Tag Archive | "Investments"

A Look Back at a Great 2017: 5 Major Moz Product Investments and a Sneak Peek Into 2018

Posted by adamf

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already past. We entered the year with big ambitions and we’ve made some great strides. As has become tradition, I’ve compiled a rundown of some of the most interesting updates that you may have seen (or missed) this past year. We’ve intentionally focused on significant product updates, but I’ve also shared a little about some newer programs that provide value for customers in different ways.

TL;DR, here are some of the larger and more interesting additions to Moz in 2017:

  1. Keywords by Site: Keyword Explorer adds site-based keyword research and competitive intelligence
  2. Site Crawl V2: Overhauled Site Crawl for better auditing and workflow
  3. Major investments in infrastructure: Better performance and resilience across the Moz toolset
  4. New instructor-led training programs: Targeted classes to level-up your SEO knowledge
  5. Customer Success: Custom walkthroughs to help you get the most out of Moz
  6. Bonus! MozPod: Moz’s new free podcast keeps you up to date on the latest industry topics and trends

Big updates

This year and last, we’ve been spending a disproportionate focus on releasing large infrastructural improvements, new datasets, and foundational product updates. We feel these are crucial elements that serve the core needs of SEOs and will fuel frequent improvements and iterations for years to come.

To kick things off, I wanted to share some details about two big updates from 2017.


1) Keywords by Site: Leveling up keyword research and intelligence

Rank tracking provides useful benchmarks and insights for specific, targeted keywords, but you can’t track all of the keywords that are relevant to you. Sometimes you need a broader look at how visible your sites (and your competitors’ sites) are in Google results.

We built Keywords by Site to provide this powerful view into your Google presence. This brand-new dataset in Moz significantly extends Keyword Explorer and improves the quality of results in many other areas throughout Moz Pro. Our US corpus currently includes 40 million Google SERPs updated every two weeks, and allows you to do the following:

See how visible your site is in Google results

This view not only shows how authoritative a site is from a linking perspective, but also shows how prominent a site is in Google search results.

Compare your ranking prominence to your competitors

Compare up to three sites to get a feel for their relative scale of visibility and keyword ranking overlap. Click on any section in the Venn diagram to view the keywords that fall into that section.

Dig deep: Sort, filter, and find opportunities, then stash them in keyword lists

For example, let’s say you’re looking to determine which pages or content on your site might only require a little nudge to garner meaningful search visibility and traffic. Run a report for your site in Keyword Explorer and then use the filters to quickly hone in on these opportunities:

Our focus on data quality

We’ve made a few decisions to help ensure the freshness and accuracy of our keyword corpus. These extend the cost and work to maintain this dataset, but we feel they make a discernible difference in quality.

  • We recollect all of our keyword data every 2 weeks. This means that the results you see are more recent and more similar to the results on the day that you’re researching.
  • We cycle up to 15 million of our keywords out on a monthly basis. This means that as new keywords or terms trend up in popularity, we add them to our corpus, replacing terms that are no longer getting much search volume.

A few improvements we’ve made since launch:

  • Keyword recommendations in your campaigns (tracked sites) are much improved and now backed by our keyword corpus.
  • These keyword suggestions are also included in your weekly insights, suggesting new keywords worth tracking and pages worth optimizing.
  • Coming very soon: We’re also on the cusp of launching keyword corpuses for the UK, Canada, and Australia. Stay tuned.

A few resources to help you get more from Keywords by Site:

Try out Keywords by Site!


2) Site Crawl V2: Big enhancements to site crawling and auditing

Another significant project we completed in 2017 was a complete rewrite of our aging Site Crawler. In short, our new crawler is faster, more reliable, can crawl more pages, and surfaces more issues. We’ve also made some enhancements to the workflow, to make regular crawls more customizable and easy to manage. Here are a few highlights:

Week-over-week crawl comparisons

Our new crawler keeps tabs on what happened in your previous crawl to show you which specific issues are no longer present, and which are brand new.

Ignore (to hide) individual issues or whole issue types

This feature was added in response to a bunch of customer requests. While Moz does its best to call out the issues and priorities that apply to most sites, not all sites or SEOs have the same needs. For example, if you regularly noindex a big portion of your site, you don’t need us to keep reminding you that you’ve applied noindex to a huge number of pages. If you don’t want them showing your reports, just ignore individual issues or the entire issue type.

Another workflow improvement we added was the ability to mark an issue as fixed. This allows you to get it out of your way until the next crawl runs and verifies the fix.

All Pages view with improved sorting and filtering

If you’re prioritizing across a large number of pages or trying to track down an issue in a certain area of your site, you can now sort all pages crawled by Issue Count, Page Authority, or Crawl Depth. You can also filter to show, for instance, all pages in the /blog section of my site that are redirects, and have a crawl issue.

Recrawl to verify fixes

Moz’s crawler monitors your site by crawling it every week. But if you’ve made some changes and want to verify them, you can now recrawl your site in between regular weekly crawls instead of waiting for the next crawl the start.

Seven new issues checked and tracked

These include such favorites as detecting Thin Content, Redirect Chains, and Slow Pages. While we were at it, we revamped duplicate page detection and improved the UI to help you better analyze clusters of duplicate content and figure out which page should be canonical.

A few resources to help you get more from Site Crawl:


3) Major investments in infrastructure for performance and resilience

You may not have directly noticed many of the updates we’ve made this year. We made some significant investments in Moz Pro and Moz Local to make them faster, more reliable, and allow us to build new features more quickly. But here are a few tangible manifestations of these efforts:

“Infinite” history on organic Moz Pro search traffic reports

Okay, infinite is a bit of a stretch, but we used to only show the last 12 months or weeks of data. Now we’ll show data from the very inception of a campaign, broken down by weeks or months. This is made possible by an updated architecture that makes full historical data easy to surface and present in the application. It also allows for custom access to selected date ranges.

Also worth noting is that the new visualization shows how many different pages were receiving organic search traffic in context with total organic search traffic. This can help you figure out whether traffic increase was due to improved rankings across many pages, or just a spike in organic traffic for one or a few pages.

More timely and reliable access to Moz Local data at all scales

As Moz Local has brought on more and bigger customers with large numbers of locations, the team discovered a need to bolster systems for speed and reliability. A completely rebuilt scheduling system and improved core location data systems help ensure all of your data is collected and easy to access when you need it.

Improved local data distribution

Moz Local distributes your location data through myriad partners, each of which have their own formats and interfaces. The Local team updated and fine-tuned those third-party connections to improve the quality of the data and speed of distribution.


4) New instructor-led training programs: Never stop learning

Not all of our improvements this year have shown up in the product. Another investment we’ve made is in training. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for this over the years and are finally delivering. Brian Childs, our trainer extraordinaire, has built this program from the ground up. It includes:

  • Boot camps to build up core skills
  • Advanced Seminars to dig into more intensive topics
  • Custom Training for businesses that want a more tailored approach

We have even more ambitious plans for 2018, so if training interests you, check out all of our training offerings here.


5) Customer Success: Helping customers get the most out of Moz

Our customer success program took off this year and has one core purpose: to help customers get maximum value from Moz. Whether you’re a long-time customer looking to explore new features or you’re brand new to Moz and figuring out how to get started, our success team offers product webinars every week, as well as one-on-one product walkthroughs tailored to your needs, interests, and experience level.

The US members of our customer success team hone their skills at a local chocolate factory (Not pictured: our fantastic team members in the UK, Australia, and Dubai)

If you want to learn more about Moz Pro, check out a webinar or schedule a walkthrough.


Bonus! MozPod: Moz’s new free podcast made its debut

Okay, this really strays from product news, but another fun project that’s been gaining momentum is MozPod. This came about as a side passion project by our ever-ambitious head trainer. Lord knows that SEO and digital marketing are fast-moving and ever-changing; to help you keep up on hot topics and new developments, we’ve started the Mozpod. This podcast covers a range of topics, drawing from the brains of key folks in the industry. With topics ranging from structured data and app store optimization to machine learning and even blockchain, there’s always something interesting to learn about. If you’ve got an idea for an episode or a topic you’d like to hear about, submit it here.

Join Brian every week for a new topic and guest:


What’s next?

We have a lot planned for 2018 — probably way too much. But one thing I can promise is that it won’t be a dull year. I prefer not to get too specific about projects that we’ve not yet started, but here are a few things already in the works:

  • A significant upgrade to our link data and toolset
  • On-demand Site Crawl
  • Added keyword research corpuses for the UK, Australia, and Canada
  • Expanded distribution channels for local to include Facebook, Waze, and Uber
  • More measurement and analytics features around local rankings, categories, & keywords
  • Verticalized solutions to address specific local search needs in the restaurant, hospitality, financial, legal, & medical sectors

On top of these and many other features we’re considering, we also plan to make it a lot easier for you to use our products. Right now, we know it can be a bit disjointed within and between products. We plan to change that.

We’ve also waited too long to solve for some specific needs of our agency customers. We’re prioritizing some key projects that’ll make their jobs easier and their relationships with Moz more valuable.


Thank you!

Before I go, I just want to thank you all for sharing your support, suggestions, and critical feedback. We strive to build the best SEO data and platform for our diverse and passionate customers. We could not succeed without you. If you’d like to be a part of making Moz a better platform, please let us know. We often reach out to customers and community members for feedback and insight, so if you’re the type who likes to participate in user research studies, customer interviews, beta tests, or surveys, please volunteer here.

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


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Easy Marketing Investments to Improve Your E-Commerce Store

Posted by KaneJamison

At least once or twice per month, I talk to a small e-commerce store owner who wants to invest in content marketing. Often times, I have to break it to them that they’re not ready for content marketing.

You see, before you spend a bunch of time generating traffic from your target audience, it’s important to make sure those visitors get the best experience possible while browsing your store.

So, in this post, I want to give store owners and e-commerce newbies a clear idea of where they can invest their time before investing in more paid and organic traffic to their sites. Many of these can be accomplished for less than $ 1,000 or a few hours of your time.

With a few small-scale investments you can help drive performance on conversions, SEO, and more.

So what are they?

  1. Rewrite Your Weak Product Descriptions
  2. Take Better Product Photography
  3. Build Lookbooks & Product Collections
  4. Start Adding Product Videos
  5. Upgrade Your Review Software & Process

Let’s look at these opportunities in detail, and better yet, show you some actual examples of what your site could look like.

Rewrite your weak product descriptions

From product details to features and benefits, product descriptions must pack a lot of information in a short format. You may have overlooked some missed opportunities.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, consider investing in improved product descriptions.

1 – Does your current product page copy speak only to your ideal customer?

If you’ve built buyer personas for your brand, make sure the copy addresses the appropriate persona’s unique pain points and concerns. Bland descriptions meant to appeal to everyone — or just bots — aren’t as effective.

This high chair example from 4moms.com focuses on the three things that matter to their audience: single-handed adjustments, spilt-food prevention, and easy cleanup.

2 – Does your copy focus on benefits rather than features?

You can list features all day long, but customers really want to know how your product will make their life better.

The Amazon Echo sales page does a great job of focusing less on the technical features of the product, and more on the cool things you can do with it.

3 – Are you describing your product with the same words that your customers use?

Using the same language that your customers do will help you better communicate with your target audience in a way that sounds natural for them and touches on their pain points.

A simple way to find these words is to do some reverse engineering. Start by looking at customer reviews and feedback you’ve collected (and those of your main competitors as well) to pick out common words and phrases that satisfied customers are using. From here, you can tie that customer language back into your own descriptions.

I was shopping for a new tent last week and saw this awesome reviewer on Amazon drive home a point that the copywriters had missed. If you read that entire review, the phrase “family tent” is mentioned about 13 times.

But if you read the product description, “family tent” only shows up once. The description fails to mention many of the benefits covered by the reviewer: lots of pockets, sleeping arrangements, ability to catch a breeze but keep the doors closed, etc.

There’s an opportunity here for a competitor in the tent or outdoor space to improve their own product descriptions for the same tent (or even put together a larger guide to family tents).

4 – Are you telling your product’s story?

The folks over at Rogue Brewing understand that the people buying gifts from their website are probably passionate about well-made products, not just well-made beer. Here’s a great example from their site that tells the story of their 28-year search for a decent beer shucker (bottle opener):

Take better product photography

Photography matters. Research from BigCommerce suggests that 67% of consumers consider image quality “very important” when making a purchase online.

Good product photos do more than just show shoppers what you’re selling — they provide context and help customers visualize using your products. Plus, high-quality photos will reduce product returns that happen due to misleading images.

So what can you do to upgrade your product photos?

Smartphones aren’t going to cut it

Use a DSLR camera, not your smartphone. Although modern smartphone cameras can take higher resolution photos than ever before, you’ll get better results from a DSLR. Lower-end models start at around $ 500 — try finding a used body online and spending more money on a better & cost-effective fixed lens that can handle video, too.

Build a cheap lightbox

Create a lightbox for well-lit photos with a solid white background. For less than $ 10, you can build your own lightbox that will vastly improve the quality of your product images.

Use creative angles

Shoot products from multiple angles. Be sure to include several images on every product page. The more perspectives and viewpoints you have, the better customers will be able to judge your product.

It’s OK to tweak & process your images to make them pop

Process your images with filters that enhance color and overall image quality. Photo filters resolve poor lighting or color issues and vastly improve your product photos. Just try not to get carried away with dramatic filters that distort the color of your products, as this can be misleading for the buyer. Here’s a good example from ABeautifulMess.com showing the difference before and after image edits:

If you don’t have time or the inclination to take your own photography, outsource it to a professional. No matter what route you go, know that upgrading your product page photography is well worth the investment.

Build lookbooks & product collections

You can also provide more context for your products through lookbooks, which showcase your products in use. The term “lookbook” is mostly common in the fashion industry, but the concept can be extended to a variety of industries.

The photos in the lookbook for Fitbit’s Alta model of fitness tracker help shoppers envision themselves wearing them. Fitbit’s lookbook also establishes a brand lifestyle promise — impossible with product photos alone. Even better? The various photos are clickable and take you to the product page for that color/style of wristband:

Product collections are another great variation on this strategy. In this “Mediterranean Collection” page on Coastal.com, shoppers get an opportunity to shop by “style,” and to see examples of the glasses on actual faces instead of just a white background:

As I alluded to before, this isn’t just an opportunity for fashion sites. The trick is to make sure you’re showing your products in action.

Plenty of other retailers have an opportunity to show off their product in use, like these photos from the Klipsch website showing off their soundbars in various settings:

Car accessories? Same thing.

Heck, even office furniture is easier to purchase when you see how it looks in a workspace.

Start adding product videos

Adding video to product pages is another relatively low-budget improvement you can make, yet it has extreme value for shoppers and your bottom line.

Why? Because video’s ability to quickly educate shoppers is a powerful conversion tool. Eyeview Digital reported that including video on landing pages can improve conversions by as much as 80%, and ComScore indicated that online shoppers are 64% more likely to buy after watching a video.

So how can you put video to work on your product pages?

Whether you’re demonstrating a how-to or simply showcasing a product and outlining product details, adding video on your product pages provides a whole new experience for online shoppers that helps overcome purchase objections and answers their questions.

Video also allows you to give shoppers a more complete overview of the product and to go beyond static pictures with a story element. These engaging visuals can help shoppers envision themselves using your products in a way that photography alone simply can’t.

Zappos is well known for including videos on what seems like every listing, but what’s more impressive to me is how much personality and brand voice they show off. While shopping for boots recently, I have to say Joe was my favorite video personality:

Click image to open product video in a new window.

If you’re up for taking this on with a DIY approach, it’s reasonably easy to create your own product videos at home with the right equipment. Or, outsource this project to a local professional or videographer for hire.

Upgrade your customer reviews software & process

In the current e-commerce landscape, competition is fierce — and there’s always someone willing to deliver cheaper and faster.

That’s why social proof is more important than ever before. Research from eConsultancy shows that 61% of consumers indicate they look to product reviews before making a purchase, and that product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions from companies.

Customer reviews make your product pages more effective, allowing shoppers to evaluate the product based on real customer opinions — and can help you spot product issues.

I’m listing a few common platforms here, but you should really check out Everett Sizemore’s guide to product review software, which has some great insights on the performance of the entire marketplace of product review software options, including technical SEO concerns:

Traditional product reviews may not be right for all stores…

The best option for you will depend on the tool’s ability to integrate with your store, your preferred functionality, and your budget. Sometimes, traditional product reviews won’t be the best choice for your product or store.

In this example from ThinkGeek, they’ve opted to just let people leave Facebook comments rather than any product reviews at all. Which makes sense, because they’re Star Trek garden gnomes, and it’s not like you need to tell people whether they were the right size or not. Even better than Facebook comments, they also solicit product photos via social media on their #geekfamous hashtag.

Here’s another example where my favorite wallet company, SlimFold, simply highlights great product reviews that they received from press and customer emails. While it makes it harder for them to solicit new reviews, they only have a handful of products, and this format allows them to put more emphasis on specific reviews.

There are many different tools that will allow you to showcase elements of social proof like ratings and reviews, so take your time carefully reviewing different options to see which is the best fit for your needs and budget, and if normal product reviews aren’t the right fit, feel free to take a different approach.

Make enough of these small investments and you should see big improvements over the long term.

Tackling these small investments — as your schedule and budget allows — will dramatically improve the overall user experience and the effectiveness of your e-commerce store.

Consider which aspects are the most important to complete first, and then start doing your research and put together a strategy for how you’ll prioritize these site upgrades. With a well-thought-out plan of action, you can focus on the projects that will drive the best results for your business, rather than trying too many different tactics all at once.

Looking for more ideas? Take a look at our guides on product page optimization, category page optimization, and conversion rate improvements for e-commerce.

This is by no means the complete guide to investing in your e-commerce store, so in the discussion below, I’d like to hear from you. What creative ways have you improved your e-commerce site content in the past that boosted conversions or organic search?

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4 Digital Marketing Investments All Companies Should Be Making Now

DIGITAL-MARKETING-INVESTMENTS

It’s safe to say that not one company is sitting around scratching their head saying “I have all of this marketing budget to spare, what can I spend it on?”. Budgets are tight, and marketing budgets are often the first to feel the pain of cuts.

Traditional marketing tactics often come at a high price, and it can be difficult to track return. Alternatively, the vast array of digital marketing tactics evolve frequently and can quickly become overwhelming.

Each year, companies are investing more and more in digital marketing. In fact, Econsultancy found that 77% of marketers were planning on increasing digital marketing budgets in 2015. But the question on many marketers’ minds is: Where exactly should these digital marketing funds be invested?

Below are 4 areas you should consider investing your digital marketing spend in 2015.

#1 – A Technically Sound & Optimized Website

A website is your calling card to the outside world. If it doesn’t work or isn’t optimized for mobile customers, they’ll quickly move on and will find one that does what they need.

Does your website pass the following tests?

  • Page Load Speed: Google’s PageSpeed tool will provide you with a page load speed score and provide recommendations for fixing any issues.
  • Responsive Design: The number of mobile users searching the web will only continue to grow. Use a tool like Am I Responsive? to see how your website displays across multiple devices.
  • Encourages Lead Conversions: Are your customers finding what they expected when they reach your website? Are you making it as easy as possible for people to reach you via contact forms or phone numbers? If the answer to either of those questions is no, your website is not optimized to encourage lead conversions.
  • Optimized for Organic Search: If you’re not an SEO expert, it can sometimes be hard to understand what exactly it takes to make your website optimized. All of your website content including title tags, meta descriptions, urls and more should all be optimized for the key terms and phrases that you want to appear for in search engine results.

#2 – Understanding Your Customers

Your customers should affect every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. The way that they interact with and consumer information should inform your SEO, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media strategies and beyond.

In order to better understand customers and make a more impactful digital marketing strategy, you must complete:

  • Customer Research: This can take on many forms. Your current customers are the best place to start. Depending on your business model you can schedule a conversation with some of your best clients, or send out surveys to customers that have purchased once or many times.
  • Persona Development: Once you’ve collected customer data, you need to begin understanding how to mold a digital marketing strategy around that information. The data collected will help inform what topics and types of content makes the most sense for customers based on their needs and stage in the buying cycle.

#3 – Consistent, Creative & Compelling Content Creation

The 2015 B2B Content Marketing report shows that marketers recognize that blogging is not content marketing. While it’s a very important component, it’s not the only tactic you should be focusing on:

b2b content marketing tactics

However, before you begin deciding which tactics to invest in, you must first get a handle on:

  • Audits: If you’ve already identified your digital marketing opportunities, congratulations! However, for most marketers, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Either internally or with an agency like TopRank Marketing, we recommend that you audit the performance of your current content marketing activities and uncover your biggest opportunities for impact.
  • Content Marketing Strategy: A comprehensive content marketing strategy will include the targets, tactics and promotion for every content marketing asset throughout the year. As mentioned above, blogging is merely an element of a content marketing strategy, not a strategy all in of itself.
  • Resources: Today’s customers require compelling content and visuals that inspire them to take the next step. A content marketing strategy is only as good as the team that you have working for you. It doesn’t matter if it is internal team members or external resources, this is an incredibly important of digital marketing to invest in.

#4 – Paid Digital Marketing Amplification

What good is digital marketing if nobody sees or shares it? While it is always important to maintain a strong organic search and social presence, you should also consider making an investment in paid tactics.

  • Paid Social: Organic reach on social media platforms just isn’t what it used to be. Paid social on websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help you target your digital marketing to the right people, for the action you want them to take.
  • Paid Search: Incorporating a paid search strategy can be the added boost that your digital marketing needs. There is an art to writing paid search campaigns and they can become expensive so make sure that you’re working with someone that can help guide you on your approach.

Knowing When to Partner with an Agency

It doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise company or a small startup, sometimes you need to ask for help. Below are three signs that you may need the help of a digital marketing agency:

  • You’re Looking for Expertise: Agency teams are typically comprised of teams that specialize in specific areas of digital marketing. Instead of hiring a team of experts, strategists, practitioners and project managers, you may want to consider partnering with an agency.
  • You Have Other Priorities: You may recognize that you have a digital marketing need, but your internal team is already strapped and focused on larger business objectives. If you want a team that can integrate with your existing staff, and help you work toward common business objectives an agency may be right for you.
  • Hiring Your Own Staff is Too Expensive: The cost of hiring new employees and paying their salaries, benefits and any other miscellaneous costs can quickly add up. One of the many benefits of working with an agency is that you have access to a whole team of digital marketers, at a reasonable price.

If you’ve felt the pressure to increase your digital marketing budget, you’re not alone. A marketing program can be a big investment, but it should be data driven and focused on results. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency whose core values and business objectives align with your own, consider trying on TopRank Marketing for size.

Image via Shutterstock


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