Monthly Archive: May 2018

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My New SEO Strategy: Blog Less, Spend More on Technology

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/new-seo-strategy/

On February 13, 2017, I acquired a keyword tool called Ubersuggest for $120,000.

It was generating 117,425 unique visitors per month at the time I purchased it and had 38,700 backlinks from 8,490 referring domains.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the tool, the concept is really simple:

You put in a keyword you want to target via SEO or PPC, and it gives you more keyword ideas. That way you can grow your traffic by going after more keywords.

Most people thought I bought the tool to just redirect the traffic to NeilPatel.com so I could get more backlinks and rank higher for all of my search terms.

If you do the math it would come out to roughly 14 dollars a link.

But NeilPatel.com already had 3 times more links than Ubersuggest.

And let’s face it, I already rank for most things marketing related… so the links don’t really help that much.

And others thought I was buying it because I wanted to redirect the traffic and net another 117,425 visitors a month.

But very little of Ubersuggest’s traffic was from countries that I generate revenue from.

For example, out of the 117,425 monthly visitors, Indonesia was the most popular region at 28,491 visitors a month and the United States only made up 13,492, visitors.

Full transparency: I didn’t buy it for either reason.

NeilPatel.com already had enough backlinks, and I already generated well over a million unique visitors every month.

Instead, I bought it as part of a huge experiment.

I wanted to see if I could grow my traffic without content marketing.

Why am I trying to get away from content marketing?

I rank for everything under the sun when it comes to marketing. Seriously…

Here’s my search traffic in the last 30 days (and I bet I will get a 40 plus percent lift in the next 30 days, but that’s for another blog post so stay tuned).

If I want to grow my traffic to the level of Hubspot’s blog and get over 6 million visitors a month I would have to write content on things like “how to edit videos.”

There are two problems with content like that. First, I wouldn’t be able to monetize it.

Second, and most importantly, I am not an expert when it comes to video editing so I shouldn’t blog about it.

I’ve also thought about writing about entrepreneurship, but I don’t really enjoy it as much.

And because of that, my lack of passion will show in the content when I publish it.

In general, if you aren’t passionate about what you are writing about, don’t waste your time. Your content will suck, and people will be able to tell.

So, my team and I made a decision last week that I should only write one blog post per week, share my personal experiences, and get away from writing generic marketing content that I’ve been blogging about for years.

Plus, it’s more fun to share stories than it is to write a blog post showing you how to use Twitter.

But there was one big issue.

I couldn’t move away from writing one blog post a week because the blog is what generates all of the leads for Neil Patel Digital (my ad agency).

I had to find something that could continually help generate more visits without me requiring to blog 7 days a week.

And although it took me over a year of experimenting… I found it.

So how are you going to grow your traffic now, Neil?

Remember how I mentioned Ubersuggest at the beginning of this blog post?

Well it was one of 7 experiments that worked out.

I took the old Ubersuggest that looked like this:

And I paid a developer to add a new skin and include CPC data. The product now looks something like this:

But here is what’s interesting: The moment I released the new Ubersuggest, the usage on the tool stayed the same.

But within a few days, people learned that they could get CPC data for free using Ubersuggest and traffic started to spike.

If you look at the graph above from Google Trends, you’ll notice that the usage died shortly after people found out I acquired it because they felt I was going to destroy the free tool…

…or they thought I was going to add a paywall (plus a lot of people in the marketing space hate me)…

…but once I released a version with more free information people starting to love the tool even more.

Literally, that one little change, which was providing cost per click data for free to Ubersuggest caused the usage to double.

At first, I thought this happened because everyone loved the new feature.

But from surveying my users I quickly learned people started using Ubersuggest because they were paying Keywordtool.io $49 a month for this one simple feature.

In other words, my popularity grew because I took something people were used to paying for and made it available for free.

And fast forward to today the tool has maintained its popularity just because I’m giving away a feature most marketers are used to paying for away for free.

But I didn’t stop there…

Once I learned the power of free, I realized that I can probably grow the NeilPatel.com website to 3 or 4 million unique visitors a month by just giving more away for free.

Here’s how I came to that conclusion.

A paid tool called KWfinder has been growing in popularity. You can see that growth from the chart below:

So now I am going to release a new version of Ubersuggest to include their feature set for free, so I can gobble up their traffic.

Here’s what that feature will look like once my developers finish making it…

But why stop there?

SEMrush and Ahrefs are amazing tools that provide tons of traffic estimation data and they are much more popular than Ubersuggest.

The main problem?

They both cost at least $100 a month.

And Buzzsumo is popular as well, as you can see below.

So, I decided that it would be a fun experiment to make Ubersuggest into a much larger tool and just give away everything for free that you are used to paying for 🙂.

Unlimited usage, no login required, for free.

Here are some previews of what the tool will look like:

The best part of all…

By making something for free I won’t have to do much marketing at all to generate the visitors.

It’s easier than writing 7 blog posts a week and all I have to do is take what people love and pay for and give it all away for free.

Conclusion

I have no idea how many visitors I’ll generate by doing this, but if something as silly as giving away CPC data for free can double my traffic/usage, I don’t see why I won’t be able to generate 5 or 6 times more traffic by giving away top-notch features for free.

If you want to take a page out of my playbook, feel free to copy this strategy, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

First, it’s really expensive.

I thought I could do this for under $100,000 in development expenses and $15,000 a month in server expenses. Boy was I wrong.

I’m already spending around $122,312 a month on this tool and I don’t see the cost going down anytime soon.

My server bills alone have gotten up to roughly $20,000 a month and it’s expected to grow to $80,000 a month within 4 months.

Second, check out a concept called last mover advantage.

The largest social network, Facebook, wasn’t the first in the market. The largest operating system, Microsoft, wasn’t the first in the space either. And Google wasn’t the first search engine, but they are the largest.

You don’t have to be first to market to do well.

When you are the last player you can see what others have done, learn from it, and then act. This works when a market is fragmented and there are no clear winners.

For example, if you were to build a search engine today, it would be hard to beat Google.

Even if your search results are more relevant than Google, it’s hard to beat them because people are satisfied with Google’s search results. And it is obvious that Google is the clear winner as their current market cap is over $700 billion.

With the SEO space, there are tons of tools and there is no clear winner.

SEMrush has publicly stated that they generate $50 to $100 million a year.

Moz generates around $50 million a year.

Ahrefs is somewhere around $50 million if I had to guess.

The market is fragmented, which means there is room for someone to come in and potentially still win (it won’t be easy though).

Check out the last mover advantage concept to see if it helps give you any ideas.

Third, don’t try to copy my strategies unless you are willing to lose money.

Not everything I do works out, and I’m willing to run experiments even if I lose money.

If you don’t have money to lose, taking a more conservative approach to marketing like focusing on traditional content marketing or SEO.

Lastly look at the current business models in your space to see if they are flawed as that will guide you to where the opportunity is.

For example, Google generates over $100 billion dollars a year and most of that comes from revenue from ads.

The tools I mentioned above don’t even generate $100 million a year, yet the majority of the people click on the free organic listings in Google.

It just shows that there is something wrong with their business model.

In my opinion, a better model would be collecting leads from a free tool, pitching those leads on consulting services, and then taking a percentage of the client’s Google ad spend.

My model isn’t as scalable and it requires more headcount, but it can generate much more money. Just look at ad agencies like WPP and Dentsu. They generate billions in revenue!

So, what do you think? Do you like my new SEO strategy? I personally love it, but then again, I’m kind of crazy.

PS: You shouldn’t stop your content marketing efforts. Content marketing is still very effective which is why I am still doing it, but if you have extra money to spend on marketing, consider investing in technology as a fun experiment.

The post My New SEO Strategy: Blog Less, Spend More on Technology appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How to Use The Google Tag Manager to Track Video Views on Your Landing Pages

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/google-tag-manager-for-videos/

Creating a powerful, high-performance landing page is a process that takes time, testing, and a lot of attention to detail.

Tons of sites use landing pages, but each one is a little bit different.

There are plenty of resources that you can choose from to help you customize your landing page and sell effectively.

One valuable resource that you should consider incorporating is the landing page video.

But because a landing page lacks the native tracking you find on YouTube or a social media site, it can be difficult to know just how well your video is performing.

In these instances, it pays to turn to Google Tag Manager to track your video and look at accurate analytics.

In the closing months of 2017, Google Tag Manager released an update that allows businesses to track video metrics.

So, in this article, I’ll walk you through a process that will allow you to track video views on landing pages with Google Tag Manager.

But before you dive into setting everything up, let me show you how much of a difference landing page videos can make for your brand.

The importance of video on a landing page

You may be surprised to learn that adding video to your landing page could be one of the most lucrative moves you make this year.

Even if you already have a video marketing campaign in place, you should consider adding a video to your website’s landing pages.

Just consider all of the various purposes you can create a video for.

Then, think about what you’re trying to accomplish with the copy and imagery on an existing landing page. You’ll likely find that a video could accomplish the same purposes.

Videos that explain a process, show off your product, provide a testimonial, or educate your visitors are perfect subjects for landing page elements.

They can act as substitutes for large blocks of copy. Or, you can purposefully use them as the centerpiece of your sales pitch.

And since the majority of business-related videos already fall into those categories, it’s very possible you already have a video you could use.

There’s just a good chance you’ve published that video somewhere else.

At this point, less than half of businesses are publishing video on their landing pages. Instead, they’re putting them on social media or dedicated places on their websites.

But when you dig a little and discover the benefits of using video on landing pages, it’s difficult to understand why so few businesses are utilizing them there.

According to a study from Wyzowl, there are some very compelling reasons to consider dedicating a video to a landing page:

97% of marketers say that a video has helped them increase a buyer’s knowledge of their product or service.
76% say it helped them increase sales.
81% of consumers have watched a brand’s video and decided to buy a product or service because of it.

And when you consider the fact that studies have shown that too much text can drive users away, the case for using video becomes that much stronger.

So why would a brand choose to leave such a powerful asset out of a high-stakes landing page?

There’s a good chance that many businesses already have a video they could use, and marketers have already proven the effectiveness of video in digital marketing.

On top of all that, visitors retain far more information when they watch a video than when they simply read it.

If you want to stand out, you need your website’s visitors to retain more than 10% of the information they read.

So adding a video to a landing page can skyrocket the probability that your brand will stand out even if the user doesn’t buy on their first visit.

And if that visitor doesn’t buy from you, it’s 12 times more likely that they will voluntarily share your landing page if you include a video on it. That might bring another visitor to your landing page who will buy from you.

Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to add a video to a landing page. You just want to make sure that you do so tactfully.

In our primer on landing page design, we show you how a video can act as the centerpiece of your audience’s attention.

It can add to the overall effect of your landing page without detracting from any other important elements like CTAs or testimonials.

As long as you use a video that closely relates to the copy, then you’re on the right track.

You can also consider giving a motivational speech or sharing testimonials to help give your visitor that extra push.

Whatever video you use, be sure to test it and ensure that it’s having a positive impact.

And above all else, you need to be tracking your video’s performance.

According to the Vidyard Video Content Benchmark Report, only 42% of brands are using “basic” measurements for their content.

While they don’t specify what they mean by “basic” measurements, it’s likely that these brands are just counting the overall page views and click-throughs without accurately attributing any success to their videos.

For example, they may have tested their landing pages and seen that their page views increased when they added a video. That’s a helpful starting point, but how do they determine whether their visitors were watching some of the video or all of it?

In scenarios like this, the majority of brands don’t know whether people really watch their landing page videos.

And since videos on landing pages can convert like crazy, not knowing is a bit of a problem.

So, in order to move beyond the basics, you’ll need to turn to Google Tag Manager and start tracking specific actions on your pages.

While this approach is technical, it allows you to create accurate analytics to help you test and improve your landing pages in the long run.

Let’s dive into Google Tag Manager, and I’ll show you how it works.

How Google Tag Manager works

At first glance, Google Tag Manager can be a little confusing.

Thankfully, Google has created a quick video that covers most of the basics about how this platform helps you.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FXbsCWsEi8?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

In short, Google Tag Manager helps you manage how you use “tags” on your site.

These tags are simple bits of HTML code that send information from your site to a third party.

In this case, we’ll be using Google Tag Manager to send information from your landing page to Google Analytics.

This will help you determine how often your visitors play a video on your landing page.

And since Google is fairly detail-oriented, they do most of the heavy lifting for you.

All you need to do is set everything up, install some code, and set up the tag you want to use.

When you install the code and set up your tag, you’ll be using a data layer to track actions on your site.

The data layer, or data layering, is how Google Tag Manager communicates back and forth with your website.

This virtual layer uses a JavaScript object or another piece of code to collect and send various data points when a user meets the conditions you set.

If you set everything up correctly, you’ll be able to track video views and optimize your landing pages.

Now that you know a bit more about the technical, behind-the-scenes mechanics of Google Tag Manager, I want to walk you through how to track video views on a landing page.

To start things off, you’ll need to install it properly.

Step #1: Install Google Tag Manager

Like most things on the Internet, getting started with Google Tag Manager will require you to sign up.

Even if you already have Google Analytics, you’ll need to create a free account with Google Tag Manager as well.

The process is fairly simple.

Just add an account name and then click through to phase two.

Google Tag Manager starts to use a little jargon here, but don’t be too concerned.

It will ask you to insert your website’s URL and select a “container” for your site.

Containers are the way that Google Tag Manager “holds” tags on this platform. They’re like a giant bucket.

You can create tags for a variety of different purposes on the Internet, so Google allows you quite a bit of flexibility with this platform.

In this instance, since we’re attempting to track an element of your website, you’ll want to select the “Web” option.

Once you finish creating your new container, Google Tag Manager will give you a big chunk of code to add to your site.

You’ll need to add this to your source code for every page you want to use tags on.

The top section of code goes in the <head> section, and the bottom will go at the very top of the <body> section.

If you use a content management service like WordPress, you can also find a plugin like these two from DuracellTomi and George Stephanis.

These will help you install this code safely if you’re worried about doing it yourself.

And if you had someone build your site for you, you may need to contact your web developer and have them install it.

Once you have everything installed correctly, you’ll be able to add, edit, and manage your tags.

And at this point, you should also have access to your Google Tag Manager workstation, which is where the magic happens.

Once you’re here, it’s time to move on to some of the more technical elements of setting up your tags and tracking your landing page videos.

Step #2: Set up variables and triggers for video

At this point, there are multiple ways you can set up all of the various elements of your Google Tags.

But to keep things simple, I’ll walk you through each element and help you understand what each part does.

First of all, you’ll want to tackle the “Triggers” section.

Think of triggers like a tripwire.

When a user comes to your landing page and clicks on your video, the trigger tells Google Tag Manager that someone has carried out an action worth tracking.

In order to function, all tags have to have a trigger assigned to them.

And in the case of video, most experts recommended that you have two triggers.

One trigger will tell you how many times visitors started viewing a video, and the other will be able to tell you when they watch a certain amount of your video.

This will give you a fuller picture of how your video performs.

Start by clicking on the “Triggers” section of your dashboard.

Click to create a new trigger, and then you’ll need to decide which element you want your trigger to track.

As you can see above, I’ve selected “YouTube Video” for my trigger type, and I’ve configured the trigger to only capture when the video starts.

You’ll also want to make sure that you select the “Some Videos” option and input the specific URL you want this trigger to track.

Otherwise, the trigger could go off any time someone plays any video on your site. That would give you an overinflated number for your landing page and ultimately be useless.

Rename and save your first trigger, and then move on to the second one if you want to track how far users get into your video.

In this instance, I’ve deselected the “Start” capture and instead selected the “Complete” and “Progress” options.

I’ve also included which percentages should activate a trigger, thus providing a hit through Google Tag Manager.

When you combine these two triggers, they can tell you how often users start a video and how far they get before they take an action.

You can use this information to more accurately ascribe bounces or conversions to your landing page video.

But before you can do that, you’ll need to set up Google Tag Manager’s variables to allow for video.

Once again, you can think of variables like tripwires for triggers.

I know that’s a lot of tripwires, but variables are what set the parameters that allow triggers to “see” the actions of your users and know if they should fire an alert.

Your tag will use the defined variables to double-check your trigger. If a user meets the conditions, the tag will fire.

In this way, setting up your variables is very similar to setting up triggers.

Go to the “Variables” tab and select the “configure” option.

At this point, you’ll need to scroll down quite a bit until you reach the “video” section.

Google unselects all of these options by default, so you’ll need to go ahead and activate all of them.

Here’s a breakdown of what these variables allow Google Tag Manager to see and do:

Video provider – Sees where you are hosting your video (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
Video status – Allows you to track video starts, pauses, and stops
Video URL –  Allows tracking of the URL where you host the video from
Video title – Tracks the meta title of your video
Video duration – Tracks the total length of your video
Video current time – Gives an exact timestamp of where in the video a trigger fires
Video percent –  Allows you to set a certain percentage for when your trigger fires
Video visible – A true/false variable that lets the system know if your video is visible on the screen

Once you’ve selected them, all you have to do is click out of the selection menu and back to your dashboard.

At this point, you’ve set up most of the elements you need in order to utilize Google Tag Manager on your landing page.

All you have to do now is finalize the process and get it running.

Step #3: Finalize your tag

Go back to your main dashboard and find the option that looks like this:

This will be the final step that allows you to track your video views on your site.

You’ll need to set up two different elements: Tag Configuration and Triggering.

Since we’ve already set up triggers, this step should be fairly simple.

Start by clicking on the “Tag Configuration” option.

A menu will appear that has a variety of tag types.

If you’re new to Google Tag Manager, the options on this menu can be overwhelming.

Google Tag Manager works with dozens of different platforms to let you create and use tags for a variety of purposes.

There are even tags for Crazy Egg, LinkedIn Insights, and Oktopost.

There more than 50 tag types and the list may even grow over time as more innovative marketing tech brands emerge.

But, for now, all you have to worry about is the tag that will let you track your video views.

Thankfully, finding this tag is pretty simple because it’s the first one on the list.

Select the Universal Analytics option and then start filling in some more details.

First, you’ll see an option that says “Track Type.”

By default, it will say “Page View.”

Go ahead and change that to “Event” since the variables and triggers we’ve set up work best in that category.

Once you do that, the options on your menu will change to look like this:

These parameters are what allow the tag to correctly attribute what action took place.

This is where all of those variables you just activated will come into the equation.

Go through each section and change them to look like this:

As you can see, under “Category,” I put {{Video Title}}.

For “Action,” I used {{Video Status}}.

And then for “Label,” I used the {{Video Percent}} variable.

You can change these to suit your needs. But if you just want to track your video views, then go ahead and mimic these settings.

You’ll also need to set up your Google Analytics settings so that it includes your tracking ID.

Even though you’ll probably have Google Tag Manager set up with the same account as your Google Analytics, you’ll still need to type in your tracking ID here. This is what allows the trigger to send information to Google Analytics.

If you don’t set this up correctly, then the trigger won’t communicate the information to Google Analytics when a user carries out the specified action.

Make sure that this is accurate before you move on so that you aren’t wasting your effort.

Once you select everything, you can save your settings.

Your menu should look something like this:

Once you set everything up perfectly, save your tag configuration and move on to triggering selection.

Since you’ve already set up your triggers, all you have to do is select the ones that you want to include with this particular tag.

You can also add an exception if you want to, but this would require you to create another trigger.

But at this point, you’ve completed everything you need.

Now, it’s time to test your tag.

Start by clicking on the “Preview” tab at the top right of Google Tag Manager. Then, navigate to a URL on your site that has video.

You should see a debug pane popup that looks like this:

If you see your tags firing and data populating your debug pane, you’re in business.

Go ahead and double-check that everything is where you want it. Then publish your tag.

Step #4: Check out your data in Google Analytics

At this point, everything should be running smoothly for Google Tag Manager.

Whenever a user clicks to watch your video, the tag you’ve created will register a hit and update your metrics accordingly.

But if you look through Google Tag Manager, you’ll notice that there are no native analytics on the platform.

You’ll have to head over to your Google Analytics account to see what’s happening.

Just keep in mind that it may take a little while for the results to start pouring in.

After all, you need traffic in order to catch analytics.

So, to start tracking your video views, you’ll need to set up a custom metric in your Analytics.

To do that, go to the “Admin” tab in your Analytics and locate the “Property” options.

When you find the right menu, scroll down and select the “Custom Metrics” option under the “Custom Definitions” tab.

Select the option for creating a new custom metric.

Then, create a new “hit” scope metric using the integer formatting type and minimum/maximum values of zero and one. It should look like this:

It will give you a snippet of code that you’ll need to install on your landing page along with the tag.

It’s also a good idea to create a custom metric if you want to see information like how many video plays per pageview you get.

To do that, you’ll need to go back to your “Admin” tab and create a custom metric under the “View” section.

From there, you’ll add a new calculated metric according to the information you want to track.

In this example, we’re trying to see the ratio of video starts to pageviews. So, you’ll need to change the formatting type to percent and add a formula that divides video plays by pageviews.

You’ll now be able to gather actionable data that allows you to quickly analyze your video’s performance.

You can also set up your Google Tag Manager to send information to the “Events” option under the “Behavior” tab. You can either select the “Overview” option or click on “Top Events.” Either will give you the information you’re looking for.

Click on the “Event Category” list and find the data you’ve been tracking.

Once you find your data, you may need to click on the “Secondary dimension” option and look for landing pages.

If your Analytics isn’t already showing this, adding the landing page option will allow you to see the URL and the actions that users have taken on it.

At this point, you’ve completed your setup of Google Tag Manager and found the data you need.

You can now see how much interaction your video is receiving and how long users are watching your videos for.

Use this information to make informed decisions about how you can further optimize your landing page video.

With trial and error, you can create a trackable landing page that helps you convert more and provide higher revenue for your business.

Conclusion

Landing pages are a proven way to help you grow your brand and sell your product or service on the Internet.

Finding a way to incorporate a video on your landing pages could be one of the best moves you make this year, and there’s plenty of reasons why.

A video is more engaging, converts more, and even helps your viewers retain information better than they would with text alone.

But when it comes to tracking the performance of videos on a landing page, many businesses fall short.

Less than half move beyond the basics, which means that they don’t know what’s happening on the page.

In order to help you dive deeper into your video’s performance, you need to start using Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager allows you to set up bits of code on your site that alert third-party tracking systems about user behavior.

The setup process has a bit of a learning curve. But once you learn the basics, it should only take you a few minutes to set it up so you can track the data you need.

You can set up triggers, variables, and your tags in a way that tells your Google Analytics if visitors are watching your videos.

If you set up more than one trigger, you can even tell how much of a video your users watch before they move on and complete a different action.

By following the steps outlined above, you’ll have actionable data that lets you make informed decisions when you’re optimizing your landing page.

You can use that data to help you get more conversions and more revenue in the long run.

What have you used Google Tag Manager for on your site?

The post How to Use The Google Tag Manager to Track Video Views on Your Landing Pages appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How to Use Lifetime Value to Create a Facebook Audience That Actually Converts

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/facebook-lifetime-value/

Facebook has been in hot water lately. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest news, you know what I’m talking about.

And it doesn’t help that 62% of small business advertisers on Facebook don’t find success. More specifically, they “miss their targets.”

Their audience targeting is flawed, and they can’t reach the right users to sell their products and services.

Facebook simply doesn’t work, right? Wrong.

I’d be willing to bet that the number one cause of failing or giving up on Facebook Ads is audience-related.

After all, you can’t sell PPC agency services to an audience that only cares about SEO.

Audience targeting is the bread and butter of Facebook. While that sounds like an enticing feature, your entire campaign will depend on it.

Even simple mistakes in targeting will throw your audience off, potentially targeting the wrong segment or users too early in the funnel for sales.

Thankfully, I’ve been there and done that. I wasted tons of money on Facebook Ads that never reached my targets.

But I also found a surefire way to reach the right audience on Facebook:

Customer lifetime value lists.

What is customer lifetime value and why should you care?

What even is customer lifetime value anyways? Does it matter? Why should you care?

Well, I am here to answer those for you.

Customer lifetime value is perhaps the most important metric you can ever track.

According to Google, it’s defined as the prediction of net profit associated with the entire relationship for a single customer.

In more simple terms:

Customer lifetime value is how much a single customer spends with you before leaving.

It’s that simple, but it’s of the utmost importance.

Lifetime value literally guides every decision you make in business.

Let me give you an example:

You run an online e-commerce store, and you sell relatively cheap products like discounted sunglasses and cheap style items like necklaces.

Your average product costs about $25.

So you begin advertising with PPC to drive some traffic and hopefully convert some sales.

You realize that the average cost per click for retail sales is $1.35. Doesn’t seem too bad at first, right?

But the cost per click doesn’t matter. It’s actually irrelevant.

Why? Just look at the conversion rate for retail advertising: 3.86%

That’s a pretty low conversion rate compared to other segments.

For the sake of this example, let’s round the conversion rate up to 4%.

It would take 25 clicks to drive a single conversion if your conversion rate is 4%.

Now multiply the clicks needed (based on the conversion rate) with the cost per click:

25 * $1.35 = $33.75

Oops.

Now you can’t expect to turn a profit because your average sale is just $25.

And this is where lifetime value comes into play.

This is why lifetime value is the most important metric in any campaign:

Doing the simple math on a single order, you can’t afford to bid on AdWords for what you sell.

But that’s not true if you have a good lifetime value. For instance, how many times a year does that customer return? Two? Three times? Ten times?

If they do, you’ve only paid $33.75 to acquire them one time. And if they spend $25 multiple times, you’ve quickly doubled, tripled or exploded your original acquisition costs.

And then it becomes easier and easier to sell to them. You’ve already acquired them, giving you tons of free ways to sell: email, phone, etc.

You can launch a new email campaign to existing customers for free in just minutes to increase sales and drive up their CLTVs.

Increasing the lifetime value of your current customers is the key to driving massive profits.

Once you’ve done that, you begin to see compounding effects in every other metric.

Increased lifetime values mean you can spend more on acquiring customers because you know that they will spend $XX over their lifetime with you.

And you can begin to ignore CPC.

When it’s all said and done, lifetime value reigns at the top and should always be your guiding metric.

But Neil, what does this have to do with Facebook audience targeting?

Let me show you.

Lookalike audiences on Facebook are key

Using CLTV as a metric, you can create lookalike audiences on Facebook that target only the best of the best customers you currently have.

Lookalike audiences are simple in nature, yet highly effective:

They utilize your current customer data to find new, alike targets on Facebook.

Matching demographic data with affinities, interests, and more, you can create whole new audiences with the same background as your current customers.

It’s one of the best ways to generate an audience quickly.

And they work.

AdEspresso conducted a $1500 test on Facebook to analyze the performance of lookalike audiences. To do this, they tested 1%, 5%, and 10% audience matching:

With lookalike audiences, you can customize the audience size by % of the country/area you are targeting.

For instance, selecting “1” would be 1% of the country you advertise in.

AdEspresso put these to the test, finding that 1% audiences, while obviously smaller in nature, converted best.

According to AdEspresso, the lookalike audience at 10% had a 70% higher cost per conversion than the 1% size audience.

Because of the extra costs, the 10% audience produced 40% fewer clicks, too.

The 1% audience drove 115 leads with just $500 in ad spend.

That’s a cost per lead of just under $4. That’s pretty cheap for high-quality leads.

One company found a 2x increase in conversions and an overall ROI of 186% using lookalike audiences to grow their sales.

By incorporating lookalike audiences, Andrew Hubbard was able to produce nearly $40,000 in revenue from $4,159 in ad spend, generating an 876% return on investment.

Simply put:

Lookalike audiences are amazing.

Here’s how you can set them up using lifetime value to increase their effectiveness and create a Facebook audience that finally converts.

Step 1. Set up your custom audience

To get started with using lifetime value to create a Facebook audience, head to your Facebook Business Manager dashboard and navigate to the “Audiences” section:

In the audience manager, create a new custom audience, not a lookalike audience:

While you can do it either way, I prefer creating a custom audience first, as you can select LTV right off the bat instead of after creating your audience.

Next, select “Customer File” as the type of audience you want to create:

Customer file simply means that you will upload a batched list of customer data on your current customers.

This is the file that Facebook will then take to match other customers and potential audiences for your campaign.

Next, select “Include LTV for better performing lookalikes.” This option will allow you to create a file with lifetime value metrics.

So, how does that work?

Essentially, you will be assigning each customer on your list a different value.

Depending on what platforms and products you sell, this will either be very fast and easy or somewhat time-consuming.

If you run an online e-commerce store with Shopify or BigCommerce, you can find your lifetime value data easily:

In any of these customer data sections of Shopify (or BigCommerce, if you use that) you can find customer data on lifetime value and how much they have spent.

If you can do this, you’ll be able to export your customer data easily.

If your business is more consulting or lead-based and focused on landing clients or accounts, you will have to do a bit of digging.

Look at your current clients and see how much they spend with you per month. For instance, does their current contract with you show a spend of $1,000 a month on services?

Or maybe you sell software online. You can then look at their current tool plan to see how much they spend each month and how long they have been a customer.

That’s lifetime value.

Once you have lifetime value for your customers, you will plug that data into your spreadsheet and Facebook will target the highest lifetime values in their matching process.

This simply means that customers on your customer file with high LTVs will be matched first. Facebook will look at their individual data and match to similar users who have a high chance of spending a ton with your business.

Next, read through the lifetime value information that Facebook gives you if you still need a clear understanding of how it works. It’s sometimes complex:

After you’ve accepted the terms and conditions, you can now begin to create your custom audience.

In this step, you will need to create a list that you can export in CSV or TXT file formats. These are the only two formats that Facebook currently accepts for uploading a custom file.

The data that goes into your customer file should be plentiful:

Try to fill in as many of the custom identifiers as you possibly can.

Remember: more metrics and identifiers = higher specificity and better matching.

This may take some time to get depending on what systems you use, but it’s going to be well worth the effort.

When adding this data into a spreadsheet, you want to follow Facebook’s Customer Data Prep Guide.

In each new column for each data type, enter the column header first, followed by the format of each under “Examples.”

Be sure to format correctly according to their guide and the image above.

Once you’ve added all of the data that you need, you can create a final column for customer lifetime value:

For this data type, your column header in your spreadsheet should be: “value.”

Under the “value” column, enter the customer lifetime value for each customer in the following two formats:

$500
500.00 USD

Either one of these will work just fine. Keep the data consistent if you can.

If you are struggling to format your spreadsheet, you can always use Facebook’s file template to your advantage:

Once you’ve created your list, you can take a deep breath! The hard part is finally over.

Give your new audience a familiar name to ensure that you can find it in your account:

In the second step of audience creation, select the value column you created for your list as the “Customer Value” type:

Next, confirm on the “Edit Data Mapping” screen that all of your identifiers are cleared and ready to go with the green checkmark:

Now upload and create your audience!

Now comes the fun part: creating amazing ads that will speak to your new audience.

Step 2. Ad creation for your new lookalike audience

The first part of the process is done. Creating your lookalike audience with LTV as the main factor is the perfect starting point.

But now the second part requires you to get a bit more creative:

Creating ads that appeal to your new audience.

But before you jump into ad creation or default to what you have done before, here is something critical to keep in mind:

Funnel stages.

Since you are targeting a brand new audience that likely hasn’t heard of your brand before, the creation of your ads along with your calls to action will be critical for success.

Sending this new audience an ad that asks them to buy from you immediately probably won’t work that well.

Why? Well, they aren’t brand aware. They haven’t engaged with you enough to know about your products or consider them yet.

The key here is to warm them up. To get them familiar with your brand and get them engaging with your content.

Keep in mind, since this audience is a lookalike, they will have knowledge of your industry. They have probably even researched products that you sell before.

Meaning you can offer them something in the middle of the funnel.

That means anything from lead magnets to coupons to webinars and more.

Anything that incentivizes them to sign up for your email list or to get them to become a lead without asking them to buy too fast.

For example, you could start off by sending them ads for a webinar if you sell digital products and services:

I use this strategy all of the time.

It’s a great way to offer tons of value to new people without over-selling in the beginning stages of their journey.

If you sell too fast, you risk them opting out quick.

Another great example of a successful middle-of-the-funnel Facebook Ad is from HubSpot:

Offering free, value-based content, they can hook in users to give them their email information.

It’s the perfect lead magnet that doesn’t ask the audience for too much but provides tons of value in return.

Brainstorm ideas that will promote engagement with your brand without selling too hard.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5H9X8K8SW8?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to split test your ideas with ease.

Step 3. Split test your creative to find your perfect value proposition

Thanks to Facebook, A/B testing has never been easier. With ad split testing directly on Facebook, you can quickly test multiple ad variants against the same audience to see which resonates better.

This is one of my favorite tactics when brainstorming new ideas to see how an audience reacts.

When it comes to lookalike audiences for LTV, you know they’ve done research in your space. But they aren’t brand aware.

This means you are skating a thin line between the awareness and consideration stages of the buying process.

While it sounds good, it also makes it difficult to nail down the proper call to action that will resonate with them.

And that’s why split testing is key. With split testing you can find the right value proposition for the audience, leading to massive wins.

Split testing works, too: One company split tested ad types to the same audience, finding that one variant outperformed the other by 336%.

To start split testing on Facebook, head to your Ads Manager and create a new ad set based on your goals, enabling the split test feature:

After selecting “Create Split Test,” choose the variable that you want to test:

In this case, “Creative” is what you want to select.

On the left-hand side, you should now see the following:

You can begin to create different ad variants for Ad A and Ad B.

If you want, you can even test another ad.

If you have multiple ideas that you want to explore with your new audience, run 2-3 (maximum) at a time. Otherwise, you risk spreading the results too thin.

When running this A/B split test, be sure that you only tweak the creative.

Don’t mess with your audience or placements. Keep the same lifetime value lookalike audience and the same placements, and you will get clear results on how each offer was received.

Run this test until you get a minimum of 250 conversions. That’s the formal guideline from CRO experts at ConversionXL.

Having a minimum of 250 conversions will result in better statistical significance in your tests.

At the end of the test, analyze which ad drove more revenue and profit and proceed with that creative.

Step 4. Remarket non-converting users to close the gaps

Remarketing is one of my most favorite ways to bring back users that didn’t convert.

And while this lookalike lifetime value audience is going to convert great for you, it’s unfortunately not possible to convert everyone.

Trust me. I sure wish it was.

To combat this, remarket the audience you just created, capturing traffic from all non-converting prospects.

In the Ads Manager, you can create a new custom audience based on your lookalike audience.

Depending on how you structured your ads in the lookalike audience campaign, you will choose how you want to create the new audience:

One of my top ways to remarket on Facebook is by targeting people who engaged with my Facebook Ads in the past few days.

I then exclude anyone who interacted with my CTA button to weed out potential converters.

If you want, you can also create a secondary remarketing list of just people who engaged with your call-to-action button but didn’t convert.

These two remarketing options can go a long way in regaining lost traffic and potential conversions.

After you create those, you have just created a fullscale funnel-optimized lifetime value audience.

You can’t go wrong with this setup, and you’ll be driving conversions faster than you thought possible.

By targeting for LTV, you are ensuring that your new lookalike audience is primed and ready to convert.

Warming them up with split testing will help you narrow down your value proposition and find the right creative elements that appeal to users.

Then, close the gaps with remarketing to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Conclusion

Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world.

And it packs amazing features to reach your target audience.

But even so, missing your audience is still relatively “easy” to do.

Most small businesses report having this problem of “missing their targets.”

And I’ve had the same thing happen to me: wasting advertising money on audiences that don’t convert.

But I’ve found a surefire way to drive sales on Facebook from all of that testing:

Customer lifetime value audiences.

Lifetime value is the most important metric there is. It can inform acquisition and all of your advertising spend.

Try creating this customer lifetime value audience on Facebook to capture the most interested users and drive your profits through the roof.

Set up your new lookalike audience with the lifetime value feature on Facebook. This will help you target customers most like your top spenders for increased revenue.

Next, create the most compelling ads and split test them for better performance.

What audiences have you tried and found success with on Facebook?

The post How to Use Lifetime Value to Create a Facebook Audience That Actually Converts appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Augmented Reality SEO: What To Expect in The Future

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/augmented-reality-seo/

Augmented reality has the potential to revolutionize marketing as a whole in the next few years.

Some estimates even claim that AR-oriented products like camera glasses could be in the mainstream as early as next year.

And as more brands start to use augmented reality, there’s a good chance that it will start to affect the way that users browse the web.

With changes this big on the horizon, it’s worth taking some time to look at what augmented reality has already accomplished in the last few years.

This will help us see what is likely to change in the future, especially in regard to how it can impact SEO.

My hope with this article is to show you that augmented reality is only going to expand in the future.

The sooner your brand prepares, the better off you’ll be when the dust settles.

So to start with, let’s look at what makes augmented reality so unique.

Then, we’ll talk about what’s likely to happen in the coming years.

Augmented reality 101

According to most sources, augmented reality has been around since the early 1990s.

The United States Air Force reportedly created a complex system that also influenced the early stages of the 3D technology we know and love today.

But augmented reality has come a long way since those days.

With the advancements of the last decade and the smartphone explosion behind us, augmented reality now sits in our pockets on a daily basis.

People often confuse it with virtual reality, which typically involves wearing something like this:

This may have been the first thing that you imagined when I started talking about augmented reality, but it’s a completely different application.

This article will focus solely on augmented reality, which is divided into three distinct and unique forms:

Information overlay
Virtual objects
Digital packaging

Each of these has different applications that brands around the world are already using.

In the case of information overlay, it’s hard to find a better example than the quintessential augmented reality game Pokemon Go:

This immersive app is an AR version of a decades-old classic game. It allows users to find and catch digital monsters for their collection.

By overlaying an in-app digital projection on top of a video feed, the game gives the user the feeling that they’re a real-life Pokemon hunter.

When it first launched, it quickly outstripped other popular games in the app store and made millions of dollars.

It was a clear win for augmented reality, and it’s the perfect example of how simple data overlays can be engaging for a wide audience.

The second classification of augmented reality that has gained ground in the mainstream is the use of virtual objects.

For an example of how this works, look no further than the Ikea Place app:

This style of augmented reality allows you to create images that are reactive to the physical surroundings that the camera displays.

In Ikea’s case, they use your feed to let you see how different pieces of furniture fit into your living space.

You can use the app to view different styles and colors. This allows you to customize your order based on how well it fits inside your home.

This creates a worry-free purchase based on your own preferences and findings.

Michael Valdsgaard, the head of the team that ultimately created Ikea Place, shared his own thoughts about augmented reality’s impact:

Apple has solved the AR question and is bringing it to mass market. As for other things, we have to see what is going to happen. We think AR really will explode, and once I can put lenses in my eyes and see products and be interactive with them in the real world, that will be big.

Though he’s slightly speaking tongue in cheek, Michael makes a good point.

Augmented reality can possibly change the way we interact with everyday objects. And we can see that in its final application: digital packaging.

Digital packaging augmented reality is when a user can interact with a physical object in a way that reveals a deeper experience.

If you want to see how that works, check out the applications that Blippar has created in collaboration with Marvel and Nature Valley.

This application is really the culmination of all three types of augmented reality.

It overlays data on your screen, and it creates something in a physical space that is both engaging and interactive.

And, while augmented reality is still in its relative infancy, all three of the forms are getting ready to make a direct impact in the very near future.

We’ve already seen AR become increasingly popular over the last few years, and projections show that the market will only continue to skyrocket.

The biggest applications of augmented reality probably still haven’t even emerged, which tells you just how fresh this technology is.

More importantly, it should catch your attention because major tech companies have started taking note of it as well.

Google has been especially vocal, and they even talked about it at length at Google IO 2017

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tto90e-DfeM?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

According to the presenters in this video, they’re actively seeking out ways to make it easier for companies and users to create immersive augmented reality experiences.

And they’re not alone in that endeavor.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has also confirmed that Apple is on the AR bandwagon as well.

So if Google and Apple are indicating that this trend is going to be more than just a trend, it’s worth looking deeper into how it’s going to affect your marketing efforts.

In Google’s case, it’s also worth evaluating how much of an impact augmented reality is going to have on SEO.

And Google has already shown us that they intend to use this technology in a disruptive way with Google Lens.

Google Lens allows users to take a photo on their phone and then interact with it to discover more information about its contents.

Check out the video they shared on Twitter when first introducing it.

This tool will ultimately change the way people learn about your business.

Instead of opening up a search engine on their phone, they’re going to open up their camera instead.

And when users change the way they browse, SEO changes with it.

So what can you do to ensure that your SEO stays in line with this revolutionary technology?

According to Google, you need to focus on creating micro-moments.

By preparing for these in-the-moment buying decisions, you can still win sales and stay at the top of your SEO game.

And as augmented reality gains more steam in the coming years, most SEO experts believe that there are certain expectations that you’d do well to prepare for.

Expectation #1: Local SEO will be more important

As one marketer put it, local SEO is going to be on steroids with augmented reality’s emergence.

One of the biggest distinguishing factors for augmented reality is that it uses your exact location.

You’ve already seen that there’s a huge potential for a service like Google Lens to create a more competitive local SEO playing field than ever before.

With services like Google Lens becoming more widespread, more users will be using augmented reality services to find businesses and read online reviews.

Yelp, the local listings giant, has even had augmented reality as an Easter egg on their app since 2009.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZyOZBqI8FM?feature=oembed&w=700&h=525]

This means that consumers will be able to fire up an augmented reality app to learn more about your business. And that means that your local SEO needs to be in good shape.

And as more brands adapt and create their own augmented reality apps and services, it’s only going to get more crowded.

But at this point, local SEO should be a huge part of your SEO strategy anyway.

Local searches are becoming so common that users are now assuming that their phones will automatically find local results.

According to research from Think with Google, it is becoming less common for users to search with the phrase “near me.”

This isn’t because people don’t want local results. The nature of the searches shows that they do.

According to Google, mobile searchers now assume that their phones will automatically use their locations to pull up local results.

Local searches are now commonplace, and augmented reality makes it easier to be in front of your audience with minimal effort. Now is the time to get on board with local SEO best practices.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHG4wDlvAMY?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

First and foremost, it’s a good idea to include your name, address, and phone number on your website.

And if you’re on any directory sites, make sure your information is consistent across the board.

Google tells us why this is so important:

Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.

Augmented reality depends on real-world location to help users find information about your business, so including basic information on your website and other listings is an ideal practice.

You also need to make sure that you’re on the popular directory platforms available to everyday users.

In one study, Moz found that “My Business” profiles through Google, Yelp, and other services are the top factor in local pack SEO rankings.

That means that you need to create your free Yelp for Business Owners profile and register your Google My Business.

By creating a presence on these platforms, you know that you’ll appear in searches for businesses in your local area.

It also means that when a user is browsing around them using an augmented reality service, your business is sure to pop up on their screen.

Apps like Yelp and Wikitude are already providing this type of augmented reality experience based on geolocation.

This snapshot from Yelp’s Monocle augmented reality feature shows you some results I got by simply pointing it at my hotel room door on a recent trip to Utah.

If I were to walk closer, I would be able to point my phone’s camera at the actual restaurant or business and learn more.

And by selecting one of the options, I would get to see the full Yelp profile with the reviews and everything.

Its competitor Google Lens works very similarly based on your Google My Business profile.

So setting up these profiles is vital for your augmented reality SEO.

By creating one of these profiles, you will automatically rank in your local pack searches.

Here’s what a Google My Business profile looks like from a mobile device:

You’ve probably seen and even used these before, and you hopefully already have one set up.

It’s possible for your customers to set up these profiles for you, but you’d just be leaving your SEO to chance in that case.

If you don’t have one, this should be one of your top priorities.

Then, according to more of Moz’s data, your next big project should be to prioritize reviews and ratings.

Business reviews are a force of SEO nature that you simply can’t ignore.

According to one survey, 84% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends.

And since 97% of consumers look at online reviews at least once per year, your business depends on good reviews to win more business.

So if your online reviews are less than stellar, your chances of getting business from augmented reality will suffer.

It’s very likely that users will maintain the same vetting behaviors when using augmented reality to find a business.

They’ll still read your reviews, which means that you need to find ways to win good ones.

That means asking customers who had a good experience if they’d be willing to share on Google or Yelp.

But when you have good reviews, don’t be afraid to promote them. Your good reviews can help you sell more products.

In one instance, American Apparel noticed a that their customers would look up online reviews while looking at products in-store.

So they created an augmented reality app to make the process easier for them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O9CUpqSNRU?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

This innovative approach to harnessing augmented reality is the perfect way to bridge the gap between local SEO elements and better customer experiences.

With better local SEO, you’ll be in a better position to ride the augmented reality wave.

Expectation #2: Social media will adapt even more

Social media is another area of digital marketing that has a direct impact on your SEO, so it’s not surprising that augmented reality will have an impact on it.

How well you perform on social media can either positively or negatively impact your rankings, and that isn’t likely to change.

A recent experiment only serves to cement the idea that social media posts and engagement ultimately help all SEO efforts.

In their study, they posted a significant number of articles on Twitter and measured the before and after effects on their search engine rank.

The posts that they published organically or boosted saw dramatically better rates of improvement on Google.

And when they dove deeper into the data, the biggest reason seemed to be engagement.

So it’s clear that social media is important when talking about any type of SEO.

And in the case of augmented reality, social media platforms are doubling down and creating more opportunities than ever before.

For example, Facebook has been outstripping just about everyone in their efforts to get ahead of AR for social media.

They’ve acquired 11 different companies in recent years that all have to do with augmented reality solutions.

You may have also seen the popular 360-degree videos that allow users to completely immerse themselves in what’s happening on their screen.

This type of practice is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to augmented reality, though.

If you’re a Snapchat user, then you’re also aware of the new 3D images and effects that you can add to your stories and snaps.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6x44v8prFA?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

They’ve also opened up access to their Lens Studio in an effort to allow more brands and advertisers to experiment with augmented reality’s capabilities.

These seemingly simple additions mark the biggest steps to date to start incorporating augmented reality technologies on social media platforms.

That means that using AR as part of your social media strategy has a high chance of impacting your overall SEO.

And you have some readily-available tools to help you do this, too.

For example, the ZapWorks platform is specifically designed to help small businesses start incorporating augmented reality technology with their brands.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgkGDSQTy1g?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Since they’re compliant with social media, they’re an ideal tool to start working on your own augmented reality strategy.

In one case, ZapWorks helped create an augmented reality experience at the International Advertising Bureau conference that saw a 55% increase in engagement.

And major brands have started dabbling in augmented reality social campaigns as well.

Oreo incorporated a mix of augmented reality and social media to help create a massive scavenger hunt that incorporated more than 20,000 retail locations.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3LYGONU_sA?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

And most recently, Nike has been turning heads with an augmented reality campaign that incorporates Facebook Messenger.

The campaign was so successful that the featured shoes in the experiment sold out in less than an hour.

This is just the start of what you can expect to see with augmented reality on social media.

As its popularity grows, it’s going to be more important than ever to boost your engagement by creating innovative augmented reality experiences.

It’s extremely likely that brands will discover new ways to use this technology to help users interact online, and these changes will play into your overall SEO efforts.

Expectation #3: More immersive website experiences will emerge

One of the elements of augmented reality that many haven’t considered is how it will affect your website.

With augmented reality starting to dawn on the physical world, it’s easy to ignore what it can achieve in the digital space.

It may surprise you to learn that it’s possible to implement augmented reality on your website, as this video demonstrates:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuF-k0ajsjk?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

While this is a basic example of what you can accomplish, it displays the potential for your website to become more interactive and immersive than ever before.

And when you start making changes on your website, you start getting into the bigger picture of user experience.

It’s no secret that how a user experiences your website has an impact on your SEO.

Analytics like bounce rate and time on page play a large role in Google’s ranking of your website.

So the new question is, how can you create a user-friendly augmented reality experience that adds to your user experience and potentially helps your SEO?

The technology is still emerging, so the future is somewhat unknown.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t already established best practices to consider before experimenting on your own site.

Environmental design is one of the key concepts of augmented reality, so it makes sense to consider it first.

Your user is viewing your augmentations through the “window” of their smartphone, so it’s vital to consider how you want your user to interact with everything.

For a user on a website, that includes elements like scrolling, load times, and other important SEO features.

You see how complex the issue can become.

Then, you have to decide how your audience will interact with your augmented environment.

Do you want your site to change as your users scroll?

Or, will it change based on how they click?

All of these are newer user experience questions that websites will have to test, answer, and then modify.

And finally, you have to remember that your user experience in any format should center around a story.

It will be important to find a way to tell your story without interruption and in a way that builds empathy.

If you want an idea of what this could look like, consider Immersv, a company that helps brands build AR ads. They have already implemented a modified augmented reality feature to their own website.

As you scroll down their homepage, you interact with a 3D environment that changes with your scrolling.

It’s simple, but it catches you off guard at first and provides a glimpse of future applications on a website.

The brand also promises some impressive results for businesses that want to use their services:

And that’s just the start of what this technology could lead to.

As augmented reality progresses, other possible uses could include things like holographic emails and interactive 3D models.

We still can’t know whether or not these things will ultimately reach the mainstream, but they’re worth considering and testing as the technology continues to grow.

Conclusion

Augmented reality is already changing the technology landscape, and it’s highly likely that the SEO world will change with it.

And with these innovative technologies creating such a unique way to engage with your online audience, it’s hard not want to start using it for your brand.

As Google, Apple, and other major companies start to push the technology, we’ll be able to learn more about which changes you should make to help your SEO efforts.

But in the meantime, there are a few likely ways that you can focus your SEO efforts to help you prepare for the future.

Local SEO will be more important than ever with tools like Google Lens gaining popularity and becoming easier to use.

That means that your Google My Business and reviews will be more vital than ever if you want to win new local business.

It’s also very likely that social media platforms will start to expand their use of augmented reality.

Facebook is already pursuing it, and a few brands are seeing success with 360-degree images and larger augmented reality campaigns.

And finally, it’s worth considering how augmented reality could impact your website’s design.

While we still can’t know for sure if mainstream web design will incorporate augmented reality, it’s very possible that it could become more popular in the coming years.

Whatever happens, it’s a good idea to keep your ear to the ground for future developments with this technology.

It could possibly change marketing and SEO as we know them, and that’s worth your concern.

How do you think augmented reality will impact SEO in the future?

The post Augmented Reality SEO: What To Expect in The Future appeared first on Neil Patel.

0

Why Your Company, Culture, Story, and Impact Are Your Best Marketing Tools

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/company-culture/

Have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month?

Every November, thousands of writers from around the world commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in just one month.

And in 2017, a record number of people (384,126 total) participated. And this year, they expect over 400,000.

It’s even produced some bestsellers along the way.

While to some this might sound like self-inflicted torture, it’s actually an awesome exercise that encourages participation in the art of storytelling.

And that makes it something that businesses can learn from.

Storytelling and the elements that surround it are some of the most important tools in your marketing arsenal.

The culture you create and the stories you tell can help you make an impact on your audience.

And when you get all of those elements right, you can create an unstoppable brand that will be profitable for years to come.

In this article, I want to show you why all of this is true.

But first, I want to explain why your product, your business, and heartless marketing won’t cut it with your audience.

Why you, your product, and your marketing aren’t enough

What is the first thing you usually think of when you consider a startup or small business?

In my case, I tend to think of the product or service. After all, it’s the “what” of your business.

But the “what” isn’t enough.

To be fair, there’s no denying that what you intend to sell is vital. It’s the very thing that will make you money and keep your business going.

So in a way, it is everything.

There’s also no denying that marketing as a whole serves some very important functions.

If your product is good and your marketing is sound, all of the purposes in this graphic should play out just fine.

But simply having a product and a marketing strategy isn’t enough.

Just Google the phrase “when marketing isn’t enough,” and you’ll find some of the following ideas:

Why your blog isn’t enough
Why social media marketing isn’t enough
Why being a marketer isn’t enough

And the list goes on and on.

That means that businesses with good products and sound marketing tactics are running into issues they didn’t expect.

And that’s because having a market, a product, and an effective pricing system are only parts of a whole system.

To complete the picture, you also need to know which channels work.

And that creates a bigger issue.

No matter where you promote your content, the channel always defines the rules.

Facebook decides how it portrays your images, it and doesn’t give you much organic reach anymore.

Ranking on Google is an uphill battle that may take years to win.

And every other social media platform, search engine, and marketplace is the same.

They all, to some degree, dictate how you interact with their platforms and thus your audience.

This is an issue across the dozens of channels at your disposal.

The platform you choose will always limit your marketing in some way.

And then you have to take another step back and look at your competition within the channel you’ve chosen.

Competition in any industry will always be huge.

If you want a prime example of this, just look at the 2018 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic.

There are 6,829 companies that all have viable products in just one industry.

They’re all using the same channels to promote their products.

They all face the same limitations.

And all of them are seeking to win new customers each year.

With all this competition, simply creating a better product and creating a marketing campaign is no guarantee that you will stand out.

So that leads to a few questions.

What do you do to stand out in a world where everyone struggles for airtime? That problem will never go away.

And, more importantly, how do you equip yourself with marketing strategies and tools that are proven and effective?

The answer is to focus on your brand’s story, your company culture, and on how you can make an impact on your audience.

I want to show you how each of these tools can help you stand out and sell more.

To start with, let’s address why storytelling is important and look at some ways you can improve your brand’s story.

Your audience wants a story

If you’ve studied marketing for very long, you’ve probably run into a few posts about storytelling.

That’s because storytelling in your content is a more powerful tool than you might think.

Plus, it’s what makes your marketing effective in the long run.

But why does storytelling work?

To answer that, you have to dig a bit into the psychology behind it.

In a fascinating study from a few years ago, a team from Berkley linked effective storytelling to greater levels of empathy in the audience.

Here’s a video of their experiments and what they found:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1a7tiA1Qzo?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

In their tests, they discovered that the story they shared triggered higher amounts of two different substances in the brain.

The first substance, cortisol, allowed their subjects to focus their attention to a much greater degree.

From there, heightened levels of oxytocin brought out greater levels of empathy with the storyteller.

And as a result of these two increased substances, the test subjects were much more willing to donate to be a part of a cause.

In short, they were able to change human behavior by affecting their subject’s brain chemistry with storytelling.

And when you look into some of the subsequent studies on storytelling, the results shouldn’t surprise you.

A staggering 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story.

That means that most of the people you’re trying to reach will be more interested in your marketing if you present an engaging story.

It’s a clear sign that people value stories over just about everything else.

But with so many people consuming so much content each day, creating a narrative that is both relatable and actionable presents a challenge.

You need to know what kind of story to tell in order to wield this tool effectively.

When you look at what consumers look for in a brand’s story, more than half say that a brand’s values are just as important as their product.

On top of that, 60% of your audience wants to know what you stand for anyway.

So your objective should be to create a story that will resonate with your audience first.

Then, when you’ve found your story, you can adapt it to the platform that displays it best.

When you accomplish that, some great things can start happening with your marketing.

In this report, focusing on storytelling gave the brand a 92% lift in site visits and increased their purchase rate by three to five times their previous amount.

By simply incorporating storytelling into their marketing efforts, they were able to find new customers and keep old customers returning.

And every brand can do this.

Just consider what Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi has to say:

“Today’s availability of technology means that any business in any industry can develop an audience through consistent storytelling.”

The whole picture of your business is caught up in storytelling.

The product you sell, the channels you use, and even the market you sell in play a role in how you present your story.

And with the right approach, you can accomplish this for yourself.

Consider some of the steps in this storytelling formula:

You want to provide relevant and high-quality information that speaks to your audience and that you derive from hard analytics. This is a proven way to share your story effectively.

This goes against the common idea that you know what’s best for your business.

In this case, your audience knows better.

So start by giving your audience the content that they want.

Then, make sure that you’re following best practices for your content that will encourage visitors to engage with your story.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDuL4N1Gi5g?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

That includes elements like using first and second person, creating killer headlines, and writing shorter paragraphs.

If you create skimmable content that still tells your story and conveys a lot of value, your audience will love you for it.

And then, if you want to go deeper, consider a storytelling model like the always-popular hero’s journey.

By putting your brand in the shoes of the hero, you can create a story that people will want to read.

You’ll share your inspiration, struggles, and the lessons you’ve learned that make your brand unique.

Even if you don’t create a story with all of the elements, you can still craft a message that is engaging and share-worthy.

Just look at how subtly Patagonia using this style of brand storytelling in this video collaboration with the Crested Butte Patrol:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDuL4N1Gi5g?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

They make themselves the hero of this story in a way that makes the brand relatable, trustworthy, and quality-oriented.

When you watch a story like this, there’s a good chance that Patagonia will cross your mind the next time you need to buy a ski jacket.

And they’ve been very successful with these stories.

Their YouTube channel has hundreds of videos and millions of views.

Remember that by focusing on storytelling that connects with your audience, you empower every other tool in your marketing toolbox.

Story is the battery that powers everything else.

Without it, your brand will be boring and lifeless no matter what you do.

Your culture creates your customer experience

When you talk about conversion rate optimization and customer retention, you can’t ignore customer experience.

Everyone knows that good company culture can increase productivity and ultimately make your business more profitable.

But more importantly, you should know that how your customers experience your brand is what ultimately decides if they do business with you.

Consider how some of the various elements of customer experience play a role in your marketing.

Bad experiences cost you money and can spread like a California wildfire.

But a good experience can have just as strong of an effect in a positive way.

How you and your team interact with a potential customer ultimately dictates whether that experience will be positive or negative.

And if you start to nail your customer experience, you’ll start to see real growth in your business.

73% of companies with above-average customer experiences perform better financially.

Despite that fact, customer experience in many companies is still in its infancy.

So if you want to create a positive customer experience, you have to go to the root of the issue.

And customer experience begins and ends with company culture.

Just think about customer experience in the big picture.

When someone comes to you to buy a product, he or she will likely touch every aspect of your business.

Your website is likely to be the first point of contact. But, in many cases, your visitor will talk to your sales department when they want to buy.

And when they need to troubleshoot, your support team will get a call.

Then, if they stick around long enough, they may even talk to upper-level management about improvements they’d like to see in your product.

All of those are touches that give a direct window into your company culture.

If you have a poor culture, they will take notice.

But if you have a great culture with happy employees, they’ll also notice that.

When your employees are happy, your business will be in a better position to grow.

And when you’re in that position, your storytelling and other marketing efforts will feel more genuine and open more opportunities.

That’s when the power of culture really starts to come alive in a brand.

So how do you build a good company culture?

According to a Gallup poll, culture starts with leadership.

That means that culture has to start from the top.

It depends on how you handle client issues or other high-pressure situations.

And it also depends on how well you implement and uphold values, which circles back to brand storytelling once again.

In essence, it requires you to treat your employees like internal customers.

By using your team as a stepping-off point, you can establish a framework that emphasizes and advances customer-centric thinking across the board.

And when you focus on building and sharing a company culture that elevates your customers, your marketing will ultimately build your customer experience.

For example, Zappos promotes their culture by encouraging their employees to be genuine with every interaction they have.

And it works. You can see that from this instance when an employee stayed on a call with a happy customer for 10 hours and 43 minutes.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1a7tiA1Qzo?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Many companies would have reprimanded this employee or even fired him.

But for Zappos, this is the price of good customer service and a healthy company culture.

And other companies have replicated this approach.

Robert Richman, a former Zappos employee, was able to build Zappos Insights into a company that helps more than 25,000 students each year by focusing on emulating and sharing the original Zappos culture.

And other brands have started taking note of these changes, too.

Look at how vocal Johnson & Johnson were when they extended parental leave:

Efforts like this are what create the culture that ultimately influences the experience of your customers.

When you can create a customer experience that aligns with your culture and storytelling, you have the makings of a successful brand.

But if you start letting culture slip, you’re undermining the very elements that make your marketing effective in the first place.

People care about your culture.

It’s where who you claim to be meets who you really are.

Make it good, and you’ll never struggle to win business.

Impact is what you build on

Let’s be honest:

Impact is a vague word when referring to a business.

It could mean anything from how you affect the environment to how many jobs you provide.

It’s vague, and vague is rarely helpful.

So before we dive in, I want to clarify what I mean by impact.

In the case of marketing, impact should mean the deep, meaningful relationships you have with your customers.

In other words, impact dictates how involved you are in the daily life of your average customer.

This is important because meaningful relationships and authenticity are what lead to sales and customer retention.

91% of consumers are willing to interact more with a truly authentic brand.

That’s what impact looks like.

In a sense, impact is the culmination of your storytelling and company culture as they play out in your actual interaction with a customer.

And if you wonder if this effort is worth it, consider the final statistic from the above image:

62% of consumers will consider buying again from an impactful brand.

That type of customer retention is huge, and retention ultimately means more money from less effort.

So what does this mean for your business?

It means that you need to build your organization around positive messages, positive experiences, and customer-centric values.

But I want to take this idea a step further.

You shouldn’t leave impact to chance, even if it does rely on various elements working together.

It’s easy to get lost in the complexity of this issue when you have a business to run.

That’s where a tool like a customer relationship manager (a CRM) can help you.

A good CRM will act as a digital notepad that helps you track how well you’re following through with each potential customer.

You can use the information you gather in a CRM to help you improve personalization and create more impactful relationships.

One potential CRM system you can consider is the ever-popular Salesforce platform.

Salesforce is very versatile and can work with just about any business model.

If you need to, you can use it to track leads and attribute sales:

But you can also use this system to give you insight into your overall customer relationship, too.

For example, the shoe brand TOMS uses the Salesforce CRM to stay connected with their customers in an impactful way.

Here’s what Digital Technologies VP Hilda Fontana had to say:

“We turned to Salesforce because we want to build even stronger and longer lasting relationships with customers. We aren’t measuring ourselves by the traditional service metrics of call volume or resolution times, we care about customer happiness, satisfaction, and long-term relationships.”

It’s a different approach, but they found a way to measure and track their goals by implementing a CRM system.

It displays a company attitude that emphasizes the effectiveness of their customer relationships. It’s an approach that’s worth trying.

Focusing on impact deepens your marketing. It makes your brand more sincere and profitable.

And you’ll ultimately have a brand that’s able to leverage powerful marketing tools that your audience will want to engage with.

Conclusion

It’s easy to look at marketing elements like story, culture, and impact and call them “soft” metrics.

How do you measure a story?

And what does impact look like for your brand?

But therein lies the ultimate power of each of these different tools.

They can truly make your brand unique in a way that your product never will.

You will always have a competitor that can match your product or even beat it.

And you will always struggle to control your marketing channels against a never-ending tide of updates and changes.

But you don’t have to change your story.

You don’t have to rewrite your culture every time Google updates its algorithms.

And your impact will always be what you make it.

So start by crafting a brand story that will truly resonate with your audience.

Emulate the hero’s journey or create your own path in a way that resonates with your audience.

From there, make sure that your culture is healthy and thriving.

A happy employee will create a happy customer, which is where your marketing will truly start to grow.

And take time to consider how meaningful your customer relationships are.

If customers love you, they’ll be willing to come back time and time again.

Utilizing a tool like a CRM can help you track and measure the effectiveness of your marketing and keep you in alignment with your goals.

And when you add all of these elements together, your marketing will be stronger than ever.

How has your company story, culture, or impact influenced your marketing?

act Are Your Best Marketing Tools

NeilPatel.com

Have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month?

Every November, thousands of writers from around the world commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in just one month.

And in 2016, a record number of people (384,126 total) participated. And this year, they expect over 400,000.

It’s even produced some bestsellers along the way.

While to some this might sound like self-inflicted torture, it’s actually an awesome exercise that encourages participation in the art of storytelling.

And that makes it something that businesses can learn from.

Storytelling and the elements that surround it are some of the most important tools in your marketing arsenal.

The culture you create and the stories you tell can help you make an impact on your audience.

And when you get all of those elements right, you can create an unstoppable brand that will be profitable for years to come.

In this article, I want to show you why all of this is true.

But first, I want to explain why your product, your business, and heartless marketing won’t cut it with your audience.

Why you, your product, and your marketing aren’t enough

What is the first thing you usually think of when you consider a startup or small business?

In my case, I tend to think of the product or service. After all, it’s the “what” of your business.

But the “what” isn’t enough.

To be fair, there’s no denying that what you intend to sell is vital. It’s the very thing that will make you money and keep your business going.

So in a way, it is everything.

There’s also no denying that marketing as a whole serves some very important functions.

If your product is good and your marketing is sound, all of the purposes in this graphic should play out just fine.

But simply having a product and a marketing strategy isn’t enough.

Just Google the phrase “when marketing isn’t enough,” and you’ll find some of the following ideas:

Why your blog isn’t enough
Why social media marketing isn’t enough
Why being a marketer isn’t enough

And the list goes on and on.

That means that businesses with good products and sound marketing tactics are running into issues they didn’t expect.

And that’s because having a market, a product, and an effective pricing system are only parts of a whole system.

To complete the picture, you also need to know which channels work.

And that creates a bigger issue.

No matter where you promote your content, the channel always defines the rules.

Facebook decides how it portrays your images, it and doesn’t give you much organic reach anymore.

Ranking on Google is an uphill battle that may take years to win.

And every other social media platform, search engine, and marketplace is the same.

They all, to some degree, dictate how you interact with their platforms and thus your audience.

This is an issue across the dozens of channels at your disposal.

The platform you choose will always limit your marketing in some way.

And then you have to take another step back and look at your competition within the channel you’ve chosen.

Competition in any industry will always be huge.

If you want a prime example of this, just look at the 2018 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic.

There are 6,829 companies that all have viable products in just one industry.

They’re all using the same channels to promote their products.

They all face the same limitations.

And all of them are seeking to win new customers each year.

With all this competition, simply creating a better product and creating a marketing campaign is no guarantee that you will stand out.

So that leads to a few questions.

What do you do to stand out in a world where everyone struggles for airtime? That problem will never go away.

And, more importantly, how do you equip yourself with marketing strategies and tools that are proven and effective?

The answer is to focus on your brand’s story, your company culture, and on how you can make an impact on your audience.

I want to show you how each of these tools can help you stand out and sell more.

To start with, let’s address why storytelling is important and look at some ways you can improve your brand’s story.

Your audience wants a story

If you’ve studied marketing for very long, you’ve probably run into a few posts about storytelling.

That’s because storytelling in your content is a more powerful tool than you might think.

Plus, it’s what makes your marketing effective in the long run.

But why does storytelling work?

To answer that, you have to dig a bit into the psychology behind it.

In a fascinating study from a few years ago, a team from Berkley linked effective storytelling to greater levels of empathy in the audience.

Here’s a video of their experiments and what they found:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1a7tiA1Qzo?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

In their tests, they discovered that the story they shared triggered higher amounts of two different substances in the brain.

The first substance, cortisol, allowed their subjects to focus their attention to a much greater degree.

From there, heightened levels of oxytocin brought out greater levels of empathy with the storyteller.

And as a result of these two increased substances, the test subjects were much more willing to donate to be a part of a cause.

In short, they were able to change human behavior by affecting their subject’s brain chemistry with storytelling.

And when you look into some of the subsequent studies on storytelling, the results shouldn’t surprise you.

A staggering 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story.

That means that most of the people you’re trying to reach will be more interested in your marketing if you present an engaging story.

It’s a clear sign that people value stories over just about everything else.

But with so many people consuming so much content each day, creating a narrative that is both relatable and actionable presents a challenge.

You need to know what kind of story to tell in order to wield this tool effectively.

When you look at what consumers look for in a brand’s story, more than half say that a brand’s values are just as important as their product.

On top of that, 60% of your audience wants to know what you stand for anyway.

So your objective should be to create a story that will resonate with your audience first.

Then, when you’ve found your story, you can adapt it to the platform that displays it best.

When you accomplish that, some great things can start happening with your marketing.

In this report, focusing on storytelling gave the brand a 92% lift in site visits and increased their purchase rate by three to five times their previous amount.

By simply incorporating storytelling into their marketing efforts, they were able to find new customers and keep old customers returning.

And every brand can do this.

Just consider what Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi has to say:

“Today’s availability of technology means that any business in any industry can develop an audience through consistent storytelling.”

The whole picture of your business is caught up in storytelling.

The product you sell, the channels you use, and even the market you sell in play a role in how you present your story.

And with the right approach, you can accomplish this for yourself.

Consider some of the steps in this storytelling formula:

You want to provide relevant and high-quality information that speaks to your audience and that you derive from hard analytics. This is a proven way to share your story effectively.

This goes against the common idea that you know what’s best for your business.

In this case, your audience knows better.

So start by giving your audience the content that they want.

Then, make sure that you’re following best practices for your content that will encourage visitors to engage with your story.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDuL4N1Gi5g?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

That includes elements like using first and second person, creating killer headlines, and writing shorter paragraphs.

If you create skimmable content that still tells your story and conveys a lot of value, your audience will love you for it.

And then, if you want to go deeper, consider a storytelling model like the always-popular hero’s journey.

By putting your brand in the shoes of the hero, you can create a story that people will want to read.

You’ll share your inspiration, struggles, and the lessons you’ve learned that make your brand unique.

Even if you don’t create a story with all of the elements, you can still craft a message that is engaging and share-worthy.

Just look at how subtly Patagonia using this style of brand storytelling in this video collaboration with the Crested Butte Patrol:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOZsdviLOFc?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

They make themselves the hero of this story in a way that makes the brand relatable, trustworthy, and quality-oriented.

When you watch a story like this, there’s a good chance that Patagonia will cross your mind the next time you need to buy a ski jacket.

And they’ve been very successful with these stories.

Their YouTube channel has hundreds of videos and millions of views.

Remember that by focusing on storytelling that connects with your audience, you empower every other tool in your marketing toolbox.

Story is the battery that powers everything else.

Without it, your brand will be boring and lifeless no matter what you do.

Your culture creates your customer experience

When you talk about conversion rate optimization and customer retention, you can’t ignore customer experience.

Everyone knows that good company culture can increase productivity and ultimately make your business more profitable.

But more importantly, you should know that how your customers experience your brand is what ultimately decides if they do business with you.

Consider how some of the various elements of customer experience play a role in your marketing.

Bad experiences cost you money and can spread like a California wildfire.

But a good experience can have just as strong of an effect in a positive way.

How you and your team interact with a potential customer ultimately dictates whether that experience will be positive or negative.

And if you start to nail your customer experience, you’ll start to see real growth in your business.

73% of companies with above-average customer experiences perform better financially.

Despite that fact, customer experience in many companies is still in its infancy.

So if you want to create a positive customer experience, you have to go to the root of the issue.

And customer experience begins and ends with company culture.

Just think about customer experience in the big picture.

When someone comes to you to buy a product, he or she will likely touch every aspect of your business.

Your website is likely to be the first point of contact. But, in many cases, your visitor will talk to your sales department when they want to buy.

And when they need to troubleshoot, your support team will get a call.

Then, if they stick around long enough, they may even talk to upper-level management about improvements they’d like to see in your product.

All of those are touches that give a direct window into your company culture.

If you have a poor culture, they will take notice.

But if you have a great culture with happy employees, they’ll also notice that.

When your employees are happy, your business will be in a better position to grow.

And when you’re in that position, your storytelling and other marketing efforts will feel more genuine and open more opportunities.

That’s when the power of culture really starts to come alive in a brand.

So how do you build a good company culture?

According to a Gallup poll, culture starts with leadership.

That means that culture has to start from the top.

It depends on how you handle client issues or other high-pressure situations.

And it also depends on how well you implement and uphold values, which circles back to brand storytelling once again.

In essence, it requires you to treat your employees like internal customers.

By using your team as a stepping-off point, you can establish a framework that emphasizes and advances customer-centric thinking across the board.

And when you focus on building and sharing a company culture that elevates your customers, your marketing will ultimately build your customer experience.

For example, Zappos promotes their culture by encouraging their employees to be genuine with every interaction they have.

And it works. You can see that from this instance when an employee stayed on a call with a happy customer for 10 hours and 43 minutes.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PloPddCWAjE?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Many companies would have reprimanded this employee or even fired him.

But for Zappos, this is the price of good customer service and a healthy company culture.

And other companies have replicated this approach.

Robert Richman, a former Zappos employee, was able to build Zappos Insights into a company that helps more than 25,000 students each year by focusing on emulating and sharing the original Zappos culture.

And other brands have started taking note of these changes, too.

Look at how vocal Johnson & Johnson were when they extended parental leave:

Efforts like this are what create the culture that ultimately influences the experience of your customers.

When you can create a customer experience that aligns with your culture and storytelling, you have the makings of a successful brand.

But if you start letting culture slip, you’re undermining the very elements that make your marketing effective in the first place.

People care about your culture.

It’s where who you claim to be meets who you really are.

Make it good, and you’ll never struggle to win business.

Impact is what you build on

Let’s be honest:

Impact is a vague word when referring to a business.

It could mean anything from how you affect the environment to how many jobs you provide.

It’s vague, and vague is rarely helpful.

So before we dive in, I want to clarify what I mean by impact.

In the case of marketing, impact should mean the deep, meaningful relationships you have with your customers.

In other words, impact dictates how involved you are in the daily life of your average customer.

This is important because meaningful relationships and authenticity are what lead to sales and customer retention.

91% of consumers are willing to interact more with a truly authentic brand.

That’s what impact looks like.

In a sense, impact is the culmination of your storytelling and company culture as they play out in your actual interaction with a customer.

And if you wonder if this effort is worth it, consider the final statistic from the above image:

62% of consumers will consider buying again from an impactful brand.

That type of customer retention is huge, and retention ultimately means more money from less effort.

So what does this mean for your business?

It means that you need to build your organization around positive messages, positive experiences, and customer-centric values.

But I want to take this idea a step further.

You shouldn’t leave impact to chance, even if it does rely on various elements working together.

It’s easy to get lost in the complexity of this issue when you have a business to run.

That’s where a tool like a customer relationship manager (a CRM) can help you.

A good CRM will act as a digital notepad that helps you track how well you’re following through with each potential customer.

You can use the information you gather in a CRM to help you improve personalization and create more impactful relationships.

One potential CRM system you can consider is the ever-popular Salesforce platform.

Salesforce is very versatile and can work with just about any business model.

If you need to, you can use it to track leads and attribute sales:

But you can also use this system to give you insight into your overall customer relationship, too.

For example, the shoe brand TOMS uses the Salesforce CRM to stay connected with their customers in an impactful way.

Here’s what Digital Technologies VP Hilda Fontana had to say:

“We turned to Salesforce because we want to build even stronger and longer lasting relationships with customers. We aren’t measuring ourselves by the traditional service metrics of call volume or resolution times, we care about customer happiness, satisfaction, and long-term relationships.”

It’s a different approach, but they found a way to measure and track their goals by implementing a CRM system.

It displays a company attitude that emphasizes the effectiveness of their customer relationships. It’s an approach that’s worth trying.

Focusing on impact deepens your marketing. It makes your brand more sincere and profitable.

And you’ll ultimately have a brand that’s able to leverage powerful marketing tools that your audience will want to engage with.

Conclusion

It’s easy to look at marketing elements like story, culture, and impact and call them “soft” metrics.

How do you measure a story?

And what does impact look like for your brand?

But therein lies the ultimate power of each of these different tools.

They can truly make your brand unique in a way that your product never will.

You will always have a competitor that can match your product or even beat it.

And you will always struggle to control your marketing channels against a never-ending tide of updates and changes.

But you don’t have to change your story.

You don’t have to rewrite your culture every time Google updates its algorithms.

And your impact will always be what you make it.

So start by crafting a brand story that will truly resonate with your audience.

Emulate the hero’s journey or create your own path in a way that resonates with your audience.

From there, make sure that your culture is healthy and thriving.

A happy employee will create a happy customer, which is where your marketing will truly start to grow.

And take time to consider how meaningful your customer relationships are.

If customers love you, they’ll be willing to come back time and time again.

Utilizing a tool like a CRM can help you track and measure the effectiveness of your marketing and keep you in alignment with your goals.

And when you add all of these elements together, your marketing will be stronger than ever.

How has your company story, culture, or impact influenced your marketing?

The post Why Your Company, Culture, Story, and Impact Are Your Best Marketing Tools appeared first on Neil Patel.

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5 Marketing Tips That SEOs Can Learn From PPC Managers

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/ppc-managers/

In the digital marketing world, there are two huge marketing endeavors:

Pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization.

Which do you focus on?

These related (yet obviously different) marketing segments often butt heads.

We’ve all seen this happen before with articles that claim that PPC is better than SEO. Or, you’ve probably read posts that try to say that PPC is worthless and SEO will forever be the best marketing tactic for new traffic.

And, of course, there’s the infamous article that you’ve probably read from 100 different sites:

SEO vs. PPC: Which Is Best?

But here’s the truth:

Both are incredible ways to produce results for your business. They simply go about achieving results in different ways.

And depending on your business, one might be better than the other.

But it’s far from universal.

And this virtual battle of marketing tactics is pointless.

In fact, SEOs can learn tons of valuable lessons from PPCs, and vice versa.

In this post, I’ll share with you five different tips that SEOs can learn from PPC managers and how to actionably implement these in your SEO gameplan.

1.  Data-informed strategies always win

When it comes to analyzing the success of SEO and PPC with data, SEOs have it worse.

PPC has a very direct and specific goal: close the deal. That’s the case unless you are running PPC campaigns for brand awareness, but that’s a different story.

Generally speaking, PPC is great for driving sales and skipping the traditional funnel.

But with SEO, you need to “warm up” visitors to help them become brand aware and interested before they make a purchase.

That means that there’s a lot less room for data analysis, and understanding the process of your prospects takes tons of effort in comparison to PPC.

You have to analyze their on-site behavior, their receptiveness to lead magnets and emails, their time on site, and how they interacted.

But with PPC, you can simply see if they converted or not and fire up a quick remarketing campaign to bring them back.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy with SEO. It’s harder to focus on specific factors that are impacting your sales.

In PPC, on the other hand, you directly know what you need to focus on: the bottom line.

And to tell you the truth, that’s all that matters in SEO, too.

One of my favorite examples of using data to produce big wins in PPC is a case study from IntuitSolutions. This multi-year project with a client led to a PPC conversion rate increase of 60%.

How did they do it?

They didn’t follow new trends or produce content for the sake of producing content like us SEOs can sometimes do. Instead, they made data a priority.

In the first few stages of the campaign setup, they made data their focal point by using Google Analytics call reports and goal/event tracking:

Next, they starting testing the waters with AdWords and seeing what the data said. For instance, how did traffic and conversions impact their bottom line? What could they do to decrease costs?

A big difference here between PPCs and SEOs is that SEO often focuses on bringing in more traffic. But what does your data tell you? Is your conversion rate low?

Maybe you don’t need more traffic. Perhaps you need to focus on increasing conversions from your existing traffic instead.

And that’s exactly what IntuitSolutions did. They decided to “Reduce wasted spend to drive better – not more – traffic.”

Doing so resulted in huge increases in everything from organic to direct traffic:

You might notice a slight drop in paid search traffic, but that’s exactly what they wanted.

PPC isn’t about generating the most traffic for sales. It’s about converting as many as possible and letting the data tell you when to spend more.

While decreasing their traffic by nearly 7%, they increased conversions by 60%.

The data showed that low-quality scores were harming their conversion rates.

Subsequently, they improved them by creating better landing pages, forming better ad groups, and reducing wasted spend.

The data was the only reason they made changes, and they always focused on their bottom line.

It’s easy for SEOs to get caught up in producing more traffic. Trust me — I’m guilty of this every single day.

Instead, listen to the wisdom of PPC managers. They ask, “How can you increase conversions from existing traffic?”

Before running your next campaign, analyze your data to inform your next ten steps. Do you need to increase your conversion rates?

If you do, that might not mean creating more content. It might require you to look for ways to improve your current content or develop new lead magnets instead.

Even though content is the lifeblood of SEO, producing more without a data-based approach won’t move the needle.

2. Never go on autopilot. Always adjust and improve

You’ve just launched a new campaign.

It’s only been a few months, and things are going smoothly. Leads are flowing in, and your content is driving tons of engagement on social media.

So now, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, right?

Absolutely not.

When it comes to SEO and content marketing, it’s easy to get complacent.

You think that your current wave of leads, traffic, and engagement will stick around for the long haul. You want to keep repeating the same strategy over and over.

You tell yourself, “Just keep blogging and producing more content.”

But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

And PPC managers know this more than anyone.

Why do you think PPC managers run so many different ad groups?

It’s because they’re always adjusting. They are always moving, improving, and learning from every single campaign.

Their strategies never get stale because they don’t repeat the same process over and over.

Sure, they absolutely double down on their big wins. But they don’t ride them out until there’s nothing left.

They simply keep digging for more strategies and new tactics to pursue.

A prime example of this is when PPC managers utilize the search terms report on Google AdWords.

Believe it or not, on AdWords, you aren’t paying for specific keywords.

For example, the latest keyword that you research and bid on isn’t exactly what you’re buying with each click.

You could be bidding on this:

But in reality, you’re paying for these:

These are search terms. They’re related, real keyword searches that differ by match types.

Just bidding on “seo agency” doesn’t mean you only show up for “seo agency.”

And that’s where SEOs can learn from PPC managers. Good PPC managers find the low-hanging fruit and avoid slipping into autopilot.

To avoid getting comfortable, they utilize the search terms report to uncover new ideas for more campaigns.

By looking at the search terms report, they analyze easy wins by finding searches they are showing up for and creating entirely new campaigns around them.

They get specific and dive deep into each one to create individual landing pages and experiences.

Here’s the key takeaway: Always look for new, fresh ideas in your SEO strategy.

Don’t just sit back and blog about your strengths. Find new topics that your customer base is interested in. Don’t get complacent and always look for new mediums to test.

You can do just that by using a tool like Google Trends or BuzzSumo.

If you’re only blogging, research different formats like video, podcasts, or slideshows.

Look for new ways to create engaging campaigns instead of running the same ones over and over again.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrrB59gQxqE?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

3. Learn the art of writing compelling and click-worthy metadata

If you’ve ever used Google AdWords or written a text-based PPC ad before, you know the struggle.

Cramming all of your important, value-driven data into a limited character space is brutally tough.

You get 30 characters for the first headline, 30 more for the second, and only 80 for your description.

That’s a grand total of 140 characters, which used to be the limit for a single tweet on Twitter:

And we all know how frustrating that was. 140 characters were never enough to convey real value that drove customers to take action.

Writing meta descriptions and titles is just like writing new ads on AdWords:

Your entire goal is to convey more value to the searcher to improve your CTR and subsequently your rankings.

And since SEOs don’t do this very often, we can learn a ton from PPC managers who write multiple ads per ad group and keep writing new ones on a daily basis.

They know what formulas, strategies, and quick value lines work to produce better click-through rates on non-branded searches.

One of my favorite, simple strategies comes from PPC expert Johnathan Dane of KlientBoost. He grew his PPC agency from $0 in revenue to over $1 million in just 12 months:

This easy-to-follow strategy has led him to find massive success with clients. By following a structure, you consistently repeat the keywords for customers to reassure them that they’re finding what they searched for.

Adding benefits and a CTA helps push them over the edge to click on your ad over the competition.

It’s simple enough to replicate for every single new page you publish, but it’s detailed enough to capture interest with specificity and keywords.

When writing your next meta title and description to accompany your latest content marketing piece, follow this simple yet effective strategy for improving your organic CTR:

Focus on the basics: talk directly to what the user is searching for. Let them know that they are getting exactly what they expect to get based on their search.

In the example above, notice that the focus keyword of the post immediately appears in the title, description, and URL string.

Next, it describes the benefits for the searcher to see:

Getting ideas for your meta descriptions is easy when you look at how amazing many PPC ads are.

Simply Google a keyword that your page or latest blog post covers.

For example, I was recently writing a post about content marketing tips in 2018. But I was struggling to make a compelling meta title and description.

So I wandered over to Google and typed in my long-tail keyword to get some ideas:

And immediately one specific AdWords ad jumped out at me with a brilliant idea:

This ad flips the script and drives massive appeal in an otherwise boring conglomerate of headlines using listicle formats.

Reasons why it’s not working.

It’s simply different than the rest and gives you a better angle/approach to writing your post and your meta description.

Instead of touting XX tips, you can tout XX reasons why it’s not working and how you can fix them for your 2018 content marketing strategy.

PPC ad writers have a unique skill of driving tons of interest in very few characters.

Next time you go to write a meta and title, follow the formula from Johnathan or conduct a few Google searches to find inspiration.

You won’t regret it.

4. Dedicated landing pages drive more conversions

As a diverse marketer, I use both SEO and PPC to my advantage.

I produce tons of content marketing pieces on my blog:

On my podcast:

And more.

I use tons of different content marketing mediums to drive traffic.

When it comes to PPC, I am always testing and iterating new ideas. And even when I am not using PPC ads, I am learning from colleagues who are killing the PPC game.

But one specific tactic that I have seen in PPC that works better than any other is dedicated landing pages.

In fact, New Balance Shoes was able to increase sales by 200% when implementing dedicated landing pages.

It’s something that is seen only rarely in most SEO and content marketing campaigns I’ve worked on.

Usually, people are simply directed to a blog post and funneled into a form on the blog post in the form of a CTA. I’m guilty of it too:

Most of us are. We try to turn that inbound organic traffic into subscribers with a few simple calls to action.

And it works some of the time.

But it could be a lot better.

And that’s where dedicated landing pages come into play.

They are necessary when using PPC for traffic and leads because they help to create specificity and a great user experience, leading to better quality scores.

Landing page experience is a huge piece of the quality score:

You can see this common tactic used by testing a simple search on your own.

For instance, when searching for social marketing tools, I clicked on one of the first ads from Falcon.io, showing me a landing page that was clearly created for this campaign:

It’s a dedicated landing page that even highlights the keyword I was searching for, which lets me know that I got exactly what I wanted to find with their products.

Now that’s specificity. And specificity is king.

When conducting your next content marketing campaign for organic traffic, try driving traffic to dedicated landing pages with your calls to action.

For example, if you want people to sign up for a webinar, don’t just provide a form.

Send them to a personalized, specific landing page you create just for that sole purpose of webinar signups:

Create better experiences for your new organic traffic that will keep them around and coming back for more.

PPC managers know how to create dedicated landing pages. Simply driving homepage traffic doesn’t cut it, even in SEO.

Every keyword search is different and packs different forms of intent. Ensure that your landing pages meet those needs each time and never settle for generic pages.

It also helps to segment landing pages by keyword intent. Depending on each stage of the funnel that a searcher is in, the landing page can be vastly different even when discussing the same product:

Top-of-the-funnel or new traffic that hasn’t visited your site before is not likely to convert on a high-risk item yet.

They won’t buy your full product or service, but they might sign up for an email list or your webinar.

So you can tailor your landing pages to that specific intent.

If your content is lower in the funnel and talks about buying products or services, your CTA landing pages should focus on driving home a final sale or speaking directly with a closing sales rep.

The critical thing that SEOs can learn from PPCs for landing pages is specificity. Create dedicated pages and watch your conversions skyrocket.

5. Test more than you are comfortable with

Depending on the platform you use for PPC, testing is easy. You can flip the proverbial switch and test multiple ads in just seconds.

For example, on Facebook, you can split test your ads by checking off a box:

And on AdWords, you simply create multiple ads per ad group and run them evenly to see which performs best:

In fact, Google actually recommends this, stating that “every ad group should have at least three quality ads. That way, the system can optimize your performance, and you can check your performance data to learn what message resonates best with your audience.”

Essentially, it’s built-in A/B testing.

Testing is popular in PPC but often isn’t in content marketing circles.

Personally, I get hesitant to test and edit old blog posts for fear of messing up their rankings and losing traffic. Or fear of trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

Plus, A/B testing off platforms and on your own site often takes expensive outside tools or third-party services to run them for you.

But testing really does work and PPC managers are the best at it because real dollars and their bottom line are directly at stake with every single test.

One of the easiest things to start testing that PPC managers test daily is their marketing copy.

Writing multiple ads per day to test different value propositions that can inform their next campaign.

Instead of changing your value proposition for a product or service, test multiple to find which resonates best.

A great tool that I like to use for this headline and value proposition testing is the Thrive Themes Headline Optimizer plugin:

With the headline optimizer, you can test variations on your content and show multiple headlines to different audiences.

During the test, the optimizer will compile the data for you directly on the page itself, allowing you to analyze engagement and headline success or failure:

Using the three specific factors of CTR, time-on-site, and scroll-depth, the optimizer will determine which headline sparks the most interest.

These are the types of tests that PPC managers run daily and can easily be done by SEOs, but often are ignored due to fear of losing rankings or messing with content.

You can even start your own AdWords campaign with just a few dollars a day and test different ads.

If they work, double down on their success and implement the copy back into your content marketing pieces.

The options are endless for testing. Don’t be scared to test. If it fails, you’ve learned what doesn’t work and can avoid it in the future.

Conclusion

Digital/online marketing is a diverse mix of different tactics.

Two of the most infamous ones are PPC and SEO, but they often butt heads. They clash, producing big comparisons on which one is better and which is worse.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Both excel in their own respects, and each group can learn tons of valuable lessons from the other.

When it comes to SEOs, you can learn a boatload of tips from PPC managers.

For instance, data-informed strategies always win. Naturally, PPC managers are swimming in metrics, and they only make changes or iterations based on data.

They don’t go on autopilot or assume that their strategy will continue to work. They actively search for new campaign ideas daily.

When it comes to copywriting for improving your CTR, there is no better to teach you than an active PPC manager who creates dozens of new ads every single day. They’ve truly mastered the fine art of compelling copy with small character limits.

To match that, start using dedicated landing pages for your campaigns. Don’t rely on your homepage or just a blog post to get the job done.

Lastly, test more than you feel comfortable testing.

Both PPCs and SEOs can learn from each other. Implement these tips in your SEO strategy moving forward for even more success.

What are some critical lessons you have learned from different marketing specialties/subsets?

The post 5 Marketing Tips That SEOs Can Learn From PPC Managers appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How to Create a Video Studio on a Shoestring Budget

sourced from: https://www.digitalmarketer.com/how-to-create-a-video-studio/

Video. It’s more important than ever.

Producing great video used to be a luxury for businesses. But more and more, it’s becoming a requirement to capture attention and engage your audience.

For some people, though, the thought of putting together a video studio sounds daunting. You might think a video studio has to cost tens of thousands of dollars and look something like this:

This is a news-station-worthy studio. It’s not that far off from what we have at the DigitalMarketer office right now.

But we didn’t always have such an elaborate setup.

When we got started, our studio was much simpler and much less expensive—but it still worked great for our needs. It looked more like this:

Thanks to some amazing improvements in camera technology over the past ten years or so, you don’t need as much equipment as you might think. And you don’t need to spend as much money as you might think, either.

You can put together a studio like this without spending a lot of money. And you’ll still have the ability to record and livestream high-quality video with crystal-clear audio.

And in this post, you’re going to learn how to do just that.

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a step-by-step roadmap for creating your own video studio.

You can put together a studio like this without spending a lot of money.

You’ll start with a simple studio put together on a shoestring budget, so you can get started right away. And you’ll learn how to upgrade to a pro-level studio with high-resolution, multiple angles, and professional audio and lighting.

But before we dive into the details of what you need to buy, I want to cover three important requirements when building a video studio.

Follow these three tips to help make sure you don’t waste your money on pieces of equipment that are incompatible or unnecessary.

How to Create a Video Studio Requirement #1: Get Equipment That Makes Sense Together

Some people will go out and start buying one-off pieces of equipment that someone told them they “had to have.”

Some super expensive wireless Lav microphone or a $3,000 lens that Zeiss just released.

The problem with this is that there are a million different “tools” to choose from in video production, and what is right for one shoot could be terrible on another. Sometimes the
equipment you get might not actually be compatible together or make sense when you try to make them all work together as one integrated system.

You could end up with the equivalent of two Lego blocks and three Lincoln Logs. In other words, not enough compatible pieces of equipment to make a complete studio.

So, when I recommend things in this post, I’m going to steer you toward pieces of video equipment that build on one another. That work together.

So that when you decide to upgrade one piece of equipment, it will fit in seamlessly with everything else you already have.

How to Create a Video Studio Requirement #2: Make It Easy to Livestream

As video and video marketing continue to evolve and get better, one thing is pretty clear:

Livestream is becoming more and more important. (Especially on Facebook.)

Remember, you can always repurpose livestream videos for other platforms.

Unfortunately, many cameras don’t integrate well with this technology. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might end up with an expensive camera that can’t even livestream.

(At least, not unless you buy an even more expensive and complicated converter system.)

But if you follow the advice in this post, and start with livestream in mind, you won’t have to worry about that.

Remember, you can always repurpose livestream videos for other platforms:

You can do a livestream on Facebook, then upload the resulting video to YouTube
You can strip out the audio for a podcast
Finally, you can break up the video into several parts and have each of them transcribed into blog posts

But the same thing is not true in the other direction. You can’t turn a blog post, podcast, or MP4 into a livestream. So that’s why we’re starting with livestream capability in mind.

How to Create a Video Studio Requirement #3: Get Your Priorities Straight

This last requirement is all about upgrading your equipment in the right order. And what you’re about to learn here might be a little surprising.

When setting up a video studio, most people tend to assume that the most important piece of equipment they need is a great camera.

Right?

Actually, wrong. And here’s why:

And instead of buying a camera first, you should invest in getting better audio.

These days, most people already HAVE a great camera. And that includes you. It’s probably in your pocket or sitting on your desk or maybe it fell through the space between the center console and the driver’s seat in your car.

I’m talking about your smartphone.

These days, phones have GREAT cameras. Especially newer iPhones and Samsungs. Sure, they may not be the absolute best cameras ever…but for what most people need, they’re plenty powerful.

So, when you’re first getting started, I recommend using your smartphone. And instead of buying a camera first, you should invest in getting better audio.

Why audio?

Think about it. Most people will put up with footage that is slightly grainy. (Heck, Blair Witch Project looked terrible and it still made $248.6 million at the box office.)

But nobody is willing to put up with bad audio.

If people can’t understand you, they’re going to close out your video. Fast.

So overall, here’s the priority order that I recommend when buying equipment for your video studio:

Invest in better audio. I recommend going up to the entry-level equipment described below.
Next, upgrade your video up to the entry-level equipment described below. (Don’t go any higher than that for now because a pro-level camera will be much more expensive and complicated to set up.)
Then work on getting better lighting and improving your backdrop.

Follow this advice and you’ll be working toward a video studio that gives you the absolute best bang for your buck. You’ll have solid video and audio, and you’ll also keep everything as simple as possible to set up and use.

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dig into the specific pieces of equipment that will make up your video studio.

(NOTE: Before you can start targeting your audience, you need to know who your ideal customer is, where they are, and what they will buy. Download our proven Customer Avatar Worksheet now and get clear on who you’re selling to.)

Audio Equipment

As I mentioned above, audio should be your top priority when setting up a studio.

It’s vital that your audio is LOUD, clear, and easy to understand!

When we talk about audio equipment, we’re mostly talking about microphones. And there are several kinds of them—lavaliers, shotgun mics, podcasting microphones, and so on.

We’ll also be talking a little bit about using a mini-audio mixer, which may be necessary depending on what type of camera you’re using. The mixer acts as a preamp and provides phantom power to your mic when you need it.

Shoestring-Level Audio Equipment

If you’re just getting started with your studio (AKA your only equipment is a smartphone), the first thing you buy should be the Saromonic SmartRig+ ($100 at the time of this posting).

Source: Amazon

This little guy is a game-changer. It’s a lynchpin piece of equipment that will play a critical role in your studio.

No matter which level of audio equipment you choose—shoestring, entry-level, or pro-level—you will need the SmartRig+.

If you’ve ever tried plugging a professional microphone (like a lavalier) right into your phone, you probably realized it doesn’t work very well. That’s because professional audio uses TRS inputs, but your phone uses TRRS.

The SmartRig+ fixes that.

Simply plug the SmartRig+ into your phone and it will convert the audio into a format your phone can understand and process. But you don’t have to use a smartphone; you can also use the SmartRig+ with other cameras, like DSLRs.

(If you look at the switch in the middle of the device, you can see how easy it is to go back and forth between the two.)

What makes this device so magical is the multiple inputs (two XLR inputs, two TRS ¼” inputs, and two TRS 3.5mm inputs). Which means you can plug any microphone—from lavaliers to more expensive shotgun mics—into any camera you want.

And when you’re just getting started, I recommend getting a Saromonic SmartRig+ and using it to plug a Giant Squid Lavalier Mic ($50 at the time of this posting) into your phone.

Here’s what the Giant Squid looks like:

Source: Amazon

In case you don’t know, a lavalier microphone is a small mic that you clip onto your shirt. It produces clear, loud audio and also gives you the freedom to move around. It’s perfect for head-on video, which is what most people are shooting.

The Giant Squid is a wired lavalier, which means it has to plug directly into the SmartRig+. So, depending on how far you want to stand from the camera, you might need to grab a 3.5mm auxiliary cable extension. And for around $5, that will give you more range to walk around.

With those two pieces of equipment recommended above, you can get professional-sounding audio for about $150.

Entry-Level Audio Equipment

The only downside to a lavalier like the Giant Squid is that it’s wired. Which means you’re physically connected to the camera.

Even if you get the extension cable, like I recommended, it can still be a little awkward. You have to watch where the cable is so you don’t trip over it, and you have to wire it through your clothes if you don’t want it showing in the video.

Or, you can bypass those issues by upgrading to the entry-level audio equipment…the RodeLink Lav System:

Source: Amazon

This is quite a bit more money ($400 at publication), but it’s wireless—which means you don’t have to be physically connected to the camera. Instead just clip the RodeLink on the back of your belt, and it wirelessly transmits your audio to the SmartRig+.

Now you have the freedom to walk around anywhere, with no wires in the way. Great for live events.

(Note: you can definitely buy a wireless system for under $400…but I don’t recommend it. If you try to use anything less than the RodeLink, there’s a good chance you’ll run into quality and connection issues.)

Pro-Level Audio Equipment

Finally, if you want to kick your audio game up a notch, you’re going to want a Rode NTG3 Shotgun Mic. Here’s what it looks like:

Source: Amazon

For around $800, this is mic has amazing sound quality. It does something most mics don’t do, which is capture the full spectrum of the human voice.

Now, if you’re shooting inside in a quiet location, all you need is the mic itself. If you plan on shooting outdoors, you’re going to need some wind protection.

Ever had a hard time understanding someone on a phone call because it was windy outside? Yeah. Wind is killer for mics.

Windshields for shotgun mics are big and fuzzy and look like this:

Source: Amazon

And the awesome thing is that this mic—which is as pro as pro gets—still plugs right back into that SmartRig+.

Video Equipment

We’re talking about videos here, so obviously you need something to…you know…shoot video!

There are a lot of cameras out there.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and spend a ton of money on something that’s much more powerful than you need. (Not to mention way too complicated for you to actually use).

So, to keep things as simple and easy as possible while still giving you excellent video quality, I’m going to recommend these three cameras:

Shoestring-Level Video Equipment

I talked about this a little earlier. Chances are good that you already have a powerful camera—it’s called your smartphone.

These phone cameras have gotten REALLY good lately. (Especially iPhones and Samsungs.)

They’re mobile, they can shoot in 4k, they have cool features like slow-mo, and they integrate seamlessly with livestream.

So, when you’re getting started, just use your phone. Seriously. It’s a good camera.

You would have to spend at least $400-$600 for it to even begin to make sense to buy another camera.

Entry-Level Video Equipment

When you’re ready to move up from shooting with your smartphone, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming.

Should you get a DSLR? Digital camcorder?

Do you need HD, 4K, WiFi?

What I recommend is something called the Mevo ($500 at publishing):

Source: Amazon

The Mevo was made for filming live events, which means it’s perfect for livestreaming. (Compared to that, it is much more expensive—and complicated—to set up livestream with a DSLR.)

What I love about this device is the Mevo app, which allows you to do some awesome things. It turns your phone into a switchboard, allowing you to switch from one angle to another, do wider or tighter shots, zoom in or out, and so on.

The way this works is pretty cool. And it even has auto-switching capabilities, though I recommend having someone actually manning the operation.

Basically, the Mevo is a 4k camera that outputs 1080p video. As a result, it’s able to choose different parts of that 4k video to output as different camera angles.

So, why is that a big deal?

Because it allows you to do all this stuff LIVE.

Normally, if you wanted to broadcast live video and change angles you would have to use multiple cameras and then splice the shots together in a switcher that typically starts at around $5,000 and requires a lot of skill and engineering to work.

The Mevo lets you do it all live, which not only allows you to produce better live video…it also helps cut out the entire editing post-production process. And that makes it a major time-saver.

You can even just record your video while live switching creating a multicam edit in real time.

If you are set on creating Livestream productions you should upgrade your Mevo with the Boost, which gives you more power and a hardwired internet connection. (Hardwired internet can really improve your livestreaming video quality).

Here’s what the Mevo Boost ($250 at publication) looks like:

Source: Amazon
Pro-Level Video Equipment

When you’re ready to upgrade from the Mevo, it’s time to make the leap to DSLR.

A DSLR is going to be more expensive and complicated to set up and use, but the benefit is that you get an amazingly sharp video.

The DSLR I recommend is the Lumix GH5:

Source: Amazon

This is a $2,000+ camera. It’s a lot more expensive than the previous options, but it’s not that bad for how good this camera is. Ten years ago, a camera with this much power would cost $500k.

One awesome thing about DSLRs is how versatile they can be. Because you can use different lenses, you can go all the way from super wide angles to extremely tight shots. But this also means you’ll need to invest in a lens or two, and those aren’t cheap.

If you buy your GH5 with a lens, you have some options, the best combo is with a 12-35mm lumix GX Vario lumix/panasonic lens. If you want to shoot tighter shots, or need to shoot from a distance, I also recommend investing in a 35-100mm lumix GX Vario lumix/panasonic lens:

Source: Amazon

With those two lenses, you’ll be able to handle just about any type of shot you want.

The upside of this equipment is that you can produce fantastically sharp video. But there’s a downside, too.

The downside is that you’re now shooting your video onto a memory card. There’s no more linking to your phone, no more seamless livestream integration.

If you want to livestream with a DSLR, you’re going to have to make a significant investment in a system like the SlingStudio, Blackmagic Web Presenter system with OBS studio, or even go all the way to the Livestream HD550. The most reliable of which, can run upwards of $10,000 and is amazingly more difficult to set up, and I don’t recommend this unless you have someone with a degree or many YEARS in video production working with you.

Long story short: even if you want to get yourself a GH5 for any non-live videos, you’re probably better off using a Mevo for livestreams.

(NOTE: Before you can start targeting your audience, you need to know who your ideal customer is, where they are, and what they will buy. Download our proven Customer Avatar Worksheet now and get clear on who you’re selling to.)

Lighting/Backdrop Equipment

Lighting and backdrop are critical in video marketing and production. Good lighting can mean the difference between a pretty bad-looking video and a really good-looking one.

Your backdrop is equally important because whatever you have in the background of your video is going to say something about you.

For example, shooting videos in your kitchen will work for a chef…but not for a marketing expert. Shooting videos of you sitting at a desk will work for an author…but not so much for a weight-loss trainer.

So, that’s why, when we get to the entry-level equipment in this category, I recommend getting a more professional-looking backdrop. One that will look good no matter what industry you’re in or what time of day it is.

Shoestring-Level Lighting/Backdrop

The shoestring-level lighting and backdrop is simple:

Just choose a spot with good natural lighting and a nice-looking backdrop. No special equipment necessary.

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

You’ll want to place the camera in front of a window, so that you (or whoever is the subject of the video) is looking toward the window. Don’t stand with your back to the window—that will give terrible lighting.
You want to use a window with good natural lighting, but not direct sunlight (which is too harsh).
Choose a nice-looking backdrop like a bookshelf or an environment that your viewer would expect to see you in, that “reads right” to the audience.
Keep in mind, your lighting will shift slightly over time as the sun moves. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something to consider.

This is going to vary quite a bit from person to person. Maybe your home or office has the perfect spot for shooting videos—in which case, you might not need anything else!

But most people are probably going to want to upgrade their lighting and backdrop. Here’s how to do it.

Entry-Level Lighting/Backdrop

The first thing you should focus on is getting a more professional-looking backdrop. I recommend white because it looks clean, professional. It’s like a blank slate.

There are two ways to do it. You can either get a fabric or paper backdrop, like this:

Source: Amazon

Hint: Seamless Paper looks better and is easier to use but will need to be replaced constantly.

Basically, you put up two stands and a pole connects them at the top. Then you hang the paper roll or fabric down from the pole, and voila!

White backdrop.

Another way to do this is with a pop-up backdrop, like this:

Source: Amazon

This backdrop is a little smaller (you won’t be able to move around much), but it’s quicker and simpler to set up. Just unfold it and hang it from a stand, clamp it to a bookshelf, or even lean it up against a wall.

Often these pop-up backdrops have a different color on each side, so you can have one white and one black, for example. You can even get a green screen if you want to add a custom background in editing.

It’s up to you which of these backdrops makes more sense. The seamless paper or fabric version gives you a pretty big area, so you can move around a little or have more than one person in the shot. The pop-up backdrop is quick, easy, and portable, but is only big enough for one person.

They both work, and they’re both pretty cheap. You can get one of these setups for $50-$100 on Amazon.

Now that you’ve upgraded your backdrop, the next step is to get some better lighting. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money here, either.

The easiest thing is to buy some clamp lights ($15 at publication):

Source: Amazon

Then clamp on with some diffusion gel—which is a kind of paper that spreads and softens the light, eliminating harsh shadows.

Source: Amazon

Hint: These lights can get hot enough to melt plastic, so clamp the paper using a wood clothespin.

Pro-Level Lighting/Backdrop

If you want to really step up your lighting game, the last thing I recommend is a few LED lighting panels with high CRI.

This will replace those clamp lights and give you the full spectrum of light.

Source: Amazon

These are great lights. They are super easy to operate, they don’t get hot, and they provide a large surface area of light. The light they cast is daylight temperature (5,500K), and matches well with ambient window lighting, but you can get variable color temperature versions for a little bit more money.

You can adjust these lights to be brighter or softer to match the needs of your studio. The key to any LED lights for video production is a HIGH CRI 95+ is great, anything below that and you will actually be missing a lot of light information that the eye (and cameras) needs to distinguish color.

3 Quick Lighting Tips

While we’re on the subject, here are three easy things you can do to improve the lighting in your studio:

1. Don’t turn on overhead lights. This will make your eyes look dark.

2. The simplest lighting is put two lights on your subject, one on each side, each at a 45° angle. It’s important to keep the lighting even so you don’t create harsh shadows on one side of your subject’s face.

Hint: If you are wanting to get real professional with lighting your subject Google three-point lighting, the backlight really helps your subject become the focal point and stand out from the background

3. Don’t stand too close to the backdrop. Otherwise, you’ll throw a shadow on it, which can be distracting. Sometime the background will need a little extra light, place lights out of the shot, light from the ground or the ceiling.

Editing Software

Once you get your studio set up, shooting videos can be a lot of fun.

Editing them, on the other hand, gets tedious quick. It’s easy to get bogged down when editing a video (especially if you don’t already know how to use the software).

That’s why I recommend shooting your videos in a way that reduces or even eliminates the need for editing. Like we talked about above, you can use the Mevo to change angles to edit while you’re shooting.

Another option is to find a good video editor to outsource your editing to. Freelancing sites like, Fiverr, Upwork, or Staff Me Up will have all kinds of good video editors for hire.

But for those times when you do need to do some editing, and if you want to do it yourself, here are the programs I recommend.

Entry-Level Editing Software for PCs

Windows Movie Maker is free…and terrible. Please, please don’t use it.

Instead, try Adobe Premiere Essentials. It’s a cheaper version of Adobe Premiere, with a simplified interface.

The benefit of the simplified interface is that it’s easier to use. The downside is that if you ever decide to upgrade to Adobe Premiere, you’ll have to completely relearn how to use the software.

Pro-Level Editing Software for PCs

If you’re running a PC, Adobe Premier is hands down the choice for professional editing. It’s a powerful, professional-level system that gives you all the editing tools you’ll ever need and more, while integrating with their other creative cloud programs.

Entry-Level Editing Software for Macs

I love and recommend iMovie. It is amazingly powerful, gives you a great collection of tools and comes free with all new Macs.

Pro-Level Editing Software for Macs

When you’re ready to progress beyond iMovie, I recommend Final Cut. It has a very similar interface to iMovie, so the transition will be pretty seamless. You’ll be able to hit the ground running without having to relearn everything.

Final Cut has tons of powerful tools, great project management, and their multi-cam editing is unparalleled.

Screen Capture Software

You’ve probably seen us do videos that record what’s on our screen and turn it into a video. You can do the same thing pretty easily. The screen capture programs you’ll want to use are:

Camtasia Studio for Windows
Screenflow for Macs

Screen capture is awesome for giving a first-person point of view of your computer screen. Perfect for showing people how to use programs or software. You can also create PowerPoint presentations and go through them using screen capture.

Now Go Start Your Video Studio

Phew, we covered a lot of ground in this post. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, I want you to remember what I said earlier about priorities.

Follow my suggestions and get started with the bare minimum equipment:

Film with your smartphone and a Lavalier microphone, and stand in a spot with good natural lighting.

What you DON’T want to do is go spend a lot of money on equipment that is too complicated. Because then the technical side of things is going to be a barrier.

Content is King. Start small, and actually shoot some videos! You can always improve your studio as you grow and as video becomes a more important part of your business.

(NOTE: Before you can start targeting your audience, you need to know who your ideal customer is, where they are, and what they will buy. Download our proven Customer Avatar Worksheet now and get clear on who you’re selling to.)

The post How to Create a Video Studio on a Shoestring Budget appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

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4 SEO Ideas You Overlooked That Will Skyrocket Your Rankings

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/seo-ideas/

Despite content marketing’s golden child status, SEO remains one of the most important factors in ranking websites on Google.

According to a Hubshout survey of small to midsize digital marketing agencies, 32% of agencies reported that SEO as a service generates the most revenue for them.

But as technology advances and search engines continue to evolve and adapt their algorithms, it can be difficult even for veteran SEOs to keep up.

This means you could be overlooking significant SEO value on your site.

In other words, if you’re missing key SEO strategies, you could cost your business some serious revenue.

Not interested in flushing money down the toilet?

I didn’t think so.

Implement these four SEO hacks to skyrocket your rankings and put money in the bank.

1. Increase page speed by compressing images

Images are one of the biggest culprits to slow loading times.

In fact, on average, images make up 68% of a web page’s total weight.

But even though many people know that page speed is an important SEO ranking factor, when it comes to optimization, the image size is often overlooked.

One of the reasons for this is because if you are loading (and reloading) your website on your own computer or mobile device, the page has likely been cached.

A web cache temporarily stores the data on a web page to reduce server lag (aka page speed).

In other words, once a page has been loaded and cached, the server will provide the cached version to save time when you return later on to bring up the site.

While caching once a week is a good idea if you want to increase fetched response time, it can inadvertently give SEOs the impression that their website is loading faster than it actually is.

The problem?

If you aren’t checking page speed from an outside computer or with a page loading measuring tool, you may not notice that your images are causing delays on the user’s end.

And when 53% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, that is a mistake you can’t afford.

As you can see here, the probability of page abandonment increases 32% after only three seconds.

Three seconds!

Bottom line: If your images are slowing your loading time — even by a second — you could be frustrating users and increasing your bounce rate (two important SEO ranking factors).

Luckily, this is a simple fix.

To improve loading times and increase user satisfaction and retention rates, first, you’ll need to evaluate your page speeds, then resize problem images.

Evaluate your page speeds

There are many free tools you can use to test your page speeds.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is great for not only measuring loading time for both mobile and desktop but also identifying the causes of any speed delays, including images.

If images are contributing to page lag, PageSpeed Insights will build a list of which images you need to optimize.

When optimizing your pages, it’s important to take a special interest in making them mobile-friendly.

Since the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index, websites that are mobile-friendly will rank higher than those that aren’t optimized.

Based on this analysis, Target’s landing page has an average speed of around 2.2s and good optimization at 88/100.

While this isn’t a perfect score on PageSpeed Insights, it’s pretty close. And, with minor tweaks to the images, they could see a spike in page speed.

GTMetrix is another page speed tool that will help you identify problem areas.

The tool will uncover each of the problems that your site has and recommend tips to help you fix each of them.

And it goes a bit more in-depth than PageSpeed Insights.

If you have any images causing slow loading times, they’ll be listed here.

RankPay utilized GTmetrix page speed reports to reduce their bounce rate by 20% and increase their page speed by 20%.

As you can see, it’s worth the time and effort to analyze and fix your page speed issues. It will not only help you rank better in the SERPs, but also improve the UX experience.

Compress problem images

Once you’ve evaluated your page speed, the next step is to analyze what elements are bringing your page speed down.

And, large image sizes are usually a major culprit in slowing down websites.

Remember: smaller images = faster page speeds.

If you’re using Photoshop, Lightroom, or a similar tool, you want to make sure your images are 1,500 pixels in width or less.

The key here is to balance image quality with file size.

The goal is to use the smallest file size possible while maintaining acceptable image quality.

There are several image file types to use, but the most common are JPG and PNG.

Below is an example of what a JPG looks like not compressed vs. compressed. The original, untouched image was 2.06MB.

Here this image has low compression. This preserves the quality of the image but also doesn’t shrink the overall file size much.

A web page shouldn’t be more than 1-2 MB in weight. While compressing the image did shrink it from the original size, 590 KB is still a significant portion of the page’s optimal weight.

On the other hand, it’s possible to do too much compression.

When the image is highly compressed, the size becomes much more manageable at 68KB.

But the quality stinks.

You want to strike a compression note that is just right.

In this case, the best level of compression on the image is somewhere in the middle. This allows us to maintain the quality while significantly reducing file size (and associated page speed).

If you’re not a Photoshop guru (or don’t want to shell out the cash for an Adobe Suite monthly subscription), I recommend using a compression tool like TinyPNG.

TinyPNG lets you resize up to 20 PNG or JPG images for free. Simply drag and drop your files onto their page and they’ll do the work for you.

If you need more files, there is also a Pro upgrade starting at just $25 for a single-user yearly subscription.

And, they have a WordPress plugin.

2. Improve CTR with Google Search Console

Be honest.

When was the last time you reviewed your meta descriptions?

Or, attempted to clean up ugly URLs?

While CTR isn’t a proven ranking factor, improving your organic CTR will help boost your organic rankings.

Back in 2009, the head of Google’s webspam, Matt Cutts, answered questions related to CTR on YouTube:

“It doesn’t really matter how often you show up. It matters how often you get clicked on and then how often you … convert those to whatever you really want (sales, purchases, subscriptions)… Do spend some time looking at your title, your URL, and your snippet that Google generates, and see if you can find ways to improve that and make it better for users because then they’re more likely to click. You’ll get more visitors, you’ll get a better return on your investment.”

Still want more proof?

A local auto parts company increased their click-through rate by 20% and got 30% more organic clicks.

Another B2B software company went from 35,000 organic visits per month to 225,000 organic visits per month by increasing their CTR.

Increasing CTRs means better rankings, more traffic, and increased brand awareness.  To increase CTRs, use Google Search Console to guide your next steps.

Update underperforming pages

Before you can identify what pages you should update, you need to get a baseline CTR.

To find this, log in to Google Search Console > Status > Performance.

In the example above, the average CTR is 5.6%. Now that you have this average, you can begin to uncover what content needs to be updated.

Within the same report on Google Search Console, make sure Total Clicks, Total Impressions, and Average CTR are checked. Then, Pages at the bottom.

Here you should have a list of top performing pages.

To discover pages that need to be updated, click the arrow button to flip the CTR. You should have a list of your underperforming pages.

Next, scroll through your underperforming pages to find pages with high impressions and low clicks.

This will give you insight into what pages are showing up in the SERPs, but not receiving clicks.

Things like this tell me I need to review the keyword strategy, meta description, and overall content of this specific page.

This strategy works. Just look at how Siege Media took one client from zero to 100,000 visitors.

And, how Bill Hunt reworked Absolut’s meta descriptions based on user intent to improve the CTR from 1.69% to 14.81% in just 45 days.

While this may seem like a lot of extra work to optimize pages you thought were already performing well, it will pay off in the end.

3. Use linkless mentions to build ranking value

Yes, you read that right.

Though it goes against traditional understanding of SEO, link building without links is becoming a key part of ranking strategy.

Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, said during his keynote at Brighton SEO:

“If you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the Internet — and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that. Then you are doing great.”

The idea is that brands that garner a lot of mentions, both in social media and on websites and long-form content, are trusted and therefore authoritative in search engines’ eyes.

While this ranking strategy has flown under the radar a bit, both Google and Bing have indicated that linkless brand mentions factor into how the search engines measure authority and quality.

In fact, Duane Forrester, former senior product manager at Bing noted back in 2016 that Bing had already:

“figured out context and sentiment of tone, and how to associate mentions without a link. As the volume grows and trustworthiness of this mention is known, you’ll get a bump in rankings…”

But Bing isn’t the only one showing us their hand.

Google references linkless mentions as “implied links” in their patent:

And it makes sense.

For years, word-of-mouth marketing and social shares have made and broken brands.

It’s no wonder that search engines are using this social capital as a key indicator of consumer trust and confidence.

How to track linkless mentions

If you’re not already tracking brand mentions through a rep management campaign, you’ll need to use a tool to monitor the web for you.

There are a variety of options, such as Awario or SEMrush.

Let’s take a look at Awario.

Awario is a monitoring tool that lets you track the conversation around your brand (as well as competitors’ brands) on the web in real-time.

To get started, create an account with your preferred email. (There’s a two-week free trial before you select a paid plan).

Once you create your account, set up a campaign (or project) to monitor brand mentions.

Awario will ask you to input the keywords you wish to track.

For example, let’s say you want to track Photoshop mentions.

So I’ll enter “Adobe Photoshop” into the field.

Once you’re done adding keywords to your campaign, Awario takes you to a dashboard that gives you an at-a-glance look at your current monitors.

As you can see here, Awario collects data on:

The number of total mentions for that keyword
Sentiment (i.e., whether the mentions are negative or positive)
The reach those mentions have
Who the top influencers are that have mentioned your keywords
Where mentions are coming from in the world
What languages are represented in the conversation

Additionally, you can filter the data to see mentions from specific platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

This information helps you track where your brand or product is trending as well as how well it stacks up against competitors.

Awario’s Sentiment metric is a particularly useful datapoint to measure because it allows you to gauge the overall health of your brand’s reputation (i.e., is it viewed more or less favorably).

In fact, at last year’s State of Search event, Google’s Gary Illyes noted that Google uses sentiment analysis to evaluate off-site sentiment to inform their rankings.

This means that tracking linkless brand mentions and their associated sentiment can give SEOs an advantage over marketers who fail to track implied links.

How to use linkless mentions to optimize search rankings

Once you have a brand monitoring tool in your arsenal, it’s time to use the information you glean to direct campaigns that will build your online rankings and authority.

Fortunately, many of the strategies for linkless mentions will be the same as your traditional link building campaigns.

For example, let’s say you’re tracking your brand mentions and notice a recent negative review published on Yelp.

What can you do?

Well, when 68% of consumers will form an opinion about your local business after reading just 1-6 online reviews, you need to make every review (and response) count.

How you should respond depends on the review, but here are a few good rules of thumb from ReviewTrackers:

Resolve issues and provide solutions.
Reinforce the positive experiences the customer mentions.
Give a sincere apology as needed.

For instance, take this review from a disappointed customer flying JetBlue.

The TV screens were out in his row for the duration of the flight.

When he notified JetBlue via Twitter, JetBlue responded quickly to apologize and resolve the issue by offering a $15 credit to everyone in that row.

Keep in mind that responding to reviews and participating in conversations is not only a chance to say the right thing but to establish your brand’s voice.

Even though you’re communicating virtually, use these opportunities to show your brand’s human side.

In other words, don’t be a robot.

Whether you’re replying to a negative or positive comment, be personable.

Take JetBlue’s lead.

As SEO expands into brand management, you’ll notice a lot of overlap between teams in your marketing department.

SEO is no longer just about building backlinks and writing keyword-rich landing page copy.

Instead, off-page SEO is becoming just as important as on-page SEO.

To be successful, you’ll need to collaborate with rep managers, content marketers, social media marketers, and even your customer service team to execute a strong, cohesive campaign.

4. Optimize your content for voice search

Images aren’t the only places you can squeeze out more SEO value.

With the advancement of Siri, Google Assistant, and other smart AI systems, voice search has become increasingly common among mobile users.

In fact, as many as 40% of online adults use voice search at least once per day.

Some estimates are putting voice search at over one billion queries a month, and more than 50 million voice-activated devices were in circulation as of January 2018.

And voice search is just starting to take off. At least 20% of mobile searches are now voice searches.

This shift in the way users use and interact with search engines will inevitably affect SEO tactics.

Fortunately, for now, most of the strategies for regular SEO also apply to voice search optimization — but not all.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, including voice search optimization is a must.

How do search engines rank voice search results?

The first place to look to answer this question is Google. To understand how and where to optimize, you have to understand what Google is ranking.

Typically, Google voice search results tend to favor concise answers.

You can see in Google’s voice search rater guidelines that the emphasis is placed on how well the content meets the user’s need and whether or not it does so clearly and concisely.

These two goals are defined as “Needs Met” and “Speech Quality.”

Voice search rater guidelines: needs met

You can see above that the highest rated responses are those that fully (but concisely) answer the query.

In fact, Backlinko conducted a study of 10,000 voice search results and found that the average voice search answer is only 29 words.

Voice search rater guidelines: speech quality

Not only is Google looking for brief answers, but it also prefers easy-to-read content.

This means simple sentence structure and vocabulary. The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th-grade level.

So save the exposition for your great American novel.

How to optimize for voice search ranking factors

Based on the information above, you have to focus on content that is direct and clear.

An FAQ section is the most natural place to build out relevant answers to voice searches because FAQs contain direct questions with brief answers.

But you can also add questions to your landing pages to direct more voice searches to your site.

Sherry Bonelli, BrightLocal’s local search evangelist, says to “focus on those long-tail+ conversational keywords,” for FAQ pages.

The goal is to group common questions together on one page for natural-sounding questions and answers.

Like Hotel Nikko does with their FAQ page. They saw a 63% increase in CTR after optimizing their FAQ pages.

Another option would be to create long-form blog posts that answer a specific long-tail conversational keyword question.

The average word count for a results page is 2,312 words.

This doesn’t mean that the content length itself is a ranking factor for voice search. However, with long-form content comes greater opportunities to include relevant search terms.

This is likely why there is a high correlation between longer content and voice search results.

Capitalize on this trend by building out rich long-form content surrounding a central keyword topic.

MakeSpace jumped 65 positions in one day by creating long-form content.

And, MrGarageDoor.com went from zero to over 2,400 visits per month from creating long-form blog content.

The goal is to provide answers to questions your users are asking.

If you have a page full of content that doesn’t address what your users actually want to know, then it isn’t doing you any good.

Conclusion

SEO has a basic premise: build links and authority to rank in SERPs.

But with ever-changing algorithms, competing data, and hundreds of tools, strategies, and approaches, it’s easy to see how an SEO can get lost in the to-do lists.

I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

Since SEO has a significant impact on business revenue, digital marketers can’t afford to overlook any strategies that provide added SEO value.

Optimize your image sizes to boost page speeds. Resize them as needed.

Add descriptive image file names to your images so that Google ranks them for keywords, too.

Use linkless mentions to build your ranking value.

Finally, be sure to optimize your site for voice search.

Though some of these hacks may seem deceptively simple, their combined value can have a profound effect on your overall rankings.

Be smart. Don’t let these SEO hacks pass you by.

What SEO strategies have you used to improve rankings?

The post 4 SEO Ideas You Overlooked That Will Skyrocket Your Rankings appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How to Steal Your Competitor’s Featured Snippets For Better Rankings

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/featured-snippets/

You’ve probably worked pretty hard to boost rankings on search engine results pages.

You’ve done all of the SEO you can imagine, and you’ve followed every tip that’s in the book to get you where you are today.

On your site, you’ve done keyword research, written tons of blog posts, and even shared all of your content to your followers on social media for maximum exposure.

But those high rankings don’t mean as much if another competitor owns a featured snippet for the same search queries you’re already targeting.

All of your hard work will be overshadowed by the content that Google chooses to feature over everyone else ranking on page one.

That’s why you need to steal your competition’s methods and beat them at their own game.

Here’s how you can steal your competitor’s featured snippets to earn even better rankings.

Before we get to that, let’s talk about what a featured snippet is.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet, sometimes called a rich answer, is a featured block of information that shows up on the first page of Google above all other results.

Like this.

These usually show up in searches that ask a question, such as who, what, where, when, why, or how.

It contains a summary of the content on the featured web page related to your search query, along with the page title, link, and featured image.

For example, when you search for something like “why do dogs yawn,” you’ll see a featured snippet like this that answers your questions without clicking through to the article.

Google pulls information included in the featured snippet from one of the organic listings that already appears for that query.

This gives searchers a quick answer to their question without needing to leave Google.

It makes searchers’ lives much easier because they don’t have to do a ton of clicking around to find what they’re looking for. It’s put right in front of them instead.

If you can land featured snippets, you should see huge results, since the position of featured snippets appears above the first placement.

This ensures maximum visibility and exposure because your page will literally be at position zero.

To sweeten the pot, the area that featured snippets takes up is much larger than regular organic results, meaning that your content will truly be front and center.

And the majority of clicks will go to you, not your competitors, since you’re shown off by Google as the main attraction.

According to HubSpot, featured snippets yield a much higher click-through rate (CTR) than regular results do.

For SERPs with featured snippets, 8.6% of all clicks go to the featured snippet, on average, according to research completed by Ahrefs.

That means that featured snippets steal traffic from all of the organic results on the page. Even the number one result.

But you don’t have to already be at position one to earn a featured snippet. The same Ahrefs research shows that only 30.9% of all featured snippets are top ranking pages.

That means that if you already rank number one, you can still gain a significant increase in clicks with a featured snippet.

And if you don’t rank number one, that number will be even higher.

To land a featured snippet, you’ll need to make sure that your content is formatted correctly and know what content is already ranking on page one.

But before we get into the specifics of how you can earn featured snippets by stealing them away from your competitors, you need to know what the different kinds are.

If you don’t know which kinds of featured snippets are out there, you won’t be able to optimize your content for them.

Paragraph

The first and most common kind of featured snippet is the paragraph featured snippet.

This snippet contains a short excerpt of text that is typically anywhere from 40 to 50 words in length and looks something like this:

Usually, there is a thumbnail image that accompanies it.

These kinds of snippets come up in results pages when a user searches a question with a descriptive answer, such as “why is ice slippery?”

Google then takes a chunk of the featured site’s post that most actionably answers the question.

List

Snippets formatted as lists are usually taken from pages that list items or steps to a process.

They can be bulleted, like this:

Or they might be numbered, like this:

These kinds of snippets appear when searchers look for questions about how to complete a task or make something, like a recipe.

Bulleted lists are triggered when the list featured contains steps that can be completed in any order, while numbered lists appear when there are ordered steps that apply.

Table

Tables come up in featured snippets with queries that request pricing or comparisons between several types of items that can be shown quickly via rows and columns.

A table usually looks something like this when it’s used in a featured snippet:

This type of featured snippet is often less common than the others, since most sites don’t properly format tables on their web pages.

So if you’re going to add tables to your content, be sure to format them correctly.

Video

A featured snippet containing a video player appears when searchers look for something related to a song or movie.

It can also appear when the answer to a question is contained in a video chosen as a featured snippet.

Take this example for the search query “fastest bike in the world vs fastest car,” for instance.

The video is pulled with the paragraph snippet format, the video thumbnail, and the YouTube link. The paragraph is commonly pulled from the YouTube video description.

Put the text that you want Google to consider for your snippet at the beginning of your video’s description for best results.

But this isn’t the only type of video snippet out there.

In some instances, Google will show a full-sized YouTube video player that takes up the entire featured snippet space.

This is a newer kind of video snippet format that Google is using to promote YouTube.

More often than not, media clips or music videos that are featured contain the full-sized player within their snippet.

Now that you know what the different kinds of featured snippets are, you can move on to stealing them from your competitors.

There are several tools out there that can help you accomplish this, starting with SEMrush.

Use SEMrush to find your competitor’s featured snippets

SEMrush is commonly known for its ability to uncover information about site analytics.

But did you know that you can also use it to identify the featured snippets that are currently owned by your competitors?

You can also use the platform to find out which snippets, if any, you already own.

To check how many featured snippets are owned by any site, begin by entering the site URL into the SEMrush homepage.

Click “Start now.” Then, complete an “Organic Research” search for that domain. To do this, click “Organic Research” and “Positions.”

Then, locate the button that says “Featured Snippet” on the right-hand side of the page.

Click that to view information about the keywords that your competitors are targeting that have earned them a featured snippet.

You can also filter keywords that are “snippable” by using the “Advanced Filters” option and selecting Include – SERP Features – Featured Snippets.

When you’ve uncovered which snippets your competitors are ranking for, you can begin to optimize your own pages for those same terms.

You can find keywords that your competitors are ranking for in those featured snippets to alter your content.

You can also take a look at the SERP source to see how the snippet appears on the results page by clicking on the blue number in the row and choosing the “View SERP” button.

And you can use the tool to find variations of related, relevant long-tail keywords that you could also target for the snippets that you already own.

Use Ahrefs to grab low hanging fruit

To come up with even more information about your competition, check out Ahrefs.

To get started, head to the Ahrefs Site Explorer and enter your website’s URL.

To find featured snippets, click on “Organic Keywords.” Head over to the top 10 filter and click SERP Features. From there, click “Featured Snippets” and “All Features.”

This will reveal any and all queries that you currently rank for that are in the top 10 of all results that also have a featured snippet.

This doesn’t mean that you own every single featured snippet listed. Some of them are owned by your competitors.

Next, you need to filter out all of the snippets that you own so that you can only view the snippets that are owned by your competitors.

This kind of feature hasn’t yet been developed by Ahrefs, but you can use an automated spreadsheet to record the data yourself.

You can download it here.

To save it, hit “File” and “Make a copy.”

Give your copy a customized name and select where you want to save it. Then once you’ve done that, hit the “OK” button.

Now, you should have a copy of the file that you can edit and fill in with information that is specific to you and your company.

To do this, follow these steps:

Export the report that you just filtered in Ahrefs from “Organic keywords” as a CSV file.
Import the file into the Google spreadsheet that you just downloaded by clicking “File,” “Import,” “Upload,” and “Select a file.”
Change the “Import location” field to “replace data at selected cell.”
Head to the tab titled “featured snippets you don’t own.”

On that tab, you will be able to view a list of search queries found by Ahrefs that contain the featured snippets you don’t currently own.

Ahrefs also lets you change the search volume to find long-tail keyword opportunities.

Google these queries yourself to find out who owns each of the snippets for those terms.

Analyze the content, because you’ll want to mimic it later.

Use Google to identify potential snippets

Google is another excellent tool for unmasking the snippets that your competitors have earned (and that you could earn in the future).

If you want to know which content you need to optimize for snippet opportunities first, then try to think like your audience.

Put yourself in their shoes. What kinds of questions do people in your industry have?

For instance, if you’re in the coffee industry, try and think up some common questions that your customers have, like, “What is cold brew iced coffee?”

Then, do a quick search for that question and find out who currently owns the featured snippet for it.

Hopefully, the content is already yours. If it isn’t, make a note of your competition.

Look at their content and the type of featured snippet. In the example above, it’s clear Google is pulling a paragraph format for this featured snippet.

So, when formatting your content, you’ll want to write in 40-60 word paragraphs to have a chance at winning this featured snippet.

Next, take a look at the “People also ask” section of the search results. This will suggest questions related to the one you originally searched.

These are the similar questions that your audience is dying to know. Expand each question to find out who owns the featured content for each question listed.

Just like before, click on each of these competitors and note the differences between their content covering the search query and yours.

If you don’t have any posts on your site that answer questions in the “people also ask” section, think about adding these questions as header tags.

If you include the H2 tag “Is cold brew and iced coffee the same thing?” you have a chance at beating Chowhound since they don’t incorporate any of the terms from “people also ask.”

The same goes for the “people also search for” section at the bottom of Google.

Use this to outline your article and make sure you’re answering all of these questions or utilizing these as your keyword cluster for this particular article.

Now that you know who your competition is, try to steal their snippet by doing more research and writing even better content.

Once you know which snippets you don’t own, you can focus on stealing them.

How you can steal your competitor’s featured snippet

Now that you know which keywords and queries to target, it’s game time.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3PSOO-8gqU?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

If you want to rank for featured snippets, you need to take the good, effective things that your competitors have done with their featured content, mimic it, and take it to the next level.

Start by learning what content is already ranking on page one.

Rank on the first page

While you don’t need to always rank on page one to gain a featured snippet, it does give you a higher probability that you’ll beat your competitors.

Glenn Gabe shared at the SMX East Conference in New York City last year that he found featured snippets that ranked on page two at position 16.

But it is still considered a best practice to improve your organic ranking before attempting to steal a featured snippet.

Otherwise, the lower your position, the higher the potential for volatile fluctuations.

Rob Bucci displayed this chart at SearchLove San Diego this year to show just how volatile those lower rankings can be with featured snippets.

All said and done, try to aim for keywords that already rank on page one.

Restructure your content

In some cases, your content may already contain everything that it needs to gain you a featured snippet, but your formatting might just be off.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to restructure your content on pages that already answer the same questions as competitors.

Did they use a bulleted list to answer the question? Use one, too.

Did they answer the question with a video? Create one, too.

Does their piece feature a table? Add one to your page as well.

If your competition has earned a snippet without any type of structured markup on their page, you have the upper hand.

That means that all you have to do to earn a featured snippet is make your content easy to read by formatting it correctly.

To do this, format your page with basic HTML tags to make it more scannable.

Add header tags like <h2> or <h3>, subheaders, <p> paragraph tags, and more.

This will break up the sections of your piece so that Google can easily understand it’s structure.

And, make sure to choose your schema markup wisely.

Alan Bleiweiss was able to beat big sites like Wikipedia and Psychology Today by formatting the featured snippet correctly.

Once you’ve restructured your piece, you need to go above and beyond what others in your space are doing.

Be even better than your competition

One of the easiest ways to elevate your content higher than your competition is to add images to it.

Most featured snippets have at least one image. You need to add several to your page for best results.

Pay special attention to the space directly after the content that you want to get featured. Add images there that relate to your table, list, or paragraph.

This technique is commonly used by sites like WikiHow. They demonstrate each step of an article with an image.

You need to do the same.

In addition to adding images, you also need to add some alt images text.

But not just any text. It also needs to be SEO friendly.

Alt image text describes images on your website within the source code of your pages.

This helps Google understand what the images explain.

To add SEO-friendly alt image tags, add relevant keywords to them, explain the image accurately within them, and keep it short.

It’s recommended for alt text not to exceed 125 characters, or the text may not be read completely.

While it’s great to target for keywords, you should also use keyword synonyms.

Add in synonyms of keywords

Using keywords that searchers are going to be looking for in their queries is important. This is what will ultimately lead them to your pages.

Google will even bold these words throughout results pages and featured snippets so that searchers can rest assured that the results match what they’re looking for.

But you also need to include some synonyms of the keywords that you already want to rank for.

For example, if your keyword is “firework,” keyword synonyms might include:

Firecracker
Pyrotechnic
Low Explosive
TNT

People are searching for these terms, too. And you’re missing out on them.

To find them, enlist the help of an SEO keyword suggestion tool, like this one from SEO Review Tools.

To use it, enter the keyword that you’re currently targeting and select “Perform check.”

Then, the tool will give you an entire list of related keyword synonyms. Add these to the content that you’re trying to earn featured snippets for.

Conclusion

You’ve already worked hard to improve your SEO.

You’ve put in hours of keyword research, content planning, writing, and more.

But the high rankings you’ve worked so hard to earn won’t pay off as well as they could if another website owns a featured snippet for the exact same keywords you’ve targeted.

A featured snippet is a section of content from a web page selected by Google that gives a searcher all of the information they need in one block of text at the very top of the page.

This keeps searchers from having to click off to several pages before finding what they need. With a featured snippet, they’ll never have to leave Google.

But featured snippets rank even higher than number one. They’re located at position zero.

So you need to gain more snippets to see higher CTRs.

The good news is that you can do that by stealing the featured snippets that your competitors already own.

Different types of featured snippets include the paragraph, list, table, and video snippet.

Each of them is triggered for a different reason, and different search queries pull up different types of featured snippets.

To uncover all of the featured snippets that your competition is ranking for, you can use a tool like SEMrush.

You can also use Google to figure out which snippets might be worth fighting for (and which questions your customers are searching for the answers to).

Try out Ahrefs to figure out which featured snippets are owned by other brands on pages that you already rank high on.

Then, prepare to steal your competitor’s snippets away from them.

Restructure your content with headers and tags and take it to the next level. Add high-quality images that your competitors aren’t using.

Don’t forget to include alt image text for every image you add.

Finally, do some research on keyword synonyms that are related to keywords that are earning featured snippets.

Target those on your pages, too. Your customers are also searching for those words.

What tactics have you used to win featured snippets from your competitors?

The post How to Steal Your Competitor’s Featured Snippets For Better Rankings appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How to Create Mobile Specific Content Campaigns For Mobile-First Index

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/mobile-specific-content-campaigns/

Every year, Google makes around 500-600 changes to their search engine.

And every year, entrepreneurs, SEOs, and everyone else have to scramble to catch up with whatever they change.

But now and then, Google shows us their hand.

One such instance is with mobile-first indexing.

Since 2016, Google has been experimenting with methods that will allow them to implement mobile-first indexing for their search engine.

They haven’t been too quiet about it either.

But with a recent update, the long wait is finally over.

Google has started migrating sites that follow mobile best practices over to mobile-first indexing.

And while Google has promised to tell everyone when their site has switched, you shouldn’t be waiting around to adjust your content strategy.

If you’re a business that relies on content marketing to succeed, you need to be aware of how these changes are going to affect you.

So to ease your mind and give you direction, I’ve put together the best tips and tactics to help you create a mobile-first content campaign.

But first, I want to give you a clear picture of what mobile-first indexing really means for your content campaigns.

What is mobile-first indexing?

The easiest way to conceptualize mobile-first indexing is to think of your website as two different entities that work together as a whole.

On the one hand, you have a desktop site.

On the other, you have your mobile site.

When a search engine crawls your website, it recognizes that there are two “distinct” versions of it and weights them accordingly.

Since the creation of search engines and the invention of mobile web browsing, Google and other search engines have been more focused on your desktop site.

But with mobile-first indexing, Google has shifted its focus to put a greater emphasis on your mobile site.

In other words, your mobile site is going to be viewed as the primary version instead of your desktop site.

Which means in theory, if you’ve already created a mobile-friendly site you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

But when it comes to content, you need to do more than just be mobile-friendly if you want to take advantage of a mobile-first index.

For one thing, it’s likely that your website infrastructure will be more important than ever due to the fact that mobile browsing can quickly become muddled or confusing.

A flat architecture like the one depicted above makes your content easier to access, which means it’s also easier for search engines to crawl and index.

And all of this plays a role in your content by providing a better user experience and boosting your SEO.

But beyond the technical aspects of making an easy-to-browse site, why is it important for you to create mobile-friendly content for a mobile-first index?

Google’s announcements should have been enough to turn your head in the first place.

But that presents a deeper question.

Why is Google deciding to switch now?

To answer that, you have to look at some hard data on mobile use.

Simply put, it’s skyrocketing.

According to the cross-platform researchers from comScore, users are spending almost twice as much time browsing on a mobile device than a desktop.

It isn’t just an American trend. It’s a worldwide movement.

And when you look at the overall device market share, mobile devices are starting to push out desktops in a major way.

Since 2016, smartphones have gained an additional 7.4% of the total market share for web browsing devices.

That means mobile devices are absolutely taking over the scene when it comes to content consumption as well.

And if mobile devices are becoming the standard for users, it only makes sense that Google would choose now to transition to a mobile-first index.

But what does this mean for creating content on your site?

It means if you want to avoid getting blacklisted, you need to start taking steps now to create mobile-specific content that Google can rank highly.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjJ6g5QNVrU?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

In the past, when Google’s algorithm has undergone a major change like this, you see some top brands suddenly disappear from the front page.

So what can you do to start preparing for this major change?

First, you need to find out what content is the best to create.

With almost a third of mobile content coming in the form of social posts and “multimedia” content, not everything is going to perform like you’re used to on a desktop.

Finding which content you should focus on and then optimizing it for mobile is the only safe method that will help you get ahead when the changes finally come.

I want to show you some mobile content creation methods you can use that will help you generate content that performs well on mobile from every angle.

And to start things off, I want to talk about your blog.

Mobile Method #1: Create easy-to-read content

First, you have to understand that creating mobile-friendly content is about more than just responsive design.

Don’t get me wrong. Responsive design is a great start.

And you’ll definitely need one as mobile-first indexing rolls out more.

But you can still create poor mobile content on a responsive site.

I see it all the time.

Creating mobile-friendly content may require a bit more effort, but it’s ultimately worth your time and attention.

For example, the traditional “F-shaped” blog content no longer seems to work well, simply because mobile devices have less space on their screen.

You’ll notice that based on this heatmap, users on a desktop tend to move from top to bottom and left to right in a fairly predictable pattern.

But a mobile site often doesn’t include the same header style as a desktop, which means this model isn’t very practical anymore.

Instead, it’s been determined that mobile users tend to look in the upper-center part of their screen.

So from their first glance, your mobile visitors expect a different type of formatting for your blog content.

It’s also been confirmed by Google that expandable text boxes are also a mobile-friendly feature.

That means you can collapse your lengthy content to a more browser-friendly user.

And if someone wants to read more, it won’t get in the way of their user experience.

Then as you dig a little deeper into mobile-specific content creation trends, you’ll find plenty of other pieces of advice as well:

Use short paragraphs

The old-school format of large blocks of text has disappeared online.

Instead, we’ve transitioned to a different style of writing that emphasizes shorter, one-thought paragraphs that focus on how thoughts flow.

With at least 55% of mobile users using blockwise scrolling, your paragraphs will dictate whether your content is actually read.

Implement whitespace

Whitespace is the element of your design where, in one sense, no design actually exists.

But this actually has a very important function, because it helps draw the eye to certain spaces on the screen.

With mobile having less screen real estate, it’s easy to overlook how whitespace can be used.

In one case, Xerox was able to use whitespace to increase their purchase percentage by 33%.

Danielle Duggan from Blue Corona shared this awesome example of what whitespace looks like on mobile content:

Notice how there’s a little room to breath in between each element on the page?

This allows your attention to move from thought to thought without distraction.

Remember to use whitespace in your own content to help users stay focused on your copy and images.

Include subheads

Leaving your content as a blank map might sound adventurous, but it’s more likely to backfire.

Instead, consider including subheads to help your user navigate your site and its content with ease.

In one case study, California Closets increased submissions by 115% on a landing page simply by improving their headings and subheadings.

Don’t leave user experience to chance.

The more you help users have to navigate your content on mobile, the better off you’ll be.

Add a summary of your content

When mobile users come to your site, they expect a quick experience.

That same principle applies to your content.

And one of the best ways to help them find what they came for is to include a summary or table of contents.

This allows them to digest and find what they need in your post.

And when they find what they want, they’ll keep coming back to your content in the future.

Use mobile-friendly images

When you add images to a blog post, you need to make sure that they will be responsive across all devices.

But you also have to consider that putting images in your content increases the risk that it might slow everything down.

In those cases, you need a way to make your images smaller without sacrificing quality.

Consider educating yourself on the steps to optimize images in your blog posts and mobile web pages to help everything load quickly.

When possible, add a list or bullets

List-based articles, also known as listicles, are one of the most popular content formats on the web.

The reason they’re so popular is because they’re easy to read, digest, and share without having to dig too deep.

It’s what makes an article like this from Buzzfeed so popular.

When possible, creating a list like this will help you engage with your readers on mobile devices.

Since it’s short and sweet, you can keep their attention and possibly even convince them to share.

To some degree, all of these are more design elements than they are about your content.

But the point here is that using these elements correctly can elevate good content that no one would read due to poor mobile formatting.

Just look at how I implement some of these content design ideas on my own mobile site:

When used well, design helps create flow and will make your content easier to read.

If you just use paragraph blocks and leave no whitespace, people will get bored because they can’t skim.

And we’ve known that readers primarily skim since 1997.

At this point, you may be wondering if all of this advice is data-backed and provable.

To answer that question, you have to look into what other brands have done with their content and see how it’s changed over time.

For example, Volume Nine recorded their success when they did a website redesign for a brand called Limelight Hotels.

The project involved a redesign of the website’s content, which included creating new silos for the content to be stored in as well a mobile-friendly refresh.

Once all of the changes had been made, and the content started being shared, the results were fairly dramatic.

All told, Limelight saw a 421% increase in organic page sessions due to all the changes that had occurred.

So while these might come across as minor changes, they can have a major impact on the performance of your websites moving forward.

As Google transitions to a mobile-first index, they’re going to value content that mobile users truly read and interact with.

And if the format is off, it could spell disaster for your existing content.

So take a few weeks to refresh your old content and make sure it looks good on a mobile device.

Make sure that you revamp your keyword research too, as the types of search queries on mobile are different than those on desktops.

If you start with these tips, you should see more traffic and better results in the coming months.

Mobile Method #2: Don’t neglect video

One of the biggest trends in marketing for the past few years has been the surge of video marketing.

That means you can almost guarantee that mobile video is going to play a role in the upcoming changes.

So devising a way to create a mobile video content campaign should be at the top of your to-do list.

As it stands, video marketing is a proven way to create powerful content that helps your business grow and engage with your audience.

According to data shared by Statista, by the end of 2017 more than 60% of video plays were coming from mobile devices.

More new users are picking up their smartphones and tablets to watch video with each passing month.

And there are a few points that we can pull out of this fact.

First of all, if you’re not using video marketing, now is the time to start.

And secondly, the world will likely never go back to watching more video on their desktop devices.

With the growth of smartphones and now the dominance of mobile video, brands need to start developing ways to implement video that plays well on a variety of devices.

And that means starting by ensuring that your video is crawlable and indexable for mobile sites.

So you need to pay attention to your video SEO efforts in a big way.

Elements like where you host your video, embedded vs. non-embedded video, and where the video is featured make a difference in how Google views your site.

Margot da Chuna from Wordstream recommends making sure you embed only one video and try to make it the focal point of your page if possible.

She showed off this example:

This displays how one brand achieved a video-friendly format on their own site.

And when you check out their mobile site, you’ll notice that a video is prominently displayed on their homepage there as well.

Now, when a user visits their site on either mobile or desktop, they can see a well-optimized video.

And they’re not the only ones exploring the intricacies of mobile video.

Streaming giant Netflix has recently been experimenting with short, 30-second previews on mobile devices as well.

They’ve also been playing around with vertical video formats as well to help optimize for mobile devices.

If you’re already familiar with the desktop service Netflix offers, you’ll recognize these familiar features.

Offering them on mobile is just one of the ways that Netflix is leading the mobile-first video charge.

But what about for website owners who aren’t as technologically savvy?

If you just want to stick to the basics, then it’s recommended to stay within certain formats like WEBM or HTML5 for sharing on mobile devices.

But depending on the camera type, you could see a wide variety of different file formats when you finish your video.

While some video editors will reformat the file for you in post-production, that’s not always a guarantee.

Plus, what do you do with the older video that you would like to keep?

In these cases, I recommend finding a free video converter like VLC Media Player to change formats for you.

Or, you can find another video converter from a trusted source.

Whichever service you go with, this process will allow you to upload a video and change its format to be more mobile-friendly.

So when your visitor comes to your site, they aren’t put off by a video that won’t play or is poorly formatted.

You also need to spend time ensuring that any video you do put on your site doesn’t slow your website down.

This particular piece of information is tracked using paint timings.

In essence, it measures how long it takes for your video to be displayed or “painted” on a user’s screen.

If it takes too long, you need to find a way to lower your time to first paint.

To measure your own performance, try installing and using the Lighthouse SEO Chrome extension from Google.

This will allow you to run a full check of your page’s SEO and give you a clearer picture of how quickly your video loads for a user.

You’ll get a detailed report of time to paint and other indexes, which will allow you to optimize your video accordingly.

As with all things, creating mobile-friendly video content is a process.

But if you use the right format and track your performance accordingly, your content will be better positioned to help rather than hurt.

Mobile Method #3: Load speed matters for content

If you’ve done much research on SEO, you should already be aware that speed matters for your desktop website.

Load speeds have a proven effect on bounce rates, and it’s generally accepted as an SEO basic.

But very recently, Google also announced site speed matters for mobile as well.

According to their announcement, loading speed will be a ranking factor in mobile searches starting in July 2018.

That means the content you create needs to be able to load quickly on a mobile device.

And by extension, that probably means you may have to make some changes you’ve been putting off.

But there’s one more wrinkle to consider with load speed that a mobile-first index introduces.

With the onset of mobile-first indexing, time-of-day searches are more important than ever.

According to the most recent data from Google, mobile and desktop usage fluctuates throughout the day.

So now you should not only worry about the speed of your site but what device they’re coming from at certain times of the day.

Depending on the time of day, your user will have different needs in terms of site speed and convenience.

So finding a way to keep things fast across the board is absolutely vital.

But how do you tell if your site is too slow for mobile devices?

To answer that question, you’ll want to head over to PageSpeed Insights.

This is a free service by Google that gives you a complete breakdown of how fast or slow your website is.

To test if your content is performing well on Google, all you have to do is input the URL of a blog post or two and see what the results say.

For example, here’s are the results of a recent blog post on my site:

According to Pagespeed Insights, this blog post has a fairly average load time.

Since it’s full of images and is fairly long, I’d say that’s a good starting point.

It’s a great example of how PageSpeed Insights can give you insight into your page’s performance almost immediately.

And if I wanted to make it even better, I could aim to lower my bounce rate according to Google’s mobile load time benchmarks.

By using the page stats from Pagespeed Insights, I can find ways to improve my blog post even more.

Because with each passing second, an unoptimized blog post increases the possibility that a mobile user could leave your site.

If you want to improve the chances your posts will rank high on a search engine, then you have some work to do.

But worse pages have recovered, as evidenced in a recent case study shared by Search Engine Land.

This was the result that they got:

This page dropped from a score of 40 to a gut-wrenching zero and was part of a wake-up call that got the brand’s SEO back on track.

To add to their woes, they were also seeing a year over year tank in traffic due to this poor performance.

By focusing on two primary efforts, they were able to pull themselves from this rut and return to normal.

First, they focused their efforts on only their WordPress CMS.

This allowed them to optimize their content and improve overall load speeds.

And second, they used WordPress to help them compress as many files as possible, again improving their load speeds.

After a few months, their traffic normalized and their crisis was over:

So improving your site’s loading speed should be at the top of your list for all of your content.

And if you want to decrease your load time, I recommend starting with this video:

https://youtu.be/-H1DnE6rhJY

Using tools like PageSpeed Insights and removing unnecessary website elements are great ways to cut down on your mobile load times.

But if you want a direct way to increase page speed, you can take advantage of the open-sourced project called Google AMP to help make your site faster.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, which tells you a lot about the project from the very beginning.

In short, AMP seeks to help any website owner find a path that enables their web pages to load quickly and smoothly for users.

By building on three core components, AMP helps create functional and fast mobile sites for anyone who wants to use it.

By optimizing your site with AMP pages, you can decrease the load time of your content and start seeing more conversions.

In TransUnion’s case, they were able to lower their bounce rates by 25% while more than doubling time on site.

Simply by using AMP to help increase their mobile loading speed, they saw a 3% increase in conversions.

It’s a clear case where improved mobile speeds led to positive ROI.

And if you want to actively push your content on a mobile device, you can also use a Progressive Web App, or PWA.

These allow you to create a reliable, fast application that engages with your audience and helps bring users back to your website.

For example, The Financial Times has used a PWA to help optimize the user experience and load times since 2011.

Since their PWA functions by being installed on the user’s phone, you can even read some of their content while offline.

Even Forbes has jumped on board, and have seen a drastic increased in the number of mobile sessions and increase time on site.

With mobile-first indexing on the rise, these PWAs are arguably in a better situation than almost anyone else.

Load times are faster and engagement is higher, which means Google is very likely to rank them favorably.

In short, the more time you can shave off your content with any method, the better off you’ll be.

By using Pagespeed Insights, Google AMP, and even a unique PWA, you can push ahead with your content and stand out on a mobile-first index.

Mobile Method #4: Use mobile pop-ups responsibly

If you use lightbox or pop-up overlays on your website, there’s a good chance you see some good results because of it.

More and more, marketers are using these devices to help them capture customer information in addition to traditional CTAs and landing pages.

If you’re unfamiliar with what that looks like, here’s a pretty typical example:

Chances are that if you don’t use one of these on your site, you’ve seen them floating around popular websites.

That’s because they work.

On a desktop website, these pop-ups average a 3.1% conversion rate, which is fairly impressive given it’s usually a cold sell.

But these statistics focus on desktop sites, which typically have a wider screen and make a tool like this less intrusive.

In the case of mobile devices, Google has been making efforts since 2016 to minimize what they consider to be intrusive pop-ups on mobile.

Their concern is that these pop-ups or “interstitials” make content on mobile devices less accessible.

To their credit, some websites do use these tools a little too interpretively, and it’s created a fairly negative stigma around them.

But Google does allow exceptions, provided you can use a pop-up overlay responsibly.

The major difference in these two approaches is that the later adds to or enhances the content, while the former detracts from it.

So finding a way to utilize the second approach with your content looks like the way to go.

But do mobile overlays really work?

To test it out, the conversion team at Optinmonster decided to conduct some tests with their overlays on a client site.

By following the guidelines given by Google, they were able to achieve an impressive 3.8% mobile conversion rate.

That’s higher than the average rate of a desktop site.

And the actual overlay design itself is a fairly simple one:

By staying out of the way of the content on the mobile site and attempting to provide something of value, they were able to devise a method that allows you to use pop-up overlays tactfully.

So when considering a mobile-first index, it’s worth looking into this potential workaround if you use a pop-up overlay.

It’s clear proof that the ability to adapt and improvise can serve you well with the upcoming changes.

Conclusion

I think we can stop saying that the “world is going mobile” now.

The world is mobile already.

And Google is taking steps to make sure everyone knows it.

With the onset of mobile-first indexing, it helps to know what trends are leading toward this direction.

More users than ever are consuming a wider variety of content via mobile devices than ever before.

So to keep your site on Google’s nice list, you need to start creating mobile-specific content.

Start by making your content easy to read with some basic formatting changes.

Then devise ways to create mobile-friendly videos that your audience will want to view and share.

Don’t forget to optimize load times either, or else your content may never see the light of day.

And finally, rethink your approach with tools like mobile pop-ups.

At the end of the day, the success of the content you create depends on how much effort you put into creating it.

With the right approach, you can weather these changes to Google’s algorithms and fight your way to the top of the search engine results page.

What’s your number one concern about the switch to mobile-first indexing?

The post How to Create Mobile Specific Content Campaigns For Mobile-First Index appeared first on Neil Patel.