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.
The online marketing world is aflutter over content. Content writers. Content for websites. Content for blogs. Content strategy. Content marketing. Content amplification. Content curation. At times it appears as though you could put content in front on any word and have it make sense, given it’s popularity (Content Frappuccino, anyone?)
But while it’s clear content is popular, it’s not so clear that business quite know what to do with it, as many rush to measure, tweak and replicate without first asking themselves “What are we really trying to do here?”
To help us make sense of it all, I invited Lauren Hall-Stigerts a Kirkland, Washington-based Internet marketing consultant specializing in content strategy and social media, to weigh in on the topic for our In The Beaker series.
Hall-Stigerts is a writer and thinker I admire greatly, having read her work for more than a year and always finding her ideas clear, thoughtful and compelling. After reading her thoughts below, where she illuminates how businesses can wrangle the wild content horses, I’m sure you’ll agree.
RS: When I think of most of the writing I view on the web, I do more wincing than clapping. It’s as though the quantity is through the roof, but the overall quality is not what it should be. Why do you think that is?
LH-S: I’m over the moon that content is finally getting the attention it deserves. However, I think content publishers are getting addicted to the benefits of frequency and losing sight of quality in the process.
Search engines are rewarding sites for publishing fresh, relevant content. Site managers see a new spike in traffic every time a blog post is published. The marketing team get excited that the brand is getting in front of its audience regularly. IT’S JUST SO ADDICTING!
But like most things in life, balance is key. Don’t get sucked into obsessing over quality. You’ve got to find the balance that works for you and your audience. Some pieces you’ll invest in heavily deserve that magnifying glass and those white gloves. Others will have a diminishing rate of return the more time you obsess over it, such as a time-sensitive blog post alerting your audience to a recent announcement.
RS: Blogging, as a whole, seems to get far more attention than rank and file copywriting. But when you look at where businesses really have an opportunity to close the deal, it’s web content aside from blogs that rules the day. This is why it drives me crazy to see bad landing pages, About Us pages and poorly worded product descriptions. What area of web content gives you the heebie-jeebies, and how would you fix it?
LH-S: Like you said: make sure your home is in order before you start going crazy with content elsewhere. Shiny objects are always hoisted upon businesses: blogs, social media, flashy videos. But ideally all that content is driving traffic back to your website, and if your website does not meet let alone exceed their expectations set by that content, you could lose trust and customers.
I prefer to see a well-formatted website that answers customers’ questions and provide a way to contact the company rather than a popular Twitter account. (Not to mention content created on any web property other than your own is subject to the whims of that website. But if the content is on your domain, then you are the master of it.) Make sure you put your best face forward on your website before any other online content activity.
RS: I’m on record as saying businesses who outsource content production should (a) find a way to produce at least a small percentage of their own content and (b) have a member of the internal team who in-depthly understands content. How can businesses that outsource content creation ensure they’re getting what they need?
LH-S: Most will verify they’re getting what they need by looking to the end product. But here’s a secret: how you start the engagement with your content creator (before any content is created!) makes all the difference in the end.
Know who you are: Establish your magnetic north before setting off on the content trail.
Before outsourcing your content creation, understand why you’re producing it. Revisit your business objectives and goals. These are your magnetic north. These help guide your content marketing strategy in the right direction.
In addition to the top-level business strategy stuff, be sure to collect resources that will get your content creator up to speed on your organization. Dust off that brand guide: it will help the hired talent put the best foot forward. Share competitive overviews. Describe the target audience and—better yet—personas. Walk the content creator through the customer journey.
Know where you want to go; plan your route and define the final product.
In the words of the late Stephen Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.” This doesn’t necessarily mean envisioning what the content piece looks like. Think about what your customers will do as a result of reviewing your content. Are you producing it to help a customer through a certain part of his or her journey? Is brand awareness top of mind? Want to earn trust with key influencers? Each question requires a different content marketing strategy—that’s why it’s important to define it early on.
Establish your target audience’s content preferences. What type of content do they prefer? Where do they like to consume that content? What do they do with the content? This will inform what the content creator is producing. Now establish (with the help of your friendly content creator) what success looks like. Define the metrics that will help you measure success and improve over time. Establish the tools that you’ll use to collect that data.
Make room for creativity by setting structure.
All of the planning you and your content professional have done up to this point will help him or her unleash their creativity during the creation stages. Set a schedule to review drafts. A few pairs of eyes reviewing the work before publishing will help see it from different angles and catch anything that needs changing.
Plan on circling back with your content producer a week after the content has gone live to review the performance, metrics, and discuss improvements to future content to better meet the business objectives. These meetings can become less frequent as the content producer becomes more familiar with the brand, business objectives, and performance of the content pieces.
RS: What are some guidelines businesses can put in place to make that process replicable and thus easier to manage?
LH-S: Editorial Guidelines: How content is presented when representing the organization. This includes a formatting checklist for works published to the website.
Voice and Tone: How the written and spoken word reflects the brand. Mailchimp’s team has created an excellent example of how a brand describes voice and tone.
Templates: If you’re creating visual assets, have a folder of pre-rendered and pre-approved graphical elements that can be dropped in. If you’re writing, create blog templates per brand standards with formatting coded in. This will help speed along blog formatting, too.
SEO Checklist: Are all your tags closed and your keywords researched? Provide a checklist that covers your SEO bases, making it easier for your audience and search engines to find you. (Make sure to include “test links” on the list!)
Quality Check: Create a list of who can be called upon to review content before publishing. It’s helpful to have another pair of eyes to catch what the creator might have missed.
Promotion Checklist: Know which social networks you’re posting to. Create your IFTTT recipes that will help spread the word automatically. List what you’ll need to promote through each channel: graphics? Preview text? A shortened URL?
RS: For businesses that lack the resources to outsource content creation, what are some tips you can share to help them manage this process and ensure the quality is what it needs to be?
Know what resources are available to you: subject matter experts, writers, media creators, and your resources’ bandwidth to create the content.
Finding the right talent for the job is essential. Locate someone who is passionate about the content topic, and if not passionate, then at least knowledgeable. Enthusiasm is infectious. If they aren’t good writers, pair them with a natural editor at your company. If they say they’re too busy, play journalist and record a 15-minute interview with them. You’d be amazed at the content you’ll uncover when you just let someone talk.
Understand what content would entertain your audience or make their lives easier. Take some time to search your Twitter followers’ profiles for interests. See what competing websites’ visitors are reading. Mine Google for trending topics related to your product.
Know where your audience consumes content and create content that fits. Don’t fit a square peg in a round hole: if your audience isn’t on Twitter, don’t waste your time talking to the wall.
Set up a process that works for your business. This is important. Unless you have a dedicated content team, creating content internally is hard work. You’ll have to convince others to take on work that’s not necessarily their job. You’ll be doing work that’s not necessarily your job. Understand your “content team’s” motivations and limitations – and be flexible to make it as easy for them as possible
RS: When you look at web content as a whole, what do you see as (a) the biggest missed opportunity and (b) the biggest opportunity for quick wins? Please elaborate.
LH-S: The biggest missed opportunity I’m seeing is a concerted effort to promote excellent content. Not every piece of content demands its own campaign – but select pieces that have talent and funding behind them often fly under the radar. Why? The ball is dropped after hitting the PUBLISH button. It was so much work to get to that point that many companies stop there.
Biggest opportunity for quick wins? If your “win” metrics are organic links and social shares: request influencer input early in the content production. Quote them and link back to their site if it’s appropriate for your content piece. The benefits are far reaching:
You’ll get a unique perspective for the piece.
You’ll get expert input from a trusted source.
They will benefit from the mention and link, making it more likely they will share your content with their audience and link back to you in return.
RS: Finish this sentence for me: “Businesses who commit to blogging regularly can expect…”
LH-S: Well, that depends on the quality of content, too. Assuming quality is moderate: Businesses who commit to blogging regularly can expect a loyal audience. (Eventually. Patience + persistence.)
One of the quotes I fell in love with in college is attributed to Albert Einstein: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” To my ears, the sentence called on everyone, from scientist to laborers, to express their ideas and thoughts as simply as possible, which serves to aid the examination and application of the best ideas.
Sounds simple enough right?
Well, lately I’ve been thinking the same thing as it regards SEO, content and social media. We need to return to simplicity.
We get so wrapped up in the newest, shiniest toy that we forget we cannot all be everywhere at all times; neither can our businesses execute every idea or concept simultaneously. And you know what, simplicity is what our audiences crave as well. I believe our online communities are saying to us what Omar Little said to Prop Joe in The Wire: “[We] like it simple.”
Whether you agree or not, isn’t it time we experiment?
Shouldn’t we try shorter, punchier content? Doesn’t making a commitment to one social media platform before you jump to all the others seem like a logical, worthwhile idea? Wouldn’t it serve everyone’s best interests if we stopped obsessing over Google penalties and start creating content and user experiences that the algorithms reward, not punish?
If you’re ready to give this approach a try, I have three simple (of course!) ideas to get you started.
Quit over-thinking content
Do what you can with what you have. That might mean one blog a week or two blogs a month. The key is focusing on what you have the resources to do well, then executing that plan. Once you have your keywords and personas in hand, spend some time brainstorming content ideas and content types. But spent even more time thinking about content outreach and amplification, for not even the best content does your website any good if it remains hidden from the folks who need it.
Make social media a priority, not an obsession
I get it. I get it. You cannot help but jump on the latest platform, eager to be an early-adopter. That’s a lofty goal, and one that very well may help you down the road. Right now, however, you need to simplify your plans and focus on which platform can help you most in the next 90 days, then go from there. Have your social media and SEO folks pull the latest data from Google Analytics to discern which platforms are sending your website the highest quality referral traffic. Don’t obsess over goals, metrics and such, yet. Put your eggs in the basket that’s proved most consistent. You can re-asses and reassign later.
SEO isn’t synonymous with table salt
In the restaurant industry, the bromide goes that “salt makes everything taste better.” In the online marketing world, a similar line of thinking revolves around SEO. Don’t fall for this ruse. While important, SEO won’t iron your clothes, make you dinner or rescue your business from the likes of poor content or bad overall strategy. My advice: Keep SEO at the center of your digital marketing plans, but not to the extent that you neglect other, no less significant areas of your business, including content strategy, user experience and email marketing.
This is a post that has been rolling around in my head for some time, primarily as a result of seeing business owners neglect the little things, which ultimately become the big things.