AuthorityLabs: An Accurate and Reliable Alternative to WebMeUp

If you’re a former WebMeUp user looking for a place to move your SEO campaign tracking, AuthorityLabs has you covered. Our industry leading rank tracking software is trusted by SEOs and marketing teams worldwide. With unmatched data quality and coverage as well as top-notch support, we’re confident that you will find a new home with us.

AuthorityLabs interface

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  • Daily ranking data
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  • Scheduled Reporting
  • Rank tracking API
  • Group, tag, and sync related groups of keywords for better organization
  • Unlimited users for no additional cost
  • 100% white label available

We know that it can be difficult changing SEO tool providers and we want to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone coming over from WebMeUp. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial, no credit card needed. If there’s anything we can do to help, just let us know.

Writing for Your Audience Means Including Search Engines

writing

I realized the other day that I’ve been making a mistake when giving Web writing advice.

For quite a while now, I’ve been saying, “Write for your audience, not search engines.” In fact, I’m not the only one saying that.

That statement is only half right.

The fact is, you should be writing for your audience and the search engines.

It’s not that I believed you shouldn’t take search engines into account at all when writing. Quite the opposite. I fully believe incorporating SEO best practices into content creation is essential to creating effective Web content.

I just wasn’t fully considering what it meant to write for search engines. That is, until last week when, during a casual chat about SEO, Bill Slawski said something really interesting—that search engines are meant to emulate people.

I’d honestly never thought of it that way before.

Isn’t it weird how sometimes you can know something, and basically understand how it works, but still not fully make the connection about that thing’s relationship with something else?

That’s what I was doing with search engines and audience. I know you need to write using natural language, not only for your audience, but especially in light of Google Hummingbird. I know search engines help people find what they’re looking for. I just never considered this:

Search engines are also part of your audience.

Web Copy Without SEO is Just Copy

I was surprised a few months ago to discover there’s apparently a faction of copywriters who not only don’t believe SEO works, but are vehemently opposed to it. Their feeling is that incorporating any kind of SEO best practices or elements ruins their beautiful copy, and they’re just not having any of it.

I find this baffling.

On the one hand, I can understand the resistance to anything you feel is compromising your art. I get it. I’m a writer too. But here’s the thing—there’s a big difference between writing poetry or a novel and writing sales copy. If something exists that can help your sales copy be even more effective, why wouldn’t you want to use it?!

In addition, any kind of writing has certain rules to follow, many of which have to do with the prevalent medium. A novel is broken into chapters. Instructions are usually brief and often numbered. Poems have stanzas.

So if you’re writing for the Web, shouldn’t you be taking that into account and making it easier for search engines to find and read your copy as well as your potential buyers?

The thing is, if you’re writing Web copy, you are writing for search engines, whether you think you are or not, and whether you want to or not. Turning your nose up at SEO when you write doesn’t keep the bots’ cute little mitts off your copy.

The Pendulum Swings Both Ways

I completely understand why people—including me—have been saying “write for people, not search engines.” The true intention behind it is this: Don’t write for search engines in a way that tries to manipulate how they rank your page.

But I realize now that saying, “Don’t write for search engines” is an overreaction. “Holy cow, we tried tactics like keyword stuffing, and they worked for a little while, but then Google got smart and changed and came out with algorithm updates like Panda, and sent some of our sites to the back of the line! So now we can’t ever write for search engines, ever ever EVER!”

It’s like getting stung by a bee once, so you just never go outside.

Anytime you create Web content, you should be taking the search engines into consideration. This includes, but is not limited to:

I’m not going to delve too deeply into what “linking appropriately” means, or the many facets of keywords. Those topics warrant posts of their own, and are frequently and widely covered.

What I will say is this: Everything I just listed should be incorporated into a larger strategy. Where you’ll run into trouble is when you try to use one or more as a tactic to bring in more traffic, increase your visibility or, in other words, manipulate the search engines. It may work for a while, but will most likely eventually come back to bite you right in the rankings.

Search Engines as People

Whoa, there. I haven’t gone off my rocker and begun saying search engines are actually people. That would be like, oh, I don’t know, saying corporations are people with thoughts and feelings, and that’s just crazy talk. Who does that?

No, I’m just getting back to what Bill Slawski said—that search engines are meant to emulate people. And to what it made me realize—that they’re part of your audience.

The ideal way to create Web content is to consider both search engines and readers/viewers/site visitors from ideation to strategy to execution. While I do believe content can be optimized after it’s been created, if it’s done with too heavy a hand or too SEO-inexperienced an editor, it can come off poorly.

Poorly optimizing content is sort of like telling a joke, and just when you’re about to reveal the punchline, you realize you forgot to mention an important factor upon which the punchline hinges. Go back to add it in now, and the joke falls flat. Leave it out, and the joke is ruined.

The whole thing would have been much better if you’d taken everything into account and incorporated it from the beginning.

Consider your audience—your whole audience—from the get-go, implement a comprehensive strategy rather than just a few tactics, and you’ll create much better content that does everything it’s supposed to do.

Using Zapier and Google Spreadsheets for Twitter Contest Management

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been giving away Fitbit Flex wristbands through a contest we’re running on Twitter. When we were initially planning how we want to run it, we knew that it had to be something that was as automated as possible and needed to be fair for everyone involved. It also seemed like this contest is simple enough that we shouldn’t need to pay a service or someone to manage it.

Zapier for Automation

I’ve become a huge fan of Zapier over the past few months. I use it to automate quite a few tasks that would otherwise cost me time every day, week, or month. While we were planning the contest, I decided that we would use Zapier to collect the Tweets and automatically drop them into a Google Spreadsheet.

Zapier

Zapier refers to this as a “Zap” and they have a huge list of preexisting Zaps available as well as allowing you to create your own based on the various APIs and data sources they interface with. We set the Zap up to take the text, username, and timestamp from each tweet mentioning @authoritylabs and containing the #ALHealth hashtag and drop each one into a Google Spreadsheet.

Zapier Zap

This Zap will check twitter every 15 minutes and drop any new entries into our Google Spreadsheet.

Selecting a Winner

Now that we’ve collected all the Tweets, it’s time to select a winner. Each Friday of the contest, we jump into the spreadsheet and check to see how many rows are in there. Then we plug that number into a random number generator and whichever number comes up will be matched up with a row in the spreadsheet and the person whose tweet is on that row is the winner. Quick, simple, and fair for everyone.

Entries

Since the rules of the contest are that you can only enter once per day, we decided that only the first entry a user makes each day will be eligible for the contest. We could manually go in and remove the ineligible entries but that would just waste time. If the random number chosen happened to be for a Tweet that is from someone who already entered for the day, we would generate a new random number. It hasn’t been an issue so far, but it is something to keep in mind.

If you haven’t entered the contest yet, now is a good time to enter. We’re giving away 3 more Fitbit Flex wristbands over the next 3 weeks and you have just as much of a chance as anyone to win.

American Airlines, Great Customer Service Via Twitter

Yesterday morning at 6:20am American Airlines left a message that my flight was cancelled. They had rescheduled our flight, but I had several questions so I called the number they left on the message. I was on hold for 35 minutes when I tweeted this:

My-tweet

Within 3 minutes I got this in reply:

AA-first tweet

I told them I just wanted to talk to a human to get some answers to some questions, but couldn’t get anyone on the phone. They did something I suggested at Pubcon in March, which was to move the conversation to DMs. This is a smart move for obvious reasons and it shows me the social folks at American Airlines have got it together.

The Conversation People Couldn’t See

With some companies I have been moved to DMed conversations to basically be told there is nothing they can do for me. This was not at all the case with American Airlines.

My main concern for this trip was that my family would be able to sit together.  I know that when airlines have to fit people into another flight sometimes seats can be an issue. I personally HATE flying so having my husband close is a good thing for me. My 10 year old son was with us also and my mother. Here was their response:

preferred

Okay, so this was awesome because you have so much more leg-room and the flight is more comfortable. I was happy, I thought American Airlines was super cool and we communicated a bit more via DM.

I had not hung up the phone yet; it was still sitting there on speaker. Really, I just wanted to see how long it took them to pick up so I could compare it to the Twitter response time.

FYI, Results

  • Twitter – 3 minutes
  • Phone – 56 minutes

But, Then it Hit Me…

I had gotten my mother’s tickets at a different time and her locator # was different so she wouldn’t have automatically been moved near us. When the phone operator picked up I asked her about it and she said there was nothing she could do, my mom was in 25E and if we wanted something different we could ask at the airport when we got there.

So, I decided to take a shot and ask the great folks on Twitter if they could help. Here was the conversation

Mom

In my mind they had already done something nice for me, why take that extra step to do more?  I don’t know why this person cared, but I really appreciate it. We were able to help my mom carry things and get seated, thanks again American Airlines.

So, Why Two Different Responses?

I have been asking myself why the phone operator had a different response from the Twitter customer service folks. Why could one help and the other couldn’t? Was it personal choice? Do the Twitter folks have move control over this type of thing? I don’t know, but I have a theory.

I work as an associate on the Community Team at Moz and also here at AuthorityLabs. I don’t know what kind of customer service person I would be on the phone, but I can tell you that on social I always want to help and I want to help as quickly as possible. I want to make the day easier for people that reach out. More importantly, I understand their frustrations. Actually, everyone I personally know that works on social is the same way.

Is this because customer service has changed or is it because with social media we have a different kind of people dealing with customers? I think it is the latter. I think some people that work with customers on social often have significant experience with social media and know what people expect. And, I think they know how to understand needs and please people.

Traditional Customer Service Can Learn From Social Customer Service

My article today could have gone in a completely different direction. If there had been no help from Twitter and a long phone call with no help I could have written about what a horrible situation I had with an airline, but because of great customer service on Twitter I want to write and praise this large brand. This is what brands want, brand evangelists, right?

Same Standards For All

There have been plenty of articles out there about what kind of people to hire to run social media accounts. I think this is a good thing, because it takes a certain kind of personality and a particular set of morals to be good at helping people via social. What I think brands need to do is start applying these same requirements to people that handle customer service issues via phone and email. Additionally, I think brands need to be concerned with timely help.

Let me be very clear, the lady that answered the phone at American Airlines was friendly, kind, funny and helpful. I liked her, but I had to wait 56 minutes to talk to her (the wait wasn’t her fault). However I do wonder if she could have found a way to move my mom closer to us.

Brands, You Must Evolve and Care

If you have a brand you need to be focused on good customer service via social, at the very least – strive for outstanding. I don’t know if American Airlines is like this for everyone or if I just got lucky, but really it doesn’t matter. They just created an evangelist.

If you want your brand to have a large group of fans you have to turn into someone that cares about the needs of others. You have to understand the frustrations of others and you have to want to help the person you are dealing with. Anything less can and will hurt you.

Excel 104: Pivot Tables on Mac and PC [Video]

My first impression of a Pivot Table: They are scary, confusing monsters that always make your data look funky.

Once I got over the intimidation of them: They are the magical, unicorn warriors of the Excel world.

The main thing that Pivot Tables do is … pivot … your data. Just like you would while trying to get a couch up a small staircase.

Pivot tables also allow you to automatically summarize and deduplicate your data, filter by multiple metrics, and organize the data in ways that regular tables can’t even dream about.

pivot

This time I made two tutorial videos. One on the PC and one on the Mac. I know, it’s because I love you all so much.

What I cover in the tutorial video:

  • Add in Pivot Tables
  • Format Pivot Table with branded colors
  • Importance of a Raw data tab
  • Hack for changing PT column columns
  • Filter by multiple metrics
  • Change number formatting on in a column
  • Add in Sheet titles
  • Format Pivot Table with branded colors
  • Select data with three different keyboard shortcuts

Get the practice file here. And skip to the Mac tutorial here.


Enjoy!

 

 

How to Create a Stock Photo Library for a Few Hundred Bucks a Year

Fun DogWith the web in the midst of what I call the “content explosion” it is very difficult to stand out. Images are a great way to do that and they are now more important than ever because social shares include images.

As a consultant I have talked to several businesses that feel buying images when they are needed is just too expensive and I agree it can be. I am also not a fan of some of the free images available because I see the same images all over the web or they are often low quality. To stand out you need unique and/or beautiful photos that will pull people in and I am going to give you some quick steps on how to do that for just a few hundred bucks a year.

1. Pay for a Subscription for One Month

Sites like Shutterstock allow you to pay for just one month and download a certain number of images a day. Shutterstock allows 25 a day, they allow you to download any size image and I personally love the quality of their images. Bigstock allows you to download 20 images a day, but I know nothing about their images. There are others out there and often they have free trials.

If you can download 25 images a day for 30 days you will have 750 images in your library. This amount will cover most companies for content, email newsletters and other advertising for an entire year or more.

2. Have Someone Download and Organize Images Daily

kid on hippo

To really get your money’s worth someone needs to be assigned the task of downloading and organizing the photos everyday. Have your marketing team sit down and brainstorm on the kinds of images you will need. List out topics and categories – social media, technology, business people, trees, food, cute kids, families, words – you get the idea.

Once you have some ideas of what you need tell the person that will be responsible to look for powerful images that get these ideas across.  The obvious isn’t what you are looking for; go creative. You should know that this is a tedious job that takes a good amount of time, so give the person completing the task the time to do it right.

TIP: Remember to rename images before you use them on your blog.

3. Choose Unique, But Not Too Weird Images

You want to stand out in social media feeds and the best way to do that is to choose an image that draws the eye, and of course create a title that makes people want to click. Images that are too weird can push people away from your content, so while you want to be unique you do not want to be freaky.

What do you think of this image? 

freaky eye

Does it make you feel good? Scared? (It freaks me out a bit) Does it make you want to look away? If you need an image of an “eye” which would be more unique and pleasing to your readers, the above eye or the one below?

Beautiful eye

Both of these images could work depending on the topic, but which image would be more appealing to your audiences? You have to focus on your audience and the audiences you are hoping to reach. Freaky is not always the way to go.

4. Use Dropbox For a Categorized Library and Availability

DropboxYour photo library needs to be accessible to everyone on your team. Dropbox will allow you to add all your downloaded images and categorize them. To the right you will see some of the categories in one of my image libraries. Your team can access the images from their desktop, but not fill up their hard drive with hundreds of images.

Dropbox is very affordable and setting up a library like this ensures that a loss of a computer or an employee will not result in a complete loss of images. I do recommend you back up all the images on a flash drive just in case ([ backup everything just in case ;)].

5. View the Library with Tools Like Adobe Bridge For Easy Scanning

Even if you have images categorized it can sometimes be difficult looking through a ton of images to find what you are looking for. Tools like Adobe Bridge allow for quick scanning. If someone can only see names and not image icons, depending on which type of computer they use, it will be a nightmare for people to find images. Tools like this will save time and energy and reduce frustration.

adobeBridge

See, You Can Have a Great Image Library!

IdeasIn 30 days you can have a large, nice image library! It will take some time and effort, but you can get it done. Try to think out of the box with images and really find things that others haven’t seen or used before.

Image tips: 

  • Clear images are important
  • Choose the largest size possible so you can use the images in multiple ways (resize for the web)
  • Look for colorful and/or impactful
  • Look for things that are inspiring and beautiful
  • Find images that can represent something else in a brand new way
  • Each image must fit into a category
  • When it comes to words & certain graphics you can always change the hue, so the image could be used twice
  • Different is good

If you have any additional tips we would like to see them below. Also, each image (not the screenshots) above are from Shutterstock.