Tag Archive | "everything"

The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want

I want to tell you a story about two women. One is my hairdresser and the other is my massage…

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MozCon 2019: Everything You Need to Know About Day Three

Posted by KameronJenkins

If the last day of MozCon felt like it went too fast or if you forgot everything that happened today (we wouldn’t judge — there were so many insights), don’t fret. We captured all of day three’s takeaways so you could relive the magic of day three. 

Don’t forget to check out all the photos with Roger from the photobooth! They’re available here in the MozCon Facebook group. Plus: You asked and we delivered: the 2019 MozCon speaker walk-on playlist is now live and available here for your streaming pleasure. 

Cindy Krum— Fraggles, Mobile-First Indexing, & the SERP of the Future 

If you were hit with an instant wave of nostalgia after hearing Cindy’s walk out music, then you are in good company and you probably were not disappointed in the slightest by Cindy’s talk on Fraggles.

  • “Fraggles” are fragments + handles. A fragment is a piece of info on a page. A handle is something like a bookmark, jump link, or named anchor — they help people navigate through long pages to get what they’re looking for faster.
  • Ranking pages is an inefficient way to answer questions. One page can answer innumerable questions, so Google’s now can pull a single answer from multiple parts of your page, skipping sections they don’t think are as useful for a particular answer.
  • The implications for voice are huge! It means you don’t have to listen to your voice device spout off a page’s worth of text before your question is answered.
  • Google wants to index more than just websites. They want to organize the world’s information, not websites. Fraggles are a demonstration of that.

Luke Carthy — Killer Ecommerce CRO and UX Wins Using A SEO Crawler 

Luke Carthy did warn us in his talk description that we should all flex our notetaking muscles for all the takeaways we would furiously jot down — and he wasn’t wrong.

  • Traffic doesn’t always mean sales and sales don’t always mean traffic!
  • Custom extraction is a great tool for finding missed CRO opportunities. For example, Luke found huge opportunity on Best Buy’s website — thousands of people’s site searches were leading them to an unoptimized “no results found” page.
  • You can also use custom extraction to find what product recommendations you or your customers are using at scale! Did you know that 35% of what customers buy on Amazon and 75 percent of what people watch on Netflix are the results of these recommendations?
  • For example, are you showing near-exact products or are you showing complementary products? (hint: try the latter and you’ll likely increase your sales!)
  • Custom extraction from Screaming Frog allows you to scrape any data from the HTML of the web pages while crawling them.

Andy Crestodina — Content, Rankings, and Lead Generation: A Breakdown of the 1% Content Strategy 

Next up, Andy of Orbit Media took the stage with a comprehensive breakdown of the most effective tactics for turning content into a high-powered content strategy. He also brought the fire with this sound advice that we can apply in both our work life and personal life.

  • Blog visitors often don’t have commercial intent. One of the greatest ways to leverage blog posts for leads is by using the equity we generate from links to our helpful posts and passing that onto our product and service pages.
  • If you want links and shares, invest in original research! Not sure what to research? Look for unanswered questions or unproven statements in your industry and provide the data.
  • Original research may take longer than a standard post, but it’s much more effective! When you think about it this way, do you really have time to put out more, mediocre posts?
  • Give what you want to get. Want links? Link to people. Want comments? Comment on others people’s work.
  • To optimize content for social engagement, it should feature real people, their faces, and their quotes.
  • Collaborating with other content creators on your content not only gives it built-in amplification, but it also leads to great connections and is just generally more fun.

Rob Ousbey — Running Your Own SEO Tests: Why It Matters & How to Do It Right 

Google’s algorithms have changed a heck of a lot in recent years — what’s an SEO to do? Follow Rob’s advice — both fashion and SEO — who says that the answer lies in testing.

  • “This is the way we’ve always done it” isn’t sufficient justification for SEO tactics in today’s search landscape.
  • In the earlier days of the algorithm, it was much easier to demote spam than it was to promote what’s truly good.
  • Rob and his team had a theory that Google was beginning to rely more heavily on user experience and satisfaction than some of the more traditional ranking factors like links.
  • Through SEO A/B testing, they found that:
    • Google relies less heavily on link signals when it comes to the top half of the results on page 1.
    • Google relies more heavily on user experience for head terms (terms with high search volume), likely because they have more user data to draw from.
  • In the process of A/B testing, they also found that the same test often produces different results on different sites. The best way to succeed in today’s SEO landscape is to cultivate a culture of testing!

Greg Gifford — Dark Helmet’s Guide to Local Domination with Google Posts and Q&A 

If you’re a movie buff, you probably really appreciated Greg’s talk — he schooled us all in move references and brought the fire with his insights on Google Posts and Q&A  

The man behind #shoesofmozcon taught us that Google is the new home page for local businesses, so we should be leveraging the tools Google has given us to make our Google My Business profiles great. For example…

Google Posts

  • Images should be 1200×900 on google posts
  • Images are cropped slightly higher than the center and it’s not consistent every time
  • The image size of the thumbnail is different on desktop than it is on mobile
  • Use Greg’s free tool at bit.ly/posts-image-guide to make sizing your Google Post images easier
  • You can also upload videos. The file size limit is 100mb and/or 30 seconds
  • Add a call-to-action button to make your Posts worth it! Just know that the button often means you get less real estate for text in your Posts
  • Don’t share social fluff. Attract with an offer that makes you stand out
  • Make sure you use UTM tracking so you can understand how your Posts are performing in Google Analytics. Otherwise, it’ll be attributed as direct traffic.

Google Q&A

  • Anyone can ask and answer questions — why not the business owner! Control the conversation and treat this feature like it’s your new FAQ page.
  • This feature works on an upvote system. The answer with the most upvotes will show first.
  • Don’t include a URL or phone number in these because it’ll get filtered out.
  • A lot of these questions are potential customers! Out of 640 car dealerships’ Q&As Greg evaluated, 40 percent were leads! Of that 40 percent, only 2 questions were answered by the dealership.

 Emily Triplett Lentz — How to Audit for Inclusive Content 

Emily of Help Scout walked dropped major knowledge on the importance of spotting and eliminating biases that frequently find their way into online copy. She also hung out backstage after her talk to cheer on her fellow speakers. #GOAT. #notallheroeswearcapes.

  • As content creators, we’d all do well to keep ableism in mind: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. However, we’re often guilty of this without even knowing it.
  • One example of ableism that often makes its way into our copy is comparing dire or subideal situations with the physical state of another human (ex: “crippling”).
  • While we should work on making our casual conversation more inclusive too, this is particularly important for brands.
  • Create a list of ableist words, crawl your site for them, and then replace them. However, you’ll likely find that there is no one-size-fits-all replacement for these words. We often use words like “crazy” as filler words. By removing or replacing with a more appropriate word, we make our content better and more descriptive in the process.
  • At the end of the day, brands should remember that their desire for freedom of word choice isn’t more important than people’s right not to feel excluded and hurt. When there’s really no downside to more inclusive content, why wouldn’t we do it?

Visit http://content.helpscout.net/mozcon-2019 to learn how to audit your site for inclusive content!

Joelle Irvine — Image & Visual Search Optimization Opportunities 

Curious about image optimization and visual search? Joelle has the goods for you — and was blowing people’s minds with her tips for visual optimization and how to leverage Google Lens, Pinterest, and AR for visual search.

  • Visual search is not the same thing as searching for images. We’re talking about the process of using an image to search for other content.
  • Visual search like Google Lens makes it easier to search when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
  • Pinterest has made a lot of progress in this area. They have a hybrid search that allows you to find complimentary items to the one you searched. It’s like finding a rug that matches a chair you like rather than finding more of the same type of chair.
  • 62 percent of millennials surveyed said they would like to be able to search by visual, so while this is mostly being used by clothing retailers and home decor right now, visual search is only going to get better, so think about the ways you can leverage it for your brand!

Joy Hawkins — Factors that Affect the Local Algorithm that Don’t Impact Organic 

Proximity varies greatly when comparing local and organic results — just ask Joy of Sterling Sky, who gets real about fake listings while walking through the findings of a recent study.

Here are the seven areas in which the local algorithm diverges from the organic algorithm:

  • Proximity (AKA: how close is the biz to the searcher?)
    • Proximity is the #1 local ranking factor, but the #27 ranking factor on organic.
    • Studies show that having a business that’s close in proximity to the searcher is more beneficial for ranking in the local pack than in traditional organic results.
  • Rank tracking
    • Because there is so much variance by latitude/longitude, as well as hourly variances, Joy recommends not sending your local business clients ranking reports.
    • Use rank tracking internally, but send clients the leads/sales. This causes less confusion and gets them focused on the main goal.
    • Visit bit.ly/mozcon3 for insights on how to track leads from GMB
  • GMB landing pages (AKA: the website URL you link to from your GMB account)
    • Joy tested linking to the home page (which had more authority/prominence) vs. linking to the local landing page (which had more relevance) and found that traffic went way up when linking to the home page.
    • Before you go switching all your GMB links though, test this for yourself!
  • Reviews
    • Joy wanted to know how much reviews actually impacted ranking, and what it was exactly about reviews that would help or hurt.
    • She decided to see what would happen to rankings when reviews were removed. This happened to a business who was review gating (a violation of Google’s guidelines) but Joy found that reviews flagged for violations aren’t actually removed, they’re hidden, explaining why “removed” reviews don’t negatively impact local rankings.
  • Possum filter
    • Organic results can get filtered because of duplicate content, whereas local results can get filtered because they’re too close to another business in the same category. This is called the Possum filter.
  • Keywords in a business name
    • This is against Google’s guidelines but it works sadly
    • For example, Joy tested adding the word “salad bar” to a listing that didn’t even have a salad bar and their local rankings for that keyword shot up.
    • Although it works, don’t do it! Google can remove your listing for this type of violation, and they’ve been removing more listings for this reason lately.
  • Fake listings
    • New listings can rank even if they have no website, authority, citations, etc. simply because they keyword stuffed their business name. These types of rankings can happen overnight, whereas it can take a year or more to achieve certain organic rankings.
    • Spend time reporting spam listings in your clients’ niches because it can improve your clients’ local rankings.

Britney Muller — Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target 

Closing out day three of MozCon was our very own Britney, Sr. SEO scientist extraordinaire, on everyone’s favorite SEO topic: Featured snippets!

We’re seeing more featured snippets than ever before, and they’re not likely going away. It’s time to start capitalizing on this SERP feature so we can start earning brand awareness and traffic for our clients!

Here’s how:

  • Know what keywords trigger featured snippets that you rank on page 1 for
  • Know the searcher’s intent
  • Provide succinct answers
  • Add summaries to popular posts
  • Identify commonly asked questions
  • Leverage Google’s NLP API
  • Monitor featured snippets
  • If all else fails, leverage ranking third party sites. Maybe your own site has low authority and isn’t ranking well, but try publishing on Linkedin or Medium instead to get the snippet!

There’s lots of debate over whether featured snippets send you more traffic or take it away due to zero-click results, but consider the benefits featured snippets can bring even without the click. Whether featured snippets bring you traffic, increased brand visibility in the SERPs, or both, they’re an opportunity worth chasing.

Aaaand, that’s a wrap!

Thanks for joining us at this year’s MozCon! And a HUGE thank you to everyone (Mozzers, partners, and crew) who helped make this year’s MozCon possible — we couldn’t have done it without all of you. 

What was your favorite moment of the entire conference? Tell us below in the comments! And don’t forget to grab the speaker slides here

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The Biggest Mistake Digital Marketers Ever Made: Claiming to Measure Everything

Posted by willcritchlow

Digital marketing is measurable.

It’s probably the single most common claim everyone hears about digital, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen conference speakers talk about it (heck, I’ve even done it myself).

I mean, look at those offline dinosaurs, the argument goes. They all know that half their spend is wasted — they just don’t know which half.

Maybe the joke’s on us digital marketers though, who garnered only 41% of global ad spend even in 2017 after years of strong growth.

Unfortunately, while we were geeking out about attribution models and cross-device tracking, we were accidentally triggering a common human cognitive bias that kept us anchored on small amounts, leaving buckets of money on the table and fundamentally reducing our impact and access to the C-suite.

And what’s worse is that we have convinced ourselves that it’s a critical part of what makes digital marketing great. The simplest way to see this is to realize that, for most of us, I very much doubt that if you removed all our measurement ability we’d reduce our digital marketing investment to nothing.

In truth, of course, we’re nowhere close to measuring all the benefits of most of the things we do. We certainly track the last clicks, and we’re not bad at tracking any clicks on the path to conversion on the same device, but we generally suck at capturing:

  • Anything that happens on a different device
  • Brand awareness impacts that lead to much later improvements in conversion rate, average order value, or lifetime value
  • Benefits of visibility or impressions that aren’t clicked
  • Brand affinity generally

The cognitive bias that leads us astray

All of this means that the returns we report on tend to be just the most direct returns. This should be fine — it’s just a floor on the true value (“this activity has generated at least this much value for the brand”) — but the “anchoring” cognitive bias means that it messes with our minds and our clients’ minds. Anchoring is the process whereby we fixate on the first number we hear and subsequently estimate unknowns closer to the anchoring number than we should. Famous experiments have shown that even showing people a totally random number can drag their subsequent estimates up or down.

So even if the true value of our activity was 10x the measured value, we’d be stuck on estimating the true value as very close to the single concrete, exact number we heard along the way.

This tends to result in the measured value being seen as a ceiling on the true value. Other biases like the availability heuristic (which results in us overstating the likelihood of things that are easy to remember) tend to mean that we tend to want to factor in obvious ways that the direct value measurement could be overstating things, and leave to one side all the unmeasured extra value.

The mistake became a really big one because fortunately/unfortunately, the measured return in digital has often been enough to justify at least a reasonable level of the activity. If it hadn’t been (think the vanishingly small number of people who see a billboard and immediately buy a car within the next week when they weren’t otherwise going to do so) we’d have been forced to talk more about the other benefits. But we weren’t. So we lazily talked about the measured value, and about the measurability as a benefit and a differentiator.

The threats of relying on exact measurement

Not only do we leave a whole load of credit (read: cash) on the table, but it also leads to threats to measurability being seen as existential threats to digital marketing activity as a whole. We know that there are growing threats to measuring accurately, including regulatory, technological, and user-behavior shifts:

Now, imagine that the combination of these trends meant that you lost 100% of your analytics and data. Would it mean that your leads stopped? Would you immediately turn your website off? Stop marketing?

I suggest that the answer to all of that is “no.” There’s a ton of value to digital marketing beyond the ability to track specific interactions.

We’re obviously not going to see our measurable insights disappear to zero, but for all the reasons I outlined above, it’s worth thinking about all the ways that our activities add value, how that value manifests, and some ways of proving it exists even if you can’t measure it.

How should we talk about value?

There are two pieces to the brand value puzzle:

  1. Figuring out the value of increasing brand awareness or affinity
  2. Understanding how our digital activities are changing said awareness or affinity

There’s obviously a lot of research into brand valuations generally, and while it’s outside the scope of this piece to think about total brand value, it’s worth noting that some methodologies place as much as 75% of the enterprise value of even some large companies in the value of their brands:

Image source

My colleague Tom Capper has written about a variety of ways to measure changes in brand awareness, which attacks a good chunk of the second challenge. But challenge #1 remains: how do we figure out what it’s worth to carry out some marketing activity that changes brand awareness or affinity?

In a recent post, I discussed different ways of building marketing models and one of the methodologies I described might be useful for this – namely so-called “top-down” modelling which I defined as being about percentages and trends (as opposed to raw numbers and units of production).

The top-down approach

I’ve come up with two possible ways of modelling brand value in a transactional sense:

1. The Sherlock approach

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
-
Sherlock Holmes

The outline would be to take the total new revenue acquired in a period. Subtract from this any elements that can be attributed to specific acquisition channels; whatever remains must be brand. If this is in any way stable or predictable over multiple periods, you can use it as a baseline value from which to apply the methodologies outlined above for measuring changes in brand awareness and affinity.

2. Aggressive attribution

If you run normal first-touch attribution reports, the limitations of measurement (clearing cookies, multiple devices etc) mean that you will show first-touch revenue that seems somewhat implausible (e.g. email; email surely can’t be a first-touch source — how did they get on your email list in the first place?):

Click for a larger version

In this screenshot we see that although first-touch dramatically reduces the influence of direct, for instance, it still accounts for more than 15% of new revenue.

The aggressive attribution model takes total revenue and splits it between the acquisition channels (unbranded search, paid social, referral). A first pass on this would simply split it in the relative proportion to the size of each of those channels, effectively normalizing them, though you could build more sophisticated models.

Note that there is no way of perfectly identifying branded/unbranded organic search since (not provided) and so you’ll have to use a proxy like homepage search vs. non-homepage search.

But fundamentally, the argument here would be that any revenue coming from a “first touch” of:

  • Branded search
  • Direct
  • Organic social
  • Email

…was actually acquired previously via one of the acquisition channels and so we attempt to attribute it to those channels.

Even this under-represents brand value

Both of those methodologies are pretty aggressive — but they might still under-represent brand value. Here are two additional mechanics where brand drives organic search volume in ways I haven’t figured out how to measure yet:

Trusting Amazon to rank

I like reading on the Kindle. If I hear of a book I’d like to read, I’ll often Google the name of the book on its own and trust that Amazon will rank first or second so I can get to the Kindle page to buy it. This is effectively a branded search for Amazon (and if it doesn’t rank, I’ll likely follow up with a [book name amazon] search or head on over to Amazon to search there directly).

But because all I’ve appeared to do is search [book name] on Google and then click through to Amazon, there is nothing to differentiate this from an unbranded search.

Spotting brands you trust in the SERPs

I imagine we all have anecdotal experience of doing this: you do a search and you spot a website you know and trust (or where you have an account) ranking somewhere other than #1 and click on it regardless of position.

One time that I can specifically recall noticing this tendency growing in myself was when I started doing tons more baby-related searches after my first child was born. Up until that point, I had effectively zero brand affinity with anyone in the space, but I quickly grew to rate the content put out by babycentre (babycenter in the US) and I found myself often clicking on their result in position 3 or 4 even when I hadn’t set out to look for them, e.g. in results like this one:

It was fascinating to me to observe this behavior in myself because I had no real interaction with babycentre outside of search, and yet, by consistently ranking well across tons of long-tail queries and providing consistently good content and user experience I came to know and trust them and click on them even when they were outranked. I find this to be a great example because it is entirely self-contained within organic search. They built a brand effect through organic search and reaped the reward in increased organic search.

I have essentially no ideas on how to measure either of these effects. If you have any bright ideas, do let me know in the comments.

Budgets will come under pressure

My belief is that total digital budgets will continue to grow (especially as TV continues to fragment), but I also believe that individual budgets are going to come under scrutiny and pressure making this kind of thinking increasingly important.

We know that there is going to be pressure on referral traffic from Facebook following the recent news feed announcements, but there is also pressure on trust in Google:

While I believe that the opportunity is large and still growing (see, for example, this slide showing Google growing as a referrer of traffic even as CTR has declined in some areas), it’s clear that the narrative is going to lead to more challenging conversations and budgets under increased scrutiny.

Can you justify your SEO investment?

What do you say when your CMO asks what you’re getting for your SEO investment?

What do you say when she asks whether the organic search opportunity is tapped out?

I’ll probably explore the answers to both these questions more in another post, but suffice it to say that I do a lot of thinking about these kinds of questions.

The first is why we have built our split-testing platform to make organic SEO investments measurable, quantifiable and accountable.

The second is why I think it’s super important to remember the big picture while the media is running around with their hair on fire. Media companies saw Facebook overtake Google as a traffic channel (and then are likely seeing that reverse right now), but most of the web has Google as the largest growing source of traffic and value.

The reality (from clickstream data) is that it’s really easy to forget how long the long-tail is and how sparse search features and ads are on the extreme long-tail:

  1. Only 3–4% of all searches result in a click on an ad, for example. Google’s incredible (and still growing) business is based on a small subset of commercial searches
  2. Google’s share of all outbound referral traffic across the web is growing (and Facebook’s is shrinking as they increasingly wall off their garden)

The opportunity is for smart brands to capitalize on a growing opportunity while their competitors sink time and money into a social space that is increasingly all about Facebook, and increasingly pay-to-play.

What do you think? Are you having these hard conversations with leadership? How are you measuring your digital brand’s value?

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Everything is Marketing: Why all CEOs should have marketing backgrounds

A CEO with a background in creating a value proposition for customers — and delivering on it with everything the company does — could be the key many companies need to maximize shareholder value. Here’s why …
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Rainmaker Rewind: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Rainmaker FM rewind

This week on Rainmaker Rewind, Sean Jackson, Jabez LeBret, and Mica Gadhia have a conversation about the recent acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft for $ 26.2 billion.

In this up-to-the-minute episode, you’ll hear The Missing Link team share their thoughts about this announcement and what it means for you.

And as always, don’t miss out on other great episodes that were featured on Rainmaker FM.

  1. The Missing Link. The Missing Link team explores Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn and how it affects each of us: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know …
  2. The Digital Entrepreneur. Pamela Wilson joins Jerod Morris to discuss what she’s learned through her extensive experience creating and running successful membership communities: Practical Advice on Turning the Challenges of Building Membership Communities Into Opportunities
  3. Confessions of a Pink-haired Marketer. Sonia Simone answers the age-old question: Is it okay to swear in our content marketing? Should You Swear on Your Blog?
  4. Hack the Entrepreneur Jon Nastor interviews leader, speaker, “Marxist-capitalist,” and smart entrepreneur Simon Biltcliffe: Money is the Outcome of Success (Not the Cause)
  5. The Showrunner. Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor discuss a few simple ways to capture inspiration before it escapes: How to Never (Ever) Forget an Important Idea Again
  6. The Writer Files. Kelton Reid rounds out the second part of last week’s interview with Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: How Bestselling Debut Novelist Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney Writes: Part Two
  7. Youpreneur. Tune in to this episode to hear Chris Ducker’s batching strategy and his tips on how to be more productive: How ‘Batching’ Your Tasks Can Put Your Productivity on Steroids
  8. Copyblogger FM. Sonia Simone explains the importance of treating your freelance gig as a business … if you really want to make a good living: How to Make a (Really Good) Living as a Freelance Writer
  9. Hack the Entrepreneur. Jon Nastor interviews SEO specialist, marketing consultant, connector, and digital entrepreneur Brandon Lewin: Why You Need to Do Work That Matters
  10. Unemployable. In case you missed it, Brian Clark finished out Season One with a fascinating interview with Henry Rollins: Henry Rollins on Entrepreneurial Art

And, one more thing …

If you want to get Rainmaker Rewind sent straight to your favorite podcast player, subscribe right here on Rainmaker FM.

The post Rainmaker Rewind: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Everything You Need to Know About Using Yoast SEO for WordPress

Posted by Angela_Petteys

[Estimated read time: 23 minutes]

Setting up and using Yoast SEO

When you’re working with a self-hosted WordPress site, the Yoast SEO plugin is one of the most valuable tools you can have. Yoast SEO is one of the most widely popular WordPress plugins around and it’s easy to understand why. Whether you’re running a personal blog or you’re a SEO professional managing a website for a client, Yoast is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible.

Yoast SEO can be installed on any self-hosted WordPress site. (Sorry, free WordPress.com bloggers.) It’s easily the most comprehensive SEO-related WordPress plugin you could ask for and best of all, it’s free! You do have the option to buy premium Yoast SEO extensions for some extra functionality, but its most important functions are part of the free plugin. Yoast makes it easy for you to do things like control titles and meta descriptions, set your targeted keywords and track how often you’re using them, manage sitemaps, and so much more.

Downloading and installing Yoast SEO

If you don’t already have the Yoast SEO plugin installed on your site, let’s take care of that. If Yoast SEO is already installed and set up and you just want to learn more about how to use it, feel free to scroll on down to the “Using Yoast SEO” section.

From your site’s admin dashboard, look along the left-hand side of the screen for the “Plugins” option. When you hover over it, you’ll see the “Add New” option.

Adding a new plugin via the WordPress dashboard

Click on “Add New” and you’ll be brought to a page with a selection of featured, popular, recommended, and favorite plugins. If you don’t see Yoast SEO listed under any of these sections, there’s a search box you can use to find it.

Where to find the search box in WordPress plugins

Once you find the Yoast SEO plugin, click “Install Now” and WordPress will download it, install it, and ask you to activate the plugin. Activate the plugin and if it’s been successfully installed and activated, you’ll see an option marked “SEO” on the left-hand sidebar menu of your admin dashboard and along the horizontal menu bar on the top of the screen.

Where you'll see the SEO plugin installed on your WordPress dashboard

Downloading and installing Yoast SEO was easy, but now that you’ve done that, you need to set up the plugin. If you’ve never used Yoast SEO before, this might seem a little overwhelming, but I promise it’s nothing you can’t handle. I can’t promise this process will be a non-stop, action-packed thrill ride, but it’s completely worth the time it takes to set it up properly. Since the ideal Yoast settings will vary from site to site, I’m not going to tell you any hard and fast settings to choose, but I will walk you through what each of the settings are.

Importing settings from other SEO plugins

Just a quick question before we go any further: do you have another SEO plugin you’ve been using? If so, you could save yourself some time by importing your settings from the other plugin. From the “SEO” option on the left-hand menu, click on “Tools,” then “Import and Export.” Select the “Import from other SEO plugins” tab.

Importing settings from other SEO plugins

Here, you can import settings from HeadSpace2, All-in-One SEO, and WooThemes SEO Framework. All you have to do is check the appropriate box and hit “Import.” If you’ve used older Yoast plugins like Robots Meta, RSS Footer, or Yoast Breadcrumbs, you can import settings from those under the “Import from other plugins” tab. If you’re not using any of those SEO plugins, you might want to check out the “SEO Data Transporter” plugin Yoast recommends.

Using the import tab to import settings from other SEO plugins

If you already have settings you’ve exported from another plugin and you want to import them, all you have to do is go to the “Import” tab, select the file you want, and hit “Import settings.”

Setting up Yoast SEO

If you don’t have any settings to import, let’s start from square one. Even if you imported your settings from another plugin, there’s no harm in checking all these settings just to make sure everything is correct.

To get started, go to your site’s admin dashboard, find the “SEO” option on the left-hand side menu (or the top menu, whichever you prefer) and click on “General.” This will bring you to a page where you’ll have the chance to set up some basic global SEO options for your site.

General settings

The "general" tab in Yoast settings

General

If you ever want to revert Yoast SEO to its default settings, the “General” tab is where you can do that. Unless you want to take the introductory tour, head on over to “Your Info.”

Your Info

The "Your Info" tab in Yoast settings

Here, you’ll be able to tell Yoast what your site’s name is or if you have an alternate name you’d like to use. You can also tell it whether or not you are a company or a person, which will make it easier for Google to incorporate your site in Knowledge Graph results. If you’re setting up Yoast SEO for a company’s website, you’ll have a chance to add things like a company logo, which could also be included in Knowledge Graph results.

Webmaster Tools

Where you can verify your site's webmaster tools in Yoast settings

Now, let’s head on over to the “Webmaster Tools” tab. If you plan to use tools like Google Search Console, Alexa, Bing Webmaster Tools, or Yandex Webmaster Tools, you can verify your site through here if your site isn’t already verified.

The basic process to do this is pretty similar no matter which of the tools you’re using, but I’ll use Google Search Console as an example:

  1. Open your Search Console dashboard and select “Manage Property,” then “Verify this site” from the box next to the site you’re adding Yoast to. If you haven’t already added your site to Search Console, you’ll need to do that first. (Check out my guide on the basics of Google Search Console if you need help with that.)
  2. Choose the “HTML Tag” verification option. Instead of pasting the code it gives you into the <Head> section of your site’s code, take that code and paste it into the Google Search Console box you see here and delete everything except what’s inside the quotation marks, including the quotation marks themselves.
  3. Hit “Save Changes,” then go back to your Google Search Console dashboard and hit “Verify.” You’re all set!

Security

The "security" tab in General Yoast settings

Lastly, there’s the “Security” tab. If you’re working with a single-author site, you don’t really have anything to worry about here and you can leave this box unchecked. But if you’re working with a site where multiple authors can access the site and add content, this section can be helpful. When this box is left unchecked, it will allow a section with advanced options like redirects and noindex settings to be visible in the Yoast toolbox that appears on each page’s page editor. Although you might be fine with your site’s contributors being able to add content on their own, you might not necessarily want them to change those sorts of settings. All you have to do is check this box and you won’t have to worry about it.

Titles & Metas

Next, let’s move on to the “Titles & Metas” section, which can be found under the “SEO” option on the left-hand side menu. This section is hugely important for SEO purposes since it’s where you get to have some say in how your site appears in SERPs. When you click on this, the first thing you’ll see is the “General” tab.

The "general" tab in the Titles & Metas section of Yoast settings

General

Here, you’ll have the chance to change how your titles display, like “Your Site Name | Contact Us” or “Your Site Name – Contact Us.” Whichever title separator you choose to go with will be used on all pages of your site. As for the “Force rewrite titles” option, this corrects a problem some sites have where the site name appears twice within the title. Some sites use WordPress themes that have built-in SEO title displays, which can override the settings you choose in Yoast. If you’re having this problem, checking this box can help solve it. If you check this box and you’re still having the duplicate title problem, contact your web developer because there is a way to fix that by editing your site’s code.

Homepage

The "homepage" tab in Titles & Metas

What you see under the “Homepage” tab will depend on how your site is set up. In this case, the site I’m working with is set to use one page for a homepage and a different page for the blog. If this is how your site is set up and you wanted to make changes to the titles and meta descriptions for either of those pages, all you’d have to do is click on the “editing the front page/blog itself” links seen here and make your changes. If you’re working with a site where the homepage just displays the latest posts, your “Homepage” tab will look differently from what you see here.

Post Types

The "post types" tab in Titles and Metas

Titles and meta descriptions

Next up is the “Post Types” section. Here, you can set up basic templates for the titles and meta descriptions for the main types of pages of your site. Blog posts could follow one format, while other pages on your site follow another. If you don’t specifically write an SEO-optimized title or meta description for each of your pages, your titles and meta descriptions will follow the basic template you establish here. You can fill these out using variables and the information you specify will automatically be inserted into your titles and meta descriptions. If you leave the meta description box blank, search engines will pull an excerpt of content from the page.

Meta Robots

With the “noindex, follow” option, check the box if there’s something you don’t want to be indexed by search engines. In most cases, you’ll probably want to leave this box unchecked. But if you have pages you want to keep out of search engines or pages that could lead to duplicate content penalties, such as archives of content, go ahead and check the box.

Date in Snippet Preview

As for the “Date in Snippet Preview” option, whether you should check this box or not all comes down to what kind of content you have on that type of page. If you’re making frequent blog updates or are posting content about lots newsworthy stories, you might want to enable this. But if you’re dealing with evergreen content that will be relevant for years to come, you might prefer to disable this so people won’t see your page in SERPs, notice the date, and assume your site is out of date.

Yoast SEO Meta Box

Then there’s the option to hide the Yoast SEO Meta Box. If you’re dealing with a site that has multiple contributors, you might want to use this option to prevent your contributors from being able to change those. If you check this box and later decide you want this option back, no big deal; you can always come back later and change this setting.

Taxonomies

The "Taxonomies" tab in the Titles & Metas section

Next is the “Taxonomies” tab. If your site is something like a blog that uses several different categories and tags to organize posts, you can use this section to set up title and meta description templates for those pages using variables just like you did in the “Post Types” tab. If you tend to use the exact same terms for tags and categories, that’s fine, but you might want to check the “noindex, follow” option to avoid being penalized for duplicate content.

Archives

The "archives" tab of the Titles and Metas section

When you run a blog, having pages of archived content based on date and/or author is a great way to make it easy for your readers to find past content. However, archive pages aren’t always so convenient for search engines, which might consider them duplicate content. The “Archive” tab lets you prevent that by telling them whether or not you want your archive pages indexed or not, or you can disable archive pages all together if you prefer.

You’ll also be able to set up titles to appear on special pages like 404 pages. So if you’ve got something special you’d like these to be, go ahead and enter them in the “Special Pages” section. You can even use some of those variables you used in the past couple of tabs if you want.

Other

The "other" tab of the Titles and Metas section

Finally, we come to the “Other” section, where you can set a couple more things. Fortunately, Yoast does a nice job of explaining what each of these settings are, so this is a pretty straightforward section.

Congratulations — you’ve made it through the most time-consuming part of the settings! There are still more settings to take care of, but the good news is the rest of the settings from here on out are pretty simple. Let’s get to work on the “Social” section, found under the “SEO” option of the left-hand toolbar.

Social

The "Accounts" tab of the Social section

The “Accounts” tab of the “Social” section is pretty self-explanatory. All you have to do is add the URLs to each of your social media profiles. Just remember that for the Twitter section, you only have to enter your username, not the URL for your profile. Filling this section out notifies search engines that they are associated with your site.

The "Facebook" tab of the Social section

As you go through the tabs for individual social media platforms, you’ll be able to control how content shared from your site will appear on each platform. Under the “Facebook” tab, there’s the option to add Open Graph meta data to your site’s <Head> section, which will make it easier for Facebook to use an appropriate image, title, and description when something on your site is shared. You can also specify a default image for them to use if someone shares a post or page that doesn’t already have an image on it.

If you have a Facebook fan page for your site, you can specify an admin for your page so you’ll be able to access Facebook Insights for your site. Facebook Insights will give you information about how often things from your site are being shared, being “liked,” and how much traffic your site is getting from Facebook. To access Facebook Insights, click on the “Facebook Insights” link and look in the upper right hand corner for a button marked “Insights for your Website.” This will bring up a box for you to connect your site’s domain to Facebook Insights.

There are similar settings under the “Twitter,” “Pinterest,” and “Google+” tabs. Under the “Twitter” tab, you can set up Twitter card meta data, which is basically the Twitter equivalent of Facebook Open Graph. If your site has a Pinterest account, you’ll need to check the “Add Open Graph meta data” box under the “Facebook” tab first, then enter the verification code provided to you by Pinterest under the “Pinterest” tab.

Now that your social media settings are all set, go back to the “SEO” section of the left-hand side menu and choose “XML Sitemaps.”

XML Sitemaps

The "General" tab of the XML Sitemaps section

One of the best things about Yoast SEO is that it makes managing sitemaps very easy. When you enable XML sitemap functionality, Yoast SEO automatically generates a sitemap, updates it as you add new content, and pings search engines when it’s updated.

As you click through the various tabs in this section, you’ll have the chance to determine whether or not you want things such as specific types of posts or post categories included in your sitemap. Just look through the tabs and if you see something you don’t want in your sitemap, simply check the box next to it and you’re good to go. You can also exclude specific posts from sitemaps by entering the post ID numbers under the “Excluded Posts” tab.

Now, let’s move on to the “Advanced” option, found under the “SEO” section on the left-hand side menu. Don’t let the name mislead you; this section is actually pretty simple.

Advanced

Breadcrumbs

Advanced settings for Yoast SEO

Under “Advanced,” the first tab you’ll see is “Breadcrumbs.” If you enable breadcrumbs on your site, your visitors will see links along the top of the page showing the path that leads to the current page. (Example: Site Name > Blog > Post Title). Breadcrumbs can also be visible in SERPs, like so:

How breadcrumbs may appear in the SERPs

If you want to have breadcrumbs on your site, unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as checking this box. Be sure to check out Yoast’s article on implementing breadcrumbs because you’ll also need to add some code into your theme. If you aren’t able to edit your site’s theme on your own, talk to your web developer about adding this code to your site.

Permalinks

The "Permalinks" tab under Advanced settings for Yoast SEO

Let’s move on to the “Permalinks” tab. Here, you can clean up your URL structure, permalinks, and <Head> section to make them a little more search engine-friendly. Yoast does a good job of explaining what each of these options are, so there’s no need for me to make this guide any longer than it already is.

RSS

The "RSS" tab of the Advanced settings for Yoast SEO

Next is the “RSS” tab. If you’ve been blogging long enough, there’s a good chance that at some point, you’ve found out that a scraper has published some of your content word-for-word on another site without your permission and without attribution. It’s annoying, right? You might not be able to completely prevent your content from being scraped, but you can use this section to add content to your posts when they appear in RSS feeds, giving yourself credit and linking back to your site. That way, if a scraper steals content directly from your site’s RSS feed, you at least get credit and backlinks to your site.

Search Console

Now we’re down to one last big setting to take care of, but this one only applies if you use Google Search Console. From the “SEO” option on the left-hand side menu, click on “Search Console.”

The settings for Search Console in Yoast SEO

Here, you’ll be able to get a verification code so you can connect Yoast to Google Search Console. Doing this will let you see a list of site errors that your site’s visitors have encountered and give you a chance to fix them right from your site’s dashboard. If you need to set a redirect for a broken link, you can do that there, too.

If you want to do this, all you have to do is:

  1. Click on “Get Google Authorization Code.” This will bring up a box asking you to give Yoast SEO access to your Search Console account.
  2. Hit “Accept” to get a code to paste into the “Authenticate” box you see here.
  3. Click on “Authenticate” and choose your site’s profile from the list provided.
  4. Hit “Save Profile.”

That takes care of all the major settings. Finally! Before we move on, there’s one last thing I want to show you. Go back to the “SEO” option on your left-hand side menu and click on “Tools.”

ToolsThe built-in tools for Yoast SEO: Bulk Editor, File Editor, and Import and Export.

The “Bulk Editor” tool is something you hopefully won’t have to use too often, but if you ever need it, you’re going to love having it. If you ever find yourself needing to make changes to several titles and/or descriptions at a time, you can use it to bring up a list of all your posts and pages so that you can simply go through and make all your changes at once, instead of going to each individual page and making your changes there.

There’s also the “File Editor” tool, where you can make changes to your robots.txt file and your .htaccess file. Last, but certainly not least, there’s “Import and Export.” Now that you’ve spent all that time getting all these settings just right, you might want to export your settings so you can have a backup copy. Or if you have other sites to install Yoast SEO on, you can always export your settings and import them to other sites if you like.

Using Yoast SEO

Now that you have Yoast SEO installed and set up, go to the left-hand side menu on your site’s admin dashboard and choose “All Posts” or “All Pages” to see a list of all your pages/posts. You should be seeing a column marked “SEO” on the right hand side of the screen.

Screenshot highlighting the column marked "SEO"

This column shows a dot indicating how Yoast SEO has rated that page. Yoast SEO uses a pretty simple system for rating a page’s SEO friendliness.

  • A gray dot means Yoast SEO doesn’t have any information available for that page,
  • A green dot means the page is good,
  • A red dot means there are some significant problems,
  • And a yellow/orange dot means there’s room for improvement.

If you’re in the process of going through all the pages or posts on your site and optimizing them, this column can be very helpful because you can sort pages/posts based on that column, making it easy to identify which pages need attention.

Click on a page or post to open up your page/post editor and you should see the Yoast SEO toolbox underneath the area where you enter your page’s content. The Yoast SEO toolbox has a few different tabs, the first of which is “General.”

General

The "General" tab in the Yoast SEO Toolbox

The “General” tab is where you can write that page’s title and meta description and specify which keyword you’re targeting. When you set your focus keyword, the plugin will take a look at the page’s content, title, URL, meta description, and heading and let you know how many times your targeted keyword is being used. That way, you’ll know if you’re using your targeted keyword enough or if you might be keyword stuffing.

When setting your focus keyword, remember to go with the main keyword you want to target, because you’re only able to set one focus keyword at a time on Yoast SEO.

The “Snippet Preview” area is an awesome tool. It lets you see what your title and meta description will look like in a SERP so you can make sure nothing important is being cut off.

Page Analysis

The "Page Analysis" tab of the Yoast SEO Toolbox

Once you’ve set your focus keyword in the “General” tab, save or update your draft and click on the “Page Analysis” tab. This will give you some specific feedback on just how search engine friendly your page is or isn’t.

Yoast will give you feedback based on factors like if you’re using your targeted keyword too much or not enough, whether or not you have images or outbound links, how long your content is, if you’ve used a keyword before on another page, and so much more.

A few things to watch out for

Obviously, ideally you want to get as many green dots as possible and fix as many red dots as you can, but having some yellow dots in there isn’t inherently a bad thing. Keep in mind that while Yoast can give some very helpful feedback, you don’t necessarily have to take all of its advice to heart.

For example, in the above screenshot, I have a red dot for not having an image. That post actually does have an image, but it wasn’t inserted in the body of the post with the text; it was added using the “Set Featured Image” section, which Yoast didn’t pick up on.

Yoast might also give you some feedback that would seem unnatural or illogical if you actually implemented those changes. It’s very important to remember that Yoast is taking an extremely objective look at your content and that you’re ultimately writing content to be read by humans, not search engines.

For example, one thing Yoast might tell you is that even though you have your targeted keyword in a title, you might want to consider rewriting the title to put the targeted keyword at the beginning. If there’s a way to do this in a way that seems natural, go for it. But don’t feel obligated to make that change if it would just make your title sound strange. It’s not like Yoast is going to prevent you from publishing a post or a page if you don’t take its advice, so use your best judgement about which recommendations you listen to.

Advanced

The "Advanced" tab in the Yoast SEO Toolbox

If the option for the “Advanced” tab in the Yoast meta box hasn’t been disabled, you should be seeing a tab marked “Advanced.” Here, you can change settings for meta robots and sitemaps or set a 301 redirect URL. If this is a page of content that has been published elsewhere on the Internet, you can establish a canonical URL here, too.

If you’re wondering what the options in the “Meta Robots Advanced” section are, here’s a quick rundown:

  • NO ODP: Stops search engines from using alternative site descriptions from ODP/DMOZ.
  • NO YDIR: Stops search engines from using site descriptions from Yahoo! Directories.
  • No Archive: Stops search engines from having a cached version of your page.
  • No Snippet: Stops search engines from using a snippet of content in SERPs.

Social

The "Social" tab of the Yoast SEO Toolbox

Now that your page looks good to search engines, let’s head over to the “Social” tab and make sure it will also look great when it’s shared on social media. Since social media feeds tend to move very quickly, it’s important to make sure your pages will be eye-catching enough to stand out amongst the crowd when someone shares your content.

If you don’t fill out anything in this section, social media sites will automatically use the page’s title, meta description or a snippet of content from your post, and select an image to use. But if you’ve ever tried sharing content on social media, you know that sometimes they don’t always choose the most ideal image. You can fix that here by uploading the image you want them to use. Ideally, your page’s title and meta description or the snippet of content from your page will be attention-grabbing enough to work well for social media, but you can always rewrite them here if you like.

Publish

When you’re all done optimizing your page, take a look at the box where you can schedule a post, change privacy settings, or simply hit the “Post” button.

The "Publish" box on Yoast SEO

You’ll see another dot here telling you how Yoast SEO has rated that post or page on the whole. If you’ve got a green light, you’re good to go!

For a free plugin, the amount of functionality you get from Yoast SEO is pretty incredible. Now that you’re familiar with the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll have no problem making your site as search engine-friendly as possible. If you’re interested in a little extra functionality, you might want to check out the premium Yoast SEO extensions.

Premium Yoast SEO extensions

A screenshot of the various premium Yoast SEO extensions.

Yoast SEO Premium

If you have to redirect a lot of URLs, the Yoast SEO Premium extension might be worthwhile. It has a great redirect manager that lets you import redirects from your .htaccess file, write redirects to your .htaccess file, and choose the type of redirect you want — plus more tools to help make creating redirects easier. You’ll also get access to 13 different tutorial videos in case you still have some questions about how to use Yoast SEO.

Video SEO

If your site has a lot of video content, the Video SEO plugin can help you provide search engines with the information they need to help index your video content so that you can potentially get a rich snippet SERP result. Rich snippet results are hard to come by and using the Video SEO plugin does not guarantee that your site will get rich snippet results, but if Google decides your content is worthy of them, this plugin can help you get one.

SEO News

Is your site focused on news content? If so, the SEO News extension will help you optimize your site in a way to help you get featured in Google News results. It doesn’t directly submit your site to Google News, but it will help you optimize your site in a way that will help you get there. It gives you the option for creating a “Standout Tag,” creating XML News sitemaps, and more.

Local SEO

Lastly, there’s the Local SEO extension. If it’s important for you to be featured in geographically specific search results, this is the extension for you. The Local SEO extension helps you give search engines important information about your business — such as your address, phone number, and hours of operation — so the search engine can give more accurate and detailed information to searchers.

Any questions or thoughts about setting up and using the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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Everything You Need to Know About Solar Energy




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The sun beams down enough energy every hour to satisfy the whole planet’s global energy needs for an entire year.

Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it productive. However, we are only utilizing solar energy to provide only one tenth of one percent of all the global energy demand.

Most people are familiar with solar panels, or photo voltaic cells, used on things like spacecraft, rooftops and handheld devices like calculators. The cells are made up of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips.

When the sunlight shines on the cells, electrons are knocked loose from their atoms. The electrons then generate energy, as they flow through the cells.

On a much larger scale, solar thermal power plants use various techniques to concentrate the sun’s energy as a heat source. The heat is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine which generates electricity in much the same way as coal and nuclear power plants, supplying electricity to thousands of people.

One technique uses long troughs of U-shaped mirrors that focus sunlight on a pipe of oil that runs through the middle. The hot oil then boils water to provide electricity generation.

Another technique uses movable mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a collector tower where a receiver sits. Molten salt, flowing through the receiver, is heated to run a generator.

Solar energy is an inexhaustible source of fuel that is pollution and often noise free. The technology is also very versatile. For example, solar cells are capable of generating energy for out of the way places like satellites in the Earth’s orbit and homes in the middle of nowhere, as easily as they can power buildings in large cities and futuristic vehicles.

However, there are drawbacks to solar energy, it doesn’t work at night without a storage device like a battery. Cloudy weather can also make the technology unreliable during the day. Solar technology is also expensive and requires a lot of space to collect enough of the sun’s energy to be useful to a lot of people.

However, despite these drawbacks, solar energy use has surged roughly 20 percent, year over year, for the past 15 years This is due to the rapidly falling prices of the technology and the gains in efficiency.

Japan, Germany and the United States are currently major markets for solar cells. With tax incentives, solar electricity can often pay for itself in five to ten years.

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How the Perfect Name Changes Everything

the wow factor behind a great name

Take a look at the image we chose for this post.

Ten years ago, any woman reading this would have looked at the woman’s hair and thought, “Oh, her roots are growing out.” If a woman lightens her hair and then doesn’t repeat the procedure, her natural hair color starts growing in, and you see the effect above — the hair is lighter at the bottom, darker at the top.

Over the years, hair salons have earned millions of dollars helping women to keep this from happening to their hair. Until a few years ago, that is.

Now, that hairstyle has a name — it’s the “ombré effect.” According to Wikipedia, ombré “… describes the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark.”

That’s the transformative effect of a perfect name.

The right name can legitimize a style, an approach, or a movement. It can make something that was unacceptable suddenly acceptable — even desirable!

How can you find the perfect name for your next product, project, event, or service? That’s what we’ll cover in today’s post.

The right name makes everything OK

Ten years ago, it was rather embarrassing to admit that you planned to use your vacation time to stay at home. What a lack of initiative, right?

Enter the “staycation.” A staycation is when you take time off from work, but rather than travel somewhere or plan an adventure, you don’t go anywhere at all. You stay at home.

As soon as taking time off work and spending that time at home had a name — staycation — it wasn’t embarrassing anymore. You could confidently proclaim that you planned to spend your vacation days on a staycation, and everyone understood, nodded in agreement, and thought about planning one of their own.

Can a superb name create fun where fun isn’t supposed to exist?

One thing I’ve had to adapt to since I joined the Rainmaker Digital team last year is weekly meetings with different team members so we can make decisions together and keep projects moving forward.

And meetings aren’t inherently fun, are they? Although I have to say, we manage to make them pretty fun around here. :-) We share information and make decisions, and our conversations are spiked with laughter and good-natured ribbing.

One of my weekly meetings is with Chief Content Writer Demian Farnworth and Editor-in-Chief Stefanie Flaxman. In this meeting, we set the upcoming editorial direction of the Copyblogger blog.

We finalize details about the posts we’re going to run in the week ahead and take a look at what we want to accomplish in the month as a whole. We discuss the images we need to create and any bonus content we can develop.

Fascinating stuff. But a meeting is a meeting, right?

Except early on, Stefanie made the brilliant move of naming our weekly meeting. It’s now called “The Thursday Dream Team Meeting.”

That name reflects the epic nature of what we do each week and inspires us to rise to the occasion each time we get together.

The right name can legitimize a movement

The concept of crowdfunding has been around for a long time.

Think about the local playground that was upgraded when everyone in the community chipped in a little to make it happen. Or The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which has raised more than $ 700 million in funds to repair, restore, and maintain these two important pieces of American history.

Around 2006, we began to call this kind of social fundraising “crowdfunding.” It happened at about the time this started to become a common practice online.

Sites cropped up that allowed aspiring product developers to post their ideas and get funding so they could manufacture them. Other sites allowed people to post descriptions of important causes and ask for donations.

Crowdfunding became a thing you could easily do online. And that concise word described a complex social interaction in a way that made it easy to share the concept. It legitimized something that might have otherwise been seen as risky.

Names can describe a market you may not have realized existed

Doing business online has been called a lot of things over the years:

  • Electronic commerce, or e-commerce
  • Online marketing
  • Internet marketing

Lately, we’re using the term digital commerce to refer to the subset of e-commerce companies that create digital products and services. These products and services are marketed, delivered, and supported completely online.

(By the way, have you seen our Digital Commerce Academy? It’s designed to help you build a successful digital commerce business. Take a look.)

For everyone who’s been creating ebooks, online education, membership sites, downloadable software, and offering web hosting and software as a service (“SaaS”), digital commerce describes your business.

What kinds of things deserve to have a special name?

As we’ve seen, a thoughtful, well-chosen name can add an air of legitimacy to new ideas. It can lend authority to brand-new concepts. It can rally the troops around a job to be done.

The perfect name can change everything.

Obviously, your business and your website need a solid name. But what else could use a special name?

  • New products: the right name will help prospects grasp the benefit they’ll experience from using your product.
  • Ongoing projects: even if it’s just used as an internal reference point, a solid name can help keep everyone focused on the ultimate project goal.
  • Upcoming events: the perfect event name creates excitement and shares why potential attendees should aspire to attend.
  • Work teams: help members of a team stay on track when the team name reflects what the team is contributing.
  • New services: the right name uses aspirational language to explain the service and how it will help those who use it (more on this below).

How to create a memorable name for your new “thing”

Be specific, but not too specific: Your name can be a double-edged sword if you’re not careful. On the one hand, it might perfectly describe the market you want to reach and how you serve those people.

For example, the name “Copyblogger” combines copywriting and blogging. It’s a brand we’re proud of — but on the other hand, it became limiting as a company name.

That’s one of the reasons our company rebranded under the Rainmaker Digital banner.

Ideally, you’ll find a name that appeals to the market you want to reach, but uses words that can be interpreted in multiple ways. You want to aim for a remarkable name that’s also flexible enough to grow with your business.

Use aspirational words: As Darren Rowse mentions in his excellent post, The 3 Ingredients in Our Best Selling eBook Titles, including aspirational words that evoke emotion can help position your product, service, or team in a way that makes those on the outside want to join in or buy.

Aspirational words like stunning, ideal, beautiful, perfect, and confident invoke the feeling you hope people experience when they buy your product, join your program, or become part of your team.

Words to avoid when creating your name

Avoid nonsense words: Google, Kleenex, Trello. We know these names now, but each of these brands had to spend time and energy associating these made-up words with their product or service.

Unless you have a lot of time and a big advertising budget, it’s best to avoid made-up words. The English language has plenty of words that can be combined in original ways to come up with new words that have specific meanings baked in.

Avoid proper names: This one might be a bit controversial — and of course there are exceptions to this rule — but if you’re naming a business or website, it’s generally more effective to aim for a name that explains what you offer rather than a proper name.

Take “Pamela Wilson & Associates.” What does that company do? Proper names have the same problem as nonsense words: in and of themselves, they don’t say what the business offers.

You have to spend marketing time and energy establishing the relationship between the proper name and the product or service. And if the person who owns the name decides to exit the business, things can get tricky.

So unless you’re a fine artist, musician, actor, or other creative, stick to a name that describes the benefit that will be experienced by the person who buys, joins, or attends — and avoid proper names.

It’s all in the name

The right name can inspire, motivate, and have a direct effect on your bottom line.

The stakes are high, but it doesn’t have to be daunting.

Follow the guidance here, brainstorm lots of options, recombine them in different ways, and keep at it until you’ve come up with the perfect name for your next big thing.

About the author

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. Follow her on Twitter, and find more from her at BigBrandSystem.com.

The post How the Perfect Name Changes Everything appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Everything You Need To Know About Sponsored Content

Posted by ChadPollitt

Media-Buyers-Guide-Sponsored-Content-1-2

Many of the traditional channels for online content discovery are thoroughly understood and their adoption rates are high. 

The readily accepted channels—from SEO and PPC, to email and social media broadcasting—can deliver the best content to the right people at the right time.

Today, however, the Internet is experiencing a deluge of content, and many channels for content discovery are bloated. Estimates say that 
more than 2.73 million blog posts are written and published daily. Many industries are experiencing a content surplus, making it even more challenging for marketers to get their content seen.

Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are adjusting their algorithms to ensure the least amount of organic visibility for brands, too. Traditional paid media, such as banner advertising, is becoming less effective year-over-year because
banner blindness runs rampant. According to Solve Media, you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.

That sounds farfetched until you look at the results from the Nielsen Norman Groups 2007 eyetracking study (shown below).

reading-patterns-blogs.jpg

Red areas indicate where users looked the most; yellow areas indicate fewer views; areas colored blue depict the least-viewed portions of the page; gray areas didn’t attract any views/actions; and the green boxes are used to highlight advertisements.

As a result, new techniques, tactics and tools are cropping up and being used by marketers of all stripes to maximize the visibility of their content. There’s now an entire
content promotion ecosystem. From influencer marketing to native advertising, brands are experimenting in new ways.

Many brands are sponsoring articles on blogs or other online publications with large preexisting audiences. An interesting stat we just included in our own ”
Content Promotion Manifesto” is that brands spent, on average, 6.7 percent of their content marketing budgets on sponsored content in 2013. It’s trending upwards, too. From the The New York Times to Forbes’ Brand Voice, there’s no shortage of famous examples.

While
advertorials have been around for decades, this top-of-the-funnel sponsored article channel is relatively new for many content marketers. Over the last year, we have received many questions from clients about sponsored content—questions about pricing, scale, value and strategy. We struggled to answer most of them; there wasn’t anywhere to get answers.

Because of this, we decided to reach out to 550 online publications to gather as much information about their sponsored content programs as possible. We wanted to find out the following:

  • An agreed upon definition for sponsored articles
  • The current state of sponsored articles as a channel
  • Examples of sponsored articles
  • Sponsored article pricing and value
  • A media buying strategy for sponsored articles
  • Tools and platforms for sponsored articles

We quickly learned that sponsored content on blogs and other online publications, when viewed as a marketing channel, is very immature. Pricing doesn’t have much rhyme or reason, either. However, after collecting and interpreting data on 550 online properties, and dissecting countless native advertising studies, we hope to shine a light on a little known content marketing channel.

The results of the study are outlined below. 

Note: The complete Media Buyers Guide to Sponsored Content study is available for download here.

Defining Sponsored Articles

With content marketing adoption rates so high, many brands are looking to native advertising to promote their content. The
Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines native advertising as “paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.” According to the IAB, native advertising contains six different types of ad units: in-feed, promoted listings, in-ad with native element, paid search, recommendation widgets, and custom.

Sponsored articles fall into the in-feed subgroup. However, so does promoted content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Bcause they appear within the normal content feed of the publisher, it doesn’t matter if the publisher is Facebook or BuzzFeed. 

In other words, sponsored articles amount to advertising on a media outlet in the form of editorial content that looks like it’s supposed to be there. Brands value this because association with a publication and exposure to its audience can drive awareness, traffic, conversions, and leads.

The Current State of Sponsored Articles

We uncovered lots of fascinating information about sponsored articles while conducting our research. They are actually an evolved version of what many marketers call advertorials, which have been around for decades. The biggest difference between the two is where the content resides in the customer buying journey. Advertorials are middle to bottom-of-the-funnel content.

An example of a magazine advertorial

On the other hand, sponsored articles strictly reside at the top of the funnel. Their purpose is to be helpful, entertaining, or both. Top-of-the-funnel content doesn’t appear to be salesy and brand-centric to the reader. It’s the rise of content marketing that helped move advertorials up the funnel. This helps brands become not just purveyors of goods and services, but a producer of ideas and a distributor of knowledge.

Controversy

Sponsored articles have received pushback from some publishers, brands, and consumers—and even government regulators who are concerned because the articles resemble editorial content. This can damage the editorial integrity of a publication, as well as a brand’s image.

Both publishers and marketers have a vested interest in not appearing to mislead consumers. Native advertising in general is misunderstood by many consumers and marketers. (That’s partly why we conducted this study.) 

In the video below, John Oliver does a good job of articulating many consumers’ concerns regarding sponsored articles.

Copyblogger’s
2014 State of Native Advertising Report surveyed over 2,000 marketers and discovered that 73 percent were either completely unfamiliar with or hardly familiar with native advertising.

Native-Survey-Results.jpg

Thirty-eight percent of the marketers could identify forms of native advertising from a checklist, and only three percent claimed to be very knowledgeable.

Earlier this year,
Contently surveyed 542 U.S. Internet users to determine what they thought about sponsored articles. Only 48 percent of the respondents believed sponsored content that was labeled as such was paid for by an advertiser that had influenced the content produced. The rest thought the label meant something else.

Sponsored-Content-Survey-Results.jpg

Just over 66 percent of the respondents reported they are not likely to click on an article sponsored by a brand and 33 percent said they’re just as likely to click on a sponsored article as they are to click on (unsponsored) editorial content.

There is also contradictory evidence surrounding the overall effectiveness of sponsored articles.
Research from Chartbeat shows that only 24 percent of visitors scroll past the fold when visiting a sponsored article—compared with 71 percent for editorial content.

However,
The New York Times claims readers spend the same amount of time on sponsored articles as traditional news stories. This is backed up by a study from Sharethrough and IPG Media Labs. They found that consumers actually look at sponsored articles more than typical editorial articles (26 percent vs. 24 percent) and spend a similar amount of time on each (1 minute vs. 1.2 minutes).

Time-Spent-Viewing-Sponsored-Content.jpg

Not all publishers offer sponsored article opportunities to marketers. During our research, some respondents told us that protecting editorial integrity and preserving audience trust were a higher priorities. On the other hand, many big name publishers like Forbes, The New York Times, Business Insider, The Atlantic, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have all embraced sponsored articles as a revenue source.

BuzzFeed’s entire business model is built around what it calls sponsored “listicles,” a.k.a. sponsored articles. While some publishers are averse to adopting this native form of advertising, it doesn’t seem to be causing any damage to the publishers who are using native ads.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hasn’t quite figured out
how to regulate native advertising. The FTC has delayed handing down regulations around disclosure requirements, language and graphic separation. Until that happens, the display of native advertising will remain at the discretion of publishers.

With that said, the IAB has set native advertising guidelines for its members. The IAB reports that clarity and prominence of paid native ad unit disclosure are vital, regardless of native advertising type. 

Their two criteria are straightforward:

  • Use language that conveys the advertising has been paid for, thus making it an advertising unit, even if that unit does not contain traditional promotional advertising messages.
  • Be large and visible enough for a consumer to notice it in the context of a given page and/or relative to the device the ad is being viewed on.

In the case of sponsored articles, a reasonable consumer should be able to distinguish between editorial content from the publisher and paid advertising.

Growth

A 2013 survey conducted by
Hexagram and Spada revealed that 62 percent of publishers had embraced sponsored articles, with another 16 percent planning to go this route by the end of 2014. Comparable research from eMarketer showed that only 10 percent of digital publishers didn’t have and weren’t considering native advertising on their sites.

Publishers-Embrace-Sponsored-Articles.jp

The
2014 Native Advertising Roundup revealed that 73 percent of media buyers use native advertising, and 93 percent expect to spend the same or more in the future. Native advertising spending in the U.S. is expected to increase from $ 1.3 billion in 2013 to $ 9.4 billion in 2018. A full 40 percent of publishers expect native advertising to drive a quarter or more of their digital revenue this year.

Native-Ad-Spending.jpg

Native advertising, when compared to traditional display ads, have been found to be more effective. 25 percent more consumers looked at sponsored articles than display ad units. Native ads produced an 18 percent lift in purchase intent and a nine percent lift for brand affinity responses.
BIA/Kelsey released a study which shows brands are planning on spending more on native advertising, and publishers stand to benefit as long as they can preserve the trust and interest of their audience.

Native-vs-Social-Display.jpg

Examples of Sponsored Articles

Since look, feel, design, language and requirements of sponsored content are left up to the discretion of publishers, the presentation of sponsored content on different sites varies widely. Some publications provide brands with what can be described as a virtual microsite within the site itself. Others are more streamlined, using an article that appears as a piece of featured content but is labeled as sponsored.

Sponsored Article Pricing

There are no real standards for pricing in the digital world with regard to sponsored content. This makes budgeting for the channel very tough to do. It also makes long-term strategic execution at scale and across multiple publications a near impossibility.

While the value of sponsoring content is clearly understood by many brands, how to execute it and who to talk to in order to get it done is generally unclear. The study set out to add rhyme and reason to this burgeoning channel by exploring costs and comparing them across a broad spectrum of online publications and blogs.

This is valuable information for marketers and media buyers wishing to negotiate with online publications. It can even be used by publications that have not yet offered sponsored content opportunities to establish fair pricing.

Since publishers completely control their own pricing and standards, they maintain their own criteria for validating costs associated with sponsored articles. In today’s analytics-driven marketing culture, where channels are often compared and returns are measured, sponsoring content across several different publications can’t be so easily consolidated  into a single “sponsored content” channel since each one has a unique value proposition.

This study is the industry’s first attempt to scientifically justify, quantify, and predict current going-rate prices of sponsored articles using explicit data points that can be measured for each online publication. Our goal was to create the first-ever quantitatively supported pricing standard for sponsored articles.

We hope our research puts an end to these challenges and empowers marketers with the ability to budget, negotiate, and ultimately scale the deployment of sponsored articles within their channel mix.

Research

In total, the research for this study was conducted over a five-month period of time earlier this year. It included manual outreach via email and phone to over 1,000 media outlets and blogs. The outreach resulted in responses from 550 publishers that sold sponsored article units.

The study took an unbiased approach to data inclusion and included a representative sample set. It collected data on globally-recognized publications, one-person blogs, and everything in between. 

Publications were classified using the following criteria:

  • Content is created by more than five writers/contributors/columnists, and:
  • The website already utilizes traditional display advertising (e.g., banner ads)

Everything that didn’t meet the above criteria was classified as a blog.

Each price collected in the study was the minimum charge for getting a sponsored article published, regardless of other pricing factors. A total of 17 factors were cited as justification for pricing schemes from the 550 publishers.

  1. Word count: The number of words in a sponsored article
  2. User time on page: The amount of time a typical reader spends on a web page
  3. Links: Specifications regarding whether or not links would be provided, and if so, how many, where and whether or not they would be “nofollow” links
  4. Lead capture: For publishers that provide links to gated assets, many charge on a per-lead basis
  5. Impressions (CPM): Cost per thousand impressions based on historic data
  6. Time and effort required from publication’s editorial staff
  7. Monthly website traffic
  8. PageRank: Often used by publishers to justify relative pricing when they run more than one media outlet
  9. Domain Authority: Often used for publishers to justify relative pricing when they own more than one publication
  10. Page-level engagement: A metric that is measured by how far readers scroll down the page and the amount of time spent on a given article
  11. Social media promotion: Often an optional add-on that would increase price (may come as part of a package deal)
  12. Email promotion: Often an optional add-on that would increase price (may come as part of a package deal)
  13. Display advertising: Often an optional add-on that would increase price (may come as part of a package deal)
  14. Number of articles: How many sponsored articles you are buying at a time
  15. Visibility time: The amount of time an article stays live on the site
  16. Verticals: For large publications that cover many verticals or subject areas, some verticals are more expensive than others
  17. Pay-per-click: Another engagement-level metric that is measured by the number of click-throughs to an intended landing page

In order to do a quantitative analysis, explicit data was collected from all of the publications to calculate predictor variables. Those variables included:

  • Domain Authority: A ranking score from Moz, on a 100-point scale, that uses more than 40 signals to calculate how well a website will perform in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher the score, the more authoritative the website is viewed as being. 
  • Page Authority: Another ranking score from Moz, on a 100-point scale, that calculates how well a given webpage is likely to rank in the SERPs. In the case of this study, the publication’s home pages were used.
  • PageRank: A ranking metric from Google that calculates the relevance of a webpage. This score analyzes the number of incoming links and the quality of the referring webpages to generate a measurement between 0 (low relevance) and 10 (high relevance).
  • AlexaRank: A ranking score from Alexa.com that is based on traffic data from users over a rolling three-month period. A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure of unique visitors and page views. The site with the greatest combination of these is ranked No. 1, and higher number rankings correlate with lower traffic data.
  • Facebook Following: The number of fans (or “likes”) a publication’s Facebook page has.
  • Twitter Following: The number of followers a publication’s or a blogger’s Twitter account has. For publications with multiple accounts and/or contributing authors, only the account with the largest following was used.
  • Pinterest Following: The number of followers a publication’s or a blogger’s Pinterest account has.

Assumptions

It is assumed that the data set in this study is a representative sample of the entire ecosystem of blogs and other online publications because the results closely mirror Moz’s
distribution of Page Authority that analyzed more than 10,000 SERPs and 200,000 unique pages. This regression model had a mean (average) Page Authority of 40.8 and standard deviation of 15.1. The distribution can be seen below.

Moz-Distribution.jpg

The regression model in this study had a mean of 47.1 and a standard deviation of 15.5. The sample set of blogs and publications had a slightly higher Page Authority than the Moz study. This was expected because the study only measured root domains and not long-tail pages within those domains.

Publisher-Distribution.jpg

Aside from that slight disparity, the distribution curves are nearly identical. For those readers who are number junkies, the descriptive statistics of the Page Authority data in the study are below.

Publication-Stats.jpg

Limitations

Variations in sponsored content offerings – The study established the pricing baseline based on the cost of one sponsored article. Since some publications only offered long-term commitments to marketers that could include other benefits (banners, email, social promotion, etc.), some publications’ unit pricing could be inflated. As a result, the regression model may not be an accurate price predictor in all scenarios.

Social account data – Not all online publications have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. In these cases, the number zero was used to quantify followers. Also, for publications with multiple accounts on the same network, the study measured the account with the most followers.

Alexa Rank Inaccuracies – Alexa admits publicly that there are limits to making judgments from its data. Sites with relatively low traffic may not be accurately measured by Alexa.

Analysis

The graph below seeks to show the exact methodology we used to conduct the sponsored content pricing study. It’s purpose is to give readers confidence in our pricing models so they feel comfortable in adapting the formulas.

When all prices are graphed, bloat appears on each end of the pricing spectrum. In order to reconcile the dense areas, the study broke down the pricing data and regression models for blogs and publications separately.

Price-Distribution-All-Data.jpg

Blog Pricing Analysis

The graph below represents the distribution of prices for all 474 blogs in the study.

Pricing-Distribution-Blogs.jpg

Because of the wide range and low frequency of prices recorded in the “more” area, we decided to label these data points as outliers. By removing the outliers (approximately 3.8 percent of the sample) from the analysis, the variance decreased by 87 percent, making for a more accurate predictive model. All descriptive statistics for the blog data sample before and after removing the outliers were laid out in the study.

With the remaining 456 cases, a multi-variable regression test for price against all of the predictor variables was run, after which the insignificant variables were removed to formulate the pricing regression model for blogs, as shown below.

Blog-Price-Regression-Significant-Variab


The end result confidently determined the fair market price formula for a sponsored article on a blog:


Sponsored-Article-Price-Formula-Blog.jpg

Publication Pricing Analysis

The graph below represents the distribution of pricing for all 76 publications recorded in the study.

Price-Distribution-All-Publications.jpg

The outliers were kept in this regression model because of the range in quality and size of online publications is large. The descriptive statistics are available in the actual study.

Following the same methods as the blog analysis, the study ran a multi-variable regression test to construct a predictive model for publication pricing. After removing the insignificant variables the output looks like this:

Publication-Price-Regresion-Significant-


The end result confidently determines the fair market price formula for a sponsored article on a publication
:

Publication-Pricing-Formula.jpg

What All This Math Really Boils Down To

With the formulas below, marketers now have a way to assign value when purchasing or negotiating for sponsored articles on blogs or publications. 

Prior to this study marketers had no way of knowing if they were getting a fair deal or not using this emerging channel.

  • Blog Price Formula = -60.5 + 5.97(DA) + 0.978(thousand Fb fans) + 15.1(PR) – 0.000007(AR)
  • Publication Price Formua = -37000 + 314(DA) + 20.9(thousand Fb fans) + 5152(PR) – 46.6(thousand Pinterest followers)

That said, media buyers should also note that many top-tier publications package their sponsored content offering in different ways. Keep this in mind when using the formulas above. Below are examples of some variation in sponsored article packages.

Pricing-on-large-publications.jpg

Networks and Tools for Sponsored Articles

While conducting research, several tools and networks kept coming up. Some networks set up for the sole purpose of connecting marketers with publishers for sponsored content. Even HubSpot has built an informal ad hoc network for its partner agencies to connect with its publishing customers. Content measurement tools, including
Nudge, which was built to measure sponsored content, are starting to crop up, too. 

A few other networks and tools worth noting:

  • Adproval: A media outlet marketplace for connecting publishers and advertisers
  • BlogHer: A blog and social media influencer community focused on social media coverage of women
  • Blogsvertise: A blog marketplace for connecting publishers and advertisers
  • Buysellads: A media outlet marketplace for connecting publishers and advertisers
  • Cision: The brand’s Content Marketing Database includes a searchable database of over 2,000 sponsored opportunities with thousands of U.S. publications
  • GroupHigh: Blogger outreach marketing software that helps companies find bloggers, in addition to managing and tracking relationships, and measuring results
  • Izea: A sponsorship marketplace that connects social media influencers with brands
  • Markerly: A brand amplification platform that connects brands with bloggers
  • Sway Group: Connects brands and agencies with the largest network of female bloggers on the Web
  • The Syndicate: A brand storytelling partner and blog sponsorship network.

With the growth of online content showing no signs of slowing, the use of sponsored content as a marketing channel will undoubtedly continue to grow as well. Besides, it’s a proven revenue stream for publishers who have often struggled to make money on the Internet.

However, as the popularity of sponsored content grows, so does the likelihood of it being regulated by governments. Until then, consider this post your definitive guide to sponsored content. The study can be
downloaded here.

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Location is Everything: Local Rankings in Moz Analytics

Posted by MatthewBrown

Today we are thrilled to launch 
local rankings as a feature in Moz Analytics, which gives our customers the ability to assign geo-locations to their tracked keywords. If you’re a Moz Analytics customer and are ready to jump right in, here’s where you an find the new feature within the application:

local keywords moz analytics

Not a Moz Analytics customer? You can take the new features for a free spin…

One of the biggest SEO developments of the last several years is how frequently Google is returning localized organics across a rapidly increasing number of search queries. It’s not just happening for “best pizza in Portland” (the answer to that is
Apizza Scholls, by the way). Searches like “financial planning” and “election guide” now trigger Google’s localization algorithm:

local search results election guide

This type of query underscores the need to track rankings on a local level. I’m searching for a non-localized keyword (“election guide”), but Google recognizes I’m searching from Portland, Oregon so they add the localization layer to the result.

Local tends to get lost in the shuffle of zoo animal updates we’ve seen from Google in the last couple of years, but search marketers are coming around to realize the 2012 Venice update was one of the most important changes Google made to the search landscape. It certainly didn’t seem like a huge deal when it launched; here’s how Google described Venice as part of the late lamented
monthly search product updates they used to provide:

  • Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename "Venice"] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Seems innocent enough, right? What the Venice update actually kicked off was a long-term relationship between local search results (what we see in Google local packs and map results) and the organic search results that, once upon a time, existed on their own. “Localized organics,” as they are known, have been increasingly altering the organic search landscape for keywords that normally triggered “generic” or national rankings. If you haven’t already read it, Mike Ramsey’s article on
how to adjust for the Venice update remains one of the best strategic looks at the algorithm update.

This jump in localized organic results has prompted both marketers and business owners to track rankings at the local level. An increasing number of Moz customers have been requesting the ability to add locations to their keywords since the 2012 Venice update, and this is likely due to Google expanding the queries which trigger a localized result. You asked for it, and today we’re delivering. Our new local rankings feature allows our customers to track keywords for any city, state, or ZIP/postal code.

Geo-located searches

We can now return rankings based on a location you specify, just like I set my search to Portland in the example above. This is critical for monitoring the health of your local search campaigns, as Google continues to fold the location layer into the organic results. Here’s how it looks in Moz Analytics:

tracking local keyword ranking

A keyword with a location specified counts against your keyword limit in Moz Analytics just like any other keyword.

The location being tracked will also be displayed in your rankings reports as well as on the keyword analysis page:

local keyword difficulty

The local rankings feature allows you to enter your desired tracking location by city, state, neighborhood, and zip or postal code. We provide neighborhood-level granularity via dropdown for the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The dropdown will also provide city-level listings for other countries. It’s also possible to enter a location of your choice not on the list in the text box. Fair warning: We cannot guarantee the accuracy of rankings in mythical locations like Westeros or Twin Peaks, or mythical spellings like Pordland or Los Andules.

An easy way to get started with the new feature is to look at keywords you are already tracking, and find the ones that have an obvious local intent for searchers. Then add the neighborhood or city you are targeting for the most qualified searchers.

What’s next?

We will be launching local rankings functionality within the Moz Local application in the first part of 2015, which will provide needed visibility to folks who are mainly concerned with Local SEO. We’re also working on functionality to allow users to easily add geo-modifiers to their tracked keywords, so we can provide rankings for “health club Des Moines” alongside tracking rankings for “health clubs” in the 50301 zip code.

Right now this feature works with all Google engines (we’ll be adding Bing and Yahoo! later). We’ll also be keeping tabs on Google’s advancements on the local front so we can provide our customers with the best data on their local visibility.

Please let us know what you think in the comments below! Customer feedback, suggestions, and comments were instrumental into both the design and prioritization of this feature.

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