Tag Archives: BLOGGING

The 10 most common WordPress SEO challenges and how to solve them

If you’re new to the business of SEO and are just figuring out how to optimize your WordPress site for search, navigating the landscape of SEO can seem like a nightmare.

You’ll have seen a thousand different articles on SEO: on-page optimization tips, off-page optimization tips, SEO basics, email marketing tips, etc. online and implemented them – only to see them fail, or worse, backfire.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. SEO can be tricky, and there is always a huge scope for overdoing or underdoing things. While I can’t fully solve this problem for you, I’ll make an attempt to round up the most commonly faced SEO challenges with WordPress so that you can look into your site and make some amends.

The important thing to understand here is that the same factors can prove to be a boon as well as a challenge when it comes to SEO. The key is to understand your own website intricately and devise plans depending upon what works best for you. Listed below are a few things that are commonly done wrong.

1. Finding the right theme

Ask yourself, how did you choose your WordPress theme while creating your website? Odds are you picked the most visually attractive theme that you thought would appeal to your customers.

Another common mistake people make is picking the most premium or commonly-used themes, as they think these are shortcuts to success. This is where you’re going wrong. Many complicated themes are filled with poor code that slows down your website. And loading time is a small but significant factor that affects your SEO rankings.

So pick a theme that works best for the nature of your website. Minimalist themes can be just as effective as complicated themes. And remember to check how often these themes are updated; you do not want an outdated theme dragging your site down.

2. The plugin game

WordPress plugins can truly be a boon for website SEO. But people tend to overdo it by adding too many of them and as a result, the website becomes heavier and slower to load. In order to improve user experience and your website ranking, it is imperative to pick and install only the right plugins for your website.

Multiple plugins also tend to occupy excessive server resources. Therefore, many managed WordPress hosts do not allow websites that consume too many resources.

3. The sitemap issue

As a basic WordPress website doesn’t give you too many features and controls, you’re bound to install SEO plugins, most of which have the option of sitemaps. You can even create multiple sitemaps by getting additional plugins to allow you further control over your site.

But here’s the problem. Many people forget to submit their sitemaps to Google Search Console. Once you fail to do that, search engines stop recognizing your sitemaps and needless to say, you won’t show up anywhere despite all your customized plugins.

4. Link stuffing gone wrong

Adding links to your site is one of the most important SEO tactics, and can do wonders for your website ranking. Many themes come with pre-set links to help you out. But there are two ways this can go wrong:

  • Over stuffing – Nothing overdone is attractive, and adding links is no exception. Adding too many links can distract your user and also turn them off your site. A good rule of thumb to go by is using up to 20 links. This way you’re well within your bounds.
  • Stuffing nonsense – The relevance of the content you feed to your customers is more important than you think. Offer original and relevant content that is useful to your customers so that they spend more time on your site, thus improving your rankings.

5. Schema gone wrong

Schema markup is the primary code that allows Google (and other search engines) to understand what your website is about. You showcase your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) so that Google can run it through its algorithms and display your site if it has local relevance. So this is the single most important thing that helps Google understand who you are and what kind of services you provide.

This obviously improves your rankings and visibility. But if you get this wrong, it could work against you, as it confuses Google.

The best way out of this challenge is to gain a deep understanding of how Schema works. Various online resources can help you learn that. For starters, you can check-out the ‘Organization of Schema’ page to look for the list of most common types of schema markup and the ‘Full Hierarchy’ page for the schema types that you will need.

6. Underestimating alt text for images

People often focus all their attention on optimizing text content and miss out visual content, i.e. images. It’s a big blunder. Without fail, make the time to give your images proper names and descriptions. This will go a long way in improving your site’s functionality, accessibility and ranking.

So if you’ve overlooked this, rename all your images now and add proper descriptions. Another shortcut to do this is using the SEO Friendly Images WordPress Plugin.

7. Wrongly done permalinks

Despite the huge amount of information available on permalinks over the internet, it is one of the most difficult things to get right. And your website takes a really big hit by doing this wrong.

So here’s an over-simplified tip for you. The ideal permalink will allow you to include two very basic yet important things: post name and category. It should look something like this: “/%category%/%postname%/“.

What this does is allows search engines as well as your site visitors to clearly understand what your website is about.

8. Ignoring H1 tags

As your webpage grows, you might end up having a lot more duplicate content than is advisable. Even if this doesn’t affect you initially, it will in the long run.

With growing popularity and content, you might feel you have no option but to use the same H1 tags for multiple pages. But this makes search engines alert and eventually averse to your site. So as far as possible, get precise and innovative and provide only unique content for your site.

And don’t even think of employing the age-old technique of overusing keywords in your meta tags. This might have worked in the past, but Google is very smart and now identifies it.

9. The sin of using duplicate content

It’s not an exaggeration when I say it’s a sin to use duplicate content. The problem is that you might be doing this without even knowing that you are.

The most common mistake in this department is over-categorizing and over-tagging: Google identifies content with multiple common tags and flags them as duplicate content. As a rule, a post should typically be in no more than one or two categories, and tagging should be limited only to the most relevant topics covered in the post.

Furthermore, if you find no obvious way in which you can tag a specific post, don’t tag it. Not every post needs tagging.

However, it is easy to tackle this. WordPress offers plugins like All-In-One-SEO or SEO Plugin Yoast to avoid this error. These plugins add ‘No Follow’ tags to pages that help search engines categorize pages appropriately.

10. Forgetting internal links and related posts

Linking one article to other relevant content across your site increases the average time spent by a user on your website, and also acts as a search engine ranking signal. However, adding unrelated links or poor-quality content will do the opposite and put them off.

If you do not wish to use too many internal links, another smart way to go about it is by adding related posts. Get a plugin to pick the right kind of posts to display as related posts to keep your relevance and integrity intact. The best way to do this is getting the right balance between internal links and related posts.

So read this article through again and thoroughly examine your SEO practices to identify how many of these aforementioned things are you getting wrong, and how many you are doing right.

Another factor that significantly affects your user experience is your host. A slow host will increase your loading time and therefore affect users. Keep this in mind while picking your web hosting company.

Your goal should always be to give your visitors rich quality and relevant content, delivered in the right manner and at the right speed. That is the only true way to keep your customers happy and run a thriving website.

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How can you successfully set up an efficient business blog on a very tight budget?

Setting up online presence for your business can be overwhelming. So much to plan and so much to invest (in terms of both time and money).

How much would it cost to set up and market a business site? This is by far the most frequent question I’ve come across for years.

This quick checklist will answer your questions. Below I am giving yearly minimum expenses, but of course the less money you are prepared to pay, the more of your own time you will need to invest in figuring some of the tasks.

1. Setting up costs

To create a site you basically need to pay for the following things:

  • Your domain name (about $10.69/year for a .com domain)
  • Your site hosting

Some hosting companies will include the domain name for free, but you’ll need to start paying for it after the first year.

If you go with the shared hosting option, you’ll pay as little as $3.5 per month, sometimes even less. Here’s a good selection of shared hosting providers you can trust.

While I am torn over whether you need to invest into a shared hosting, knowing how much of a pain it might be to migrate the site to a dedicated solution in the future, I totally understand why it could be a valid option for someone who is trying to save money at the start.

More setting-up expenses will include a basic layout and a design. I would totally recommend using WordPress as a content management platform, simply because it’s a free, regularly updated (hence up-to-date) and easy to customize solution.

You can totally customize it at home for free and even use the free WordPress theme it comes with. It looks professional and modern enough. I was a total WordPress newbie when I started my own blog and I was able to customize the free theme to make it look unique and catchy on my own. And you can too.

You can also get a logo for cheap by shopping at Fiverr or DesignHill. But be prepared to spend at least $100 here. You may invest more in your design down the road, but you don’t want to have to change your logo in a year or so. A logo is something you’ll integrate into social media channels, video and image watermarks, downloadable assets, etc. It’s better to do it right once.

If you are going to sell from your site, WooCommerce is probably your best bet. It’s free, but you may need some paid plugins. This article explains what you may need and how much it will cost. Here are more WordPress plugins you’ll need – all of them are free.

So, to summarize, setting up budget for the first year:

  • Domain name: ~$10
  • Hosting: ~$40 a year
  • WordPress + WordPress theme + WordPress plugins: Free
  • Brand identity (i.e. a logo): ~$100 (at least)

Mind that I deliberately emphasize on the minimum setting up cost to allow for more marketing budgets. You want to see people coming and converting before you can reinvest into setup and design. Even very minimal website designs convert well!

2. Basic SEO and conversion optimization

If you are going to use WordPress, you won’t need too much SEO done. Installing Yoast SEO (free) would be enough for a start. Do go through its documentation thoroughly to make sure you clearly understand all the settings you are playing with. I’ve seen users unknowingly blocking all their pages with nofollow noindex meta tags when using the plugin settings.

Going through keywords is also highly essential at the start. Look at your competitors and find valuable phrases to optimize your page for. Keyword research is the most essential step when you start planning your SEO strategy. Serpstat seems to be the most affordable solution.

How can you successfully set up an efficient business blog on a very tight budget?

Make sure you have your conversion paths set up right from the very start. Don’t wait until you have traffic coming. Your website should be ready to convert even those first two visitors into your customers, or at least members of your community.

I use Sumo (formerly known as Sumome) for my lead generation and opt-in forms. It’s very easy and mostly free. You won’t need to pay any professionals to get it installed or optimized. Unless you have some solid traffic coming in, there’s no need to even upgrade for A/B testing and additional features. Once you are ready to play and optimize, it’s $29 per month.

Here are more landing page tools you may consider, depending on how much conversion optimization and testing you are planning to do at the start. And for other tools to improve your SEO on a budget, don’t miss our list of 26 expert-recommended free SEO tools.

If you are selling services or a SaaS solution, setting up sales management software is essential at the very start. Good thing, it’s quite affordable too. Pipedrive is a neat customer relationships management platform that will help you make your lead generation and onboarding strategy efficient. Moreover it has recently announced an integration with Ringostat, a solid and affordable solution that offers call tracking and call-back features.

How can you successfully set up an efficient business blog on a very tight budget?

So for SEO and conversion optimization, first year expense would be:

  • Yoast SEO: Free
  • Sumo: Free or ~$340 (If you get enough traffic to play with)
  • Serpstat: Free or $182.40
  • Ringostat + Pipedrive: $600 + $100 (You may want to start with either and then integrate the two when you are ready)

3. Yearly advertising budget

Since you aren’t going to see much organic traffic in the first months after the launch, paying for ads is one of the few ways to see people coming to your new site. If I were on a tight budget, I’d break the advertising budget as follows:

  • Facebook ads: $50 per month
  • Google ads: $100 per month (Depending on your industry, this is the minimum imaginable budget)

Yearly minimum advertising budget thus is about $1,800.

Now, if you are investing in advertising, make sure your landing pages are converting well (see call-tracking, A/B testing, etc. solutions above). Here’s a good post on what to keep in mind when starting an online advertising campaign.

Again, keep in mind this is a minimum budget, which assumes you are on a very tight budget but that isn’t going to prevent you from starting your new venture. If you know how to save, please do comment!

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What is influencer marketing, and why should it be part of your digital strategy?

If I tell you I have the secret formula for any entrepreneur to succeed, you may not believe me.

You probably have never even heard of me, my company, or have yet to follow me on social media.

But if Neil Patel, New York Times best selling author and a person The Wall Street Journal calls ‘the web’s top influencer’ tells you, “My secret formula is the greatest”, you will probably believe him.

In a nutshell, that is influencer marketing. It takes the “I” out of the equation, letting others tell the story about your products and services. Haven’t you seen George Clooney’s Nespresso commercials?

Now getting Neil Patel or George Clooney to be your influencers is where the challenge lies. Sending either one of them an email may prove difficult, but fortunately there are many social channels and creative ways of identifying and targeting key influencers.

The return on influencer marketing may be worth the trouble too. Trusted influencers can boost your brand awareness and market your products and services in unprecedented ways traditional marketing can’t compete with.

Why you should absolutely use influencer marketing

Why influencer marketing? Well, the answer is quite simple. Influencer marketing can provide you with instant visibility, hordes of potential customers, and a high return on your digital strategy.

A relevant influencer to your industry exposes your brand to the right consumers. These targeted consumers are already interested in your niche, and they will be paying attention with a strong likelihood to purchase.

According to an influencer marketing study by Tomoson, “51% of marketers believe they acquire better customers through influencer marketing.”

This may be why 84 percent of marketers are planning at least one influencer marketing campaign in 2017, according to a survey by Schlesinger Associates.

And it is all about established trust. An influencer’s followers are loyal with rapport built over several years. In fact, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from people over brands, according to research by Nielsen.

Another great reason to add influencer marketing to your digital strategy is that you will get instant results.  You can be sure your influencer’s sizable loyal audience will stick around and give your brand instant attention.  No need to wait for organic SEO results to kick in after months and months of work.

Find influencers relevant to your brand and industry

The first thing about influencer marketing you want to keep in mind is relevancy. You want to not only look at a potential influencer’s audience numbers, but also how they fit with your brand.

“The best influencers work to integrate their branded campaigns into their unique stories without skipping a beat,” says AJ Agrawal of Forbes. “They know their audiences are fickle and can quickly leave, so they treat each and every post with care.”

Three things absolutely essential to consider when qualifying potential influencers are Context, Reach, and Actionability.

Asking a foodie to promote your new marathon training app will not work. Sure, there is a connection between these niches, but they have completely different Context and audiences.

Reach is a simple one to qualify. You want your influencer to have a healthy sized audience. But qualify this audience since anyone can buy social media followers these days.

And Reach is only as good as the influencer’s Actionability. They have one million followers? Fantastic! However, if that audience isn’t engaged, your influencer marketing efforts are wasted.

You can get very granular when it comes to creating metrics to qualifying your influencers.  We look at demographics such as age and gender and calculate a number for potential relevant audience when reviewing what influencers to work with.  This, and other metrics can be used to determine an estimated CPM which can help you compare the power and value of your influencers when it comes to potential reach vs ROI.

Influencers are social media moguls and popular bloggers

To get your influencer marketing campaign off to a great start, target social media influencers. Those with the biggest following are certainly on all social media channels.

To begin your research, determine what social media network will maximize results. If your brand is in the fashion realm, Instagram and Pinterest influencers are best.

If you want to raise brand awareness via video engagement, then YouTube influencers may be a better fit. However, don’t rule out the other social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat.  Facebook live has created interesting possibilities for influencer marketing.

The power of hashtags will also assist in your influencer research. If your brand is all about fitness, begin searching hashtags related to fitness.

Your influencer marketing campaign should target bloggers too

Interestingly, 86 percent of influencers have a blog. And 88 percent of those say they actually blog themselves. Excellent blogger outreach sources are Inkybee, BlogDash, and GroupHigh.

Get those bloggers to share their Google Analytics traffic. This lets you research blog metrics and get an understanding of an influencer’s true SEO value.

Key influencer metrics to check are . . .

  • Domain Authority
  • SEMrush Organic Keywords
  • SEMrush Organic Traffic
  • Unique Visitors
  • TrustFLow
  • CitationFlow
  • Engagement Per Post
  • Audience Demographics (Age, Location, Gender)

What is influencer marketing, and why should it be part of your digital strategy?

How do you entice influencers?

There are no free lunches, and your influencers will certainly want compensation for access to their loyal audience. How much, or how little is simply a matter of negotiation.

Cold hard cash is one of the most common ways to entice an influencer. But sometimes you can find an influencer or two that truly believes in your brand, and those are simply the best.

These influencers may accept small monetary compensation. Or they may be interested in free products, social media mentions, and cross-promotional content.

Whatever the deal, if you did your research, the return on your investment could be well worth it.

Ready to get your influencer marketing campaign moving?

The following will give you the nuts and bolts of a powerful influencer marketing campaign…

  • Identify and Qualify Relevant Influencers: This means investigating each potential influencer. Study their profiles and read their blogs to ensure they are relevant to your brand.
  • Build Your Influencer Marketing Strategy: This includes defining a budget, identifying possible incentives, creating your campaign’s KPIs, and writing up a campaign brief.
  • Pitch Your List of Influencers: Connect with a pitch letter that is unique, compelling, and concise. You should track pitch dates, replies, and followups to stay organized.
  • Track Campaign Results: Speaking of staying organized, track your influencer marketing campaign results. This includes metrics like impressions, clicks, transactions, emails, and audience growth.

Develop an influencer marketing campaign that maximizes your efforts, builds meaningful relationships, and gets the end result you envisioned. The results just may change the dynamic of your brand forever.

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11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Why do you blog? You want your content to be discovered and read by as many people as possible, right?

But often your reach is limited. You’re limited by the size of your existing audience.

Every day, people are bombarded with more content than they will ever have time to read. Most people are both incredibly busy and have the attention span of a goldfish (guilty on both counts!).

So how do you make your content go further and make sure lots of people read your stuff?

Image via Reid Hoffman

LinkedIn Pulse can help you do just that.

What Is LinkedIn Pulse?

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn’s version of a personalized newsfeed. It is also available as a standalone app. Pulse allows users to see the biggest headlines and read top industry news of the day.

According to recent figures, LinkedIn has more than 1 million publishers; more than 150,000 posts are published every week; and the average post reaches LinkedIn members in 21 industries and nine countries.

You’ll see a mix of curated content on LinkedIn Pulse:

  • Stories that people in your network and/or people in your industry have shared.
  • Trending stories from your extended network.
  • Posts from LinkedIn’s publishing platform – including “Editor’s Picks,” content written by influencers, publishers, and individuals.

We’ll focus on the third type of content for the remainder of this post.

Why You Should Use LinkedIn Pulse

You should publish posts on LinkedIn for the same reason you publish content on your own site as well as third-party publications and blogs like Medium.

Exposure.

If you’re going to invest time and money in creating content, you want it to be consumed.

By publishing content on LinkedIn, you’re increasing the odds that more people will discover and read your content.

However, finding success on LinkedIn Pulse, like any other channel, requires a strategy.

You’ll also have to put in the needed time and effort to make your investment worthwhile.

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Depending on how many connections you have, the posts you publish on LinkedIn can easily get anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousands views, on average.

But sometimes LinkedIn articles become unicorns – they can get 50,000, 100,000, or even millions of views.

Wish you could get that many views? You can!

Here are 11 hacks to help your content blast off like a rocket on LinkedIn Pulse.

1. Keep Your Titles Short

If your headline is too long, LinkedIn might truncate your title. That means people who are scrolling through the app or their newsfeeds will see only part of your headline.

Make your headline as concise as possible without neglecting important headline elements that increase clicks – such as using the right keywords, an emotional hook, and a promise (i.e., telling readers what they’ll get out of reading your post).

2. Use an Eye-Catching Image

If your headline fails to do the trick, the second most important element that can persuade readers to click is your article image.

Definitely avoid using boring images in your content, such as:

  • Generic headshots.
  • Company logos.
  • Anything that will make a reader squint.
  • Anything that screams “I’m a stock photo!” We’ve seen them all a thousand times before – the highway signs (Opportunity Ahead; Innovation, Next Exit), the happy and diverse business team working around the computer, and the business handshake of trust, to name just a few.

Here’s a great example of an eye-catching image:

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Now that’s an image that stands out from the rest and makes we want to click!

3. Grow Your LinkedIn Connections

Every time you publish a post on LinkedIn, your connections will see an alert in their notifications.

But to really make ripples, you need a large audience of first-level connections.

For any of the stuff we’re talking about throughout this post to really work, you’ll need to make as many connections as you possibly can.

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

This means improving your LinkedIn profile (to sell yourself to potential connections) and expanding your LinkedIn network (this includes connecting to people you know as well as people you don’t yet know).

Here’s how to write the perfect LinkedIn connection request.

4. Publish Frequently

LinkedIn is a bit of a numbers game. You can’t just publish a post once every six months. That won’t help you.

I publish at least twice a week, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You should probably only publish on weekdays during work hours – LinkedIn is a professional network, so not much happens after hours or on the weekends.

My whole LinkedIn Pulse strategy is powered 100 percent by republished and syndicated content. I’ve never once originated a single piece just for LinkedIn.

Don’t worry about duplicate content issues or the potential impact on organic search rankings if you pursue a content repurposing strategy. As long as you make it clear the article has been published before with a note that links to the original article, Google is good at figuring out which is the original source and which is the copy.

5. Get Featured on Channels

LinkedIn Pulse has more than 100 individual channels. Some of the most popular channels are for Leadership & Management, Big Ideas & Innovation, Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Social Media.

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Getting your posts featured in one of these channels is essential to success. Pulse exposes your content to a massive audience.

At most, you can have 25,000 connections on LinkedIn (though most people don’t come anywhere close to this number). But these Pulse channels have millions of followers.

If you want a post you’re writing to get featured in Social Media (and potentially be read by those 14 million channel followers), then spend some time looking at what types of stories get featured. Figure out what types of article you need to publish if you want a shot at being featured.

6. Do Some Old-School SEO

Content optimization is one super simple way to help get your content featured on a Pulse Channel.

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

To categorize your content, LinkedIn Pulse does an analysis of the text of your article.

This is like SEO tactics of the dark ages, when all you had to do was include your keyword in the title and use the right words a few times throughout the post.

7. Ask a Pulse Editor to Feature Your Story

Want to get a story featured on LinkedIn Pulse? Then you’ll have to tweet at them.

Yes, seriously, you’ll need to head to Twitter to get something featured on LinkedIn.

All you have to do is send a friendly tweet to @LinkedInPulse. Like so:

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

8. Give Your Post a Paid Boost

Although getting your post featured on a Channel is awesome, it isn’t enough. You need to help your post go red hot.

After your content gets attached to the channel, you need to quickly drive lots of traffic to it. This will help push your post to top of channel, as opposed to being just listed on the channel in fifth position (or wherever it ends up being shown).

You have to get to the top spot. How?

Spend a few bucks (no more than $50) on Facebook and Twitter promoted posts. This will help quickly drive lots of traffic to your LinkedIn post.

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

The LinkedIn Pulse algorithm will reward your content if your post generates a bunch of traffic and engagement within a few minutes.

The best part? You don’t have to pay to drive traffic for long. The social media ads will simply act as a catalyst.

Once your social media ads have helped your article get to the top, the traffic will be self-sustaining for a while as LinkedIn’s users go to their favorite Channel to see what’s trending.

9. Promote Your LinkedIn Page

Although you’re limited to having 25,000 connections on LinkedIn, there is no limit on how many followers you can have.

What you should do is promote your LinkedIn page from other pieces of content.

For example, are you linking to your LinkedIn profile from your Twitter profile? That’s just one way you can help amplify your LinkedIn presence.

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Think about it: you’re getting thousands of profile visits on Twitter every month. Even if only a small percentage of those click on the link to your LinkedIn profile, it increase the odds of further amplification on the network.

10. Repost Content

LinkedIn won’t penalize you for reusing the same content you’ve already published on their platform. There are no duplicate content filters.

If a post you published didn’t generate any engagement a few months ago, and you think it should have done much better, why not publish it again?

There are two things you should change, however: your title and image. Most likely, your old headline was too boring or your image wasn’t interesting. Now you know better!

11. Only Syndicate Your Unicorns

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Not every piece of content you write belongs on LinkedIn. So don’t syndicate everything – especially if you’re publishing more than two articles per week around the web.

Focus on your best stuff. Only use content that performed remarkably well elsewhere, whether it generated a lot of traffic for your blog or engagement on another social network.

Your best content has already proven itself on one platform. That means it has a higher probability of doing well on LinkedIn as well.

TL;DR

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

If you aren’t yet using LinkedIn as part of your content strategy, you definitely should. Use these 11 hacks to use the LinkedIn Pulse algorithm to your advantage and send your content into outer space.

By the way, one other platform that will help your content go further is Medium. The strategy for getting your content to trend is kind of the same for both places. However, one thing I like a little more about Medium is that it’s more of meritocracy – there are no anointed Influencers.

Have you tried LinkedIn Pulse yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

This article was orginally published on the Wordstream blog and it’s repeated with permission

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Product reviewing: how to utilise digital influencers

Credible and reliable endorsements are now, more so than ever, vital to a brand’s success.

Identifying and using the appropriate influencers in your marketing strategy is pivotal to ensuring that your brand and product are being seen in the right place, at the right time and most importantly, by the right people.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that brands are choosing to recruit digital influencers to act as their ambassadors. Previously, brands would try to on-board a celebrity to become the face of their brand or product – so why, in recent years, have we seen a shift to digital influencers?

Perhaps, it’s because digital influencers are still often seen as ‘regular people’ which makes them more accessible to their followers. Many influencers still work a day job, run a household, have children and engage in everyday social activities that, in the eyes of their audience, make them more relatable.

A survey of the fashion and beauty industry by Econsultancy at the start of the year showed that almost 60% of fashion and beauty brands already have an implemented influencer marketing strategy, with a further 21% planning to invest in developing a strategy throughout the course of 2016.

When asked, ‘What role do influencers currently play in your marketing strategies?’ 27% responded that product launch is ‘critical’ when it comes to influencers with another 42% placing high importance on the use of influencers. So, with 69% of brands saying product launch is top priority, should you be incorporating it into your marketing strategy?

So what are the benefits of product reviews?

In a report published last year it was estimated that more than half of UK adults use online reviews and that 6% look at a blog or a vlog before committing to a purchase.

If you get product reviewing right the ROI can be monumental for your brand. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increase in traffic to your site
  • Building brand and product awareness
  • Increase in sales
  • Growth of social media channels
  • Credibility for your brand amongst your desired audience
  • Access to a new market
  • Long standing relationships with influencers

But product reviewing doesn’t come without risk.

You should be under no illusion that because an influencer has agreed to produce a review that it is going to be anything but truthful. Inviting an influencer to review is asking them to provide an honest opinion of your product. If they don’t like it, they are probably going to say exactly that.

In the recent ‘The Voice of the Influencer Report’ what influencers want and need from brands became very clear:

  • 60% of influencers assess brand reputation before entering a relationship. If your brand has a bad reputation influencers are going to be more wary
  • 47% said that personal development and being their own brand is of utmost importance
  • 93% believe influencers should be controlling the narrative, not the brand
  • 67% said that being authentic is the key to building influence

Rules for staying on the right side of the law… and Google

In addition to the above, as outlined in the Blogger Crackdown: The New Commercial Laws Simplified Google issued these rules around how influencers must disclose sponsored promotion and reviews:

Use the nofollow tag where appropriate. Links that pass PageRank in exchange for goods or services are against Google guidelines on link schemes.

Companies sometimes urge bloggers to link back to:

  • The company’s site
  • The company’s social media accounts
  • An online merchant’s page that sells the product
  • A review service’s page featuring reviews of the product
  • The company’s mobile app on an app store

Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide free goods or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.

Disclose the relationship – 

Users want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content. Also, there are laws in some countries that make disclosure of sponsorship mandatory. A disclosure can appear anywhere in the post; however, the most useful placement is at the top in case users don’t read the entire post.

Create compelling, unique content –

The most successful blogs offer their visitors a compelling reason to come back. If you’re a blogger you might try to become the go-to source of information in your topic area, cover a useful niche that few others are looking at, or provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.”

So how do you choose the best digital influencer to review your product?

Understanding your own audience is the key component when it comes to selecting the right influencers to align with your product. Not only who they are and what they like, but also where they consume and engage with content.

Is it social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram or is it long form blog content? Once you know your own audience inside out, it becomes much easier to start selecting the best digital influencers to do a review of your product.

At this point, research is key. Building up a database of bloggers, vloggers and social influencers is all well and good but finding the most appropriate for your audience is a different matter altogether.

Product reviewing: how to utilise digital influencers

What may seem like a laborious task in the beginning will prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run. Take time to get to know the influencer you are planning on reaching out to.

Read their blogs, watch their vlogs and follow their social channels, get to know their writing style and tone of voice. Have they done product reviews before? If so, who were they for and how were they received?

The three main things to consider when looking for key influencers are:

  • Relevance – How relevant is the influencer to your brand? Will the review they provide be one of authority and affinity in the context of your product?
  • Reach – How many people are consuming their content on a regular basis? How many unique visitors do they get to their blog on a monthly basis? How big are their social media followings? Are there any channels they have particularly strong engagement on? It’s important to remember that those with the biggest following don’t always have the most meaningful.
  • Impact – This is the influencer’s ability to provoke actions from their audience. How will their audience engage with your product? Normally if you get the relevance and reach aspects of your chosen influencer right then this part is easy. The audience of a digital influencer are defined as an ‘opt-in’ network – they chose to consume the content put before them.

The next step is to make a meaningful connection with the influencer you are hoping to collaborate with.

Make formal, but personalised contact with those influencers who align best with your brand, and really sell to them why you feel the product you have to offer would be of interest to their audience and of benefit to them to review.

If they like the sound of your product from the beginning, and can understand why their audience might be interested, they are more likely to work with you in giving a fair and balanced review.

The highly acclaimed fashion journalist Louise Roe recently detailed in her latest webinar with Fashion & Beauty Monitor that the brand collaborations who offer a phone conversation or coffee to discuss the initial brief are the most successful.

I can’t stress strongly enough how important your initial brief with the influencer is. You need to consider the collaboration in every last detail.

For example, if you need the posts to go live at a specific time in order to reach an audience in a different time zone then make sure they know in advance. If there is certain terminology you need including or avoiding, put it in the brief. A pet hate for bloggers and influencers is having to go back into posts and edit.

Once a digital influencer has taken part in a product review, measurement and evaluation is key. Ask yourself:

  • How did my product come across in the review?
  • How was the review received by the influencer’s audience? How did they engage with the blog/vlog/post?
  • Have I seen growth in my social media channels?
  • Has there been a spike in traffic to my website?
  • Would I work with this influencer again? If not, then why?

So who is doing it right?

Florida Marriott

Florida Marriott wanted to increase their brand reach online and spread the word about their 14 Florida hotels. Working with eight hand selected bloggers, Florida Marriott provided them with a unique authentic experience within their hotels.

Florida Marriot made sure that they tailored each blogger’s experience to their specific following in order to connect with their audience in a meaningful way.

A specific hashtag was created – #BloggingFL – which allowed the influencers to openly communicate with each other and share content with their respective audiences.

One thing that is worth mentioning about this campaign was the effort spent on Marriott’s social media channels of sharing the influencer’s content. If an influencer is taking the time to write for your brand, you should ensure you are sharing their efforts as far and wide as possible. The more eyeballs on their content, the better.

The outcome:

  • 39 blog posts
  • A reach of 1,043,400 unique monthly visitors
  • The hashtag reached 8 million Twitter timeline deliveries
  • On social the bloggers reached an audience of 30,000 people through their audiences
  • 8 loyal bloggers- Florida Marriot now have a network of bloggers who would be happy to work with them again in the future

Try The World

Try The World wanted to raise awareness for their range of food subscription boxes. They decided to collaborate with popular YouTuber Missy Lanning, who has over 500,000 subscribers on her channel. Missy was commissioned to post a Taste Test Challenge Video featuring one of Try The World’s subscription boxes.

The video has had almost 700,000 views and a high level of engagement among Missy’s YouTube following.

This is a prime example of how partnering with mid-level influencers means you can stick within the means of your marketing budget but still receive a good return on investment for the money you’re spending.

Iceland

Supermarket chain Iceland are the perfect example of how major brands are shifting from celebrity ambassadors to digital influencers. Iceland exclusively partnered with parenting social network Channel Mum which meant they got three months’ exclusive access to their vlogging network.

“Pre-TV advertising, word-of-mouth was the most powerful form of marketing and [the rise of influencers] shows the strength of social networking and the fact that customers are more comfortable with taking views from their peer group,” said Nick Canning, joint managing director at Iceland Foods.

Product reviewing: how to utilise digital influencers

Channel Mum users are asked to try Iceland products before producing a video on the topic of family food. What is interesting about this campaign is that Iceland has absolutely no control over the content that subsequently appears online about their brand. Canning has accepted that the word of an influencer can be quickly lost if their message starts to lose authenticity and identity.

This is a great example of letting the influencer run the narrative. Although you do run the risk of a few negative comments the trust it creates among your desired audience is priceless.

To conclude

In summary, product reviewing is on the up. The way in which it’s happening may be evolving, but ultimately the principle is still the same; get the right people, at the right time, in the right place to review your product and you are on to a winner.

Loyal followers of digital influencers soak up their content and whole heartedly buy into their recommendations. Embrace digital influencers as part of your marketing strategy and view them as being the mutual friend that will introduce your brand or product to your desired customer base.

Ellis Carr is a Digital PR executive at Zazzle Media and a contributor to SEW.

How to use buyer intent to write better copy

Understanding your audience is the hardest thing in copywriting.

Most of us know our target demographic and still, it is very hard for us to constantly create content that converts. In the end, without a loyal audience, there is no reason for you to write in the first place.

It is even harder to write for websites that are purely profit driven. In such cases, a writer has to have good understanding of a product, its advantages and flaws and how to properly present them. In other words, you have to understand a buyer’s intent.

Gadgets concept banners

Aligning your articles with your website

Although this is not in a direct connection with copy itself, it is definitely something that can affect your conversion rate. If you already have a commercial site, you need to create content that will be aligned with the general website theme.

Even though this will not make your article better, it prevents loss of customers who visited your website expecting to see one thing only to be greeted with something completely different.

Make sure to use your website to strictly write on topics that are connected to your products and services. Have in mind; these people came to your pages because they were interested in purchasing a product. If you use website’s blog as a way to vent, you will lose customers.

This doesn’t mean you should be narrow-minded. On the contrary, you can talk about state of your industry, modern technology that will improve products, characteristics of ingredients or parts, etc. But, avoid writing about irrelevant things. People will not only avoid these pages but it will also make you look less professional.

Creating truthful reviews

Whenever you review a product, make sure you’re honest.

Every product or service has its advantages and flaws. That is only to be expected. However, if you present your product in a superior way and it doesn’t deliver you will definitely lose that customer.

Here, we are able to manipulate with buyers intent. For example, if you are selling beds for hospitals, most of your clients will prefer having a comfortable product instead of a well-designed one. This way, you are able to present comfort as the biggest advantage of your bed and at the same time, you can mention that it doesn’t have the most popular design.

thinkstockphotos-507274998

As buyers will not care about the design, they will see the review as a truthful one. With it, you can quickly improve your reputation in their eyes. And, if your product manages to deliver, you can be sure that the client will come to your website for more similar products.

This strategy can also be used if you have multiple similar products. Emphasizing advantages and disadvantages can explain why one of your products is cheaper and other is more expensive. It will also help customer make his decision.

In case your products are of lower quality than your competition, make sure to emphasize the price.

On the other hand, you do not have to go in details when it comes to characteristics. Instead, you can only mention some basic stuff such as the dimensions.

Giving direct answers to questions

There are two main reasons why people surf the internet: to learn something new or to buy a product.

Visitors who are searching for a product or service are not as patient as those who are looking for new knowledge. In fact, most of them wish to get quick info so they can form an opinion regarding an item. That being said, you need to be very careful when writing your articles.

People have short attention spans nowadays. Because of it, you will have to be very direct, concise and to give step-by-step instructions.

When people start reading a copy dedicated to a product, they do not wish to be entertained; they are not interested in quality of the article per sé. Instead, they need direct answers to their questions.

Presenting your company though an article is a great opportunity to add value and inform public about your operations. However, you need to be careful and give the audience just the right information they require otherwise, they will lose interest in you altogether.

With that, we come to our next point.

Proper research

Efficiency is one of the most important aspects for buyers as we’ve previously said. If a reader has an option, he will rather gather majority of the information in one place saving them valuable time.

That being said, you commercial articles shouldn’t only be direct and truthful, they also should be scientific.

Business Woman Working Planning Ideas Concept

What does that mean?

Whenever you create an article pointed towards a potential customer, you should provide them with all the facts. Now, this data shouldn’t be affected by your personal opinion. Preferably, they should be backed up by scientific research.

In order to strengthen your claims regarding a product or a service, make sure to link out to authoritative websites within your niche. Individuals always need additional opinion before making a big purchase. Make sure to provide it, emphasizing benefits while downplaying downsides (as long as you do it in moderation) similar to what we explained in the second paragraph.

This will strengthen claims in your article which will give you overall credibility.

Conclusion

Content writing is always pointed towards readers. We are constantly trying to create things that will be read and which will persuade people to revisit our blog.

Ultimately, buyers are also readers. The main difference is in priorities. Recognizing the intent will allow us to make better copy.

As a business enterprise, you have to prioritize cold, hard facts. But, your pages have to remain interesting enough to suck a person in. This cannot be done through idle talk but by persuading people why they should give advantage to your company and product.

Nikolay Stoyanov is one of Bulgaria’s top SEO experts with more than eight years of practicing SEO and a contributor to SEW.

10 reasons your content will fail and what you can do about it

Creating content is easy. Creating great content? That’s much tougher.

Just 10 short years ago, the barrier to entry was much lower for companies. Content marketing wasn’t even a thing. But once 2010 came around, it started exploding, as seen on Google Trends:

google-trends-content-marketing

In the past six years, the amount of content has grown exponentially. Everyone has bought into the now clichéd mantra: content is king.

Yet, although brands, businesses, and publishers are cranking out more content every year, conversion rates aren’t increasing. Why?

It goes back to the first sentence: creating great content is hard!

Yet for all the changes we’ve seen, there are many basic things that are often overlooked by companies looking to generate traffic and leads from their content marketing efforts. Here are 10 of them.

1) Your headline is boring

Headlines are the most important element. It’s the first thing people see. You need to hook them instantly or risk losing them permanently.

There are a variety of headline types you can choose from – news, opinion, how-to, question, listicle, etc. – but your headline must accomplish several things.

Let’s use Tereza Litsa’s excellent post on ClickZ, 15 writing tips to rank higher on social and search results as our example.

  • Set expectations for the reader. When I click on this story, I expect that I’m going to discover a list of 15 tips about writing. Sure enough, there are 15 subheadlines that deliver on my expectation.
  • Convey a reader benefit. The benefit here is ranking higher on social and search results. Who doesn’t want that?
  • Include a keyword. In this case, “writing tips” jumped out at me, but perhaps the keyword is something more like “ranking higher in search results”. It might have been more helpful to target a phrase like “content writing tips” or use “SEO” or “Google” rather than the term “search results”. (Nitpicky, I know, but it could be the difference between a good amount of traffic and a great amount of traffic – think about how a user will find your article via organic search).

There is one missing element from this example, however: an emotional hook. Words that convey happiness, awe, urgency, curiosity, fear, or anger can be incredibly powerful and get more people to click on your headline.

A great headline can be positive or negative sentiment, but above all is must be one readers find impossible to ignore.

Tip: If you have trouble writing interesting headlines, run it through one of my favorite tools, CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule analyzes for word usage, length, emotional impact, keywords, and sentiment.

The headline tool ranks Litsa’s headline at 65, which means there’s room for improvement (I always shoot to have headlines that score a 70 at minimum – such as my headline for this post, which scored a 75).

2) Your content is vanilla

Content that dares wins. Yes, you want to make sure your content is educational, entertaining, inspiring, or informative – but there’s no excuse for being boring and just sticking to facts or having the dull, robotic tone of a poorly written textbook.

Have an opinion. Throw in some humor. Show your own personality.

Give your content a fun theme. Do something that separates you from your competitors and helps you stand out in your industry.

Just look at Larry Kim, who is as much known for his obsession with unicorns as he is for his obsession with PPC marketing. The topic of search can be a bit boring at times because it’s often approached in a technical way – yet he finds a way to make his content stand out.

3) You make your content too hard to share

I’m still amazed when I come across publications and blogs that either don’t have social media buttons, or make them hard to find. Don’t make it hard for people to share your stuff!

If you make people click on a “Share” link or button to access the ability to share your story via Twitter or Facebook, that’s an added step that increases the odds people won’t share it. Reduce friction for your users! Put the share buttons right on your website.

Just look at SEW. This publication makes it super easy to share a post, with buttons right below the headline, and even within the article:

 

sew-share-buttons

sew-share-buttons-in-article

If you post long content, it might be worth having share buttons at the bottom of your post as well – or you could anchor your share buttons on the left side so people can share at any point they want.

4) You failed to properly promote your content

Don’t just promote your article once. Promote your article multiple times on all relevant platforms.

For example, one tweet on Twitter is not enough. Have you tried pushing out a new tweet for the same piece of content (perhaps with different copy) every three hours to reach people in different time zones?

Don’t just tweet about your content one day. Tweet about it for a week. And it never hurts to promote older content on Twitter as well – only a small percentage of your followers see all of your tweets.

If your posts aren’t getting enough organic visibility on Facebook – and it’s pretty like you aren’t – consider boosting the post. Facebook has lots of great ad targeting options.

Also, make sure your content team and company are regularly promoting your content with their personal networks. Suggest they set up a tool like TwitterFeed to automate the process and share articles automatically anytime they publish.

If you’ve got a really good piece of content, don’t be afraid to send an email to your industry friends or influencers – perhaps even with some pre-written text that they can simply cut, paste, and schedule. A simple, “Hey I just posted this really cool thing, check it out” could help your content get some great traction.

5) Nobody knows your brand

great-content-horatio-caine-meme

The old idea if you create great content it will be found has been thoroughly debunked. You won’t become the next Mashable or BuzzFeed just by writing about social media or pumping out listicles about things I won’t believe.

Established brands with existing audiences have a clear advantage – they have become a habit. It’s like trying to convince a Google search user to switch to Bing or an Apple user to switch to, well, anything else.

If you’re a new brand, you’re at a big disadvantage. In addition to creating great content consistently, you must also grow your audience. It can be done, but it will take time and will greatly depend on how much you’re willing to invest. It may take years to escape obscurity and start really growing your following.

Consider:

  • Using display ads and remarketing.
  • Running social media ads.
  • Attending and networking at conferences or meetups.
  • Speaking at industry conferences or events.
  • Growing your personal network – online and offline.
  • Teaming up with other brands.
  • Writing content for large and influential websites, blogs, or publications.
  • Building relationships with the media.

6) Your content is ugly

Many web pages are simply ugly. Just long blocks of text. Ick.

the-ugly-is-strong

Break up your text. Make it look pretty.

Use short sentences. Try to limit your paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.

Use visuals.

Use formatting smartly to make your text for scannable and less overwhelming to readers:

  • Subheadlines
  • Unordered or numbered lists.
  • Bolding and italics.

7) Your content is too promotional

Content that is designed simply to promote your brand won’t perform well. People will see through it and be turned off by it.

Create content that helps your audience. Create content that answers questions or provides helpful information.

Content isn’t about you. It’s about them (your audience).

8) Your content fails to spark an emotional response

A great emotional response goes beyond just the headline. Your content must also make readers feel something, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, or disgust.

According to a Fractl study, one of the top reasons people share a piece of content is to make their friends feel something. This is even more true for women.

Facts are far more impactful when you can put a human face on it. Tell great stories that evoke emotions.

9) Poor grammar and spelling

Nothing is worse than clicking on an article and seeing a typo in the first sentence. A small error can turn a great piece of content into worthless content.

When I was editor of Search Engine Watch and a typo slipped through, we heard about it! You’d see comments like, “I was going to read this article, but I stopped after I read the typo in the second paragraph. I expect more from Search Engine Watch!”

Poor grammar and spelling wrecks the reading experience. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a great editor and an editorial team that is laser-focused and dedicated to writing well.

Maintain high editorial standards. Or else you risk looking unprofessional, ruining your reputation, and losing readers.

10) You don’t have a strategy

Content may be king. But content without strategy is the equivalent of the town drunk.

Make sure you know who your target reader is and what you want them to do after they read your content. Remember, you may have several different targets within your existing audience.

For example, Bas van den Beld looks at audiences based on actions they are likely to take. Those are:

  • Seekers: People who are searching for information. These are “top of funnel” people who may not yet know about you or your brand.
  • Joiners: This is your community and your loyal audience. People who know you and like the content you consistently produce, so they’ve decided to follow you on social media or sign up for your email newsletters.
  • Sharers: These are people who help spread your content through their personal networks.
  • Buyers: These are the people who have bought from you or are ready to buy from you.

There may be some overlap in these, or there may be none. People might read your content and never sign-up for buy from you. Or you may have people who discover you, subscribe to your newsletter, follow you on Facebook or Twitter, share your content with their personal networks, and eventually purchase your product.

Have a purpose for every piece of content you create. Your content strategy should help you achieve your larger marketing and business goals. So make a plan, measure it, and learn and adjust based on your successes and failures.

Danny Goodwin is a content strategist at L&T Co., a brand publishing company. A professional editor, writer, and ghostwriter with over 10 years of experience in marketing, he has created content for SMBs and global brands alike, spanning all things search and digital. He was formerly the editor of Search Engine Watch. Follow Danny on Twitter.

4 Ways to Save a Floundering Blogger Relationship by @ChelseaHarrigan

In order to build a long term blogger relationship, you need to bring something of value to the table. Otherwise, you’ll be ignored and discouraged.

The post 4 Ways to Save a Floundering Blogger Relationship by @ChelseaHarrigan appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

10 Strengths of a Tantalizingly Good Blogger by @JuliaEMcCoy

How do you become a brilliantly good blogger, the one people will read and tell others about? These ten blogging strengths will get you on the right road.

The post 10 Strengths of a Tantalizingly Good Blogger by @JuliaEMcCoy appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

13 Ways to Drive #Sales With Your Company Blog

A company blog is essential for establishing your place on the Web. Check out how entrepreneurs used their own blogs to drive product or service sales.

The post 13 Ways to Drive #Sales With Your Company Blog appeared first on Search Engine Journal.