Location Data + Reviews: The 1–2 Punch of Local SEO

Posted by MiriamEllis

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My father, a hale and hearty gentleman in his seventies, simply won’t dine at a new restaurant these days before he checks its reviews on his cell phone. Your 23-year-old nephew, who travels around the country for his job as a college sports writer, has devoted 233 hours of his young life to writing 932 reviews on Yelp (932 reviews x @15 minutes per review).

Yes, our local SEO industry knows that my dad and your nephew need to find accurate NAP on local business listings to actually find and get to business locations. This is what makes our historic focus on citation data management totally reasonable. But reviews are what help a business to be chosen. Phil Rozek kindly highlighted a comment of mine as being among the most insightful on the Local Search Ranking Factors 2017 survey:

“If I could drive home one topic in 2017 for local business owners, it would surround everything relating to reviews. This would include rating, consumer sentiment, velocity, authenticity, and owner responses, both on third-party platforms and native website reviews/testimonials pages. The influence of reviews is enormous; I have come to see them as almost as powerful as the NAP on your citations. NAP must be accurate for rankings and consumer direction, but reviews sell.”

I’d like to take a few moments here to dive deeper into that list of review elements. It’s my hope that this post is one you can take to your clients, team or boss to urge creative and financial allocations for a review management campaign that reflects the central importance of this special form of marketing.

Ratings: At-a-glance consumer impressions and impactful rankings filter

Whether they’re stars or circles, the majority of rating icons send a 1–5 point signal to consumers that can be instantly understood. This symbol system has been around since at least the 1820s; it’s deeply ingrained in all our brains as a judgement of value.

So, when a modern Internet user is making a snap decision, like where to grab a taco, the food truck with 5 Yelp stars is automatically going to look more appealing than the one with only 2. Ratings can also catch the eye when Schema (or Google serendipity) causes them to appear within organic SERPs or knowledge panels.

All of the above is well-understood, but while the exact impact of high star ratings on local pack rankings has long been speculative (it’s only factor #24 in this year’s Local Search Ranking Factors), we may have just reached a new day with Google. The ability to filter local finder results by rating has been around for some time, but in May, Google began testing the application of a “highly rated” snippet on hotel rankings in the local packs. Meanwhile, searches with the format of “best X in city” (e.g. best burrito in Dallas) appear to be defaulting to local results made up of businesses that have earned a minimum average of 4 stars. It’s early days yet, but totally safe for us to assume that Google is paying increased attention to numeric ratings as indicators of relevance.

Because we’re now reaching the point from which we can comfortably speculate that high ratings will tend to start correlating more frequently with high local rankings, it’s imperative for local businesses to view low ratings as the serious impediments to growth that they truly are. Big brands, in particular, must stop ignoring low star ratings, or they may find themselves not only having to close multiple store locations, but also, to be on the losing end of competing for rankings for their open stores when smaller competitors surpass their standards of cleanliness, quality, and employee behavior.

Consumer sentiment: The local business story your customers are writing for you

Here is a randomly chosen Google 3-pack result when searching just for “tacos” in a small city in the San Francisco Bay Area:

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We’ve just been talking about ratings, and you can look at a result like this to get that instant gut feeling about the 4-star-rated eateries vs. the 2-star place. Now, let’s open the book on business #3 and see precisely what kind of story its consumers are writing. This is the first step towards doing a professional review audit for any business whose troubling reviews may point to future closure if problems aren’t fixed. A full audit would look at all relevant review platforms, but we’ll be brief here and just look at Google and Yelp and sort negative sentiments by type:

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It’s easy to ding fast food chains. Their business model isn’t commonly associated with fine dining or the kind of high wages that tend to promote employee excellence. In some ways, I think of them as extreme examples. Yet, they serve as good teaching models for how even the most modest-quality offerings create certain expectations in the minds of consumers, and when those basic expectations aren’t met, it’s enough of a story for consumers to share in the form of reviews.

This particular restaurant location has an obvious problem with slow service, orders being filled incorrectly, and employees who have not been trained to represent the brand in a knowledgeable, friendly, or accessible manner. Maybe a business you are auditing has pain points surrounding outdated fixtures or low standards of cleanliness.

Whatever the case, when the incoming consumer turns to the review world, their eyes scan the story as it scrolls down their screen. Repeat mentions of a particular negative issue can create enough of a theme to turn the potential customer away. One survey says only 13% of people will choose a business that has wound up with a 1–2 star rating based on poor reviews. Who can afford to let the other 87% of consumers go elsewhere?

There are 20 restaurants showing up in Google’s local finder for my “tacos” search, highlighted above. Taco Bell is managing to hold the #3 spot in the local pack right now, perhaps due to brand authority. My question is, what happens next, particularly if Google is going to amplify ratings and review sentiment in the overall local ranking mix? Will this chain location continue to beat out 4-star restaurants with 100+ positive reviews, or will it slip down as consumers continue to chronicle specific and unresolved issues?

No third-party brand controls Google, but your brand can open the book right now and make maximum use of the story your customers are constantly publishing — for free. By taking review insights as real and representative of all the customers who don’t speak up, and by actively addressing repeatedly cited issues, you could be making one of the smartest decisions in your company’s history.

Velocity/recency: Just enough of a timely good thing

This is one of the easiest aspects of review management to teach clients. You can sum it up in one sentence: don’t get too many reviews at once on any given platform but do get enough reviews on an ongoing basis to avoid looking like you’ve gone out of business.

For a little more background on the first part of that statement, watch Mary Bowling describing in this LocalU video how she audited a law firm that went from zero to thirty 5-star reviews within a single month. Sudden gluts of reviews like this not only look odd to alert customers, but they can trip review platform filters, resulting in removal. Remember, reviews are a business lifetime effort, not a race. Get a few this month, a few next month, and a few the month after that. Keep going.

The second half of the review timing paradigm relates to not running out of steam in your acquisition campaigns. One survey found that 73% of consumers don’t believe that reviews that are older than 3 months are still relevant to them, yet you will frequently encounter businesses that haven’t earned a new review in over a year. It makes you wonder if the place is still in business, or if it’s in business but is so unimpressive that no one is bothering to review it.

While I’d argue that review recency may be more important in review-oriented industries (like restaurants) vs. those that aren’t quite as actively reviewed (like septic system servicing), the idea here is similar to that of velocity, in that you want to keep things going. Don’t run a big review acquisition campaign in January and then forget about outreach for the rest of the year. A moderate, steady pace of acquisition is ideal.

Authenticity: Honesty is the only honest policy

For me, this is one of the most prickly and interesting aspects of the review world. Three opposing forces meet on this playing field: business ethics, business education, and the temptations engendered by the obvious limitations of review platforms to police themselves.

I recently began a basic audit of a family-owned restaurant for a friend of a friend. Within minutes, I realized that the family had been reviewing their own restaurant on Yelp (a glaring violation of Yelp’s policy). I felt sorry to see this, but being acquainted with the people involved (and knowing them to be quite nice!), I highly doubted they had done this out of some dark impulse to deceive the public. Rather, my guess was that they may have thought they were “getting the ball rolling” for their new business, hoping to inspire real reviews. My gut feeling was that they simply lacked the necessary education to understand that they were being dishonest with their community and how this could lead to them being publicly shamed by Yelp, if caught.

In such a scenario, there is definitely opportunity for the marketer to offer the necessary education to describe the risks involved in tying a brand to misleading practices, highlighting how vital it is to build trust within the local community. Fake positive reviews aren’t building anything real on which a company can stake its future. Ethical business owners will catch on when you explain this in honest terms and can then begin marketing themselves in smarter ways.

But then there’s the other side. Mike Blumenthal recently wrote of his discovery of the largest review spam network he’d ever encountered and there’s simply no way to confuse organized, global review spam with a busy small business making a wrong, novice move. Real temptation resides in this scenario, because, as Blumenthal states:

Review spam at this scale, unencumbered by any Google enforcement, calls into question every review that Google has. Fake business listings are bad, but businesses with 20, or 50, or 150 fake reviews are worse. They deceive the searcher and the buying public and they stain every real review, every honest business, and Google.”

When a platform like Google makes it easy to “get away with” deception, companies lacking ethics will take advantage of the opportunity. All we can do, as marketers, is to offer the education that helps ethical businesses make honest choices. We can simply pose the question:

Is it better to fake your business’ success or to actually achieve success?

On a final note, authenticity is a two-way street in the review world. When spammers target good businesses with fake, negative reviews, this also presents a totally false picture to the consumer public. I highly recommend reading about Whitespark’s recent successes in getting fake Google reviews removed. No guarantees here, but excellent strategic advice.

Owner responses: Your contributions to the consumer story

In previous Moz blog posts, I’ve highlighted the five types of Google My Business reviews and how to respond to them, and I’ve diagrammed a real-world example of how a terrible owner response can make a bad situation even worse. If the world of owner responses is somewhat new to you, I hope you’ll take a gander at both of those. Here, I’d like to focus on a specific aspect of owner responses, as it relates to the story reviews are telling about your business.

We’ve discussed above the tremendous insight consumer sentiment can provide into a company’s pain points. Negative reviews can be a roadmap to resolving repeatedly cited problems. They are inherently valuable in this regard, and by dint of their high visibility, they carry the inherent opportunity for the business owner to make a very public showing of accountability in the form of owner responses. A business can state all it wants on its website that it offers lightning-quick service, but when reviews complain of 20-minute waits for fast food, which source do you think the average consumer will trust?

The truth is, the hypothetical restaurant has a problem. They’re not going to be able to resolve slow service overnight. Some issues are going to require real planning and real changes to overcome. So what can the owner do in this case?

  1. Whistle past the graveyard, claiming everything is actually fine now, guaranteeing further disappointed expectations and further negative reviews resulting therefrom?
  2. Be gutsy and honest, sharing exactly what realizations the business has had due to the negative reviews, what the obstacles are to fixing the problems, and what solutions the business is implementing to do their best to overcome those obstacles?

Let’s look at this in living color:

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In yellow, the owner response is basically telling the story that the business is ignoring a legitimate complaint, and frankly, couldn’t care less. In blue, the owner has jumped right into the storyline, having the guts to take the blame, apologize, explain what happened and promise a fix — not an instant one, but a fix on the way. In the end, the narrative is going to go on with or without input from the owner, but in the blue example, the owner is taking the steering wheel into his own hands for at least part of the road trip. That initiative could save not just his franchise location, but the brand at large. Just ask Florian Huebner:

“Over the course of 2013 customers of Yi-Ko Holding’s restaurants increasingly left public online reviews about “broken and dirty furniture,” “sleeping and indifferent staff,” and “mice running around in the kitchen.” Per the nature of a franchise system, to the typical consumer it was unclear that these problems were limited to this individual franchisee. Consequently, the Burger King brand as a whole began to deteriorate and customers reduced their consumption across all locations, leading to revenue declines of up to 33% for some other franchisees.”

Positive news for small businesses working like mad to compete: You have more agility to put initiatives into quick action than the big brands do. Companies with 1,000 locations may let negative reviews go unanswered because they lack a clear policy or hierarchy for owner responses, but smaller enterprises can literally turn this around in a day. Just sit down at the nearest computer, claim your review profiles, and jump into the story with the goal of hearing, impressing, and keeping every single customer you can.

Big brands: The challenge for you is larger, by dint of your size, but you’ve also likely got the infrastructure to make this task no problem. You just have to assign the right people to the job, with thoughtful guidelines for ensuring your brand is being represented in a winning way.

NAP and reviews: The 1–2 punch combo every local business must practice

When traveling salesman Duncan Hines first published his 1935 review guide Adventures in Good Eating, he was pioneering what we think of today as local SEO. Here is my color-coded version of his review of the business that would one day become KFC. It should look strangely familiar to every one of you who has ever tackled citation management:

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No phone number on this “citation,” of course, but then again telephones were quite a luxury in 1935. Barring that element, this simple and historic review has the core earmarks of a modern local business listing. It has location data and review data; it’s the 1–2 punch combo every local business still needs to get right today. Without the NAP, the business can’t be found. Without the sentiment, the business gives little reason to be chosen.

Are you heading to a team meeting today? Preparing to chat with an incoming client? Make the winning combo as simple as possible, like this:

  1. We’ve got to manage our local business listings so that they’re accessible, accurate, and complete. We can automate much of this (check out Moz Local) so that we get found.
  2. We’ve got to breathe life into the listings so that they act as interactive advertisements, helping us get chosen. We can do this by earning reviews and responding to them. This is our company heartbeat — our story.

From Duncan Hines to the digital age, there may be nothing new under the sun in marketing, but when you spend year after year looking at the sadly neglected review portions of local business listings, you realize you may have something to teach that is new news to somebody. So go for it — communicate this stuff, and good luck at your next big meeting!

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Blog Post Ideas: Maximize Your Reach with the Right Topics – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

With the ubiquity of blogs, one of the questions we hear the most is how to come up with the right topics for new posts. In today’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores six different paths to great blog topic ideas, and tells you what you need to keep in mind before you start.

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Blog post ideas

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Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re going to chat about blog post ideas, how to have great ones, how to make sure that the topics that you’re covering on your blog actually accomplish the goals that you want, and how to not run out of ideas as well.

The goals of your blog

So let’s start with the goals of a blog and then what an individual post needs to do, and then I’ll walk you through kind of six formats for coming up with great ideas for what to blog about. But generally speaking, you have created a blog, either on your company’s website or your personal website or for the project that you’re working on, because you want to:

  • Attract a certain audience, which is great.
  • Capture the attention and amplification, the sharing of certain types of influencers, so that you can grow that audience.
  • Rank highly in search engines. That’s not just necessarily a goal for the blog’s content itself. But one of the reasons that you started a blog is to grow the authority, the ranking signals, the ability to rank for the website as a whole, and the blog hopefully is helping with that.
  • Inspire some trust, some likeability, loyalty, and maybe even some evangelism from your readers.
  • Provide a reference point for their opinions. So if you are a writer, an author, a journalist, a contributor to all sorts of sources, a speaker, whatever it is, you’re trying to provide a home for your ideas and your content, potentially your opinions too.
  • Covert our audience to take an action. Then, finally, many times a blog is crafted with the idea that it is a first step in capturing an audience that will then take an action. That could be buy something from you, sign up for an email list, potentially take a free trial of something, maybe take some action. A political blog might be about, “Call your Congress person.” But those types of actions.

What should an individual post do?

From there, we get into an individual post. An individual post is supposed to help with these goals, but on its own doesn’t do all of them. It certainly doesn’t need to do more than one at a time. It can hopefully do some. But one of those is, generally speaking, a great blog post will do one of these four things and hopefully two or even three.

I. Help readers to accomplish a goal that they have.

So if I’m trying to figure out which hybrid electric vehicle should I buy and I read a great blog post from someone who’s very, very knowledgeable in the field, and they have two or three recommendations to help me narrow down my search, that is wonderful. It helps me accomplish my goal of figuring out which hybrid car to buy. That accomplishment of goal, that helping of people hits a bunch of these very, very nicely.

II. Designed to inform people and/or entertain them.

So it doesn’t have to be purely informational. It doesn’t have to be purely entertainment, but some combination of those, or one of the two, about a particular topic. So you might be trying to make someone excited about something or give them knowledge around it. It may be knowledge that they didn’t previously know that they wanted, and they may not actually be trying to accomplish a goal, but they are interested in the information or interested in finding the humor.

III. Inspiring some amplification and linking.

So you’re trying to earn signals to your site that will help you rank in search engines, that will help you grow your audience, that will help you reach more influencers. Thus, inspiring that amplification behavior by creating content that is designed to be shared, designed to be referenced and linked to is another big goal.

IV. Creating a more positive association with the brand.

So you might have a post that doesn’t really do any of these things. Maybe it touches a little on informational or entertaining. But it is really about crafting a personal story, or sharing an experience that then draws the reader closer to you and creates that association of what we talked about up here — loyalty, trust, evangelism, likeability.

6 paths to great blog topic ideas

So knowing what our blog needs to do and what our individual posts are trying to do, what are some great ways that we can come up with the ideas, the actual topics that we should be covering? I have kind of six paths. These six paths actually cover almost everything you will read in every other article about how to come up with blog post ideas. But I think that’s what’s great. These frameworks will get you into the mindset that will lead you to the path that can give you an infinite number of blog post ideas.

1. Are there any unanswered or poorly answered questions that are in your field, that your audience already has/is asking, and do you have a way to provide great answers to those?

So that’s basically this process of I’m going to research my audience through a bunch of methodologies, going to come up with topics that I know I could cover. I could deliver something that would answer their preexisting questions, and I could come up with those through…

  • Surveys of my readers.
  • In-person meetings or emails or interviews.
  • Informal conversations just in passing around events, or if I’m interacting with members of my audience in any way, social settings.
  • Keyword research, especially questions.

So if you’re using a tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or I think some of the other ones out there, Ahrefs might have this as well, where you can filter by only questions. There are also free tools like Answer the Public, which many folks like, that show you what people are typing into Google, specifically in the form of questions, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Do?” etc.

So I’m not just going to walk you through the ideas. I’m also going to challenge myself to give you some examples. So I’ve got two — one less challenging, one much more challenging. Two websites, both have blogs, and coming up with topic ideas based on this.

So one is called Remoters. It’s remoters.net. It’s run by Aleyda Solis, who many of you in the SEO world might know. They talk about remote work, so people who are working remotely. It’s a content platform for them and a service for them. Then, the second one is a company, I think, called Schweiss Doors. They run hydraulicdoors.com. Very B2B. Very, very niche. Pretty challenging to come up with good blog topics, but I think we’ve got some.

Remote Worker: I might say here, “You know what? One of the questions that’s asked very often by remote workers, but is not well-answered on the internet yet is: ‘How do I conduct myself in a remote interview and present myself as a remote worker in a way that I can be competitive with people who are actually, physically on premises and in the room? That is a big challenge. I feel like I’m always losing out to them. Remote workers, it seems, don’t get the benefits of being there in person.'” So a piece of content on how to sell yourself on a remote interview or as a remote worker could work great here.

Hydraulic doors: One of the big things that I see many people asking about online, both in forums which actually rank well for it, the questions that are asked in forums around this do rank around costs and prices for hydraulic doors. Therefore, I think this is something that many companies are uncomfortable answering right online. But if you can be transparent where no one else can, I think these Schweiss Doors guys have a shot at doing really well with that. So how much do hydraulic doors cost versus alternatives? There you go.

2. Do you have access to unique types of assets that other people don’t?

That could be research. It could be data. It could be insights. It might be stories or narratives, experiences that can help you stand out in a topic area. This is a great way to come up with blog post content. So basically, the idea is you could say, “Gosh, for our quarterly internal report, we had to prepare some data on the state of the market. Actually, some of that data, if we got permission to share it, would be fascinating.”

We can see through keyword research that people are talking about this or querying Google for it already. So we’re going to transform it into a piece of blog content, and we’re going to delight many, many people, except for maybe this guy. He seems unhappy about it. I don’t know what his problem is. We won’t worry about him. Wait. I can fix it. Look at that. So happy. Ignore that he kind of looks like the Joker now.

We can get these through a bunch of methodologies:

  • Research, so statistical research, quantitative research.
  • Crowdsourcing. That could be through audiences that you’ve already got through email or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Insider interviews, interviews with people on your sales team or your product team or your marketing team, people in your industry, buyers of yours.
  • Proprietary data, like what you’ve collected for your internal annual reports.
  • Curation of public data. So if there’s stuff out there on the web and it just needs to be publicly curated, you can figure out what that is. You can visit all those websites. You could use an extraction tool, or you could manually extract that data, or you could pay an intern to go extract that data for you, and then synthesize that in a useful way.
  • Multimedia talent. Maybe you have someone, like we happen to here at Moz, who has great talent with video production, or with audio production, or with design of visuals or photography, or whatever that might be in the multimedia realm that you could do.
  • Special access to people or information, or experiences that no one else does and you can present that.

Those assets can become the topic of great content that can turn into really great blog posts and great post ideas.

Remote Workers: They might say, “Well, gosh, we have access to data on the destinations people go and the budgets that they have around those destinations when they’re staying and working remotely, because of how our service interacts with them. Therefore, we can craft things like the most and least expensive places to work remotely on the planet,” which is very cool. That’s content that a lot of people are very interested in.

Hydraulic doors: We can look at, “Hey, you know what? We actually have a visual overlay tool that helps an architect or a building owner visualize what it will look like if a hydraulic door were put into place. We can go use that in our downtime to come up with we can see how notable locations in the city might look with hydraulic doors or notable locations around the world. We could potentially even create a tool, where you could upload your own visual, photograph, and then see how the hydraulic door looked on there.” So now we can create images that will help you share.

3. Relating a personal experience or passion to your topic in a resonant way.

I like this and I think that many personal bloggers use it well. I think far too few business bloggers do, but it can be quite powerful, and we’ve used it here at Moz, which is relating a personal experience you have or a passion to your topic in some way that resonates. So, for example, you have an interaction that is very complex, very nuanced, very passionate, perhaps even very angry. From that experience, you can craft a compelling story and a headline that draws people in, that creates intrigue and that describes something with an amount of emotion that is resonant, that makes them want to connect with it. Because of that, you can inspire people to further connect with the brand and potentially to inform and entertain.

There’s a lot of value from that. Usually, it comes from your own personal creativity around experiences that you’ve had. I say “you,” you, the writer or the author, but it could be anyone in your organization too. Some resources I really like for that are:

  • Photos. Especially, if you are someone who photographs a reasonable portion of your life on your mobile device, that can help inspire you to remember things.
  • A journal can also do the same thing.
  • Conversations that you have can do that, conversations in person, over email, on social media.
  • Travel. I think any time you are outside your comfort zone, that tends to be those unique things.

Remote workers: I visited an artist collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I realized that, “My gosh, one of the most frustrating parts of remote work is that if you’re not just about remote working with a laptop and your brain, you’re almost removed from the experience. How can you do remote work if you require specialized equipment?” But in fact, there are ways. There are maker labs and artist labs in cities all over the planet at this point. So I think this is a topic that potentially hasn’t been well-covered, has a lot of interest, and that personal experience that I, the writer, had could dig into that.

Hydraulic doors: So I’ve had some conversations with do-it-yourselfers, people who are very, very passionate about DIY stuff. It turns out, hydraulic doors, this is not a thing that most DIYers can do. In fact, this is a very, very dramatic investment. That is an intense type of project. Ninety-nine percent of DIYers will not do it, but it turns out there’s actually search volume for this.

People do want to, or at least want to learn how to, DIY their own hydraulic doors. One of my favorite things, after realizing this, I searched, and then I found that Schweiss Doors actually created a product where they will ship you a DIY kit to build your own hydraulic door. So they did recognize this need. I thought that was very, very impressive. They didn’t just create a blog post for it. They even served it with a product. Super-impressive.

4. Covering a topic that is “hot” in your field or trending in your field or in the news or on other blogs.

The great part about this is it builds in the amplification piece. Because you’re talking about something that other people are already talking about and potentially you’re writing about what they’ve written about, you are including an element of pre-built-in amplification. Because if I write about what Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has written about last week, or what Danny Sullivan wrote about on Search Engine Land two weeks ago, now it’s not just my audience that I can reach, but it’s theirs as well. Potentially, they have some incentive to check out what I’ve written about them and share that.

So I could see that someone potentially maybe posted something very interesting or inflammatory, or wrong, or really right on Twitter, and then I could say, “Oh, I agree with that,” or, “disagree,” or, “I have nuance,” or, “I have some exceptions to that.” Or, “Actually, I think that’s an interesting conversation to which I can add even more value,” and then I create content from that. Certainly, social networks like:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Forums
  • Subreddits. I really like Pocket for this, where I’ll save a bunch of articles, and then I’ll see which one might be very interesting to cover or write about in the future. News aggregators are great for this too. So that could be a Techmeme in the technology space, or a Memeorandum in the political space, or many others.

Remote workers: You might note, well, health care, last week in the United States and for many months now, has been very hot in the political arena. So for remoters, that is a big problem and a big question, because if your health insurance is tied to your employer again, as it was before the American Care Act, then you could be in real trouble. Then you might have a lot of problems and challenges. So what does the politics of health care mean for remote workers? Great. Now, you’ve created a real connection, and that could be something that other outlets would cover and that people who’ve written about health care might be willing to link to your piece.

Hydraulic doors: One of the things that you might note is that Eater, which is a big blog in the restaurant space, has written about indoor and outdoor space trends in the restaurant industry. So you could, with the data that you’ve got and the hydraulic doors that you provide, which are very, very common, well moderately common, at least in the restaurant indoor/outdoor seating space, potentially cover that. That’s a great way to tie in your audience and Eater’s audience into something that’s interesting. Eater might be willing to cover that and link to you and talk about it, etc.

The last two, I’m not going to go too into depth, because they’re a little more basic.

5. Pure keyword research-driven.

So this is using Google AdWords or keywordtool.io, or Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or any of the other keyword research tools that you like to figure out: What are people searching for around my topic? Can I cover it? Can I make great content there?

6. Readers who care about my topics also care about ______________?

Essentially taking any of these topics, but applying one level of abstraction. What I mean by that is there are people who care about your topic, but also there’s an overlap of people who care about this other topic and who also care about yours.

hydraulic doors: People who care about restaurant building trends and hydraulic doors has a considerable overlap, and that is quite interesting.

Remote workers: It could be something like, “I care about remote work. I also care about the gear that I use, my laptop and my bag, and those kinds of things.” So gear trends could be a very interesting intersect. Then, you can apply any of these other four processes, five processes onto that intersection or one level of an abstraction.

All right, everyone. We have done a tremendous amount here to cover a lot about blog topics. But I think you will have some great ideas from this, and I look forward to hearing about other processes that you’ve got in the comments. Hopefully, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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5 Advantage Agile Marketing Has Over Traditional Marketing Processes

Agile Methodology

As development organizations grew in size and scope, they started to have more and more problems. A large organization might do quarterly releases with hundreds of developers writing thousands of lines of code that worked well locally, but caused headaches and collisions downstream in quality assurance. Those collisions would lead to features being removed, delays to releases, and meetings up and down the chain of command to try and remove roadblocks. Agile methodologies offered a different approach, using collaborative, empowered teams to drive long-term results through a series of sprints.

Today’s marketing strategies require companies move through an agile marketing journey to ensure pro-active, omni-channel strategies can reach the overall goals of the organization. So the same processes that helped streamline and accelerate enterprise development have been applied to marketing teams. In this infographic from CMG Partners, they refer to Agile Marketing as the New Operating System for Marketing.

Advantages of Agile Marketing

  1. Doing the right work – marketers focus on what customers need rather than internal, legacy and hierarchical processes that drag on and on.
  2. Executing at the right time – by shortening the cycle and prioritizing campaigns and efforts, marketers can respond faster to customer needs.
  3. Reaching the right people – collaborative teams and proactive strategies target the right customers with the right message at the right time.
  4. Getting impactful results – breaking down silos and streamlining processes ensures that messaging can be optimized cross-channel for maximum reach and results.
  5. Optimizing and improving – iterative cycles ensure lessons learned from the last sprint are applied to the next, continuously improving marketing ROI.

Here’s a breakdown of how most marketing teams operate versus how agile marketers operate.

Agile Marketing versus Traditional Marketing


© 2016 DK New Media.

Vectr: A Free Alternative to Adobe Illustrator

Vectr

Vectr is a free and very intuitive vector graphics editor app for web and desktop. Vectr has a very low learning curve making graphic design accessible to anyone. Vectr is going to remain free forever with no strings attached.

What’s the difference between Vector and Raster Graphics?

Vector-based images are made of lines and paths to create an image. They have a start point, end point, and lines between. They may also create objects that are filled. The advantage of a vector image is that it can be resized but still maintain the integrity of the original object. Raster-based images are composed of pixels at specific coordinates. When you expand a raster image from its original design, the pixels are distorted.

Think about a triangle versus a photograph. A triangle can have 3 points, lines between, and be filled with a color. As you expand the triangle to twice its size, you’re simply moving the three points further apart. There’s no distortion whatsoever. Now expand a photograph of a person to twice its size. You’ll notice the photograph will become blurry and distorted as the color bit is expanded to cover more pixels.

This is why diagrams and logos that need to be resized effectively are often vector-based. And it’s why we often want very large raster-based images when working on the web… so that they are only reduced in size where there’s minimal distortion.

Vectr Editor

Vectr is available online or you can download the application for OSX, Windows, Chromebook, or Linux. They have a rich set of features in their roadmap that could very well make it a viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator, including embedded versions that can be integrated into online editors.

Try Vectr Now!


© 2016 DK New Media.

Tasty SEO Report Recipes to Save Time & Add Value for Clients [Next Level]

Posted by jocameron

Reporting can be the height of tedium. You spend your time making those reports, your client may (or may not) spend their time trying to understand them. And then, in the end, we’re all left with some unanswered questions and a rumble in the tum of dissatisfaction.

I’m going to take some basic metrics, throw in some culinary metaphors, and take your client reporting to the next level.

By the end of this article you’ll know how to whip up intelligent SEO reports for your clients (or potential clients) that will deliver actionable insights any search chef worth their salt would be proud of.

[Part one] Freshly foraged keywords on sourdough to power your campaign

I’ve got intel on some really tasty keywords; did you know you can scoop these up like wild porcini mushrooms using your website categories? The trick is to find the keywords that you can use to make a lovely risotto, and discard the ones that taste nasty.

The overabundance of keywords has become a bit of a challenge for SEOs. Google is better at gauging user intent — it’s kind of their thing, right? This results in the types of keywords that send traffic to your clients expanding, and it’s becoming trickier to track every. single. keyword. Of course, with a budget big enough almost anything is possible, but why hemorrhage cash on tracking the keyword minutiae when you can wrangle intelligent data by tracking a sample of keywords from a few pots?

With Keyword Explorer, you can save your foraged terms to lists. By bundling together similar “species,” you’ll get a top-level view of the breadth and depth of search behavior within the categories of your niche. Easily compare volume, difficulty, opportunity, and potential to instigate a data-driven approach to website architecture. You’ll also know, at a glance, where to expand on certain topics and apply more resources to content creation.

With these metrics in hand and your client’s industry knowledge, you can cherry-pick keywords to track ranking positions week over week and add them to your Moz Pro campaign with the click of a button.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Pluck keywords from the category pages of your client’s site.

Step 2: Find keyword suggestions in Keyword Explorer.

Step 3: Group by low lexicon to bundle together similar keywords to gather up that long tail.

Step 4: Analyze and save relevant results to a list

Step 5: Head to the Keyword Lists and compare the metrics: where is the opportunity? Can you compete with the level of difficulty? Is there a high-volume long tail that you can dig in to?

Step 6: Add sample keywords from your pots directly to your campaign.

Bonus step: Repeat for products or other topic segments of the niche.

Don’t forget to drill into the keywords that are turning up here to see if there are categories and subcategories you hadn’t thought of. These can be targeted in existing content to further extend the relevancy and reach of your client’s content. Or it may inspire new content which can help to grow the authority of the site.

Why your client will be impressed

Through solid, informed research, you’ll be able to demonstrate why their site should be structured with certain categories on the top-level navigation right down to product pages. You’ll also be able to prioritize work on building, improving, or refining content on certain sections of the site by understanding the breakdown of search behavior and demand. Are you seeing lots of keywords with a good level of volume and lower difficulty? Or more in-depth long tail with low search volume? Or fewer different keywords with high search volume but stronger competition?

Let the demand drive the machine forward and make sure you’re giving the hordes what they want.

All this helps to further develop your understanding of the ways people search so you can make informed decisions about which keywords to track.

[Part two] Palate-cleansing lemon keyword label sorbet

Before diving into the next course you need to cleanse your palate with a lemon “label” sorbet.

In Part One, we talked about the struggle of maintaining gigantic lists of keywords. We’ve sampled keywords from our foraged pots, keeping these arranged and segmented in our Moz Pro campaign.

Now you want to give those tracked keywords a more defined purpose in life. This will help to reinforce to your client why you’re tracking these keywords, what the goal is for tracking them, and in what sort of timeframe you’re anticipating results.

Types of labels may include:

  • Local keywords: Is your business serving local people, like a mushroom walking tour? You can add geo modifiers to your keywords and label them as such.
  • Long-tail keywords: Might have lower search volume, but focused intent can convert well for your client.
  • High-priority keywords: Where you’re shoveling more resources, these keywords are more likely impacting the other keyword segments.
  • Brand keywords: Mirror, mirror on the wall… yeah, we all want those vanity keywords, don’t lie. You can manage brand keywords automatically through “Manage Brand Rules” in Moz Pro:

A generous scoop of tasty lemon “label” sorbet will make all the work you do and progress you achieve infinitely easier to report on with clear, actionable focus.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Label your keywords like a pro.

Step 2: Filter by labels in the Ranking tab to analyze Search Visibility for your keyword segments.

In this example, I’m comparing our visibility for “learn” keywords against “guide” keywords:

Step 3: Create a custom report for your keyword segments.

Step 4: Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar by triggering the Optimize button — now you can send the latest on-page reporting with your super-focused ranking report.

Why your client will be impressed

Your ranking reports will be like nothing your client has ever tasted. They will be tightly focused on the segments of keywords you’re working on, so they aren’t bamboozled by a new slew of keywords or a sudden downward trend. By clearly segmenting your piles of lovely keywords, you’ll be proactively answering those inevitable queries about why, when, and in what form your client will begin to see results.

With the on-page scores updating automatically and shipping out to your client’s inbox every month via a custom report, you’ll be effortlessly highlighting what your team has achieved.

[Part three] Steak sandwich links with crispy competitor bacon

You’re working with your client to publish content, amplifying it through social channels and driving brand awareness through PR campaigns.

Now you want to keep them informed of the big wins you’ve had as a result of that grind. Link data in Moz Pro focuses on the highest-quality links with our Mozscape index, coming from the most prominent pages of authoritative sites. So, while you may not see every link for a site within our index, we’re reporting the most valuable ones.

Alongside our top-quality steak sarnie, we’re add some crispy competitor bacon so you can identify what content is working for the other sites in your industry.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Check that you have direct competitors set up on your campaign.

Step 2: Compare link metrics for your site and your competitors.

Step 4: Head to Top Pages to see what those competitors are doing to get ahead.

Step 5: Compile a delicious report sandwich!

Step 6: Make another report for Top Pages for the bacon-filled sandwich experience.

Why your client will be impressed

Each quality established link gives your client a clear idea of the value of their content and the blood, sweat, and tears of your team.

These little gems are established and more likely to have an impact on their ranking potential. Don’t forget to have a chat with your client where you explain that a link’s impact on rankings takes time.

By comparing this directly with the other sites battling it out for top SERP property, it’s easier to identify progress and achievements.

By highlighting those pesky competitors and their top pages by authority, you’re also getting ahead of that burning question of: How can we improve?

[Part four] Cinnamon-dusted ranking reports with cherry-glazed traffic

Rankings are a staple ingredient in the SEO diet. Much like the ever-expanding keyword list, reporting on rankings has become something we do without thinking enough about that what clients can do with that information.

Dish up an all-singing, all-dancing cinnamon-dusted rankings report with cherry-glazed traffic by illustrating the direct impact these rankings have on organic traffic. Real people, coasting on through the search results to your client’s site.

Landing Pages in Moz Pro compares rankings with organic landing pages, imparting not just the ranking score but the value of those pages. Compliments to the chef, because that good work is down to you.

What’s the recipe?

Step 1: Track your target keywords in Moz Pro.

Step 2: Check you’ve hooked up Google Analytics for that tasty traffic data.

Step 3: Discover landing pages and estimated traffic share.

As your SEO work drives more traffic to those pages and your keyword rankings steadily increase, you’ll see your estimated traffic share go up.

If your organic traffic from search is increasing but your ranking is dropping off, it’s an indication that this keyword isn’t the driving force.

Now you can have a dig around and find out why that keyword isn’t performing, starting with your on-page optimization and following up with keyword research.

Why your client will be impressed

We all send ranking reports, and I’m sure clients just love it. But now you can dazzle them with an insight into what those rankings mean for the lifeblood of their site.

You can also take action by directing more energy towards those well-performing keywords, or investigate what worked well for those pages and replicate it across other keywords and pages on your site.

Wrapping up

It’s time to say “enough is enough” and inject some flavor into those bland old SEO reports. Your team will save time and your clients will thank you for the tasty buffet of reporting delight.


Next Level is our educational series combining actionable SEO tips with tools you can use to achieve them. Check out any of our past editions below:

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An Interview with Dell’s Amy Heiss: Director of Social Media Training and Activation

Amy Heiss - Dell

Last week was an amazing week at Dell EMC World where I co-hosted several upcoming podcasts for Dell called Luminaries – Talking to the Brightest Mind in Tech.

I took advantage of the time to meet many of the amazing marketing staff at Dell Technologies and its global family of brands – Dell, DellEMC, VMware, RSA, Pivotal, SecureWorks, and Virtusstream. The company spans technology – from consumer hardware, business hardware, development, security, virtualization, and cloud products.

Amy is a 14 year veteran of the company, bringing her Learning and Development degree to the company, then moving from Learning and Development, to social media monitoring, now to employee advocacy. Amy is on a team of 6 driving employee advocacy with over 140,000 employees globally under the Dell umbrella.

Dell’s work with employees is unique. They built a social media command center before many other companies and were way ahead of the curve. Amy reveals how her team educated executives on the importance of the impact of social media, why they utilize social data rather than user forums, how they wrote a simple 5-point social media policy, and how they help their employees build their own brand in the effort to drive corporate branding.

Dell’s Rules of Social Media:

Dell opted for a short and sweet social media policy to ensure employees understood how to utilize social media but also to get them to recognize the company didn’t want to play gotcha with a policy that was full of legalize and regulatory compliance.

  1. Protect customer and Dell information
  2. Be transparent
  3. Be responsible
  4. Follow the law
  5. Be Human

Every employee goes through a social media training called the Social Media and Community University (SMaC-U) that walks through what Dell means with each policy item. The employees are also self-policed where employees can directly contact one another about any violation, or report the incident. The results are incredible! Less than 10% of followers follow the corporate brand versus the individual employees. Employees get eight times the engagement and negative comments about the company dropped 20% simply by Dell Employees being socially active.

Unlike many companies, Dell works to help employees develop their own personal brand online, helps them to tune and tweak their social media presence – all the way to developing a great LinkedIn profile. And when a customer or prospect needs assistance, Dell employees have a Dell Cares team who can immediately respond and resolve issues on behalf of the employee.

Listen to our Interview with Amy Heiss of Dell

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This is an incredible interview with tons of actionable data and insight. I’m so thankful for being introduced to Amy at the recommendation of Mark Schaefer.


© 2016 DK New Media.

Video Marketing Statistics That You May Not Have Known!

Video Marketing Statistics

Whether it’s social videos, daily stories, real-time videos, or any other video strategy, we live in a world where more video content is produced and consumed than ever in history. Of course, that’s both a great opportunity and an enormous challenge because a lot of video content is being produced and never actually seen. This infographic from Website Builder.org.uk reveals the latest video marketing statistics.

10 Facts about Video Marketing

  • 78.4% of United States users watch online videos  Tweet This!
  • Men spend 44% more time than women on YouTube  Tweet This!
  • Ages 25-34 in the United States have the highest video viewer penetration at 90%  Tweet This!
  • Half of all americans (164.5 million) watched digital TV in 2016  Tweet This!
  • 72% of social marketers want to learn video marketing  Tweet This!
  • Video in social media increases sharing tenfold  Tweet This!
  • According to Facebook, by 2018, 90% of their content will be video based  Tweet This!
  • 96% of all marketers invested in video marketing in 2016  Tweet This!
  • 70% of ad agencies believe video ads are as or more effective than TV  Tweet This!
  • The gross revenue ROI of video relative to TV is 1.27 times higher when used with TV  Tweet This!

There’s no coincidence that we’re not working on converting our Indianapolis podcast studio into a full video studio with real-time capabilities. We continue to see great results with video – we just have to move faster to capitalize on it. The challenge is that the software and hardware necessary are dropping in price while integrating some amazing broadcast capabilities for the web. If we dive too early, we’ll spend too much. But if we dive too late, we’re going to miss the momentum!

As always, I’ll share the direction we head with you!

Video Marketing Statistics


© 2016 DK New Media.