Tag Archive | "Effective"

Effective Landing Pages: 30 powerful headlines that improved marketing results

Get oodles of examples of effective headlines in this MarketingSherpa blog post to help spark ideas as you brainstorm your own headlines
MarketingSherpa Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

How to Set up a Well-Integrated Effective Link Building Campaign

Posted by AnnSmarty

Link building remains one of the most effective digital marketing tactics, and not just for higher rankings (even though links do still remain the major organic ranking factor). Links drive referral clicks, and generate leads, making your site less dependent on search and advertising traffic.

But how do you build links these days, now that most self-serving link acquisition tactics are frowned upon by Google and can result in lost search visibility?

Here’s what we know for sure:

  • Link building cannot be scaled
  • Link building is not easy or fast.

A new approach to link building integrates all kinds of marketing assets and processes including content marketing, relationship building, and influencer outreach.

This article outlines exactly how to create an effective link building campaign.

Link Acquisition Campaign Goals:

For your campaign, you want to achieve the following:

  • You want that asset to bring in links
  • You want that asset to rank (because high-ranking content keeps bringing links organically as most writers/bloggers search Google to find sources to reference)

So there’s a little bit of a vicious circle here: You cannot rank without links but links also help to rank.

Link building vicious circle

If you really want your link acquisition campaign to work, you need to aim for both: Your content asset should be linkable as well as rank on top of Google for related keywords.

What Non-Spammy Non-Scaled Link Building Methods Do We Know?

  • Researching and creating linkable content (i.e. Content that attracts backlinks)
  • Vanity baiting (ego-baiting): Featuring influencer(s) in your content for them to link back to the published content as well as attract more links (by name association)
  • Relationship building (i.e. Connecting to publishers and journalists on social media for better brand familiarity and hence higher response rate)
  • Broken link building (i.e. Reaching out to website owners linking to broken pages and offering to link to your live page instead)

If we really want to achieve both links and rankings, we need to combine all of those link acquisition methods within one campaign:

Combine

Before we get into steps and tools, let’s illustrate the above with an example:

Sample Link Building Campaign

We had an ecommerce client manufacturing and selling LED lamps and our research included “light” as the core topic. We came up with the following content angles:

    • Light Therapy
    • Light and (Kids’) Creativity
    • Light and Productivity

While we were doing our content research, we came across multiple articles across a lot of top publications referencing an interview (dating back to 2015) with a professor from NY Lighting Research Center talking about the impact of blue light on Alzheimer’s patients.

The interview had long been deleted but the links were all still there.

With that in mind, we took the following steps:

  • We contacted the professor to get an updated quote on the topic. The professor shared her new interior room designs for Alzheimer’s patients which happened to perfectly align with our client’s main ecommerce focus, i.e. “interior lightning.”
  • We did some additional research (including keyword research) to identify what we want the asset to rank for to be able to get discovered by more bloggers and journalists.
  • At the same time, even before we started working on the actual content, we tracked down all those journalists and bloggers who had written about the deleted interview. We also identified more key influencers who were covering the topic (sticking to our specific angle, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease). We put together a Twitter list and started interacting with them to familiarize them with our team before we reach out.

This way, by the time we started to work on the actual content asset, we knew:

  • The specific linkable asset topic
  • The expert(s) we were able to include in our content
  • The bloggers and journalists we were going to reach out to as soon as it went live
Campaign

By the time we started our actual outreach, we had two strong advantages:

1. We could reference our professor in the outreach email:

Ego-bait

2. We could reference other influencers who interacted with us on Twitter (or even already linked to us). Additionally, we could use our newly-built social media connections to follow up and find more people to reach out to:

Outreach campaign

Note: None of these tactics should be step 1: They are all launched together to inform, direct and empower one another.

Tools for every part of the process

Now that we have agreed there are no “steps” here (because all of those tactics should be connected), here is the tool you can use to launch a well-integrated highly-effective link building campaign:

1. Content asset creation

Like most content creation campaigns, this one starts with brainstorming. It is a specific type of brainstorming, though, one that starts with “linkable” angles, i.e. you want to keep your planned “linking” leads in mind. Generally, the following content angles usually bring in links quite easily:

  • “Safety of XX”
  • “History of XX” (especially if you plan to reach out to educators)
  • Recent research (especially if you plan to reach out to journalists)
  • Industry survey (and stats). This usually goes well with niche bloggers.

Image source and more details: digitaleagles.com.au

But there can be more, depending on what it is you are doing. For example, if you own (or market for) a local business, those angles should be localized.

The format of your linkable asset is another thing to think about. There are many options here:

Formats

Note: There’s no need to stick to one format. You can (and probably should) experiment with several of those by using content re-purposing.

2. TextOptimizer for Brainstorming

Text Optimizer is a great tool to help you find more angles to narrow your research down. It uses semantic analysis to extract related concepts and entities from Google search result snippets, helping you to find more specific angles to cover.

Once you know your specific topic ideas, put them in TextOptimizer, one by one, to find related angles and questions to focus on:

Text Optimizer research

More tools for content research: Research and optimize for niche questions

3. Determining your outreach targets

This is a multi-step, continuous process that never really stops. One of the easiest and quickest way to start is to run the “Top pages” tool inside Serpstat that determines web pages that show up in Google for the variety of queries around your core term:

Serpstat top pages

Note: Export the whole list of top-ranking pages for your core query and determine outreach tactics for each one.

4. Twitter Bio search for more outreach targets

Social media marketing won’t probably bring in organic links on its own but social media (especially Twitter) is an awesome outreach tool to utilize in combination with traditional email outreach.

Twitter bio search is one of the most effective ways to generate link-building leads. Twiangulate is a great Twitter bio search that helps you:

  • Find Twitter users by a certain keyword mentioned in their bio (or the combination of keywords)
  • Find Twitter users by location (this is a great way to find local journalists and bloggers)
  • Find common connections of two Twitter accounts (this is a very useful feature for ego-bait content outreach which allows you to find who is connected to your included experts)
  • Find Twitter followers by a keyword (among friends of a certain account). This one can be used to find active Twitter users that work at the publication you are targeting for links:
Twiangulate

5. Broken link building

Ahrefs has one of the coolest link building features out there allowing you to see (and export) all pages linking to broken pages within any domain. To access the report, run your identified leaders in the target niche and click through to “Backlink Profile -> Broken” report:

Arefs broken report

All you need to do now is to export the report into an Excel spreadsheet, identify most linked-to content on the website, and decide if you can build content to replace the deleted page and claim all those links.

CognitiveSEO is another (newer) tool that shows the most linked-to broken pages on any website:

CognitiveSEO

6. Social media outreach

Since your link building outreach is going to include the social media component, you need to figure out how your link building and social media teams are going to collaborate on that.

ContentCal is a solid collaborative tool that can be used to include your link building team into your social media marketing. Encourage your link building outreach team to use ContentCal’s “Pinboard” feature that will allow them to add social media updates for the social media manager to approve and schedule them to go out from your company’s official Twitter account:

ContentCal

Note: ContentCal allows your link building team to contribute to your brand social media channels without sacrificing on the overall quality: There’s always a moderator making sure everything looks good before updates go live.

7. Email outreach

We have tried multiple tools and ended up building our own in-house solution, but there’s no link building tutorial possible without at least one outreach tool included. So I’ll go ahead and recommend Pitchbox (Disclaimer: This is the only tool here I haven’t tried yet but I’ve heard very good people recommend it, so I have full trust in its awesome-ness):

Pitchbox

Pitchbox stores your contacts and email templates as well as manages the follow-ups and reports]

8. Monitor your campaign performance

If you are managing a multi-format link building campaign that includes more content types beyond text (e.g. a downloadable whitepaper, an embeddable infographic, a video, etc.), you may want to keep a close eye on what content formats your link building leads engage more with.

Finteza is the free analytics software focusing on monitoring and reporting on specific on-page events.

Finteza

While you are actively emailing to your identified link building leads, keep an eye on how they interact with your linkable assets. This is a great experience to learn from for your upcoming campaigns.

Finteza also offers a free WordPress plug-in that makes adding on-page events to monitor easier:

Finteza plugin

9. Personalize your content asset based on the referral

Since your link acquisition campaign includes both email and social media outreach, it is smart to customize your content asset based on the referral source to make sure your link building leads will see exactly what they came for above the fold.

Alter is an easy tool for personalizing your content based on your settings. You will need to add their script to the page to serve a slightly different page copy based on the source.

The first step is to create your audience inside Alter:

Depending on your outreach tactics, you can combine as many criteria as you want

You can create your personalization using Alter’s built-in editor:

Alter personalization

10. Monitor incoming links

Finally, set up link monitoring using Brand Mentions. This tool will promptly alert you of any new linked and unlinked web mentions and allow you to better monitor the effectiveness of the campaign as well as quickly interact with your promoters.

Brand Mentions allows you to authenticate your Google Analytics account. This way you’ll be alerted by new referral traffic immediately — remember: Traffic sending links are the best types of links!

Brand Mentions google analytics

Launching a well-rounded link building campaign: Takeaways

  • An effective link building campaign includes most of effective and legit link acquisition tactics, including linkable content creation, ego-baiting, broken link building and (social media) relationship management.
  • None of the above tactics are step one in the campaign: They all need to be connected — informing and directing one another.
  • A key to successful link building campaign is collaboration (between teams, as well as with niche influencers and experts).
  • One of the major goals behind your linkable content asset is that it needs to rank in top five for a popular query. Once you achieve that, you can stop the proactive outreach process, as links will start coming in naturally: All bloggers and journalists use Google to find sources to reference.
  • An effective link acquisition campaign includes more than one content format. Give your media contacts more reasons to link to you by visualizing results, building embeddable content, and downloadable assets to take home.

With so many ideas, parts and tools, it may also be tough to get organized. In most cases, your campaign manager will be able to put everything together using shared (Google) Spreadsheets (that also easily integrate into online calendars). There are of course many more tools to check out.

Finally, there are many more tools I’ve used at some point or another. There’s no way I could list all of them in one article. I did my best to include newer tools (those that are not already well-covered and well-known) because I believe they bring something innovative to the table allowing you to take a new approach or experiment with new tactics.

If you are using any other link building tools in your process, please list them in the comments below — I am always on the hunt for more tools!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

How to Set up a Well-Integrated Effective Link Building Campaign

Posted by AnnSmarty

Link building remains one of the most effective digital marketing tactics, and not just for higher rankings (even though links do still remain the major organic ranking factor). Links drive referral clicks, and generate leads, making your site less dependent on search and advertising traffic.

But how do you build links these days, now that most self-serving link acquisition tactics are frowned upon by Google and can result in lost search visibility?

Here’s what we know for sure:

  • Link building cannot be scaled
  • Link building is not easy or fast.

A new approach to link building integrates all kinds of marketing assets and processes including content marketing, relationship building, and influencer outreach.

This article outlines exactly how to create an effective link building campaign.

Link Acquisition Campaign Goals:

For your campaign, you want to achieve the following:

  • You want that asset to bring in links
  • You want that asset to rank (because high-ranking content keeps bringing links organically as most writers/bloggers search Google to find sources to reference)

So there’s a little bit of a vicious circle here: You cannot rank without links but links also help to rank.

Link building vicious circle

If you really want your link acquisition campaign to work, you need to aim for both: Your content asset should be linkable as well as rank on top of Google for related keywords.

What Non-Spammy Non-Scaled Link Building Methods Do We Know?

  • Researching and creating linkable content (i.e. Content that attracts backlinks)
  • Vanity baiting (ego-baiting): Featuring influencer(s) in your content for them to link back to the published content as well as attract more links (by name association)
  • Relationship building (i.e. Connecting to publishers and journalists on social media for better brand familiarity and hence higher response rate)
  • Broken link building (i.e. Reaching out to website owners linking to broken pages and offering to link to your live page instead)

If we really want to achieve both links and rankings, we need to combine all of those link acquisition methods within one campaign:

Combine

Before we get into steps and tools, let’s illustrate the above with an example:

Sample Link Building Campaign

We had an ecommerce client manufacturing and selling LED lamps and our research included “light” as the core topic. We came up with the following content angles:

    • Light Therapy
    • Light and (Kids’) Creativity
    • Light and Productivity

While we were doing our content research, we came across multiple articles across a lot of top publications referencing an interview (dating back to 2015) with a professor from NY Lighting Research Center talking about the impact of blue light on Alzheimer’s patients.

The interview had long been deleted but the links were all still there.

With that in mind, we took the following steps:

  • We contacted the professor to get an updated quote on the topic. The professor shared her new interior room designs for Alzheimer’s patients which happened to perfectly align with our client’s main ecommerce focus, i.e. “interior lightning.”
  • We did some additional research (including keyword research) to identify what we want the asset to rank for to be able to get discovered by more bloggers and journalists.
  • At the same time, even before we started working on the actual content, we tracked down all those journalists and bloggers who had written about the deleted interview. We also identified more key influencers who were covering the topic (sticking to our specific angle, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease). We put together a Twitter list and started interacting with them to familiarize them with our team before we reach out.

This way, by the time we started to work on the actual content asset, we knew:

  • The specific linkable asset topic
  • The expert(s) we were able to include in our content
  • The bloggers and journalists we were going to reach out to as soon as it went live
Campaign

By the time we started our actual outreach, we had two strong advantages:

1. We could reference our professor in the outreach email:

Ego-bait

2. We could reference other influencers who interacted with us on Twitter (or even already linked to us). Additionally, we could use our newly-built social media connections to follow up and find more people to reach out to:

Outreach campaign

Note: None of these tactics should be step 1: They are all launched together to inform, direct and empower one another.

Tools for every part of the process

Now that we have agreed there are no “steps” here (because all of those tactics should be connected), here is the tool you can use to launch a well-integrated highly-effective link building campaign:

1. Content asset creation

Like most content creation campaigns, this one starts with brainstorming. It is a specific type of brainstorming, though, one that starts with “linkable” angles, i.e. you want to keep your planned “linking” leads in mind. Generally, the following content angles usually bring in links quite easily:

  • “Safety of XX”
  • “History of XX” (especially if you plan to reach out to educators)
  • Recent research (especially if you plan to reach out to journalists)
  • Industry survey (and stats). This usually goes well with niche bloggers.

Image source and more details: digitaleagles.com.au

But there can be more, depending on what it is you are doing. For example, if you own (or market for) a local business, those angles should be localized.

The format of your linkable asset is another thing to think about. There are many options here:

Formats

Note: There’s no need to stick to one format. You can (and probably should) experiment with several of those by using content re-purposing.

2. TextOptimizer for Brainstorming

Text Optimizer is a great tool to help you find more angles to narrow your research down. It uses semantic analysis to extract related concepts and entities from Google search result snippets, helping you to find more specific angles to cover.

Once you know your specific topic ideas, put them in TextOptimizer, one by one, to find related angles and questions to focus on:

Text Optimizer research

More tools for content research: Research and optimize for niche questions

3. Determining your outreach targets

This is a multi-step, continuous process that never really stops. One of the easiest and quickest way to start is to run the “Top pages” tool inside Serpstat that determines web pages that show up in Google for the variety of queries around your core term:

Serpstat top pages

Note: Export the whole list of top-ranking pages for your core query and determine outreach tactics for each one.

4. Twitter Bio search for more outreach targets

Social media marketing won’t probably bring in organic links on its own but social media (especially Twitter) is an awesome outreach tool to utilize in combination with traditional email outreach.

Twitter bio search is one of the most effective ways to generate link-building leads. Twiangulate is a great Twitter bio search that helps you:

  • Find Twitter users by a certain keyword mentioned in their bio (or the combination of keywords)
  • Find Twitter users by location (this is a great way to find local journalists and bloggers)
  • Find common connections of two Twitter accounts (this is a very useful feature for ego-bait content outreach which allows you to find who is connected to your included experts)
  • Find Twitter followers by a keyword (among friends of a certain account). This one can be used to find active Twitter users that work at the publication you are targeting for links:
Twiangulate

5. Broken link building

Ahrefs has one of the coolest link building features out there allowing you to see (and export) all pages linking to broken pages within any domain. To access the report, run your identified leaders in the target niche and click through to “Backlink Profile -> Broken” report:

Arefs broken report

All you need to do now is to export the report into an Excel spreadsheet, identify most linked-to content on the website, and decide if you can build content to replace the deleted page and claim all those links.

CognitiveSEO is another (newer) tool that shows the most linked-to broken pages on any website:

CognitiveSEO

6. Social media outreach

Since your link building outreach is going to include the social media component, you need to figure out how your link building and social media teams are going to collaborate on that.

ContentCal is a solid collaborative tool that can be used to include your link building team into your social media marketing. Encourage your link building outreach team to use ContentCal’s “Pinboard” feature that will allow them to add social media updates for the social media manager to approve and schedule them to go out from your company’s official Twitter account:

ContentCal

Note: ContentCal allows your link building team to contribute to your brand social media channels without sacrificing on the overall quality: There’s always a moderator making sure everything looks good before updates go live.

7. Email outreach

We have tried multiple tools and ended up building our own in-house solution, but there’s no link building tutorial possible without at least one outreach tool included. So I’ll go ahead and recommend Pitchbox (Disclaimer: This is the only tool here I haven’t tried yet but I’ve heard very good people recommend it, so I have full trust in its awesome-ness):

Pitchbox

Pitchbox stores your contacts and email templates as well as manages the follow-ups and reports]

8. Monitor your campaign performance

If you are managing a multi-format link building campaign that includes more content types beyond text (e.g. a downloadable whitepaper, an embeddable infographic, a video, etc.), you may want to keep a close eye on what content formats your link building leads engage more with.

Finteza is the free analytics software focusing on monitoring and reporting on specific on-page events.

Finteza

While you are actively emailing to your identified link building leads, keep an eye on how they interact with your linkable assets. This is a great experience to learn from for your upcoming campaigns.

Finteza also offers a free WordPress plug-in that makes adding on-page events to monitor easier:

Finteza plugin

9. Personalize your content asset based on the referral

Since your link acquisition campaign includes both email and social media outreach, it is smart to customize your content asset based on the referral source to make sure your link building leads will see exactly what they came for above the fold.

Alter is an easy tool for personalizing your content based on your settings. You will need to add their script to the page to serve a slightly different page copy based on the source.

The first step is to create your audience inside Alter:

Depending on your outreach tactics, you can combine as many criteria as you want

You can create your personalization using Alter’s built-in editor:

Alter personalization

10. Monitor incoming links

Finally, set up link monitoring using Brand Mentions. This tool will promptly alert you of any new linked and unlinked web mentions and allow you to better monitor the effectiveness of the campaign as well as quickly interact with your promoters.

Brand Mentions allows you to authenticate your Google Analytics account. This way you’ll be alerted by new referral traffic immediately — remember: Traffic sending links are the best types of links!

Brand Mentions google analytics

Launching a well-rounded link building campaign: Takeaways

  • An effective link building campaign includes most of effective and legit link acquisition tactics, including linkable content creation, ego-baiting, broken link building and (social media) relationship management.
  • None of the above tactics are step one in the campaign: They all need to be connected — informing and directing one another.
  • A key to successful link building campaign is collaboration (between teams, as well as with niche influencers and experts).
  • One of the major goals behind your linkable content asset is that it needs to rank in top five for a popular query. Once you achieve that, you can stop the proactive outreach process, as links will start coming in naturally: All bloggers and journalists use Google to find sources to reference.
  • An effective link acquisition campaign includes more than one content format. Give your media contacts more reasons to link to you by visualizing results, building embeddable content, and downloadable assets to take home.

With so many ideas, parts and tools, it may also be tough to get organized. In most cases, your campaign manager will be able to put everything together using shared (Google) Spreadsheets (that also easily integrate into online calendars). There are of course many more tools to check out.

Finally, there are many more tools I’ve used at some point or another. There’s no way I could list all of them in one article. I did my best to include newer tools (those that are not already well-covered and well-known) because I believe they bring something innovative to the table allowing you to take a new approach or experiment with new tactics.

If you are using any other link building tools in your process, please list them in the comments below — I am always on the hunt for more tools!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Craft a Deliciously Effective Content Marketing Strategy with a Farm-to-Table Approach

If you’re in the mood for a special dinner and you have a farm-to-table restaurant in your city, it might…

The post Craft a Deliciously Effective Content Marketing Strategy with a Farm-to-Table Approach appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Find More Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

A 10-Minute ‘Hack’ that Makes You a More Confident and Effective Writer

Are you producing the volume and quality of work that you want to? Do you feel confident about your work…

The post A 10-Minute ‘Hack’ that Makes You a More Confident and Effective Writer appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

How to create catchy, effective subject lines for link outreach

Are your outreach emails falling flat? Contributor Gisele Navarro shares specific tips you can use to write subject lines that will work to get your emails opened.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

What Ethical, Effective Selling Looks Like

There’s a well-loved myth out there that if you do something reasonably remarkable and distribute passionate content, you’ll automatically have an audience who will support you in style for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do anything scary. Like sell, for example. Now if that works for you, that’s terrific. So does
Read More…

The post What Ethical, Effective Selling Looks Like appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Find More Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Getting Comfortable (and Effective) at Selling Your Product or Service

This week, we have some resources to help you actually Sell the Thing. Because you can create magnificent content all day long, pull together a wonderful audience, and produce a glorious product or service. But if you lack the skills to Sell the Thing, you don’t get the benefit of all that hard work. On
Read More…

The post Getting Comfortable (and Effective) at Selling Your Product or Service appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

How to Make Effective, High-Quality Marketing Reports & Dashboards

Posted by Dom-Woodman

My current obsession has been reporting. Everyone could benefit from paying more attention to it. Five years, countless ciders, and too many conferences into my career, I finally spent some time on it.

Bad reporting soaks up just as much time as pointless meetings. Analysts spend hours creating reports that no one will read, or making dashboards that never get looked it. Bad reporting means people either focus on the wrong goals, or they pick the right goals, but choose the wrong way to measure them. Either way, you end up in the same place.

So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

We’re going to split this into:

  • Definitions
  • What is the goal of a report and a dashboard? (And how are they different?)
  • Who is the data for?
  • How to create a good dashboard
  • How to create a good report
  • How to create useful graphs
  • Useful tools

(We’ll lean on SEO examples — we’re on Moz! — however, for those non-SEO folks, the principles are the same.)

What is the goal of a report versus a dashboard?

Dashboards

Dashboards should:

  • Measure a goal(s) over time
  • Be easily digestible at a glance

The action you take off a dashboard should be:

  • Let’s go look into this.

Example questions a dashboard would answer:

  • How are we performing organically?
  • How fast does our site load?

Reports

Reports should:

  • Help you make a decision

The action you take off a report should be:

  • Making a decision

Example questions a report would answer:

  • Are our product changes hurting organic search?
  • What are the biggest elements slowing our website?

Who is this data for?

This context will inform many of our decisions. We care about our audience, because they all know and care about very different things.

A C-level executive doesn’t care about keyword cannibalization, but probably does care about the overall performance of marketing. An SEO manager, on the other hand, probably does care about the number of pages indexed and keyword cannibalization, but is less bothered by the overall performance of marketing.

Don’t mix audience levels

If someone tells you the report is for audiences with obviously different decision levels, then you’re almost always going to end up creating something that won’t fulfill the goals we talked about above. Split up your reporting into individual reports/dashboards for each audience, or it will be left ignored and unloved.

Find out what your audience cares about

How do you know what your audience will care about? Ask them. As a rough guide, you can assume people typically care about:

  • The goals that their jobs depend on. If your SEO manager is being paid because the business wants to rank for ten specific keywords, then they’re unlikely to care about much else.
  • Budget or people they have control over.

But seriously. Ask them what they care about.

Educating your audience

Asking them is particularly important, because you don’t just need to understand your audience — you may also need to educate them. To go back on myself, there are in fact CEOs who will care about specific keywords.

The problem is, they shouldn’t. And if you can’t convince them to stop caring about that metric, their incentives will be wrong and succeeding in search will be harder. So ask. Persuading them to stop using the wrong metrics is, of course, another article in and of itself.

Get agreement now

To continue that point, now is also the time to get initial agreement that these dashboards/reports will be what’s used to measure performance.

That way, when they email you three months in asking how you’re doing for keyword x, you’re covered.

How to create a good dashboard

Picking a sensible goal for your dashboard

The question you’re answering with a dashboard is usually quite simple. It’s often some version of:

  • Are we being successful at x?

…where x is a general goal, not a metric. The difference here is that a goal is the end result (e.g. a fast website), and the metric (e.g. time to start render) is the way of measuring progress against that.

How to choose good metrics for dashboards

This is the hard part. We’re defining our goal by the metrics we choose to measure it by.

A good metric is typically a direct measure of success. It should ideally have no caveats that are outside your control.

No caveats? Ask yourself how you would explain if the number went down. If you can immediately come up with excuses that could be answered by things out of your control, then you should try to refine this metric. (Don’t worry, there’s an example in the next section.)

We also need to be sure that it will create incentives for how people behave.

Unlike a report, which will be used to help us make a decision, a dashboard is showing the goals we care about. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one. A report will help you make a single decision. A dashboard and the KPIs it shows will define the decisions and reports you create and the ideas people have. It will set incentives and change how the people working off it behave. Choose carefully. Avinash has my back here; go read his excellent article on choosing KPIs.

You need to bear both of these in mind when choosing metrics. You typically want only one or two metrics per goal to avoid being overwhelming.

Example: Building the spec for our dashboard

Goal: Measure the success of organic performance

Who is it for: SEO manager

The goal we’re measuring and the target audience are sane, so now we need to pick a metric.

We’ll start with a common metric that I often hear suggested and we’ll iterate on it until we’re happy. Our starting place is:

  1. Metric: Search/SEO visibility
    1. “Our search visibility has dropped”: This could be because we were ranking for vanity terms like Facebook and we lost that ranking. Our traffic would be fine, but our visibility would be down. *Not a good metric.
  2. Metric: Organic sessions over time
    1. “Our organic sessions have dropped”: This could easily be because of seasonality. We always see a drop in the summer holidays. *Okay, also not a good metric.
  3. Metric: Organic sessions with smoothed seasonality
    1. Aside: See a good example of this here.
    2. “Our organic sessions with smoothed seasonality have dropped”: What if the industry is in a downturn? *We’re getting somewhere here. But let’s just see…
  4. Metric: Organic sessions with smoothed seasonality and adjusted for industry
    1. “Our organic sessions with smoothed seasonality and adjusted for industry have dropped”: *Now we’ve got a metric that’s getting quite robust. If this number drops, we’re going to care about it.

You might have to compromise your metric depending on resources. What we’ve just talked through is an ideal. Adjusting for industry, for example, is typically quite hard; you might have to settle for showing Google trends for some popular terms on a second graph, or showing Hitwise industry data on another graph.

Watch out if you find yourself adding more than one or two additional metrics. When you get to three or four, information gets difficult to parse at glance.

What about incentives? The metric we settled on will incentivize our team get more traffic, but it doesn’t have any quality control.

We could succeed at our goal by aiming for low-quality traffic, which doesn’t convert or care about our brand. We should consider adding a second metric, perhaps revenue attributed to search with linear attribution, smoothed seasonality, and a 90-day lookback. Or alternatively, organic non-bounce sessions with smoothed seasonality (using adjusted bounce rate).

Both those metrics sound like a bit of a mouthful. That’s because they’ve gone through a process similar to what we talked about above. We might’ve started with revenue attributed to search before, then got more specific and ended up with revenue attributed to search with linear attribution, smoothed seasonality and a 90-day lookback.

Remember, a dashboard shouldn’t try to explain why performance was bad (based on things in your control). A dashboard’s job is to track a goal over time and says whether or not further investigation is needed.

Laying out and styling dashboards

The goal here is to convey our information as quickly and easily as possible. It should be eyeball-able.

Creating a good dashboard layout:

  • It should all fit on a single screen (i.e. don’t scroll on the standard screen that will show the results)
  • People typically read from the top and left. Work out the importance of each graph to the question you’re answering and order them accordingly.
  • The question a graph is answering should be sat near it (usually above it)
  • Your design should keep the focus on the content. Simplify: keep styles and colors unified, where possible.

Here’s a really basic example I mocked up for this post, based on the section above:

  • We picked two crucial summary metrics for organic traffic:
    1. Organic sessions with smoothed seasonality
      • In this case we’ve done a really basic version of “adjusting” for seasonality by just showing year on year!
    2. Revenue attributed to organic sessions
  • We’ve kept the colors clean and unified.
  • We’ve got clean labels and, based on imaginary discussions, we’ve decided to put organic sessions above attributed revenue.

(The sharp-eyed amongst you may notice a small bug. The dates in the x-axis are misaligned by 1 day; this was due to some temporary constraints on my end. Don’t repeat this in your actual report!)

How to create a good report

Picking a sensible decision for your report

A report needs to be able to help us make a decision. Picking the goal for a dashboard is typically quite simple. Choosing the decision our report is helping us make is usually a little more fraught. Most importantly, we need to decide:

  • Is there a decision to be made or are we knowledge-gathering for its own sake?

If you don’t have a decision in mind, if you’re just creating a report to dig into things, then you’re wasting time. Don’t make a report.

If the decision is to prioritize next month, then you could have an investigative report designed to help you prioritize. But the goal of the report isn’t to dig in — it’s to help you make a decision. This is primarily a frame of mind, but I think it’s a crucial one.

Once we’ve settled on the decision, we then:

  • Make a list of all the data that might be relevant to this decision
  • Work down the list and ask the following question for each factor:
    1. What are the odds this piece of information causes me to change my mind?
    2. Could this information be better segmented or grouped to improve?
    3. How long will it take me to add this information to the report?
    4. Is this information for ruling something out or helping me weigh a decision?

Example: Creating a spec for a report

Here’s an example decision a client suggested to me recently:

  • Decision: Do we need to change our focus based on our weekly organic traffic fluctuations?
  • Who’s it for: SEO manager
  • Website: A large e-commerce site

Are we happy with this decision? In this case, I wasn’t. Experience has taught me that SEO very rarely runs week to week; one thing our SEO split-testing platform has taught us time and time again is even obvious improvements can take three to four weeks to result in significant traffic change.

  • New decision: Do we need to change our focus based on our monthly organic traffic fluctuations?

Great — we’re now happy with our decision, so let’s start listing possible factors. For the sake of brevity, I’m only going to include three here:

  • Individual keyword rankings
  • Individual keyword clicks
  • Number of indexed pages

1. Individual keyword rankings

  • What are the odds this piece of information causes me to change my mind?
    • As individual keyword rankings? Pretty low. This is a large website and individual keyword fluctuations aren’t much use; it will take too long to look through and I’ll probably end up ignoring it.
  • Could this information be better segmented or grouped to improve?
    • Yes, absolutely. If we were to group this by page type or topic level, it becomes far more interesting. Knowing my traffic has dropped only for one topic would make me want to go to push more resources to try and bring us back to parity. We would ideally also want to see the difference in rank with and without features.
  • How long will it take me to add this information to the report?
    • There are plenty of rank trackers with this data. It might take some integration time, but the data exists.
  • Is this information for ruling something out or helping me weigh a decision?
    • We’re just generically looking at performance here, so this is helping me weigh up my decision.

Conclusion: Yes, we should include keyword rankings, but they need to be grouped and ideally also have both rank with and without Google features. We’ll also want to avoid averaging rank, to lose subtlety in how our keywords are moving amongst each other. This example graph from STAT illustrates this well:

2. Individual keyword clicks

  • What are the odds this piece of information causes me to change my mind?
    • Low. Particularly because it won’t compensate for seasonality, I would definitely find myself relying more on rank here.
  • Could this information be better segmented or grouped to improve?
    • Again yes, same as above. It would almost certainly need to be grouped.
  • How long will it take me to add this information to the report?
    • This will have to come from Search Console. There will be some integration time again, but the data exists.
  • Is this information for ruling something out or helping me weigh a decision?
    • Again, we’re just generically looking at performance here, so this is helping me weigh up my decision.

Conclusion: I would probably say no. We’re only looking at organic performance here and clicks will be subject to seasonality and industry trends that aren’t related to our organic performance. There are certainly click metrics that will be useful that we haven’t gone over in these examples — this just isn’t one of them.

3. Number of indexed pages

  • What are the odds this piece of information causes me to change my mind?
    • Low, although sharp jumps would definitely be cause for further investigation.
  • Could this information be better segmented or grouped to improve?
    • It could sometimes be broken down into individual sections, using Search Console folders.
  • How long will it take me to add this information to the report?
    • This will have to come from Search Console. It doesn’t exist in the API, however, and will be a hassle to add or will have to be done manually.
  • Is this information for ruling something out or helping me weigh a decision?
    • This is just ruling out, as it’s possible any changes in fluctuation have come from massive index bloat.

Conclusion: Probably yes. The automation will be a pain, but it will be relatively easy to pull it in manually once a month. It won’t change anyone’s mind very often, so it won’t be put at the forefront of a report, but it’s a useful additional piece of information that’s very quick to scan and will help us rule something out.

Laying out and styling reports

Again, our layout should be fit for the goal we’re trying to achieve, which gives us a couple principles to follow:

  • It’s completely fine for reports to be large, as long as they’re ordered by the odds that the decision will change someone’s mind. Complexity is fine as long as it’s accompanied by depth and you don’t get it all at once.
  • On a similar point, you’ll often have to breakdown metrics into multiple graphs. Make sure that you order them by importance so someone can stop digging whenever they’re happy.

Here’s an example from an internal report I made. It shows the page breakdown first and then the page keyword breakdown after it to let you dig deeper.

  • There’s nothing wrong with repeating graphs. If you have a summary page with five following pages, each of which picks one crucial metric from the summary and digs deeper, it’s absolutely useful to repeat the summary graph for that metric at the top.
  • Pick a reporting program which allows paged information, like Google Data Studio, for example. It will force you to break a report into chunks.
  • As with dashboards, your design should keep the focus on the content. Simplify — keep styles and colors unified where possible.

Creating an effective graph

The graphs themselves are crucial elements of a report and dashboard. People have built entire careers out of helping people visualize data on graphs. Rather than reinvent the wheel, the following resources have all helped me avoid the worst when it comes to graphs.

Both #1 and #2 below don’t focus on making things pretty, but rather on the goal of a graph: to let you process data as quickly as possible.

  1. Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Graphs
  2. Karl Broman on How to Display Data Badly
  3. Dark Horse Analytics – Data Looks Better Naked
  4. Additional geek resource: Creating 538-Style Charts with matplotlib

Sometimes (read: nearly always) you’ll be limited by the programs you work in, but it’s good to know the ideal, even if you can’t quite reach it.

What did we learn?

Well, we got to the end of the article and I’ve barely even touched on how to practically make dashboards/reports. Where are the screenshots of the Google Data Studio menus and the step-by-step walkthroughs? Where’s the list of tools? Where’s the explanation on how to use a Google Sheet as a temporary database?

Those are all great questions, but it’s not where the problem lies.

We need to spend more time thinking about the content of reports and what they’re being used for. It’s possible having read this article you’ll come away with the determination to make fewer reports and to trash a whole bunch of your dashboards.

That’s fantastic. Mission accomplished.

There are good tools out there (I quite like Plot.ly and Google Data Studio) which make generating graphs easier, but the problem with many of the dashboards and reports I see isn’t that they’ve used the Excel default colors — it’s that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about the decision the report makes, or picking the ideal metric for a dashboard.

Let’s go out and think more about our reports and dashboards before we even begin making them.

What do you guys think? Has this been other people’s experience? What are the best/worst reports and dashboards you’ve seen and why?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Related Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

How to Unlock the Door to Effective Content with Your Creativity

How to Unlock the Door to Effective Content with Your Creativity

We definitely had a creativity thread weaving through the week, both on the blog and the podcasts.

On Monday, I continued our “Quick Copy Tips” series by talking about the difference between benefits and features. It’s one of the first topics covered in nearly every copywriting book, but even experienced writers often get it wrong — because it can be so tricky to see with fresh eyes. I gave you a fast way to do exactly that.

On Tuesday, Stefanie addressed that nasty creativity killer: perfectionism. It takes many forms and hides in many disguises. She reminded us of the one thing we all have to do to defeat it.

And on Wednesday, we posted our creativity and productivity prompts for August. We’re offering a new pair of prompts for you every month this year, to help you create stronger work and more of it. This month’s prompts were heavily influenced by Growing Gills, Jessica Abel’s terrific book on productivity for creative people.

Over on Copyblogger FM, we republished an episode on writing (much better) blog comments. Blog comments can be a surprisingly great way to forge connections with web publishers … but there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way. Quit writing flat, stale comments and start leaving comments that actually make an impact.

And in an encore episode of The Writer Files, Kelton Reid shared a fascinating conversation with neuroscientist Michael Grybko about the nature of creativity — where it comes from and how to nurture it.

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


quick copy tipBoost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

by Sonia Simone


you can care about quality and produce meaningful work without driving yourself crazyThe Non-Perfectionist’s Guide to Noteworthy Blogging for Your Business

by Stefanie Flaxman


2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The August Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The August Prompts

by Sonia Simone


How to Write (Much Better) Blog CommentsHow to Write (Much Better) Blog Comments

by Sonia Simone


How to Write (Much Better) Blog CommentsHow to Know Exactly What Content You Should Create

by Jerod Morris


The Best of ‘The Writer’s Brain’ Part One: CreativityThe Best of ‘The Writer’s Brain’ Part One: Creativity

by Kelton Reid


How Website Personalization Grows Your Business Faster, with Brennan DunnHow Website Personalization Grows Your Business Faster, with Brennan Dunn

by Brian Clark


The post How to Unlock the Door to Effective Content with Your Creativity appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Advert