Tag Archive | "Stop"

4 Reasons Why People Stop Reading Before the End of a Page

Every page you create has a purpose. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a sales page, a subscription page, an about page, a blog post, or any other kind of page. You publish it for a reason. You want something to happen. Maybe you want someone to share the page on social media. Or you want
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How to Stop Wishing You Had More Time to Write

“If only I had all the time in the world, my blog would be perfect.” That thought has probably crossed your mind more than once. I know it’s crossed mine. I find myself lost in daydreams about how amazing my motorcycle blog could be — if only I had more time. When writerly productivity is
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Stop Making These 12 Word Choice Errors Once and for All

"Write the correct words the first time, and you’ll spend less time editing later." – Stefanie Flaxman

Bill is at a wine bar on Saturday night, enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir.

After striking up a playful conversation with Lisa (who prefers Syrah), he asks for her telephone number. Lisa agrees to Bill’s request, and he creates a new “contact” in his cell phone.

“No,” Lisa stops Bill. “You’ll have to memorize it. I don’t want you to write it down.”

Bill accepts the challenge and confidently repeats the 10-digit number a few times aloud. Lisa proceeds to talk about her cat Nibbles for an hour and then leaves the bar after she realizes how late in the evening it has become.

By the next day, Bill has forgotten Lisa’s phone number. He remembers how much Nibbles loves playing with yarn because he used to have a cat that loved yarn … and although he wants to send Lisa a text message, her digits weren’t meaningful to him.

The same thing happens when you memorize the definitions of two similar words instead of learning how to use them.

When you memorize without any meaningful context, you may quickly forget a definition and continually select a word that doesn’t mean what you think it means.

When you learn how to use the following 12 pairs of words, it will be easier to choose the proper one for your content.

Write the correct words the first time, and you’ll spend less time editing later.

1. Compliment vs. Complement

Compliment

A “compliment (noun)” is an “expression of praise.” When you “compliment (verb)” someone, you praise something about her.

“I like your neon-rainbow, unicorn t-shirt” is a compliment.

The word “compliment,” spelled with the letter “i,” should remind you of saying “I like” — how you begin a compliment.

Complement

A “complement (noun)” is “something that completes something else.” When something “complements (verb)” something else, it “makes it whole/adds value to it/completes it.”

Complete is part of the word “complement.”

2. Premiere vs. Premier

Premiere

“Premiere (noun)” is “the first showing of an event.” “Premiere” as other parts of speech conveys a similar meaning.

Premiere could describe a movie premiere. The words “premiere” and “movie” both end with the letter “e.”

Premier

Use the adjective “premier” to describe “the best ___.”

Premier means premium. Neither word ends with the letter “e.”

“Premier (noun)” is less common. The term describes a person who is first in rank.

For example, a “premier” may be a chief executive officer or president of a company.

3. Effect vs. Affect

Effect

The noun “effect” refers to an “outcome or result.”

If you associate “special effects” in movies with “effects,” you’ll remember that “effect” should be used as the noun to describe an outcome.

Affect

The verb “affect” describes something that “manipulates or causes a change.”

An emotional piece of news may affect how you feel after you hear it.

4. Accept vs. Except

Accept

The verb “accept” means “to take in or receive.”

When using the word “accept,” associate it with the word “acceptance” — you take something in; you receive it.

Except

The word “except” is not a verb. It can be used as a preposition, a conjunction, or an idiom. In each form, the word “except” means “with the exclusion of ___.”

When you use the word “except,” you want to exclude something.

5. Ensure vs. Insure

Ensure

Use the verb “ensure” to convey “make certain or guarantee.”

To remember when to use “ensure,” note that the last two letters of the word “guarantee” are “e” and the word “ensure” begins with the letter “e.”

Insure

The verb “insure” communicates “protecting assets against loss or harm.”

If you are discussing the protection of assets, think of car insurance and then use the word “insure.”

6. Regard vs. Regards

Regard

Use “regard” when you want to express consideration or reference something specific.

Writing “in regards to” is one of my content pet peeves.

“Regard” is typically the proper word choice, unless you are sending your feelings of empathy to someone else. Which brings us to …

Regards

“Regards” are your “best wishes or warm greetings.”

7. Beside vs. Besides

Beside

If you want to convey the meaning of “next to or alongside,” use “beside.”

Associate the word “beside” with the word “alongside.” Both words end with the letters “s-i-d-e.”

Beside can also mean “not connected to.” You would write “that is beside the point.”

Besides

The word “besides” means “in addition to.”

“Besides” ends with the letter “s,” which reminds us of a plural word — two or more of something, additional items.

“Besides can also mean “other than/except.”

Associate the “s” sound in the word “except” with the word “besides,” which ends with the letter “s.”

8. Stationery vs. Stationary

Stationery

“Stationery” is always a noun. It’s typically decorative paper and ornate pens. You might use it to jot down quotes from your favorite writing books.

Associate the noun “stationery” with “paper.” The last three letters of the noun “stationery” contain the letters “er.” The word “paper” also ends with the letters “er.”

Stationary

“Stationary” means “still, grounded, or motionless.” It can be used as a noun or adjective.

Since the word “stationary” can also be used as an adjective, associate the “a” in the word “adjective” with the letter “a” in the last three letters in the adjective “stationary.”

9. Precede vs. Proceed

Precede

“Precede” means “to go before.” It is a verb.

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999) was a “prequel” to the original Star Wars film (1977).

The events that took place during the prequel came before (or preceded) Star Wars.

Proceed

“Proceed” is also a verb, but it means “carry on, continue, move forward.”

Think of “proceed” as “proactive, taking the next step in a sequence.”

“Precede” is “before” and “proceed” is “after.”

10. Who’s vs. Whose

Who’s

“Who’s” is a contraction of two words — most commonly, “who is” (present tense), “who has,” or “who was” (past tense).

If you are combining a verb with the word “who,” it’s appropriate to use “who’s” (with an apostrophe).

Whose

“Whose” is a possessive pronoun, similar to “mine,” “yours,” “his,” or “hers.”

If you don’t intend to combine two words with an apostrophe, use the possessive pronoun “whose.”

11. Sometime vs. Some time

Sometime

When “sometime” is one word, it’s an adverb that refers to “one point in time.” For example, “I’d love to have coffee with you sometime.”

Some time

When “some” and “time” are separated as two words, think of the word “some” as an “amount.”

“Some time” is “an amount of time.” For example, “I just ate so much ice cream. It will take some time before I’m hungry again.”

12. Into vs. In to

Into

“Into” is a preposition that means “entering or transforming.” For example, “The fashion designer transformed the ugly fabric into a chic dress.”

A noun typically follows the word “into.”

In to

A verb that pairs with the word “in” typically goes before “in to.”

For example, “During the baseball game, the outfielder moved in to catch the ball.”

Your turn …

Do you have any word choice pet peeves? What are your favorite tips for learning how to use certain words correctly?

How could Lisa have helped Bill learn her phone number, rather than memorize it? ”</p

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How to Create Content That Keeps Earning Links (Even After You Stop Promoting It)

Posted by kerryjones

Do your link building results look something like this?

  1. Start doing outreach
  2. Get links
  3. Stop doing outreach
  4. No more links

Everyone talks about the long-term benefits of using content marketing as part of a link building strategy. But without the right type of content, your experience may be that you stop earning links as soon as you stop doing outreach.

In this sense, you have to keep putting gas in the car for it to keep running (marketing “gas” = time, effort, and resources). But what if there was a way to fill up the car once, and that would give it enough momentum to run for months or even years?

An example of this is a salary negotiations survey we published last year on Harvard Business Review. The study was picked up by TechCrunch months after we had finished actively promoting it. We didn’t reach out to TechCrunch. Rather, this writer presumably stumbled upon our content while doing research for his article.

techcrunch-link.png

So what’s the key to long-term links? Content that acts as a source.

The goal is to create something that people will find and link to when they’re in need of sources to cite in content they are creating. Writers constantly seek out sources that will back up their claims, strengthen an argument, or provide further context for readers. If your content can serve as a citation, you can be in a good position to earn a lot of passive links.

Read on for information about which content types are most likely to satisfy people in need of sources and tips on how to execute these content types yourself.

Original research and new data

Content featuring new research can be extremely powerful for building authoritative links via a PR outreach strategy.

A lot of the content we create for our clients falls under this category, but not every single link that our client campaigns earn are directly a result of us doing outreach.

In many cases, a large number of links to our client research campaigns earn come from what we call syndication. This is what typically plays out when we get a client’s campaign featured on a popular, authoritative site (which is Site A in the following scenario):

  • Send content pitch to Site A.
  • Site A publishes article linking to content.
  • Site B sees content featured on Site A. Site B publishes article linking to content.
  • Site C sees content featured on Site A. Site C publishes article linking to content.
  • And so on…

So, what does this have to do with long-term link earning? Once the content is strategically seeded on relevant sites using outreach and syndication, it is well-positioned to be found by other publishers.

Site A’s content functions as the perfect citation for these additional publishers because it’s the original source of the newsworthy information, establishing it as the authority and thus making it more likely to be linked to. (This is what happened in the TechCrunch example I shared above.)

Examples

In a recent Experts on the Wire podcast, guest Andy Crestodina talked about the “missing stat.” According to Andy, most industries have “commonly asserted, but rarely supported” statements. These “stats” are begging for someone to conduct research that will confirm or debunk them. (Side note: this particular podcast episode inspired this post – definitely worth a listen!)

To find examples of content that uncovers a missing stat in the wild, we can look right here on the Moz blog…

Confirming industry assumptions

When we did our native advertising versus content marketing study, we went into it with a hypothesis that many fellow marketers would agree with: Content marketing campaigns perform better than native advertising campaigns.

This was a missing stat; there hadn’t been any studies done proving or debunking this assumption. Furthermore, there wasn’t any publicly available data about the average number of links acquired for content marketing campaigns. This was a concrete data point a lot of marketers (including us!) wanted to know since it would serve as a performance benchmark.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 1.16.47 PM.png

As part of the study, we surveyed 30 content marketing agencies about how many links the average content marketing campaign earned, in addition to other questions related to pricing, client KPIs, and more.

After the research was published here on Moz, we did some promotion to get our data featured on Harvard Business Review, Inc, and Marketing Land. This data is still being linked to and shared today without us actively promoting it, such as this mention on SEMRush’s blog and this mention on the Scoop It blog (pictured below).

scoop-it-citation.png

To date, it’s been featured on more than 80 root domains and earned dozens of co-citations. It’s worth noting that this has been about far more than acquiring high-quality links; this research has been extremely effective for driving new business to our agency, which it continues to do to this day.

Debunking industry assumptions

But research doesn’t always confirm presumptions. For example, Buzzsumo and Moz’s research collaboration examined a million online articles. A key finding of their research: There was no overall correlation between sharing and linking. This debunked a commonly held assumption among marketers that content that gets a lot of shares will earn a lot of links, and vice versa. To date, this post has received an impressive 403 links from 190 root domains (RDs) according to Open Site Explorer.

How to use this strategy

To find original research ideas, look at how many backlinks the top results have gotten for terms like:

  • [Industry topic] report
  • [Industry topic] study
  • [Industry topic] research

Then, using the MozBar, evaluate what you see in the top SERPs:

  • Have the top results gotten a sizable number of backlinks? (This tells you if this type of research has potential to attract links.)
  • Is the top-ranking content outdated? Can you provide new information? (Try Rand’s tips on leveraging keywords + year.)
  • Is there a subtopic you could explore?

Additionally, seeing what has already succeeded will allow you to determine two very important things: what can be updated and what can be improved upon. This is a great place to launch a brainstorm session for new data acquisition ideas.

Industry trend and benchmark reports

Sure, this content type overlaps with “New Research and Studies,” but it merits its own section because of its specificity and high potential.

If your vertical experiences significant change from one year, quarter, or month to the next, there may be an opportunity to create recurring reports that analyze the state of your industry. This is a great opportunity to engage all different kinds of brands within your industry while also showcasing your authority in the subject.

How?

People often like to take trends and add their own commentary as to why trends are occurring or how to make the most of a new, popular strategy. That means they’ll often link to your report to provide the context.

And there’s an added promotional benefit: Once you begin regularly publishing and promoting this type of content, your industry will anticipate future releases.

Examples

HubSpot’s State of Inbound report, which features survey data from thousands of HubSpot customers, has been published annually for the last eight years. To date, the URL that hosts the report has links from 495 RDs.

Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have teamed up for the last seven years to release two annual content marketing benchmark reports. The most recent report on B2B content marketing has earned links from 130 RDs. To gather the data, CMI and MarketingProfs emailed a survey to a sample of marketers from their own email marketing lists as well as a few lists from partner companies.

In addition to static reports, you can take this a step further and create something dynamic that is continually updated, like Indeed’s Job Trends Search (171 RDs) which pulls from their internal job listing data.

How to use this strategy

Where can you find fresh industry data? Here are a few suggestions:

Survey your customers/clients

You have a whole pool of people who have been involved in your industry, so why not ask them some questions to learn more about their thoughts, needs, fears, and experiences?

Talking directly to customers and clients is a great way to cut through speculation and discover exactly what problems they’re facing and the solutions they’re seeking.

Survey your industry

There are most likely companies in your industry that aren’t direct competitors but have a wealth of insight to provide to the overall niche.

For example, we at Fractl surveyed 1,300 publishers because we wanted to learn more about what they were looking for in content pitches. This knowledge is valuable to any content marketers involved in content promotions (including ourselves!).

Ask yourself: What aspect of your industry might need some more clarification, and who can you reach out to for more information?

Use your internal company data

This is often the easiest and most effective option. You probably have a ton of interesting data based on your interactions with customers and clients that would benefit fellow professionals in your industry.

Think about these internal data sets you have and consider how you can break it down to reveal trends in your niche while also providing actionable insights to readers.

Curated resources

Research can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of creating content. If someone has pulled together a substantial amount of information on the topic in one place, it can save anyone else writing about it a lot of time.

If you’re willing to put in the work of digging up data and examples, curated resource content may be your key to evergreen link building. Let’s look at a few common applications of this style of content.

Examples

Collections of statistics and facts

Don’t have the means to conduct your own research? Combining insightful data points from credible sources into one massive resource is also effective for long-term link attraction, especially if you keep updating your list with fresh data.

HubSpot’s marketing statistics list has attracted links from 963 root domains. For someone looking for data points to cite, a list like this can be a gold mine. This comprehensive data collection features their original data plus data from external sources. It’s regularly updated with new data, and there’s even a call-to-action at the end of the list to submit new stats.

Your list doesn’t need to be as broad as the HubSpot example, which covers a wide range of marketing topics. A curated list around a more granular topic can work, too, such as this page filled with mobile email statistics (550 RDs).

Concrete examples

Good writers help readers visualize what they’re writing about. To do this, you need to show concrete evidence of abstract ideas. As my 7th grade English teacher used to tell us: show, don’t tell.

By grouping a bunch of relevant examples in a single resource, you can save someone a lot of time when they’re in need of examples to illustrate the points they make in their writing. I can write thousands of words about the idea of 10x content, but without showing examples of what it looks like in action, you’re probably going to have a hard time understanding it. Similarly, the bulk of time it took me to create this post was spent finding concrete examples of the types of content I refer to.

The resource below showcases 50 examples of responsive design. Simple in its execution, the content features screenshots of each responsive website and a descriptive paragraph or two. It’s earned links from 184 RDs.

Authority Nutrition’s list of 20 high-protein foods has links from 53 RDs. If I’m writing a nutrition article where I mention high-protein foods, linking to this page will save me from researching and listing out a handful of protein-rich foods.

How to use this strategy

The first step is to determine what kind of information would be valuable to have all in one place for other professionals in your industry to access.

Often times, it’s the same information that would be valuable for you.

Here are some ways to brainstorm:

  • Explore your recent blog posts or other on-site content. What needed a lot of explaining? What topics did you wish you had more examples to link to? Take careful note of your own content needs while tackling your own work.
  • Examine comments on other industry articles and resources. What are people asking for? This is a gold mine for the needs of potential customers. You can take a similar approach on Reddit and Quora.
  • What works for other industries that you can apply to your own? Search for terms like the following to see what has been successful for other niches that you can apply to yours:
    • [Industry topic] examples
    • types of [industry topic]
    • list of [Industry topic]
    • [Industry topic] statistics OR stats
    • [Industry topic] facts

No matter which way you choose to proceed, the time investment can help you garner many links down the line.

Beginner content

Every niche has a learning curve, with various words, concepts, and ideas being foreign to a beginner.

Content that teaches noobs the ins and outs of your vertical has long-term linking potential. This type of content is popular for citations because it saves the writer from explaining things in their own words. Instead, they can link to the expert’s explanation.

And the best part is you can tap your internal experts to provide great insights that can serve as the foundation for this type of content.

Examples

101 Content

Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a master class in how comprehensive beginner-level content becomes a link magnet. Not only does the guide have backlinks from more than 1,700 RDs, it also edges out the home page as the most-trafficked page on the site, according to SEMrush.

“What is…?”

Beginner content need not be as massive and thorough as the Moz guide to be linkable. It can be as simple as defining an industry term or concept.

Moz’s meta description page, which has backlinks from 244 RDs, is a solid example of an authoritative yet simple answer to a “what is?” query.

Another example is the first result in Google for the query “what is the Paleo diet,” which has 731 links from 228 RDs. It’s not a 10,000-word academic paper about the paleo diet. Rather, it’s a concise answer to the question. This page has served as an excellent source for anyone writing about the Paleo diet within the last several years.

screenshot-robbwolf.com 2017-02-21 14-17-01.png

If a lot of adequate top-level, definition-style content already exists about topics related to your vertical, consider creating content around emerging terms and concepts that aren’t yet widely understood, but may soon be more mainstream.

The perfect example of this? Creating a definitive explanation about content marketing before the entire world knew what content marketing meant. Case in point: Content Marketing Institute’s “What is Content Marketing?” page has amassed an impressive from 12,462 links from 1,100 root domains.

How to use this strategy

Buzzsumo recently released a new tool called Bloomberry which scours forums including Reddit and Quora for questions being asked about a keyword. You can search by time period (ex. questions asked within the last 6 months, all-time results, etc.) and filter by source (ex. only see questions asked in Reddit).

Use Bloomberry to see what beginner questions are being asked about your keyword/topic. Keyword ideas include:

  • [Industry topic] definition
  • How does [industry topic] work
  • [Industry topic] guide
  • What is [industry topic]

After doing the search, ask yourself:

  • What questions keep coming up?
  • How are these common questions being answered?

Bloomberry is also useful for spotting research opportunities. Within the first few results for “SaaS” I found three potential research ideas.

bloomberry.png

Pro tip: Return to these threads and provide an answer plus link to your content once it’s published.

Yes, you still need to promote your content

Don’t mistake this post as a call to stop actively doing outreach and promotion to earn links. Content promotion should serve as the push that gives your content the momentum to continue earning links. After you put in the hard work of getting your content featured on reputable sites with sizable audiences, you have strong potential to organically attract more links. And the more links your content has, the easier it will be for writers and publishers in need of sources to find it.

What types of content do you think are best for earning citation links? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you – please share your experiences in the comments below.

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Confirmed: Google To Stop Showing Ads On Right Side Of Desktop Search Results Worldwide

A long-running test is now rolling out for desktop queries: Google will no longer show ads to the right of its search results, with one exception.

The post Confirmed: Google To Stop Showing Ads On Right Side Of Desktop Search Results Worldwide appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Can SEOs Stop Worrying About Keywords and Just Focus on Topics? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Should you ditch keyword targeting entirely? There’s been a lot of discussion around the idea of focusing on broad topics and concepts to satisfy searcher intent, but it’s a big step to take and could potentially hurt your rankings. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses old-school keyword targeting and new-school concept targeting, outlining a plan of action you can follow to get the best of both worlds.

Can We Abandon Keyword Research & On-Page Targeting in Favor of a Broader Topic/Concept Focus in Our SEO Efforts?

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re going to talk about a topic that I’ve been seeing coming up in the SEO world for probably a good 6 to 12 months now. I think ever since Hummingbird came out, there has been a little bit of discussion. Then, over the last year, it’s really picked up around this idea that, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t be optimizing for researching and targeting keywords or keyword phrases anymore. Maybe we should be going more towards topics and ideas and broad concept.”

I think there’s some merit to the idea, and then there are folks who are taking it way too far, moving away from keywords and actually losing and costing themselves so much search opportunity and search engine traffic. So I’m going to try and describe these two approaches today, kind of the old-school world and this very new-school world of concept and topic-based targeting, and then describe maybe a third way to combine them and improve on both models.

Classic keyword research & on-page targeting

In our classic keyword research, on-page targeting model, we sort of have our SEO going, “Yeah. Which one of these should I target?”

He’s thinking about like best times to fly. He’s writing a travel website, “Best Times to Fly,” and there’s a bunch of keywords. He’s checking the volume and maybe some other metrics around “best flight times,” “best days to fly,” “cheapest days to fly,” “least crowded flights,” “optimal flight dates,” “busiest days to fly.” Okay, a bunch of different keywords.

So, maybe our SEO friend here is thinking, “All right. She’s going to maybe go make a page for each of these keywords.” Maybe not all of them at first. But she’s going to decide, “Hey, you know what? I’m going after ‘optimal flight dates,’ ‘lowest airport traffic days,’ and ‘cheapest days to fly.’ I’m going to make three different pages. Yeah, the content is really similar. It’s serving a very similar purpose. But that doesn’t matter. I want to have the best possible keyword targeting that I can for each of these individual ones.”

“So maybe I can’t invest as much effort in the content and the research into it, because I have to make these three different pages. But you know what? I’ll knock out these three. I’ll do the rest of them, and then I’ll iterate and add some more keywords.”

That’s pretty old-school SEO, very, very classic model.

New school topic- & concept-based targeting

Newer school, a little bit of this concept and topic targeting, we get into this world where folks go, “You know what? I’m going to think bigger than keywords.”

“I’m going to kind of ignore keywords. I don’t need to worry about them. I don’t need to think about them. Whatever the volumes are, they are. If I do a good job of targeting searchers’ intent and concepts, Google will do a good job recognizing my content and figuring out the keywords that it maps to. I don’t have to stress about that. So instead, I’m going to think about I want to help people who need to choose the right days to buy flights.”

“So I’m thinking about days of the week, and maybe I’ll do some brainstorming and a bunch of user research. Maybe I’ll use some topic association tools to try and broaden my perspective on what those intents could be. So days of the week, the right months, the airline differences, maybe airport by airport differences, best weeks. Maybe I want to think about it by different country, price versus flexibility, when can people use miles, free miles to fly versus when can’t they.”

“All right. Now, I’ve come up with this, the ultimate guide to smart flight planning. I’ve got great content on there. I have this graph where you can actually select a different country or different airline and see the dates or the weeks of the year, or the days of the week when you can get cheapest flights. This is just an awesome, awesome piece of content, and it serves a lot of these needs really nicely.” It’s not going to rank for crap.

I don’t mean to be rude. It’s not the case that Google can never map this to these types of keywords. But if a lot of people are searching for “best days of the week to fly” and you have “The Ultimate Guide to Smart Flight Planning,” you might do a phenomenal job of helping people with that search intent. Google is not going to do a great job of ranking you for that phrase, and it’s not Google’s fault entirely. A lot of this has to do with how the Web talks about content.

A great piece of content like this comes out. Maybe lots of blogs pick it up. News sites pick it up. You write about it. People are linking to it. How are they describing it? Well, they’re describing it as a guide to smart flight planning. So those are the terms and phrases people associate with it, which are not the same terms and phrases that someone would associate with an equally good guide that leveraged the keywords intelligently.

A smarter hybrid

So my recommendation is to combine these two things. In a smart combination of these techniques, we can get great results on both sides of the aisle. Great concept and topic modeling that can serve a bunch of different searcher needs and target many different keywords in a given searcher intent model, and we can do it in a way that targets keywords intelligently in our titles, in our headlines, our sub-headlines, the content on the page so that we can actually get the searcher volume and rank for the keywords that send us traffic on an ongoing basis.

So I take my keyword research ideas and my tool results from all the exercises I did over here. I take my topic and concept brainstorm, maybe some of my topic tool results, my user research results. I take these and put them together in a list of concepts and needs that our content is going to answer grouped by combinable keyword targets — I’ll show you what I mean — with the right metrics.

So I might say my keyword groups are there’s one intent around “best days of the week,” and then there’s another intent around “best times of the year.” Yes, there’s overlap between them. There might be people who are looking for kind of both at the same time. But they actually are pretty separate in their intent. “Best days of the week,” that’s really someone who knows that they’re going to fly at some point and they want to know, “Should I be booking on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or a Monday, or a Sunday?”

Then, there’s “best times of the year,” someone who’s a little more flexible with their travel planning, and they’re trying to think maybe a year ahead, “Should I buy in the spring, the fall, the summer? What’s the time to go here?”

So you know what? We’re going to take all the keyword phrases that we discovered over here. We’re going to group them by these concept intents. Like “best days of the week” could include the keywords “best days of the week to fly,” “optimal day of week to fly,” “weekday versus weekend best for flights,” “cheapest day of the week to fly.”

“Best times of the year,” that keyword group could include words and phrases like “best weeks of the year to fly,” “cheapest travel weeks,” “lowest cost months to fly,” “off-season flight dates,” “optimal dates to book flights.”

These aren’t just keyword matches. They’re concept and topic matches, but taken to the keyword level so that we actually know things like the volume, the difficulty, the click-through rate opportunity for these, the importance that they may have or the conversion rate that we think they’re going to have.

Then, we can group these together and decide, “Hey, you know what? The volume for all of these is higher. But these ones are more important to us. They have lower difficulty. Maybe they have higher click-through rate opportunity. So we’re going to target ‘best times of the year.’ That’s going to be the content we create. Now, I’m going to wrap my keywords together into ‘the best weeks and months to book flights in 2016.’”

That’s just as compelling a title as “The Ultimate Guide to Smart Flight Planning,” but maybe a tiny bit less. You could quibble. But I’m sure you could come up with one, and it uses our keywords intelligently. Now I’ve got sub-headings that are “sort by the cheapest,” “the least crowded,” “the most flexible,” “by airline,” “by location.” Great. I’ve hit all my topic areas and all my keyword areas at the same time, all in one piece of content.

This kind of model, where we combine the best of these two worlds, I think is the way of the future. I don’t think it pays to stick to your old-school keyword targeting methodology, nor do I think it pays to ignore keyword targeting and keyword research entirely. I think we’ve got to merge these practices and come up with something smart.

All right everyone. I look forward to your comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Write Email Subject Lines that Make People Stop, Click, and Read

subject lines that get attention

Email subject lines are our first (and sometimes only) chance to make a good impression on our subscribers, so making them interesting and compelling is essential to your email marketing success.

If you miss your chance to capture and hold their attention, your subscribers are less likely to open your emails, read your content, and click on your call-to-action links.

Today we’re going to cover the elements of captivating subject lines and how to discover which types of subject lines work best for your specific audience.

Let’s get started.

General guidelines for effective email subject lines

Writing subject lines that inspire people to open and read your emails is both an art and a science.

To get your subscribers to open, read, and click on the links in your email messages, thoughtfully craft the subject line of every message you send.

Your subject line is like the headline of a piece of online content — you get one shot to encourage your recipient to keep reading.

If you’re just getting started (or you’re not sure where to begin), here are some guiding principles for crafting compelling subject lines.

Your email subject lines should:

  • Provide a succinct summary. Forty characters or five-to-ten words is standard.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Why should your reader open your email now?
  • Match your content. Don’t misrepresent the content of your email — it annoys your subscribers and could increase your unsubscribe rate.
  • Arouse curiosity in your readers. What will inspire them to open your email and check out your message?
  • Convey a strong and clear benefit to your readers. What will they get out of reading your message? Will they get a new piece of educational content? Or can they take advantage of a limited-time 50 percent discount?
  • Adding personalization to your emails — should you or shouldn’t you?

    Should you customize your subject lines with your recipients’ names? The jury is still out on this topic.

    To see if personalization works with your community members, test out personalized subject lines by inserting dynamic tags. Most email service providers offer a fairly straightforward way to do this.

    Of course, you can only personalize subject lines if you’ve collected people’s names through your opt-in form when they signed up for your email list. If you don’t have this information, personalization isn’t an option.

    If you do collect names through your email list opt-in form and decide to use personalized subject lines, review the names on your list regularly to ensure a valid name corresponds to each email address. You never want recipients to see, “Sign up today, [NAME ERROR]” in the subject line of an email in their inboxes.

    After your tests, you’ll be able to determine if personalized subject lines perform better than other types of subjects.

    A process for generating winning ideas

    To create effective subject lines, get into the habit of brainstorming ideas for every email you send.

    Grab a piece of paper (or open a document on your computer) and set a timer for 10 minutes. Brainstorm subject lines for your latest email, and don’t stop until the timer goes off.

    Then set the timer for another 10 minutes, and try to brainstorm the same amount of headlines again. For example, if you wrote 25 headlines in your first 10 minutes, try to write 25 more in the second brainstorming session.

    Then choose the one headline you’ll use for your email — or pick two or three if you’ll be split-testing your subject lines. (More on this below.)

    How to find out what subscribers really want

    Split-testing (or A/B testing) can be a powerful tool for improving your email subject lines.

    When you split-test emails, you send one subject line to one part of your subscriber list and a different subject line to another part of your list. Then you track both emails and monitor which one performs the best.

    You decide which performance metrics to track, but open rates, links clicked, sales generated, or a combination of these actions are typically measured.

    Most email service providers equip you with a way to split-test your subject lines. Check with your email service provider’s knowledge base or tech support team if you have questions about implementing a split-testing campaign.

    When testing your email subject lines, consider:

    • Including your recipient’s name in the subject line (personalization) vs. no personalization
    • Trying short vs. long subject lines
    • Experimenting with specific vs. general language
    • Communicating the same topic in different ways (For example, test “Are you dreaming big enough?” against “Why you must dream bigger”)
    • Capitalizing the first letter of each word (title case) or only capitalizing the first letter of the first word (sentence case)

    As you split-test your subject lines, track your results so you can continually learn about what your audience likes and what causes them to take action.

    Captivating subject lines move the needle

    Optimizing your subject lines to increase opens and clicks is one of the best ways to improve the results of your email marketing campaigns.

    Dedicate time to writing benefit-rich, curiosity-provoking subject lines and testing them with your audience to learn more about what they want and need.

    When you implement this practice, you’ll see a noticeable increase in the amount of people who respond to the calls-to-action in your messages!

    Read other posts in our current email marketing series

    About the Author: Beth Hayden is a content marketing expert, author, and speaker who specializes in working with women business owners. Want Beth’s best blogging tip? Download her free case study, How This Smart Writer Got 600 New Subscribers by Taking One Brave Step.

    The post How to Write Email Subject Lines that Make People Stop, Click, and Read appeared first on Copyblogger.


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    Stop the Local SEO Tunnel Vision & Think Beyond the Basics

    Posted by Casey_Meraz

    “Local SEO is just too hard.”

    Those were the first words of a conversation I had earlier this week coming from a potential client we’ll call “Luke.” Luke had been working on building his own local SEO presence internally for his dental office for over a year and had not seen the results he expected in a popular top 100 US city. We talked about citations, his trouble getting reviews, and how hard it was for him to get links. He told me he had followed the best practices but had not seen the kind of #1 ranking results he was looking for. Luke was a bit defeated, so I dove a little deeper and asked him more specifically what he’d done. He told me that he had done the following:

    • Optimized his Google My Business profile
    • Gotten a handful of reviews
    • Built the basic citations
    • Removed the citation issues I found
    • Gotten a few links
    • Posted new localized content from time to time

    So I prodded a bit further and tried to get some details about his competition. I asked Luke what his competitors had done. He told me that they had done the exact same things he had done. He told me that he watched them and tried to just “replicate” on his own site what he saw from the top performers. This perked my interest and caused me to ask him a real-world question.

    “Luke, if you’re doing the same things as everyone else, why do you deserve to be rewarded or ranked higher than them? What makes you better?” – Casey Meraz

    This basic question had major implications and he finally understood why I’d started asking about the rest of his website’s health. As an SEO, it’s easy to make assumptions as to what’s causing ranking gains, but keep in mind you can never really know the whole picture. We don’t know what links they disavowed, and we sure don’t know which links Google sees but that other link detection tools are not picking up.

    It’s time to break free from local SEO tunnel vision.

    In this article, I’m going to talk about some tactical things you can do to market your business and increase your local SEO presence. To do so, we have to break free from our tunnel vision a bit and bring in new strategies on a constant basis. But why should we do this?

    With the recent local pack shake up and 2016 around the corner, I think it’s time that SEOs and marketing managers start to look to the future.

    What do I mean? Almost any post you read online pertaining to local SEO is quick to point out that you need the basics, such as a strong citation profile with no duplicates, quality links, and some local on-page optimization. But does it really stop there? Should it stop there? Or should we be looking at the signs Google’s been giving us? It’s no secret that Google has been moving towards taking on more organic signals. What does the future really hold for us and how should we be advising our clients?

    What I’m going to be covering can be broken down into three main sections:

    1. Don’t ignore the basics.
      While I am telling you to think outside of the box, I’m not saying you should ignore the basics. Having a strong basic foundation to local SEO is key to your long-term and short-term SEO success.
    2. Think more about traditional organic ranking factors.
      We are going to do a deep dive here where we’ll talk about the reasons and implications of having a solid website with more of an organic SEO mindset.
    3. Don’t stop believing in citations and links.
      We know that links are important both for local and organic SEO. Why stop with the basics? As long as they’re healthy, keep trucking along.

    1. Don’t ignore the basics in local SEO.

    I’m not going to spend a lot of time covering this, but it’s important to reiterate it. Local SEO is built on a strong foundation of best practices. These include everything from having consistent and non-duplicated citations — which consist of your NAP (Business Name, Address, and Phone Number) on the top directories and data aggregators — to ensuring your landing pages are properly optimized.

    Worry about the basics first, then move onto step 2 — traditional organic ranking factors.

    To get an idea of what I mean when talking about “the basics,” read these cool resources:

    How to Perform the Ultimate Local SEO Audit

    Website Optimization Basics for Local SEO

    Local Search Ranking Factors for 2015

    2. Think more about traditional organic ranking factors.

    Google really loves their traditional organic ranking factors. How do I know this? Well, whether it was Pigeon, Mobilegeddon, or other updates, you can see that Google is trying to provide users with the best online experience. They don’t want to show non-mobile-friendly results when a user is searching on their phone.

    It’s no secret that Google’s algorithm is getting more sophisticated every year. As they do this, it becomes clear that they want to provide a great search experience, as well as a great user experience.

    This is why we need to take a step back, shake our heads, and start looking around. If you want to be competitive for your clients in the long-term, it would be wise to start taking steps toward the future now.

    Below are a list of some of the most common issues I see. For a full list of items to audit, check out Steve Webb’s SEO audit here.

    Common on-page errors that hurt or hinder local SEO efforts

    1. Not having a mobile-friendly website
      Ok, seriously. You’ve heard of Mobilegeddon (which was a bit over-exaggerated). But if you’re taking your time and still haven’t built a mobile site, you need to fix that ASAP. With so many searches being mobile now and with Google caring more and more about organic ranking signals, don’t be surprised if you’re not rewarded in mobile search results if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website.
    2. Using a bulky and non-SEO-friendly theme
      The problem with buying a website theme without testing it for speed considerations first? Page load time. We’ll talk more about that in just a minute, but it’s a real problem. The reason that websites range from as low as free to thousands of dollars is typically because great websites require a great deal of work. Minifying the code and ensuring that every element loads quickly and properly on browsers is essential. Check out this handy web developers cheat sheet to get a better grasp on the factors that are most important.
    3. Having slow site speed
      Recently I was consulting for a client in the dental field who had atrocious site load times. Google cares about the user experience — if your site takes forever to load, you can bet that will have a negative impact on you. Not to mention, this might mean the Google crawlers will spend less time checking out your website.
    4. Having a lot of 404 errors
      Log in to the Google Search Console and run a site crawl with Screaming Frog to figure out where 404s exist on your website. If you have a bunch of broken pages, you’re both missing out on their link juice and you’re showing that you’re not taking good care of your website. Show that you care about your site and clean these babies up.
    5. Using 302 redirects
      302 redirects from the outside in aren’t passing that valuable link juice you need. Since we know link equity is a ranking factor, we need to keep as much of it as we can. Do not use 302 redirects for permanent changes. Fix these and update them to 301 redirects.
    6. Using 301 redirects internally
      If you update a link on your website and it creates a broken link, don’t take the easy way out and just create an internal 301 direct. I see a lot of issues with these where, over time, webmasters will lose sight of them and multiple redirect levels will take place. Use a tool (like Screaming Frog) to identify these errors and their source. Make sure to clean them up to prevent issues. Remember, if your links are taking multiple hops, you’re diminishing their link value.
    7. Missing title tags
      If you’re using WordPress, you can easily add title tags in a number of ways. I prefer the Yoast SEO Plugin. It’s solid, it’s regularly updated, and it works to easily update title tags on your pages. Make sure all of the pages on your site are taking advantage of title tags and localized title tags.
    8. Missing H1 heading tags. Seriously, check this.
      Not having local-centric H1 tags is a common problem I see with local pages. One of the problems is that you might think you have H1 tags on your WordPress theme, but in reality they’re not coded that way. Sometimes there are disconnects between developers and SEOs, and this sort of thing occurs frequently. Use a tool like the MozBar browser plugin and page analysis tool to quickly point out if your web page is using an H1 tag. Make sure they’re localized, too. :)
    9. Not having enough hyper-local text content
      Remember that Google is very granular on location detection now. If you list that you serve or do work in surrounding local neighborhoods, you’re going to get some benefit out of creating content around these areas. It really proves that you know the community and you’re a part of it, as well.
    10. Not taking advantage of hyper-local images and videos
      Hyper-local content is not just text on a page. It can be a localized video or photo, as well. If you’re serving a specific geographic area and creating content around it, you can tie local visitors into the content and get them to engage further if you’re using photos of places they recognize. Localized photos are a great way to create unique content that’s relevant to your local audience.

    Common off-page errors that hurt or hinder local SEO efforts

    1. Citations using 301 redirects to other 301 redirects to…
      I feel like this is a pro tip, but it really isn’t. This is an interesting one that I actually find is commonly overlooked. Let’s look at a common scenario for this one:

      A common issue is when your citation or link sources were set up years ago, yet you’ve changed your website landing pages at some point since then. In this case, you probably would have created a 301 redirect so links from your citation sources redirect and pass link juice to the appropriate page. However, what if you’ve done this several times? What if you built strong links to these old URLs and then redirected them multiple times? It’s a link value loss and it needs to be rectified.

      The solution is to update your links and citations to point to the proper landing page URL when possible.

    2. Stop adding new citations due to their citation value alone
      Everyone is quick to tell you that the top citations carry the most weight. I don’t disagree with that. But I also think there’s not a hard-and-fast decision that says you need to stop building citations. Most citations also have a link source to add a link. Nofollow links seem to help local SEO. Why ignore them? If you find quality directories, localized websites, or other places that you can get listed on, be sure to take advantage of them.

    3. Not getting enough reviews
      It’s cool to rank in the top three results, but our click test studies have shown that many users will bypass the first or second result and click on the third if the number of positive reviews is greater. You need to have a solid review strategy in place in 2015. If you’re running a great business and don’t have a program for online reviews, then you need to get your act together.

      If you need a review solution, check out Get Five Stars — it’s a review platform that allows you to easily acquire customer feedback and encourage online reviews.

    4. Your competition is spamming you in Map Maker
      In this post, Linda Buquet over at the Local Search Forum pointed out one way that businesses were scoring a Google One Box by cheating. Basically, either intentionally or through a data update, businesses were taking advantage of the Google Map Maker Alternate Names tab and keyword stuffing them with localized keywords, as you can see in the example below. If you see this, be sure to report it and get them addressed. You can search for these in Google.com/MapMaker by viewing the alternate names.

    Something you need to overcome

    Keyword-rich domains
    They can be “exact match domains,” “similar match domains,” “keyword-rich domains,” or whatever you want to call them. The reality is that if your competition is beating you because of this little trick, you need to step up your game. There is no denying their benefit in local organic SEO; you need to create enough signals to overcome them. Below, I’ll discuss how you can do this. With some hard work and elbow grease, you can beat out your competition in this area.

    3. Don’t stop building citations and links.

    So you’ve taken care of all the SEO best practices and you’re still not winning? Where’s your elbow grease? Do you think your competition stopped? Do you think they stopped because you’re winning? If so, you’ll be up for a rude awakening when they surpass you. It’s far easier to maintain superiority than to fight to get it back after you’ve lost it.

    This is one of the most common SEO mistakes I see resulting from tunnel vision. As a marketer, when you start thinking, “Well, I’ve done everything I need to and it’s working, so I’ll just sit back and relax,” all I can say is no, no, no. This is a detrimental mindset to both you and your clients’ success. Always keep building the exposure and the brand. Never stop. Please don’t stop believing, and please don’t ask me to sing that at karaoke… because I will.

    Now, let’s get tactical with some things you should be doing outside of the usual.

    1. Don’t forget video creation & its benefits
      Did you create a video or two and lose steam? Did you forget how powerful videos can be and how easy they are to make? You can get a legitimately good video made on Fiverr for $ 50 that will blow your clients’ minds. The key to this is doing your due diligence and not taking shortcuts. Create the outline, write the text, and order a well-made video. Whether you have a news announcement or want to just repurpose content on your website, video is a great medium. Good video will help your site flourish; don’t produce crappy video.

      So, what can you do with a video? You can upload it to a number of sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion, earning a cool-looking citation and links to your local landing page.

    2. Don’t stop with competitive citation analysis
      Competition analysis is easier than it ever has been. We have tools like Whitespark, Brightlocal, the N.A.P. HUNTER Extension, and Places Scout to easily identify competitors’ citations. There is no reason not to keep a running list of these and a small commitment of, say, 10 new additions per month based on your top ten competitors in a space.

      If you don’t have access to the tools listed above, you can also just do a Google search and see what listings come up for the competition that you don’t have.

    3. Start getting new links & don’t stop
      Luke mentioned during our conversation that “getting links was too hard.” Let’s think about that statement for a moment. If links were easy to get, wouldn’t everyone go for them? Or perhaps they already earned the easy links. Of course, you can always gain links the traditional way by seeking them, for which I’ll show you a couple of good resources below. However, some of the best companies are always newsworthy.

      The attorneys Sutliff & Stout ran a drunk driving campaign for the holidays. It got them on local news stations complete with real interviews, great links, and a very positive impact on their local visibility. These were real business actions they were taking that resulted in media attention.
      If you need ideas, here are some you can take home with you right now. I suggest reading these posts and making a schedule or a goal. Go after a couple a week. But don’t just stick to one link building idea. Diversify, and be careful with your anchor text.

      11 Ways for Local Businesses to Get Links – Written by yours truly on the Moz Blog

      35 Sites Which Increase Your Domain’s Trust – Shared with me by Adam Steele

      52 Link Building Ideas from Point Blank SEO

      Building Links with local events from Kane Jamison

      8 Local Link Building Tactics Beyond Business Listings – Whitespark

      Get Five New Links a Week (Lawyer-centric) – Juris Digital Blog

    4. Integrate your offline marketing and your online marketing
      How many times have you participated in an offline initiative, but didn’t coordinate it with your online efforts? Real companies tend to be active in the community or have a presence. Whether that means they sponsor a Little League (link opportunity), they host an annual event (event link building), or they get local TV station interviews, these efforts and signals should be coordinated to have the maximum SEO benefit.

    And finally… Set realistic goals for your efforts

    If you’re quick to promise results, make sure you can deliver on your timelines. I work mostly in the legal field with personal injury attorneys. In this field, you’re competing with some of the best SEOs, people who have been doing this a lot longer than many of the “fly-by-night” guys. This means that, even though we’re doing the right things and following best practices, we still need to be promoting the business everyday. Even taking this approach, the results will take time. It’s a long-term investment and you have to stick with it. Set realistic goals up front with your clients and make sure they understand the competition.

    With this knowledge, time, and power, you should have the resources you need to think outside of the box and dominate local SEO.

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    How to Stop Spam Bots from Ruining Your Analytics Referral Data

    Posted by jaredgardner

    A few months back, my agency started seeing a referral traffic spike in our Google Analytics account. At first, I got excited. Someone is linking to us and people are clicking. Hooray!

    Wrong! How very, very wrong. As I dug deeper, I saw that most of this referral traffic was sent from spammers, and mostly from one spammer named Vitaly Popov (or, as I like to call him, “the most recent pain in my ass”). 

    The domains he owns have been giving our company’s site and most of our clients’ sites a few hundred sessions per month, enough to throw off the analytics data in many cases.

    His sites aren’t the only ones I’ll cover in this how-to, but his spam network has been the biggest nuisance lately. If you’re getting spam referrers in your analytics, you should be able to follow the same steps to stop these data-skewing nimcompoops from spoiling your data, too.

    Why do I need to worry about blocking and filtering these sites?

    There are two main reasons I’m motivated to block these on all sites that I work with. First: corrupt analytics data. A few hundred hits a month on a site like
    Moz.com isn’t going to move the needle when compared to the sheer volume of sessions they have daily. However, on a small site for a local plumber, 30 sessions per day is likely going to be 70% spam referral traffic, suffocating the remaining legitimate traffic and making marketing analysis a frustrating endeavor.

    Second: server load and security. I didn’t ask them to crawl or visit my site. Their visits are using my server resources for something that I don’t want or need. An overloaded server means slower load times, which translate to higher bounce rates and lower rankings. On top of that, who knows what else they’re doing on my site while they’re there. They could easily be looking for WordPress, plugin and server vulnerabilities.

    Popular referral spam domains

    Using 
    WHOIS.net, I found that Mr. Popov’s spam network includes these domains:

    • darodar.com (and various subdomains)
    • econom.co
    • ilovevitaly.co (and other TLD variations)

    Other spammers plaguing the web include:

    • semalt.com (and various subdomains)
    • buttons-for-website.com
    • see-your-website-here.com

    Many other sites have come and gone. These are just the sites that have been active lately.

    Why are they hitting my site?

    Why are people going through so much effort to crawl the web without blocking themselves from analytics? Spam! So much spam, it still blows me away. I looked into a few of the sites listed above. Three of the most prolific ones are doing it for very different reasons. 

    See-your-website-here.com

    Screen-Shot-2015-01-21-at-2.30.22-PM.png

    This site takes the cake for being the most frustrating. This site is using referrer spam as a form of lead generation. What is their product you ask? Web spam. You can pay see-your-website-here.com to perform web spam for your company as a form of lead generation. The owner of this domain was kind enough to make his WHOIS information public. His name is Ben Sykes and he’s from London.

    Semalt.com

    Screen-Shot-2015-01-21-at-2.44.09-PM.png

    Semalt.com and I have had a tumultuous relationship at best. Semalt is an SEO product that’s designed to give on- and off-page analysis such as keyword usage and link metrics. Their products seem to be somewhat legit. However, their business practices are not. Semalt uses a bot to crawl the web and index webpage data, but they don’t disable analytics tracking like most respectable bots do. They have a form to remove your site from being crawled at
    http://semalt.com/project_crawler.php, which is ever so nice of them. Of course, I tried this months ago and they still crawled our site. I ended up talking with a representative from Semalt.com via Twitter after I wrote this article: How to Stop Semalt.com from Plaguing Your Google Analytics Data. I’ve documented our interactions and the outcome of that project in the article. 

    Darodar.com, econom.co, and ilovevitaly.com

    Screen-Shot-2015-01-21-at-4.03.48-PM.png

    This network appears to exist for the purpose of directing affiliate traffic to shopping sites such as AliExpress.com and eBay.com. I am guessing that the site won’t pay out to the affiliate unless the traffic results in a purchase, which seems unlikely. The sub-domain shopping.ilovevitaly.com used to redirect to aliexpress.com directly, but now it goes to a landing page that links to a variety of online retailers.

    How to stop spam bots

    Block via .htaccess

    The best way to block referrers from accessing your site at all is to block them in your .htaccess file in the root directory of your domain. You can copy and paste the following code into your .htaccess file, assuming you’re on an Apache server. I like this method better than just blocking the domain in analytics because it prevents spam bots from hitting your server altogether. If you want to get creative, you can redirect the traffic back to their site.

    # Block Russian Referrer Spam
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.com/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly.\.ru/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.org/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.info/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*iloveitaly\.ru/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*econom\.co/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*savetubevideo\.com/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*kambasoft\.com/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*buttons\-for\-website\.com/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*semalt\.com/ [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*darodar\.com/ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$   – [F,L]
    

    Warning: .htaccess is a very powerful file that dictates how your server behaves. If you upload an .htaccess file with one character out of place, you will likely take down the whole site. Before you make any changes to the file, I would suggest making a backup. If you don’t feel comfortable making these edits, see the WordPress plug-in option below.

    Analytics filters

    By itself, .htaccess won’t solve all of your problems. It will only protect you from future sessions, and it won’t affect the sessions that have already happened. I like to set up filters by country in analytics to remove the historical data, as well as to help filter out any other bots we might find from select countries in the future. Of course this wouldn’t be a good idea if you expect to get legitimate traffic from countries like Russia, Brazil, or Indonesia, but many U.S.-based companies can safely block these countries without losing potential customers. Follow the steps below to set up the filters.

    First, click on the “Admin” tab at the top of the page. On the view column you will want to create a “new” view so that you still have an unadulterated report of all traffic in Google Analytics. I named my mine “Filter Bots.” After you have your new view selected, click in to the “Filters” section then select the “+New Filter Button.”

    View_filter_fianl.png

    Setting up filters is pretty simple if you know what setting to use. I like to filter out all traffic from Russia, Brazil, and Indonesia. These are just the countries that have been giving us issues lately. You can add more filters as you need them.

    The filter name is just an arbitrary label. I usually just type “block .” Next, choose the filter type “custom.” Choose “country” from the “Filter Field” drop down. The “Filter Pattern Field” is where you actually define what countries you are filtering, so make sure you spell them correctly. You can double check your filters by using the “Verify This Filter” button. A graph will pop-up and show you how many sessions will be removed from the last seven days.

    Filter_settings_final.jpg

    I would recommend selecting the “Bot Filtering” check box that is found in “View Settings” within the “Admin” tab. I haven’t seen a change in my data using this feature yet, but it doesn’t hurt to set it up since it’s really easy and maybe Google will decide to block some of these spammers.

    Viewsettings_bot_button_final.jpg

    Using WordPress? Don’t want to edit your .htaccess file?

    I’ve used the plugin
    Wp-Ban before, and it makes it easy to block unwanted visitors. Wp-ban gives you the ability to ban users by IP, IP range, host name, user agent and referrer URL from visiting your WordPress blog all from within the WordPress admin panel. This a great option for people who don’t want to edit their .htaccess file or don’t feel comfortable doing so.

    Additional resources

    There are a few other great posts you can refer to if you’re looking for more info on dealing with referrer spam:

    1. http://www.optimizesmart.com/geek-guide-removing-referrer-spam-google-analytics/
    2. https://megalytic.com/blog/how-to-filter-out-fake-referrals-and-other-google-analytics-spam
    3. http://blog.raventools.com/stop-referrer-spam/
    4. http://www.analyticsedge.com/2014/12/removing-referral-spam-google-analytics/

    Conclusion

    I hope this helps you block all the pesky spammers out there. There are definitely different ways you can solve this problem, and these are just the ones that have helped me protect analytics data. I’d love to hear how you have dealt with spam bots. Share your stories with me on Twitter or in the comments below.

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