Friday, August 7, 2020

Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional

30-second summary:

  • Emotion is a pivotal component of great content.
  • If you have an opportunity to create emotional content, you’re much more likely to be successful. 
  • A new Fractl study reveals what emotions are most common in highly-linked-to content in each industry.
  • You should explore what emotions are already prevalent in your industry to gain new ideas and understand what already resonates with your audience.
  • When pitching content to writers, highlight the key emotional takeaways so reporters glean them quickly.

Yes, content should be useful. In fact, nine times out of 10, it must be useful in order to make an impact. But emotion is pivotal too. Emotion can form a sense of connection between a reader and a story — between a reader and their place in the world. For this reason, emotion can sometimes carry an entire piece of content because it taps into our common humanity. How do you hit the right chords with emotional content? Here are tips on how to do that.

Sure, it sounds corny. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Emotion matters, and if you have an opportunity to create emotional content, you’re much more likely to be successful. 

1. Understand which emotions resonate in your industry

Before jumping into content creation, it’s good to understand what works well in your particular niche. What content that’s been created has performed well, and why? What emotions are present in some of the most talked-about content?

In a recent Fractl study, we looked at more than 5,000 pieces of content that earned at least 25 backlinks. Then we explored which Facebook reactions were more prevalent in each content niche.

Fractl study on emotions based on niche

This breakdown provides a great overlook of what emotions are already prominent in your niche’s content. Look at how anger appears in sex/relationship stories while love appears often in travel stories. 

Why do you think these emotions may be associated with your niche? What can you cover that hasn’t already been covered that taps into why people are upset or in awe?

To gain more industry insight, before creating content, I would:

  • Pull out my customer personas. What emotions are tied to what they worry about? Struggle with? Seek out? Can I apply these emotions to content?
  • Read my target publications’ content. Which articles are on the front page? Which got the most engagement? What emotions are featured in them?
  • Check BuzzSumo to see what content is most engaged within my industry. Not only will this highlight certain emotions that are prevalent, but it’ll also let you know if an idea you have has already been covered in depth.

Take a look at some of the highly-engaged-with stories that appear on the BuzzSumo content search for “job interview”.

Buzzsumo search emotional content

Just from this snapshot of stories, you can see multiple emotions: humor/laughter regarding funny anecdotes, fear that the job application process might be totally changed by AI, happiness at the kind gesture from Lyft, and contempt at discrimination taking place at interviews.

Perhaps honing in on one of these emotions can spark an idea. What else might people be afraid of regarding the job application process? What else are they angry about? Happy about?

When all else fails, capitalize on the feeling of surprise. Our research on viral emotions revealed that the most common emotion in viral images is “surprise”. People like to learn something new that’s unexpected. If your data reveals data points like this, make sure to highlight it in the project.

2. Identify which emotions to focus on in your content

When trying to come up with content ideas, ask yourself: What emotions are tied to this concept? What are the different circumstances people can encounter, and how do those circumstances make them feel?

For example, for our client The Interview Guys (a job interview advice portal), we considered the variety of issues that can come up related to work. One such idea that hadn’t been fully addressed, in our opinion, was burnout. 

Burnout in and of itself is an emotional topic. It’s associated with stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. After surveying people about burnout, we earned coverage on Inc., Yahoo Finance AU, and International Business Times.

Example emotional content topic - Burnout

But not every idea will be as emotionally straightforward. Perhaps you have an instinct that analyzing a certain data set would yield interesting results.

Push yourself to identify

What would make those results compelling? What insights might this data help us gain, and what emotions are involved with these insights?

For example, in a separate project for the same client, we thought about identifying jobs that pay well that don’t require years of education. What we’d end up with is a list of jobs and what they’d pay. 

On the surface, this may not seem too emotional. But let’s consider the layers involved here:

  1. Less schooling means less stress, less debt, and less pressure.
  2. The potential to make a good salary provides hope.
  3. Struggling to find a job with little to no experience can give someone a lot of financial and emotional anxiety.
  4. Why would people care about this information in the first place? They’re looking to switch jobs. For whatever reason, they’re dissatisfied.

So you have stress, anxiety, hope, and dissatisfaction as some examples of emotions tied into this list of jobs. It’s not just a list anymore, is it?

Call upon these feelings every time you make a decision about the project. It’ll help keep you focused on the real soul of the story.

3. Pitch the emotional angles

When you can identify these emotional elements, you’ll also know how to better promote the idea. 

We pitched the high-paying-jobs project to publications. Take a look at some of the coverage.

Emotional content for job searchers

Source: Reader’s Digest

Reader’s Digest opens with the dilemma of not being able to find a job because you don’t have enough job experience yet. They’re tapping into a common, shared frustration people have, and by starting the article this way, they’re immediately putting the reader in a frame of mind to connect emotionally with the content.

Example of emotional content

Source: MarketWatch

This headline taps into the hope angle; they’re essentially saying, you don’t have to be the typical tech person to make a lot of money with little experience.

When you pitch writers, make sure to include the emotional data points and angles prominently. Include bullets of the most impactful takeaways so the reporter doesn’t have to dig through the data to understand why it matters and why their audience will care.

And don’t do the same thing for every publisher. Consider their particular audiences and what they care about, and then tailor your data points to speak to those readers.

Conclusion

Data is only as powerful as the story it tells, and all of the best human stories are packed with emotion. In every stage of your content creation process, from ideation to design to promotion, keep the emotional components in mind and center them.

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.

The post Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Six tools for effective influencer-driven content marketing

30-second summary:

  • Why influencer marketing should be an essential part of any digital marketing strategy.
  • How to find approachable influencers, device the best way to associate them with your brand.
  • Research each influencer and each opportunity to maximize your chances to get noticed.
  • Plus, there’s a key to keep those initial relationships going for even more benefits, in the long run.
  • Internet Marketing Ninjas’ Community Manager gives you a concise overview of six great tools that can add value to your influencer-driven content marketing efforts.

In the most basic sense, influencer marketing is about building connections with niche experts and mentors who have enough authority to influence other people’s buying decisions.

Influencer marketing is one of the most efficient ways to build brand awareness and trust as well as increase sales and leads.

The simplest example of an influencer marketing is a brand sponsoring a video product review on YouTube or a visual endorsement on Instagram done by a user with a solid following.

While the above is a good way to convert a lot of people into actual sales in ecommerce, influencer marketing can be effective in blog marketing, too.

In fact, when applied to blogs, influencer marketing is much more diverse and long-term than it is in e-commerce. It’s about engaging niche experts in creating and/or promoting content for your site which in turn builds your traffic and authority.

When an influencer takes a part in your blog life—contributing, commenting, or providing a quote—they are more likely to help you promote that content thus bringing your blog in front of their following and building your brand.

Let’s see how it works…

Who are influencers?

That is a tougher question than it seems.

There have been many attempts to measure online influence, none of which is satisfying enough.

Neither the number of followers nor the various metrics (for example, Klout score) can fully reflect influence.

In fact, a person can have just around 1K followers on Twitter and still be able to influence most of those followers with their tweets. Or one can have 10 Facebook fans, yet a huge following on Pinterest.

And it becomes more complicated when you start looking at different niches. Some industries are more “Twitter-friendly.” Most (local) news outlets have huge Twitter following, for example, while health and beauty bloggers have more success on YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

All in all, no tool can provide you with a ready-to-go list of niche influencers. Identifying true influencers (who are also willing to interact with you) is a long process involving much searching, browsing, and reading.

So, how to create an effective influencer-driven content marketing strategy?

1. Identify searchable content topics: Ubersuggest

Keyword research should be your very first step when planning any content marketing project, including an influencer-driven one.

Keyword research may be quite overwhelming, so here’s the easiest – yet one of the most comprehensive tools to try: Ubersuggest

The tool can be run for free and it returns pretty awesome data, including a so-called “SEO difficulty” of each keyword, which is the number that reflects organic competition. The number allows content marketers to choose search queries that will be easier to rank for:

Ubersuggest tools for influencer driven contentSource: Ubersuggest (July 2020)

Why Ubersuggest?

From experience, it is the easiest tool to figure out, even if you are very new to keyword research. It is also very usable for free. If you choose to upgrade, it costs $29 per month for an individual managing one-two-three websites.

2. Search for content-producing influencers: Buzzsumo

On BuzzSumo, you’ll find bloggers writing about your topic.

What I like about it is that you can play around filters to limit results to long-form articles, videos, listicles, and more. This offers powerful tools to better research your niche content and authors:

Buzzsumo tools for influencer driven contentSource: BuzzSumo (July 2020)

Apart from content research, Buzzsumo offers more sections including Youtube influencers, Twitter influencers, and more.

Search individual social media platforms

Of course, by only using BuzzSumo you miss out on important platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, and the others.

So make sure you go directly to those platforms (especially those that are more popular in your niche) and play with their native search feature to expand your list.

Use Google to search for interviews and podcasts

Active influencers are usually invited to talk about their expertise. Searching something like [your topic interview] or [your topic opinion] will let you find more influencers.

Why Buzzsumo?

I am simply unaware of a tool that would offer the aforementioned influencer research features. Buzzsumo offers a seven-day trial and it will cost $99 per month for a team of five users.

More tools to find influencers:

  • Fanpage Karma: Provide the competitor’s Facebook page and the tool shows its most influential and most engaged fans
  • FollowerWonk (Twitter bio search tool): Use it to find members of prominent blogging and news outlet teams

It is also a good idea to find which influencers your competitors are working with. Here’s a quick guide on how to do that.

3. Research each social media account on your initial list

The number of followers doesn’t matter as much as the number of actual interactions.

Twitonomy is a good free way to quickly run an interaction analysis of any Twitter account.

Twitonomy for influencer driven content

Source: Twitonomy (July 2020)

Why Twitonomy?

Twitonomy offers a pretty solid report completely for free. Should I say more?

The same goes for Facebook presence: Ignore the number of friends or fans and scroll down the page to see if people engage with the updates and how many updates go unnoticed.

4. Create a list of who you plan to reach out to: Google Spreadsheets

Be very selective. Your decisive criteria to whether include an influencer or not to the list should be whether they seem to interact back with followers.

Don’t spend your time trying to hear back from someone who never replies to comments, thanks for shares, likes someone else’s updates, etc.

Now you don’t want to create a list of 1,000 influencers. Depending on your industry and time availability, anything between 20 and 50 is a good start.

What you want to have in that list

  • Influencer’s primary account and name
  • More social media profiles (make sure you follow them everywhere)
  • Whatever other contact info you have ever used or are aware of
  • Whether you had any previous contact or engagement and when
  • Any notes you choose to make

The list will grow and change over time but don’t get overwhelmed with too many rows and columns at the start. I love using spreadsheets to maintain a list of contacts.

Why Google Spreadsheets?

Google Spreadsheets are absolutely free and offer a great set of features. They are also incredibly fast which is very important for collaboration.

Spreadsheets can be shared across teams, so they are great for collaboration. You can also integrate Google Drive into your WordPress dashboard to make it easier to find and access.

5. Come up with interesting questions: Text Optimizer

To help you come up with interesting questions for your expert roundups, Text Optimizer offers a handy tool for collecting and analyzing popular questions for any niche. Use the tool to come up with influencer-driven content ideas:

Text optimizer tools for influencer

Source: Text Optimizer (July 2020)

Why Text Optimizer?

The tool doesn’t rely on any API: Their data completely relies on the semantic analysis of the tool. This ensures two things:

  1. The data is not skewed by any single source
  2. The data is only available to the current users of the tool

It is one of those tools that hasn’t been overused yet, so you can rest assured your competitors may not yet have it. The tool offers a seven-day free trial, and will cost $60 a month after that.

Question research is a great tool to build influencer-driven content but there are more ideas to consider:

6. Retarget your influencer-driven content visitors: Finteza

Finally, if someone visits your influencer-driven content you can safely assume that they were there for the sake of the influencer(s), so you can engage them better by serving custom CTAs once they are back to the site.

Finteza allows you to set up on-site remarketing campaigns: You can set up your roundup visits as an event and serve those visitors custom CTAs inviting them to buy a matching product or optin using a related content upgrade:

Finteza tools for influencer marketing

Source: Finteza (July 2020)

Why Finteza?

I am not aware of any independent web analytics platform that would offer a remarketing functionality on such an affordable budget. The tool offers a 30-day free trial and will cost $4 per 100,000 impressions a month.

You can use Facebook remarketing options to reach your visitors outside of your site. This is especially powerful for lead generation purposes (when you use influencer-driven content to generate webinar signups or whitepaper downloads). Here’s an easy way to install Facebook pixel on your site for you to start collecting the data.

Conclusion

When influencer marketing drives your blog promotion, you can achieve both: a much more in-depth content and more shares and traffic.

It’s a long process but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.

Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

The post Six tools for effective influencer-driven content marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business

30-second summary:

  • Take advantage of Google’s search market domination with two spots on the first page of Google – Local pack and localized organic search results.
  • Optimize for high converting local keywords, establish a local content schedule, and more.
  • Founder of Digital Ducats Inc. shares a thorough guide on everything you need for a successful local SEO strategy.

For many companies, an effective SEO strategy for local business is the key factor for increasing revenue from high converting traffic. Local SEO can mean the difference in outranking authority websites for vital keywords within your city.

Along with the overall benefits of SEO, optimizing to compete locally improves your search visibility for keyword searches made from your location. 

Many aspects of local SEO have remained the same over the last few years however, the weight of local ranking factors has shifted creating new priorities for local businesses.  

One aspect that remains the prime focus for every local business is the significance of Google My Business. 

1. Gain instant visibility with GMB

Google My Business has been instrumental in driving customers to a local business. Considering the search engine market share that Google holds, you’re literally losing money by not having a GMB listing. 

As of June 2020, Google tops the charts for search engine market share boasting 86% of desktop and 95% of total mobile searches.  

mobile market share

It should be clear that failing to prioritize your presence in GMB can cost your company thousands of dollars. 

One of the many advantages that Google My Busines allows is instant search visibility for a business operating in a locality. Rather than going through the process of ranking your own domain, your website receives instant search visibility from local searches within close proximity.   

The Possum update made proximity a primary ranking factor for achieving a top position in the Local Pack. Your company can appear on the first page of results based on the distance between your location and the location of a user.  

In 2020, according to the State Of Local SEO Industry Report, proximity has fallen to the third most influential ranking factor behind on-page optimization and reviews. The general consensus among those surveyed is that optimizing your listing is the top priority for ranking in the Local Pack. 

2. Optimize your GMB profile

Optimize your GMB listing just as you would your website in terms of providing as much information to search engines as possible. The more detail you can provide in your profile, the more information search engines have to reference your business for keyword related searches. 

NAP details

Fill in every option available to maximize your opportunities to appear in the Local Pack. Name, address, and phone number (NAP details) are extremely important to have spelled correctly. 

Obviously, this is important for users to receive the correct information. Search engines will also verify your business details with third party citations. 

Explore all category options

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is failing to include the correct categories. There has been a countless number of clients that have been able to rank in the Local Pack by simply adding the correct category for their business. 

Google updates the list of eligible categories your business can fall under. It’s advisable to check periodically for new categories that would enhance the accuracy of your listing. 

One way to explore any options you may have missed is to search Google for the local keywords you’re targeting. Check the Local Finder for the categories that your competition is using to rank in the top positions.  

Keyword optimization

It should be noted that on-page optimization is proving to be the strongest ranking factor for ranking in the Local Pack. This can be a source of frustration for those who operate under Google guidelines since Google has allowed keyword stuffing to trump other ranking factors.

If you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines, the name of your business should be the only thing in your GMB listing. What should be happening and what is actually working are two different things that have created somewhat of a loophole and a grey area for SEO. 

The fact is that using the keyword in the name of your business will get you results. It’s as simple as that. 

If you’re starting a business that operates in a specific city it’s highly effective to incorporate your main keyword in the name of your business. It’s been so effective that it’s led to keyword stuffing-which, in theory, should be penalized-but seems to be left unregulated. 

Here is an example of successful keyword manipulation for the phrase “bespoke suits Toronto”. Each of these sites outranks other sites based on the name used in the GMB profile. 

local SEO example - Bespoke suits Toronto

 It’s hard to say what will prevail in the long run because the evidence points to the fact that this is working to rank sites. After monitoring this listing for over 6 months, it continues to rank and undoubtedly reaps the benefits of local traffic from a prime placement in the local pack. 

3. Build your local presence with citations

Structured citations an essential element in local SEO despite the reduced effectiveness they once had as a ranking factor. Their purpose serves two functions; to validate your business information for search engines; to provide additional targeted traffic. 

List your business in well-known directories

List your business in the largest and most relevant directories for your city or region to get the most coverage from relevant citations. Some of the most obvious are Bing and Yahoo since they both have local business listings.  

Major directories will typically serve as a source of information for much smaller, but relevant websites. Your business information is essentially distributed to dozens of other directories that will help to establish the validity and credibility of your business. 

The major directories from each country and region can vary so it’s important to establish which sites will have the most impact with the least effort. 

In Canada, posting your business on Yellow Pages results in a wide distribution of sites that are relevant to Canada. Moz provides an excellent visual as an example of the distribution network Yellow Pages provides. 

local SEO guide - Canada citation ecosystem

Source: Moz

Here’s an example of the U.S. local ecosystem provided by Moz (keep in mind these images are now a few years old). According to this illustration below, there are many major directories that can have a large impact on your search visibility in the U.S. 

US local search ecosystem

Search for niche and local directories

Enhance the profile of your citations and improve your sources of traffic by searching for directories that are niche-specific and location-specific. 

Getting a few links from directories that are in your niche and location will improve the relevance of your site in both areas. Look for relevant directories by using the following in a search: 

[Your niche] + directories 

[Your location] + directories 

Qualify each directory

Make sure the sites you choose to place your business have a decent amount of traffic and authority. Even if a directory is unique in your city, if it has a high spam score (use Mozbar to filter these sites), or has extremely low domain authority it may do more harm than good. 

Local SEO strategy = Toronto directory options

SEMRush is also a good tool to use for a quick reference on the amount of traffic a website receives. If the organic search traffic is a bust, don’t list your company website on it. 

SEMrush organic traffic

You don’t need a lot of these sites to complete an effective citation profile. Google won’t give a whole lot of credit for acquiring easy links. The goal of this endeavor is to create significant ties to your city and industry and position your company on sites that get relevant traffic. 

4. Establish your content strategy

Your website is only as good as the content you publish. Create content to serve as a resource for clients. Educational content produces three times as many leads as paid ads. Keep in mind you will need to publish both educational content as well as local SEO content for more localized search result appearances. 

The initial stages of your content strategy should be to create the most important pages with local service areas in mind. Is your business focused on one location only, or will you service multiple areas? This determines whether you will be publishing location pages for multiple cities or have a central location. 

Single location businesses

If your business is focused on one location, you can incorporate geo-modifiers in your URLs and titles. Optimize your service/product pages to appear in city-specific searches using your location as part of your keywords. 

Businesses with multiple service areas 

For multiple service areas, you will need to publish location pages to target the areas you want your business to appear for in city-specific searches. Location pages should have unique content for each city and include the NAP details of each location. 

Publish content for each level of the marketing funnel 

The most important pages of your site are the bottom of the funnel pages that urge visitors to make a purchase. Focus your initial content strategy on publishing mid-funnel content that targets long-tail keywords. 

The sweet spot for identifying target keywords is low competition, high volume keywords. What determines “high volume” can vary depending on the industry. Aim to beat your competition with long-tail keywords that convert at a higher rate. 

Publish local content

Your local SEO content strategy can include a variety of options to increase the relevance to your location. Your content can include city-specific events that you’re company is involved in, or events that are related to your industry. 

Your local content strategy should include regular posts on Google My Business. Approximately 17% of businesses post to GMB on a weekly basis. Create a competitive advantage by sticking to a bi-weekly posting schedule. 

local SEO strategy: GMB posting

The posts don’t need to be extensive, persuasive essays to get the job done. They can even be excerpts from blog posts to lead users to the actual article on your site. Posting to GMB creates more entry poPosting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.ints to your website and promotes more user engagement through your business’s knowledge card. 

Local SEO strategy: GMB posts help with Knowledge cards

GMB has a category to post special offers, updates, and important information about your company. Capitalize on the areas that other companies are not doing well by including GMB posts in your local content strategy. 

Posting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.  

Post more images than competition

5. Local link building

The majority of local businesses have a backlink profile that is primarily made up of directory links and profile links. An effective link building strategy for a local business is one that appears natural and above all, demonstrates evidence of relevance to your industry and city. 

Build domain authority with linkable assets

The blog of every local business can be used to build authority in your industry. Publish linkable assets and insightful resources for both clients and amplifiers. 

Amplifiers, as explained by Rand Fishkin, have a significant impact on the backlinks you acquire since they are the people most likely to link to your site. Creating content for amplifiers gives your site more reasons to acquire links and increase the domain authority of your site.   

audience for content

Linkable, shareable content makes link building much easier. You can publish guest posts, submit press releases, and reach out to authority sites in your niche to link to the inner pages of your website to increase domain authority. 

Increase local ranking power with local links

Local links are considered the most powerful when it comes to localized search results as well as appearing in the Local Pack. Local links are also considered unstructured citations. Local links can come from local businesses, local newspapers, local chambers of commerce, and local event sites. 

Form a local business alliance

Finding businesses within your industry is ideal for creating a local alliance and boosting your ranking ability. For example, if you’re a hot tub retailer some of your best links would come from local businesses that sell swimming pools. 

 As long as you don’t compete for the same products, a local business in your industry or a close vertical is the most ideal source of links. 

Resource link building targeting vendors and client sites

You can improve the likelihood of obtaining local links by using your own network of resources. Companies you already do business with make for ideal link prospects. 

For example, a restaurant can ask the baker who supplies their bread rolls to link from their site.  

A plumber can ask his equipment suppliers and vice versa. 

Ideally, you want to target business owners with whom you already have an existing relationship.  

6. Review management

The reviews your business receives have the power to influence a user’s decision on whether or not to choose your company. Review management remains a top priority for local businesses to improve search visibility and maintain a good reputation. 

A review strategy should include a way to get more Google reviews as well as reviews on review sites that get search visibility for related keywords. If customers are reviewing your business on sites that are niche-specific it will impact search visibility as well as promote positive ranking signals. 

Identify the most important review sites in your industry 

There is a major review site for every industry. It’s important to identify what review sites get a lot of traffic and reviews to position your site to receive quality prospective clients. 

For example, people use Yelp or Trip Advisor to find a good restaurant in a city they’re no familiar with. People read the reviews and experiences of previous customers before making a final decision.  

If you’re in the home goods business Homestars would be important sites to ask a few clients to write you a review. Here’s a 10/10 review left for Canadian Home Leisure, a hot tub retailer in Whitby, ON. 

Homestars client review

Look at the domain metrics for a site like Homestars. Not only can you get a quality backlink, but there is a ton of traffic that goes through their site. 

Homestars traffic

If you’re not sure which review sites play an impact on search visibility, search for: 

best + [your keyword] + [your city] 

The intent of most searches that use best at the start indicates that users are looking for options, which trigger the major reviews and directory sites in your niche. Here’s a search for best suits in Toronto: 

Each of these sites could be an additional way for customers to find you. Yelp looks like it’s the only review site that you can manage for free.  

In fact, Yelp ranks #3 and #4. If you’re in the business of selling suits in Toronto, Yelp is definitely a site to put effort into building a detailed profile and customer reviews.  

In many cases, keywords that you’re targeting will display a few directory and review sites in the search result. These are indications that those sites are not only relevant to enhance your optimization, but they will drive traffic to your site as well. 

best suits in Toronto

Establish your review acquisition strategy

This doesn’t need to be a major operation but you should have a plan in place that consistently gets you reviews. Avoid mass emails or anything that would look spammy such as a review station at your location. Too many reviews from the same IP could cause red flags and result in your reviews being ignored and discounted. 

You can influence five-star reviews on the major review sites for your business by asking customers that you’re sure has had a good experience with your company. You can do this in a few ways: 

  • Train employees to ask for a review after the completion of a sale. 
  • Email satisfied customers thanking them for their business with links to a few different review sites. 
  • Hand out instructions on how to review your business along with a receipt. 

Respond to as many reviews as possible

Make it a point to respond to both negative and positive reviews. Approach each response as a form of advertising for your company and a chance to showcase your customer service. 

Customers will appreciate a thank you when they’ve taken the time to give you a good review.  

Negative reviews demand immediate responses in order to neutralize the damage that is being done to your reputation. Show every reader how you deal with a disgruntled customer by offering to fix the problem.  

People will understand when mistakes are made and offering a free service, free product or free meal can be the best form of advertising for your company. 

A local SEO strategy is worth the investment

Small businesses can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities that a local SEO strategy has to offer. Following these guidelines and best practices, you can outrank authority sites (who aren’t local) and capitalize on high converting traffic. 

As competition intensifies so does the need to specialize in your area of expertise. Use your location to leverage more opportunities and promote long-term growth in your industry. 

Christian Carere is an SEO consultant in Toronto and the founder of Digital Ducats Inc. specializing in traffic and lead generation. He can be found on Twitter @digitalducats.

The post Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Five quick and easy ways to make surveys more effective for content marketing

30-second summary:

  • When writing a survey, clarify your objectives before you start writing questions—time spent writing a strategy is well worth it if it means you didn’t forget a vital question (or include an irrelevant one).
  • Don’t get stuck in your old habits when writing surveys—keep trying new things.
  • Phrase questions in a way to get the most specific and clear answers from your survey respondents. Get granular.
  • When writing surveys, draw connections. How might one question relate to other areas of people’s lives?
  • Fractl’s Creative Strategist shares five powerful ways and details on how you can create successful surveys.

In my (sometimes) humble opinion, well-written surveys can be a reliable and effective method of generating newsworthy content.

Surveys allow you to deeply explore personal beliefs and behaviors. They can be tweaked and tailored specifically for your goals, and they appeal to our seemingly universal need to care way too much about what other people think.

I’ve written a lot of surveys in my time at Fractl, and all that experience has taught me plenty of lessons. So, here are five tips that you can employ today to make your next survey a winner.

Tip #1: Embrace the opportunity of survey creation

As content creators, we get paid to be curious, and that’s awesome. Running a survey is a unique opportunity — don’t waste the chance to ask questions worth asking.

We take for granted that our respondents open up about their deep thoughts and personal experiences, maybe even ones they haven’t shared with anybody else. You can write better surveys by simply appreciating that.

Here’s how I like to think of it: Do you want to think up some questions and find out how basically all of society would answer them? If you asked that to just about anybody, I’ll bet they’d take you upon it. 

The point is simple: It’s pretty freaking cool to find out how thousands of people think, feel, and behave.

When you’re engaged, your findings will be more engaging.

Tip #2: Draft a survey brief and actually use it

A well-developed campaign brief is the absolute most important part of any project. A survey brief provides structure and strategic direction for your survey. By immersing yourself in the topic, you’ll yield better, more insightful questions. 

Let’s dive into each one of those elements a little further.

Survey structure

Here’s something I thought I’d never say: All of those English teachers were right. Every essay did need an outline, and so does every survey. 

(I still don’t believe them that the green light over the river was a carefully crafted metaphor for something-or-other, but that’s a discussion for another article.)

Outlining your survey will give you a clear path to follow. This allows you to focus on the more interesting, nuanced aspects of your topic. Having structure, perhaps counterintuitively, actually makes it easier to improvise and take chances.

Strategic direction

Clients aren’t paying us to write surveys because they know we enjoy it, they’re paying us because we achieve their goals.

Drafting a brief will help you clarify your objectives and strategize how to meet them. Referencing that brief throughout the process will keep your survey and your goals aligned.

For example, we often have the goal to build brand awareness for a client. We do this by earning media coverage through the content we create.

When we run surveys that serve as the foundation of our content, we have to consider what journalists (and their audiences) will find interesting. If we don’t keep this in mind, we won’t meet our goals.

Immersion in the topic

A brief isn’t just about planning and outlining; it’s about digging into the topic and sparking curiosity. 

This allows you to get the obvious angles out of the way and tap into what’s really newsworthy: a novel, personal, unexpected, nuanced, and humanistic takes on a topic (no matter how common it may seem).

My writing process for a brief typically follows a simple formula:

  1. Research and contemplate the topic: Think about it while your boss sits next to you wondering why you’ve done nothing but stare at your computer for 10 minutes.
  2. Take as many notes as you can: In fact, takes notes as quickly and as incoherently (in my case) as possible. Brainstorm, ask open-ended questions, get lost in the rabbit hole, and get as many thoughts onto the page as possible.
  3. Go back into your notes and make sense of them: Condense them into a clear and ordered outline of the angles you intend to explore.
  4. Leave it and come back: Tweak a few things, give it a spit shine, and send it over to your boss or client for feedback.

By the time you get to your actual survey, you’ll have immersed yourself in the topic. You’ll also have a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve, and you’ll have a detailed, strategic plan.

Tip #3: Be specific when writing survey questions

Specificity doesn’t just ensure clarity and accuracy. It enables you to ask targeted, insightful questions.

“It’s not what you said, Dad, it’s how you said it.” – me, all the time

Choose your words — and your questions — carefully. Detailed, nuanced perspectives make topics more interesting, more relatable, and more newsworthy. Specificity is how you get that.

There are a lot of areas where you can employ specificity to write better surveys, but I’ll focus on the most important: How to ask your questions and set up potential answers.

Examples

Here’s an example: “How many times per week do you shower?”

If you’re me, the answer is “not enough, according to my wife,” but if you’re most people, that question could be interpreted in more than one way. Are you asking how many total showers a person takes in a week, or how many days out of the week that person showers? Are you asking about this week, last week, or whatever random week they might be thinking of?

Some better ways to ask this would be: “In a typical week, how many total showers do you take?” You could also ask more specific questions like, “What’s the longest amount of days that you’ve gone without a shower?” or “In your opinion, to what extent is it acceptable to skip a daily shower occasionally?”

When it comes to providing answer choices, I often aim for the option that will give me the most actionable, most specific data. You can’t unmix paint, so give yourself a good palette instead of a few pre-mixed colors. You can always bucket, convert, and manipulate your detailed data later.

For example: Don’t ask for age ranges. Ask for ages. Do you plan on using age ranges? Great, it’ll take you 10 seconds to make them later if you have each age. Income brackets? No. Why? Ask for income and create your income brackets later, after you’ve done all the interesting things (average, median, percentiles, and more…) that income brackets wouldn’t have let you do.

By phrasing your questions specifically and thinking about how you’ll use the answers, you’ll avoid confusion and being too vague. You’ll also be able to ask more targeted questions. Have you ever done X? Have you ever considered X (even if you haven’t done it)?  Have a clear idea of why you’re including each question, and what specifically you hope to do with it.

Tip #4: Get personal

A survey is where the personal and the universal break even.

By tapping into the emotional, humanistic potential of your surveys, you can generate takeaways that truly resonate with a greater audience. 

There are plenty of ways to write a newsworthy survey, but to me, surveys are the most interesting when they explore the human condition — when they reveal something about who we really are, why we do things, and how the world affects us.

So how do we do that? By opening up the clock and seeing what makes it tick.

Ask follow-up questions:

Don’t just ask for answers; ask about those answers. People told you that they do X? Great. How does that make them feel? Is there someone in their life who wishes they didn’t do X? How does that affect their relationships? How does X affect their health? Their life satisfaction? How do they feel about people who don’t do X?

Get personal

Surveys are interesting because they tell us about ourselves. Personal takeaways are more unique and are more likely to resonate with the audience on an emotional level. What people do is interesting, but it’s not as interesting as the reasons why they do it, how it impacts their lives or the way that doing it makes them feel. Tip: If you’re getting really personal, you can make the question optional so people don’t feel uncomfortable having to answer.

Embrace nuance and ambivalence

Everything is complicated and (almost) nothing is black and white. Use your surveys to explore the underlying complexity behind people’s beliefs and behaviors. Measure ambivalence by asking respondents if they acknowledge any points that contradict their beliefs or if they ever second-guess or feel guilty about a behavior. Tap into the inherent nuance of most topics by asking questions about its underlying causes or hidden effects.

Let’s take student loan forgiveness, for example. Many people who support loan forgiveness can believe it’s unfair to some people. At the same time, plenty of those who oppose it might acknowledge that it would benefit people, but that other concerns are more important.

By exploring the layers of complexity, we give the topic a fair and detailed perspective, while also uncovering interesting, newsworthy takeaways.

Draw connections

Explore cause and effect. Ask yourself how the topic might impact other areas of people’s lives. Ask yourself how their perspectives on your topic might correlate to other beliefs and behaviors.

Draw connections between people’s perspectives on your topic and their behaviors: Is it making your life better or worse? What are you doing to deal with it? How has it impacted your relationships? What do you think is causing it? Do you think it’s good/bad? Do you think it’s important? 

Ask questions that people haven’t asked yet. It’s really that simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Tip #5: Try new things

Do we all get stuck in our habits? Absolutely. Do rhetorical questions seem to be one of mine? Clearly. Is it important to break out of them? Not this time for me, apparently, but yes! 

Try new things in your surveys and on your survey platform, and you might be surprised at how much you’re able to pull off.

Some helpful ideas

If you don’t know what to try, here are some ideas:

  • Open a blank template on your survey platform and play around with it. Look at each feature as a tool and ask what you might be able to do with it. Find a question format that you haven’t used yet, and look for settings that you usually just scroll past. 
  • Tweak the settings. For example: Carry responses forward but ask people about the choices they didn’t select. Ask them why they didn’t select them, or how they feel about people who might’ve.
  • Use your answers in a different way. For example: Count the number of selections each respondent made in a select-all question, then create groups based on those counts. Create new demographics using one (or several) of your questions, and break your other results down by those.
  • Strategically divide your sample. For example: Split your respondents into two groups and ask them complementary questions. One group, for example, could report on their habits while the other group reports on their perceptions of those habits.

You may not move forward with every experiment, but it can certainly open your eyes to new ideas.

Conclusion

I do have to add the caveat that self-reported information has its limitations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore fascinating subject matters and gain more insight into public perception and behavior.

Approach survey creation with curiosity, attention to detail, and a sense of experimentation, and your chances of creating compelling content will increase dramatically.

John Bernasconi is a Creative Strategist at Fractl. When he’s not probing anonymous survey respondents about their innermost feelings, you’ll probably find him out in the garage covered in sawdust or in the kitchen (still covered in sawdust).

The post Five quick and easy ways to make surveys more effective for content marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO

30-second summary:

  • Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 
  • Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 
  • It offers a great backend administration that can be tailored. More important, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.
  • Growth Rocket’s Lead Outreach Specialist, Stefanie Slclot, walks you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify.

“If you build it, they will come”.  

This nugget of wisdom may have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in ‘Field of Dreams’ when he’s spurned onward by a disembodied voice to pursue his dream of building a baseball field. 

But in reality, this sort of advice can prove disastrous for entrepreneurs. After all, businesses rely on strategy, planning, and development for long-term success. 

In today’s day and age where online shopping is the new normal, it takes more than just building a great store to draw in more customers. 

Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 

Does Shopify have good SEO?

Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 

Shopify is a great option for your online store because it offers easy backend administration and can be easily tailored to your specific requirements. More importantly, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.  

Optimizing your Shopify store for success

Keep in mind that boosting organic traffic to your online store is different from optimizing other websites for SEO. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify. 

1. Simplify site structure

The way you organize content on your page is crucial to SEO success. 

If shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for on your site, they tend to spend more time on your page. Longer dwell times tell Google that your site offers value, which can give you a solid rankings boost.  

To top that off, a logically structured site makes it easier for Google to crawl your website. Ideally, your site architecture should look something like this: 

Shopify for SEO site structure

If you look at the diagram closely, you’ll see that your product pages (third row)  are only a couple of clicks away from the home page (first row). In turn, organized and user-friendly web design makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. 

Poor site structure, on the other hand, makes it harder for search engine spiders to find and index all the pages on your site.  

Shopify for SEO simplify site structure

Meanwhile, if your site architecture is interlinked, spiders can easily follow your links. A simple site architecture also means that link authority flows a lot easier from pages with more backlinks (your home page) to lower-ranking pages (product pages). 

The graphic below shows what the site structure for a baking blog should look like: 

Shopify for SEO site structure example

2. Eliminate duplicate content 

Duplicate content happens when similar content exists on two separate URLs. The page could either be on your site or someone else’s. 

Duplicate content on Shopify can have a negative impact on your search performance. Search engines tend to be tolerant of internal site duplication. But if it appears as if you’ve copied text from another site, you could get hit by a search engine penalty.  

The good news is that once you’ve wiped your site clean of duplicate content, you can improve your search rankings significantly. 

Consider using tools like Copyscape to check for plagiarism and other external duplicate content. You can also conduct site audits to identify pages with similar content to other URLs. 

Or maybe your site is due for a redesign or content update. Break free from duplicate content by writing a new copy. 

3. Conduct keyword research

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO success. Here are a few tips on how to generate relevant keywords for your store: 

  • Export your keywords from Google Ads, and optimize search terms that generate the most revenue and have the highest conversion rate. 
  • Use Google Search Console to identify keywords with the most impressions and clicks. 
  • Conduct SEO competitor analysis on tools like Ahrefs. Generate the “Content Gap” report to single out keywords your competitors are ranking for. 
  • Analyze buyer personas and track search forums related to your products for topic inspirations and keyword ideas.

4. Optimize product pages 

Now that you have a list of keywords and a simplified site structure, you can start optimizing your pages with your chosen search terms. 

Start with your top pages first, such as your home page and main product collections. The first step to optimizing them is by writing title tags and meta descriptions. Here are some general guidelines for you to follow: 

  • Write unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page 
  • Include a keyword when appropriate 
  • Avoid truncating descriptions and follow the prescribed character limit guidelines 
  • Craft copy that will entice visitors to click 
  • Keep your descriptions brief yet descriptive 

It also pays to add alt texts to your images. Since Google Images is the second largest search engine in the world, you can drive more traffic to your site through your images. That’s why it helps to add alt texts that describe what an image is about. 

Once you’ve finished optimizing your titles, meta descriptions, and alt texts you can work on creating unique content to your product pages.  

Keep in mind that your descriptions should be written from a user-focused POV. The best way to boost the relevance of your content is by discussing your product’s features and benefits. 

5. Set up 301 redirect pages

301 redirects tell search engines that a page is no longer available and that it’s moved permanently to a new URL. After all, you don’t want your customers to move to your competitors after they land on a ‘404 Not Found’ page on your site. 

The goal is for you to lead visitors to a new page, which you can do by creating a URL redirect through your Shopify admin portal. Follow these steps to add 301 redirects: 

  • Click Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects 
  • Select Add URL redirect 
  • Type in the old URL in Redirect from and the new URL in Redirect to 
  • Click add 

Keep in mind that before you can redirect users to the new URL, you’ll need to delete the existing webpage. 

6. Boost page load speed

If your website loads slowly, it could hurt your Google rankings. That’s why you need to put forth the effort to make your site load quickly. 

Check for your store’s site speed through tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. On Shopify, however, you have limited options when it comes to boosting site speed. Here are a few factors you can work with: 

  • Choose a theme from the Shopify Theme Store that loads quickly 
  • Compress your images before uploading them to Shopify 
  • Install only the apps you need so they don’t slow down site performance 

7. Build high-quality backlinks

Search engines rely on link building and outreach to determine how the community at large values your site. Think of backlinks as the word-of-mouth equivalent of SEO. With better quality backlinks, you can build your credibility and boost the organic traffic your shop receives. 

Below is a list of some backlinks you can obtain for your site: 

  • Supplier/Manufacturer links – If you sell products made or supplied by other companies, they may have a policy that lets them link to your store. Reach out in case you’re missing a backlink opportunity. 
  • Competitor links – Use tools such as Link Intersect from Ahrefs to find out who’s linking to your competitors. You have a high chance of obtaining a backlink for sites that already link to other people in your industry. 
  • Influencer voices – Get in touch with industry leaders for interviews that could help you generate better links and content. 
  • Brand mentions – Find out where your brand is being mentioned through websites like mention.com. It may be possible for you to earn a backlink if they choose to include a link to your site along with the mention. 
  • Broken links – Keep an eye out for broken links or services similar to what you offer. When you find one, you could reach out to the site owner telling them to link to your site instead.  

8. Focus on content marketing

Content is the reason why people visit your site. You may feel tempted to skimp on content marketing for your ecommerce site, but crafting content that delivers value adds to the overall user experience. 

People who are ready to buy the moment they visit your shop make up only a small percentage of the marketing funnel. Publishing informational content like blog posts can help you educate people at different stages of the buyer’s journey. In turn, it can also increase the chances of them buying from you in the future. 

Your content is a way for people to get to know your brand without selling to them directly. With well-written content, you can rank for more keywords and earn backlinks. 

Your Shopify store automatically includes a blog called “News.” If you want to create a new blog, select Blog Posts > Create a new post > Create a new blog. 

These steps will help you create a Shopify site experience that is also SEO-ready. Share your thoughts, tips, or queries in the comments section.

Stefanie Slclot is Lead Outreach Specialist at Growth Rocket.

The post Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.