All posts by Marcela De Vivo

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15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Google’s RankBrain is an algorithm that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to rank results based on feedback from searcher intent and user experience.

Diving deep to learn what makes RankBrain tick, here are 15 actionable tips to improve your SEO rankings.

Optimizing keyword research

Keywords have long been the foundation to high-ranking SEO content.  Most of your content, whether it be blogs or website copy, begin with hours of definitive keyword research you could rank for, and outrank your competitors for.

However, RankBrain has in some ways changed those run-of-the-mill SEO keyword research strategies you may have used in the past. It is all about searcher intent when it comes to the future of ranking, so it’s time to adjust your keyword research strategy.

1. Rethink synonymous long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords were once effective, before Google used semantic analysis and understood the meaning of words. You were able to compile a list of long-tail keywords from Google’s “related searches” at the bottom of a SERP and create a page for each keyword.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Unfortunately, synonymous long-tail keywords are not as effective in the RankBrain SEO world. RankBrain’s algorithm is actually quite intelligent when it comes to differentiating very similar long-tail keywords. Instead of ranking for multiple keywords, it will deliver pretty much the same results to a user.

For example, the long-tail keywords, “best automation tools for marketing” and “best marketing automation tools” will return the same results to satisfy searcher intent.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

So what do you do instead of leveraging those long-tail keywords? Read on to find out how to do RankBrain-minded keyword research.

2. Leverage medium-sized keywords

Since long-tail keywords are on their way out, you should begin optimizing for root keywords instead. Root keywords are  the middle of the pack search terms with higher search volume than long-tail.  They are more competitive and may require more links and quality content to rank.

For example, let’s say you are crafting an article with “lemon tea” as your primary keyword. Your keyword research should look something like:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You’ll notice that there are a number of medium sized keywords to choose from. Interestingly, the primary keyword “lemon tea” only nets about 3,600 monthly searches.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

However, medium sized keywords like, “benefits of lemon” and “honey lemon” drive around 8,000 to 9,000 monthly searches.

Using medium sized keywords in the RankBrain SEO world will also automatically rank your content for a number of other related keywords. If you want to optimize your content for highest SERP position possible, use medium-tail keywords.

3. Add more LSI keywords

Now before you toss out the idea of long-tail keywords altogether, it is important to understand that they still have some benefits. For instance, they help you identify the Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords RankBrain loves to rank content for.

This doesn’t mean you should keep using those synonymous long-tail keywords, but you should leverage the LSI potential of them. These would be any words or phrases very strongly associated with your topic.

Using the previous “lemon tea” example, you can easily identify a number of excellent LSI keywords for that primary keyword. How? Good question!

One way is to use Google’s “related searches” and note any words in bold blue.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You can also use Google’s drop down to help you identify commonly searched for LSI keywords.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You can also use a handy little LSI keyword finder tool called LSI Graph:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Simply type in your primary keyword and LSI Graph will return a number of LSI Keyword rich phrases for you to choose.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Between Google and LSI Graph you can compile a number of powerful SEO LSI keywords like:

  • Disadvantages
  • Ingredients
  • Powder
  • Benefits
  • Weight loss
  • For cold
  • Brands
  • Recipe

These LSI keywords will give you more keywords, and pages, to rank for, as long as they are not synonymous like in the case of those traditional long-tail keywords.

Optimizing title tags for higher CTR

Organic click-through-rate (CTR) is a major signaling factor. In fact, the very nature of RankBrain is all about how users interact with the content provided in the SERPs.

Want to improve your SEO rankings? First improve your CTR!

What can you do to ensure your content is netting the CTR it deserves in order to get ranked accordingly? Well, there are actually a number of CTR hacks to improve your SEO rankings.

4. Make your title tags emotional

Putting a little emotion into your title tags can have a big impact on your CTR. Most searchers will land on page one of Google and start scrolling through titles until one hits home emotionally.

In fact, a study by CoSchedule found that an emotional score of 40 gets around 1,000 more shares.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Emotional score, what is that? CoSchedule actually has a Headline Analyzer to ensure your blog titles, email subject lines, and social posts are appealing to your audience’s emotions.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Drawing from our “lemon tea” example, let’s say you type, “7 Lemon Tea Benefits” into the Headline Analyzer. Not a great title, and these were the results from the analyzer tool.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

A score of 34 will get me near 1,000 shares, but it could definitely be better. The title definitely needs a bit more emotion and it needs to be longer.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Let’s try it again. This time with the title tag, “7 Lemon Tea Weight Loss Benefits for Summer,” which did much better.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

It can be challenging to pick a title that brings about emotion. The best way to nail down the perfect title tag is to think like your audience, research other high-ranking titles like yours, and use online tools.

5. Use brackets in your titles

This is definitely an easy one to implement to quickly improve your CTR and SEO rankings. By using brackets in your post titles, you are drawing more attention to your title among the masses in SERPs.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

In fact, research by HubSpot and Outbrain found that titles with brackets performed 33 percent better than titles without.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This was a study that compiled 3.3 million titles, so quite a large sample. A few bracket examples you can use include, (Step-By-Step Case Study), (With Infographic), (Proven Tips from the Pros), or (How I Got X from Z).

6. Use power words

In the same mindset of developing more emotional title tags to increase CTR, power words are, well, powerful. They have the ability to draw searchers in and will make your headline irresistible.

Power words include:

  • Insane
  • Effective
  • Case study
  • Fast
  • Proven
  • Best
  • Definitive guide
  • Scientifically

For example, these titles in page one Google take up the top three positions.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Increase your CTR and improve your SEO rankings by adding power words into your post titles. But don’t forget about those numbers either.

7. Use more numbers and statistics in titles

Lists are great, but don’t shy away from adding numbers and statistics to your titles. Numbers in titles highlighting percentages from research or a certain number of days can have a big impact on your content’s CTR.

Your headlines could look something like these:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

For example, let’s say you are writing content about a new study outlining the benefits of a low glycemic diet for decreasing acne. If the study found 51 percent of participants to have decreased acne after 14-weeks, your title could be, “New Study Found a 51% Decrease in Acne after 14 Weeks.”

You can also combine your numbers with power words for the perfect CTR storm. Like this:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

With your title tag optimization efforts well under way, it’s time to focus on those very important description tags.

Optimizing description tags for higher CTR

Title tags are not the only aspect of a higher CTR to improve your SEO rankings. Someone may have stopped scrolling at your title, but may read your description tag just to be sure your content is click-worthy. This makes optimizing your description tags a priority.

8. Make your description tag emotional too

Just like your title tag, you want to keep the emotional juices flowing if a searcher reads your description tag. This can be done in a similar fashion as your title tag, using those powerful emotion words that satisfy searcher intent in a meaningful way.

Here’s one example:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Not exactly stirring up the emotions you would want if searching for information on how to increase your website’s conversion rates.

Now how about this one:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This description tag points out a problem that many business owners have, traffic but not so many conversions.

And finally this description tag:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This longer form approach puts conversions into emotional perspective. It is personal and has a very clear emotional call to action.

9. Highlight benefits and supporting data

Why would anyone want to click on your content based solely on the description tag? This is the mindset that will take your CTR to the next level. Don’t be afraid to highlight the benefits or the supporting data you are serving up.

This is a great example of highlighting where the content data is coming from, as well as the benefits.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Creating content after an industry conference is the perfect way to highlight key takeaways for your audience. It is also makes developing those emotional description tags easy.

10. Make use of current AdWords content

One description tag hack many people fail to leverage is using keywords and phrases placed in multiple relevant AdWords description tags. If you want to optimize your description tags for improved SEO rankings, this CTR hack is a must.

For example, if your content was about marketing automation tools, you could run a quick Google search and find a number of ads. Then examine them to find recurring words or phrases, like “ROI.”

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This would be a pretty good indicator that you should place ROI somewhere in your description tag. After all, companies are paying thousands of dollars to have these ads up and running daily, so capitalize on their marketing investment.

11. Don’t forget your primary keyword

This should be a no-brainer, but still happens. Placing your primary keyword in your description tag solidifies that your content is indeed going to fulfill searcher intent.

Like these examples:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Be sure to place your primary keyword as close to the beginning of your description as possible. You can also sprinkle in a few of your LSI and power keywords as well, if it reads naturally.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Reducing bounce rate and dwell time

The RankBrain algorithm looks at your content CTR and will rank it accordingly. However, if your content isn’t quality after a user clicks on it, they will “bounce out” quickly and keep searching.

This ultimately weeds out any clickbait and emphasizes the need to have a very low bounce rate and long searcher dwell time on page. The more you optimize for these two very important factors, the more your SEO rankings will improve.

But what is dwell time? Well, this is how long a searcher will spend on one particular page. Like anything sales minded, you want them to stick around for a while.

In fact, the average dwell time of a top 10 Google result is three minutes and ten seconds, according to a Searchmetrics study. How do you get searchers to stick around for three minutes or more? Develop quality, authoritative content that satisfies searcher intent.

12. Place content above the fold

When someone is searching for an answer to their question on Google, they want their answer immediately. This makes having your content (introduction paragraph) above the fold crucial to keeping bounce rate low.

An example of what could cause a quick “bounce out”:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You’ll notice that there is no content to be found but the title tag. In fact, the brand logo takes up much of the above the fold area. This could be problematic.

Instead, get your content front and center once a searcher lands on your post or page.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This will showcase your introduction right from the get go, making the searcher read on. But how do you hook them? Well, highly engaging introductions.

13. Develop concise and engaging introductions

By making your content above the fold, your introduction will be the first thing readers will see. This makes hooking them with a concise and engaging introduction essential. This will keep them reading and reduce bounce rate while increasing dwell time.

There are three main elements to a powerful introduction: Hook, Transition, and Thesis.

The intro hook should pull in the reader. It is specific, brief, and compelling. For example:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Introduction Transitions are usually connectors. They connect the hook to the posts content and supports the title (why a searcher clicked in the first place). An introduction looks like this:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

The thesis of any post introduction strengthens why the reader should keep reading. Normally, if your transition is powerful, the thesis will simply fall into place. For instance:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Spend some time on your introductions. These are in many ways the most important element of any content and will improve your SEO rankings in the RankBrain world.

14. Long, in-depth content ranks

One way to improve your SEO rankings is to develop longer, more in-depth content. Long-form content also increases your backlink portfolio, according to HubSpot research.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

More links and higher position on SERPs will definitely have an impact on your SEO rankings. If a reader makes it through your entire post, dwell time will definitely be in upwards of three minutes.

More in-depth content also showcases your expertise on the topic you’re writing about. This makes you and your brand more authoritative in your industry.

15. Make content easy to digest

You know that long, in-depth content improves dwell time, ranks better, and nets more backlinks. But how do you make 2,000-plus words easy to digest for your readers?

The best way to keep your readers from experiencing vertigo on page is to break up your content with lots of subheadings and actionable images. For example, you can do something like this:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Subheadings are very clear and there’s an actionable image that guides readers on just “how-to” achieve the answers to their questions.

Another important tip for breaking up your long-form content is to keep paragraphs very short and concise.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Paragraphs can be two to three sentences long, or simply one long sentence (screencap taken from Neil Patel’s 8 SEO Experiments to Test in 2018).

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

The main aim is to ensure readers can avoid eyestrain and take in all the authoritative information you outlined in your content. This will keep readers on page and increase your dwell time, thus improving your SEO rankings.

Conclusion

If you are ready to adapt your SEO strategies to new developments in AI and the evolution of Google’s algorithms, follow the tips above to start seeing improved rankings.

As algorithms evolve, so should your strategy. Have you tried optimizing for RankBrain? What are your favorite tips?

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Get 2018 started with an updated multi-channel digital marketing strategy

Did you know that 15 years ago the average consumer used two touch-points when buying an item, while consumers today run through an average of almost six touch-points?

This means that reaching new customers has become significantly more complex. With new platforms and channels still emerging, consumers have more and more choices and are demanding greater attention from brands trying to reach them.

The concept of multi-channel digital marketing has gained popularity among digital marketers over the last few years as brands and agencies have realized that one-off campaigns targeting potential customers on only one channel at a time no longer cut it.

In this article, we will examine updated multi-channel digital marketing tools and effective strategies; but before we do, let’s clarify what multi-channel marketing actually means.

What is multi-channel digital marketing?

“Multi-channel marketing is the implementation of a single strategy across multiple channels or platforms, thus maximizing opportunities to interact with prospective customers,” according to digital marketing agency Emarsys.

While as marketers we try to best predict how and where our customers might interact with us, giving them a choice — a say in the matter — leads to higher conversions. This requires casting a wide net of orchestrated touch-points and repeating your brand message across various channels, but ultimately improves your chance to raise customer awareness and let the message sink in to actually have an effect.

Let’s take a look at a handful of channels that effectively support a multitude of touch points and provide your customers with choice in selecting their preferred channel.

Social media

The advantage of social media is that it can be utilized as both introductory (initial interest) as well as retargeting channel leading a new customer further down the sales funnel.

Eyeballs through content

Facebook is a fantastic method to fill the top of your funnel with visitors.  Whether you amplify content or gain people’s attention through Facebook live or other multimedia ads, it’s crucial to think about what your target customer might be interested in and then tailor content to their desires.

This doesn’t mean that you should advertise for your product right in the article or video, but rather cover topics that might interest potential customers and ultimately lead to your product page. At the top of the funnel, the goal is to create that first touchpoint which will enable you to start marketing to them through other channels, particularly email and remarketing.

Get 2018 started with an updated multi-channel digital marketing strategy

Generating leads

Another helpful Facebook tool comes in handy at this stage of the sales funnel, especially if you run an ecommerce business — it’s called Dynamic Product Ads. These ads “automatically promote products to people who have expressed interest on your website, in your app or elsewhere on the internet,” according to Facebook.

You can even upload your product catalog to Facebook and after setting up the campaign, the social network will handle the rest (such as matching people with the right product).

Email

While social media is very effective as both introductory and retargeting channel, emails are most effective when retargeting potential customers.

Chances are that by the time someone has provided their e-mail address, you have some idea of what they are interested in and looking for, thanks to your “eyeballs through content” campaign as discussed above. So crafting effective e-mails addressing their potential pain points should be a little easier now.

Crucial to making e-mail marketing successful is to make sure its content aligns with your overall campaign message. A recent case study confirmed that “Coordinating messaging across channels resulted in reaching customers who were 22% more likely to purchase than those only reached by email.”

AdWords

You can craft AdWords campaigns to function at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.  At the top, you can create broad match modified campaigns focusing on identifying exactly what keywords people search for in your space.

As part of your exploratory campaigns, you can also look for lateral keywords of interest that can help you understand exactly what your audience is looking for.

At the middle of the funnel, you have people who are interested in the products or services you are offering so you serve them the most targeted ads.  Traditional AdWords campaigns tend to belong to this stage of the funnel.  At the bottom of the funnel, you can use AdWords remarketing to continue creating additional touchpoints after consumers have visited your site.

Smart marketers use AdWords Ad Extensions to include interactive and clickable information right on top of the ad, such as coupons, phone numbers, and text message extensions. Making these marketing tools available right inside the ad can cut down significantly on the number of steps in your sales funnel.

By clicking on the coupon, for example, customers could be enticed to walk right into a physical location to pick up the product they are getting a discount on. Clicking on the phone number or text extension, on the other hand, could connect them directly to customer service, who in turn can answer any remaining questions and, thus, increase purchase intent.

SMS/Text messaging

Speaking of text messages: retargeting potential customers is not restricted to e-mails and Google AdWords. Text messaging (SMS) is another way — and an increasingly popular one — to lead consumers further down the sales funnel.

Let’s say your Facebook or Twitter ad asked potential new customers to “opt-in,” which they did using their social media accounts. Most social networks now require mobile phone numbers when users first sign up. This information will be available to you as well if you are setting up ads through these social networks.

You now have the opportunity to text your lead and interact with them on a channel that has so far not been saturated by marketers. It also provides a much more intimate environment, which could help build trust.

Get 2018 started with an updated multi-channel digital marketing strategy

You can easily set up text message campaigns with tools like Autopilot and TextMagic; and you should, too, because text message opens are as high as 99% among mobile users. Key is to let potential leads opt in voluntarily as opposed to being contacted via text out of the blue. Also, a good next step might be asking for permission to set up a phone call to continue the conversation.

Text messages can also be useful when sending out reminders for live events or webinars, which some of your new customers might have signed up for, but are about to miss because they forgot putting it in their calendars.

Putting it all together

As you can see, none of the marketing tools listed above are particularly effective in this day and age if you keep them isolated. Google AdWords can lead to customer service conversions; social media can lead to email and text message opt-ins; email in turn can be reinforced by text messages, which could lead back to customer service.

That’s why a consistent brand message as well as consistent quality of content, service, and customer experience across all channels is essential. Future customers should get a sense of familiarity at every turn of the sales funnel if you are to build a trustworthy relationship with them.

Coordinating this rather significant number of communication channels seems like a daunting and expensive task; but don’t worry, even with a low budget you can implement these multi-channel marketing strategies.

One final thought: all the marketing in the world is for naught if you do not measure and analyze key data. This includes customer profile characteristics (like demographics and psychographics) and customer behavior to narrow down your target audience.

In addition to this data, keeping track of conversion rates between the various platforms will help you measure success and create a continuously more effective multi-channel digital marketing strategy.

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4 digital marketing challenges faced by franchises (and how to overcome them)

One of the biggest challenges facing a franchisee’s growth is their ability to execute a winning digital marketing strategy that is unfettered by a franchiser.

A struggle often exists between a franchiser’s need to control their brand, and a franchisee’s desire to market their business through their own strategies.

According to Jason Decker of Search Engine Land, franchises are failing at:

From poorly managed PPC campaigns, to a general lack of digital marketing expertise by franchisees, let’s take a closer look at how you can overcome many of the most common franchise marketing challenges.

1. Fragmented strategies and goals

The largest issue for franchises is a poorly integrated digital marketing strategy. The franchise may have clear goals, but the goals of franchisees may be different. This creates fragmented marketing strategies.

The very nature of franchises is “structured”, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks. If there is no unified digital marketing strategy with clear guidelines in place, a mixed marketing message and fractured consumer targeting approach will occur.

Is it essential to have clear strategies and goals in place for franchisees?

“Franchising is based on conformity and uniformity, not freedom. As a franchisee, you do not really hold the reins,” Karsten Strauss of Forbes explained. “You may technically be the boss of your shop, but you must follow the orders of the home office.”

This doesn’t mean that a franchise should lay down the law without room for collaboration. Franchise HQ and the many franchisee branches need to work together in order to define branding and unified marketing message.

Providing a core marketing strategy that will serve both the franchise and franchisee will ultimately serve up increased growth and revenue for everyone involved.

Core marketing strategies for franchisees to integrate include:

  • List of brand assets franchisees can employ for all marketing channels, like social media, website, and email direct marketing
  • Monthly marketing calendars highlighting promotional opportunities and consumer events at the global and local level
  • Develop or integrate an in-house platform where franchisees can access all marketing assets

2. Cannibalizing Pay Per Click (PPC) efforts

Franchisees, if not in sync, could end up competing against one another for PPC ads. This PPC cannibalism could result in lost marketing budget and poor ROI. This is not optimal for the competing franchisees or the franchisor.

What can franchises do to eliminate PPC cannibalism between franchisees?

Just as the case of overcoming fragmented marketing strategies due to different goals, a clear plan needs to be in place for PPC. Franchises need to set guidelines across their franchisee network to ensure the same logic and goal is in mind. Increase engagement and profit without competing against one another.

A few PPC campaign tweaks for your franchisees should include:

  • Identifying the keywords each franchisee should bid on, and identifying keywords each franchisee should not bid on
  • An overhaul of each franchisee’s geo-targeting. This should help with the overlap and potential for PPC cannibalism
  • Encourage franchisees that may overlap in territory to work together when it comes to PPC campaign efforts

When two franchisee locations are simply too close to one another, they can consider combining their PPC efforts. However, many franchisees may be outsourcing their PPC to an agency. It is imperative that the marketing agencies of the franchisees in close proximity collaborate to ensure all strategies and bids are aligned.

3. Duplicate content and lack of unique content

When it comes to digital marketing, having unique content that is not duplicated anywhere else online is vital to ranking success and brand visibility. The same practice goes for franchisors and their franchisees.

“Undecided consumers who are researching their options might check out a website and social media presence more than once,” Dan Antonelli explained in Entrepreneur. “When they come back, seeing something new and relevant makes their visit a better experience — and shows that the brand is a professional organization.”

If you are providing one set of content for every franchisee website, or other online marketing, you should start to reconsider your overall marketing efforts. With Google penalties around every online corner, duplicate content or failing to produce unique, fresh content could land your franchisees and franchise in hot water.

How can franchisors ensure unique content for all franchisees?

Franchisors should provide marketing material for all franchisee webpages with guidelines for the types of content that can be created.

This franchisor provided information could then be redeveloped by each franchisee, putting a fresh spin on it to prevent duplicating content across multiple web pages. The content can also be ever changing when franchise level promotions, deals, and new products or services are released.

Content marketing strategies for franchisees include:

  • Develop a master content marketing sheet that is accessible to all franchisees.
  • Let your franchisees hire their own writers or content marketing agencies.
  • Encourage SEO efforts for all content marketing campaigns, whether in-house or via an agency.
  • Have all franchisees create their own unique content relevant to their local area and target audience.

“If each franchise has its own site, more content will need to be produced, but the content strategy behind each piece will likely be more or less the same,” Amanda DiSilvestro writes on Content Marketing Institute.

“You need guest posting, and you need content for the website or websites, and so your franchises need to know your expectations.”

4 digital marketing challenges faced by franchises (and how to overcome them)

4. Not localizing or segmenting email marketing

Franchisors and franchisees that fail to localize and segment their email marketing efforts will discover poor engagement and decreased revenue. It is imperative for franchisees to target the right customers in their local marketplace, and at the right time.

According to email marketing research by emailmonday, only 22 percent of retail emails are opened. Generic email lists lacking a local email marketing strategy simply will not do. In fact, the broad marketing messages will often repel potential customers, as well as ones who have interacted with your franchise in the past.

One of the factors behind this franchise digital marketing challenge is the lack of a centralized email marketing system. Franchisors can quickly lose control of their core brand messaging if a centralized system is not in place.

How can you ensure your message is not lost during franchisee email marketing campaigns?

The first thing franchisors need to integrate into their email marketing strategy is a centralized system. This could be as simple as centralizing all email lists for different customer requests, comments, and touch points.

Each of these centralized email lists can them be segmented for target audiences based on their specific locations. This lets you deliver geo-targeted and personalized emails marketing messages with a high level of consistency among all your franchisees.

Other email marketing tips for franchisors and franchisees are:

  • Tailor your email messages to your customers in a way they will find them useful.
  • Make email marketing more personal, and follow up if resources are available.
  • Use email subject lines that relate to the local area.
  • Ensure social media is integrated in your email marketing outreach, allowing customers to share your message.
  • Use segmented marketing tactics like language, region, or other consumer demographics.

“Creating or updating your campaign to focus more on local marketing could be the answer you’ve been looking for,” as Amanda DiSilvestro previously wrote on Search Engine Watch. “There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the future of email marketing is hyperlocal.”

The above digital marketing challenges franchises face can become problems of the past. By integrating a few easy concepts and by employing new marketing tactics, your local customer base will increase, and you will build a successful franchise.

What marketing strategies have worked well for your franchise in the past?

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How to align your content strategy with your sales funnel

Nine times out of ten, a person will journey down a sales funnel prior to becoming a customer.

Whereas in the past you could count on single-touchpoint, bottom-of-the-funnel marketing strategies, it’s now increasingly necessary to push consumers down the buying funnel by creating omni-channel strategies.

Mapping content to buying stages can help you maximize the benefit of your omni-channel strategies.

From awareness of your brand or business via social media, to influencer recommendations, all customers generally need incentives to purchase. This makes aligning your content strategy with your sales funnel essential.

The anatomy of a sales funnel

To really hone your content strategy, you first need to know the stages your customers will journey through prior to purchase. This is the first step into mapping your sales funnel to your upcoming marketing campaign.

The most simplistic sales funnel has three very important stages:

Awareness stage

This is the top of your funnel. The awareness stage is the point at which your target audience is looking for answers to questions, doing general research, and searching out opinions or insightful wisdom.

Consideration stage

The evaluation stage is the middle of your sales funnel. This often involves your audience doing very focused research on your products or services, as well as how they measure up with your competitors.

Purchase stage

This is the bottom of your sales funnel, where you convert potential customers into buyers. This often is when you give a little nudge by stating your position of authority in the industry. Discount codes and promotions also do wonders at this stage as well.

Each stage of your sales funnel is important. It is also very valuable to remember that not all your potential customers will enter at the top of your funnel. You will need to understand where they are in their buying decision, and what content is needed to take them to purchase.

Aligning your content strategy with your sales funnel

Having a plan in place when mapping out your sales funnel will significantly cut down on time and effort down the road. One of the biggest benefits of building a sales-minded content marketing strategy is that you can practically fill up your monthly calendar in a few sessions.

Defining your content needs for your sales funnel, developing foundational content, creating an editorial calendar, and repurposing are the four main staples. It all starts with partnering content with each stage of your funnel.

Step 1: Define content needs for each stage

Ideation is quite possibly one of the most important aspects of any content strategy. Having ideation neatly in place will ensure the content you are pairing with your sales funnel stages are impactful.

How do you do this? Well, first, begin mapping out your unique buyer personas. This data includes, audience interests, demographics (age, sex, location, etc.), and pain points.

This first step of mapping is vital, because by defining your buyer personas, you can personalize content for each buyer persona as they journey down the different stages of your sales funnel.

Top of sales funnel content strategy: Awareness

The awareness stage is just as the name implies. You are building awareness of your brand, business, products, or services through attention-getting content. This is when you begin building relationships.

Social media and blogs are excellent assets for building awareness. Posting awareness-geared content on your social media channels can get your buyer personas to like your post, page, comment and share your content with their friends and followers. They’re getting to know your brand, products or services so that, when they need what you have to offer, you’ll be top of mind.

Middle of sales funnel content strategy: Consideration

Now that you have permission, you can communicate with your target audience in a more meaningful way. With the buyer personas in mind, begin feeding your audience tailored blog content via emails, newsletters, and on social media.

This is a little more sales intensive. You will want your evaluation stage content strategy to highlight the benefits of your products or services to your audience. This is your value proposition.

You can even begin addressing a few pain points associated with your buyer personas to begin moving them down your sales funnel even faster. You want them to evaluate your products or services, and feel that they truly do need them.

Influencer marketing can be very helpful when it comes to the evaluation stage. Influencers have a very loyal following of pre-qualified buyers waiting for recommendations. Delivering your product review from an influencer can build instant confidence to buy.

Bottom of sales funnel content strategy: Purchase

Your purchase stage is the end of the sales funnel.  This crucial step is all about conversions. To give your target audience a little extra push toward checkout, feed them content that showcases your authority in the industry.

Developing white papers, ebooks, case studies, and powerful testimonials are perfect content assets for leading your audience to buy. The goal is to educate them, give them valuable insight, which in turn will make you a thought leader.

Discounts and special offers are also a powerful way to get them to add to cart or to complete the checkout. Combine a discount with a limited time offer to put the principle of scarcity to work, and watch your conversion ratio increase!

Step 2: Create your foundational content

Foundational content will be at the core of your content strategy. This content is lengthy, in-depth, and if done right, can make aligning it to your sales funnel simple later on.

This in-depth core content can be drawn upon to develop future infographics, blogs, Facebook and YouTube videos, social media posts, email marketing campaigns, and much more.

However, how do you know where to begin? How do you create this for your content strategy? Well, with your sales funnel buyer personas in hand, you can begin piecing together keyword buckets for each unique buyer persona and sales funnel stage pairing.

Keyword research

There are a number of keyword research platforms online to help move you along. However, Google Keyword Planner is a very good tool to start with. Using their Ad Groups you can get made to order content themes for each buyer persona.

Competitor keyword search

You can also develop robust keyword buckets by doing a competitor keyword search. Ahrefs is a good competitor analysis tool for this. You can also turn to Google Search to find keywords your competitors are ranking for as well.

Next, combine your Google Keyword Planner keywords with those you identified via Ahrefs (or your preferred analysis tool) and you will have plenty of themes and subthemes waiting for content to be developed around.

With your healthy lists of keywords, mind map them into themes and subthemes. This will give you the foundational content pieces you need to move your content strategy forward in a very concise way.

Decide on content types

Knowing what type of content to create can be a challenging one. For example, how will you package and present your content to each of your buyer personas, and at different sales funnel stages too?

Consider the following to keep your sales funnel content strategy impactful:

  • First off, is the content a blog, social post, infographic, video, etc.? This is pretty self-explanatory, but important. You want to maximize your foundational content by having a clear picture of how best to use it.
  • How can you package and present your content as unique? Thought leaders and industry experts are good for this. You can share fresh data, detailed how-tos, and best practices with your audience.
  • What upcoming product releases or new service launches are in the future? This type of content is perfect for highlighting your innovation, and how that innovation solves a problem your target audience needs fixed.
  • Do you have any upcoming events? This type of content could showcase your upcoming presentation at an industry conference, or even highlight your company’s philanthropy at the local level.

Establishing an in-depth content strategy that compliments your sales funnel is imperative. Deciding what types of content to create may seem trivial, however, it could prove beneficial when it comes time to start typing.

How to align your content strategy with your sales funnel

Step 3: Make an editorial calendar

All the tedious buyer persona analysis and keyword research will all begin to look like a clear content strategy as you begin to make your editorial calendar. Like the stages in a sales funnel, you don’t want to skip this one.

Having a detailed editorial calendar in place allows you to stay organized, stay focused, and create content with the most bang for the buck. One essential element to a successful editorial calendar is the ability to track all the moving parts.

Keep it flexible and accessible

Content type, themes, writer due dates, image development, and payments are all components of a working editorial calendar. It needs to be easy to manage and navigate.

Where do you start creating your editorial calendar? Well, Google Sheets is a seamless online tool to develop your editorial calendar, share it, and access it when you are on the go. If you need a little more flexibility and a few more features to work with than a spreadsheet can offer, a collaboration tool like Trello can also be adapted into a calendar with relative ease.

Fill in your schedule

This may seem like a huge task, but begin your editorial calendar by planning the whole year. Each month will have a different theme, which you already have developed from your foundational content research.

Each month’s theme can contain a number of subthemes as well. The key is to be as specific as possible. One way to really make the most of your editorial calendar is to have a foundational piece of content for each month.

With this in place, your buyer personas will have plenty of content for each stage of your sales funnel month after month. You can even use Google Calendar to bring it over the top.

Step 4: Repurpose that foundational content

Repurposing your foundational content will help stretch out each piece of content to support a variety of initiatives. The themes and subthemes you pull from your foundational content should provoke a lot of compelling sales funnel assets.

Let’s say you want to develop an ebook. Each theme you have identified can be a specific chapter of your ebook. Each chapter can be a monthly theme, while your ebook sub themes can be used for weekly blogs.

The data you use for each sub theme can also be placed in an eye-catching infographic. Infographics are great assets for any content strategy. You can repurpose that data for blogs, email marketing campaigns, blogger outreach, social posts, webinars and videos.

Breaking repurposing down

If one of your foundational pieces is an ebook, there are at least 30 assets within that core content you can repurpose. Then from each of those 30 assets, you can develop 10 social media posts.  That will give you 300 social media posts for your sales funnel for just one month.

Those 30 assets from your ebook can also be whipped up into 30 blogs. That is a blog per day for that one theme. Within those blogs you are sure to have a few data sets. You can then turn that data into infographics, and so on.

The main aim when repurposing content is to develop as many assets, themes, and subthemes from one piece of foundation content as possible. This will give you the variety needed to connect with each buyer persona at different stages in your sales funnel.

In closing

For the biggest impact on your bottom line, it is essential to map your sales funnel to your content strategy. Knowing the stages of your sales funnel and identifying buyer personas is a valuable first step that you simply can’t afford to skip.

Your content strategy also needs to revolve around those foundational pieces as well, ensuring you get the most from each asset. And packaging it all in a clear and concise editorial calendar will keep your marketing efforts focused on reach and conversions, rather than daily content ideation.

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Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

Did you know that 55% of online shoppers turn to Amazon to begin product searches?

“Amazon has become the reference point for shoppers,” Jason Seeba, head of marketing for BloomReach told Bloomberg Tech. “Shoppers will go to Amazon first to find a product and check prices.”

If you are looking for a launching pad for your products that your target audience likes and finds useful, Amazon is it. To get the most from your listings on Amazon, however, you will need to employ some SEO tactics to showcase your products and business.

The following will serve as your guide to expert Amazon SEO and ranking your products on the largest online retail site in the world.

Understanding Amazon results pages

Knowing the intricacies of how Amazon displays products can be very beneficial to getting your products seen. They pretty much have two results page formats.

There is the list view with 15 product results covering all departments.

Also the gallery view with 24 results per page displayed when specific categories or departments are searched.

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

Understanding the results pages is kind of like knowing how many positions there are on a Google results page, with their own types of ads and organic results.

Other key aspects of Amazon’s results pages are the filter fields located on the left hand side of the page (sidebar).

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

A user that navigates the filter will get a subset of the originally search query. This makes completing all the fields in your product listing increasingly important.

For example, if you are listing a “16GB” iPhone 6, you will want to make sure that field is filled in when listing the iPhone. Otherwise, shoppers interested ONLY in the internal memory size of 16GB could possibly miss your listing.

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

There are also sponsored products listed in the bottom section of the results page. These products are PPC optimized, just like the AdWords ads you can find on Google SERPs.

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

Just like Google ads, you want to have a tight grouping of keywords, only this time you want them stuffed into your title or description bullet points.

Understanding Amazon’s query parameters

The next bit of Amazon anatomy you should take note of is the query string parameters the platform uses. Having a working knowledge of these query parameters will help get your products in front of consumers who are more likely ready to make a purchase.

If you are familiar with how Google builds URLs based on their set of query string parameters, Amazon’s will be easier to mentally digest.

The top three worth examining are:

  • Field-Keywords: This one is rather straightforward simply the keywords a user types in the search field. For example, “iPhone” or “Samsung 7 Case” would qualify as field-keywords, and Amazon will place them in the results URL.
  • Node: This is a very good query parameter to know, since this is the numeric number relevant to Amazon’s categories. For instance, if you were selling a camera, you would enter the node ID 502394 representing the “Camera, Photo & Video” category.
  • Field-BrandTextBin: This is essentially the brand field, and it can be quite useful for measuring your products with others of the same brand. If you are an iPhone reseller, than iPhone should be in your field-keywords, as well as your field-brandtextbin.

The hierarchy of nodes is also important:

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

To get more insight on how Amazon builds query parameters for products you can navigate the filter fields a bit. Clicking around on it will show how each category or selection can manipulate the URL.

Ranking on Amazon like a boss

To maximize your Amazon SEO efforts there are a few foundational ranking factors to put into action. Knowing exactly what to focus on when listing your products will get your products in front of more consumers.

Amazon uses data to determine what a user sees after a search query.

This data can be:

  • Product Pricing
  • Search Terms (keywords)
  • Range of Selection (color, models, etc.)
  • Product Availability (stock)
  • Sales History
  • Customer Reviews (star ratings and comments)
  • Click volume

There are two main categories the above factors fall into, Performance Factors and Relevance Factors. Performance factors are interesting, because these are what signals Amazon to rank products based on how much money they will make by doing so. Relevance factors are the relevancy the product has after a user search.

Performance based ranking factors

The following performance factors are vital, because they essentially equate to more profit for Amazon. This compels them to rank products with these optimized factors higher. Simply put, if your product sells well when ranked higher, it will be sure to get more search love.

Conversion rate

Conversions are pretty obvious ranking factors, but one of the most challenging ones to pin down. There are a few tactics you can employ to potentially show Amazon your product is converting well.

Amazon is tricky when it comes to getting a clear picture of conversions. You can see metrics such as units and sessions, but not enough data to really control, or A/B test.

First, find your conversion data in Seller Central by going to Reports > Business Reports > Detailed Page Sales > Traffic.

You will need to see the Unit Session Percentage to get the information needed. The Unit Session Percentage is (units ordered/number of Sessions) per product listing.

To ensure you are getting the most from your conversions in order to improve your rankings, you will need to adjust your buy box percentage. This is especially important if your products are in high competition.

For example, weighting your units ordered per buy box will signal to Amazon that you are converting more.

Optimized images

Images are important performance factors to improve your Amazon rankings. If you are not following their image guidelines, you may be losing a lot of potential customers.

Amazon requests that sellers upload product images 1000 x 1000 pixels or larger. Why? This will make your images compatible with Amazon’s zoom feature, and images optimized for zoom sell better.

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

Remember, performance factors are all about how you can provide a higher profit for Amazon. If they say zoom increases sales, then your images better be zoomable. This simple tweak to your listings can boost your rankings, and have a snowball effect for increasing conversions, which in turn will also impact your rankings in a positive way.

Product pricing

Price is another major factor in the ranking snowball effect you can leverage for optimal Amazon SEO. There is no secret that price is a major buying decision for consumers. If your product pricing is better or comparable to other sites, chances are, consumers will opt to buy your product via Amazon.

The more sales you receive on Amazon, the more sessions, the more conversions, and better rankings of your products.

A good example of comparable prices across similar products is for refurbished iPhone 6 16GB smartphones.

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

The market for iPhone 6 mobile devices is so saturated, sellers need to make their products as marketable as possible.

You should do a bit of Amazon product research in your category as well. You want to make sure your product price is also better or comparable to other sellers that will be alongside you in the results pages.

For instance, if you are selling refurbished iPhones $100 more than other sellers, you may find your rankings less desirable. This could happen due to low conversions based on higher pricing, or Amazon concluded your products would not fare well, thus ranking them lower from the get go.

Amazon ranking factors based on relevance

Now that you know how to optimize for the performance factors that Amazon uses to calculate its profit, it’s time to look at relevance factors. Relevance factors are all about search query relevancy, and can be easier to optimize for than performance factors.

Product listing title

The title you choose for your product listings are in fact one of the most important relevance factors. It is where you will place your most valuable keywords, as well as a few other description related search terms to help users find your products on page one and above the fold.

A few essentials to include in your title are:

  • Product Brand
  • Description
  • Line of the Product
  • Color
  • Material
  • Size or Dimensions
  • Quantity

Amazon, like Google, does advocate against keyword stuffing, but valuable keywords should be placed in your product title. A good title will influence users to click on your listing. Giving consumers a very clear idea of what the product is will secure a higher CTR.

However, a title jam packed with just keywords may have the opposite effect, causing users to shy away from your listing. Keep it clear and concise for the best results.

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

The smart watch listing above is an example of what to AVOID.  You want users to BUY your products – so tread carefully that line between keyword stuffing and usability.

Brand

Including the brand of the product you are selling is very important. The brand field for a product listing will be shown and it will be linked to other products by the same brand.

Think about how you would search for your product as an Amazon user. For example, if you want to purchase a new Samsung smartphone, you would type “Samsung” as the first word in the search field.

Some sellers may find themselves in a bit of a conundrum if they have a product with different brand names. The Apple Watch Nike+ would be a good example of this.

You’ll see that this top rated Amazon seller used Nike twice in their product listing:

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

What exactly would you enter in the brand field for this one? The best place to start would be checking the highest monthly searches for each potential brand keyword. Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer are both good platforms for keyword research. Whichever brand gets the most monthly searches wins!

Bullet points vs. paragraph descriptions

There are a number of ways you can take your Amazon SEO to the next level. Some are slightly challenging, and some, like using bullet points in your product description are super easy.

Using bullet points rather than paragraph descriptions can give your products a rankings boost. Why? People like very concise information that is easy to digest. Amazon knows this and products with bullet points tend to convert better.

Here’s a perfect example of a bullet point product description that converts:

Amazon SEO: A guide to improving your rankings on Amazon

Including keywords, branding, size, color, and any other optimization factors in your bullet points will increase your products rankings. It is a quick tactic to employ, and you may just be surprised by the results.

Rethink your search terms

Relevancy factors on Amazon are all about fulfilling a user’s search query by meeting the expectations of their search terms. This Amazon SEO tactic can get confusing, because it is unlike the search engine optimization and PPC search terms you may be more comfortable with.

For example, let’s say you were selling an unlocked iPhone 6 with charger. You have five search term fields to make the most of, so what would you list?

Your search terms may have looked like this:

  1. Search Term: iPhone 6 16GB
  2. Search Term: Apple iPhone 6 “space grey”
  3. Search Term: “unlocked” 4G iPhone 6
  4. Search Term: iPhone 6 with original charger
  5. Search Term: iPhone 6 smartphone 16GB

Now let’s look at the Amazon guidelines for filling in product search terms:

  • You have 50 characters per search term
  • There is no need to repeat words
  • Commas don’t matter
  • Quotation marks are not good
  • No need to use variations of words
  • Leave out misspelled versions
  • Word order may make a difference
  • Spelling differences and synonyms are good

With the above in mind, here’s what your search terms could look like:

  1. Search Term: iPhone 6 16GB unlocked with original Apple charger
  2. Search Term: space gray 4G international unlock with accessories
  3. Search Term: Apple smartphone 6 generation factory unlocked GSM
  4. Search Term: iPhone 6 dual core mobile device 8mp camera
  5. Search Term: iOS Model: 51-F3A8-A92R 1.4 GHz Cyclone Processor

It may be challenging at first to make the most of your product search terms. However, one easy way to get the information you need to maximize this relevancy factor is to browse a few products on page one of Amazon similar to yours.

Make Amazon SEO part of your product listings

The above tips and tactics are some of the most important factors that you can use to improve your Amazon rankings. In some instances, Amazon SEO is similar to the optimization tactics you would employ for search engines. However, there are a few factors that are quite the opposite.

Make sure you understand how Amazon ranks products in your niche to get a leg up on your competition. Get the most from your conversions, keep your products in stock, and optimize for relevancy factors to ensure you land on page one of results pages.

What Amazon SEO tactics do you have the most success with?

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5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Have you been wondering how to start owning Google’s featured snippets for your brand?

If you’d like to earn those coveted “position 0” spots, you need to start by understanding what featured snippets are and how to earn them. By earning featured snippets, you can increase web traffic, boost visibility in Google SERPs, and earn the credibility you deserve.

The first, and most important, step in earning featured snippets is understanding how to identify “snippable” opportunities.  Once you know how to find them, you can craft the rest of your strategy around maximizing these opportunities.

In this article, I’ll go over five ways to identify featured snippet opportunities.

Use Google to identify potential snippets

Start looking for snippet opportunities by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and thinking what questions you may want answers for.  Even boring industries have a large range of opportunities to answer questions in the featured snippets.

For instance, let’s say you are in the diamond industry. The very nature of this industry is filled with terminology people will search to get information about.

Doing a quick Google search like, “What is a girdle on a diamond” will showcase a Google featured snippet.

Hopefully the showcased content is yours. Under the snippet you will sometimes see a helpful note from Google, “People also ask.”

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

These are the pressing questions your target audience wants answers for. You can dig a little deeper and even see who has the leading content for that question based query.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Now that you see a few competitors, you can try to steal their snippet with a little more research and some snippable optimization.

Use SEMrush to snag competitor featured snippets

SEMrush is one of the most used online platforms for site analytics, and also a useful tool to identify Google Featured Snippets. You can use SEMrush to find your snippets, or use the platform to find your competitors’ snippets as well.

To check out your snippets, do an “Organic Research” search for your domain:

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Next, locate “Featured Snippet” on the right side of the page.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

You can also filter your snippable keywords using the “Advanced Filters” option, choosing Include – SERP Features – Featured Snippets.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Once you’d identified snippets that your competitors rank for, you can optimize for those same terms.

As for identifying your own snippets, it allows you to find variations of relevant long tail keywords that you could also own, and find keyword clusters that you already have authority in and might be able to expand upon.

Look for questions on Quora

Given that the foundation of these snippets is answering who, what, why, when, where type questions, you’ll need inspiration for finding the questions your audience is asking.

To do so, you can use Q&A platforms like Quora to find them. This will help you compile a healthy list of potential blog topics for your Featured Snippet content marketing campaign.

For instance, let’s say you were a travel site looking to compete with Kayak, Expedia, and other dominating brands.

Type in a quick question with a few of your keywords:

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

A nice dropdown of questions to choose from will suddenly appear right from the get-go, even before finishing your question.

You can also type in one or two keywords and find groups that may have snippet-worthy questions waiting for you to develop content around.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Once in the group, you can poke around, follow certain questions. You can also find a nice list of other groups to the right you may want to check out.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Next, you can use the on-page elements to optimize for the snippets as described here.

Find segmented questions on Answer the Public

Did you know that certain question words have a higher likelihood of being showcased as a snippet? That’s right: the question in question matters.

According to research by SEMrush, question based queries that begin with “how” or “what” are more snippable than when, where, why, and who.

This is valuable knowledge to have, but where do you find questions segmented into those respectable question words fast? Well, Answer the Public to the rescue.

Let’s say you want to earn a few SEO content snippets.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Your search results for SEO will yield a ton of questions you can use for content. The best part is that you can focus on the “how” and “what” questions to increase your Featured Snippet chances.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Find a variety of questions on Reddit

If you are searching for a wide range of questions for your daily blog, Reddit can be very useful. This online platform offers valuable insight for what questions are trending.

First, you will need to access the “askreddit” section of the platform:

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Once you are there, you can use the search feature to further segment your search based on your industry. Focus on generic keywords in order to get relevant questions.

5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Once you’ve identified the questions, you can then focus on optimizing for those searches.

Ready for position zero?

Identifying potential Featured Snippet opportunities is the first step towards earning those coveted position ones. Make a list of all the question based queries you find using the above strategies, and begin optimizing your snippable content today.

How do you find featured snippet opportunities?

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How to optimize your content for Q&As

Google is perpetually improving its understanding of natural language. Google Featured Snippets and the rise of voice search optimization has made optimizing your content for question based queries more important than ever.

You may have seen these Featured Snippets pop up in position zero after asking or typing a question in Google’s search bar. The benefit of earning a snippet is now clear to businesses and brands. In fact, Google Featured Snippets have an estimated worth of $3 million dollars, according to snippet research presented by Rob Bucci.

We all know what a snippet is…

How to optimize your content for Q&As

How do you get a snippet for your site, product, service, or blog content?

The quick answer: Optimize your content for Q&A’s. However, there are no guarantees – even Google noted that there is no simple way to mark a page for a Featured Snippet:

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Google’s Featured Snippet support page explains that, “What’s different with a featured snippet is that it is enhanced to draw user attention on the results page. When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”

People are searching with more LSI question-based queries to find exactly what they want answers for. Knowing where to find the questions your target audience is asking, and how to answer those questions to help Google choose your content for position zero, is essential.

Let’s take a deeper look into the “HOW” behind Q&A content optimization for your next Featured Snippet.

 

1. Use Google to Your Advantage

Finding the questions searchers want answers for is simpler than you may think. In fact, Google will often provide a nice selection of alternatives when you search a query you think your target audience might use.

Remember this snippet from above? Sometimes, but not always, Google will display a list of “People will also ask” questions for you to draw from.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This is an excellent starting point for your question-based query research. As you click on each of these results, new questions may appear, until Google runs out of that cluster of related question data.

Another way you can use Google to help find appropriate questions around is to look at the LSI keywords at the bottom of SERPs.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

You can usually find one or more question queries to investigate there. For instance, clicking on “what is seo and how it works.”

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This will return another SERP Google Featured Snippet with even more question based queries.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This takes you even further down the Featured Snippet rabbit hole, allowing you to build a healthy list to use as a foundation for creating ‘snippable’ content.

But Google isn’t your only resource . . .

 

2. Use Other Tools and Platforms

Google is not the only place to find Q&As to optimize content around. There are a few other useful sites and platforms that will assist you in building your question based query list.

Quora

Quora is all about asking and answering questions. You can use this online platform to see what people really want answer for in your niche. It is also extremely easy to use.

First, type in your niche in the search bar . . .

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This will take you to your niche’s board.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

You will see the number of people following the topic and have more options listed for you to browse questions your target audience may be asking. You can also simply scroll down and get an idea of the latest questions being asked.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Create a database of potential questions on Quora that you can answer on your own website.

BloomBerry

Another useful online platform for finding questions for Q&A content optimization is BloomBerry.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

You can use this tool to find questions in your niche, questions people are asking about products that may be similar to yours, as well as questions people are asking about your competitors.

Now that you have a few online spaces to find the questions your audience wants answers for, it is time to begin optimizing your Q&A content marketing initiative.

 

3. Optimize Content Around Popular Question Words

For obvious reasons, you want to begin your content using the question you aim to answer. This tells Google that you are indeed offering up an exceptional answer that is worth a Featured Snippet.

The How, What, Where, When, Who, and Why words need to be in your heading tags. Why? Google likes snippable content easy and concise.

If you are wondering which question keywords you should focus on, those question based queries beginning with “How” and “What” have the highest search volumes.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

4. Optimize Content with a FAQ Page

You may have content optimized for Google Featured Snippets, but you simply aren’t getting the position zero results you hoped for. One way you can improve your chances is to improve search with a FAQ page.

Chances are, you are answering key questions your audience wants answers for. By creating a FAQ page with these timely questions can add value to your overall user experience, as well as maximize position zero chances.

Round up the articles that answer question based queries and create a FAQ landing page with outbound links to each of those articles.

Google can also draw snippable content from your FAQ page like this example from Stanford University . . .

How to optimize your content for Q&As

And its corresponding Google Featured Snippet . . .

How to optimize your content for Q&As

 

5. Snippable On-Page Optimization

If you still haven’t started your snippet campaign quite yet, there are a few important on-page optimization techniques you can easily employ to boost your position zero success.

Heading Tags

When developing your content for a Featured Snippet, begin with headings. Your Question based query should be in an h1 or h2 tag.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Paragraph Tags

Next is your body text under the question based query heading. This text should be in a paragraph (<p>) tag.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Word Count

Research on Google Featured Snippets has found a correlation between word count and position zero. An analysis by SEMrush found that 40 to 50 words is the sweet spot for snippets.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Try Different Formats

Google Featured Snippets come in a variety of formats. There is the traditional paragraph snippet, as well as bulleted snippets, table snippets, numbered snippets, “steps” and “rules” snippets, and even charts and graphs.

Charts and graphs

How to optimize your content for Q&As

In the chart above, Brilliance created a simple diamond size chart to show the difference between MM size and Carat weight, which Google picked up the first few rows.

Numbered format

How to optimize your content for Q&As

In the example above, Yoas has a number list with simple, short items, and people can click on “More items” to view the rest.

You get the idea. Paragraph snippets are often the easiest, but if you have a great step-by-step article you would like to optimize for Q&A content, give it a try.

 

Are You Ready to Optimize for Position Zero?

Intelligent marketers will start creating a Q&A optimization strategy, given the trend towards natural language processing, voice search, and Google’s quest to bring the world’s knowledge to people’s fingers right from the search results page.

By earning the snippet, you are giving people the information they want right away, which results in them clicking through to learn more and gaining trust over your information. It’s a powerful strategy that all marketers should be bringing into their mix.

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8 ways of using collaborative tools to effectively manage remote teams

The remote workforce is growing exponentially. Corporate global companies and first year startups are all turning to remote teams to get the job done.

The question, however, is how do you manage your remote team as effectively as your in-office team?

This is a question many CEOs, directors, and managers are facing more often as workers want remote possibilities. In fact, a Gallup survey found that 43 percent of Americans already did some remote work in 2016. This number is up from 39 percent in 2012.

Much of the shift toward remote working can in many ways be attributed to the continued rise of the mobile workforce. The advancements in mobile technology has made remote working seamless for companies and workers alike. From smartphones to tablets, remote working has become easier than ever.

The benefits of managing remote teams effectively

The value for companies taking the remote approach is also very enticing, especially when it comes to the bottom line. Most remote teams are more efficient, put in more work hours, and can decrease company overhead by millions.

Did you know that American Express saves $10 to $15 million annually in real estate costs alone due to their remote workforce?

What’s the secret? How can you build an effective and productive remote workforce of your own? They answer lays, unsurprisingly, with emerging tech that facilitates the management of remote teams. “It works best when a company has developed a plan, including the best technology to use,” Alina Tugend of The New York Times explained.

Let’s take an insider techie look at what up-and-coming collaborative technologies you can integrate into your remote plan for growth and success.

1. Use Slack

Bringing the office to your remote teams is easy with Slack. Even though Slack is a messaging app, it can serve up big time communication benefits that ultimately boost team efficiency and productivity.

Having a Slack virtual office space allows you and your remote teams to discuss projects and tasks that are organized and prioritized just for them. Your remote team can also share files, and has the capability to sync other tools with it as well.  Brent Freeman, CEO of YogaClub, shares how using Slack has enabled him to outsource work to freelancers effectively, saving significantly on overhead costs.

2. Remote team Slack apps

Slack certainly has a lot to offer when it comes to managing your remote teams. Another efficiency tool they offer for the remote workforce is team dedicated Slack apps.

You can install internal integrations exclusive to your remote teams, make messages actionable, thus increasing productivity, and define your own permission scopes for each app and user. It is also fairly easy to build a Slack app.

3. Keep up with time zones

Having remote workers or remote teams spread out all over the world can make keeping track of everyone’s time zone challenging. Luckily, you can track time zones a lot easier with online platforms like EveryTimeZone and Freckle.

These little time tech platforms allow you to quickly view the time zones of your remote teams, and the time zones of your clients. This allows you to see who’s schedule fits a client in England, or if you need to have a virtual meeting with your remote team in Spain.

4. Get Glip

Increasing productivity can often seem daunting for managers of remote teams. After all, how do you bring the in-office workflow to the virtual space? Like Google Docs, Glip can facilitate this.

It allows you and your remote teams to share documents, set up deadlines via shared calendars, share documents with clients, start a group chat, and even annotate images. Glip is also compatible with Outlook and Google Calendar.

5. Monitor your remote team

With so much on your plate as a CEO, director, or manager, managing your remote teams effectively can be difficult. What is going on with your developers in Bangladesh? What about the marketing team in Buenos Aires?

To keep track and monitor everyone you can use Hubstaff. It is hailed as one of the best remote management tools on the market. You can monitor specific team member, or entire teams in just one app.

From tracking hours worked in real time to viewing a few screenshots every so often, you can ensure productivity is at its highest. Since it is an app, you can monitor while you are mobile as well.

6. Enhance remote collaboration

When it comes to remote work, collaboration can be tough. Your team is everywhere in the world, on different schedule, living in different time zones, how can you make collaboration happen?

Using platforms like Quip is one option. Like Google Docs, but with far more collaboration capabilities. Compatible with Android and iOS, it is great for your mobile workforce as well.

You and your remote teams can mention one another in tasks and they will be pinged instantly. Team members can also collaborate via chat right in the document, making switching screens a thing of the past.

8 ways of using collaborative tools to effectively manage remote teams

7. Delegate with Asana

Asana offers up some exceptional delegation opportunities for managers of remote team members. You can create projects and organize them for specific teams. This is very helpful if you don’t feel like staying up late to send a project to your SEOs in the Philippines.

You can also use Asana with Google Docs and Dropbox to make file, image, and video sharing even easier. You can also track team progress on projects as well. There is a free option with Asana, but the paid platform may meet larger business needs better.

8. Keep everything secure with LastPass

Have you ever had a remote worker need access to a platform you use in a hurry? Did you have that user and password handy? Probably not, and this is a big issue for many remote teams.

You can have a long-winded excel sheet of usernames and passwords vulnerable to a potential cyber security attack. Or you can use LastPass. You can generate unique passwords for your remote teams and keep you and your clients’ projects safe.

There are numerous emerging technologies available online to make managing remote teams easier. The key is to find the ones that work best for you, your team, and your business. What remote management tools work best for you?

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The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Guest blogs are a popular link-building strategy used by businesses all over the world.

And until recently, many were relying on guest blogging as their primary source of earned links. But a diverse link profile is essential to maintain ranking. So how can businesses achieve this?

“The landscape of SEO and link building is always changing, and today, the importance of building high-quality links has never been higher” – Paddy Moogan of Moz

Guest posts are an easy and effective way to build earned links. But on May 25 2017, Google issued a warning to sites against excessive guest posting.

“Lately we’ve seen an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts,” Google stated.

Google even followed up with a nice list of what violates favorable link earning . . .

What are brands and businesses to do? Rely solely on natural link building through highly authoritative content? Well, this would be ideal for all. But let’s face it, this strategy may not be the most realistic given the vast amounts of content being produced daily and the difficulty of standing out from the crowd.

Guest blogging can still be a part of your link earning strategy. However, it should not be your only strategy.  It’s important to diversify your link profile so that it doesn’t constitute a large percentage of your backlink profile.

Here are a few fantastic link opportunities you can put into motion today.

 

1. Blogger reviews

If you have a product or service to leverage, you could leverage the blogger community to review your product, which can result in links. Even when bloggers disclose that you sent them free product to review, these reviews can earn in natural links when other bloggers learn about your products and decide to try, and review them!

How do you find bloggers willing to whip up a review? Use the power of Google. Let’s say your product is rugged cell phone cases. Open your Google browser and type in “cell phone case product reviews.”

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

You will see a wide-ranging list of sites that have done product reviews in your market niche. You can skip the Amazon reviews and the listicles. Look for the sites that focused on one product.

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Next, begin compiling a healthy list of bloggers that you could reach out to. Your outreach email should be very short, concise, and to the point. Here is an example that has worked well in the past . . .

Hello (Blogger)

I noticed your review of (similar product) and wanted to connect. I just launched a new cell phone case that is rugged, waterproof, and great for travel and sports enthusiasts.

Presently it costs (dollar amount), but would love to send you a free phone case if you would happily review it and share it with your fans.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(Your name, website, and contact information)

You may be wondering why there is no mention of a back link. Well, bloggers that do product and service reviews know the deal – typically there is no real surprise why you are giving them your product free, so there is no need to mention it.

 

2. HARO

HARO is a platform that provides journalists with a database of sources for stories (and an opportunity for sources to obtain media coverage).

There are some that think HARO isn’t worth the time. However, there have been instances when this little link building gem has produced serious results. The key is to keep your query answers focused on your niche, product, or expertise.

 

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Once you have found a few HARO queries that fit your particular niche or expertise, you can send your detailed and expert insight. You will typically hear back from the journalists that are interested in your insight. The ones you will not get featured in, however, you will simply get no reply.

 

3. Capitalize on broken links

There are a lot of link opportunities if you know how to find broken links of businesses and companies in your industry. Here you will be looking for broken links on resource pages that will return a 404 message.

First you will need to pull up the different resource pages in your niche, industry, or expertise. If your site were devoted to alternative health, you would use a variety of Google search strings to find these resources, such as:

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

  • “alternative health”  + “resources”
  • “alternative health” + “recommended sites”
  • “alternative health” + “resource pages”

Using these Google search strings will bring up results like:

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Next, you’ll want to identify the broken links.  Here are 3 ways to find broken links:

Once you find one, it’s time to email the site owner kindly asking to replace the broken link with your site’s URL.  If the broken link is on a page referring to a particular article or resource, consider recreating a similar resource on your site so the link is natural and makes sense.

You will be surprised how well this method works. No site owner wants a poor user experience, and getting rid of those broken links will make them happy you reached out.

 

4. Discover unlinked mentions

Another great way to easily earn links without toiling over guest blogging content for hours on end is to find unlinked mentions. When someone mentions your brand or business, you should get a link back right? Well, this is not always the case.

You can, however, put on your link detective hat on and find those mentions and ask the site owners for a link. Online tools like BuzzSumo, MOZ, and Mention allow you to set up alerts for this tactic.

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

The only downside is that you may need to sign up for a membership, or free trial to access this feature on most platforms. Nonetheless, it is a quick and easy way to earn links, especially if you had a piece of content go viral recently.

 

5. Use infographics

Infographics are a highly shareable asset to any link building strategy, but many businesses and brands still fail to see the power they possess.

You can pretty much create an infographic about anything. Infographics also have a very long shelf life for link building and are a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from the army of people offering free content.

The first thing to do after you have infographic in hand is list it on infographic sharing platforms like:

There are also a number of high authority news and blog sites you can list your infographic on as well, such as:

After you have submitted your infographics to the above sites, it is time to offer it to bloggers in your niche.

Similar to blogger reviews, you will be reaching out offering a high value item they can share with their audience. If you have a robust social media following, be sure to mention that you will gladly share their post across all your social media networks as well.

It is important to remember that building links the right way, to appease Google, is of great importance. You want to maintain a nice balance of do follow vs. no follow links, as well as a slow and steady link building strategy.

Make sure you are using a mixture of strategies so that your link profile remains diversified.  If guest posts are only one of several strategies you are employing, then you can continue to earn links without fear of seeing a negative impact on your organic traffic.

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How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Google featured snippets are an amazing opportunity for marketers to skyrocket above competitors on page one, increase page views, and boost conversions.

But what is a Google featured snippet? And does this SERP manipulation really work?

What exactly is a Google featured snippet?

Chances are, you have seen a Google featured snippet while searching Google. If you asked a question based query, Google will have eagerly answered it with a snippet. These featured snippets are the answers to users’ questions, showcased in a box in what’s known as “position zero” on page one.

For instance, let’s say you searched for, “How do I optimize my website?” Your question based query will be met with a snippet answering your question. In most cases, these are pulled from page one results, but snippet information can be pulled from page two, three, and maybe even farther down the SERP line.

Google Featured Snippets are indeed search friendly, and you will get answers without having to click any pages.

Featured snippet formats range from bullet points to numbers, but there are in fact a variety of snippets that Google will deem worthy and display.

Snippets may answer search-based queries in paragraph form, like so:

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

You may be wondering, Why is this important for my business, products, services, or blog? By obtaining position zero on Google page one, you rank above the #1 organic listing. The sheer real estate given to featured snippets is staggering.

They essentially dominate the results page, giving you and your brand maximum, above the fold, exposure. And all without dipping into your AdWords budget. What could be better?

Probably the most appealing aspect of snippets is that they are indifferent to industry powerhouse brands, and sites that normally dominate SERPs. Any brand, large or small, corporate to boutique, start up to conglomerate, can get a coveted position zero, page one spot.

The SEO value for your brand and business includes:

  • Snippets drive more traffic to your site.
  • Snippets boost brand visibility in Google SERPs.
  • Snippets increase trust and credibility.

All great things aside, it is essential to understand that getting a Google Featured Snippet can be like hunting for Bigfoot. You may get your content featured one day, but the next, it could simply be back to position three or four.

How do you get a Google featured snippet?

This question is becoming a focal point for many SEOs, marketers, content developers, and CEOs in nearly every industry. The most important aspect behind getting a featured snippet is quality content, formatted in a specific way.

You would assume that Google algorithms choose selected snippets based on first page search results. However, this is not always the case. SERP rank may actually have little to do with the decision.

Our research on featured snippets discovered that content can be pulled from any page, even as far back as page 80.

Taking page two or page three content to produce a snipp-able piece of content defies traditional Google ranking factors. This gives all a shimmer of hope, regardless of your page two ranking, or page eight, or those sites trapped in SERP purgatory.

It is all about authoritative content, and the format you choose to make that content snippable.

Here’s how you can get a Google featured snippet

Starting to optimize your content for featured snippets, or reworking previous content to get a snippet, requires a few formatting techniques.

Formatting

Formatting your featured snippets should  take into account. . .

  • Text
  • Tables
  • Numbered lists
  • Bullet points
  • Steps
  • Charts
  • Images

We’ll get into more details with each, but draw out your dusty old basic HTML techniques and use them when optimizing pages for featured snippets.

Word count

Making your steps, numbered and bulleted lists, or paragraphs concise and tight may make it easier for algorithms to determine whether your content is fit for the feature.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

You want to optimize to the tune of Google’s algorithms, and research has found that word count makes a big difference. “The most common length of content in Featured Snippets is between 40-50 words,” according to an analysis by SEMrush.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

 

FAQ content

Searches often type questions into Google, and expect to find exact answers.  When creating your editorial calendar, craft content in an FAQ format.  Develop entire articles around the questions that people will ask, and answer those questions in your content.

Instead of having all of your content in an FAQ page, create a page for each question, and then you can link them all together through an FAQ glossary that links to all the FAQ pages.

Craft your Q&A list utilizing a keyword research tool to identify related questions. You can also check keywords at the bottom of any SERP for snippet optimization.

Table, paragraph or list?

The type of snippet format you choose for your content may play a role in how Google’s algorithms choose snipp-able content. For instance, 29 percent of all snippets are tables.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

A featured snippet “Table” would look like . . .

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

This, however, doesn’t rule out a list or paragraph. In fact, paragraphs and lists seem to be trending as of late for Google featured snippets.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Even “Rules” can be applied to snippets . . .

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

And the standard numbered list . . .

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Use paragraph tags

Another formatting tactic you can use for Featured Snippets is to ensure the content, or answer, is in a paragraph (<p>) tag. The tag also needs to be below the search query header.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Headers play a role

To optimize your content for a Featured Snippet, your search query should be in an h1, h2, h3 header.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Don’t be afraid to add steps

For question based searches, Google might not pull through an entire paragraph for the snippet. By adding Step 1, Step 2, etc. for each subheading, h2, Google will work them chronologically.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Remember, when it comes to snippets, Google likes content that is logically formatted.

A quick case study on featured snippets

The below post on diamond girdles is a good example of a Google Featured Snippet that gets superior ranking with a position zero snippet, position one, and above all on page one.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

Even though the site ranks #1 organically for this keyword, there was a 16% increase in traffic ever since the featured snippet gained rankings.  By creating content optimized for the Who, What, When, Where, Why questions and using keywords that appear in Search Suggestions, this website has gained dozens of featured snippets that have increased traffic substantially, month over month.

How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets

What are you waiting for?

To get off to a powerful start, run an audit of keywords you rank for, and pluck the question based queries. Then, answer those questions using the above tips and tactics. Optimize for position zero and make Google work for you, and your bottom line!