When you construct a blog post it’s important to have the right visual content. I believe it can actually be as important as the writing in most cases. In the name of corny awesome Buzzfeed style listicles I’ve outlined some of the most common errors I see professionals and non-professionals make with their blog image choices. Here we go!
1. Not Using Images At All
While the United States may rank 27th for broadband internet the reality is that the average internet connection speed is 31.02 MBPS, which is far more than enough to load reasonably sized images. If you’re not using images, you’re missing out on the social sharing potential for your posts. Because without a specific image with Twitter-cards or OG markup then you’ll either get a random logo or design element pulled onto those social posts or worse, none at all.
2. Using Small 100-300px Images and Right Aligning Them
What is this 2004? You don’t need to offset small images set on left and right alignment for each paragraph. The era of big, beautiful images is here (hooray!). You should embrace the quality of your images and allow them to take up the full width of your blog post.
If you’re not prepared to go big, then you’ve chosen the wrong image. The second issue with using these tiny images is that they are below the minimum size to be eligible for them to trigger those beautiful image powered posts on social, just as if they didn’t exist. Boo.
3. You Never Named Your Image File
It’s a pain, but a necessary step. You’ve got to take the time to rename the file before you upload it. Google has included the file name into the list of elements that it considers when it determines the relevance of an image. We’re definitely going for relevance here.
4. You Didn’t Minify Your Image
This GIF originally was 4.5 MB. I cropped, scaled and optimized it in GIMP down to 1.8 MB. Small Mario has some advantages!
You can minify your JPGs and your PNGs to help decrease your load time and still retain the high quality image you selected. There are of course also a range of WordPress plugins that can minify images automatically as you upload them so you don’t have to worry about it. If you are shrinking a GIF you can try some tools like this one, scale down the size of the image in Gimp/Photoshop or remove parts of the layers that don’t change from frame to frame.
5. You Let WordPress Create A Title & Alt Based On That File Name
FVB122.ico.tmz is super helpful to both the disabled users that visit your site & to Googlebot to understand the image (said no one ever).
6. You Chose A Generic Stock Image Graphic
I need an image of the letters SEO with random hands that also has lens flares by J.J Abrams. Yes! Thank you Mjohns2839 just what I needed!
Stock photos are seen as a cure for a marketing image needed by many businesses who don’t, can’t or won’t put more resources into their websites and online marketing efforts (sorry about the run-on). Stock photos are actually like one of those prescription drugs where the list of “side” effects are truly horrific.
Yea, it’s actually better not to use any images instead of going with true with a selection of obvious stock images. Recently there has been a rise in “non-stock photos” which sounds great, but they have their own issues.
7. You Didn’t Add A Much Needed Caption
It’s tempting to just grab a big image from one of the many non-stock photo sites that have cropped up to provide an alternative to WTFstock photos. But you had a deadline and kinda just picked something that maybe sorta possibly related to your topic. Sorta.
I don’t blame you. It’s pretty tedious to scroll through all those sites hoping to find something related to the post you’re writing about the “super exciting” world of binary load lifters or moisture ‘vaporators. But if you can’t get quality images that you take yourself or have professionally photographed then at least add a caption to tie that image securely to the topic being discussed. (It doesn’t have to be in Bocce).
8. You Set Yourself Up To Get Fined By Getty Images
If you’re blindly picking images you find in Google’s image search then you’re just begging for problems. If you so happen to choose a Getty Image they will use reverse image software to hunt you down, send a “violation letter” and demand a multi-hundred dollar fee. Per image.
Even though the actual image license itself costs just a few pesos, they will claim that “damages” were done. As disreputable as this may sound, you can take some steps to protect yourself and your client from this headache by carefully sourcing your images.
9. You Didn’t Just Take It Yourself
When you are the creator of an image or you pay someone to create an image for your blog post you’re putting something new out there. Take out that lonely SLR, your 45 megapixel Nokia Lumia or hire a talented photographer. It’s much easier to rank for new content you’ve contributed over something that already existed that you just tweaked (if that) and appropriated for yourself.
See? I took this photo of my designer friend drawing carrots for a logo and it looks awesome right?
What Have You Done Wrong With Your Images?
Feel free to share any mistakes you feel you’ve made in the past with your images. C’mon, we’ve all done it.
My dad used to say, “If you tell the same lie long enough, eventually it catches up to you and you have to account for it.” You’d think my dad was a content marketer, since many of the “white lies” we’ve been telling brands for years are finally coming home to roost. The biggest among those untruths is overstating the value of social media to brands who are neither prepared to take advantage of those benefits nor discerning enough to parse the information we were sharing.
It went something like this.
Marketer: “You have a good website, strong SEO, your main keywords are where we need them to be, and your content is great since the redesign. But you need social media to really take your business to the next level. When people visit your blogs, then share them in social media, the social signals will help your site rank better.”
Client: “So social signals are like links? They are links, basically? Is that what you’re saying?”
You see where this is going right. The marketer, realizing the opportunity to close the deal, chooses to tell one little white lie, which will come back to bite her in the backside months later.
Marketer: “Yes, exactly. Social signals are basically links.”
(I was privy to conversations that proceeded like this on numerous occasions.)
It’s the lie that slices like a knife but hurts mainly because it doesn’t have to be told.
Do Social Media For The Right Reasons
Search signals are not links, and they never will be links. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. You should do social because it’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to conduct online PR, branding and customer service for your brand. Of all the things you can do online to help your business, social media has the ability to give your brand the reach, visibility and a lasting presence few mediums can provide.
The search benefits, which are real and can substantial, are a bonus.
Now that you know why you should do social media, let’s discuss how to smartly deploy social media for your business.
Define your target audience, then discern where they are congregating online.
Don’t assume it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram just because they have the number. You need to know where the people are who would be interested your content and who could be classified as a qualified lead.
Determine the content they are interesting in by looking at the content they share, converse about and link to.
To do this, create a list of some of the most active participants in your vertical online, then pay attention to what they are sharing and linking to. (To get a simple look at what they are linking to, visit their website and read their content or use a program like Open Site Explorer or Screaming Frog to peek at backlink.)
Create the content you’ll ultimately want to promote.
Strive to make it as in-depth and actionable as possible, in addition to adding several meaningful graphics. Be sure to include clear, compelling calls-to-action, which should aid commenting, sharing and linking.
Publish the content and get busy promoting it online.
Tag or tweet to members of the audience who are key in sharing the content. Elicit discourse on social media by asking questions, tagging others and inviting public discussion.
As you can imagine, if your business is creating stellar content consistently, then sharing it with the right audience members, links will follow. And those links will help your SEO.
However, content is not synonymous with links, so don’t make the mistake of assuming there is a 1:1 relationship between the two, as in more shares equals more links.
If you’re doing content and social media wisely, your business will see the benefits, by way of shares, links and enhanced organic search reach, as the topics you’re blogging about slowly begin to show up higher in the SERPS. This is typically a slower process than most business owners would like for it to be, though, which explains why the little white lie becomes a big lie that ultimately loses content marketers clients.
You should use social media because it’s an effective medium for establishing your brand’s online presence and maintaining top-of-mind awareness. The links and social signals that should follow are gifts.
(Hat tip to Eric Enge for his recent post on social media and SEO, which served as the impetus for me to share my personal experience.)
Last week Dan Kaplan, who is a long-time, valued client and also the CoFounder of periscopeUP, interviewed our CEO Chase Granberry about our Now Provided Reports. Below is the Podcast and in this video you can see all the benefits of our report. You can see screenshots, see how easy the set-up is, understand how the process works and then see the resulting data. Chase also goes over some other tool options you may not have been aware that AuthorityLabs provides. (more…)
Brian and I collected and analyzes thousands of site’s page titles. We found that Google most commonly changes your page titles to be within the 50-59 character range. Fun fact: the optimal pixel width for a title tag is 512 characters.
Step 2 – Filter Options
Feel free to scroll over and filter by Title Length or Title Pixel Width. Simply click on the column title.
Step 3 – Lower Window Magic
Many Screaming Frog explores seldom use the lower window. I touched on this window in earlier tutorials. But, we’re really going to dive in and take full advantage of these features.
URL Info: This tab contains a snapshot of the following elements:
Step 4 – #AllTheLinks
In the next tab over you can view which links are linking to the page you have selected, and are linking away. You can even check on your Anchor Text and Alt Text for each of the links.
Step 5 – Images
This info is helpful to check if your images have the proper Alt Text and what they’re linking to.
Step 6 – Bread Winner! – SERP Snippet
Pro Tip: To bask in the full glory of the SERP Snippet window, resize it be clicking and dragging the dotted lines.
SERP Snippet: This tab gives you an overview of how your landing page looks in Google.
Step 7 – Check yo’self
If you look to the right of your SERP preview, you can see a character counter and pixel width counter. Screaming Frog highlights the title metrics in red if they are greater than what would be viewable in Google. So helpful!
Step 8 – A New View
This view also allows you to view your SERP Snippet as if you were viewing them on desktop, mobile, or tablet.
Step 9 – Try, try, again
One really cool tool in Screaming Frog is that you can edit your page titles and meta descriptions. You can use this to edit multiple landing pages and then export those edits and then ad them to your site.
Pro Tip: There is a little bug. If you want to reset the Title & Description to the original version make sure you don’t navigate away from this selected landing page.
Step 10 – Tips ‘n Tricks
Scroll over different parts of the SERP Snippet to get tips on each other the aspects.
Step 11 – Export
Change the titles/meta/keywords/etc to the correct lengths, then export them!
Step 12 – Pretty Time!
Check out the conditional formatting section of my tutorial for a detailed walk-through. Or, if you’re most confident in your Excel skills then you can reference these cheat sheets on how to format your results.
Despite all the talk about Google one day “suppressing” the value of links in favor of other ranking factors, those days have not arrived yet, which explains why you continue to fret over too few links given the amount of money you’re now spending on content. Should you focus less on content creation and more on link building? Or should you go all-in on content marketing with hopes that links begin to materialize at some point in the near future?
The correct answer is “neither.”
The safest, surest way to acquire links to your website is by creating content your audience desires, consumes, finds worthy of sharing and, most important, linking to. The only way that happens consistently, however, is by emphasizing link worthiness with the majority of the content your business creates, a process that pays dividends in all areas of your company.
Quality becomes and remains a focus for everyone who creates content at the company
Awareness of your audience and its needs is made a priority
Content and SEO teams are energized to create, promote and share content more frequently
Outreach becomes a part of your business
Content and SEO can no longer remain siloed
Instead of framing the question as “Should you become a link builder or a content marketer?” I say we frame it as “How do we create quality content that serves to facilitate gaining links for our website?”
Ignore Your Audience To Create Link Worthy Content
When it comes to content creation, even the brands that do it well typically do it wrong. They create amazing content they know their audience will love and share, but they miss two all-important elements as regards gaining links:
Who among the audience shares links to content
What content/content type they most often link to and share
Your business can create the best content in the world, then see it get shared and talked about nonstop online, but never acquire a significant or meaningful number of links. How does this happen?
You’re creating content primarily for consumption and shareability, when you should be thinking about linkability first.
That’s done by ignoring the noise and focusing intently on (a) who the most active linkers (Rand Fishkin calls them “linkerati“) are in your vertical, (b) creating content that closely matches the style, tone and quality of what they are linking to, and (c) enlisting their help in promoting your content.
I can read your mind.
“We’re an accounting firm, Ronell! A six-person business that can barely produce four blog posts a month, at that. How in the world can we find these linkers and get them to share our content, when we don’t know who they are, what they want? Leaving aside our inability to create such content.”
A year ago, I was in the same boat with you. My clients could barely afford to pay for content, and they did so only because they were paying for SEO in hopes of staying on top of their main keywords. But with the advent of Not Provided and the difficulty of wrangling the ranking monster, those clients began to ask “Why are we producing content, if it’s not acquiring links?” And those who weren’t asking that question began to ask another similar one: “According to everything I read, links are still the No. 1 factor when it comes to my website showing up on the first page of Google. Why don’t we just focus on link building instead of wasting money on content?”
This line of questioning made me change my approach and adopt an entirely different mindset regarding content marketing: A significant percentage of the content your business produce every month must be link worthy.
Exactly what that percentage will vary by business and vertical, but for a business that’s only able to create four pieces of content a month, my number is 25 percent, or one piece of content.
The less content you produce, the fewer opportunities you have for links, so you have no choice but to make them count.
With the 25 percent philosophy, I’d recommend the company blog four times a month, but one of the posts would be a meaty piece designed to garner links. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds, and it starts with identifying the linkers.
Baking Linkability Into The Content Marketing Process
Using the example of the fictitious accounting firm mentioned above, I’ll lay out a strategy any business can use effectively.
Develop a rapport with the linkers. No matter your industry or vertical, there are websites devoted to the profession. And what everyone of these websites has in common are diehard followers, supporters and “watchers” of the craft. These people are easy to spot, for they are always sharing content via social media, always active in the most important conversations in the vertical and they frequently post links to content via their website.
These are the people you need to form a relationship with: share and discuss their content; engage them in online conversation; email them questions or suggestions; share comments on their blog; tag them in Google Plus posts; and invite them to be a part of your content, through quotes in blogs or, better yet, in podcasts or Google Hangouts. In this way, you’re creating a reciprocal relationship, by helping them as they help you, which is something Stone Temple Consulting does with their “Digital Marketing Excellence Show.”
Identify the content they are sharing and, most important, linking to. Now that you’ve identified the linkers, it’s time to hone in on the content they most often link to on their websites and share online.
Are they certain content types that are linked to most often?
Do certain content topics get more links than others?
Is the content image-heavy?
Once you have a handle on what type of content to create, you must focus on creating a piece of content that’s the best of it’s type on the topic, which equates to baked-in shareability. To do this, you’ll mosey over to Google and look for the highest-ranking pieces of content on the topic. For our purposes, we’re looking for “Top accounting worries for new homeowners.”
We’re only interested in the top three organic results. The No. 1 result looks intriguing. Once inside the post, we see that “Don’t Overspend on Furniture and Remodeling,” “Don’t Ignore Important Maintenance Items” and how to “Hire Qualified Contractors” are the top concerns.
Hmm…Getting interesting, right?
Produce the content, then set about enlisting the help of the linkers. I’d have the client produce a 1,500 to 2,000 word blog post titled “How First-time Homebuyers Can Furnish Their Home Without Breaking The Bank.” The post would be written in list format, contain at least five images (one per every 350-400 words) and feature interviews with accountants and other finance pros having active, engaged audiences, in addition to high profile furniture store owners or managers, many of whom are every active online.
Once the content is produced, I’d post the content to the company blog, then, simultaneously, reach out to the linkers for help sharing and answering comments on the site. (Be sure to list the personal names, business names and social media handles of those interviewed when sharing via social, which creates additional buzz for those involved and further incentivizes them to link to the post.) Also, ask those who were interviewed if they would mind running a snippet of the post on their website, then link to the original post. If it helps, you could have a staff member write the snippet, then email it to the linker to post on their site.
Continue to fan the flames well after the content is posted. You need to keep the linkers in your stable while you reach out to interact with other linkers in the community. Also, you must keep your eyes open for the next piece of link-worthy content, which you are now on the hook for once per month.
The strategy laid can and will work for your business, provided you’re willing to do the leg-work of identifying linkers and developing a rapport with them. The more you share and interact, the more links you can expect and the easier the task become over time.
Please share your thoughts below.
(I must give a huge shout-out to Rand Fishkin and Brian Dean for influencing my views on link building and the role it should play in content creation.)
We know it’s Halloween, and soon your blood sugar will be through the roof, from all the candy you’ve eaten, and your neighborhoods will be swarming with Frozen and Maleficent characters, in addition to Mutant Ninja Turtles, vampires and clowns.
But, before the excitement begins, we figured we could fill your head with a little knowledge, which we are sure the Zombies will appreciate when they come to steal your brain.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Here’s a short list of must-reads we found on the web this week:
Do Social Signals Drive SEO: This post by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting is an easy read but will go a long way at enlightening businesses of what role social media plays in their SEO efforts and how to optimize social for search. Most important, Enge explains why it’s important for businesses to use social media, providing details of what they can expect from the endeavor, and highlights how your business can do social media wisely.
9 Ways to Make Your Expensive Product Look like a Total Steal: No matter the premium product or service you offer, price is likely a factor for many of your core prospects. And if you’re like most marketers, you probably focus on features and benefits while downplaying price on your product and services pages. You could be making a mistake, for one of the best sales tactics is to place your expensive product alongside an even more expensive product from a competitor, allowing customers to visualize how what they thought was expensive is really a steal.
How to Make Your Content Relatable and Actionable: Do you know the No. 1 method of ensuring your content gets sought out frequently and fervently by prospects? Make it actionable. The more you include how-to elements with actionable takeaways, the more your core prospects come to view your business as the go-to resource for information. It’s easier than you think, and this post goes a long way at helping to add actionable content to your marketing repertoire.
43 Tools For Modern Marketers: We marketers love our tools, and for good reason. They enable us to more effectively do our jobs. The problem is staying on top of what the latest and best tool are. Ian Lurie gifts us with an amazing list of marketing tools, most of which we’ve never heard of and all of which will likely prove indispensable
Who’s Really Winning The Search War?: Everyone knows Google rules the roost when it comes to search, but there has been some misleading information thrown aroun over the last few years. For example, does Google command 85-90% of search, or is the figure more like 66% of search. As this study reveals, the latter is closer to the real number. But the most important information they uncovered is that Bing/Yahoo command roughly 29% of search, which should make us all question why so little of our time and money (paid search) is devoted to these platforms.