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Google News: The biggest missed opportunity in media right now

Google News: The biggest missed opportunity in media right now


Google News: The biggest missed opportunity in media right now
gigaom.com
Despite all of its power and resources, Google has done relatively nothing to improve Google News since it launched. A German designer’s rethinking of the site shows just a fraction of the useful things...
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The Complete Beginners Guide to Peach: What It Is, How It Works and How to Build an Audience

Every so often a new app will suddenly appear on App Store and get everyone talking.

The latest app to do this is Peach – a new social networking app from Dom Hofmann, co-founder of video-based social network Vine.

Peach is "a fun, simple way to keep up with friends and be yourself," and has exploded onto the scene – breaking into the top #10 Social Networking apps in the App Store already (there's currently no Android version).

We decided to drive below the surface and investigate how Peach works, as well as share a super-early case study on how Product Hunt have been using the platform to engage with their audience.

Let's get started!

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The 4 Biggest Pinterest Marketing Mistakes We Made (And How You Can Learn From Them)

I’m a bit embarrassed to share my early Pinterest Pins.

But here they are anyway.

A pin loaded with hashtags, a really odd-sized image, an image with a one-word description, a Pin with no description at all.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes with Pinterest, both in the Pins I’ve created and in the strategies and plans I’ve set forth.

And I’ve come to discover that Pinterest is wholly unique from Twitter and Facebook, and that I’ve had things quite wrong from the start.

All these mistakes have been a wonderful opportunity to learn. I’m grateful for the chance to keep improving my Pinterest strategy, and I’d love to share with you all my mistakes and the new perspectives I’ve gained from researching and experimenting with the best ways to Pin on Pinterest.

What we’ve learned about Pinterest marketing Optimal timing matters less, given Pinterest’s long shelf life Followers don’t matter (as much) Pinterest isn’t a social network like Facebook and Twitter Pinterest is brand-centric

When were gearing up to launch Buffer for Pinterest, I had the great chance to dive deep into Pinterest marketing.

And I brought way too much hubris along with me.

Writing for a social media blog, I think I naturally assumed that all this Pinterest marketing would come intuitively, that the tactics I had learned elsewhere could be copied over to Pinterest without skipping a beat.

I was wrong.

Pinterest has a couple of wonderful phrases that encapsulate a lot of what’s special and unique about the site.

Your most coveted audiences are planning the future.

Take advantage of the world’s largest, most actionable focus group.

It’s unique phrases like these, along with the unique perspectives, that have helped me get my focus on the right track when it comes to Pinterest marketing. Along the way, here are some of the many mistakes I have made.

Why optimal timing on Pinterest matters less Mistake #1: I was keen to find the best time to post on Pinterest

We love to dig up studies on optimal timing at Buffer as we’ve found it to be a key component to the boost in reach for tweets, Facebook posts, and more.

I assumed the same would be true of Pinterest as well.

And while there is a bit of data about the best time to post on Pinterest, optimal timing is not the most useful strategy for Pinterest marketing.

This is due in large part to Pinterest’s Smart Feed, an algorithm-based feed where content turns up based on high-quality Pins and related Pins, not on ideal timing.

In this way, Pins enjoy a much longer shelf life than the typical social media update. With a well-written, keyword-rich description, a Pin’s traffic can resemble that of an evergreen blog post, with views and repins happening well into the future.

Piquora ran a study analyzing the half-life of Pins and discovered that:

40% of the clicks happen within the first day. 70% of the clicks happen within first 2 days. 30% of clicks happen all the way through 30 days and beyond.

The key, Piqora CEO Sharad Verma explained to Venturebeat, is that Pinterest doesn’t share Twitter and Facebook’s emphasis on immediacy. Pinterest visitors browse and search the network in a way that makes it as much like a search engine as a social network.

“In the world of Google, 70 percent of searches are long-tail, composed of four or more words,” Verma says. “Our hypothesis is that the same thing is happening on Pinterest … searching and Pinterest categories resurface the old pins.”

I’ve found this to be the case with a lot of the Pins on the Buffer account.

When looking at the Pinterest stats for our Pins, it’s clear that some of our top-performing Pins have been around for quite some time and continue to gain traffic and engagement.

One of our top post impressions for the past month (over 1,100 views) was a graphic we made for a Peg Fitzpatrick guest post. The post and graphic were shared on April 21. The 1,100 views occurred starting one week later, and they appear as if they’ll continue on well into the future!

Looking at our top posts overall from the past 30 days, four of the top seven posts (more than half) were Pinned prior to the data range—some as much as one year ago!

So ideal timing—whether it’s the day of the week or the time of day—appears to matter less than a well-optimized Pin.

Courtney shared a great list of tips to optimize your Pin descriptions to capture that all-important long-term search traffic.

Make sure all your content has rich, Pinnable, and well-captioned images. Make sure your pins link to a useful and relevant website. Move keywords toward the front of board names and Pin descriptions to make them easy to find. Optimize your headlines and image fields: Buffer pulls in the article’s headline as your Pin’s default description. Pinterest pulls in an image’s caption. (If there is no caption, it pulls alt text instead, and failing that, meta title). Add advice, instructions or how-tos when you can – informative Pins are up to 30% more engaging than other Pins! Prioritize clarity over cleverness in your Pinterest text. Try for a description of between 200 and 310 characters. According to Dan Zarrella, who researched 11,000 pins, that’s the most repinned and commented-upon description range.

And beyond optimal timing, I’ve also been pondering what exactly the effect of frequency has on Pinning. Is there an optimal frequency for Pinterest? Does optimal frequency matter?

Like optimal timing, my sense is that optimal frequency might take a backseat to well-written Pin descriptions and high-quality, well-optimized visuals. The takeaway here could be: It’s not when you Pin or how often you Pin, it’s what you Pin and how well.

Followers is not a key metric on Pinterest Mistake #2: I focused too much on Pinterest followers

Followers are one of social media’s most touted metrics. Follower count is a big deal to a lot of people (brands and businesses, too) on Twitter and Facebook.

On Pinterest?

It just doesn’t matter as much.

Followers on Pinterest do not make for a significant factor in any key way other than social proof. Whereas on other networks where a large following means a larger megaphone, Pins don’t circulate in the same way on Pinterest.

Again it goes back to Pinterest’s Smart Feed, which places Pins on your homepage according to an algorithm, keyed to your personal Pinterest history and keywords. Followers isn’t taken into account.

The Pin Junkie blog has some great context to the way Smart Feed works:

Instead of seeing pins in chronological order from pinners you follow, Pinterest has introduced algorithms and filters to present pins to you based on three factors:

1.  The highest quality pins from people you follow
2.  Related pins based on what you pin
3.  Interests you’re following

As a result, people are more likely to discover your pins from a search on Pinterest, rather than strictly from pins in their feed.

An algorithm-based home feed? Sounds a bit like Facebook, right? Well again there’s a key difference here between Facebook’s News Feed algorithm and Pinterest’s Smart Feed.

Your Pins can be seen by those who don’t follow you, without your having to pay for increased reach.

(On Facebook, if you’d like your post to appear in the feed of someone who’s yet to like your page, you’ll need to use Facebook Ads.)

And also, following on Pinterest can be quite a misnomer. Users can follow users. Users can also follow individual boards. This removes the following power from the person and places it on the content.

How Pinterest Differs From Twitter and Facebook Mistake #3: I thought Pinterest was a social network, just like all the others

Technically-speaking, Pinterest is a social network, as its users connect with one another and share as part of a community. That being said, it’s not a social network in the same sense of a Twitter or a Facebook.

Tailwind CEO Daniel Maloney has a great way of putting it from a very high-level.

Twitter is mostly about what I’m doing.

Facebook is about who I am.

Pinterest is about who I want to be.

There’s a fundamental difference there, in the way that each of those networks is used. To a certain degree, the difference is based in time. Twitter and Facebook deal with the present—what I’m doing now, who I am today.

Pinterest is focused on the future.

In this way, Pinterest is more like a Pocket or an Evernote, tools that help you save ideas and articles for a future date.

We can see this in action in the way that users like Stephen Vian have pinned boards for woodworking, or how Anna Zubarev has pinned Blogging Strategies. On our Buffer account, too, we’ve built several boards that are focused on the things that we hope to achieve or to reference later.

Buffer book club Travel Social media tips

There’s an evergreen quality to all of this content, where we can refer to our boards long into the future and continue to find valuable, useful information that we’ve stashed away until the time is right.

People plan on Pinterest. And that in and of itself makes Pinterest unique compared to its social media peers.

The foundation of Pinterest was built by brands Mistake #4: I assumed brands came late to Pinterest

Did you know: Two-thirds of Pinterest content is pinned by brands.

Brands were the original power Pinners.

Users have come along to repin and spread these Pins virally, adding them to boards and collections of future-oriented wishes or dreams.

It’s always been about the brands on Pinterest.

This is a significant perspective change for me as it differs again from so many other social networks. Social media channels often build their large user bases first, then brands and businesses join later to see how they can best fit in.

Pinterest was brand-focused from the beginning, and brands remain the integral ingredient in the quality, visual content that gets pinned most often.

We can see a bit of the paradigm difference here by comparing Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook added Pages onto its existing network of social connections (people, basically), and it’s now trying to figure out the best way to balance the needs of the individual people—status updates, friend news, birthdays, babies, etc.—with the needs of the businesses—getting their content seen in the News Feed.

Pinterest has had brands involved all along. With two out of every three Pins coming from brands, much of the highly visual, Pinnable content originates from brands and spreads through individuals.

Take a look here at the most popular Pinned posts from last year (more here also).

Conclusion

Again I find myself coming back to the pair of Pinterest quotes that do such a great job of setting the expectation for how to view and plan for Pinterest marketing.

Your most coveted audiences are planning the future.

Take advantage of the world’s largest, most actionable focus group.

With this in mind, it helps to focus my strategy a bit more. Pinterest is future-focused, in a way that Facebook and Twitter are not. Our usual strategies of optimal timing might be a bit off here, and we have a chance to optimize descriptions and keywords instead.

What have you found to be key to your Pinterest strategies? Does any of this info resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image sources: Pablo, UnSplash, IconFinder, Pinterest

The post The 4 Biggest Pinterest Marketing Mistakes We Made (And How You Can Learn From Them) appeared first on Social.

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How to Choose the Right Stock Photo for Your Next Project

You’ve likely got a great way to search the web for the best free stock photos.

And once you know where to look, how do you decide which photos to choose?

Should you go with abstract or specific?

What is the best color profile?

What is the best orientation?

There are so many great sources for free photos. I find myself asking these questions most every time I pick a photo—how to identify the right stock photo for a project. There’s a good bit of research and advice out there on how to make the best choice when it comes to stock photos. Take a look at what I’ve found here.

1. Know where your image is going How will you use the photo? Where will the photo appear?

There’re a million different places an image could appear, based on the million or more types of projects that involve stock photography.

Let’s consider online content for a moment.

When we look at the different places that a stock photo may appear, there’s often a handful that come to mind most often:

A full-width image in the header

Examples of this include stories on Medium and popular blogs like Crew or Zapier.

A background image as part of a graphic, behind text or icons

Examples of this include the images we create for Buffer blog posts and some great designs on blogs like Copyblogger and Agora Pulse.

Right-aligned images inside blog posts

Examples include The Social Times blog. (The image could also be left-aligned, too, though the far more common usage is right-aligned.)

Full-width images inside blog posts

Examples include the Unbounce blog and the Quick Sprout blog.

Social media featured images

Examples include Facebook and Google+ when you share a link and Twitter when you’ve enabled Twitter cards.

Slidedeck backgrounds

Lots of great examples on SlideShare.

In each of the examples above, it’s possible that a different stock photo would be considered an ideal fit, based on what looks good with text on top of it, what looks good splashed on Facebook, or what looks good at the start of a blog post.

In my experience, I’ve seen stock photos commonly used in one of two ways. Either

On their own as standalone images With text or graphics placed on top, as designed images

Both are great routes forward, especially considering the unique places these images are used online. Once you figure out where your image is going and how it will be used, you’re certain to have a greater sense of what’s right stock photo for your project.

2. Understand the contrast of your image Identify areas of low contrast if you plan on adding text or graphics to the image

Let’s say you want to add an overlay onto your image—a catchy quote with Pablo or an announcement blurb and graphic over a cool background.

The ideal stock photo for these projects would be one with areas of low contrast so that your text and graphics have an even, consistent backdrop.

The SlideShare blog has a good example of how contrast affects the design of image. SlideShare refers to those images with areas of low contrast as text-friendly images.

Good example:

Bad example:

Put another way, these ideal stock photos with areas of low contrast make it possible that your text and graphics will have high contrast with the photo.

For instance, an image with many shades of blue could be said to have low contrast. If you were to add white text on top, the white text would have high contrast with the blue image.

If you always add white text to your images, look for images with darker colors.

If you’ve grabbed a black icon from a site like The Noun Project, you’ll want to place it on an image with lighter tones.

One way to look at contrast in this sense is to picture the color wheel. Selecting colors that are opposite one another on the wheel creates a contrasting effect. You can choose an ideal stock image that focuses on one color and text and graphics that focus on an opposite one.

Legibility and clarity are key here. Typically when you create an image with text, graphics, or other elements overlaid onto a photo, the most important visual aspect of your image will be your enhancements, not the stock photo itself.

You don’t need to think much about the content of the picture—especially if you’ll be adding strong effects like blur or darken/lighten.

You’ll just want something that has the right contrast to make your added elements pop.

Another trick I like to try, when possible, is to add an image to my photo editor (Canva, typically) and change the image to black-and-white. Usually quite quickly I can tell if the image has high or low contrast within its colors.

(You’ll also grow to notice the right contrast rather intuitively over time.)

Where this becomes important is when you begin to place elements on top of the image. Text, for instance, has the chance to be difficult to read if you’re placing it over contrasting colors—white text could disappear over the white parts of the image yet still look just fine over the darker colors, for instance.

3. Choose colors that elicit a visceral response Attention-grabbing colors & images will stand out on social

Visceral reactions are some of the strongest connections we can make to visual content.

Biologically, when we feel a visceral reaction, we tap into the part of the brain responsible for survival instincts and fight-or-flight responses. The response is subconscious. It originates from the central nervous system whenever we’re stimulated by vital factors like food, shelter, danger, or reproduction. We might not be able to explain why we love a beautiful design because our conscious thought hasn’t yet caught up with our subconscious.

And one of the ways to drive these visceral reactions is with color choice.

A study from Georgia Tech looked at 1 million Pinterest images for the color trends between the highest and lowest shared images. They found:

   Red, Purple and Pink promote sharing    Green, Black, Blue and Yellow all stop people from sharing

The thinking was that the three highly-shared colors—red, purple and pink—are tied to visceral emotions. And the overall takeaway is that color makes for a huge portion of an image’s success.

To find an ideal stock photo that’s rich with attention-grabbing color, you can again turn to contrast—in particular, the seven color contrasts identified by Johannes Itten.

Pure (hue) contrast Light-dark contrast Cold-warm contrast Complementary contrast Simultaneous contrast Contrast of quality (color saturation) Contrast of quantity

(For more detail on each of these seven, I’d highly recommend this blog post from Love of Graphics.)

Two of Itten’s seven color contrasts that stand out to me when choosing stock photos are contrast of saturation and contrast of hue. The Color at Play blog created some great examples of these contrasts in action.

Contrast in saturation

Example:

Contrast in hue

Example:

4. Find an image that supports your message Attention-grabbing images are great, so long as they don’t distract

In most cases, stock photos are generic and abstract enough that they can grab attention without diverting too much focus.

There are, however, exceptions.

Simply, when choosing a stock photo, find one that does not distract from the main message of your article, update, or headline.

Typically, distracting images would be those that have one or more of these qualities:

Controversial Loud, garish Too specific Recognizable Meme

Here’s an example of one that I used in a story. The image was probably a bit too specific—a football game, fans dressed in white, lettering in the end zone—and on looking back at it now, my mind immediately begins trying to figure out just who those teams are (instead of focusing on the cool article).

5. Take care to pick a person What to consider when picking a photo with a person

There’s been some neat research about this question. What effect is there, if any, should you choose a photo with a person?

Turns out, there are a lot of different ways to include a person in your picture.

Looking away from camera vs. looking at camera Back of head vs. face Shadow/silhouette Pics of arms, legs, or bodies

A brief overview of some case studies on the topic reveals these findings:

Human photos have a positive impact on trustworthiness of a website. A smiling face can help increase conversions.

In general, though, if you are to use a person in your photos, it’s best to use an actual person (an employee or customer) rather than a generic person from a stock photo Psychologically, we tend to follow the eyes of people in stock photos. This can create a directional cue toward buttons, CTAs, or text. The effect of using photos with real people is minimized with the focus of other elements on the picture or page.

6. Be mindful of the size and shape Which orientation do you want? Tall vs. wide vs. square

One factor that might sway your decision one way or another is the size and shape of an image. In general, these are the ideal image sizes for each social network:

Facebook – 1,200 x 628 Twitter – 1,024 x 512 LinkedIn – 800 x 800 Google+ – 800 x 1,200 Pinterest – 735 x 1,102 Instagram – 640 x 640

The commonly-held best practice is to aim for something like this:

Facebook & Instagram — square images Pinterest & Google+ — tall images Twitter — wide images

What happens if you fall in love with an image that isn’t the right size? 

There’s a fun tip we use here at Buffer for how to crop easily.

When you double-click to open an image on your Mac computer, you enter Preview, which contains several useful tools.

To crop, place your mouse over the picture and click and drag to select the area you want to keep. Then go to Tools > Crop (or press Command+K).

You can also resize large images from Preview by going to Tools > Adjust Size.

In this way, you can fall in love with just about any image and crop down to the size and shape you need.

7. How to perform a search The best way to search for abstract photos

Many of our favorite free image sources have robust search features to help you dig through the photo archives.

Sometimes there can be a bit of an art to finding what you’re after.

If you’re writing an article about brand management, for example, it could be difficult to know which terms to use in your search; if you were to search for “brand” or “management,” the image results might be a bit lean and off-topic.

What we like to do in searches for the Buffer blog is to enter terms that have to do with the image we have in mind, rather than the title of the page itself.

For social media posts, we often look to find pictures of computers, laptops, mobile devices, or keyboards. For analytics posts, we look for transportation, things with forward motion. For research posts, we might search for books or pen and paper.

We also find that crowd shots or interactive photos with two or more people together make for good social media images.

What this might look like in practice:

Search according to the verbs in your headlines or page titles, rather than the nouns Go to the thesaurus to find variations of your search terms (a simple thesaurus: Google search for “[keyword] synonym”) Search for nouns related to your verbs, e.g. “launch” could mean rockets or race cars Over to you

What are your favorite tips for finding a great stock photo?

I’d love the chance to learn from you! Leave any thoughts here in the comments, and I’ll respond right away.

Image sources: Pablo, IconFinder, SlideShare, John Barsby Photography, Color at Play, UnSplash, 37 Signals, Eyequant

The post How to Choose the Right Stock Photo for Your Next Project appeared first on Social.

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5 Spreadsheet Tips for Manual Link Audits

Posted by MarieHaynes

Link auditing is the part of my job that I love the most. I have audited a LOT of links over the last few years. While there are some programs out there that can be quite helpful to the avid link auditor, I still prefer to create a spreadsheet of my links in Excel and then to audit those links one-by-one from within Google Spreadsheets. Over the years I have learned a few tricks and formulas that have helped me in this process. In this article, I will share several of these with you.

Please know that while I am quite comfortable being labelled a link auditing expert, I am not an Excel wizard. I am betting that some of the things that I am doing could be improved upon if you're an advanced user. As such, if you have any suggestions or tips of your own I'd love to hear them in the comments section!

1. Extract the domain or subdomain from a URL

OK. You've downloaded links from as many sources as possible and now you want to manually visit and evaluate one link from every domain. But, holy moly, some of these domains can have THOUSANDS of links pointing to the site. So, let's break these down so that you are just seeing one link from each domain. The first step is to extract the domain or subdomain from each url.

I am going to show you examples from a Google spreadsheet as I find that these display nicer for demonstration purposes. However, if you've got a fairly large site, you'll find that the spreadsheets are easier to create in Excel. If you're confused about any of these steps, check out the animated gif at the end of each step to see the process in action.

Here is how you extract a domain or subdomain from a url:

Create a new column to the left of your url column.Use this formula:

=LEFT(B1,FIND("/",B1,9)-1)

What this will do is remove everything after the trailing slash following the domain name. http://www.example.com/article.html will now become http://www.example.com and http://www.subdomain.example.com/article.html will now become http://www.subdomain.example.com.Copy our new column A and paste it right back where it was using the "paste as values" function. If you don't do this, you won't be able to use the Find and Replace feature.Use Find and Replace to replace each of the following with a blank (i.e. nothing):
http://
https://
www.

And BOOM! We are left with a column that contains just domain names and subdomain names. This animated gif shows each of the steps we just outlined:

2. Just show one link from each domain

The next step is to filter this list so that we are just seeing one link from each domain. If you are manually reviewing links, there's usually no point in reviewing every single link from every domain. I will throw in a word of caution here though. Sometimes a domain can have both a good link and a bad link pointing to you. Or in some cases, you may find that links from one page are followed and from another page on the same site they are nofollowed. You can miss some of these by just looking at one link from each domain. Personally, I have some checks built in to my process where I use Scrapebox and some internal tools that I have created to make sure that I'm not missing the odd link by just looking at one link from each domain. For most link audits, however, you are not going to miss very much by assessing one link from each domain.

Here's how we do it:

Highlight our domains column and sort the column in alphabetical order. Create a column to the left of our domains, so that the domains are in column B. Use this formula:

=IF(B1=B2,"duplicate","unique")

Copy that formula down the column. Use the filter function so that you are just seeing the duplicates. Delete those rows. Note: If you have tens of thousands of rows to delete, the spreadsheet may crash. A workaround here is to use "Clear Rows" instead of "Delete Rows" and then sort your domains column from A-Z once you are finished.

We've now got a list of one link from every domain linking to us.

Here's the gif that shows each of these steps:

You may wonder why I didn't use Excel's dedupe function to simply deduplicate these entries. I have found that it doesn't take much deduplication to crash Excel, which is why I do this step manually.


3. Finding patterns FTW!

Sometimes when you are auditing links, you'll find that unnatural links have patterns. I LOVE when I see these, because sometimes I can quickly go through hundreds of links without having to check each one manually. Here is an example. Let's say that your website has a bunch of spammy directory links. As you're auditing you notice patterns such as one of these:

All of these directory links come from a url that contains …/computers/internet/item40682/ A whole bunch of spammy links that all come from a particular free subdomain like blogspot, wordpress, weebly, etc. A lot of links that all contain a particular keyword for anchor text (this is assuming you've included anchor text in your spreadsheet when making it.)

You can quickly find all of these links and mark them as "disavow" or "keep" by doing the following:

Create a new column. In my example, I am going to create a new column in Column C and look for patterns in urls that are in Column B.
Use this formula:

=FIND("/item40682",B1)
(You would replace "item40682" with the phrase that you are looking for.)

Copy this formula down the column.
Filter your new column so that you are seeing any rows that have a number in this column. If the phrase doesn't exist in that url, you'll see "N/A", and we can ignore those.
Now you can mark these all as disavow

4. Check your disavow file

This next tip is one that you can use to check your disavow file across your list of domains that you want to audit. The goal here is to see which links you have disavowed so that you don't waste time reassessing them. This particular tip only works for checking links that you have disavowed on the domain level.

The first thing you'll want to do is download your current disavow file from Google. For some strange reason, Google gives you the disavow file in CSV format. I have never understood this because they want you to upload the file in .txt. Still, I guess this is what works best for Google. All of your entries will be in column A of the CSV:

What we are going to do now is add these to a new sheet on our current spreadsheet and use a VLOOKUP function to mark which of our domains we have disavowed.

Here are the steps:

Create a new sheet on your current spreadsheet workbook.Copy and paste column A from your disavow spreadsheet onto this new sheet. Or, alternatively, use the import function to import the entire CSV onto this sheet.In B1, write "previously disavowed" and copy this down the entire column.Remove the "domain:" from each of the entries by doing a Find and Replace to replace domain: with a blank.Now go back to your link audit spreadsheet. If your domains are in column A and if you had, say, 1500 domains in your disavow file, your formula would look like this:

=VLOOKUP(A1,Sheet2!$A$1:$B$1500,2,FALSE)When you copy this formula down the spreadsheet, it will check each of your domains, and if it finds the domain in Sheet 2, it will write "previously disavowed" on our link audit spreadsheet.


Here is a gif that shows the process:

5. Make monthly or quarterly disavow work easier

That same formula described above is a great one to use if you are doing regular repeated link audits. In this case, your second sheet on your spreadsheet would contain domains that you have previously audited, and column B of this spreadsheet would say, "previously audited" rather than "previously disavowed".

Your tips?

These are just a few of the formulas that you can use to help make link auditing work easier. But there are lots of other things you can do with Excel or Google Sheets to help speed up the process as well. If you have some tips to add, leave a comment below. Also, if you need clarification on any of these tips, I'm happy to answer questions in the comments section.


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What $5 Per Day Will Buy You on Facebook Ads

If you want get your posts seen on Facebook, one of the most common bits of wisdom you’ll hear is this:

Pay for reach with Facebook ads. 

Paid advertising on Facebook seems to be one of the most immediate ways to impact the reach of your content. Though it’s not without its questions. How well does it work? What kind of engagement do you get?

And what can you expect for your hard-earned money?

We’ve been testing Facebook ads a bit with Buffer’s Facebook strategy, looking to see exactly what’s possible on a small budget. I’m happy to share our findings with you. Here’s what we found $5 per day will buy you on Facebook Ads.

What $5 Per Day Will Buy You on Facebook

I’d love to jump right to our findings here, then get into the specifics below. We tried three different types of Facebook Ads, each designed with a different objective in mind.

Here are our results: 

Page Likes – $0.57 per like Clicks to the Buffer for Business landing page – $4.01 per click Boosted post – $6.35 per additional 1,000 people reached

When we view this in terms of how much $5 per day will buy you, these are the numbers:

Page Likes – 9 likes per day Clicks to the Buffer homepage – 1 per day Boosted post – 787 new people reached

How does this jive with your experience on Facebook Ads? 

I’ll be happy to share the specifics of what we tried and how we tried it (and how you can test this for yourself, too.)

One final thought before moving ahead, it might be useful to see how our experience compares to Facebook Ads benchmarks overall. Matthew Kammerer shared an overview of social media advertising in a guest post at the Buffer blog, including the following chart of helpful Facebook benchmarks.

Since we find ourselves in the technology space at Buffer, we can compare to the industry benchmarks in this chart.

Average clickthrough rate: 0.2%

Ours: 0.95%

Average cost per click: $0.20

Ours: $0.97

Average cost per 1,000 impressions: $0.38

Ours: $6.35

A lot of our experience here didn’t quite match up to the benchmarks, likely for a number of factors like this being my first dive into Facebook Ads (lots to learn!) and my not spending the time to truly optimize the campaigns.

Like all the experiments we run and share here, your mileage may vary. And we’d love to hear your experience and results!

How to Set Up a Facebook Ads Campaign

All of Facebook’s ad campaigns run through the Facebook Ads tool, which you can access via a direct link at facebook.com/ads, or by clicking “Manage Ads” in the drop-down menu on your Facebook account, or by clicking any of the CTAs on your Facebook page.

With Facebook, you have many different ways of approaching an ad campaign. These ways can typically fall within three categories of benefits:

Interaction: Your ad and content right on the homepage allows users to interact with it like they do any other piece of social content. Reach: Expand your reach to new potential customers who can interact with your content by commenting, liking, favoriting, retweeting, etc. Followers: Brands also report a notable increase in followers through these social advertising options, since brand visibility increases significantly.

For small budgets, you’re likely to get the most bang for your buck with boosting reach. Moz found that $1 per day can grow you audience by 4,000 people (this didn’t quite match our experience, though it’s well worth trying).

Once you’re into the Ads manager, you can navigate with the menu on the left-hand side of the page. To get started with your first ad, click the green button in the top-right corner of the page.

When you click to create a Facebook Ad, you’ll go to a page where you choose the objective for your campaign. There are 10 options here for what you might want to achieve:

Boost your posts (more on this below) Promote your page (more on this next) Send people to your website (more on this below) Increase conversions on your website Get installs of your app Increase engagement in your app Reach people near your business Raise attendance at your event Get people to claim your offer Get video views

I won’t get into the specifics of all these as we only tested the top three, but there are some really great resources out there—like this post from Noah Kagan—if you’re interested in learning more about Facebook Ads in their entirety.

How to Set Up a Campaign for Facebook Page Likes

1. Choose the second option from the Create an Ad list: Promote Your Page.

2. At the next screen, select the page you’d like to promote.

3. Choose who will be shown your ad.

The audience can be customized based on all the following demographics:

Location, starting with a country, state, city, zip code, or address, and refining even further with a mile radius Age Gender Languages Interests – Facebook looks at a person’s interests, activity, the Pages they like, and closely related topics Behaviors – Things like purchase behavior and intent, as well as device usage Connections – Choose to show the ad to all people, just those connected to Buffer, or those not connected to Buffer

In addition, with the Connections setting, you can choose advanced targeting, which lets you include or exclude people who are connected to certain pages, apps, or events.

How we chose an audience for the Buffer ad

Facebook recommends narrowing your reach in a targeted way in order to maximize the impact of your ad. We went quite narrow with this experiment, choosing the following audience demographics:

Location: United States Interests: Social media Excluded: People who already like Buffer Age: 18-65+ Language: English (US)

This gave us an estimated reach of up to 3,200 people out of 14 million. The 3,200 people are how many we could expect to be online any given day and potentially see our ad.

4. Choose how much you want to spend.

5. Choose an image to create the ad.

You can pick from your library, search, or upload a new one. If you’re able to upload multiple images, you can create multiple ad variations that will run within your campaign, giving you a sort of A/B test to see what works best.

The recommended image size is 1,200 pixels wide by 444 pixels tall.

6. Write the text and the headline.

For the text, you get 90 characters to share a quick message that will appear above your image.

For the headline (which is hidden beneath an Advanced Options toggle), you can use an alternative to your page name, which is shown by default. Headlines can be 25 characters long.

How we wrote the text and headline

We left the page title the same (“Buffer”), although it’s possible we could have tried something like Buffer – Social Media or Buffer App.

For the text, we aimed for a descriptive headline that would help people understand what it is they’d be getting from us. Since we targeted people with an interest in social media, it also made sense to make the message match the audience.

The Best Tips and Tools for Sharing to Social Media

Here’s how the ad looked:

How to Set Up a Campaign for Boosted Posts

1. Choose the first option from the Create an Ad list: Boost Your Posts.

2. At the next screen, select the page you’d like to use. Then select the post you’d like to promote.

3. Choose who will be shown your ad.

You have the same options here as you did in the Page Likes campaign mentioned above.

How we chose an audience for the Buffer ad

For this experiment, we went with a quite targeted demographic: younger San Francisco people with an interest in technology.

Location: A 50-mile radius from San Francisco Interests: Technology Excluded: People who already like Buffer Age: 21-40 Language: English (US) and (UK)

This led to a great and targeted group of up to 2,800 people per day who might be served our ad.

4. Choose how much you want to spend.

5. Review your post.

In this section, you can see a preview of your post as it will appear in the News Feed on desktop and on mobile as well as in the right column of desktop screens. You can turn any of these views off so that the ad won’t be shown there.

How we chose what to display

Facebook offers some helpful views of what your ad might look like in various places. The three main spots:

The News Feed on desktop The News Feed on mobile The right column on desktop

When it came to boost this post, it seemed to us that the best placement was likely to be in the News Feed instead of the sidebar.

When the content moved to the sidebar, the headline was truncated and the description was truncated. The text itself was harder to see. Ultimately, it just wasn’t intended to be in the sidebar; it was meant for the News Feed.

How to Set Up a Campaign for Clicks to Your Website

1. Choose the third option from the Create an Ad list: Send people to your website.

2. At the next screen, type in the URL where you’d like to send traffic.

3. Choose who will be shown your ad.

How we chose an audience for the Buffer ad

For this ad, we went a slightly different route with our audience selection. We chose to target a specific audience—our MailChimp subscribers—using Facebook’s custom audiences.

To create a custom audience, we chose the option from the audience selection portion of our Facebook ad.

Here, you can choose to create the custom audience from a base of three options:

Customer list (like an email list, for instance) Website traffic App activity

We chose to use a customer list for our audience segment. We exported our subscribers from MailChimp and imported into Facebook. Our list of 39,000 names returned 23,900 Facebook users.

We then further segmented the list into specific demographics for location, age, and language. We didn’t quite feel the need to segment for interests since everyone of these folks seemed to be interested in Buffer just by subscribing!

4. Choose how much you want to spend.

5. Choose how you want the ad to look.

Depending on the visuals you’d like to associate with your ad, you can choose to either show one image with your ad or show a gallery of five images that people can scroll to view.

6. Connect your ad to a Facebook page.

This allows the ad to appear in the News Feed as if it came from a page, while the ad itself still goes to your chosen URL.

7. Write a headline.

You get 25 characters max.

8. Write description text.

You get 90 characters max.

9. Choose button text from Facebook’s list of options.

Shop Now Book Now Learn More Sign Up Download

10. Add more text to the Advanced Settings for your link.

11. Choose where the ad will be placed.

In addition to the options above for News Feed and right column, this particular type of ad also includes an option for appearing on Facebook’s audience network, which includes third-party mobile apps.

How we chose what to display

We went with an ad for our Buffer for Business landing page, hoping to encourage any current Buffer newsletter subscribers to take a closer look at our business plan.

The ad itself, well, I’m sure I have lots of room for improvement here!

Reflecting back now, I can see that the headline lacks any information about what it is that Buffer does. There’s no benefit there for the user. The image is from PlaceIt, which does great stuff helping get screenshots and app images that look smooth.

If I were to do it again, I’d likely follow a lot of the advice here in Noah Kagan’s post about Facebook ads.

1. Headline: Give away something for free
2. Text: Social proof showing why the reader should care
3. News Feed Link Description: Give call to action for them to get benefit

For example:

Over to you

I feel like we’re quite early on with learning best practices for Facebook Ads at Buffer. I’d love to get any insight you have in this area and hear any tips you might be willing to share!

Overall, the cost of advertising on Facebook seems like it could be most helpful to us in terms of boosted posts as we were able to get more than 750 new people to check out our content for only $5.00.

What has been the best success you’ve found with Facebook Ads?

Image sources: IconFinder, Unsplash, Pablo

The post What $5 Per Day Will Buy You on Facebook Ads appeared first on Social.

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Exposing The Generational Content Gap: Three Ways to Reach Multiple Generations

Posted by AndreaLehr

This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.

With more people of all ages online than ever before, marketers must create content that resonates with multiple generations. Successful marketers realize that each generation has unique expectations, values and experiences that influence consumer behaviors, and that offering your audience content that reflects their shared interests is a powerful way to connect with them and inspire them to take action.

We’re in the midst of a generational shift, with Millennials expected to surpass Baby Boomers in 2015 as the largest living generation. In order to be competitive, marketers need to realize where key distinctions and similarities lie in terms of how these different generations consume content and share it with with others.

To better understand the habits of each generation, BuzzStream and Fractl surveyed over 1,200 individuals and segmented their responses into three groups: Millennials (born between 1977–1995), Generation X (born between 1965–1976), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946–1964). [Eds note: The official breakdown for each group is as follows: Millennials (1981-1997), Generation X (1965-1980), and Boomers (1946-1964)]

Our survey asked them to identify their preferences for over 15 different content types while also noting their opinions on long-form versus short-form content and different genres (e.g., politics, technology, and entertainment).

We compared their responses and found similar habits and unique trends among all three generations.

Here's our breakdown of the three key takeaways you can use to elevate your future campaigns:

1. Baby Boomers are consuming the most content

However, they have a tendency to enjoy it earlier in the day than Gen Xers and Millennials.

Although we found striking similarities between the younger generations, the oldest generation distinguished itself by consuming the most content. Over 25 percent of Baby Boomers consume 20 or more hours of content each week. Additional findings:

Baby Boomers also hold a strong lead in the 15–20 hours bracket at 17 percent, edging out Gen Xers and Millennials at 12 and 11 percent, respectively A majority of Gen Xers and Millennials—just over 22 percent each—consume between 5 and 10 hours per week Less than 10 percent of Gen Xers consume less than five hours of content a week—the lowest of all three groups

We also compared the times of day that each generation enjoys consuming content. The results show that most of our respondents—over 30 percent— consume content between 8 p.m. and midnight. However, there are similar trends that distinguish the oldest generation from the younger ones:

Baby Boomers consume a majority of their content in the morning. Nearly 40 percent of respondents are online between 5 a.m. and noon. The least popular time for most respondents to engage with content online is late at night, between midnight and 5 a.m., earning less than 10 percent from each generation Gen X is the only generation to dip below 10 percent in the three U.S. time zones: 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., 6 to 8 p.m., and midnight to 5 a.m.

When it comes to which device each generation uses to consume content, laptops are the most common, followed by desktops. The biggest distinction is in mobile usage: Over 50 percent of respondents who use their mobile as their primary device for content consumption are Millennials. Other results reveal:

Not only do Baby Boomers use laptops the most (43 percent), but they also use their tablets the most. (40 percent of all primary tablet users are Baby Boomers). Over 25 percent of Millennials use a mobile device as their primary source for content Gen Xers are the least active tablet users, with less than 8 percent of respondents using it as their primary device 2. Preferred content types and lengths span all three generations

One thing every generation agrees on is the type of content they enjoy seeing online. Our results reveal that the top four content types— blog articles, images, comments, and eBooks—are exactly the same for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. Additional comparisons indicate:

The least preferred content types—flipbooks, SlideShares, webinars, and white papers—are the same across generations, too (although not in the exact same order) Surprisingly, Gen Xers and Millennials list quizzes as one of their five least favorite content types

All three generations also agree on ideal content length, around 300 words. Further analysis reveals:

Baby Boomers have the highest preference for articles under 200 words, at 18 percent Gen Xers have a strong preference for articles over 500 words compared to other generations. Over 20 percent of respondents favor long-form articles, while only 15 percent of Baby Boomers and Millennials share the same sentiment. Gen Xers also prefer short articles the least, with less than 10 percent preferring articles under 200 words

However, in regards to verticals or genres, where they consume their content, each generation has their own unique preference:

Baby Boomers have a comfortable lead in world news and politics, at 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively Millennials hold a strong lead in technology, at 18 percent, while Baby Boomers come in at 10 percent in the same category Gen Xers fall between Millennials and Baby Boomers in most verticals, although they have slight leads in personal finance, parenting, and healthy living Although entertainment is the top genre for each generation, Millennials and Baby Boomers prefer it slightly more than than Gen Xers do

3. Facebook is the preferred content sharing platform across all three generations

Facebook remains king in terms of content sharing, and is used by about 60 percent of respondents in each generation studied. Surprisingly, YouTube came in second, followed by Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, respectively. Additional findings:

Baby Boomers share on Facebook the most, edging out Millennials by only a fraction of a percent Although Gen Xers use Facebook slightly less than other generations, they lead in both YouTube and Twitter, at 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively Google+ is most popular with Baby Boomers, at 8 percent, nearly double that of both Gen Xers and Millennials

Although a majority of each generation is sharing content on Facebook, the type of content they are sharing, especially visuals, varies by each age group. The oldest generation prefers more traditional content, such as images and videos. Millennials prefer newer content types, such as memes and GIFs, while Gen X predictably falls in between the two generations in all categories except SlideShares. Other findings:

The most popular content type for Baby Boomers is video, at 27 percent Parallax is the least popular type for every generation, earning 1 percent or less in each age group Millennials share memes the most, while less than 10 percent of Baby Boomers share similar content

Marketing to several generations can be challenging, given the different values and ideas that resonate with each group. With the number of online content consumers growing daily, it’s essential for marketers to understand the specific types of content that each of their audiences connect with, and align it with their content marketing strategy accordingly.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all campaign, successful marketers can create content that multiple generations will want to share. If you feel you need more information getting started, you can review this deck of additional insights, which includes the preferred video length and weekend consuming habits of each generation discussed in this post.


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The Best Typography, Colors, and Templates Used in the Highest-Converting Social Media Images

If you’ve been looking to supercharge your social media strategy, you probably know a lot about the benefits of using images.

But, how much do you know about actually creating scientifically shareable images?

Turns out, there’s tons of actionable, research-backed advice on how to create social media images that get shared—the ideal colors, fonts, text, and more, all leveraging what we know about design, psychology and the Internet to get more shares and engagement. 

By the end of this article you’re going to be fully aware of how to make images that your readers can’t help but share. All backed by science.

What Makes A Shareable Social Media Image?

A shareable social media image is made up of five components:

Emotion: When your readers feel it, they’ll share it. Relevance: Your image should not only fit your niche, but fit your audience too. Colors: Using the right colors, to get maximum shares. Typography: Choosing a font that not only looks good, but also says what you’re trying to say. Hashtags and Text: Using the right words, phrases and hashtags that will make your audience interact.

In the article you’re going to learn how you can take advantage of all of these elements, and put them together to create the best social images you possibly can.

1. Emotion Create Epic Content (Or Nobody Will Share It)

Before I carry on, there’s one thing I do need to mention:

You need to treat your images as content.

And not just any sort of content. I mean the epic kind, that’s going to add a ton of value to your reader’s life. Because that’s the only content people share, right?

If you’re creating images because you feel you need to – and just scatter them throughout your news feed – you’re not going to get anywhere.

Your images should:

   Back up points you’ve made    Show statistics    Provide tweetable (or valuable) quotes    Add depth    Go above and beyond the content you’ve written

So, be sure that the images you use – or make – aren’t just there for the sake of it. Treat them as content and put a high value on what goes on them.

What Makes An Image Emotional (And Shareable)?

Emotion is the biggest piece of the sharing puzzle. And it’s the driving force behind all five points on this list – so it deserves a lot of attention. So, what makes an image emotional?

As it turns out, there are a lot of factors:

Color: Studies of abstract art have shown that the way color is used and distributed across a piece controls the emotions you feel. For example, black creates feelings at the despair end of the spectrum and bright primary colors can create joy and happiness. Font Choice: You’ll learn about this in depth in section four. Complexity: This isn’t complex designs – more on that next – but emotional complexity. Research shows that the more feelings your images can convey, the more viral it will go. Showing one of these five things: Research from Harvard studied what makes marketing campaigns, and their images, go viral. They found that: Admiration, Interest, Serenity, Amazement and Astonishment were the most shared emotions.

Simple Designs, Big Emotions

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create solid social media images. In fact, far from it. I’ve run twitter feeds for months without a single minute of design under my belt.

All it takes is a little knowledge of how design works, and what it takes to make something your audience wants to share.

Firstly, there isn’t a magic bullet of design that goes viral. At least not to the current research. But there is a principle of design that, when harnessed, can go a really long way.

Simplicity.

The psychology of design shows that people are most responsive – and more likely to engage – with images or logos that are laid out in a clean and simple way. That’s because if people are presented with too much information, it can be overwhelming and force them to switch off.

For example, this study on smoking warnings showed that when smokers were presented with too much graphic or negative information, they were actually more likely to smoke because they paid less attention to the images.

Basically, simple designs cut through the noise and make your message easier to digest.

Which of these two images is easier for you to process, and has the biggest impact?

This one:

Or this one:

The second one right? It’s a no brainer. Clear and crisp cuts it. Two colors, one font – that’s it.

There’s no arguing with the message either. It goes right through the noise, and into the hearts (and minds) of your reader.

If you look at most articles on highly shareable images – like this one from Jeff Bullas – all the ‘types’ of image have this simplicity in common too.

You don’t need to go too far to see it in action either. All it takes is a quick glance at the Buffer twitter feed to see simple, clear and crisp layouts getting a lot of shares:

Here’s some simple tips on how to create simplicity, and powerful emotion, in your images:

Less is more: Don’t give your audience too much to look at. Focus on clarity: Is the message you’re trying to create easy to see? Use plenty of white space: If in doubt, leave it out. Empty space isn’t wasted; it can actually add power to your designs. Few filters and effects: The less filters and special effects you use, the better. Don’t be scared to use a premade template: Apps like Share As Image and Canva both come with templates you can use to fit your purpose.

It’s also really helpful to know the sizes for each platform you’re using too. But, there’s a wonderful – and constantly updated – guide to that right here.

2. Relevance Choosing A Relevant Image

Relevancy is important in content marketing. Making sure that what you’re doing fits who you’re doing it for. But, never has that been more important than when you’re choosing an image.

Let me explain:

90% of the information the brain processes is visual, and it’s processed 60,000x faster than anything you read. That means when your brain first sees an image, it’s trying to join the dots between what you see and what you should be seeing.

Essentially, your brain is trying to figure out if the image makes sense.

If the image doesn’t fit your:

   Brand    Niche    Status Update

Then you’re going to drive your audience away from the image—and the share button—and right onto the next post in their feed.

And while standout images that don’t make sense might make your reader stop and look, it’s not going to make them share. Which is why you’re here, right?

I want you to flip your thinking on choosing an image. Instead of looking at it as, “Does this make sense for me to share it?” I want you to think of it this way:

“Does this make sense for my audience to share it?”

Which might sound like a small adjustment, but it makes a big difference to how you look at images. Because, you have to then consider how that image would look to their community, as well as your own.

To get a feel for what’s relevant, and what’s not, you you need to do a little research into your own niche and the authorities who are sharing images. And, the images their followers are sharing.

Take a couple of minutes to try this activity:

Head to Twitter Find five authorities in your niche (or business competitors) Look at the pictures they share, that have been retweeted Make notes of the similarities between those images Find where they fit for your content But, What If We’re Not Visual?

Good question, well phrased.

What counts as relevant for a company with, well, nothing relevant to photograph? Well, there’s one thing you and your audience have in common:

You’re both people.

Take the American Airlines twitter feed, @AmericanAir. There’s not too much that’s visual about their business, but people use their services every single day.

So why not photograph them having a great time doing it?

All relevant really means is that your images have to make sense to the reader. And, if you’re a company who can’t find a visual representation of what you do, use the failsafe of showing people enjoying it.

Are Abstract Images Relevant?

Abstract images – visuals that make their point through representation – get used a lot around social media. For example, Buffer uses them a lot on their social feeds.

But do they counts as relevant images?

The answer is: it depends on the goal.

As Kevan discussed in this article on creating twitter visuals, abstract visuals can still have an impact on shares and engagement, because any image is better than not using an image at all. But, as you saw earlier, simple designs have a big impact.

So if you just want to increase engagement and make a point, you can use abstract images all you want.

However, if you’re looking for maximum shares and engagement, your best choice is to go with a clear explanatory image—or a simple, easy-to-digest design—so the reader has to do less work to figure out what you’re trying to say.

Relevance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder…

A few weeks ago I went to the theatre to watch a comedy show. The guys on stage picked apart comedy through the ages—from Cavemen through to Chris Rock—and talked about what makes comedy funny. And about halfway through the show they said a line that has never left me:

“It’s not about what makes you laugh, it’s about what makes the audience laugh”

The same can be applied to content, and the images you’re creating. It’s not about what you would share, it’s about what your audience would share.

When you’re choosing or creating your images, ask yourself these questions:

Does this fit my niche? Does this fit my brand? Is it easy to understand? Does it make sense for my audience to share this?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you’ve got a relevant image that your audience can respond to.

#3: Colors The 3 Colors You Need For The Most Shares

Colors are powerful.

In fact, according to Neil Patel, they are 85% of the reason you choose to buy a product. And from a quick glance at my bookshelf, over half of all the books I’ve bought on impulse have orange on the cover—a color that fuels the impulse emotion.

There’s been a lot of research into how different colors affect people from different cultures and places, or how they can back up a point that’s being made.

For example, here’s a great infographic about the impact of different colors on people from around the world.

But, not much has been known about how colors impact readers sharing habits:

Until now.

A recent study from Georgia Tech examined over 1,000,000 Pinterest images between 2009 and 2011, and looked at the color trends between the highest and lowest shared images.

The results?

   Red, Purple and Pink promote sharing    Green, Black, Blue and Yellow all stop people from sharing

That’s because those three colors—red, purple and pink—all drive carnal, visceral emotions, such as failure and sexual arousal, in both men and women.

When you’re creating your next image, then, try making the points you want to stand out in either of these three colors for maximum shares.

How To Use These Colors In Images

Now you know the colors that work, that doesn’t mean you suddenly have to start drowning your images in Red, Pink and Purple. Instead, try to use the colors to make standout points in your images.

Take a look at this image I created for the Share As Image Blog, on why you should add images to your blog posts:

By highlighting the important pieces of information, this image alone brought in over 60 shares (out of 125) for the piece. It’s a simple tweak, but by making the points you want your readers to resonate with in those shareable colors, you can create a nice spike in your shares.

But, what if your image doesn’t have text?

You can still apply the same principles by making the focal point of your image stand out in one of those colors, too:

Or you can adjust the background to the image you’ve used:

The idea is to work these colors into your image where they fit, not to just force them in there because you feel you have to. These colors will increase the shares you have, but don’t damage your content just to make use of them.

4. Typography Choosing The Right Font

It’s easy to think that your font is a simple design choice.

But the truth is that it’s the body language of your image. It says a lot to your reader without you even realizing it.

Not sure what I mean? Take a look at this image:

There’s a huge difference between the two, right?

Fonts have been shown to impact everything from your political beliefs, to whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist and how long someone will read an article for.

But what do they have to do with how your image can get more shares?

Simple. It’s all about emotion. Creating it can:

   Motivate readers    Drive decision making    Make people share

So, it boils down to the message you’re trying to put out – and the emotion you want to evoke. This slideshow has a great list of fonts and the emotions they create:

[slideshare id=20079639&doc=weheartitevokingkemotionthroughtypography-130427084701-phpapp02]

The Quick Guide To Choosing The Right Font

The aim here is to think beyond the words you’ve written; and make sure the font is a match for what you’re saying. Doing that isn’t as complex as you’d think, though. Here’s a simple three step guide to help you choose the best font for your image:

Decide on your emotion: You’ve already seen how emotion is a driver behind sharing, so be clear on the emotion you want them to feel. Create the designs three times: Find three fonts you like that fit your message. Then, create the design three times and compare them to each other. I find going away for a coffee break and coming back makes this decision much easier. Choose the most readable font: If your audience can’t read it, you’ll struggle to get your message across. Avoid the prettiest font, and choose the one with the most power over your audience. 5. Hashtags And Text How to Optimize for Maximum #Power and Success

Okay, now you’ve seen the emotional power of choosing the right font. But what about the text you’ve actually written – how do you optimize that for sharing success?

Well it turns out there is no magic formula for text on images. All it really has to do is answer these questions:

   Does it fit my layout?    Does the font fit the message?    Is it relevant?    Will my readers care about it?

The more powerful the message, though, the better the chance of the image being shared. For example, take a look at the This Girl Can campaign from the UK.

Their marketing strategy was simple: use motivational pictures of real women with a strong message on top, to spread the message – and increase the awareness – of women in sport and exercise.

The results are staggering:

And, they’re not only staggering from an emotional point of view. They managed to build a 62,500 person following in less than a year, and the engagement on all of their updates is high too.

Although the original message isn’t a Hashtag on the image, it’s still become one that their followers use every single day.

But, what should you do if you don’t have a Hashtag or message? Don’t worry; you can still get up to 847% more shares.

By using quotes in your image, you can take a boring mundane tweet and turn it into a really powerful image. As long as it fits the above checklist, of course. Take a message you want to share, and quickly turn it into a shareable social media image, like this one:

Let’s Get Shareable…

Okay, let’s do a quick round-up of everything you’ve learned so far.

An image needs six elements to get shared:

Emotion: Your audience needs to feel something when they look at your image. A simple layout: If you do too much, you turn them off and away from that share button. Keep it simple, clear and easy to digest. Relevant imagery: Your stock photos, backgrounds and filters should all make sense and tie in with your niche or branding. If they don’t, it doesn’t make sense for the reader to share it. The right colors: Use the colors that best match your brand, but don’t forget to make the most of Red, Pink and Purple to get the most shares. A powerful font: Make sure the words you use match up to the font you choose. Don’t make your image send the wrong message. Text or hashtags: Quotes are the most powerful, but having a powerful message or hashtag can create a lot of viral potential.

Where do you go from here? Well, I’ve got a little task for you, if you choose to accept it. Don’t worry, this blog post won’t self destruct if you don’t.

Open an image creation app (if you want speed, I’d recommend Share As Image) Choose a template that fits the platform you use most Create an image, using the principles above, for your next update Share the link in the comments of this post Let me know your results

All that’s left to ask now is, what are you going to create?

Image sources: Pablo, UnSplash, IconFinder

The post The Best Typography, Colors, and Templates Used in the Highest-Converting Social Media Images appeared first on Social.

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You Finally Achieved Content Virality! Now What?

Posted by Isla_McKetta

If you've ever achieved the holy grail of content marketing success—true virality—you know the rush of endorphins as you watch the share count climb. You've smiled the enormous grin when one of your friends shares that piece on Facebook without any idea that you helped create it. Maybe you've even felt the skin-chilling prickle when Buzzfeed picks up your content.

Then you've undoubtedly experienced the heart-stopping numbness when the traffic finally stalls. Where did all the people go? Was it real? Can you do it again?

What happens next depends on which camp you fall into. Most people either

Squander that success in a haze of denial, or Rush back to their desks to copy the thing that just went viral so they can replicate the success (only to find that the Internet is already over it).

But there is a third, better way—you can learn everything possible from this moment of greatness and turn it around to create something even more shareable next time. This third path is not easy, but it is the surest way to get you back on the road to virality. Here's how.

Celebrate your success

Duh. You were going to do this anyway, but take a moment (or a day) to fully enjoy all the tweets, traffic, and accolades. This will give you energy for the next step and you'll be all the more focused for the long road ahead.

Analyze what went right

Sometimes content marketing feels like throwing Velcro darts at the wall—you just don't know what's going to stick. But when something finally does stick, there are a lot of lessons to be learned about your audience and what might work in the future.

For example, take this post from Organic Gardening, "7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden." According to BuzzSumo, it has six times as many shares as the next most successful article from the same site.

In fact, when looking at content that contained the word "garden," the post had more than twice as many shares as the top post from Country Living, a magazine with about five times the circulation.

I think we can safely call this piece a runaway success. Now let's look at what made this article so much more viral than its top three friends.

Title

It's not too much of a stretch to say that "7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden" is a lot sexier title than "Gardener's April To-Do List," "Going with the Flow," and "Cauliflower with Peas."

Not only does the highly successful article contain one of those emotion words that get us all excited to click, the title actually fully describes what the article is about—passing what Ian Lurie calls the "blank sheet of paper" test. You'll note that the titles listed in BuzzSumo are actually more descriptive than those on the page—next time they might want to use the more descriptive titles on the page.

Format

The format of these four articles is pretty basic: text with at least one related image. In fact, the to-do list article could have gone a bit farther if someone had turned it into a downloadable checklist (or at least a checklist).

Sometimes, like when you've invested heavily in a flashy parallax scrolling piece, it's easy to surmise that form contributed heavily to the success of the content. But in this case, it's unlikely that the form of this article gave it a viral advantage.

Length

These four articles vary widely in length, but they conform to what you might expect from the types of articles that they are. "Go with the Flow" is more of an essay and should be longer, whereas to-do lists and recipes get less useful the longer they are.

7 Secrets April To-Do Going w/Flow Cauliflower 1100+ words 800+ words 1700+ words 200+ words

I'd argue that "7 Secrets" is an exception here, in that it's more in-depth than it needs to be—in a good way. This could be one contributor to its success.

Topic

Not only is the "7 Secrets" title much more clickable, the viral article also hits on high-yield gardening—a high-interest topic. Having not seen the personas for this site, I'm not sure if Organic Gardening has identified gardeners with limited space or gardeners who are trying to sustain themselves entirely from their yards as targets, but this article would be interesting to both groups (which means more excited readers to share the content).

The to-do list article is practical and "Going with the Flow" (about water conservation) is newsworthy (although it would do a lot better if it mentioned the California drought in the intro). If you love cauliflower, perhaps you can tell me why that recipe is popular. But it's easy to see why none of these other three articles broke through the viral barrier.

Timeliness

From what I can tell, the original article is actually a couple of years old. It's just been hanging out waiting for the right moment. So goes content marketing. But the week that it went nuts on BuzzSumo was in late March—the very week I was mapping my own garden.

That said, it isn't the most timely of these four articles. The April to-do list is very timely (and this kind of evergreen content has the chance to get picked up again year after year) and, as mentioned, the article about water (despite being written in 2011) is on-trend with current events in California.

Again, you'll have to tell me if cauliflower is timeless, because I'm still not understanding the success of that recipe.

One caveat: There's some weirdness around the dating on this site (especially since the site re-branded in the middle of me writing this draft). If you dig into the publication date, it's April 1, 2015, a few days after March 29, 2015 (the date BuzzSumo called its publication date). And when I first started writing this article I think I found that the page was created about two years ago (though I can no longer verify that information).

Your lesson here is that if you do a site rebrand in the middle of assessing your content, your data will likely contain weirdness too.

Overall quality

This is where your spidey sense comes in, because overall quality is in many ways a combination of all the factors we just looked at along with the strength of the writing. But there's also that je ne sais quoi factor where you have to trust your gut (don't worry, spotting great content is easier than you think).

"7 Secrets" really is a better article for the Internet than the other three. It's easy to share, seems high-impact, and is a fast read. "Going with the Flow" is also a good article, especially with the storytelling angle, but the anecdotal lead-in followed by the intercontinental comparison of water management styles smacks of classic print journalism (requiring thoughtful rumination), which means it might be more appropriate or successful offline.

Influencer name dropping

Ego bait is a tried and true content marketing tactic. It's not used in this article, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good tool to keep on hand. If I wanted this article to go even more viral, I would have put names to the two experts they cite (and then reached out to tell those experts that I was quoting them).

The social angle

Looking at "7 Secrets" against the April to-do list, we can immediately spot a few reasons it was roughly three times more popular on the social network. It has an active and enticing image, the accompanying text is both inspirational and asks for engagement, and the article description is, well, descriptive.

Now, I don't have access to the internal Facebook analytics of this site, but if I did, I'd be looking hard at trends in what times of day and days of week they find the most engagement as well as whether there was any paid promotion to see what else can be learned.High-profile sharers

As you can see, except for the magazine itself, very few people who shared this article on Twitter even have more than 1,000 followers. That might not be bad for you and me, but it's not going to cause a viral stampede.

If you find that more recognizable folks (or even those with a lot more followers) were part of your success, it might be time to build some relationships there. You can do that either by involving them in your content creation process in the future or by reaching out when you have something new to promote.

You don't have to wait until something goes viral to analyze what content is succeeding and why. Get some practice now (and help yourself on the road to virality):

Download this checklist as a template

Now that you understand what contributes to content virality, you're ready to try to capture that magic all over again.

Resist the urge to imitate

This sounds counter-intuitive, but the last thing you want to do after achieving content success is to run out and do exactly what you did last time. Why? Because the Internet craves novelty, and just like it's completely adorable when your friend's toddler sticks his tongue out at you for the first time, the second, third, and thirty-seventh times are increasingly less adorable (and notable).

Instead, use all that analysis you just did of what made the piece successful to remix those elements and try something new. In the case of the garden efficiency article we've been looking at, I'd follow up with a profile of three influential organic gardeners who have different ways of achieving efficiency in their gardens.

Enough about gardening already, what about some other topics like windows, water, and dessert.

If "DIY Craft Projects using Old Vintage Windows Doors" earned you 428k shares, avoid writing "DIY Craft Projects Using Old Vintage Bannisters" and instead think more broadly with something like "10 Best Stores in the US to Find Vintage Windows for Your Project" or "Last Minute Summer Patio Projects for Upscale Freecyclers." The first plays with influencer marketing and the second explores a niche readership that has the potential to be very passionate about sharing your content. If you've recently had success with "Gray Whale Dies Bringing Us a Message - With Stomach Full of Plastic Trash" (226k+ shares), skip starting a series on dead animals that are portending the end of the earth. Instead try something like an infographic that shows how much the average American contributes to the gyre of plastic in the ocean that includes tips on how we can reduce our impact. That type of content would capitalize a little on the scare tactics of the first post plus the spirit that we're all responsible for the fate of the planet. It would also be a chance to test if posts that end with positive impacts are as shareable. Or if everyone loved your recipe for a ginormous Reese's Cup (21k+ shares), don't be tempted to write about chocolate peanut butter pie. Rather, consider creating a series on revamped recipes for childhood favorites like an upscale Nanaimo Bar or incorporating Jello into a trifle. The exception

There are times when a piece of content you've created goes viral even though you feel like you only took the idea halfway. Playbuzz got some really good traction (1.6 million shares) with this post:

About a month later they followed up with this one which garnered 3.3 million shares:

They could have taken the idea even farther with "What Sci-Fi Novel…" and "What Horror Novel…" but those get weird fast and it's safe to say they found their peak audience the second time around by getting more general. So they stopped while they were ahead.

Build relationships

Viral success means that a whole lot of people just shared your content. It also means that you have a huge opportunity to connect with people who might remember who you are for the next five seconds.

Help them remember you for the foreseeable future by reaching out now and thanking them for sharing your stuff or engaging them in conversation. Ask what they'd like to see next time or respond to their questions. Be playful and friendly (if it suits your corporate voice) and get the writer to help you with the follow-up.

Use your success as brand leverage

There's no better time for PR outreach than immediately following a big viral content win. Who doesn't want to drop a line in an outreach email like "Our latest infographic has earned 452,000 shares on Pinterest (so far)." That number might feel like a fluke, but if you can get someone from a major media outlet interested in your next piece, your future looks bright.

Keep trying

Capturing the zeitgeist well enough to give a post viral success is not an easy thing. But have confidence that if you've done it before, you have what it takes to do it again. Keep making awesome stuff. And when you're tempted to get bummed because something doesn't quite find its audience, instead milk that learning experience for all it's worth.


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Should I Rebrand and Redirect My Site? Should I Consolidate Multiple Sites/Brands? - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Making changes to your brand is a huge step, and while it's sometimes the best path forward, it isn't one to be taken lightly. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand offers some guidance to marketers who are wondering whether a rebrand/redirect is right for them, and also those who are considering consolidating multiple sites under a single brand.

For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

To rebrand, or not to rebrand, that is the question

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we're going to chat a little bit about whether you should rebrand and consider redirecting your existing website or websites and whether you should potentially consolidate multiple websites and brands that you may be running.

So we've talked before about redirection moves best practices. We've also talked about the splitting of link equity and domain authority and those kinds of things. But one of the questions that people have is, "Gosh, you know I have a website today and given the moves that Google has been making, that the social media world has been making, that content marketing has been making, I'm wondering whether I should potentially rebrand my site." Lots of people bought domains back in the day that were exact match domains or partial match domains or that they thought reflected a move of the web toward or away from less brand-centric stuff and toward more keyword matching, topic matching, intent matching kinds of things.

Maybe you're reconsidering those moves and you want to know, "Hey, should I be thinking about making a change now?" That's what I'm here to answer. So this question to rebrand or not to re, it is tough because you know that when you do that rebrand, you will almost certainly take a traffic hit, and SEO is one of the biggest places where people typically take that traffic hit.

Moz previously was at SEOmoz.org and moved to moz.com. We saw a dip in our traffic over about 3 to 4 months before it fully recovered, and I would say that dip was between 15% and 25% of our search traffic, depending on week to week. I'll link to a list of metrics that I put on my personal blog, Moz.com/rand, so that you can check those out if you'd like to see them. But it was a short recovery time for us.

One of the questions that people always have is, "Well wait, did you lose rankings for SEO since SEO used to be in your domain name?" The answer is no. In fact, six months after the move, we were ranking higher for SEO related terms and phrases.

Scenario A: Rebranding or redirecting scifitoysandgames.com

So let's imagine that today you are running SciFiToysAndGames.com, which is right on the borderline. In my opinion, that's right on the borderline of barely tolerable. Like it could be brandable, but it's not great. I don't love the "sci-fi" in here, partially because of how the Syfy channel, the entity that broadcasts stuff on television has chosen to delineate their spelling, sci-fi can be misinterpreted as to how it's spelled. I don't love having to have "and" in a domain name. This is long. All sorts of stuff.

Let's say you also own StarToys.com, but you haven't used it. Previously StarToys.com has been redirecting to SciFiToysAndGames.com, and you're thinking, "Well, man, is it the right time to make this move? Should I make this change now? Should I wait for the future?"

How memorable or amplifiable is your current brand?

Well, these are the questions that I would urge you to consider. How memorable and amplifiable is your current brand? That's something that if you are recognizing like, "Hey I think our brand name, in fact, is holding us back in search results and social media amplification, press, in blog mentions, in journalist links and these kinds of things," well, that's something serious to think about. Word of mouth too.

Will you maintain your current brand name long term?

So if you know that sometime in the next two, three, four, or five years you do want to move to StarToys, I would actually strongly urge you to do that right now, because the longer you wait, the longer it will take to build up the signals around the new domain and the more pain you'll potentially incur by having to keep branding this and working on this old brand name. So I would strongly urge you, if you know you're going to make the move eventually, make it today. Take the pain now, rather than more pain later.

Can or have you tested brand preference with your target audience?

I would urge you to find two different groups, one who are loyal customers today, people who know SciFiToysAndGames.com and have used it, and two, people who are potential customers, but aren't yet familiar with it.

You don't need to do big sample-sizes. If you can get 5, 10, or 15 people either in a room or talk to them in person, you can try some web surveys, you can try using some social media ads like things on Facebook. I've seen some companies do some testing around this. Even buying potential PPC ads and seeing how click-through rates perform and sentiment and those kinds of things, that is a great way to help validate your ideas, especially if you're forced to bring data to a table by executives or other stakeholders.

How much traffic would you need in one year to justify a URL move?

The last thing I think about is imagine, and I want you to either imagine or even model this out, mathematically model it out. If your traffic growth rate -- so let's say you're growing at 10% year-over-year right now -- if that improved 1%, 5%, or 10% annually with a new brand name, would you make the move? So knowing that you might take a short-term hit, but then that your growth rate would be incrementally higher in years to come, how big would that growth rate need to be?

I would say that, in general, if I were thinking about these two domains, granted this is a hard case because you don't know exactly how much more brandable or word-of-mouth-able or amplifiable your new one might be compared to your existing one. Well, gosh, my general thing here is if you think that's going to be a substantive percentage, say 5% plus, almost always it's worth it, because compound growth rate over a number of years will mean that you're winning big time. Remember that that growth rate is different that raw growth. If you can incrementally increase your growth rate, you get tremendously more traffic when you look back two, three, four, or five years later.

Where does your current and future URL live on the domain/brand name spectrum?

I also made this domain name, brand name spectrum, because I wanted to try and visualize crappiness of domain name, brand name to really good domain name, brand name. I wanted to give some examples and then extract out some elements so that maybe you can start to build on these things thematically as you're considering your own domains.

So from awful, we go to tolerable, good, and great. So Science-Fi-Toys.net is obviously terrible. I've taken a contraction of the name and the actual one. It's got a .net. It's using hyphens. It's infinitely unmemorable up to what I think is tolerable -- SciFiToysAndGames.com. It's long. There are some questions about how type-in-able it is, how easy it is to type in. SciFiToys.com, which that's pretty good. SciFiToys, relatively short, concise. It still has the "sci-fi" in there, but it's a .com. We're getting better. All the way up to, I really love the name, StarToys. I think it's very brandable, very memorable. It's concise. It's easy to remember and type in. It has positive associations probably with most science fiction toy buyers who are familiar with at least "Star Wars" or "Star Trek." It's cool. It has some astronomy connotations too. Just a lot of good stuff going on with that domain name.

Then, another one, Region-Data-API.com. That sucks. NeighborhoodInfo.com. Okay, at least I know what it is. Neighborhood is a really hard name to type because it is very hard for many people to spell and remember. It's long. I don't totally love it. I don't love the "info" connotation, which is generic-y.

DistrictData.com has a nice, alliterative ring to it. But maybe we could do even better and actually there is a company, WalkScore.com, which I think is wonderfully brandable and memorable and really describes what it is without being too in your face about the generic brand of we have regional data about places.

What if you're doing mobile apps? BestAndroidApps.com. You might say, "Why is that in awful?" The answer is two things. One, it's the length of the domain name and then the fact that you're actually using someone else's trademark in your name, which can be really risky. Especially if you start blowing up, getting big, Google might go and say, "Oh, do you have Android in your domain name? We'll take that please. Thank you very much."

BestApps.io, in the tech world, it's very popular to use domains like .io or .ly. Unfortunately, I think once you venture outside of the high tech world, it's really tough to get people to remember that that is a domain name. If you put up a billboard that says "BestApps.com," a majority of people will go, "Oh, that's a website." But if you use .io, .ly, or one of the new domain names, .ninja, a lot of people won't even know to connect that up with, "Oh, they mean an Internet website that I can type into my browser or look for."

So we have to remember that we sometimes live in a bubble. Outside of that bubble are a lot of people who, if it's not .com, questionable as to whether they're even going to know what it is. Remember outside of the U.S., country code domain names work equally well -- .co.uk, .ca, .co.za, wherever you are.

InstallThis.com. Now we're getting better. Memorable, clear. Then all the way up to, I really like the name AppCritic.com. I have positive associations with like, "Oh year, restaurant critics, food critics, and movie critics, and this is an app critic. Great, that's very cool."

What are the things that are in here? Well, stuff at this end of the spectrum tends to be generic, forgettable, hard to type in. It's long, brand-infringing, danger, danger, and sketchy sounding. It's hard to quantify what sketchy sounding is, but you know it when you see it. When you're reviewing domain names, you're looking for links, you're looking at things in the SERPs, you're like, "Hmm, I don't know about this one." Having that sixth sense is something that we all develop over time, so sketchy sounding not quite as scientific as I might want for a description, but powerful.

On this end of the spectrum though, domain names and brand names tend to be unique, memorable, short. They use .com. Unfortunately, still the gold standard. Easy to type in, pronounceable. That's a powerful thing too, especially because of word of mouth. We suffered with that for a long time with SEOmoz because many people saw it and thought, "Oh, ShowMoz, COMoz, SeeMoz." It sucked. Have positive associations, like StarToys or WalkScore or AppCritic. They have these positive, pre-built-in associations psychologically that suggest something brandable.

Scenario B: Consolidating two sites

Scenario B, and then we'll get to the end, but scenario B is the question like, "Should I consolidate?" Let's say I'm running both of these today. Or more realistic and many times I see people like this, you're running AppCritic.com and StarToys.com, and you think, "Boy, these are pretty separate." But then you keep finding overlap between them. Your content tends to overlap, the audience tends to overlap. I find this with many, many folks who run multiple domains.

How much audience and content overlap is there?

So we've got to consider a few things. First off, that audience and content overlap. If you've got StarToys and AppCritic and the overlap is very thin, just that little, tiny piece in the middle there. The content doesn't overlap much, the audience doesn't overlap much. It probably doesn't make that much sense.

But what if you're finding like, "Gosh, man, we're writing more and more about apps and tech and mobile and web stuff on StarToys, and we're writing more and more about other kinds of geeky, fun things on AppCritic. Slowly it feels like these audiences are merging." Well, now you might want to consider that consolidation.

Is there potential for separate sales or exits?

Second point of consideration, the potential for separate exits or sales. So if you know that you're going to sell AppCritic.com to someone in the future and you want to make sure that's separate from StarToys, you should keep them separate. If you think to yourself, "Gosh, I'd never sell one without the other. They're really part of the same company, brand, effort," well, I'd really consider that consolidation.

Will you dilute marketing or branding efforts?

Last point of positive consideration is dilution of marketing and branding efforts. Remember that you're going to be working on marketing. You're going to be working on branding. You're going to be working on growing traffic to these. When you split your efforts, unless you have two relatively large, separate teams, this is very, very hard to do at the same rate that it could be done if you combined those efforts. So another big point of consideration. That compound growth rate that we talked about, that's another big consideration with this.

Is the topical focus out of context?

What I don't recommend you consider and what has been unfortunately considered, by a lot of folks in the SEO-centric world in the past, is topical focus of the content. I actually am crossing this out. Not a big consideration. You might say to yourself, "But Rand, we talked about previously on Whiteboard Friday how I can have topical authority around toys and games that are related to science fiction stuff, and I can have topical authority related to mobile apps."

My answer is if the content overlap is strong and the audience overlap is strong, you can do both on one domain. You can see many, many examples of this across the web, Moz being a great example where we talk about startups and technology and sometimes venture capital and team building and broad marketing and paid search marketing and organic search marketing and just a ton of topics, but all serving the same audience and content. Because that overlap is strong, we can be an authority in all of these realms. Same goes for any time you're considering these things.

All right everyone, hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to some great comments, and we'll see you again next week. take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Give It Up for Our MozCon 2015 Community Speakers

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Super thrilled that we're able to announce this year's community speakers for MozCon, July 13-15th in Seattle!

Wow. Each year I feel that I say the pool keeps getting more and more talented, but it's the truth! We had more quality pitches this year than in the past, and quantity-wise, there were 241, around 100 more entries than years previously. Let me tell you, many of the review committee members filled our email thread with amazement at this.

And even though we had an unprecedented six slots, the choices seemed even tougher!

241 pitches
Let that number sink in for a little while.

Because we get numerous questions about what makes a great pitch, I wanted to share both information about the speakers and their great pitches—with some details removed for spoilers. (We're still working with each speaker to polish and finalize their topic.) I've also included my or Matt Roney's own notes on each one from when we read them without knowing who the authors were.

Please congratulate our MozCon 2015 community speakers!Adrian Vender

Adrian is the Director of Analytics at IMI and a general enthusiast of coding and digital marketing. He's also a life-long drummer and lover of music. Follow him at @adrianvender.

Adrian's pitch:

Content Tracking with Google Tag Manager

While marketers have matured in the use of web analytics tools, our ability to measure how users interact with our sites' content needs improvement. Users are interacting with dynamic content that just aren't captured in a pageview. While there are JavaScript tricks to help track these details, working with IT to place new code is usually the major hurdle that stops us.

Finally, Google Tag Manager is that bridge to advanced content analysis. GTM may appear technical, but it can easily be used by any digital marketer to track almost any action on a site. My goal is to make ALL attendees users of GTM.

My talk will cover the following GTM concepts:

[Adrian lists 8 highly-actionable tactics he'll cover.]

I'll share a client example of tracking content interaction in GA. I'll also share a link to a GTM container file that can help people pre-load the above tag templates into their own GTM.

Matt's notes: Could be good. I know a lot of people have questions about Tag Manager, and the ubiquity of GA should help it be pretty well-received.

Chris Dayley

Chris is a digital marketing expert and owner of Dayley Conversion. His company provides full-service A/B testing for businesses, including design, development, and test execution. Follow him at @chrisdayley.

Chris' pitch:

I would like to present a super actionable 15 minute presentation focused on the first two major steps businesses should take to start A/B testing:

1. Radical Redesign Testing

2. Iterative Testing (Test EVERYTHING)

I am one of the few CROs out there that recommends businesses to start with a radical redesign test. My reasoning for doing so is that most businesses have done absolutely no testing on their current website, so the current landing page/website really isn't a "best practice" design yet.

I will show several case studies where clients saw more than a 50% lift in conversion rates just from this first step of radical redesign testing, and will offer several tips for how to create a radical redesign test. Some of the tips include:

[Chris lists three direct and interesting tips he'll share.]

Next I suggest moving into the iterative phase.

I will show several case studies of how to move through iterative testing so you eventually test every element on your page.

Erica's notes: Direct, interesting, and with promise of multiple case studies.

Duane Brown

Duane is a digital marketer with 10 years' experience having lived and worked in five cities across three continents. He's currently at Unbounce. When not working, you can find Duane traveling to some far-flung location around the world to eat food and soak up the culture. Follow him at @DuaneBrown.

Duane's pitch:

What Is Delightful Remarketing & How You Can Do It Too

A lot of people find remarketing creepy and weird. They don't get why they are seeing those ads around the internet.... let alone how to make them stop showing.

This talk will focus on the different between remarketing & creating delightful remarketing that can help grow the revenue & profit at a company and not piss customers off. 50% of US marketers don't use remarketing according to eMarketer (2013).

- [Duane's direct how-to for e-commerce customers.] Over 60% of customers abandon a shopping cart each year: http://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate (3 minute)

- Cover a SaaS company using retargeting to [Duane's actionable item]. This remarketing helps show your products sticky features while showing off your benefits (3 minute)

- The Dos: [Duane's actionable tip], a variety of creative & a dedicated landing page creates delightful remarketing that grows revenue (3 minute)

- Wrap up and review main points. (2 minutes)

Matt's notes: Well-detailed, an area in which there's a lot of room for improvement.

Gianluca Fiorelli

Moz Associate, official blogger for StateofDigital.com and known international SEO and inbound strategist, Gianluca works in the digital marketing industry, but he still believes that he just know that he knows nothing. Follow him at @gfiorelli1.

Gianluca's pitch:

Unusual Sources for Keyword and Topical Research

A big percentage of SEOs equal Keyword and Topical Research to using Keyword Planner and Google Suggest.

However, using only them, we cannot achieve a real deep knowledge of the interests, psychology and language of our target.

In this talk, I will present unusual sources and unnoticed features of very well-known tools, and offer a final example based on a true story.

Arguments touched in the speech (not necessarily in this order):

[Gianluca lists seven how-tos and one unique case study.]

Erica's notes: Theme of Google not giving good keyword info. Lots of unique actionable points and resources. Will work in 15 minute time limit.

Ruth Burr Reedy

Ruth is the head of on-site SEO for BigWing Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City, OK. At BigWing, she manages a team doing on-site, technical, and local SEO. Ruth has been working in SEO since 2006. Follow her at @ruthburr.

Ruth's pitch:

Get Hired to Do SEO

This talk will go way beyond "just build your own website" and talk about specific ways SEOs can build evidence of their skills across the web, including:

[Ruth lists 7 how-tos with actionable examples.]

All in a funny, actionable, beautiful, easy-to-understand get-hired masterpiece.

Erica's notes: Great takeaways. Wanted to do a session about building your resume as a marketer for a while.

Stephanie Wallace

Stephanie is director of SEO at Nebo, a digital agency in Atlanta. She helps clients navigate the ever-changing world of SEO by understanding their audience and helping them create a digital experience that both the user and Google appreciates. Follow her at @SWallaceSEO.

Stephanie's pitch:

Everyone knows PPC and SEO complement one another - increased visibility in search results help increase perceived authority and drive more clickthroughs to your site overall. But are you actively leveraging the wealth of PPC data available to build on your existing SEO strategy? The key to effectively using this information lies in understanding how to test SEO tactics and how to apply the results to your on-page strategies. This session will delve into actionable strategies for using PPC campaign insights to influence on-page SEO and content strategies. Key takeaways include:

[Stephanie lists four how-tos.]

Erica's notes: Nice and actionable. Like this a lot.

As mentioned, we had 241 entries, and many of them were stage quality. Notable runners up included AJ Wilcox, Ed Reese, and Daylan Pearce, and a big pat on the back to all those who tossed their hat in.

Also, a huge thank you to my fellow selection committee members for 2015: Charlene Inoncillo, Cyrus Shepard, Danie Launders, Jen Lopez, Matt Roney, Rand Fishkin, Renea Nielsen, and Trevor Klein.

Buy your ticket now


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How Much Has Link Building Changed in Recent Years?

Posted by Paddy_Moogan

I get asked this question a lot. It's mainly asked by people who are considering buying my link building book and want to know whether it's still up to date. This is understandable given that the first edition was published in February 2013 and our industry has a deserved reputation for always changing.

I find myself giving the same answer, even though I've been asked it probably dozens of times in the last two years—"not that much". I don't think this is solely due to the book itself standing the test of time, although I'll happily take a bit of credit for that :) I think it's more a sign of our industry as a whole not changing as much as we'd like to think.

I started to question myself and if I was right and honestly, it's one of the reasons it has taken me over two years to release the second edition of the book.

So I posed this question to a group of friends not so long ago, some via email and some via a Facebook group. I was expecting to be called out by many of them because my position was that in reality, it hasn't actually changed that much. The thing is, many of them agreed and the conversations ended with a pretty long thread with lots of insights. In this post, I'd like to share some of them, share what my position is and talk about what actually has changed.

My personal view

Link building hasn't changed as much we think it has.

The core principles of link building haven't changed. The signals around link building have changed, but mainly around new machine learning developments that have indirectly affected what we do. One thing that has definitely changed is the mindset of SEOs (and now clients) towards link building.

I think the last big change to link building came in April 2012 when Penguin rolled out. This genuinely did change our industry and put to bed a few techniques that should never have worked so well in the first place.

Since then, we've seen some things change, but the core principles haven't changed if you want to build a business that will be around for years to come and not run the risk of being hit by a link related Google update. For me, these principles are quite simple:

You need to deserve links - either an asset you create or your product You need to put this asset in front of a relevant audience who have the ability to share it You need consistency - one new asset every year is unlikely to cut it Anything that scales is at risk

For me, the move towards user data driving search results + machine learning has been the biggest change we've seen in recent years and it's still going.

Let's dive a bit deeper into all of this and I'll talk about how this relates to link building.

The typical mindset for building links has changed

I think that most SEOs are coming round to the idea that you can't get away with building low quality links any more, not if you want to build a sustainable, long-term business. Spammy link building still works in the short-term and I think it always will, but it's much harder than it used to be to sustain websites that are built on spam. The approach is more "churn and burn" and spammers are happy to churn through lots of domains and just make a small profit on each one before moving onto another.

For everyone else, it's all about the long-term and not putting client websites at risk.

This has led to many SEOs embracing different forms of link building and generally starting to use content as an asset when it comes to attracting links. A big part of me feels that it was actually Penguin in 2012 that drove the rise of content marketing amongst SEOs, but that's a post for another day…! For today though, this goes some way towards explain the trend we see below.

Slowly but surely, I'm seeing clients come to my company already knowing that low quality link building isn't what they want. It's taken a few years after Penguin for it to filter down to client / business owner level, but it's definitely happening. This is a good thing but unfortunately, the main reason for this is that most of them have been burnt in the past by SEO companies who have built low quality links without giving thought to building good quality ones too.

I have no doubt that it's this change in mindset which has led to trends like this:

The thing is, I don't think this was by choice.

Let's be honest. A lot of us used the kind of link building tactics that Google no longer like because they worked. I don't think many SEOs were under the illusion that it was genuinely high quality stuff, but it worked and it was far less risky to do than it is today. Unless you were super-spammy, the low-quality links just worked.

Fast forward to a post-Penguin world, things are far more risky. For me, it's because of this that we see the trends like the above. As an industry, we had the easiest link building methods taken away from us and we're left with fewer options. One of the main options is content marketing which, if you do it right, can lead to good quality links and importantly, the types of links you won't be removing in the future. Get it wrong and you'll lose budget and lose the trust if your boss or client in the power of content when it comes to link building.

There are still plenty of other methods to build links and sometimes we can forget this. Just look at this epic list from Jon Cooper. Even with this many tactics still available to us, it's hard work. Way harder than it used to be.

My summary here is that as an industry, our mindset has shifted but it certainly wasn't a voluntary shift. If the tactics that Penguin targeted still worked today, we'd still be using them.

A few other opinions...

"I definitely think too many people want the next easy win. As someone surfing the edge of what Google is bringing our way, here's my general take—SEO, in broad strokes, is changing a lot, *but* any given change is more and more niche and impacts fewer people. What we're seeing isn't radical, sweeping changes that impact everyone, but a sort of modularization of SEO, where we each have to be aware of what impacts our given industries, verticals, etc."

- Dr. Pete

"I don't feel that techniques for acquiring links have changed that much. You can either earn them through content and outreach or you can just buy them. What has changed is the awareness of "link building" outside of the SEO community. This makes link building / content marketing much harder when pitching to journalists and even more difficult when pitching to bloggers.

"Link building has to be more integrated with other channels and struggles to work in its own environment unless supported by brand, PR and social. Having other channels supporting your link development efforts also creates greater search signals and more opportunity to reach a bigger audience which will drive a greater ROI."

- Carl Hendy

"SEO has grown up in terms of more mature staff and SEOs becoming more ingrained into businesses so there is a smarter (less pressure) approach. At the same time, SEO has become more integrated into marketing and has made marketing teams and decision makers more intelligent in strategies and not pushing for the quick win. I'm also seeing that companies who used to rely on SEO and building links have gone through IPOs and the need to build 1000s of links per quarter has rightly reduced."

- Danny Denhard

Signals that surround link building have changed

There is no question about this one in my mind. I actually wrote about this last year in my previous blog post where I talked about signals such as anchor text and deep links changing over time.

Many of the people I asked felt the same, here are some quotes from them, split out by the types of signal.

Domain level link metrics

"I think domain level links have become increasingly important compared with page level factors, i.e. you can get a whole site ranking well off the back of one insanely strong page, even with sub-optimal PageRank flow from that page to the rest of the site."

- Phil Nottingham

I'd agree with Phil here and this is what I was getting at in my previous post on how I feel "deep links" will matter less over time. It's not just about domain level links here, it's just as much about the additional signals available for Google to use (more on that later).

Anchor text

I've never liked anchor text as a link signal. I mean, who actually uses exact match commercial keywords as anchor text on the web?

SEOs. :)

Sure there will be natural links like this, but honestly, I struggle with the idea that it took Google so long to start turning down the dial on commercial anchor text as a ranking signal. They are starting to turn it down though, slowly but surely. Don't get me wrong, it still matters and it still works. But like pure link spam, the barrier is a lot more lower now in terms what of constitutes too much.

Rand feels that they matter more than we'd expect and I'd mostly agree with this statement:

"Exact match anchor text links still have more power than you'd expect—I think Google still hasn't perfectly sorted what is "brand" or "branded query" from generics (i.e. they want to start ranking a new startup like meldhome.com for "Meld" if the site/brand gets popular, but they can't quite tell the difference between that and https://moz.com/learn/seo/redirection getting a few manipulative links that say "redirect")"

- Rand Fishkin

What I do struggle with though, is that Google still haven't figured this out and that short-term, commercial anchor text spam is still so effective. Even for a short burst of time.

"I don't think link building as a concept has changed loads—but I think links as a signal have, mainly because of filters and penalties but I don't see anywhere near the same level of impact from coverage anymore, even against 18 months ago."

- Paul Rogers

New signals have been introduced

It isn't just about established signals changing though, there are new signals too and I personally feel that this is where we've seen the most change in Google algorithms in recent years—going all the way back to Panda in 2011.

With Panda, we saw a new level of machine learning where it almost felt like Google had found a way of incorporating human reaction / feelings into their algorithms. They could then run this against a website and answer questions like the ones included in this post. Things such as:

"Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?" "Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?" "Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?"

It is a touch scary that Google was able to run machine learning against answers to questions like this and write an algorithm to predict the answers for any given page on the web. They have though and this was four years ago now.

Since then, they've made various moves to utilize machine learning and AI to build out new products and improve their search results. For me, this was one of the biggest and went pretty unnoticed by our industry. Well, until Hummingbird came along I feel pretty sure that we have Ray Kurzweil to thank for at least some of that.

"There seems to be more weight on theme/topic related to sites, though it's hard to tell if this is mostly link based or more user/usage data based. Google is doing a good job of ranking sites and pages that don't earn the most links but do provide the most relevant/best answer. I have a feeling they use some combination of signals to say "people who perform searches like this seem to eventually wind up on this website—let's rank it." One of my favorite examples is the Audubon Society ranking for all sorts of birding-related searches with very poor keyword targeting, not great links, etc. I think user behavior patterns are stronger in the algo than they've ever been."

- Rand Fishkin

Leading on from what Rand has said, it's becoming more and more common to see search results that just don't make sense if you look at the link metrics—but are a good result.

For me, the move towards user data driving search results + machine learning advanced has been the biggest change we've seen in recent years and it's still going.

Edit: since drafting this post, Tom Anthony released this excellent blog post on his views on the future of search and the shift to data-driven results. I'd recommend reading that as it approaches this whole area from a different perspective and I feel that an off-shoot of what Tom is talking about is the impact on link building.

You may be asking at this point, what does machine learning have to do with link building?

Everything. Because as strong as links are as a ranking signal, Google want more signals and user signals are far, far harder to manipulate than established link signals. Yes it can be done—I've seen it happen. There have even been a few public tests done. But it's very hard to scale and I'd venture a guess that only the top 1% of spammers are capable of doing it, let alone maintaining it for a long period of time. When I think about the process for manipulation here, I actually think we go a step beyond spammers towards hackers and more cut and dry illegal activity.

For link building, this means that traditional methods of manipulating signals are going to become less and less effective as these user signals become stronger. For us as link builders, it means we can't keep searching for that silver bullet or the next method of scaling link building just for an easy win. The fact is that scalable link building is always going to be at risk from penalization from Google—I don't really want to live a life where I'm always worried about my clients being hit by the next update. Even if Google doesn't catch up with a certain method, machine learning and user data mean that these methods may naturally become less effective and cost efficient over time.

There are of course other things such as social signals that have come into play. I certainly don't feel like these are a strong ranking factor yet, but with deals like this one between Google and Twitter being signed, I wouldn't be surprised if that ever-growing dataset is used at some point in organic results. The one advantage that Twitter has over Google is it's breaking news freshness. Twitter is still way quicker at breaking news than Google is—140 characters in a tweet is far quicker than Google News! Google know this which is why I feel they've pulled this partnership back into existence after a couple of years apart.

There is another important point to remember here and it's nicely summarised by Dr. Pete:

"At the same time, as new signals are introduced, these are layers not replacements. People hear social signals or user signals or authorship and want it to be the link-killer, because they already fucked up link-building, but these are just layers on top of on-page and links and all of the other layers. As each layer is added, it can verify the layers that came before it and what you need isn't the magic signal but a combination of signals that generally matches what Google expects to see from real, strong entities. So, links still matter, but they matter in concert with other things, which basically means it's getting more complicated and, frankly, a bit harder. Of course, on one wants to hear that."

- Dr. Pete

The core principles have not changed

This is the crux of everything for me. With all the changes listed above, the key is that the core principles around link building haven't changed. I could even argue that Penguin didn't change the core principles because the techniques that Penguin targeted should never have worked in the first place. I won't argue this too much though because even Google advised website owners to build directory links at one time.

You need an asset

You need to give someone a reason to link to you. Many won't do it out of the goodness of their heart! One of the most effective ways to do this is to develop a content asset and use this as your reason to make people care. Once you've made someone care, they're more likely to share the content or link to it from somewhere.

You need to promote that asset to the right audience

I really dislike the stance that some marketers take when it comes to content promotion—build great content and links will come.

No. Sorry but for the vast majority of us, that's simply not true. The exceptions are people that sky dive from space or have huge existing audiences to leverage.

You simply have to spend time promoting your content or your asset for it to get shares and links. It is hard work and sometimes you can spend a long time on it and get little return, but it's important to keep working at until you're at a point where you have two things:

A big enough audience where you can almost guarantee at least some traffic to your new content along with some shares Enough strong relationships with relevant websites who you can speak to when new content is published and stand a good chance of them linking to it

Getting to this point is hard—but that's kind of the point. There are various hacks you can use along the way but it will take time to get right.

You need consistency

Leading on from the previous point. It takes time and hard work to get links to your content—the types of links that stand the test of time and you're not going to be removing in 12 months time anyway! This means that you need to keep pushing content out and getting better each and every time. This isn't to say you should just churn content out for the sake of it, far from it. I am saying that with each piece of content you create, you will learn to do at least one thing better the next time. Try to give yourself the leverage to do this.

Anything scalable is at risk

Scalable link building is exactly what Google has been trying to crack down on for the last few years. Penguin was the biggest move and hit some of the most scalable tactics we had at our disposal. When you scale something, you often lose some level of quality, which is exactly what Google doesn't want when it comes to links. If you're still relying on tactics that could fall into the scalable category, I think you need to be very careful and just look at the trend in the types of links Google has been penalizing to understand why.

The part Google plays in this

To finish up, I want to briefly talk about the part that Google plays in all of this and shaping the future they want for the web.

I've always tried to steer clear of arguments involving the idea that Google is actively pushing FUD into the community. I've preferred to concentrate more on things I can actually influence and change with my clients rather than what Google is telling us all to do.

However, for the purposes of this post, I want to talk about it.

"General paranoia has increased. My bet is there are some companies out there carrying out zero specific linkbuilding activity through worry."

- Dan Barker

Dan's point is a very fair one and just a day or two after reading this in an email, I came across a page related to a client's target audience that said:

"We are not publishing guest posts on SITE NAME any more. All previous guest posts are now deleted. For more information, see www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/".

I've reworded this as to not reveal the name of the site, but you get the point.

This is silly. Honestly, so silly. They are a good site, publish good content, and had good editorial standards. Yet they have ignored all of their own policies, hard work, and objectives to follow a blog post from Matt. I'm 100% confident that it wasn't sites like this one that Matt was talking about in this blog post.

This is, of course, from the publishers' angle rather than the link builders' angle, but it does go to show the effect that statements from Google can have. Google know this so it does make sense for them to push out messages that make their jobs easier and suit their own objectives—why wouldn't they? In a similar way, what did they do when they were struggling to classify at scale which links are bad vs. good and they didn't have a big enough web spam team? They got us to do it for them :)

I'm mostly joking here, but you see the point.

The most recent infamous mobilegeddon update, discussed here by Dr. Pete is another example of Google pushing out messages that ultimately scared a lot of people into action. Although to be fair, I think that despite the apparent small impact so far, the broad message from Google is a very serious one.

Because of this, I think we need to remember that Google does have their own agenda and many shareholders to keep happy. I'm not in the camp of believing everything that Google puts out is FUD, but I'm much more sensitive and questioning of the messages now than I've ever been.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts in the comments.


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The Twitch Phenomenon: Why Live Streaming Is Worth Your Time

Posted by troy.evans

It's safe to say that streaming video content online is quickly becoming the most accessible way to consume entertainment. The way we enjoy our favorite movies and television shows has been increasingly shifting towards uninterrupted (and possibly unhealthy) periods of ‘binge watching'. Easy and affordable alternatives like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go offer the option to forego traditional cable services altogether.

Portlandia, "One Moore Episode"

As the online video streaming movement grows, the concept of live streaming is also gaining popularity, and both these trends make a convincing case for considering a video-based content strategy to reach your target market. By far the best example of this is Amazon's newest acquisition, Twitch.tv.

What is Twitch.tv?

Unless you happen to be an online gamer or addicted to TechCrunch, you may not have had much experience with the site. It is a platform for gamers to broadcast their gameplay live online while others watch and actively participate with chat.

If you haven't heard about the site's boast-worthy statistics you may be wondering why you should even care. You're not wrong to be skeptical; gamers watching other gamers play games online most likely has nothing to do with your business or marketing.

However, the conclusions that can be drawn from Twitch.tv's annual reports about the future of online and video marketing are worth some level of consideration and provide some evidence that live video streaming could be the next big channel for engaging with your audience.

Why should you care?

Here is a quick breakdown of Twitch.tv's engagement from their 2014 report.

Pretty amazing stats when you consider that they launched in 2011. Even when you take into account that the main demographic of users are web-savvy online gamers, those numbers are impressive.

This statistic from their 2013 report, though, is what I find most interesting. Incredibly rapid engagement growth from 2012 on top of an unbelievable average user time on site (106 minutes watched each day). From a marketing perspective, this is what I consider to be a big opportunity.

The following chart shows the average time on site for other top social media sites. To come anywhere near the numbers from Twitch, it would require a significant number of repeat visits (20+ average) at these rates:

Since these two reports are not directly comparable, I thought it was valuable to translate some data gathered using Google's DoubleClick Ad Planner from back in 2011 to show some sort of comparison. (Granted, these have been converted from unique visitors' monthly time spent on Facebook (15.55 hours) and YouTube (5.83 hours). (source)

Now, you might be thinking that these statistics are not all that surprising for a site focused on live experiences. After all, we've known for some time now that a live broadcast will often produce a significant increase in viewership. By virtue of its unpredictability alone a larger audience is something to be expected. And let's be honest, it's one of the main reasons why TV news is so interesting.

How can I win with live streaming?

Entertainment is by far the most common live stream focus. Gaming, sports, music, tv shows, news, and events are found often, but there are also channels for technology, education, and even religion. There are also plenty of live animal streams. Mostly puppies and kittens, but also wildlife streams that might make good communities for environmentally focused marketing goals.

Coming up with creative ways to implement live-stream content into your marketing strategy might be difficult, but it is certainly not impossible, and you might just be surprised with the results. Keep in mind that the scope of your broadcast can start out small (just like any other content strategy), and the content of your feed could be just about anything that can be translated into a video format. Even this post could be converted into a live stream as a simple discussion. For the most part, all you need is a webcam and a good microphone. To get started, take a look at these options for producing live stream content for your business.

Youtube.com

YouTube is probably the easiest and most well-known platform to use for integrating live stream content. It offers solutions to quickly set up a live stream through your channel as long as it is verified and in good standing. There is a live chat feature that can be disabled if you so choose, although most live streams really do go well with an engaging live chat. YouTube is the perfect place to start up a live stream project at little to no cost. You most likely already have a channel and an audience to which you can start broadcasting.

Livestream.com

Another option worth considering is Livestream.com, which is great for broadcasting any kind of live event. For the most part, I have seen high quality productions on this site. Consider this one if you already have a video-based content strategy and a sizable following that is eager to consume your broadcasts.

Ustream.tv

This site is a bit different in that it offers solutions for a variety of high-quality live streaming options, even production services and a video advertising platform focused on lead generation. There is a variety of content with categories like sports, gaming, news, music, and general entertainment. Ustream has a wider range of content than livestream; you will find streams for technology, education, religion and even wildlife here, among others. Ustream also offers a basic ad-supported broadcasting option which would be perfect for an organization that is just starting to develop live stream content.

Notice how Ustream has no qualms with adverts!

Streaming through Twitter

If you are already using Twitter for your online marketing strategy, you should consider using something like Periscope or Meerkat to develop live-streaming engagement with your followers. These services are also a great way to kickstart the use of Twitter in your marketing arsenal and start to build a following if you haven't done so already.

You can give exclusive previews of products, how-to tutorials, a quick tour of your facilities, or show off your services. And, of course, you will have the potential to respond in real time to feedback from viewers. At the moment, both Periscope and Meerkat can only be used on iPhones, but Meerkat is developing an Android version.

Focused streaming sites

Let's not forget about the more focused platforms. Online communities that are ready and willing to engage with live streams do already exist outside the realm of gaming. They are worth exploring if you are working to promote something relevant to your customers interests.

Picarto.tv is for artists and graphic designers to show others how they do those amazing Photoshop things they do.

Chew.tv is a platform for DJs to play live sets to other DJs and music lovers.

Livecoding.tv is fairly new but given the nature of programmers there are almost always a few live streams on. This is a great place for newcomers and seasoned programmers to learn about coding by watching the experts in action.

Talktochef.com is a really cool site that lets people engage directly with experienced chefs. If you have anything to do with the food industry, there is likely value to be gained from using this site.

Cookstream.tv is also just getting started, but seems like a promising venue for those within the food industry.

Not ready to start live streaming? You can still gain insights by participating!

Even if you're not ready to live stream your own content, you can find value by doing a little live stream research or even getting involved in a relevant broadcast. Here are some things to think about during your search:

Get insights into popular topics just by scanning for high viewer count streams. If you market for or create content about anything related to animals, you might consider producing some blog posts about eagles; for some reason people seem to like watching them, as I found a number of eagle nest live feeds, some with over a thousands viewers at a time.
Take advantage of relevant live streams that receive significant viewers and get ideas for creating similar content in any form. Topics that resonate with viewers on live streams will most likely be easily translated into pre-recorded video or written content. If I were marketing for anything related to billiards, for example, I would check out the Accu-Stats On Location channel at Ustream that have over a thousand followers and had achieved over 250,000 views. Just from watching a few minutes I noticed that while they stream a live pool and billiards tournament they are also constantly raffling off prizes. A great idea for some social media content might be to create raffle targeting people who are interested in pool and billiards.
Listen to what viewers are saying on relevant streams. Broadcasters provide great insight as to what sort of content you could be creating but the viewers do as well. Part of the beauty of live streaming is that the viewers are constantly engaging via live chat while they watch. This provides a great way to get direct insight about your target audience. Chatting with viewers can provide a direct line to potential customers. Just make sure to follow the channel rules and avoid blatant promotional spam. Live streams also offer opportunities for outreach to their broadcasters. Just as popular industry bloggers make great influencers, so do broadcasters. You could try to get in touch with a broadcaster to discuss some form of collaboration; this would likely work in the same manner as a collaboration with an industry blogger. Start researching & streaming

I like to think of online marketers as masters of the interwebs, and as such I feel it's important to be at least aware of (if not knowledgeable about) every realm. It may not be as popular outside of the gaming space, but I anticipate the near future will bring live streaming growth in other focused markets. As this content becomes more prevalent, the applications toward online marketing will become more and more obvious. By learning how to navigate and identify relevant live stream communities you will be ready to get involved and apply them to your marketing efforts, whether that means starting up a broadcast of your own or collaborating with existing broadcasters.

Lastly, and there may not be much in this on a marketing level but I thought it was well worth sharing: Definitely one of my favorite streams so far, if this doesn't convince you that live streaming (and Animal Planet) is awesome, nothing will...


Live video by Animal Planet L!ve


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How to Create Boring-Industry Content that Gets Shared

Posted by ronell-smith

If you think creating content for boring industries is tough, try creating content for an expensive product that'll be sold in a so-called boring industry. Such was the problem faced by Mike Jackson, head of sales for a large Denver-based company that was debuting a line of new high-end products for the fishing industry in 2009.

After years of pestering the executives of his traditional, non-flashy company to create a line of products that could be sold to anglers looking to buy premium items, he finally had his wish: a product so expensive only a small percentage of anglers could afford them.

What looked like being boxed into a corner was actually part of the plan.

When asked how he could ever put his neck on the line for a product he'd find tough to sell and even tougher to market, he revealed his brilliant plan.

"I don't need to sell one million of [these products] a year," he said. "All I need to do is sell a few hundred thousand, which won't be hard. And as far as marketing, that's easy: I'm ignoring the folks who'll buy the items. I'm targeting professional anglers, the folks the buyers are influenced by. If the pros, the influencers, talk about and use the products, people will buy them."

Such was my first introduction to how it's often wise to ignore who'll buy the product in favor of marketing to those who'll help you market and sell the product.

These influencers are a sweet spot in product marketing and they are largely ignored by many brands

Looking at content for boring industries all wrong

A few months back, I received a message in Google Plus that really piqued my interest: "What's the best way to create content for my boring business? Just kidding. No one will read it, nor share information from a painter anyway."

I went from being dismayed to disheartened. Dismayed because the business owner hadn't yet found a way to connect with his prospects through meaningful content. Disheartened because he seemed to have given up trying.

You can successfully create content for boring industries. Doing so requires nothing out of the ordinary from what you'd normally do to create content for any industry. That's the good news.

The bad news: Creating successful content for boring industries requires you think beyond content and SEO, focusing heavily on content strategy and outreach.

Successfully creating content for boring industries—or any industry, for that matter—comes down to who'll share it and who'll link to it, not who'll read it, a point nicely summed up in this tweet:

I just don't understand the mindset of 'build content --> build links to it'. Identify link opps FIRST, then create content to service them.
— Jon Cooper (@PointBlankSEO) April 7, 2015

So when businesses struggle with creating content for their respective industries, the culprits are typically easy to find:

They lack clarity on who they are creating content for (e.g., content strategy, personas) There are no specific goals (e.g., traffic, links, conversions, etc.) assigned regarding the content, so measuring its effectiveness is impossible They're stuck in neutral thinking viral content is the only option, while ignoring the value of content amplification (e.g., PR/outreach)

Alone, these three elements are bad; taken together, though, they spell doom for your brand.

If you lack clarity on who you're creating content for, the best you can hope for is that sometimes you'll create and share information members of your audience find useful, but you likely won't be able to reach or engage them with the needed frequency to make content marketing successful.

Goals, or lack thereof, are the real bugaboo of content creation. The problem is even worse for boring industries, where the pressure is on to deliver a content vehicle that meets the threshold of interest to simply gain attention, much less, earn engagement.

For all the hype about viral content, it's dismaying that so few marketers aren't being honest on the topic: it's typically hard to create, impossible to predict and typically has very, very little connection to conversions for most businesses.

What I've found is that businesses, regardless of category, struggle to create worthwhile content, leading me to believe there is no boring industry content, only content that's boring.

"Whenever we label content as 'boring,' we're really admitting we have no idea how to approach marketing something," says Builtvisible's Richard Baxter.

Now that we know what the impediments are to producing content for any industry, including boring industries, it's time to tackle the solution.

Develop a link earning mindset

There are lots of article on the web regarding how to create content for boring industries, some of which have appeared on this very blog.

But, to my mind, the one issue they all suffer from is they all focus on what content should be created, not (a) what content is worthy of promotion, (b) how to identify those who could help with promotion, and (c) how to earn links from boring industry content. (Remember, much of the content that's read is never shared; much of what's shared is never read in its entirety; and some of the most linked-to content is neither heavily shared nor heavily read.)

This is why content creators in boring industries should scrap their notions of having the most-read and most-shared content, shifting their focus to creating content that can earn links in addition to generating traffic and social signals to the site.

After all, links and conversions are the main priorities for most businesses sharing content online, including so-called local businesses.

(Image courtesy of the 2014 Moz Local Search Ranking Factors Survey)

If you're ready to create link-earning, traffic-generating content for your boring-industry business follow the tips from the fictitious example of RZ's Auto Repair, a Dallas, Texas, automobile shop.

With the Dallas-Forth Worth market being large and competitive, RZ's has narrowed their speciality to storm repair, mainly hail damage, which is huge in the area. Even with the narrowed focus, however, they still have stiff competition from the major players in the vertical, including MAACO.

What the brand does have in its favor, however, is a solid website and a strong freelance copywriter to help produce content.

Remember, those three problems we mentioned above—lack of goals, lack of clarity and lack of focus on amplification—we'll now put them to good use to drive our main objectives of traffic, links and conversions.

Setting the right goals

For RZ, this is easy: He needs sales, business (e.g., qualified leads and conversions), but he knows he must be patient since using paid media is not in the cards.

Therefore, he sits down with his partner, and they come up with what seems like the top five workable, important goals:

Increased traffic on the website - He's noticed that when traffic increases, so does his business. More phone calls - If they get a customer on the phone, the chances of closing the sale are around 75%. One blog per week on the site - The more often he blogs, the more web traffic, visits and phone calls increase. Links from some of the businesses in the area - He's no dummy. He knows the importance of links, which are that much better when they come from a large company that could send him business. Develop relationships with small and midsize non-competing businesses in the area for cross promotions, events and the like. Know the audience

(image source)

Too many businesses create cute blogs that might generate traffic but do nothing for sales. RZ isn't falling for this trap. He's all about identifying the audience who's likely to do business with him.

Luckily, his secretary is a meticulous record keeper, allowing him to build a reasonable profile of his target persona based on past clients.

21-35 years old Drives a truck that's less than fours years old Has an income of $45,000-$59,000 Employed by a corporation with greater than 500 employees Active on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter Consumes most of their information online Typically referred by a friend or a co-worker

This information will prove invaluable as he goes about creating content. Most important, these nuggets create a clearer picture of how he should go about looking for people and/or businesses to amplify his content.

PR and outreach: Your amplification engines

Armed with his goals and the knowledge of his audience, RZ can now focus on outreach for amplification, thinking along the lines of...

Who/what influences his core audience? What could he offer them by way of content to earn their help? What content would they find valuable enough to share and link to? What challenges do they face that he could help them with? How could his brand set itself apart from any other business looking for help from these potential outreach partners? Putting it all together

Being the savvy businessperson he is, RZ pulls his small staff together and they put their thinking caps on.

Late spring through early fall is prime hail storm season in Dallas. The season accounts for 80 percent of his yearly business. (The other 20% is fender benders.) Also, they realize, many of the storms happen in the late afternoon/early evening, when people are on their way home from work and are stuck in traffic, or when they duck into the grocery store or hit the gym after work.

What's more, says one of the staffers, often a huge group of clients will come at once, owing to having been parked in the same lot when a storm hits.

Eureka!

(image source)

That's when RZ bolts out of his chair with the idea that could put his business on the map: Let's create content for businesses getting a high volume of after-work traffic—sit-down restaurants, gyms, grocery stores, etc.

The businesses would be offering something of value to their customers, who'll learn about precautions to take in the event of a hail storm, and RZ would have willing amplifiers for his content.

Content is only as boring as your outlook

First—and this is a fatal mistake too many content creators make—RZ visits the handful of local businesses he'd like to partner with. The key here, however, is he smartly makes them aware that he's done his homework and is eager to help their patrons while making them aware of his service.

This is an integral part of outreach: there must be a clear benefit to the would-be benefactor.

After RZ learns that several of the businesses are amenable to sharing his business's helpful information, he takes the next step and asks what form the content should take. For now, all he can get them to promote is a glossy one-sheeter, "How To Protect Your Vehicle Against Extensive Hail Damage," that the biggest gym in the area will promote via a small display at the check-in in return for a 10% coupon for customers.

Three of the five others he talked to also agreed to promote the one-sheeter, though each said they'd be willing to promote other content investments provided they added value for their customers.

The untold truth about creating content for boring industries

When business owners reach out to me about putting together a content strategy for their boring brand, I make two things clear from the start:

There are no boring brands. Those two words are a cop out. No matter what industry you serve, there are hoards of people who use the products or services who are quite smitten. What they see as boring, I see as an opportunity.

In almost every case, they want to discuss some of another big content piece that's sure to draw eyes, engagement, and that maybe even leads to a few links. Sure, I say, if you have tons of money to spend.

(Amazing piece of interactive content created by BuiltVisible)

Assuming you don't have money to burn, and you want a plan you can replicate easily over time, try what I call the 1-2-1 approach for monthly blog content:

1: A strong piece of local content (goal: organic reach, topical relevance, local SEO)
2: Two pieces of evergreen content (goal: traffic)
1: A link-worthy asset (goal: links)

This plan is not very hard at all to pull off, provided you have your ear to the street in the local market; have done your keyword research, identifying several long-tail keywords you have the ability to rank for; and you're willing to continue with outreach.

What it does is allow the brand to create content with enough frequency to attain significance with the search engines, while also developing the habit of sharing, promoting and amplifying content as well. For example, all of the posts would be shared on Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook. (Don't sleep on paid promotion via Facebook.)

Also, for the link-worthy asset, there would be outreach in advance of its creation, then amplification, and continued promotion from the company and those who've agreed to support the content.

Create a winning trifecta: Outreach, promotion and amplification

To RZ's credit, he didn't dawdle, getting right to work creating worthwhile content via the 1-2-1 method:

1: "The Worst Places in Dallas to be When a Hail Storm Hits"
2: "Can Hail Damage Cause Structural Damage to Your Car?" and "Should You Buy a Car Damaged by Hail?"
1: "Big as Hail!" contest

This contest idea came from the owner of a large local gym. RZ's will give $500 to the local homeowner who sends in the largest piece of hail, as judged by Facebook fans, during the season. In return, the gym will promote the contest at its multiple locations, link to the content promotion page on RZ's website, and share images of its fans holding large pieces of hail via social media.

What does the gym get in return: A catchy slogan (e.g., it's similar to "big as hell," popular gym parlance) to market around during the hail season.

It's a win-win for everyone involved, especially RZ.

He gets a link, but most important he realizes how to create content to nail each one of his goals. You can do the same. All it takes is a change in mindset. Away from content creation. Toward outreach, promote and amplify.

Summary

While the story of RZ's entirely fictional, it is based on techniques I've used with other small and midsize businesses. The keys, I've found, are to get away from thinking about your industry/brand as being boring, even if it is, and marshal the resources to find the audience who'll benefit from from your content and, most important, identify the influencers who'll promote and amplify it.

What are your thoughts?


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The 50 Things I’m No Good At With Social Media

I am no good at a lot of social media things … which is a bit tough to admit as a social media marketer!

I don’t use a smartphone. I’m scared of Snapchat. I’m not entirely sure what WhatsApp does.

I can think of 50 social media things (and probably more) where I could improve. The things I am good at—mostly the things that Buffer helps me with, like scheduling, consistency, stats, analysis—make for a solid foundation, and I’m keen to make strides on the rest.

Step one: Admitting ’em all!

I hope this list inspires you or entertains you or helps you to know that social media marketers like me don’t always have our act together. And I’d absolutely love to hear any thoughts this brings up for you or any tips you have for ways I can improve.

Here goes!

1. I can do better with mobile social

I don’t use social media on a mobile device, which puts me squarely in the minority of all Americans and the absolute minority of people my age.

There’s this interesting stat from Marketing Profs, too: Among smartphone owners, 79 percent keep their phone with them for all but two hours of their day! And a full 1/4 of people can never recall a time when the phone was not close to them.

GPOY: I’ve just gone to take a picture of my phone and I’ve no idea where it is!

Ah, found it. This is my phone:

2. I can do better with Pinterest

When Buffer announced Pinterest integration (yes! awesome! woohoo!), I was stoked to get really good at Pinterest.

I haven’t yet.

A good microcosm of my Pinning problems is this one-word description I wrote for a pin.

Wut?

I’ve been really bad at remembering to pin the things I find online. I’ve been bad at coming up with boards that reflect my true interests and aren’t there for search and keywords opportunities. I’ve been bad—as you can tell from my descriptions—at Pinterest SEO!

3. I can do better with sharing things that aren’t links

The last time I tweeted without a link (not counting retweets with comments, or replies to people) was September 23—80 days.

Phileas Fogg went around the world in less time!

4. I can do better at telling you more about me

I’ve taken a pretty strict approach to what I share to social media: It’s pretty much all my favorite articles on writing, blogging, marketing, and the web. It’s very little about my personal life, what I’m up to this weekend, the things I enjoy, the places I love.

Here’s a bit of a makeup list:

This weekend, I’m going to IKEA! Looking for a desk chair for the office. Any recommendations? Fun fact: The nearest IKEA is six hours away from me, near one of my favorite cities in the world: Park City, Utah. I think I might watch a Mystery Science Theater movie tonight. Love ’em! There’s this place in Boise called Boise Fry Co. that I love, and yes, I will absolutely take you there if you’re ever in town! 5. I can do better at taking pictures of myself

I think there’s something beautiful and simple about wanting to be fully present in a moment and choosing to remember things vividly in your memories. And this might be why I haven’t shared any pictures of myself on social media in 2015.

6. I can do better at Instagram

This ties into the part about my being no good with taking pictures of myself. Reflecting a bit, I imagine there’s a bit of self-consciousness to it. I’d rather not put my face out there for all to see because I’m not sure what people will think of my face! (Wow, that sounds a bit raw. I’d love to know if that thought resonates with you at all!) (Not about my face but about yours, haha.)

Part two: I feel like a smartphone would be super handy to have here.

7. I can do better at Google+

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(How does Google+ fit with your social media strategy in 2016? I’d be grateful to learn from you!)

8. I’m good at Tumblr, but not in a particularly useful way

One of the social networks I use most often is Tumblr, which I use to … get this … look at funny dog pictures.

9. I can do better with figuring out what to share on Facebook

Ooh boy, I could spin this into a whole post on Facebook strategy given how much thought I’ve had here. What should I even be doing on Facebook?

What do you do on Facebook?

There’s the obvious (and probably correct) answer to just share about myself, which as you may have noticed from earlier in the post I’m not terribly good at. Someone who I think does this really well is our co-founder Leo.

Another thought I had: Maybe I could just share a certain topic or niche of myself on Facebook, like my thoughts and reactions to the books I read.

Or maybe I could share all those Tumblr dog pics I like.

And given whatever choice I make, how will it affect my personal brand?

And will I have to pay for reach anyway?

Analysis = paralysis

10. I’ve never taken a snap

If I could click my heels together and be a social media pro on any one network, I might just choose Snapchat. As it is, I’ve never gained the courage to dip even so much as a toe into it.

11. I imagine I’d be quite bad at sketching on Snapchat

Yep.

12. I can do better at responding to mentions

I feel so fortunate to be connected with the Buffer brand and to have the chance to write for an amazing blog like this one. All of my social media growth can be traced back to this awesome opportunity with Buffer, and the growth has brought some incredible opportunities to connect with people around the globe.

I could be doing so much better at my stewardship of this awesome privilege.

As it is, I might go weeks without checking my Twitter mentions. Twitter caps the notifications icon number at “99+,” which is an amazing number to hit and I’m so grateful for so many people reaching out and I am just so bad at getting back to folks.

Just the other day, looking through the mentions, I’ve missed all these amazing chances to connect with amazing people:

@kevanlee Just found your list of IFTTT recipes, great post! I have another for you https://t.co/pJsNL8kDGP

— Richard Patterson (@RichPatters) December 12, 2015

Social-Media Advocacy Is the Future (Just Not the Way You Think) by @kevanlee from @buffer https://t.co/Z31aCJlgoq via @nosaj_jason

— Ann Tran (@AnnTran_) December 11, 2015

Copy king @kevanlee of @buffer wrote the book on copy formulas. Posted my own take on my w… https://t.co/HGX6DLd9Pp pic.twitter.com/Zp4V5iu1xj

— Alison P. Tugwell (@AlisonPerrie) December 11, 2015

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who have reached out!

I’d love to improve my engagement game. How do you all do it?

I’ve tried email notifications, but they tend to flood my inbox.

I’ve tried desktop notifications but found them too distracting.

I’m especially torn about how bad I am with responding because responding is one of the most vital things we tell brands and businesses to do on social media. And I don’t!

13. I can do better at Twitter chats

I have the wonderful opportunity to participate (and sometimes host) our weekly #bufferchat on Twitter. It’s amazingly fun, and I forget most all the Twitter chat etiquette the moment it begins.

I fail to inform my followers that I’ll be tweeting tons over the next hour. I forget to add the #bufferchat hashtag (which is the entire foundation for how Twitter chats work!). I miss out on most of the conversation because I’m trying to answer the question and track my mentions, and by the time I might go out and see what people are saying, it’s time to answer things again! 14. I can do better at sharing other people’s content

My sharing ratio is off: I share way more of my own stuff than I do of the awesome things others make.

Particularly when it comes to those specific outreach messages from friends and colleagues who are excited for me to check out their latest article—in some cases, ones I’ve contributed to! I’ll add the article to Pocket, forget to my read my Pocket for a week or so, then not remember what I was supposed to tweet or share.

15. I can do better at following people back

In the last 60 days, I’ve followed a grand total of 40 people, and my sense is that a good portion of those people are new Buffer teammates we’ve added!

16. I can do better with notifications

I’m good at being notified (email notifications, in-app messages when I’m signed into Twitter or Facebook). I’m really bad at replying in the moment and then equally bad at remembering to come back and reply later.

17. I can do better with real-time events

I love watching sports on TV or the Oscars or lots of other real-time events where it’s so cool to engage and follow along with your social media friends.

AND FINALLY, BEST PICTURE NOMINEES AS EMOJIS:

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The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet

Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the times that work for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.

As someone who shares frequently to social media, this info would be fantastic to have! We’re always eager to dig up new research into social media best practices—things like length and frequency and timing.

The timing element, in particular, feels like one where we’d love to dig deeper. And we just so happen to have a host of data on this from the 2 million users who have signed up for Buffer!

With a big hand from our data team, we analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, pulling the stats on how clicks and engagement and timing occur throughout the day and in different time zones. We’d love to share with you what we found!

The best time to tweet: Our 4.8 million-tweet research study Our key learnings

Wow, we learned so much looking at the awesome stats from those who use Buffer! Here were some of the takeaways we came up with. I’d love to hear what catches your eye, too!

Early mornings are the best time to tweet in order to get clicks. Evenings and late at night are the best time, on average, for total engagement with your tweets In some cases, the most popular times to post are opposite of the best times to post. Popular times and best times to tweet differ across time zones. The most popular time to tweet: Noon to 1:00 p.m.

We’ve taken the data from all tweets sent through Buffer to find the most popular times for posting to Twitter. Looking at all tweets sent across all major time zones, here is an overview of the most popular times to tweet.

Noon to 1:00 p.m. local time, on average for each time zone, is the most popular time to tweet The highest volume of tweets occurs between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., peaking between noon and 1:00 p.m. The fewest tweets are sent between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.

Here’s the chart for the most popular times worldwide, taken from an average of 10 major time zones (the times represent local time).

Here is the graph for the most popular times to tweet in each of the four major U.S. time zones. 

(We normalized the data to account for daylight’s savings in the U.S. as well.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Europe and Africa.

(Note: The London (GMT) time zone used to be the default time zone for new Buffer users, so our data for GMT is not as clean as we would like it to be. We’ve omitted any takeaways for GMT from the research results here.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Asia and Australia.

It’s interesting to see how the most popular time to tweet varies across the time zones. We’ve shared Buffer’s 10 most popular time zones in the charts above. Here’s a list of each most popular hour for the 10 major time zones.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 9:00 a.m. Denver (Mountain Time): noon Chicago (Central Time): noon New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): noon Madrid, Rome, Paris, etc. (Central European): 4:00 p.m. Cape Town, Cairo, Helsinki, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m. Sydney (Australian Eastern): 10:00 p.m. Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 8:00 a.m. Tokyo (Japan Time): 2:00 a.m. Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon

For any clarification on this or the other research throughout this article, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you.

Takeaways & thoughts:

The most popular time to post could be due to a number of factors: This is when most people have access to Twitter (perhaps at a work computer), this is when online audiences are most likely to be connected (see Burrito Principle), etc. Should you post during the most popular times? That’s one possibility. Also, you may find success posting at non-peak times, when the volume of tweets is lower. If you have a large international audience on Twitter, you may wish to locate the particular part of the world where they’re from, and adjust your schedule accordingly. You can find the times when your audience may be online with tools like Followerwonk and Crowdfire. The best times to tweet to get more clicks

We were excited to dig into the specific metrics for each of these tweets, too, in hopes of coming up with some recommendations and best practices to test out for your Twitter strategy.

First up, the best time to tweet for clicks.

Looking at the data, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get more clicks:

Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most clicks on average The highest number of clicks per tweet occurs between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. The fewest clicks per tweet happen in the morning (when tweet volume is particularly high), between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m..

The data in the below chart is the worldwide average, calculated for the local time in each time zone. So the peak at the 2:00 a.m. hour would hold true as the overall top time no matter which time zone you’re in—2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, New York, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc.

For the specifics on each of the best time to tweet for clicks in each of the major time zones in Buffer, here’s a breakdown.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 2:00 a.m. Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m. Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m. New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): 11:00 p.m. Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc. (Central European): 2:00 a.m. Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m. Sydney (Australian Eastern): 2:00 a.m. Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m. Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.

Takeaways & thoughts:

Clicks was far and away the largest engagement metric that we tracked in this study (compared to retweets, replies, and favorites). Some of the recommended best times for individual time zones show that non-peak hours are the top time to tweet for clicks. This data may reflect some particularly high-achieving posts—some outliers—that bring up the average when the volume of tweets is lowest. Still, it’d be a great one to test for your profile to see what results you get. One neat thing to keep in mind is that a non-peak hour in, say, Los Angeles may correspond to a peak hour in London or Paris. The worldwide audience is definitely one to consider when finding the best time to tweet. The best times for overall engagement with your tweet

We define engagement as clicks plus retweets, favorites, and replies. When looking at all these interactions together, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get the most engagement on your tweets:

Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most total engagement on average The highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. The smallest amount of engagement happens during traditional work hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Takeaways & thoughts:

The best times to tweet for engagement are quite the inverse of the most popular times to tweet. (The late-night infomercial effect—tweet when fewer people are tweeting—seems to be the case here.) The best times for retweets and favorites on your tweets

Adding together two of the most common engagement metrics, we found some interesting trends for maximizing the retweets and favorites on your tweets, especially for those with a U.S. audience.

Looking at 1.1 million tweets from U.S. Buffer users from January through March 2015, here were some of the notable takeaways we found:

Tweets sent at the 9:00 p.m. hour in the U.S. earn the most retweets and favorites on average The highest number of retweets and favorites occurs between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., peaking between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. The lowest retweet-favorite engagement happens at 3:00 a.m.

(Interesting to note, the takeaways from this data compared to the worldwide engagement data differ slightly for a couple reasons: 1) clicks represent a huge portion of overall engagement, and 2) the worldwide vs. US datasets vary.)

We’d love to make it easy for you to share these results with your audience, your friends, your clients—anyone you think might benefit from them.

>> Download every chart from this post (.zip) <<

The methodology for our research

We studied all tweets ever sent through Buffer—4.8 million tweets since October 2010!

Based on this sample set, we looked at the number of clicks per tweet, favorites per tweet, retweets per tweet, and replies per tweet, in accordance with the time of day that the tweet was posted to Twitter.

Further, we segmented the results according to time zones, based on the assumption that the learnings might be more actionable if they could be specific to exactly where you live and work.

We had an interesting opportunity to consider whether median or average would be the better metric to use for our insights. It turns out that so many tweets in the dataset receive minimal engagement that the median was often zero. For this reason, we chose to display the average.

Over to you: What are your takeaways?

We’re so grateful for the chance to dig into the stats from the many tweets that people choose to share with Buffer. The data is super insightful, both for sharing with others and for impacting our own social media marketing plans!

What did you notice from the stats here?

Did any of the results surprise you or get you thinking about your plans in a different way?

I’d love to hear your take on this! Feel free to share any thoughts at all in the comments!

Image sources: IconFinder, Blurgrounds, Death to the Stock Photo, UnSplash

The post The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet appeared first on Social.

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Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 4

Posted by Trevor-Klein

This week, we've got the fourth (and second-to-last) installment of our short (< 2-minute) video tutorials that help you all get the most out of Moz's tools. They're each designed to solve a use case that we regularly hear about from Moz community members.

Here's a quick recap of the previous round-ups in case you missed them:

Week 1: Reclaim links using Open Site Explorer, build links using Fresh Web Explorer, and find the best time to tweet using Followerwonk. Week 2: Analyze SERPs using new MozBar features, boost your rankings through on-page optimization, check your anchor text using Open Site Explorer, do keyword research with OSE and the keyword difficulty tool, and discover keyword opportunities in Moz Analytics. Week 3: Compare link metrics in Open Site Explorer, find tweet topics with Followerwonk, create custom reports in Moz Analytics, use Spam Score to identify high-risk links, and get link building opportunities delivered to your inbox.

In this installment, we've got five brand new tutorials:

How to Use Fresh Web Explorer to Build Links How to Analyze Rank Progress for a Given Keyword How to Use the MozBar to Analyze Your Competitors' Site Markup How to Use the Top Pages Report to Find Content Ideas How to Find On-Site Errors with Crawl Test

Hope you enjoy them!

Fix 1: How to Use Fresh Web Explorer to Build Links

If you have unique data or a particularly excellent resource on your site, that content can be a great link magnet. In this Daily SEO Fix, Felicia shows you how to set up alerts in Fresh Web Explorer to track mentions of relevant keyword phrases, find link opportunities, and build links to your content.

.video-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; padding-top: 30px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;}.video-container iframe,.video-container object,.video-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;}

Fix 2: How to Analyze Rank Progress for a Given Keyword

Moz's Rank Tracker tool retrieves search engine rankings for pages and keywords, storing them for easy comparison later. In this fix, James shows you how to use this helpful tool to track keywords, save time, and improve your rankings.

Fix 3: How to Use the MozBar to Analyze Your Competitors' Site Markup

Schema markup helps search engines better identify what your (and your competitors') website pages are all about and as a result can lead to a boost to rankings. In this Daily SEO Fix, Jordan shows you how to use the MozBar to analyze the schema markup of the competition and optimize your own site and pages for rich snippets.

Fix 4: How to Use the Top Pages Report to Find Content Ideas

With Moz's Top Pages report in Open Site Explorer, you can see the pages on your site (and the competitions' sites!) that are top performers. In this fix, Nick shows you how to use the report to analyze your competitors' content marketing efforts and to inform your own.

Fix 5: How to Find On-Site Errors with Crawl Test

Identifying and understanding any potential errors on your site is crucial to the life of any SEO. In this Daily SEO Fix Sean shows you how to use the Crawl Test tool in Moz Analytics to pull reports and identify any errors on your site.

Looking for more?

We've got more videos in the previous three weeks' round-ups!

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 1

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 2

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 3

Don't have a Pro subscription? No problem. Everything we cover in these Daily SEO Fix videos is available with a free 30-day trial.

Sounds good. Sign me up!

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Should I Use Relative or Absolute URLs? - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by RuthBurrReedy

It was once commonplace for developers to code relative URLs into a site. There are a number of reasons why that might not be the best idea for SEO, and in today's Whiteboard Friday, Ruth Burr Reedy is here to tell you all about why.

For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Let's discuss some non-philosophical absolutes and relatives

Howdy, Moz fans. My name is Ruth Burr Reedy. You may recognize me from such projects as when I used to be the Head of SEO at Moz. I'm now the Senior SEO Manager at BigWing Interactive in Oklahoma City. Today we're going to talk about relative versus absolute URLs and why they are important.

At any given time, your website can have several different configurations that might be causing duplicate content issues. You could have just a standard http://www.example.com. That's a pretty standard format for a website.

But the main sources that we see of domain level duplicate content are when the non-www.example.com does not redirect to the www or vice-versa, and when the HTTPS versions of your URLs are not forced to resolve to HTTP versions or, again, vice-versa. What this can mean is if all of these scenarios are true, if all four of these URLs resolve without being forced to resolve to a canonical version, you can, in essence, have four versions of your website out on the Internet. This may or may not be a problem.

It's not ideal for a couple of reasons. Number one, duplicate content is a problem because some people think that duplicate content is going to give you a penalty. Duplicate content is not going to get your website penalized in the same way that you might see a spammy link penalty from Penguin. There's no actual penalty involved. You won't be punished for having duplicate content.

The problem with duplicate content is that you're basically relying on Google to figure out what the real version of your website is. Google is seeing the URL from all four versions of your website. They're going to try to figure out which URL is the real URL and just rank that one. The problem with that is you're basically leaving that decision up to Google when it's something that you could take control of for yourself.

There are a couple of other reasons that we'll go into a little bit later for why duplicate content can be a problem. But in short, duplicate content is no good.

However, just having these URLs not resolve to each other may or may not be a huge problem. When it really becomes a serious issue is when that problem is combined with injudicious use of relative URLs in internal links. So let's talk a little bit about the difference between a relative URL and an absolute URL when it comes to internal linking.

With an absolute URL, you are putting the entire web address of the page that you are linking to in the link. You're putting your full domain, everything in the link, including /page. That's an absolute URL.

However, when coding a website, it's a fairly common web development practice to instead code internal links with what's called a relative URL. A relative URL is just /page. Basically what that does is it relies on your browser to understand, "Okay, this link is pointing to a page that's on the same domain that we're already on. I'm just going to assume that that is the case and go there."

There are a couple of really good reasons to code relative URLs1) It is much easier and faster to code.

When you are a web developer and you're building a site and there thousands of pages, coding relative versus absolute URLs is a way to be more efficient. You'll see it happen a lot.

2) Staging environments

Another reason why you might see relative versus absolute URLs is some content management systems -- and SharePoint is a great example of this -- have a staging environment that's on its own domain. Instead of being example.com, it will be examplestaging.com. The entire website will basically be replicated on that staging domain. Having relative versus absolute URLs means that the same website can exist on staging and on production, or the live accessible version of your website, without having to go back in and recode all of those URLs. Again, it's more efficient for your web development team. Those are really perfectly valid reasons to do those things. So don't yell at your web dev team if they've coded relative URLS, because from their perspective it is a better solution.

Relative URLs will also cause your page to load slightly faster. However, in my experience, the SEO benefits of having absolute versus relative URLs in your website far outweigh the teeny-tiny bit longer that it will take the page to load. It's very negligible. If you have a really, really long page load time, there's going to be a whole boatload of things that you can change that will make a bigger difference than coding your URLs as relative versus absolute.

Page load time, in my opinion, not a concern here. However, it is something that your web dev team may bring up with you when you try to address with them the fact that, from an SEO perspective, coding your website with relative versus absolute URLs, especially in the nav, is not a good solution.

There are even better reasons to use absolute URLs1) Scrapers

If you have all of your internal links as relative URLs, it would be very, very, very easy for a scraper to simply scrape your whole website and put it up on a new domain, and the whole website would just work. That sucks for you, and it's great for that scraper. But unless you are out there doing public services for scrapers, for some reason, that's probably not something that you want happening with your beautiful, hardworking, handcrafted website. That's one reason. There is a scraper risk.

2) Preventing duplicate content issues

But the other reason why it's very important to have absolute versus relative URLs is that it really mitigates the duplicate content risk that can be presented when you don't have all of these versions of your website resolving to one version. Google could potentially enter your site on any one of these four pages, which they're the same page to you. They're four different pages to Google. They're the same domain to you. They are four different domains to Google.

But they could enter your site, and if all of your URLs are relative, they can then crawl and index your entire domain using whatever format these are. Whereas if you have absolute links coded, even if Google enters your site on www. and that resolves, once they crawl to another page, that you've got coded without the www., all of that other internal link juice and all of the other pages on your website, Google is not going to assume that those live at the www. version. That really cuts down on different versions of each page of your website. If you have relative URLs throughout, you basically have four different websites if you haven't fixed this problem.

Again, it's not always a huge issue. Duplicate content, it's not ideal. However, Google has gotten pretty good at figuring out what the real version of your website is.

You do want to think about internal linking, when you're thinking about this. If you have basically four different versions of any URL that anybody could just copy and paste when they want to link to you or when they want to share something that you've built, you're diluting your internal links by four, which is not great. You basically would have to build four times as many links in order to get the same authority. So that's one reason.

3) Crawl Budget

The other reason why it's pretty important not to do is because of crawl budget. I'm going to point it out like this instead.

When we talk about crawl budget, basically what that is, is every time Google crawls your website, there is a finite depth that they will. There's a finite number of URLs that they will crawl and then they decide, "Okay, I'm done." That's based on a few different things. Your site authority is one of them. Your actual PageRank, not toolbar PageRank, but how good Google actually thinks your website is, is a big part of that. But also how complex your site is, how often it's updated, things like that are also going to contribute to how often and how deep Google is going to crawl your site.

It's important to remember when we think about crawl budget that, for Google, crawl budget cost actual dollars. One of Google's biggest expenditures as a company is the money and the bandwidth it takes to crawl and index the Web. All of that energy that's going into crawling and indexing the Web, that lives on servers. That bandwidth comes from servers, and that means that using bandwidth cost Google actual real dollars.

So Google is incentivized to crawl as efficiently as possible, because when they crawl inefficiently, it cost them money. If your site is not efficient to crawl, Google is going to save itself some money by crawling it less frequently and crawling to a fewer number of pages per crawl. That can mean that if you have a site that's updated frequently, your site may not be updating in the index as frequently as you're updating it. It may also mean that Google, while it's crawling and indexing, may be crawling and indexing a version of your website that isn't the version that you really want it to crawl and index.

So having four different versions of your website, all of which are completely crawlable to the last page, because you've got relative URLs and you haven't fixed this duplicate content problem, means that Google has to spend four times as much money in order to really crawl and understand your website. Over time they're going to do that less and less frequently, especially if you don't have a really high authority website. If you're a small website, if you're just starting out, if you've only got a medium number of inbound links, over time you're going to see your crawl rate and frequency impacted, and that's bad. We don't want that. We want Google to come back all the time, see all our pages. They're beautiful. Put them up in the index. Rank them well. That's what we want. So that's what we should do.

There are couple of ways to fix your relative versus absolute URLs problem

1) Fix what is happening on the server side of your website

You have to make sure that you are forcing all of these different versions of your domain to resolve to one version of your domain. For me, I'm pretty agnostic as to which version you pick. You should probably already have a pretty good idea of which version of your website is the real version, whether that's www, non-www, HTTPS, or HTTP. From my view, what's most important is that all four of these versions resolve to one version.

From an SEO standpoint, there is evidence to suggest and Google has certainly said that HTTPS is a little bit better than HTTP. From a URL length perspective, I like to not have the www. in there because it doesn't really do anything. It just makes your URLs four characters longer. If you don't know which one to pick, I would pick one this one HTTPS, no W's. But whichever one you pick, what's really most important is that all of them resolve to one version. You can do that on the server side, and that's usually pretty easy for your dev team to fix once you tell them that it needs to happen.

2) Fix your internal links

Great. So you fixed it on your server side. Now you need to fix your internal links, and you need to recode them for being relative to being absolute. This is something that your dev team is not going to want to do because it is time consuming and, from a web dev perspective, not that important. However, you should use resources like this Whiteboard Friday to explain to them, from an SEO perspective, both from the scraper risk and from a duplicate content standpoint, having those absolute URLs is a high priority and something that should get done.

You'll need to fix those, especially in your navigational elements. But once you've got your nav fixed, also pull out your database or run a Screaming Frog crawl or however you want to discover internal links that aren't part of your nav, and make sure you're updating those to be absolute as well.

Then you'll do some education with everybody who touches your website saying, "Hey, when you link internally, make sure you're using the absolute URL and make sure it's in our preferred format," because that's really going to give you the most bang for your buck per internal link. So do some education. Fix your internal links.

Sometimes your dev team going to say, "No, we can't do that. We're not going to recode the whole nav. It's not a good use of our time," and sometimes they are right. The dev team has more important things to do. That's okay.

3) Canonicalize it!

If you can't get your internal links fixed or if they're not going to get fixed anytime in the near future, a stopgap or a Band-Aid that you can kind of put on this problem is to canonicalize all of your pages. As you're changing your server to force all of these different versions of your domain to resolve to one, at the same time you should be implementing the canonical tag on all of the pages of your website to self-canonize. On every page, you have a canonical page tag saying, "This page right here that they were already on is the canonical version of this page. " Or if there's another page that's the canonical version, then obviously you point to that instead.

But having each page self-canonicalize will mitigate both the risk of duplicate content internally and some of the risk posed by scrappers, because when they scrape, if they are scraping your website and slapping it up somewhere else, those canonical tags will often stay in place, and that lets Google know this is not the real version of the website.

In conclusion, relative links, not as good. Absolute links, those are the way to go. Make sure that you're fixing these very common domain level duplicate content problems. If your dev team tries to tell you that they don't want to do this, just tell them I sent you. Thanks guys.


Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Moz Local Dashboard Updates

Posted by NoamC

Today, we're excited to announce some new features and changes to the Moz Local dashboard. We've updated your dashboard to make it easier to manage and gauge the performance of your local search listings.

New and improved dashboard

We spent a lot of time listening to customer feedback and finding areas where we weren't being as clear as we ought to. We've made great strides in improving Moz Local's dashboard (details below) to give you a lot more information at a glance.

Geo Reporting

Our newest reporting view, geo reporting, shows you the relative strength of locations based on geography. The deeper the blue, the stronger the listings in that region. You can look at your scores broken down by state, or zoom in to see the score breakdown by county. Move your mouse over a region to see your average score there.

Scores on the dashboard

We're more clearly surfacing the scores for each of your locations right in our dashboard. Now you can see each location's individual score immediately.

Exporting reports

Use the new drop-down at the upper-right corner to download Moz Local reports in CSV format, so that you can access your historical listing data offline and use it to generate your own reports and visualizations.

Search cheat sheet

If you want to take your search game to the next level, why not start with your Moz Local dashboard? A handy link next to the search bar shows you all the ways you can find what you're looking for.

We're still actively addressing feedback and making improvements to Moz Local over time, and you can let us know what we're missing in the comments below.

We hope that our latest updates will make your Moz Local experience better. But you don't have to take my word for it; head on over to Moz Local to see our new and improved dashboard and reporting experience today!


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How to Learn Social Media Marketing in 2 Minutes a Day: A Free Social Media 101 Email Course

We’re quite keen to always be learning new things at Buffer—new social media strategies, new languages, new skills and experiments. And we love learning together—with each other and with you.

One area that we’ve been fortunate to gain some knowledge and experience is with social media sharing, which can be a big one for those who are eager to get involved but not quite sure where to start.

We’d love to help people get started with social media.

We’d love to help with social media marketing, from square one.

Our newest idea: A seven-day email course that you can subscribe to for a lesson each day—each one just two or three minutes to read—on the very basics of social media marketing.

We’d love for you to join, try, and learn with us!

Learn Social Media in 2 Minutes Per Day

It’s been so fun sharing social media content with you all here at the Buffer blog and learning what might be most valuable for you.

We’ve put together our best tips for getting started with social media.

7 emails, 7 days, 7 short lessons about all the basics of social media marketing.

Each email is a two- or three-minute read at most (with some easy options to dive deeper into full blog posts and resources).

You can sign up for the Social Media 101 course for free and send the link along to friends, coworkers, or clients.

The email course is free for everyone. If you’re a current Buffer user (thanks!), you can go there to sign up now. If you’re not yet a Buffer user, we’d love to have you join us, too.

Subscribe for free.

Seven days of social media: What you’ll receive

We’d love to give you a peek at what this course covers. Here’s an overview of the seven emails sent in seven days.

How to choose a social network How to customize your social media profile Establishing a voice and tone for your social media posts The ideal time and frequency to post on social media Social media analytics How to schedule, engage, and listen on social media A free social media marketing kit A sample email: What to expect

We count it as quite the privilege to be invited to your inbox, and we’d love to give you as much info as necessary to help you choose whether this email course is right for you. Sometimes, it’s quite nice to get a sample of what you might be subscribing for.

Here’s a look at the email for Day Six of the Social Media 101 course.

Full transcript: 

Reading time: 2 minutes

So many social media channels. So little time.

This is one of the chief improvements we aim to tackle with the way we experiment with workflows and strategies.

We’d love to get the most out of the time we spend on social media. Our best tip for doing so is to schedule your posts and to work in batches. 

There are so many different social media platforms. You can and should post the same content on each platform, but it takes a long time! Plus, the content needs to be customized for each platform.

You could go to each site, one-by-one and post each update, pulling away from what you may be currently doing in order to post at the best time — a double whammy on your time and productivity!

Scheduling is the secret weapon for consistent, excellent sharing, day after day.

Tools like Buffer allow you to create all the content and updates that you want to, all at once, and then place everything into a queue to be sent out according to whatever schedule you choose.

One thing that goes hand-in-hand with scheduling is engagement – jumping into the social media channel directly to interact and share with the audience.

Engagement is a great balance for automation.

When people talk to you, talk back. Set aside time during your day to followup with conversations that are happening on social media. These are conversations with potential customers, references, friends, and colleagues. They’re too important to ignore.

One way to stay up on all the conversations that are happening around you and your company is to create a system for listening. Tools likeMention will send you an alert every time you’re mentioned online, and you can rely on custom searches and email alerts for mentions on specific networks, too.

Further reading: What’s the best way to spend 30 minutes of your time on social media?

These are the next-level tips that the social media pros use! If you’ve made it this far, you’re rocking your social media strategy.

Today’s action item: Sign up for a social media management tool. Create mention alerts via email or Mention.

Tomorrow’s email: A free social media marketing kit!

Grateful to be sharing with you!

We’re excited to try out this new experiment with email courses and to provide as much value as possible to you and your team.

Is there anything we can do to make this course a  more worthwhile experience for you? 

Add any thoughts to the comments here, or feel free to email me directly also. I’d love to hear your ideas. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to be sharing with you!

Image sources: Pablo, IconFinder, UnSplash

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Inverse Document Frequency and the Importance of Uniqueness

Posted by EricEnge

In my last column, I wrote about how to use term frequency analysis in evaluating your content vs. the competition's. Term frequency (TF) is only one part of the TF-IDF approach to information retrieval. The other part is inverse document frequency (IDF), which is what I plan to discuss today.

Today's post will use an explanation of how IDF works to show you the importance of creating content that has true uniqueness. There are reputation and visibility reasons for doing this, and it's great for users, but there are also SEO benefits.

If you wonder why I am focusing on TF-IDF, consider these words from a Google article from August 2014: "This is the idea of the famous TF-IDF, long used to index web pages." While the way that Google may apply these concepts is far more than the simple TF-IDF models I am discussing, we can still learn a lot from understanding the basics of how they work.

What is inverse document frequency?

In simple terms, it's a measure of the rareness of a term. Conceptually, we start by measuring document frequency. It's easiest to illustrate with an example, as follows:

In this example, we see that the word "a" appears in every document in the document set. What this tells us is that it provides no value in telling the documents apart. It's in everything.

Now look at the word "mobilegeddon." It appears in 1,000 of the documents, or one thousandth of one percent of them. Clearly, this phrase provides a great deal more differentiation for the documents that contain them.

Document frequency measures commonness, and we prefer to measure rareness. The classic way that this is done is with a formula that looks like this:

For each term we are looking at, we take the total number of documents in the document set and divide it by the number of documents containing our term. This gives us more of a measure of rareness. However, we don't want the resulting calculation to say that the word "mobilegeddon" is 1,000 times more important in distinguishing a document than the word "boat," as that is too big of a scaling factor.

This is the reason we take the Log Base 10 of the result, to dampen that calculation. For those of you who are not mathematicians, you can loosely think of the Log Base 10 of a number as being a count of the number of zeros - i.e., the Log Base 10 of 1,000,000 is 6, and the log base 10 of 1,000 is 3. So instead of saying that the word "mobilegeddon" is 1,000 times more important, this type of calculation suggests it's three times more important, which is more in line with what makes sense from a search engine perspective.

With this in mind, here are the IDF values for the terms we looked at before:

Now you can see that we are providing the highest score to the term that is the rarest.

What does the concept of IDF teach us?

Think about IDF as a measure of uniqueness. It helps search engines identify what it is that makes a given document special. This needs to be much more sophisticated than how often you use a given search term (e.g. keyword density).

Think of it this way: If you are one of 6.78 million web sites that comes up for the search query "super bowl 2015," you are dealing with a crowded playing field. Your chances of ranking for this term based on the quality of your content are pretty much zero.

Overall link authority and other signals will be the only way you can rank for a term that competitive. If you are a new site on the landscape, well, perhaps you should chase something else.

That leaves us with the question of what you should target. How about something unique? Even the addition of a simple word like "predictions"—changing our phrase to "super bowl 2015 predictions"—reduces this playing field to 17,800 results.

Clearly, this is dramatically less competitive already. Slicing into this further, the phrase "super bowl 2015 predictions and odds" returns only 26 pages in Google. See where this is going?

What IDF teaches us is the importance of uniqueness in the content we create. Yes, it will not pay nearly as much money to you as it would if you rank for the big head term, but if your business is a new entrant into a very crowded space, you are not going to rank for the big head term anyway

If you can pick out a smaller number of terms with much less competition and create content around those needs, you can start to rank for these terms and get money flowing into your business. This is because you are making your content more unique by using rarer combinations of terms (leveraging what IDF teaches us).

Summary

People who do keyword analysis are often wired to pursue the major head terms directly, simply based on the available keyword search volume. The result from this approach can, in fact, be pretty dismal.

Understanding how inverse document frequency works helps us understand the importance of standing out. Creating content that brings unique angles to the table is often a very potent way to get your SEO strategy kick-started.

Of course, the reasons for creating content that is highly differentiated and unique go far beyond SEO. This is good for your users, and it's good for your reputation, visibility, AND also your SEO.


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Collaboration Tools for Social Media Teams: You Don’t Have to Do It All Alone

Just the other day, peeking into the social media schedule here at Buffer, I noticed that it was full of wonderfully-worded, completely click-worthy, queued posts—posts that I spent zero time writing or adding.

Such is the beauty of collaborating together on social media sharing.

Taking a team approach to filling a queue or managing a social channel is a splendid way of saving time on social media.

You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Others have amazing ideas and content to share.

And of ...

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The Secret Reach of Your Twitter Replies, Plus All Our Latest Stats and Strategies on Social Media

Sometimes looking through your social media statistics can reveal some fun surprises.

This was the case for us this month at Buffer.

I looked a little closer into the stats from all of our tweets, including all the amazing replies by our support heroes. There’s some amazing hidden virality to these tweets! And there’s a great opportunity here to delight your customers and further your brand’s reach at the same time.

Continue reading to see how this played out for us recently, along ...

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Give it up for Our MozCon 2015 Community Speakers

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Super thrilled that we're able to announce this year's community speakers for MozCon, July 13-15th in Seattle!

Wow. Each year I feel that I say the pool keeps getting more and more talented, but it's the truth! We had more quality pitches this year than in the past, and quantity-wise, there were 241, around 100 more entries than years previously. Let me tell you, many of the review committee members filled our email thread with amazement at this.

And even though we had an unprecedented six slots, the choices seemed even tougher!

241 pitches
Let that number sink in for a little while.

Because we get numerous questions about what makes a great pitch, I wanted to share both information about the speakers and their great pitches—with some details removed for spoilers. (We're still working with each speaker to polish and finalize their topic.) I've also included my or Matt Roney's own notes on each one from when we read them without knowing who the authors were.

Please congratulate our MozCon 2015 community speakers!Adrian Vender

Adrian is the Director of Analytics at IMI and a general enthusiast of coding and digital marketing. He's also a life-long drummer and lover of music. Follow him at @adrianvender.

Adrian's pitch:

Content Tracking with Google Tag Manager

While marketers have matured in the use of web analytics tools, our ability to measure how users interact with our sites' content needs improvement. Users are interacting with dynamic content that just aren't captured in a pageview. While there are JavaScript tricks to help track these details, working with IT to place new code is usually the major hurdle that stops us.

Finally, Google Tag Manager is that bridge to advanced content analysis. GTM may appear technical, but it can easily be used by any digital marketer to track almost any action on a site. My goal is to make ALL attendees users of GTM.

My talk will cover the following GTM concepts:

[Adrian lists 8 highly-actionable tactics he'll cover.]

I'll share a client example of tracking content interaction in GA. I'll also share a link to a GTM container file that can help people pre-load the above tag templates into their own GTM.

Matt's notes: Could be good. I know a lot of people have questions about Tag Manager, and the ubiquity of GA should help it be pretty well-received.

Chris Dayley

Chris is a digital marketing expert and owner of Dayley Conversion. His company provides full-service A/B testing for businesses, including design, development, and test execution. Follow him at @chrisdayley.

Chris' pitch:

I would like to present a super actionable 15 minute presentation focused on the first two major steps businesses should take to start A/B testing:

1. Radical Redesign Testing

2. Iterative Testing (Test EVERYTHING)

I am one of the few CROs out there that recommends businesses to start with a radical redesign test. My reasoning for doing so is that most businesses have done absolutely no testing on their current website, so the current landing page/website really isn't a "best practice" design yet.

I will show several case studies where clients saw more than a 50% lift in conversion rates just from this first step of radical redesign testing, and will offer several tips for how to create a radical redesign test. Some of the tips include:

[Chris lists three direct and interesting tips he'll share.]

Next I suggest moving into the iterative phase.

I will show several case studies of how to move through iterative testing so you eventually test every element on your page.

Erica's notes: Direct, interesting, and with promise of multiple case studies.

Duane Brown

Duane is a digital marketer with 10 years' experience having lived and worked in five cities across three continents. He's currently at Unbounce. When not working, you can find Duane traveling to some far-flung location around the world to eat food and soak up the culture. Follow him at @DuaneBrown.

Duane's pitch:

What Is Delightful Remarketing & How You Can Do It Too

A lot of people find remarketing creepy and weird. They don't get why they are seeing those ads around the internet.... let alone how to make them stop showing.

This talk will focus on the different between remarketing & creating delightful remarketing that can help grow the revenue & profit at a company and not piss customers off. 50% of US marketers don't use remarketing according to eMarketer (2013).

- [Duane's direct how-to for e-commerce customers.] Over 60% of customers abandon a shopping cart each year: http://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate (3 minute)

- Cover a SaaS company using retargeting to [Duane's actionable item]. This remarketing helps show your products sticky features while showing off your benefits (3 minute)

- The Dos: [Duane's actionable tip], a variety of creative & a dedicated landing page creates delightful remarketing that grows revenue (3 minute)

- Wrap up and review main points. (2 minutes)

Matt's notes: Well-detailed, an area in which there's a lot of room for improvement.

Gianluca Fiorelli

Moz Associate, official blogger for StateofDigital.com and known international SEO and inbound strategist, Gianluca works in the digital marketing industry, but he still believes that he just know that he knows nothing. Follow him at @gfiorelli1.

Gianluca's pitch:

Unusual Sources for Keyword and Topical Research

A big percentage of SEOs equal Keyword and Topical Research to using Keyword Planner and Google Suggest.

However, using only them, we cannot achieve a real deep knowledge of the interests, psychology and language of our target.

In this talk, I will present unusual sources and unnoticed features of very well-known tools, and offer a final example based on a true story.

Arguments touched in the speech (not necessarily in this order):

[Gianluca lists seven how-tos and one unique case study.]

Erica's notes: Theme of Google not giving good keyword info. Lots of unique actionable points and resources. Will work in 15 minute time limit.

Ruth Burr Reedy

Ruth is the head of on-site SEO for BigWing Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City, OK. At BigWing, she manages a team doing on-site, technical, and local SEO. Ruth has been working in SEO since 2006. Follow her at @ruthburr.

Ruth's pitch:

Get Hired to Do SEO

This talk will go way beyond "just build your own website" and talk about specific ways SEOs can build evidence of their skills across the web, including:

[Ruth lists 7 how-tos with actionable examples.]

All in a funny, actionable, beautiful, easy-to-understand get-hired masterpiece.

Erica's notes: Great takeaways. Wanted to do a session about building your resume as a marketer for a while.

Stephanie Wallace

Stephanie is director of SEO at Nebo, a digital agency in Atlanta. She helps clients navigate the ever-changing world of SEO by understanding their audience and helping them create a digital experience that both the user and Google appreciates. Follow her at @SWallaceSEO.

Stephanie's pitch:

Everyone knows PPC and SEO complement one another - increased visibility in search results help increase perceived authority and drive more clickthroughs to your site overall. But are you actively leveraging the wealth of PPC data available to build on your existing SEO strategy? The key to effectively using this information lies in understanding how to test SEO tactics and how to apply the results to your on-page strategies. This session will delve into actionable strategies for using PPC campaign insights to influence on-page SEO and content strategies. Key takeaways include:

[Stephanie lists four how-tos.]

Erica's notes: Nice and actionable. Like this a lot.

As mentioned, we had 241 entries, and many of them were stage quality. Notable runners up included AJ Wilcox, Ed Reese, and Daylan Pearce, and a big pat on the back to all those who tossed their hat in.

Also, a huge thank you to my fellow selection committee members for 2015: Charlene Inoncillo, Cyrus Shepard, Danie Launders, Jen Lopez, Matt Roney, Rand Fishkin, Renea Nielsen, and Trevor Klein.

Buy your ticket now


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21 Time-Saving Pinterest Tools for Businesses and Marketers

If you’re managing multiple social media accounts—multiple channels for you and multiple channels for your brand perhaps—it sure helps to save time with the right tools.

We’ve found time-saving tools for Twitter and Facebook and our daily social media marketing workflows. Now that we’ve turned attention toward Pinterest, we’re excited to discover the best time-saving tools for pinning, analyzing, and image building, too.

Here are 23 of the ones that have caught our eye so far. We’d love to hear which ones you ...

The post 21 Time-Saving Pinterest Tools for Businesses and Marketers appeared first on Social.

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Why the Links You've Built Aren't Helping Your Page Rank Higher - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Link building can be incredibly effective, but sometimes a lot of effort can go into earning links with absolutely no improvement in rankings. Why? In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand shows us four things we should look at in these cases, help us hone our link building skills and make the process more effective.

For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're chatting about why link building sometimes fails.

So I've got an example here. I'm going to do a search for artificial sweeteners. Let's say I'm working for these guys, ScienceMag.org. Well, this is actually in position 10. I put it in position 3 here, but I see that I'm position 10. I think to myself, "Man, if I could get higher up on this page, that would be excellent. I've already produced the content. It's on my domain. Like, Google seems to have indexed it fine. It's performing well enough to perform on page one, granted at the bottom of page one, for this competitive query. Now I want to move my rankings up."

So a lot of SEOs, naturally and historically, for a long time have thought, "I need to build more links to that page. If I can get more links pointing to this page, I can move up the rankings." Granted, there are some other ways to do that too, and we've discussed those in previous Whiteboard Fridays. But links are one of the big ones that people use.

I think one of the challenges that we encounter is sometimes we invest that effort. We go through the process of that outreach campaign, talking to bloggers and other news sites and looking at where our link sources are coming from and trying to get some more of those. It just doesn't seem to do anything. The link building appears to fail. It's like, man, I've got all these nice links and no new results. I didn't move up at all. I am basically staying where I am, or maybe I'm even falling down. Why is that? Why does link building sometimes work so well and so clearly and obviously, and sometimes it seems to do nothing at all?

What are some possible reasons link acquisition efforts may not be effective?

Oftentimes if you get a fresh set of eyes on it, an outside SEO perspective, they can do this audit, and they'll walk through a lot of this stuff and help you realize, "Oh yeah, that's probably why." These are things that you might need to change strategically or tactically as you approach this problem. But you can do this yourself as well by looking at why a link building campaign, why a link building effort, for a particular page, might not be working.

1) Not the right links

First one, it's not the right links. Not the right links, I mean a wide range of things, even broader than what I've listed here. But a lot of times that could mean low domain diversity. Yeah, you're getting new links, but they're coming from all the same places that you always get links from. Google, potentially, maybe views that as not particularly worthy of moving you up the rankings, especially around competitive queries.

It might be trustworthiness of source. So maybe they're saying "Yeah, you got some links, but they're not from particularly trustworthy places." Tied into that maybe we don't think or we're sure that they're not editorial. Maybe we think they're paid, or we think they're promotional in some way rather than being truly editorially given by this independent resource.

They might not come from a site or from a page that has the authority that's necessary to move you up. Again, particularly for competitive queries, sometimes low-value links are just that. They're not going to move the needle, especially not like they used to three, four, five or six years ago, where really just a large quantity of links, even from diverse domains, even if they were crappy links on crappy pages on relatively crappy or unknown websites would move the needle, not so much anymore. Google is seeing a lot more about these things.

Where else does the source link to? Is that source pointing to other stuff that is potentially looking manipulative to Google and so they discounted the outgoing links from that particular domain or those sites or those pages on those sites?

They might look at the relevance and say, "Hey, you know what? Yeah, you got linked to by some technology press articles. That doesn't really have anything to do with artificial sweeteners, this topic, this realm, or this region." So you're not getting the same result. Now we've shown that off-topic links can oftentimes move the rankings, but in particular areas and in health, in fact, may be one of those Google might be more topically sensitive to where the links are coming from than other places.

Location on page. So I've got a page here and maybe all of my links are coming from a bunch of different domains, but it's always in the right sidebar and it's always in this little feed section. So Google's saying, "Hey, that's not really an editorial endorsement. That's just them showing all the links that come through your particular blog feed or a subscription that they've got to your content or whatever it is promotionally pushing out. So we're not going to count it that way." Same thing a lot of times with footer links. Doesn't work quite as well. If you're being honest with yourself, you really want those in content links. Generally speaking, those tend to perform the best.

Or uniqueness. So they might look and they might say, "Yeah, you've got a ton of links from people who are republishing your same article and then just linking back to it. That doesn't feel to us like an editorial endorsement, and so we're just going to treat those copies as if those links didn't exist at all." But the links themselves may not actually be the problem. I think this can be a really important topic if you're doing link acquisition auditing, because sometimes people get too focused on, "Oh, it must be something about the links that we're getting." That's not always the case actually.

2) Not the right content

Sometimes it's not the right content. So that could mean things like it's temporally focused versus evergreen. So for different kinds of queries, Google interprets the intent of the searchers to be different. So it could be that when they see a search like "artificial sweeteners," they say, "Yeah, it's great that you wrote this piece about this recent research that came out. But you know what, we're actually thinking that searchers are going to want in the top few results something that's evergreen, that contains all the broad information that a searcher might need around this particular topic."

That speaks to it might not answer the searchers questions. You might think, "Well, I'm answering a great question here." The problem is, yeah you're answering one. Searchers may have many questions that they're asking around a topic, and Google is looking for something comprehensive, something that doesn't mean a searcher clicks your result and then says, "Well, that was interesting, but I need more from a different result." They're looking for the one true result, the one true answer that tells them, "Hey, this person is very happy with these types of results."

It could be poor user experience causing people to bounce back. That could be speed things, UI things, layout things, browser support things, multi-device support things. It might not use language formatting or text that people or engines can interpret as on the topic. Perhaps this is way over people's heads, far too scientifically focused, most searchers can't understand the language, or the other way around. It's a highly scientific search query and a very advanced search query and your language is way dumbed down. Google isn't interpreting that as on-topic. All the Hummingbird and topic modeling kind of things that they have say this isn't for them.

Or it might not match expectations of searchers. This is distinct and different from searchers' questions. So searchers' questions is, "I want to know how artificial sweeteners might affect me." Expectations might be, "I expect to learn this kind of information. I expect to find out these things." For example, if you go down a rabbit hole of artificial sweeteners will make your skin shiny, they're like, "Well, that doesn't meet with my expectation. I don't think that's right." Even if you have some data around that, that's not what they were expecting to find. They might bounce back. Engines might not interpret you as on-topic, etc. So lots of content kinds of things.

3) Not the right domain

Then there are also domain issues. You might not have the right domain. Your domain might not be associated with the topic or content that Google and searchers are expecting. So they see Mayo Clinic, they see MedicineNet, and they go, "ScienceMag? Do they do health information? I don't think they do. I'm not sure if that's an appropriate one." It might be perceived, even if you aren't, as spammy or manipulative by Google, more probably than by searchers. Or searchers just won't click your brand for that content. This is a very frustrating one, because we have seen a ton of times when search behavior is biased by the brand itself, by what's in this green text here, the domain name or the brand name that Google might show there. That's very frustrating, but it means that you need to build brand affinity between that topic, that keyword, and what's in searchers' heads.

4) Accessibility or technical issues

Then finally, there could be some accessibility or technical issues. Usually when that's the case, you will notice pretty easily because the page will have an error. It won't show the content properly. The cache will be an issue. That's a rare one, but you might want to check for it as well.

But hopefully, using this kind of an audit system, you can figure out why a link building campaign, a link building effort isn't working to move the needle on your rankings.

With that, we will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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