Tag Archive | "Secrets"

Offense or defense: The secrets to bidding on brand terms on Amazon Advertising

Testing strategies to capture shoppers’ attention on a crowded shopping channel can have benefits beyond increasing paid conversions – it can boost organic sales as well.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Identity Resolution: Secrets to Success

Live Webinar: Thursday, May 9, at 1:00 PM ET (10:00 AM PT)

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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

More Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Content Marketers Share Their Secrets


Here’s the final excerpt from my new book, ‘Master Content Marketing.’ Read the other excerpts here and here.

‘Master Content Marketing’ is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold. When you order today and register for the free bonus materials, you’ll get an invite to my exclusive readers-only webinar, Scary Good Content Marketing Tips Direct from ‘Master Content Marketing.’ Place your pre-order now!

Back in early 2010, I didn’t consider myself a writer at all.

But I knew good writing when I read it. Masterful writers inspired me and made me want to improve my skills.

Today, I’m lucky to count many of the people I read over the years as colleagues and friends. Before I wrapped up writing my new book, Master Content Marketing, I reached out to them to see if they’d share some words of wisdom with you.

They responded with tips, techniques, and encouragement. Here’s a selection of their answers.

“What do you do to stay excited about your topic of choice after all these years? How do you keep yourself inspired?”

One issue content marketers struggle with is how to keep their interest high even though they’re writing about the same topic for months and years. Here’s how master content marketers handle this challenge:

For Darren Rowse, it’s about the people he serves:

“The thing that continually inspires me to create content for my blog and podcast is regularly meeting my readers both in person and online. Talking with a reader about the dreams that they have and the challenges that they face gives me both ideas for content but also renewed passion for my topic.”

Bernadette Jiwa just has to imagine her readers:

“What excites me is the people on the other side of this computer screen I’m reading from as I type. People I have never met, from all over the world, in places I may never visit who are searching for something. And I have the opportunity to help them with nothing other than 101 keys and an internet connection. Thinking about how the world used to be and that one person I might be able to reach is what keeps inspiring me to keep going.”

Chris Ducker’s interactions with his audience fuel his content ideas:

“I stay excited about my topic of choice — and just inspired, in general — by hanging out with my audience and my community as much as I possibly can. I’m a big believer that if you listen to your audience and pay attention to what they are saying, your job as a content creator and a content marketer becomes even easier over the long haul.”

For John Jantsch, empowering others with his content gives his work meaning:

“Most of what I write about comes from doing and helping others do, so what keeps it exciting for me is working with clients and training consultants to work with clients.”

Joanna Wiebe gets inspired by what she finds in her inbox:

“I thrive on emails from people who are new to copywriting. All of their questions remind me that the stuff I may take for granted or think the whole world knows is actually pretty mysterious to a significant portion of the planet’s seven billion people.”

Demian Farnworth thrives on the novelty of new topics:

“The challenge of tackling a new subject, uncorking difficult problems, tackling new technology — that’s how I stay excited: I conquer and move on.”

Jay Baer knows that our ever-changing marketing environment will provide an endless stream of content inspiration:

“The great thing about creating content about marketing and customer service is that disruption never ends. There’s always a new trend, a new best practice, a new case study. There is no end to the lessons and the learning.”

For Joanna Penn, choosing a topic area that was broad enough to hold her interest for the long haul has made a difference:

“I made the mistake of making [my first two blogs] hyper-focused on one niche, where I soon became bored. But by opening up the focus of my blog to basically include anything on creativity — although it is specifically book and writing related for now at least — I was able to give myself unlimited scope.”

Sean D’Souza excavates his topics to find new inspiration:

“I dig deep into the subject matter. I won’t stay at the topic level. For example, I’ll start with a topic like ‘headlines,” but at a sub-topic level, I’ll examine how to dig through your testimonials for great headlines. You have to be like a geologist, always digging.”

And Kelly Exeter thrives on continuing her education:

“I read everything I can get my hands on in my area of interest. As long as I’m learning new things, I’m excited about what I am writing about (because I’m sharing what I’m learning) … and that excitement comes through in my writing. The day I feel I have nothing left to learn, or I’m not interested in learning more, that’s the day I know it’s time to move on.”

“What weird tip can you share that you use to create effective content?”

After you’ve created content for a while, you may develop your own set of habits that work well for you. Here are the unique habits and methods my colleagues have developed that make content creation easier.

Darren Rowse says it’s easier to tap into emotions if he writes with a soundtrack that inspires him:

“Sometimes when I write I find a playlist of aspirational, orchestral movie soundtracks on Spotify and I pump it up loud to get me in the mood to write.

This music has been composed with the intent of making moviegoers feel something. It engages the emotions, and I find that it puts me in a place that makes it easier to write from the heart.”

Kelly Exeter says taking pen to paper helps her sort through her ideas:

“Write your first drafts longhand.”

Sean D’Souza believes giving your brain time to rest makes you a better writer:

“Sleep. I sleep more than ever before. To create efficiency, I don’t work harder — I sleep. I’ll nap during the day, take weekends off. I’m on full charge when I work, or I don’t work.”

Joanna Wiebe finds that this specific writing technique makes her content stronger:

“Leave gaps. Readers and viewers need to have some questions left unanswered. If your whole argument is tied up neatly in a bow or if you hit on every single way to do X in your listicle, then what are they going to comment about?”

John Jantsch reads broadly to find concepts he can apply to his own content:

“​I read articles or even books that are totally unrelated to my field, looking specifically for crossover ideas I can apply.”

Courtney Seiter takes inspiration from children’s inherent curiosity:

“Be like a toddler: Ask ‘why?’ Again and again and again.”

Chris Ducker shared a weird tip he uses to make recording video much easier. First off, he keeps it simple: he records video using his phone camera. And to avoid sounding scripted, he does this:

“I use sticky notes, and I usually have no more than three bullet points that I want to go over in a two-minute video. I just stick the sticky notes to the phone where I’m recording so that I’m not distracted by looking at myself on that reverse camera. I hit record, sit in front of it, and boom, two minutes later I’m done.”

“If you could go back in time and grab your newbie content creator self by the shoulders, what crucial piece of advice would you pass along?”

Everyone starts somewhere, and my colleagues all remember their early days as content creators. If you’re just starting out creating content, they have some advice for you in their answers to this question.

Joanna Penn urges you to take heart. Content marketing won’t give you instant results, but over time you’ll see the payoff:

“Everything takes time, so have patience. It’s true that you will overestimate what you can achieve in a year, but in a few years’ time, you will look back, and your life will have changed in unimaginable ways!”

Darren Rowse says practice makes perfect:

“Create something every day. The more you do it, the better you get.”

Kelly Exeter recommends getting comfortable with expressing yourself:

“Stop trying to write like other people and just write like yourself!”

Jay Baer is a big believer in video content:

“Get better at video, faster.”

Courtney Seiter says to be courageous:

“Be brave. Make yourself uncomfortable. The scariest stories to publish are the ones that will connect most with people and make you love writing all over again.”

Jeff Goins urges you to cultivate your voice:

“Voice matters more than your topic. It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it. Don’t just pick a topic; find a worldview, a unique way of sharing your message. Say something worth disagreeing with.”

Sean D’Souza realizes that success doesn’t unfold in a straight line:

“People think that you go from good to great. Instead, you go from good to hopeless and then back to good before becoming great.”

John Jantsch says it’s not about you — it’s about your reader:

​“Make the reader the hero of your story and stop obsessing over how cute and witty your writing is (ouch, that was a bit cathartic!).”

Chris Ducker shares how you can avoid duplicating efforts by thinking about how you’ll repurpose your content from the very beginning:

“If I could go back in time and give my newbie content creator self a bit of advice it would be to repurpose, repurpose, and repurpose. Back when I first started creating content, boy oh boy, was I wasting time. Now almost every piece of content that I create is repurposed in some way, shape, or form.”

Karyn Greenstreet says just get started (despite your fear) and let momentum carry you the rest of the way:

Just write. The consistent habit of writing is crucial. Waiting for ‘inspiration’ will kill you.”

And finally, Joanne Wiebe says … relax! And have fun:

“Don’t take yourself too seriously! For the first years of my blogging life, I counted comments and shares on every post, which sucked all the joy out of writing for a living.

Have fun! Don’t count! Don’t compare! Let yourself screw up, and then do it all over again. Even if it chases away people who said they loved you!”

I think “don’t take it too seriously” is a great way to end this article.

Mastering content marketing can be one of the most creatively fulfilling things you’ll ever do. Don’t forget to have fun!

Remember, pre-order Master Content Marketing at your favorite bookseller to attend the exclusive webinar, Scary Good Content Marketing Tips Direct from Master Content Marketing.

Wise owl art by the amazing D.J. Billings.

The post Content Marketers Share Their Secrets appeared first on Copyblogger.


Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

For Writers Only: Secrets to Improving Engagement on Your Content Using Word Pictures (and I Don’t Mean Wordle)

Posted by Isla_McKetta

“Picture it.”

If you’re of a certain generation, those two words can only conjure images of tiny, white-haired Sophia from the Golden Girls about to tell one of her engaging (if somewhat long and irrelevant) stories as she holds her elderly roommates hostage in the kitchen or living room of their pastel-hued Miami home.

Even if you have no idea what I’m talking about, those words should become your writing mantra, because what readers do with your words is take all those letters and turn them into mind pictures. And as the writer, you have control over what those pictures look like and how long your readers mull them over.

According to
Reading in the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene, reading involves a rich back and forth between the language areas and visual areas of our brains. Although the full extent of that connectivity is not yet known, it’s easy to imagine that the more sensory (interesting) information we can include in our writing, the more fully we can engage our readers.

So if you’re a writer or content marketer you should be harnessing the illustrative power of words to occupy your readers’ minds and keep them interested until they’re ready to convert. Here’s how to make your words
work for you.

Kill clichés

I could have titled this piece “Painting a Picture with Words” but you’ve heard it. Over and over and over. And I’m going to propose that every time you use a cliché, a puppy dies. 

While that’s a bit extreme (at least I hope so because that’s a lot of dead puppies and Rocky’s having second thoughts about his choice of parents), I hope it will remind you to read over what you’ve written and see where your attention starts to wander (wandering attention=cliché=one more tragic, senseless death) you get bored. Chances are it’s right in the middle of a tired bit of language that used to be a wonderful word picture but has been used and abused to the point that we readers can’t even summon the image anymore.

Make up metaphors (and similes)

Did you know that most clichés used to be metaphors? And that we overused them because metaphors are possibly the most powerful tool we have at our disposal for creating word pictures (and, thus, engaging content)? You do now.

By making unexpected comparisons, metaphors and similes force words to perform like a stage mom on a reality show. These comparisons shake our brains awake and force us to pay attention. So apply a whip to your language. Make it dance like a ballerina in a little pink tutu. Give our brains something interesting to sink our teeth into (poor Rocky!), gnaw on, and share with out friends.

Engage the senses

If the goal of all this attention to language is to turn reading into a full brain experience, why not make it a little easier by including sensory information in whatever you’re writing? Here are a few examples:

  • These tickets are selling so fast we can smell the burning rubber.
  • Next to a crumbling cement pillar, our interview subject sits typing on his pristine MacBook Air.
  • In a sea of (yelp!) never ending horde of black and gray umbrellas, this red cowboy hat will show the world you own your look.
  • Black hat tactics left your SERPs stinking as bad as a garbage strike in late August? Let us help you clear the air by cleaning up those results.

See how those images and experiences continue to unfold and develop in your mind? You have the power to affect your readers the same way—to create an image so powerful it stays with them throughout their busy days. One note of caution, though, sensory information is so strong that you want to be careful when creating potentially negative associations (like that garbage strike stench in the final example).

Leverage superlatives (wisely) and ditch hyperbole

SUPERLATIVES ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVEST TOOL YOU CAN USE EVER (until you wear your reader out or lose their trust). Superlatives (think “best,” “worst,” “hairiest” – any form of the adjective or adverb that is the most exaggerated form of the word) are one of the main problems with clickbait headlines (the other being the failure to deliver on those huge promises).

Speaking of exaggeration, be careful with it in all of its forms. You don’t actually have to stop using it, but think of your reader’s credence in your copy as a grasshopper handed over by a child. They think it’s super special and they want you to as well. If you mistreat that grasshopper by piling exaggerated fact after exaggerated fact on top of it, the grasshopper will be crushed and your reader will not easily forgive you.

So how do you stand out in a crowded field of over-used superlatives and hyperbolic claims? Find the places your products honestly excel and tout those. At Moz we don’t have the largest link index in the world. Instead, we have a really high quality link index. I could have obfuscated there and said we have “the best” link index, but by being specific about what we’re actually awesome at, we end up attracting customers who want better results instead of more results (and they’re happier for it).

Unearth the mystery

One of the keys to piquing your audience’s interest is to tap into (poor puppy!) create or find the mystery in what you’re writing. I’m not saying your product description will suddenly feature PIs in fedoras (I can dream, though), but figure out what’s intriguing or new about what you’re talking about. Here are some examples:

  • Remember when shortcuts meant a few extra minutes to yourself after school? How will you spend the 15-30 minutes our email management system will save you? We won’t tell…
  • You don’t need to understand how this toilet saves water while flushing so quietly it won’t wake the baby, just enjoy a restful night’s sleep (and lower water bills)
  • Check out this interactive to see what makes our work boots more comfortable than all the rest.

Secrets, surprises, and inside information make readers hunger for more knowledge. Use that power to get your audience excited about the story you’re about to tell them.

Don’t forget the words around your imagery

Notice how some of these suggestions aren’t about the word picture itself, they’re about the frame around the picture? I firmly believe that a reader comes to a post with a certain amount of energy. You can waste that energy by soothing them to sleep with boring imagery and clichés, while they try to find something to be interested in. Or you can give them energy by giving them word pictures they can get excited about.

So picture it. You’ve captured your reader’s attention with imagery so engaging they’ll remember you after they put down their phone, read their social streams (again), and check their email. They’ll come back to your site to read your content again or to share that story they just can’t shake.

Good writing isn’t easy or fast, but it’s worth the time and effort.

Let me help you make word pictures

Editing writing to make it better is actually one of my great pleasures in life, so I’m going to make you an offer here. Leave a sentence or two in the comments that you’re having trouble activating, and I’ll see what I can do to offer you some suggestions. Pick a cliché you can’t get out of your head or a metaphor that needs a little refresh. Give me a little context for the best possible results.

I’ll do my best to help the first 50 questions or so (I have to stop somewhere or I’ll never write the next blog post in this series), so ask away. I promise no puppies will get hurt in the process. In fact, Rocky’s quite happy to be the poster boy for this post—it’s the first time we’ve let him have beach day, ferry day, and all the other spoilings all at once.

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

Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Keyword secrets to Link Building after Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda

Author (displayed on the page): 

Over the past couple years, Google has made several changes to their algorithm that have made the process of link building far more challenging than it used to be, and at the same time made the process of keyword analysis – especially as it relates to link building – much more difficult. Gone are the days of simply finding a few keywords, buying a few links or blog posts containing those terms in the anchor text of the link, and ranking well for it.

The combination of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird have rendered old practices (including exact match domains, anchor text, and most paid links) far less effective, and will continue to be less and less effective as the search engines get smarter. Have a look at this description taken from a Google patent granted in 2011, and pay special attention to the third and final paragraph below.

“A search query, entered by a user is typically only one query of many that express the information that the user desires. For example, someone looking to buy replacement parts for their car may pose the search query “car parts.” Alternatively, however, the search queries “motor part,” “auto parts,” or “automobile spare parts” may be as effective or more effective in returning related documents. In general, a user query will have multiple possible alternative queries that could be helpful in returning documents that the user considers relevant.

Conventionally, additional search queries relating to an initial user query may be automatically formed by the search engine based on different forms of a search term (e.g. “part” or “parts”) or based on synonyms of a search term (e.g., “auto” instead of “car”). This allows the search engine to find documents that do not contain exact matches to the user’s search query but that are nonetheless relevant.

A search query for a search engine may be improved by incorporating alternate terms into the search query that are semantically similar to terms of the search query, taking into account information derived from the search query. An initial set of alternate terms that may be semantically similar to the original terms in the search query is generated.”

What Google is stating is they can take the search word(s) I enter into their search box and produce a set of search results for me that is based on different words, depending on the meaning and intent of those words and Google’s confidence that a better search result will be given to me.

The effect of this can’t be underestimated, and means much more to your linking strategy than simply trying to use every possible alternative search phrase in your anchor text. None of us can guess all the words someone might use when conducting a search – that’s why keyword research is essential.

Ironically, the word Hummingbird, Google’s latest update provides us with an example. What does the word “hummingbird” mean to you? What could that word mean to Google?

Look at Google’s results for the word “Hummingbird”. Notice how out of 20 million results, even the first 4 results are about 3 very different things:

  • 1). The bird
  • 2). The Google algorithm
  • 3). The fishing device that helps people find fish, which happens to be called “humminbird” (note the missing letter “g”).

This is a great example of Google trying to produce a good search result for me even though I did not provide much with my search term to show my intent.

This is a much simplified example to show the challenge Google faces.
That said, even though certain linking techniques don’t work in the way they used to – keywords are still vital to your link building strategy. In fact, they are more important than ever.

Why Keyword Research Is Vital To Link Building

When you study the words people type into a search engine, you have the opportunity to learn many things, including

  • What they are looking for, i.e.,

    Business hotels with tennis courts in orlando

  • Which questions they are seeking answers to, i.e.,

    What is the average weight of an adult possum?

  • Intent, such as the potential they could be in a “buying” mode, i.e.,

    Baseball equipment sale

  • Surprises!

I didn’t know that a possum was actually called an Opossum until Google told me that through their search results. And that’s a great example of google discerning both meaning and intent from my search. They know what I wanted was information about an Opossum, even though I didn’t spell it properly, so they did that for me and produced a meaningful set of results.

As link builders, you need to start relying less on keywords in your anchor text, and more on keywords, their synonyms, the entirety of the theme of the page you think you want a link from, the credibility of the sites Google is showing in the results, the author of that content and their footprint on the web beyond that page, as well as many other factors that begin with a set of keywords and evolve into an entire content creation and outreach strategy.

And that’s perhaps the single biggest key to all of this. SEO and keyword research is becoming less about technical issues, and more about people, places, and things along with credibility, confidence, and trustworthiness. You no longer need those keywords in your anchor text, but you certainly need them (and their varied alternative terms and phrases) to be present on the content on which you are seeking a link. Google knows that page is about business hotels with tennis court without you having to force feed them anchor text and pay them off for it. But you need to understand and identify the other words, phrases, and themes these words represent, so you can broaden your outreach accordingly.

If you’d like to hear more about this, please join me and Ken McGaffin for a free webinar “Prospering From Link Building Post Panda and Beyond.” Here’s a description of the webinar:

Prospering From Link Building Post Panda and Beyond.

Link building is still vital to your search traffic – that hasn’t changed. But what has changed is how you’ve got to do link building. Cheap tricks are out, quality tactics are most definitely in.

In this lively FREE webinar, Eric Ward and Ken McGaffin will show you what’s going on with Google’s algorithm changes and the smart link building strategies you must adopt to prosper in the new environment.

Eric and Ken are two of the smartest, practical thinkers in link building. They’ll be sharing a ton of free information – and for people who really want to up their game, they’ll explain how you can learn even more.

The free webinar is on Thursday, November 14 at 12 noon Eastern, 5 pm UK. Places are limited so register now.

Wordtracker Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

Secrets of the 7-Result SERP

Posted by Dr. Pete

Secrets of the 7-result SERP (pulp sci-fi cover)In August of 2012, Google launched 7-result SERPs, transforming page-one results. MozCast data initially showed that as many as 18% of the queries we tracked were affected. We’ve been collecting data on the phenomenon ever since, and putting some of the most common theories to the test. This is the story of the 7-result SERP as we understand it today (image created with PULP-O-MIZER).

I. 7-Result SERPs in The Wild

By now, you’ve probably seen a few 7-result SERPs in the “wild”, but I think it’s still useful to start at the beginning. Here are a few examples (with screenshots) of the various forms the 7-result SERP takes these days. I apologize in advance for the large images, but I think it's sometimes important to see the full-length SERP.

(1) The “Classic” 7-Result SERP

The classic 7-result SERP usually appears as a #1 listing with expanded site-links (more on that later), plus six more organic listings. Here’s a screenshot from a search for “some ecards”, a navigational query:

Classic 7-result SERP

(2) The 7 + 7 with Local Results

It’s also possible to see 7-result SERPs blended with other types of results, including local “pack” results. Here’s the result of a search with local intent – “williamsburg prime outlets”:

7-result SERP with 7 local

(3) The 6 + Image Mega-Pack

It’s not just organic results that can appear in the #1 spot of a 7-result SERP, though. There’s a rare exception when a “mega-pack” of images appears at the top of a SERP. Here’s a “7-result” SERP with one image pack and six organic listings – the search is “pictures of cats”:

7-result SERP with image mega-pack

II. Some 7-Result SERP Stats

Our original data set showed 7-result page-one SERPs across about 18% of the queries we tracked. That number has varied over time, dropping as low as 13%. Recently, we’ve been experimenting with a larger data set (10,000 keywords). Over the 10 days from 1/13-1/22 (the data for this post was collected around 1/23), that data set tracked 7-result SERPs in the range of 18.1% – 18.5%. While this isn’t necessarily representative of the entire internet, it does show that 7-result SERPs continue to be a significant presence on Google.

These percentages are calculated by unique queries. We can also looking at query volume. Using Google’s “global” volume (exact-match), the percentage of queries by volume with 7-result SERPs for 1/22 was 19.5%. This compares to 18.5% by unique queries. Factoring in volume, that’s almost a fifth of all queries we track.

Here are the 7-result SERP percentages across 20 industry categories (500 queries per category) for 1/22:

 Apparel  23.6% 
 Arts & Entertainment  16.8% 
 Beauty & Personal Care  12.6% 
 Computers & Consumer Electronics  16.8% 
 Dining & Nightlife  27.2% 
 Family & Community  13.2% 
 Finance  19.2% 
 Food & Groceries  13.4% 
 Health  3.8% 
 Hobbies & Leisure  11.0% 
 Home & Garden  20.0% 
 Internet & Telecom  12.6% 
 Jobs & Education  21.4% 
 Law & Government  16.2% 
 Occasions & Gifts  7.8% 
 Real Estate  13.2% 
 Retailers & General Merchandise  29.6% 
 Sports & Fitness  28.6% 
 Travel & Tourism  36.2% 
 Vehicles  26.0% 

These categories were all borrowed from the Google AdWords keyword research tool. The most impacted vertical is “Travel & Tourism”, at 36.2%, with “Health” being the least impacted.  At only 500 queries/category, it’s easy to over-interpret this data, but I think it’s interesting to see how much the impact varies.

III. The Site-Link Connection

Many people have hypothesized a link between expanded site-links and 7-result SERPs. We’ve seen a lot of anecdotal evidence, but I thought I’d put it to the test on a large scale, so we collected site-link data (presence and count) for the 10,000 keywords in this study.

Of the 1,846 queries (18.5%) in our data set that had 7-result SERPs on the morning of 1/22, 100% of them had expanded site-links for the #1 position. There were 45 queries that had expanded site-links, but did not show a 7-result count, but those were all anomalies based on how we count local results (we include blended local and packs in the MozCast count, whereas Google may not). There is nearly a perfect, positive correlation between 7-result SERPs and expanded site-links. Whatever engine is driving one also very likely drives the other.

The only minor exception is the image blocks mentioned above. In those cases, the image “mega-pack” seems to be the equivalent of expanded site-links. Internally, we count those as 6-result SERPs, but I believe Google sees them as a 7-result variant.

While most (roughly 80%) of 7-result SERPs have six expanded site-links, there doesn’t seem to be any rule about that. We’re tracking 7-result SERPs with anywhere from one to six expanded site-links. It doesn’t take a full set of site-links to trigger a 7-result SERP. In some cases, it seems to just be the case that the domain only has a limited number of query-relevant pages.

IV. 7-Result Query Stability

Originally, I assumed that once a query was deemed “worthy” of site-links and a 7-result SERP, that query would continue to have 7 results until Google made a major change to the algorithm. The data suggests that this is far from true – many queries have flipped back and forth from 7 to 10 and vise-versa since the 7-result SERP roll-out.

While our MozCast Top-View Metrics track major changes to the average result count, the real story is a bit more complicated. On any given day, a fairly large number of keywords flip from 7s to 10s and 10s to 7s. From 1/21 to 1/22, for example, 61 (0.61%) went from 10 to 7 results and 56 (0.56%) went from 7 to 10 results. A total of 117 “flips” happened in a 24-hour period – that’s just over 1% of queries, and that seems to be typical.

Some keywords have flipped many times – for example, the query “pga national” has flipped from 7-to-10 and back 27 times (measured once/day) since the original roll-out of 7-result SERPs. This appears to be entirely algorithmic – some threshold (whether it’s authority, relevance, brand signals, etc.) determines if a #1 result deserves site-links, probably in real-time, and when that switch flips, you get a 7-result SERP.

V. The Diversity Connection

I also originally assumed that a 7-result SERP was just a 10-result SERP with site-links added and results #8-#10 removed. Over time, I developed a strong suspicion this was not the case, but tracking down solid evidence has been tricky. The simple problem is that, once we track a 7-result SERP, we can’t see what the SERP would’ve looked like with 10 results.

This is where query stability comes in – while it’s not a perfect solution (results naturally change over time), we can look at queries that flip and see how the 7-result SERP on one day compares to the 10-result SERP on the next. Let’s look at our flipper example, “pga national” – here are the sub-domains for a 7-result SERP recorded on 1/19:

  1. www.pgaresort.com
  2. www.pganational.com
  3. en.wikipedia.org
  4. www.jeffrealty.com
  5. www.tripadvisor.com
  6. www.pga.com
  7. www.pgamembersclub.com

The previous day (1/18), that same query recorded a 10-result SERP. Here are the sub-domains for those 10 results:

  1. www.pgaresort.com
  2. www.pgaresort.com
  3. www.pgaresort.com
  4. www.pgaresort.com
  5. www.pganational.com
  6. en.wikipedia.org
  7. www.tripadvisor.com
  8. www.pga.com
  9. www.jeffrealty.com
  10. www.bocaexecutiverealty.com

The 10-result SERP allows multiple listings for the top domain, whereas the 7-result SERP collapses the top domain to one listing plus expanded site-links. There is a relationship between listings #2-#4 in the 10-result SERP and the expanded site-links in the 7-result SERP, but it’s not one-to-one.

Recently, I happened across another way to compare. Google partners with other search engines to provide data, and one partner with fairly similar results is EarthLink. What’s interesting is that Google partners don’t show expanded site-links or 7-result SERPs – at least not in any case I’ve found (if you know an exception, please let me know). Here’s a search for “pga national” on EarthLink on 1/25:

  1. www.pgaresort.com
  2. www.pgaresort.com
  3. www.pgaresort.com
  4. www.pganational.com
  5. en.wikipedia.org
  6. www.tripadvisor.com
  7. www.jeffrealty.com
  8. www.pga.com
  9. www.bocaexecutiverealty.com
  10. www.devonshirepga.com

Again, the #1 domain is repeated. Looking across multiple SERPs, the pattern varies a bit, and it’s tough to pin it down to just one rule for moving from 7 results to 10 results. In general, though, the diversity pattern holds. When a query shifts from a 10-result SERP to a 7-result SERP, the domain in the #1 spot gets site-links but can’t occupy spots #2-#7.

Unfortunately, the domain diversity pattern has been hard to detect at large-scale.  We track domain diversity (percentage of unique sub-domains across the Top 10) in MozCast, but over the 2-3 days that 7-results SERPs rolled out, overall diversity only increased from 55.1% to 55.8%.

Part of the problem is that our broad view of diversity groups all sub-domains, meaning that the lack of diversity in the 10-result SERPs could overpower the 7-result SERPs. So, what if we separate them? Across the core MozCast data (1K queries), domain diversity on 1/22 was 53.4%. Looking at just 7-result SERPs, though, domain diversity was 62.2% (vs. 54.2% for 10-result SERPs). That’s not a massive difference, but it’s certainly evidence to support the diversity connection.

Of course, causality is tough to piece together. Just because 7-result SERPs are more diverse, that doesn’t mean that Google is using domain crowding as a signal to generate expanded site-links. It could simply mean that the same signals that cause a result to get expanded site-links also cause it to get multiple spots in a 10-result SERP.

VI. The Big Brand Connection

So, what drives 7-result SERPs? Many people have speculated that it’s a brand signal – at a glance, there are many branded (or at least navigational) queries in the mix. Many of these are relatively small brands, though, so it’s not a classic picture of big-brand dominance. There are also some 7-result queries that don’t seem branded at all, such as:

  1. “tracking santa”
  2. “cool math games for kids”
  3. “unemployment claim weeks”
  4. “cell signaling”
  5. “irs transcript”

Granted, these are exceptions to the rule, and some of these are brand-like, for lack of a better phrase. The query “irs transcript” does pull up the IRS website in the top spot – the full phrase may not signal a brand, but there’s a clear dominant match for the search. Likewise, “tracking santa” is clearly NORAD’s domain, even if they don’t have a domain or brand called “tracking santa”, and even if they’re actually matching on “tracks santa”.

In some cases, there does seem to be a brand (or entity) bias. Take a search for “reef”, which pulls up Reef.com in the #1 spot with four site-links:

Google #1 result for Reef.com

Not to pick on Reef.com, but I don’t think of them as a household name. Are they a more relevant match to “reef” than any particular reef (like the Great Barrier Reef) or the concept of a reef in general? It could be a question of authority (DA = 66) or of the Exact-Match Domain in play – unfortunately, we throw around the term “brand” a lot, but we don’t often dig into how that translates into practical ranking signals.

I pulled authority metrics (DA and PA) for a subset of these queries, and there seems to be virtually no correlation between authority (as we measure it) and the presence of site-links. An interesting example is Wikipedia. It occupies over 11% of the #1 results (yeah, it’s not your imagination), but only seven of those 1,119 queries have 7-result SERPs. This is a site with a Domain Authority of 100 (out of 100).

VII. The "Entity" Connection

One emerging school of thought is that named entities are getting more ranking power these days. A named entity doesn’t have to be a big brand, just a clear match to a user’s intent. For example, if I searched for “sam’s barber shop”, SamsBarberShop.com would much more likely match my intent than results for barbers who happened to be named Sam. Sam’s Barber Shop is an entity, regardless of its Domain Authority or other ranking signals. This goes beyond just an exact-match domain (EMD) connection, too.

I think that 7-result SERPs and other updates like Knowledge Graph do signal a push toward classifying entities and generally making search reflect the real world. It’s not going to be enough in five years simply to use keywords well in your content or inbound anchor links. Google is going to want to want to return rich objects that represent “real-world” concepts that people understand, even if those concepts exist primarily online. This fits well into the idea of the dominant interpretation, too (as outlined in Google’s rater guidelines and other documents). Whether I search for “Microsoft” or “Sam’s Barber Shop”, the dominant interpretation model suggests that the entity’s website is the best match, regardless of other ranking factors or the strength of their SEO.

There's only one problem with the entity explanation. Generally speaking, I'd expect an entity to be stable – once a query was classified as an entity and acquired expanded sitelinks, I'd expect it to stay that way. As mentioned, though, the data is fairly unstable. This could indicate that entity detection is dynamic – based on some combination of on-page/link/social/user signals.

VIII. The Secret Sauce is Ketchup

Ok, maybe “secrets” was a bit of an exaggeration. The question of what actually triggers a 7-result SERP is definitely complicated, especially as Google expands into Knowledge Graph and advanced forms of entity association. I'm sure the broader question on everyone's mind is "How do I get (or stop getting) a 7-result SERP?" I'm not sure there's any simple answer, and there's definitely no simple on-page SEO trick. The data suggests that even a strong link profile (i.e. authority) may not be enough. Ultimately, query intent and complex associations are going to start to matter more, and your money keywords will be the ones where you can provide a strong match to intent. Pay attention not only to the 7-result SERPs in your own keyword mix, but to queries that trigger Knowledge Graph and other rich data – I expect many more changes in the coming year.

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!

SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

7 Secrets to Outsourcing a Killer Content Creation Team

outsourced content creation introductory3

This is a guest post from Steve Lazuka, founder of Interact Media, the software development firm behind the Zerys Content Marketplace and question-and-answer website, YoExpert.

If you read this blog regularly, you understand the impact inbound marketing and, more specifically, content creation have on a business’ lead generation and customer acquisition efforts. Read the full story

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

The Secrets to Stellar Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation FactoryIn a classic I Love Lucy episode, the red-headed comedienne and her sidekick, Ethel Mertz, take a job working the conveyor line at a chocolate candy factory. Noting their early success on the production line, the foreman yells, “Speed it up!” Soon, the pair demonstrates everything that can go wrong with automation. It’s classic Lucy as well as a classic example of automation gone awry.

Marketing automation done right is a thing of beauty. (Well, to marketers like me, anyway!) Marketing automation done wrong is just speeding up a broken process. Before you know it, you’re stuffing chocolates, er, leads, anywhere you can hide your lack of success from the boss.

1. Automate This!

Go ahead: automate. But first, ask yourself, what content are you automating, exactly?

“Companies rarely have enough of the right content to make marketing automation work,” Jeff Ernst, a principal analyst with Forrester Research, recently told BtoB, the magazine for marketing strategists. “The content you need for nurturing needs to be around business problems and tends to be thought leadership about solving those problems.”

Marketers are frequently challenged by how to implement and achieve marketing automation.  It’s not only how to leverage the tools that automate their offerings—from email and search to social media—but access to a comprehensive set of resources to develop the type of relevant content their customers need.

If you have the resources to write compelling, effective blog posts or whitepapers, for example, then you are halfway to the successful launch of an inbound marketing strategy with content that will generate leads for the top of your sales funnel and then propagate and nurture those leads through the middle of the funnel. 

If you don’t have the content creation wherewithal, there exists a range of service providers with whom you can work to drive your editorial strategy across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your website, blog, and search engines. 

Using inbound marketing to create content that is useful, that answers people’s questions, that helps them solve their problems and the social media universe will draw prospects to your digital door like flies to honey.

2. Align That!

All too often, a company’s sales and marketing are out of alignment. Adding marketing automation in and of itself does nothing to bring the two organizations into alignment. In fact, it might makes things worse.

The best companies use marketing automation to generate qualified leads, leads with a detailed lead profile which provide insight into the customer about how they got to you, what activities they engaged in along the way, how often, and when.

Marketers that can hand off a lead to sales which tells them, for example, which LinkedIn group the prospect joined, what blog posts they read or Twitter feeds they subscribed to, along with which whitepapers or ebooks they shared with colleagues, gives the necessary lead intelligence to make alignment a reality.

Sales then knows how the customer came to contact your company, what interests them, and maybe what challenges they’re facing right now. Marketing knows which campaigns, offers, and marketing assets drove sales and how much, so each successive marketing campaign can be more effectively targeted than the previous one.

3. Process the Whole Thing

Marketing automation goes far beyond the implementation of a software tool or platform. In fact, the companies that succeed the most with their marketing automation endeavors recognize two things: marketing automation begins long before the implementation of any given application, and it continues long after. Marketing automation is a process, not a single product.

“Organizations are looking to leverage social communities for marketing, but all too often, people just jump into it,” Kim Collins, Gartner’s managing vice president of CRM and agenda manager for marketing and sales strategies, processes and technologies, told SearchCRM. “Figure out how people want to be communicated with, how often, and where before you attempt to implement a solution.”

Well-executed marketing automation plans start with just that—a plan. “Before you even start looking for a solution, you should start educating your people about the changes that will be coming, of the strategy that’s changing, how the processes will change, and how the solutions will make them more efficient,” Collins said. “By the time you’ve selected the solution, the training becomes more about how to drive value out of the solution.”

With a lot of moving parts: email, search, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, whitepapers, and ebooks, to name more than a handful, each marketing automation component needs to be timely and relevant from the customer’s perspective. Above else, it needs to be integrated with sales to ensure the customer gets what he needs when he needs it and you get what you need when you need it—a sale.

Marketing Takeaway: Whether you’re automating a candy wrapping line or an inbound marketing machine across multiple social media platforms, take the time to plan the work, then work the plan before you decide it’s time to “Speed it up!”

Image credit: amazon.com


Connect with HubSpot:

HubSpot on Twitter HubSpot on Facebook HubSpot on LinkedIn HubSpot on Google Buzz 


HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

7 Dirty Little Book Publishing Secrets that Every Writer Needs to Know

image of smiling woman

Paris Hilton has one. Rob Lowe has one too. Even Sharon Osbourne’s got one.

Get your mind out of the gutter people — I’m talking about books.

Even with all their money, fame and extreme overexposure, these people (or, their people) went to the effort to become published authors. Why?

These celebrities already have more money than they know what to do with and dead tree book publishing is supposed to be dead.

So why do these celebrities bother to write (or hire a ghostwriter to write) a book?

I can’t answer for Paris, but Seth Godin has stated that the reason to write a book versus a blog post, ebook, or PDF is to “make change happen.”

Yes, the Emperor of Content Marketing, Godin has published books for years.

Not just ebooks, but real dead-tree printed books with covers.

He says the reason he wrote Linchpin is because, “If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.”

A book gives you that kind of leverage.

Books change lives

Celebrities usually write books to “set the record straight” or explain the twisted story of their rise to stardom.

They can’t do that with a magazine article or tweet. It takes more than 140 characters to explain why Paris does what she does, after all.

Changing a reader’s opinion requires space — whether it’s transforming your attitude toward Paris Hilton or changing your thinking about how you do business.

A tweet doesn’t often change someone’s life. But books can and do — all the time.

I’ve written my books to help people. Although my books don’t sell quite as well as Seth’s or Paris Hilton’s, I have received countless emails from readers thanking me for the information.

In a small way, my books have changed people’s lives.

They’ve also changed my life.

A book is something tangible you can point to as a repository of your knowledge. Unlike a series of blog posts, a book is organized and works as a cohesive unit. People take books more seriously than almost any other form of writing.

Being a book author gives you a level of credibility like almost nothing else.

Let’s face it, saying you’re a book author has a lot more cachet than saying you’re a blogger.

Where’s your book?

If you’re reading Copyblogger, you’re undoubtedly a writer, content marketer, or some other type of wizard of words.

You’re a writer. Why haven’t you written a book?

Maybe the idea is too big and scary. I’m living proof that it’s not as hard as you might think to face those fears, move forward, and get your book out into the world.

Here are seven secrets Paris and Seth know that you may not know about getting a book written and published:

1. You don’t have to accept rejection

Many people never write their Great American Novel because they think someone might not like it.

We writers are sensitive souls and fear of rejection is real. The secret is you don’t have to accept rejection.

Have you ever heard of Mark Victor Hansen?

He’s one of the guys who wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul — a book that has made millions of dollars and spawned countless spin-off products. Yet, that book was rejected 140 times. Mark believed in his book, refused to accept the rejections, and kept going.

Another secret is that rejection often has nothing to do with the quality of your book or your ideas.

Many rejections relate to a publisher’s business decisions and have nothing to do with you or your writing at all.

2. You can learn everything you need to know

Many authors take a peek at the book-publishing business, get completely overwhelmed, and run away.

It’s a lot like when you started your own business or your blog.

There’s a learning curve.

The secret is to realize that although writing is a creative process, publishing is a business. Publishing a book is going to require work and a bit of education on your part.

For less than $ 100 worth of books about publishing before you get started, you can save an enormous amount of time, money and aggravation in the long run.

3. You have to market the book

Even if an enormous New York City publishing house publishes your book, you will have to market it.

A first-time author rarely gets help from the publisher. Accept that you will be on your own when it comes to marketing — a fact I’ve discovered first-hand, the hard way.

When you know that you — and only you — will be responsible for marketing your book, you won’t be disappointed.

The key is to think like a marketer before you write the first word of your manuscript.

4. You don’t have to sell your soul to “The Man” (unless you want to)

It used to be that you had to beg a Big Publishing Company to give your book idea the time of day.

You needed an agent and preferably a lot of money. And as noted, the Big Publishing Company could still reject your book on a whim.

Book publishing is different now.

You can publish a book yourself. In the past, self-publishing was often equated to vanity publishing. (In other words, a self-published book was often considered crap.)

But now that idea has been turned on its head. Some people argue that being published by a Big Company is more for “vanity” reasons than anything else. It’s certainly not because of all the great marketing support you’ll receive.

You get to say, “My book was published by Big Company.”

Of course, almost no one outside of New York actually cares about that.

Have you ever looked at a book to check and see which company published it? Me neither.

Your readers don’t care who published the book. They care whether or not the book is good.

In the past, I had a couple of books published by a big company. I started self-publishing my books because it made it possible to release books I wanted to write and make a lot more money.

It’s not just me. Even Seth Godin ditched his publisher and started The Domino Project so he can have more control over his books.

5. Your online presence and knowledge give you an advantage

If you’re here reading Copyblogger, I bet you have a blog.

Or if you don’t, you’re thinking about starting one. Your blog is the beginning of the “author platform” every publisher requires (even if the publisher is you).

Today most books — whether paper or pixels — are sold online.

All the online marketing techniques you use to market your blog or digital products work for a book too. You can leverage what you already know.

A blog also gives you a way to do market research.

Chris Anderson said he wrote many parts of The Long Tail based on comments from his blog.

6. You need to spend time and money on your book

As noted above, publishing is a business.

If you opt to try and get a traditional book publishing deal, it will take time to find an agent, write a proposal, and send out queries.

If you opt to publish yourself, you’ll need to pay for editorial services, ISBNs, and designers.

You need to accept that these investments are part of the business of your book.

7. You will feel resistance at many points during the publishing process

Every writer experiences some level of anxiety about putting a book “out there.”

In his book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield talks about the concept of “resistance.” Often authors struggle to get a book out the door.

I’ve written 12 books and worried about each one.

As a bit of an introvert, I worry about putting too much of myself out there on public display or worse, being completely ignored.

The secret is to know that resistance happens; it’s part of the process.

So what’s stopping you?

As a good content marketer, you’re probably churning out articles, blog posts, and ebooks.

So, why not publish a real print book too?

It worked out nicely for Seth and Paris, after all. There’s no reason it can’t work for you.

A book is your legacy.

Why haven’t you written it yet? If you’re stuck, what stopped you? Tell me about it in the comments.

About the Author: Susan Daffron, aka The Book Consultant owns a book and software publishing company in Idaho where she spends most of her time writing, laying out books in InDesign, or taking her four dogs out for romps in the forest. She teaches authors about book publishing, puts on the Self-Publishers Online Conference in May, runs a book author mastermind, and just launched Virtual Writing Retreats, which offer writers accountability, feedback, and the gift of time to get their writing done.



Related Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

The 4 Secrets of Effective Prospect Nurturing

nurturingThis is a guest blog post by Mari Anne Vanella, one of the 20 Women to Watch in Lead Management in 2011. Mari was one of our guest presenters on the Marketing Metrics Workshop, “The Follow Up Formula: Secrets for Nurturing Prospects.”

Let’s start off with a simple vocabulary word.

nur·ture /ˈnɜrtʃər/  Show Spelled [nur-cher]  Show IPA verb, -tured, -tur·ing,  noun 
verb (used with object) 

1. to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring. 

2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians. 

3. to bring up; train; educate. 

Lead generation has more and more moved away from a transactional activity, or generating single events for reps, to initiating and maintaining a relationship that leads the buyer to the best choice (i.e., your platform).

The definition for nurturing, highlighted above, is exactly the effect you want your ongoing follow-up and communication to accomplish. Something that is often overlooked, however, is that the relationship with your prospects won’t become reciprocal until they see the value and visualize the benefit. Often buyers educate themselves, interact with users of your product, and compare solutions before they even take your calls. That being said, sending generic content and pestering phone calls to move them along will actually drive them away vs. drawing them closer.  

So, what’s the secret to an effective follow up?

  1. Persistence
  2. Value
  3. Personal, Peer-Level Interaction
  4. Timing 

1. Persistence

Persistence is important when dealing with today’s overloaded executives. Don’t give up after a single follow up. I’ve heard sales reps express discouragement over prospects not returning their calls or emails, but the underlying problem is that executives are just plain busy. It often takes 3-5+ attempts to reach a prospect who showed interest via a webinar, whitepaper, or other inbound activity. Waiting for them to call you back will only let their interest go cold and leave room for someone else to capture the attention you invested in developing. The other aspect to this is that companies are passive to reach out to vendors even when there is a requirement. Just because they aren’t calling you back doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge opportunity within a company. Don’t misinterpret their lack of response always as a lack of interest.

2. Value

Create value with your outreach, but don’t over-inform. Sending content-heavy communication risks losing your prospects. The first time they read something they don’t understand, it will distance them and make them think you aren’t a good fit, and that’s a hard ditch to dig out of when you have no insight into what happened. Reps often wonder why prospects went quiet on them. This is one of the reasons: too much data right out of the gate without knowing what they needed to hear. You want your prospects to say “tell me more,” not “please stop talking.”    

3. Personal, Peer-Level Interaction

Personal and peer level interaction is different than a sales-to-prospect dynamic. Peer level communication is open, free-flowing discussion that lets the prospect talk. It’s not telling them what they’re doing wrong by not working with you. Your nurturing program should be a deliberate effort to break down barriers with your prospects, inform them, and also build a personal relationship with them. The human aspect of this is important because it is the richest form of communication at your disposal. Interacting with your prospects at a higher level will reinforce and advance the opportunity. We talk to hundreds of executives each week, and people take calls and are more than willing to engage—as I have said many times, it isn’t that people don’t want to take a call; they just don’t want to take a bad call. So educate your team and outsource a little bit, but do something to connect live with prospects on their level. 

4. Timing

Finally, timing is extremely critical in your follow up. Plan your outreach in the right window. I have seen organizations push follow ups on good leads months out, long after the prospect has forgotten the original exchange they had and are well along with evaluating (and now preferring) other vendors. If you uncovered an opportunity and you know their buying cycle, stay ahead of it. Don’t wait until the deal is on the table to get involved. Well planned outreach will keep you informed of what is going on. Long gone are the days of sales 1.0, when sales teams followed up on a lead, found out the deal wasn’t happening for 2 quarters out, and then called back in 2 quarters to find out they signed a 1M deal with a competitor 2 months back. The tools are now available to stage the timing, and if the prospect is active before then and you have visibility of that, don’t wait until their score reaches a certain threshold; call them. Don’t lose deals when you have visibility at your fingertips. 

Buyers are open to early engagement, and this is often when the real window of influence is possible and decisions are made. So, with your prospects, take the approaches that align with your buyers’ actual decision patterns.   

Final Thought

Nurturing programs can take on different forms, from simple campaigns to sophisticated ones within automation platforms. The key here is to do something that keeps you involved and progresses the opportunity. Don’t lose the prospect that you invested so much to identify in the first place. A sizable amount of marketing dollars go into activities to generate interested prospects. To let them fall off a cliff once you’ve discovered they aren’t buying in the next 90 days is walking away from a huge percentage of prospects that will in fact make a purchase in the next 12 months.  

It’s important to realize you are already holistically building your pipeline, and small adjustments to how you are following up makes a big difference to extract more revenue out of your initial campaigns. Nurturing has become a cooperative effort of sales and marketing. The 4 points I talked about in this post overlap both. We’re all on the same team with the common goal of staying involved and progressing deals in the most effective manner. Identifying the areas that need change, who will drive it, and achieving consistency across both groups will only result in increased success.

What other prospect nurturing secrets are you keeping in your internet marketing back pocket?

Image credit: Looking&Learning


Connect with HubSpot:

HubSpot on Twitter HubSpot on Facebook HubSpot on LinkedIn HubSpot on Google Buzz 


HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off