Tag Archive | "Take"

Quit Annoying Your Audience! Take 3 Simple Steps to Focus Your Content

Ever have a friend who tells stories that never seem to go anywhere? It sounds okay at first, then it spins off to a tangent about how they met their spouse, then we go into their first college dorm room, with a side trip to that deeply formative event that happened in third grade, then
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Take a Deep Dive into Comprehensive Content Marketing Strategy

This week was all about the bigger picture of content marketing strategy. “Great content” is a wonderful start, but you need the strategic context that pulls it all together. Whether you’re a pro or just getting started, the posts and podcasts below will give you a framework to make your project really strong. On Monday,
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The Magical Sixth ‘Ingredient’ that Can Take Your Content to Greatness

On Monday, Ronell shared with us his five “ingredients” for creating truly high-quality content. These are the consistently important factors he’s observed while working with many different kinds of clients. We agree! Ronell’s advice will help you create content that genuinely helps your audience. And that content will be interesting because it speaks directly to
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3 Important SEO Steps to Take Right Away

"True masters of search engine optimization are masters of listening and empathy." – Jerod Morris

What if we’re thinking about SEO all wrong?

You won’t be shocked to see such a question posed on this site — one that harbors posts in its archive with headlines like SEO is Dead and What if You Could Simply Eliminate SEO from Your Life?

Don’t get me wrong: we’re not anti-SEO.

Heck, we were recently awarded a U.S. patent for the Content Optimizer we developed that now powers the SEO tools bundled with our premium WordPress hosting.

We’re just anti some of the misguided notions and incomplete narratives about SEO that masquerade as good advice.

And one of the most fundamental mistakes I see people make is not fully appreciating the full breadth of each of the three terms that comprise S-E-O: Search. Engine. Optimization.

Notice the placement of that first period after “Search.”

It’s time to think beyond traditional notions of “search engines”

It’s easy to group the terms “search” and “engine” together. And for a long, long time, it made sense to do so.

When we used to discuss “search engine optimization,” we were mostly talking about searches typed into Google, perhaps Bing, or (going back further) Yahoo.

But now it’s 2017.

The new search

Gone are the days of only typed searches. People now conduct more and more searches with voice commands. A recent article on Forbes, 2017 Will Be the Year of Voice Search, makes a compelling case.

And who knows what will happen when we all have chips implanted in our brains that can read our thoughts. We might just be able to think our search and get results via the screens on our contact lenses. ”</p

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New take on Showcase Shopping ads? Categories of used items showing for retailer outlet queries

Similar to the Showcase ad format introduced this summer, the ads link to Google Shopping pages.

The post New take on Showcase Shopping ads? Categories of used items showing for retailer outlet queries appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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

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Take Courage: Get Some Entrepreneurial Bravery This Week on Copyblogger

Take Courage: Get Some Entrepreneurial Bravery This Week on Copyblogger

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!

I was recording a podcast interview this week, and during the conversation I realized how much of business comes down to “putting one foot in front of the other.”

From the outside, it tends to look like your favorite business owners or content marketers have everything figured out. Really, they’re doing the same thing you are — looking around to figure out the territory, making “best guesses” about how to move forward, then executing and watching for results.

Creating online means we’re always navigating unfamiliar waters — and that’s a great thing, even when it’s hard.

On Monday, it was so nice to hear from Raubi Perilli on The Digital Entrepreneur podcast, talking about listening to your instincts and finding your business passion. On Tuesday, I got a little riled up on my podcast, encouraging you to resist anyone telling you that it’s “too late” to add your voice to the world of podcasting — or any other content type.

And on Wednesday, Pamela Wilson’s post encourages you to embrace the uncertain path of the heroic entrepreneur. (Even if your superhero jammies are in the wash.)

Inspiration tends to work a lot better when it rides along with practical advice. In my Copyblogger article on Monday, I shared some thoughts on different models for niche education sites. On Tuesday, Kyle Fiehler gave us some specific strategies for crafting technical content, even if you’re not an expert.

Stay inspired, work hard, and create something amazing this week. I’ll catch up with you on Wednesday instead of Thursday next week, as we head into the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. See you then!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content

How to find and focus on the best niche4 Creative Models for Finding the Right Niche for Your Online Business

by Sonia Simone

Tips for top-notch technical contentStruggling to Write for Technical Experts? Try These 3 Powerful Content Marketing Practices

by Kyle Fiehler

How to become the hero of your story5 Ways to Embrace the Uncertain Path of a Heroic Entrepreneur

by Pamela Wilson

How to Start and Grow a Successful Membership Site (In Your Spare Time)How to Start and Grow a Successful Membership Site (In Your Spare Time)

by Sean Jackson

The Creative Entrepreneur: Living the DreamThe Creative Entrepreneur: Living the Dream

by Brian Gardner & Lauren Mancke

Is Your Intro Silently Killing Your Show?Is Your Intro Silently Killing Your Show?

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor

Why Trusting Your Instincts Can Lead You to Your PassionWhy Trusting Your Instincts Can Lead You to Your Passion

by Brian Clark & Jerod Morris

Have You Already Missed the Podcasting Gold Rush?Have You Already Missed the Podcasting Gold Rush?

by Sonia Simone

How the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part TwoHow the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid

Steal Like an Entrepreneur, with Austin KleonSteal Like an Entrepreneur, with Austin Kleon

by Brian Clark

Brian Clark on The 7-Figure CEO PodcastBrian Clark on The 7-Figure CEO Podcast

by Caroline Early


Authority Q&A Call with Sonia Simone and Pamela Wilson

Friday, November 18

Join Authority members for the opportunity to get your content marketing and business questions answered by two people with almost 60 years of experience between them! No question is too small, and the more specific the better.

Join Authority to attend this session

The post Take Courage: Get Some Entrepreneurial Bravery This Week on Copyblogger appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Powerful Calls to Action: How to Get Your Reader to Take the Next Step


A note: My first book will be out soon! Here’s an excerpt from one of the chapters.

What was the first thing you ever had to sell? For me, it was Girl Scout cookies.

I was ten years old, dressed in my distinctly unfashionable Girl Scout vest, skirt, and knee socks, walking along the side of the road listening to the gravel crunch under my sneakers. The sun beat down on our neighborhood, and I could smell the melting tar on the road.

I was in a state of abject terror, my sweaty hands clutching a wrinkled order form.

I didn’t even know the people whose porches I stood on and whose doorbells I was about to ring: how could I possibly ask them to buy something?

It was horrifying.

I was just a kid who lived on their street. What right did I have to show up and offer something for sale?

It turns out that this lesson from my past taught me almost everything I needed to know about how to use the right mindset when asking someone to take action.

At the time, I didn’t realize that people love Girl Scout cookies. They want to buy them. They actually look forward to ordering them.

Back then, I didn’t know any of that. If I had, I might have ended up being one of the top sellers in my troop. Instead, I was lucky if I could fill in the first ten lines of my order form each year.

Why calls to action matter

Our content — ultimately — has a business purpose. Oh sure, we’re writing to attract an audience and build trust. We want to inform and — if possible — entertain. But for our efforts to have a measurable effect on our businesses, we have to take that final step.

We have to ask our readers to take action based on what they’ve read. And we have to sell them on the idea.

That’s the job of your call to action. Your call to action is the part of your content where you’re going to ask the reader to do something.

The action might be to:

  • Sign up for your free course
  • Buy a product
  • Call for an appointment
  • Register to vote
  • Take a short quiz
  • Download a white paper
  • Make a small purchase

In this article, we’re going to talk about two components of your call to action: the verbal and the visual. But first, let’s talk psychology.

The psychology of the call to action

What’s going through your head as you think about writing a call to action for your content?

You might be thinking things like, “I don’t want to turn people off by asking them to do something.” Or, “My readers might unsubscribe from my email list if I start selling them things.” Or, “What if I come across as pushy and annoying?”

All common fears. Those are the kinds of thoughts I had when I was trying to sell Girl Scout cookies!

Your readers, on the other hand, are enjoying your content, and they’re thinking things like, “This is really helpful. Where can I sign up to get updates from this website?” Or, “I trust this person — they know what they’re talking about. I wonder if I can hire them to help me?” Or, “I want to apply what I’m learning on this site to my own business. Is there a product I can buy that will help me do that?”

There are two things happening here — and they’re in direct competition with one another. On one side there’s you, feeling embarrassed about making an offer. On the other side, there’s your audience — wanting to do business with you!

How do we bridge that gap?

It starts with confidence — your confidence.

If you want to create an effective call to action, it should come from a place of knowing your offer is valuable, useful, and helpful to the customer. If you can’t honestly say that, work on improving your offer first.

I want you to stand tall and have pride that you have something amazing to offer people. Something they’ll enjoy and benefit from.

You owe it to your readers to craft a call to action that will make them want to try your product or service.

To do this successfully, you’ll need to pay attention to two aspects: the verbal and the visual. Let’s start with the words first.

Your verbal call to action

Calls to action consist of two parts: the words used to make the offer (the verbal part) and the graphic treatment of the call to action (the visual part).

The best calls to action are strong on both levels. They use the right words and combine them with a graphic treatment that makes the call to action stand out visually, so your reader stops and pays attention to it.

When we talk about a call to action, we’re not referring to all the content on a sales page. Calls to action are a specific section of a larger piece of content. That content could be a sales page, but it could also be a blog post, About page, or your bio.

The call to action is the place where you ask people to act on the information that comes before it. They’re usually about 100 words or less. And because the verbal part of your call to action is short, every word needs to count.

There are three parts to a standard call to action: the headline, the offer copy, and the button or link.

The headline: emphasize benefits, not features. The headline should reflect the specific benefits the reader will experience when they take action.

This is an important marketing concept that trips up even the most experienced marketers.

Your first impulse will be to talk about features, but effective calls to action talk about benefits. What’s the difference?

Take a look at this call to action headline that focuses on features:

Get Everyday Citrus Recipes, a 164-page ebook with 100 recipes for using oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and clementines at every meal. Click here to buy.

Now take a look at a call to action for the same product that is written to focus on specific benefits:

Bolster your immune system, protect your heart and eyes, and enjoy clearer skin while enjoying the taste of delicious citrus at every meal! Click to get healthy and delicious Everyday Citrus Recipes.

It’s tough to pinpoint the benefits, I know. One trick I’ve used is to ask, “Why?” In the example above, you could ask, “Why incorporate citrus at every meal?” The answer is, “Because it’s good for you.”

Follow that question up. Ask, “Why is it good for you?” The answer is, “It’s good for your immune system, heart, eyes, and skin.”

These are specific benefits you can highlight in your headline and body copy. They’ll resonate with readers because they touch on what I like to call the “magic five” benefits: Health, Wealth, Relationships, Success, and Peace of Mind.

In the end, what you’re offering readers is a better version of themselves in one of these five categories. That means:

  1. Improved health
  2. More wealth
  3. Closer relationships
  4. Greater success
  5. More peace of mind and serenity

Tell the reader how your offer’s features will benefit them specifically in one of those five ways and you can’t miss.

The offer copy: be clear, not clever. As you write the copy that will go below your call to action headline, remember — you only have 100 or so words and each one must count. This isn’t the time to make a joke or use a clever play on words.

Your reader is making an important decision, and you should be ultra clear about why they should take action. If they’re at all confused, they won’t take action.

Once you’ve established the specific benefits of taking action, you can weave in features to your call to action. Your benefits will resonate with your readers on an emotional level. Weaving in features will help bring logic into the picture.

Let’s use the same example. In the first sentence, we’re highlighting the benefits. In the second sentence, we’re backing it up with a mention of the features. It’s a powerful emotion + logic combination.

Bolster your immune system, protect your heart and eyes, and enjoy clearer skin while enjoying the taste of delicious citrus! Click to buy Everyday Citrus Recipes — more than 100 recipes for using oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and clementines at every meal.

The button: “I want to ___.” At the end of your call to action, you’ll find a button or a link. This is the physical location on your page or in your email where you’re asking the reader to rise to the occasion and take action. It’s the moment of truth!

Your button copy makes a difference. Please, please don’t wimp out and use the word “Submit” or “Buy” here. Your button or link copy is an opportunity to reinforce the benefits of your offer. Don’t miss out.

To write this copy, I like to use the tip I learned from Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers.com. Joanna recommends you put yourself in your readers’ shoes and think about the phrase “I want to ____” when writing your button copy. Fill in the blank with whatever words your reader might use to describe the benefit they’ll experience from taking action.

To use our example above, we might write, “I want to …”

Button copy: “Get Healthy and Delicious Citrus Recipes”

You might wonder if writing a call to action is overkill for a blog post. For some pieces of content, a subtle call to action like “Share your favorite ways to use citrus in the comments section” will suffice.

But a great piece of content deserves a stronger, more confident call to action. Why not ask people to sign up for your email list when you’ve given them a valuable piece of content? Why not tell them about your ebook or your services? Don’t be afraid to ask for an action at the end of every piece of content you create.

You might think about it as a spectrum: on the low-commitment end of the spectrum, you may ask them to add a comment or click to read another piece of content on your site. And on the high-commitment end of the spectrum, you may ask them to buy a product or call to make an appointment.

And remember, when you’ve got a great product to sell (like Girl Scout cookies) don’t be shy about making your offer.

No matter where your call to action falls on the spectrum, people won’t act on it if they don’t see it. That’s what we’ll talk about next — how to make your call to action stand out visually.

Your visual call to action

If a call to action is beautifully written but no one sees it, did it ever really happen?

Calls to action, as we’ve talked about, are short — maybe 100 words at the most. And they usually “live” on a page with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of other words. Your little call to action is outnumbered — it’s surrounded by your content.

How can you ensure it gets seen?

The key to creating a call to action that doesn’t get overlooked is to make it visually different from all the other words on your page.

It needs a unique graphic treatment that will stop readers in their tracks and tell them, “This is something you should pay attention to.” You don’t have to be a designer to make your call to action stand out.

Here are the areas to work on.

Use a different color palette. Grab a color wheel, and look at the colors on your website. (Get a free color wheel at Big Brand System.) For your call-to-action text, background color, or border (more on this below), use colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel from the colors people usually see on your site. If your site is all reds and oranges, use blues and greens for your call to action. If it’s blues and purples, use gold and orange in your call to action. You may not like how it looks at first. It’s going to stick out like a sore thumb! But that’s exactly the effect you want.

Make it larger and bolder. Look at the size of your body text. For your call-to-action headline, use at least subhead-size text. For the body copy where you share details of your offer, consider using larger-than-usual text, or making it bold. Warning: it will not be subtle and beautiful like the rest of your page. And that’s a plus.

Surround it with space. Be careful not to bury your call to action inside your page copy. Add space above, below, and to the left and right of your call to action so it floats in the middle of open white space. Doing this will put your call to action on a visual pedestal and help it stand out.

Use a background or a border. Want to really draw attention to your call to action visually? Add a border or background color to this part of your content. This is a subtle but effective visual trick: by surrounding your call to action with a different color, you’re saying, “This is something different: pay attention.” Use your color wheel to choose colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel from what people usually see on your site. Your text needs to be readable, so don’t run it on an overly bright or too dark background. Instead, use pale versions of colors. Instead of navy blue, use a light blue tint. Instead of orange, use a light peach tint.

Repeat your call to action, especially if your page is long. If your page is quite long (1,500 words or more), don’t be afraid to repeat your call to action.

When deciding where to place repeated calls to action, think in terms of screen real estate. When someone arrives on your page, how many “screens” do they have to scroll through to get to the end? (Yes, I know this will vary according to the screen size, but that doesn’t matter for this exercise.)

Count how many “screens” worth of information they have to page through and make sure your reader sees a call to action on every couple of “screens.”

Remember, people scan text on the web. On a long page, if you don’t feature your call to action more than once, many people will miss it. They’ll never scan all the way to the bottom to see your visually prominent call to action sitting like a beacon at the bottom of your page. Call them to action — and don’t be afraid to call them more than once.

Give some love to your call to action

Think about your call to action like an on-site salesperson who’s representing the best of what your business offers. Spend time making this important element stand out both verbally and visually.

It may seem like a lot of work, but your call to action truly is where business happens!

Take care to ensure it’s as strong and convincing as it can be so it will work for you day and night, drawing prospects and customers to your business.

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

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How Long Does Link Building Take to Influence Rankings?

Posted by Kristina Kledzik

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]

If you’re an SEO, chances are, you’ve recommended link building as a tactic. And, unless you work for a very trusting firm, you’ve probably been met with the question, “When will we see a return on our investment, and how much will we see?”

This is a question I’ve been asked numerous times, but never had a good answer for. The truth is, a new link doesn’t affect rankings immediately. That makes it hard to tie an individual link to SERP rankings increases, since there will usually be several other links and on-page changes made to a target page between the time when you get that first link and when you finally see increases in rankings.

So, I set out to figure this out myself. I’m lucky enough to be working for a company with nearly 200,000 indexed pages, which gets hundreds of new links each month naturally, through PR and through my link building efforts. That means I’ve got a lot of pages that only got 1–2 links in the last 6 months, and didn’t go through many on-page changes.

I picked out 76 links pointing to pages which are all similar to each other in content, and we didn’t change that content (significantly) for 6 months. I focused on rankings for target keywords with a 25–35% Keyword Difficulty Rating. I looked at two versions of their target keywords, so I could have a bit more data. The results aren’t super surprising to SEOs, but they’re often questioned by the managers of SEOs, and now you have graphs to prove what you’ve been saying all along.

It takes 10 weeks on average to see 1 rank jump

This graph shows an up-and-to-the-right trend for average increase in rank over weeks after link was created.

More links do have a more immediate effect. Jacob at Exstreamist promoted some material that got him around 20 links to one of his pages, which was being outranked by other pages with about 6 more inbound links. It took his page 5–10 weeks to move from #9 to #5.

It seems that each link has a small to medium effect initially, but that effect increases over time. If you add a lot of links at once, you’re not only going to see faster results, you’re going to see much bigger results over time.

The lower the rank, the more effect a link has

This graph shows the average increase in rank by starting rank over weeks after link was created.

The pages that I observed that were already ranking on the first page of SERPs didn’t show much of a rankings increase with one link, barely moving over one spot in 22 weeks. In contrast, pages ranking on the second or deeper pages of SERPs took off after 8–9 weeks.

Keep in mind that I am working with a fairly small data set, so I don’t recommend that you promise a 10 spot jump after 22 weeks.

Higher DA will move the needle faster

This graph shows average increase in rank by Domain Authority range over weeks after the link was created.

Wondering where DA 50+ links are on this graph? I didn’t have enough to pages other than the homepage to get meaningful averages. Sorry, guys.

Unsurprisingly, a higher DA will have a bigger effect — in fact, you can see that the average rank change for a page that got a link from a site with a DA below 25 actually dropped after 13 weeks, then recovered to barely two ranks up.

I generally have a rule that I don’t want to spend any time or money on sites with DAs under 25. This chart shows that they’re not completely devoid of value, but be prepared for a very, very small change in rank with these guys.

Interestingly, both the DA 0–25 and DA 25–50 sets showed their first big jump after 10 weeks, but anecdotally, I’ve heard that higher DA links will have faster effects. This may be because higher DA sites get crawled more often (so the link will be discovered sooner), but I think this may be a purposeful delay in the algorithm. Google’s probably taking a bit more time to trust a link from a lower-quality site.

Cool! So, if I start link building now, I’ll see results in 10 weeks or sooner!

Actually, no. It takes a while to get links from a (legitimate) link building campaign. Each step is going to take a varying amount of time, based on the company you work for and the resources you already have. Here’s a list of steps you should keep in mind.

1. Getting the resources

Finding an agency (1–3 months)

The easiest route when you’re starting out is to hire an agency, since they’ll come prepared with a whole team of experienced link builders and will recommend their own tried-and-true strategies. Based on my experience watching businesses scope out Distilled when I worked there, the decision-making process is going to take you 1–3 months. It can be more if you’re a large company with a lot of bureaucracy, or if you’re trying to get a really good deal. Once you’ve chosen your partner in crime, you’ll usually have to wait a couple of weeks to a month to formally start.

Hiring a link builder in-house (1–2 months)

If it’s easier for you to hire a person than an agency, or if you think this is the best long-term strategy, you may end up needing to hire someone. The best candidates here are going to be people with link building experience, a customer service background, and/or bloggers who have successfully built up their own communities. According to Fast Company, it takes about 23 days to hire someone, so include that in your timeline.

Work with PR (almost immediate)

You can work with your PR team to start optimizing their media hits to also include good links. The success of this strategy will vary based on whether you’re going for general Domain Authority link building — in which case, all of those homepage links they’re getting will help you a lot — or trying to build Page Authority to individual landing pages, in which case they’ll probably have a hard time helping you out.

It’s worth pointing out that I don’t know any SEO who relies solely on PR wins to drive their link building strategy, so branch out if at all possible. If you’re low on budget, though, try buying your PR team some drinks and getting them on your side.

2. Coming up with a link building strategy (2 weeks–1 month)

Once you’ve got link builders working for you, you’re going to need to come up with reasons why people will want to link to you. Here are some broad ideas, from fastest to longest ramp-up time:

Your company as a resource (1 week)

One way to get links is to find pages that are listing resources for something that your company provides. For example, if you’re Lyft, you can look for blogs and other sites that list ways you can make money with a flexible schedule.

Your potential here is going to vary based on what your company does and how well you understand the solutions your business offers and who appreciates them. Allow at least a week to prospect potential sites to reach out to.

Your expertise as a resource (2 weeks–1 month)

People are always looking for experts online, and your company probably has some valuable knowledge you can share. For example, if you’re Periscope Data, a company that lets you turn your database into graphs and tables for easier understanding, you might have a hard time finding many sites that are looking for your exact product. But you can put together advice on how to properly write SQL, and boom: thousands of more linking opportunities!

In this case, you’re going to need to both prospect to find the right sites to connect with, then you’re going to want to offer either quotes, guest posts, or resources on your site to entice them. That’ll take a few weeks to a month.

Infographics (1–3 months)

Infographics may be a little overused by SEOs, but high-quality visual assets can get a lot of attention. Just keep in mind that if you don’t work closely with your PR team, you may end up with a lot of posts sharing your infographic, but not linking back to your site.

To put together a good infographic, you’re going to need a compelling idea, clever/unique data, and a good visual designer. They’ll take you at least two months as you get started (but bank on three), though you may be able to get the time down to one month, if your company is a smoothly running machine.

In-depth research (1–3 months)

Write a really unique or really well-researched, well-written article, and you can probably get a lot of shares even without a visual component. This works best for companies that are leaders in their specific field and have a lot of data that their upper management is okay with them sharing.

Expect for this to take just as much time as an infographic — your writer needs just as much time, if not more, as a visual designer. OKCupid’s (previously) famous blog took 2–4 weeks of developer time and 4–8 weeks of a writer’s time for each post.

3. Executing (2 weeks–1 month)

Once you’ve got your strategies in place, you’re going to need to email each prospect, possibly going back and forth with them as they take their time to get back to you, post the wrong link, or need more persuading. You may get a few immediate wins, but remember that you’re not paying them, so you’re at the bottom of their priority list.

Kicking off a link building campaign? Here’s what to plan for:

  • 1–4 months: Find a link building agency and start them at the beginning of a month, OR
  • 1 month: Find an in-house link builder
  • 1 month: Come up with your top link building strategies
  • 1–3 months: Prospect for potential sites to target, and pull together the content that you need to entice those links
  • 2 weeks–1 month: Execute! It’ll take awhile to write all the emails you need to write, and respond to the feedback you get
  • 5–10 weeks: Wait for those links to take effect! Tell your team not to panic for at least 10 weeks (although effects will continue to grow beyond that)

All in all, that means that it may take you 6 months–1 year from beginning to end before you start seeing noticeable effects from your link building efforts.

As an SEO, I feel the need to reiterate: SEO is an investment. Yes, it’s going to take you a lot of time to get those results. But do you see how those rankings keep moving up and to the right, even after you’ve secured those links? Set your manager’s expectations that this is going to be a long process, but the money you pay now is going to pay off continually as long as you keep on top of your competition.

Good luck, and happy link building!

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Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference

a person writing in a notebook - answer this: why you?

A unique selling proposition (USP) is the reason people do business with you and not someone else — a winning difference that sets you apart and makes you the only real choice.

Traditional marketing advice will have you lock yourself in a cave for weeks listing all of the features of your business, translating them into benefits, then somehow finding that one compelling point that will differentiate you from everyone else you could possibly compete with.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach if it works for you.

But if it doesn’t, try throwing it out the window and doing it the cheap and easy way instead. We’re going to show you how today.

Three five-minute exercises to find your USP

Unless you’re launching FedEx, you don’t need a USP as robust as FedEx’s.

Try each of these five-minute exercises and see if they don’t shake loose a USP that will work for your site.

Remember that content consumers don’t go to just one blog, subscribe to just one site, or buy just one product. They want anything and everything about the topic they love.

That means your USP doesn’t have to beat everyone else out. It simply has to appeal to your target audience.

The Crossroads USP

To create a crossroads USP, take two seemingly unrelated ideas and bring them together.

The hit movie Speed was famously pitched as “Die Hard on a bus.” Clueless is Jane Austen’s Emma set in 1995 Beverly Hills.

You can create a crossroads USP by taking something well-known and presenting it to a new audience. Maybe you’ll offer Yoga for Stockbrokers, or Business Blogging for Veterinarians.

You’re looking for two roads that are different enough that you create some energy, but not so different that you can’t realistically bring the roads together.

“The Complete Guide to Flower Arrangement for NFL Players” probably won’t find an audience.

The Metaphor USP

Sometimes you can find an overarching metaphor that will snap everything into place.

For example, Duct Tape Marketing offers something you can find in lots of places — marketing advice for small businesses.

But the “duct tape” metaphor reveals a lot. It tells you the approach is practical, effective, and not terribly fancy. It probably skews slightly toward men, but not exclusively. It can be interpreted many different ways. And it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

No one’s ever going to confuse Duct Tape Marketing with a site called Green Planet Marketing or Mama Bear Marketing.

With this approach, you can create your own USP just by using a metaphor to define the market, the approach, and the angle.

The Persona-Driven USP

If all else fails and you can manage to be reasonably interesting, your USP can simply be … you.

As Scott Stratten once tweeted, “If you are your authentic self in your business, you have no competition.”

Seth Godin, Martha Stewart, Tony Robbins, Cal Worthington (and his dog Spot), Erika Napoletano, and Gary Vaynerchuk have all created persona-driven brands.

They started with something fairly ordinary (business advice, housekeeping tips) and made it extraordinary through the force of their personality, their passion, and their individual expression.

To some degree, this is limiting — the business can’t ever get any bigger than you. But each of those people has learned to partner and delegate in order to create companies that go far beyond a single individual. (You don’t really think Martha Stewart plants all those tulips herself, do you?)

If you’re going to create a persona-driven USP, you’ll need to keep showing up. It’s your job to stand front and center and say something interesting. You’ll provide the voice and flavor for your content.

And don’t think you have to have a “shock jock” personality for the persona-driven USP to work for you.

Chris Garrett and Darren Rowse are both soft-spoken, helpful gentlemen who created successful businesses by focusing on what they cared most about and how they could help others.

Why you?

At the end of the day, the only reason you need a USP at all is to answer that question. Why you?

Why should anyone read your content? Why should anyone buy your product or retain your services? What do you have to offer that makes it worth anyone’s time and/or money?

It can be a painful question, but it doesn’t have to be one that ties you in knots for weeks on end.

Keep it simple, and keep moving forward.

The strongest USP on earth won’t help you if you don’t back it up with all the other actions that create a successful business.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on March 24, 2009.

About the author

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Rainmaker Digital. Get lots more from Sonia on her podcast, Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, or come hang out with her on Twitter.

The post Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Let Data Take the Wheel – Using API-Integrated Reporting Dashboards

Posted by IanWatson

Some say the only constant thing in this world is change — and that seems to go double for the online marketing and SEO industry. At times this can seem daunting and sometimes insurmountable, but some have found ways to embrace the ambiguity and even thrive on it. Their paths and techniques may all differ slightly, but a commonality exists among them.

That commonality is the utilization of data, mainly via API-driven custom tools and dashboards. APIs like Salesforce’s Chatter, Facebook’s Graph, and our very own Mozscape all allow for massive amounts of useful data to be integrated into your systems.

So, what do you do with all that data?

The use cases are limitless and really depend on your goals, business model, and available resources. Many in our industry, including myself, still rely heavily upon spreadsheets to manage large data sets.

However, the amount of native data and data within reach has grown drastically, and can quickly become unwieldy.

An example of a live reporting dashboard from Klipfolio.

Technology to the rescue!

Business intelligence (BI) is a necessary cog in the machine when it comes to running a successful business. The first step to incorporating BI into your business strategy is to adopt real-time reporting. Much like using Google Maps (yet another API!) on your phone to find your way to a new destination, data visualization companies like Klipfolio, Domo, and Tableau have built live reporting dashboards to help you navigate the wild world of online marketing. These interactive dashboards allow you in integrate data from several sources to better assist you in making real-time decisions.

A basic advertising dashboard.

For example, you could bring your ad campaign, social, and web analytics data into one place and track key metrics and overall performance in real-time. This would allow you to delegate extra resources towards what’s performing best, pulling resources from lagging activities in the funnel as they are occurring. Or perhaps you want to be ahead of the curve and integrate some deep learning into your analysis? Bringing in an API like Alchemy or a custom set-up from Algorithmia could help determine what the next trends are before they even happen. This is where the business world is heading; you don’t want to fall behind.

Resistance is futile.

The possibilities of real-time data analysis are numerous, and the first step towards embracing this new-age necessity is to get your first, simple dashboard set up. We’re here to help. In fact, our friends at Klipfolio were nice enough to give us step-by-step instructions on integrating our Mozscape data, Hubspot data, and social media metrics into their live reporting dashboard — even providing a live demo reporting dashboard. This type of dash allows you to easily create reports, visualize changes in your metrics, and make educated decisions based on hard data.

Create a live reporting dashboard featuring Moz, Hubspot and social data

1. First, you’ll need to create your Mozscape API key. You’ll need to be logged into your existing Moz account, or create a free community or pro Moz account. Once you’re logged in and on the API key page, press “Generate Key.”

2. This is the key you’ll use to access the API and is essentially your password. This is also the key you’ll use for step 6, when you’re integrating this data into Klipfolio.

3. Create a free 14-day Klipfolio trial. Then select “Add a Klip.”

4. The Klip Gallery contains pre-built widgets for your whatever your favorite services might be. You can find Klips for Facebook, Instagram, Alexa, Adobe, Google Adwords and Analytics, and a bunch of other useful integrations. They’re constantly adding more. Plus, in Klipfolio, you can build your own widgets from scratch.

For now, let’s keep it simple. Select “Moz” in the Klip Gallery.

5. Pick the Klip you’d like to add first, then click “Add to Dashboard.”

6. Enter your API key and secret key. If you don’t have one already, you can get your API key and secret ID here.

7. Enter your company URL, followed by your competitors’ URLs.

8. Voilà — it’s that easy! Just like that, you have a live look at backlinks on your own dash.

9. From here, you can add any other Moz widgets you want by repeating steps 5–8. I chose to add in MozRank and Domain Authority Klips.

10. Now let’s add some social data streams onto our dash. I’m going to use Facebook and Twitter, but each of the main social media sites have similar setup processes.

11. Adding in other data sources like Hubspot, Searchmetrics, or Google Analytics simply requires you to bet set up with those parties and to allow Klipfolio access.

12. Now that we have our Klips set up, the only thing left to do is arrange the layout to your liking.

After you have your preferred layout, you’re all set! You’ve now entered the world of business intelligence with your first real-time reporting dashboard. After the free Klipfolio trial is complete, it’s only $ 20/month to continue reporting like the pros. I haven’t found many free tools in this arena, but this plan is about as close as you’ll come.

Take a look at a live demo reporting dash, featuring all of the sources we just went over:

Click to see a larger version.


Just like that, you’ve joined the ranks of Big SEO, reporting like the big industry players. In future posts we’ll bring you more tutorials on building simple tools, utilizing data, and mashing it up with outside sources to better help you navigate the ever-changing world of online business. There’s no denying that, as SEO and marketing professionals, you’re always looking for that next great innovation to give you and your customers a competitive advantage.

From Netflix transitioning into an API-centric business to Amazon diving into the API management industry, the largest and most influential companies out there realize that utilizing large data sets via APIs is the future. Follow suit: Let big data and business intelligence be your guiding light!

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

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