing a post that discusses the importance of quality metrics when it comes to a link index, and don’t miss our pinned Q&A post answering questions about Domain Authority and Page Authority changes or our FAQ in the Help Hub.

We’ll be releasing early and often. Watch this space, and don’t hold back your feedback. Help us shape the future of Links at Moz. We’re listening!

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A ‘Big Blog’ Strategy Anyone Can Use for More (and Better) Traffic

Do you get all the traffic you’d like for your site? Do visitors just keep pouring in, letting you meet all of your business goals with ease? Yeah, don’t worry, no one actually says Yes to that question. Getting new people to your site can be tricky, and changes in Google and Facebook algorithms don’t
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Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018 Google doodle honors Dr. King & his dream for a better world

The image was designed by guest artist Cannaday Chapman and created in collaboration with the Black Googlers Network.

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How we hacked the Baidu link submission script for better indexation

Baidu’s Link Submission Script is a great way to help Baidu index your content, but it can create some potential SEO issues. Columnist Hermes Ma shares an improved version of the script that is more SEO-friendly.

The post How we hacked the Baidu link submission script for better indexation…



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Writing with Markdown for Better Content & HTML: Why & How To – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by wrttnwrd

Content creation is hard enough without adding bad HTML into the mix. Echoing his recent talk at MozCon, we’re excited to welcome Ian Lurie from Portent, Inc. on this episode of Whiteboard Friday. Learn how to cut out the cruddy code produced from writing in word processors by adopting Markup and text editors as your go-to writing solution.

Markdown Why and How-to

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. My name’s Ian Lurie. I am the CEO and founder of Portent Inc. I am also the Chief Content Badger there. I’m here today to talk to you about Markdown and how you can use Markdown to avoid all sorts of content and HTML tragedies.

1. The tragedy of content creation

So first thing you’ve got to understand: The one great tragedy of content creation is HTML. If you’re a writer or producer or someone like that and you’re creating content, you always run into the problem of trying to get that blog post live or trying to get that page live or whatever else, and you end up with one of four possibilities.

  • You get bad HTML, because you’re trying to write it yourself and you don’t know how. I’m one of those people, at least I was until recently.
  • You have no HTML at all because you can’t do it, and there’s no one else to do it, so you end up pasting plain text directly into your word processor.
  • You get really slow HTML, because it takes you a long time to punch in all of those tags, or you can find a producer, but it’s going to take a long time to find that producer.
  • You get really bad HTML, because you write in a word processor, like Word or OpenText or something like that, and you save as HTML, which delivers something that would make any decent HTML programmer pretty much weep tears of blood because it looks so horrible. It adds all this extra stuff. It doesn’t render correctly in most browsers, so you don’t want to do that either.

So the problem is: How do you create HTML as a writer, without having it interfere with your writing process, right? You don’t want to be typing stuff in and all of a sudden you have to stop to write in tags. Without slowing things down because you don’t want to have to go back and edit all the HTML either. How do you do that?

2. Yay, markdown!

Well, yay for us, there’s this thing called Markdown, and Markdown was created by a developer who runs a blog called Daring Fireball, and I will link to the Markdown Syntax Guide on that site so you can very easily look at it and see it. It is designed to be a really simple way to write in plain text and, with a few simple characters, tag it so that it will turn into really clean, really good HTML.

The great things about Markdown:

  • You do write in plain text, so any text editor. You can use one on your phone. You can use one on your laptop. It can be TextEdit, Notepad, anything. I’m going to name a specific text editor in a minute that I think is the best one for you to use. But it could be anything, and you can edit it in anything. It’s fully portable.
    • That means it’s really fast, right? Text editors don’t bog down with updates, generally. They don’t run into those kinds of problems, so they run really, really fast.
    • Text is future-proof. When the day comes that we’re no longer reading stuff in text and opening text files, we’ll all be communicating directly head-to-head, and we won’t worry about all this stuff anyway because you won’t need HTML. I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, but it is future-proof, because 50 years from now you will still be able to open a plain text file.
    • It’s relatively crash-free. I’ve always said I’ve never had a text editor crash. It’s true. I’ve never had one, but as soon as I say that, everybody starts raising their hands and saying, “I had my text editor crash.” Maybe it’s because you’re on Windows. I don’t know. I shouldn’t say that. But it’s relatively crash-free, all right? So it’s much more stable than using a word processor.

So you’ve got all these big advantages. You’ve still got the problem of how are you going to turn it into what you want it to be?

  • Well, Markdown converts to just about anything. If you’re willing to go out and study the tools and learn more advanced things like Pandoc, which I’m not going to really talk about today, you can convert Markdown into Word documents. You can convert them into HTML. You can convert them into slides. I’ve turned them directly into PDFs. You can even do this really fancy typesetting with a piece of software called LaTeX. So there is nothing you can’t do with Markdown.

3. Tools & process

How do you do it? Well, the first thing is you need certain tools to fit a process. Like almost any writing process, you write, you preview, and then you convert. If you do that in Microsoft Word, you use Microsoft Word to do your writing, you use Word to do your preview, and then you convert by either saving the file and giving it to someone else, or converting it to PDF or, and please don’t do this, converting it to HTML.

If you’re doing Markdown…

  • You do your writing in any text editor. I will strongly recommend Atom.io, and you’ll see why in a minute. And I’ll include a link in the text. But just understand Atom.io has many, many advantages. It’s really lightweight. It’s fast. It’s built to handle Markdown, so everything you need is built into it. There’s tons of advantages.
  • Then you preview it. Well, you can use a website called Dillinger.io. You can use a piece of software on the Mac called Marked 2. But the best way is to just use Atom.io, because it has preview built into it.
  • Then you convert it to HTML, and again you can use Atom.io.

I should point out just five to seven days ago, I talked about using a tool called Sublime Text. Sublime Text is excellent for this. I hadn’t fully tested Atom.io yet. I have now, and I’m actually switching. I’ve been using Sublime Text for probably five years now. I’m very sorry Sublime folks, but I’m actually switching to Atom.io, because as a primarily Markdown writer and a very basic text writer, it’s very good for me.

4. Making it work

So now it’s time to actually get to work, right? So you need to go and download Atom.io. Install it. It’s free, by the way. It costs nothing. Did I mention free? Like zero dollars.

  • You start writing. Usually, as soon as I start writing, I…
  • Save my file and then I save it a lot. And again, because it’s a text editor, saving only takes a couple seconds, so it’s much, much easier. You save it whatever you want your file name to be with a .md on the end. The .md tells Atom.io and, by the way, almost any other Markdown-literate tool out there, that this is a Markdown file so that when you open it, it will highlight your syntax correctly. I’m going to get to syntax in a minute, but it will highlight and differentiate between the markup and the actual words and sentences that you’re writing. So it’s very easy to spot that you formatted something as a heading, for example.
  • You do more writing. You keep saving. Always save it. They don’t crash. I’ve never had them crash, but apparently other people have.
  • Then you go to Packages in the menu, click Markdown Preview and you click TogglePreview. Now, you can do that at the very start, and then what you’ll have is two parallel panes where in one pane you’re doing your writing, and in the other one it’s showing you exactly how the page is going to look. Or you can just do it at the end. I do it at the end because it’s distracting. I don’t like seeing how it’s going to look at the same time.
  • You right-click in that preview. You click Copy HTML, and you’ll have flawless HTML. I mean flawless. It even converts little single quotes and double quotes to the correct smart quote, so double left-hand, double right-hand curly quotes, whatever.

5. Syntax

Syntax is really simple. Again, I’m going to link to the syntax. I’m not going to give you the complete course on the syntax. The truth is this is 50% of what you’ll probably need right here.

But just as an example, if you want to do a level one heading, you do a single pound sign or a hash, a space, and then whatever your text is. When you convert it to HTML, it will automatically become H1, heading one, closing H1. Same thing with H2. You just do two hashes. You can imagine what you do for H3. It’s three hashes.

Paragraphs are created automatically. So if you write some text and you hit Enter or return twice, you’ll get a clean paragraph. If you want, by the way, for this to be a hard break instead, then you just do two spaces and then return, and it’ll put a BR there instead of a paragraph.

Lists become lists, and this is one of the toughest things for writers. It was always the thing that slows me down the most is lists are pretty complicated in HTML. Well, here, you just go one, two, three, just normally your text, and when you save it and convert it, it’s going to become order list, list item, list item, list item, closing order list. It’s that easy. If you want to do a bulleted list, you just use asterisks instead. It’ll do the same thing.

Links, I got really excited so I had to add this up here. Links are also really simple and in fact, again, super simplified in Markdown. What you’ve got here is you put your text in brackets, then in parentheses you put your web address. It will convert to a full link with the text as your proper link text. You can do the same thing with images. All you do is add an exclamation mark at the start.

So Markdown really lets you take your skills as a writer, focus on those skills, write really well, and convert it to equally good HTML. Then you’ve got HTML that’s ready to be pasted into WordPress or whatever other system you want, or just to be used as a separate page.

That’s it. I hope you have fun working with Markdown, and please leave any questions you have in the comments and I will get to them and answer them as quickly as I can. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Better Content, Better Websites, and a Little Inspiration

Better Content, Better Websites, and a Little Inspiration

On Monday, Brian Clark kicked off a new series of quick copy tips. These are short, powerful techniques that can make your copy more persuasive and get you to your goals faster.

This time, Brian taught us about the Proclamation Lead — a way to cut through the clutter and start your content with a bang. If you’re struggling to make your content stand out, or you just want a potent way to get your message across, give it a try …

On Tuesday, we welcomed our colleague Chris Garrett back to the blog. He wrote about 10 rather sad business website mistakes he recently saw over and over again while he conducted some site critiques — and solutions that will make things better.

And on Wednesday, I asked our editorial team to share their favorite quotes about writing. If you need a little dose of inspiration, there’s a lot to choose from there.

On the Copyblogger FM podcast, I talked about when to go negative with your content — and when to keep things sunny and light. Positive and negative messages both have their place in a smart content marketing strategy, if you deploy them at the right times.

That’s it for this week — have a great weekend, and we’ll see you Monday. :)

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


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does your current website hosting company prevent or punish your success?10 Often Overlooked Website Mistakes that May Harm Your Business

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editorial roundtable7 Classic Quotes to Inspire Your Writing

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Which Works Better: Positive or Negative Content?Which Works Better: Positive or Negative Content?

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Are You Making This Common SEO Mistake?Are You Making This Common SEO Mistake?

by Jerod Morris


Busting the Myth of the Starving Artist with Jeff Goins: Part OneBusting the Myth of the Starving Artist with Jeff Goins: Part One

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Unleash Your Intuition to Win, with Bernadette JiwaUnleash Your Intuition to Win, with Bernadette Jiwa

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What Should I Do with My Archive?What Should I Do with My Archive?

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