The Scientific Secrets of Shareable Content: What Buzzfeed, Malcolm Gladwell & #TheDress Have in Common

Have you ever wondered why, in spite of your best intentions, you just can’t resist a clickbait headline on Buzzfeed?

What was it about #TheDress that got everyone up in arms? And what is it about Malcolm Gladwell that makes his work so interesting?

Is it possible to replicate this kind of remarkability, or is it entirely unpredictable?

The truth is there is compelling science behind the success of shareable content. The stuff that gets people talking isn’t quite as random as you …

The post The Scientific Secrets of Shareable Content: What Buzzfeed, Malcolm Gladwell & #TheDress Have in Common appeared first on Social.

‘What Should I Post on Facebook?’ 12 Facebook Tactics Working Right Now

If you feel challenged by Facebook marketing these days, you should know you’re not alone.

In an increasingly crowded news feed, Facebook’s algorithm updates can make it tough for brands to get much notice.

In fact, brands are now responding to plunging organic reach on Facebook by posting more content to Instagram than they are to Facebook, according to a report by research firm L2.

But don’t despair; there’s plenty of life left in Facebook yet. We’ve been scouring the web to find out what’s working on Facebook …

The post ‘What Should I Post on Facebook?’ 12 Facebook Tactics Working Right Now appeared first on Social.

Music SEO – 7 Lessons in Brand Optimization for 2015

Posted by evolvingSEO

Bands, music, and SEO – A different paradigm

For B2B or ecommerce, people often
discover your brand with commercial queries like “dining room lamps” or an informational search like “how to fix a dishwasher”.

Then they look around your site, your social profiles, get retargeted—before ever making a purchase—but in many cases that journey started with an non-branded organic search. Search is certainly not the
only discovery channel. But important enough that investment in non-branded keywords is essential.

A (very simplified) illustration of this discovery path might look something like this:

content discovery path b2b ecommerce

The above is NOT the case for musicians and bands though.
When’s the last time you discovered a band with a search engine? Probably never.

For bands and musicians, the discovery path is
flipped around. THIS is probably more realistic:

discovery path for bands

The search engine is
more about reducing friction on the path to becoming a die-hard fan. I don’t think many people are discovering their new favorite band like this:

searching for bands on google

But you HAVE probably tried to learn more about bands and musicians
after the initial discovery with searches like this:

current fan search


(No, I am not a Lumineers fan—just so there’s no confusion 😉 )

I don’t think many musicians, bands, record labels or managers are looking at this aspect of search. Sure, you can hope that users and Google “just figure it out.” Or you can be proactive and create the best fan experience possible.


SEO for bands = The branded keyword experience

So the REAL opportunity in keywords for bands and musicians is the fan experience here:

google autosuggest band search terms

It’s their “branded” terms (or what I like to call “PropWords“—proprietary keywords):

  • band name
  • musician names
  • album names
  • song names
  • lyrics
  • performance dates
  • interviews
  • etc…

For example, there’s a TON of volume around Lupe Fiasco’s branded terms—and this is only the tip of the iceberg:

branded search terms lupe fiasco

Just because no one’s discovering Lupe Fiasco in organic search, doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity. It’s just not in the normal places you’d look for B2B or eCommerce opportunity.

So that’s the lens through which the rest of this post should be seen through. SEO for bands is primarily about the
fan experience searching their branded terms.


Search result opportunities for bands

1. Event listings

1.1 Optimize your own site for general tour searches

As a band, it’s important to keep fans and potential fans in your ecosystem. You should keep fans on your properties (website, social etc) as much as possible—so as not to give up extra traffic to third party sites. Being visible for your own event searches is a critical way to keep them there.

Let’s use on of my new favorite bands,
Sylvan Esso. Here’s an example of what Google typically shows for a tour search—for the query “sylvan esso tour dates”:

search results sylvan esso

I imagine for this query,
fans are trying to get a list of all tour dates. So what is Google doing now? They are providing the list front and center.

You notice that Sylvan Esso only has one result—everything else goes to a third party site. This is already a lost opportunity to drive more fans to
their site.

They could
optimize for clicks by aligning the likely user intent with their appearance in the SERP. Using the SEO Mofo SERP tool, I came up with:

sylvan esso tour dates search results

This listing may perform better because:

  • It aligns with most likely user intent (browse all dates/location & purchase)
  • The URL is more informative
  • It promises something exclusive (as long as they deliver—maybe with a group discount, a meet and greet etc).

This is the start to funneling fans through your website instead of a third party.

1.2 Create pages for individual shows (with caution)

Some fans may opt to click a tour date Google has provided. What does Google do next?

tour dates serp

Google then returns a page like this—with a TON of stuff:

band serp

This SERP is packed! It includes:

  • A date carousel
  • A large AdWords ad
  • A map card
  • Knowledge Graph card
  • Top result has 4 site-links
  • 7 more normal organic results, some with date snippets and extra links

Here’s the kicker. There’s only
one tiny little link to sylvanesso.com—in the map card. And it goes to their homepage. They have a pretty poor shot at driving users to their website here.

Let’s look at a result for a specific Dave Matthews Band tour date:

dave matthews serp

They’re doing it a little better. Few observations with this one:

  • Their link in the map goes to their tour page
  • The #1 organic listing goes to their website—because they have a specific page for that exact show.
  • The amount of stuff in this SERP is still immense. The first organic result is way below the fold.
  • The “with caution” part is that—you don’t want to just create individual pages for every show, without trying to add something of value to them—like information about the venue, past show pictures from that venue, etc. These pages can get quite “thin” and this isn’t a good thing either.

1.3 Tag your site to get official ticket links

Finally, the biggest change in Google is the addition of official ticketing agents. To use one of their examples, let’s look at
Google’s example of “ariana grande tour” (and no, definitely not a secret Ariana Grande fan—although some of the production is decent):

Not only do the tour dates show up at the top, but check out this
preferred ticketing link showing prominently in the Map Card:

official ticket agent in band serp

Google
first announced this capability about a year ago. And they have recently expanded this for comedians and concert venues as well. Here is Google’s official developer documentation on event markup for performers: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/events/performers I want to note, they are giving preferential treatment to official artist websites:

event markup for performer sites

You have three options to specify event info:

  1. HTML—code it directly into your page
  2. Plugins or Widgets
  3. New “Delegation” Markup—indicate Google to source it from another webpage

2. Make an app (or several) and index them

For those not aware,
App Indexing is getting pretty real. I think this is a major opportunity for bands and musicians. Let’s look at mobile search volume for a few albums that have come out recently:

mobile search volume for recent albums

According to my small sample, at least 44% of album name searches are on a mobile device (not even including tablets). Recent claims are that Android has
almost 50% of the smartphone market share. For Alicia Keys, that would mean about 18,500 searches a month for “girl on fire” on an Android.

Are you seeing the opportunity? No? Well, Bjork did:

bjork app

She had an app developed just for her new album, Biophillia. Now, Android users searching Google for this album will be able to purchase and experience the “multimedia exploration” in this app.

If I was a label, I’d be experimenting with making apps for all albums by artists—filling them with an exclusive experience—and seeing what happens.

Google put together their
4-steps to appiness—and easy to follow guide to get your Android app indexed in Google search.

3. Get a Knowledge Graph result

I know we’ve look at musicians who have already reached a threshold of popularity. They are likely to have a Knowledge Graph result already.

But what if you’re an up and coming musician? You may not have a Knowledge Graph result—but perhaps with a little nudge you can get one. For example, a friend of mine (and old bandmate)
Lost Midas is now a solo electrofusion producer and songwriter. He is signed to an independent label and even just performed at SXSW—but unfortunately Google does not show a Knowledge Graph result:

missing knowledge graph in serp

What could someone like him do to get in the Knowledge Graph?

One thing I found interesting was Google’s suggestions for how performers specifically can get in the Knowledge Graph. It’s
buried at the bottom of the event listings page:

3.1 Get listed in Wikipedia

This is easier said than done. Be sure to read their
inclusion criteria for music.

If you feel the band or musician is notable enough to get into Wikipedia, you can then
start the process here. That is the official page to add an article request for bands and musicians. Please note, Wikipedia does not want you to list yourself.

As Google states above—
be sure the official homepage is recorded correctly. I take this to mean—list the exact (“canonical”) version of your homepage URL. The one you would verify in Webmaster Tools.

You may also find this article on how someone claimed to
sneak through Wiki’s notability test interesting (although I can’t officially say how good that method is).

3.2 Get listed in MusicBrainz

The other site Google recommends getting listed in is
MusicBrainz.org. I don’t have much experience with this site, but you can go here to learn about making contributions.

musicbrainz

3.3 Upload audio to Archive.org

Note, this is
just my hunch. But if Google is using Wikipedia and MusicBrainz to inform their Knowledge Graph results—perhaps they use Archive.org. Why not? It’s one of the most authoritative sources on the web.

With Archive.org you can
upload entire concerts to their site:

archive.org

3.4 Create and verify a Google Plus page

Right, I know. “No one uses Google Plus.” “Google Plus is dying.” Perhaps there are elements of truth there. But I’d be surprised if having a Google Plus page verified with your website doesn’t somehow impact Knowledge Graph listings.

My friend does not have a Google Plus listing currently:

searching for band's google plus page

For those needing to create and verify a Google Plus page:

  1. Go here and choose “Brand” to create a page. (Note, you are not creating a personal page. This is a mistake I see many organizations making).
  2. And then link your website to your brand page by following those instructions.

4. Customize your Knowledge Graph

Once you
have a Knowledge Graph listing—that’s just the beginning! Google recently added ways to control what appears there.

4.1 Specify your logo

For bands (and all organizations really) branding is an essential element of success. Google now gives you the opportunity to
directly control the logo users see in your Knowledge Graph result:

customizing a band's knowledge graph result

As you can see above, the jazz group
The Bad Plus has a random picture from an article showing—when perhaps there is a better photo they would prefer. This may be especially important from a consistency of branding standpoint.

4.2 Specify your social profiles

In addition, you can also
directly control what social media links show in the knowledge graph. As I’ve mentioned, getting users to follow you on social is a key goal for bands in terms of audience development. Your audience is everything. And for bands, most search activity is going to come from their brand name. Why not make it easier for them to discover your social profiles?

For example, the amazing “Livetronica” Band (live electronica music)
The New Deal could get all of their social links to show in their Knowledge Box:

missing social profiles in knowledge graph

As you can see they are missing a huge opportunity to get more fans to their Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud profiles. There’s at least 1,700 searches a month for “the new deal music” and “the new deal band”.

5. Have a crawlable and indexable site

For some reason, I have noticed sites in the music industry tend to be pretty inferior. This could be due to labels using poor frameworks, or the band/artist needing to just get a website up the quickest, cheapest and easiest way possible. This can cause some issues though.

Let’s check out my friend’s site again. He’s currently on the Flavors.me platform. It looks like there’s several “pages” to the user, but to Google his website is just all one page:

cached band page

As mentioned, this is a common yet often overlooked issue with music websites I see. In fact, despite Bjork getting it right by having an app—her website has the same issue:

cached webpage for bjork

Her
website (which actually does looks like an impressive creative endeavor) is built with hashes # in the URLs. Which makes the individual pages uncrawlable.

This shows up as an issue if I try to find her mailing list in Google:

serp for uncrawlable band page

The first result goes to her record label’s page. That’s fine right? Well, not really because she has her own mailing list:

page visible to searcher not search engine

Because of how the website is built though, that page is basically invisible to Google—and users can not easily find it from a search.

The absence of Bjork’s mailing list in search results is a
critical oversight. For an artist, your mailing list is one of your strongest assets.

5. Leverage your own YouTube channel

As it’s often said, YouTube is the second largest search engine. And there’s no doubt music queries make up a huge percentage of their overall search volume.

5.1 Create a YouTube channel

I’m sad to have to say this, but many bands don’t seem to even have a YouTube page of their own. Again, they are missing a massive opportunity to funnel fans searching for their content to their YouTube account—where they can grow subscribers, promote music and cross-promote other channels.

For example, that band The New Deal does not have their own YouTube channel:

branded youtube channel

Their live performances are a core selling point. This drives a ton of activity around their band in YouTube (people looking for concert footage). If they added some of their own on their own channel, they could capture a lot of this activity and engage with the fans.

5.2 Add video content fans are looking for

Having a channel is great, but fans are often looking for specific pieces of content. It’s really nice to have lots of fans that upload this content for you for fun, but capturing some of this activity is important.

For example, another new band I have been liking a lot –
Made In Heights—could be doing this:

search opportunities on youtube

Fans are looking for live performances, and the only ones there now are all fan uploads.

You can use YouTube search suggest to find other things fans are searching for. I don’t see it mentioned often, but KeywordTool.io allows you to get
YouTube search suggestions:

keywordtool.io youtube suggestions

This can quickly give you ideas of what content to add to your band page in YouTube:

keyword suggestions youtube

The above screenshot shows the most common searches around “Made In Heights”. They mostly look like song names. If I were that band, I’d make sure they have video or content for every one of those songs.

You can use YouTube directly of course to find search suggestions off of the band name. For example, there are a lot of lyric searches. This makes sense. People want to listen to the song while reading the lyrics:

lyric search autosuggest

Wow! Yet, what happens when we look in YouTube for “made in heights lyrics”?

search results lyrics youtube

Never mind the band not having any lyric results—NO one has any lyric results. This is definitely an opportunity to provide content that doesn’t exist within YouTube.

5.3 Create playlists

Playlists are also overlooked in YouTube. They have many benefits:

  • Make your content easier to discover by organizing it.
  • Keep viewers on your content, in your channel
  • I’ve heard it rumored that creation of playlists can help you rank better in YouTube search only if your channel helps YouTube keep viewers… inside YouTube. Playlists can do this.
  • You can organize videos from any account into your playlists.
  • You can also rank in Google search with playlists (more on that below)

I started using playlists on my YouTube
music channel (where I mainly post covers and tutorials of hip-hop songs on piano)—and at least anecdotally—have seen my view count rise faster than usual:

youtube playlists

(I sure did use the word “content” a lot in that screenshot!)

Many popular artists in YouTube don’t have any playlists though—for example
Flying Lotus:

missing band playlist youtube

You can also
curate playlists of videos about your band no matter who uploaded it. For example, let’s say you’re Drake (OK, maybe Drake’s record label or social media manager). You could curate playlists of the best Drake interviews, no matter who uploaded them:

drake seo suggestions

Then when fans search, they may discover the playlist on Drake’s channel which could earn subscriptions and also get them watching their chosen interviews.

Speaking of Drake—remember when I mentioned you could rank in Google search with YouTube playlists? Take a look at this:

drake serp

That’s a random
fan playlist ranking #1 for “drake playlist”—which gets 1,600 searches a month. That’s not an outlying case though. I barely had to look further for another example:

john legend playlist serp

“john legend playlist” gets 720 searches a month—and two fan playlists rank at the top.

6. Contribute to Medium.com

While the idea of “guest posting” is saturated in many industries, I don’t see this being done a whole lot in the music industry. That’s why I was impressed when I noticed a DJ named
A-Trak posted this compelling article about rap in 2014:

guest posting for bands on medium

A few months later, this article has earned:

  • 254 recommendations on Medium
  • 1,480 Facebook shares
  • 470 tweets
  • 336 Google +1’s
  • Including shares by Fred Wilson (380,000+ followers) and pianist Chilly Gonzales (40,000+ followers and high relevance)

It even ranks #2 for [rap in 2014]:

serp for rap in 2014

Although not super high volume, it potentially ranks for a lot of long tail—and will bring in consistent brand discovery from a relevant audience.

6. Provide exclusive content about your lyrics

The SEO world is no stranger to lyric searches. Just last year, Rap Genius (now just “Genius”) was
caught up in a Google penalty. And back on December 19, Glenn Gabe was the first to notice Google displaying full lyrics in search results:

band-provided lyric content in serps


Glenn Gabe’s screenshot from December 19, 2014 of Google displaying lyrics in search.

Glenn also recently published a pretty
in depth study about lyrics in the SERPs I highly recommend you check out.

In his article, Glenn astutely points out that when you add the word “meaning” to your lyrics search—the lyrics box goes away—which I found to be true looking at Sylvan Esso “Coffee” lyrics:

lyrics meaning in serps

As a band you could release exclusive content about your lyrics such as:

  • A photo of where they were originally written (on a napkin while on tour etc)
  • The story about how/why they were written
  • An explanation about their style (rhyme patterns, metaphors, references to history etc.)
  • Share old/original versions of the lyrics or a certain line and the process of revisions

Fans and music publications could also create exclusive content about the lyrics. They could interview the band about their meaning—or publish their own in-depth interpretation of the meaning.

I also want to point out—there can be a
lot of search volume for a single line of a song lyric, if the song and artist are popular enough. Check out the volume for this one line by Drake:

lyric search by line

That’s 1,000 searches a month (certainly skewed all towards February, when the album came out) for “runnin’ through the 6 with my woes”.

And I want to point out, 65% of those searches are being done on
mobile phones

mobile lyric searches

Check out search volume for Adele lyrics from years ago now:

adele lyric search

“But I set fire to the rain” and “watched it pour as I touched your face” both get decent volume and have a good share of mobile share.

Yet there is only one result in this SERP explaining the meaning to this line:

lyric search opportunity

There’s definitely value to be found by:

  • finding lines from lyrics with search volume
  • creating content to satisfy the user intent

Both the artists AND third party publishers have an opportunity here. Genius.com is really the only true player in this space right now!

7. Optimize for real name searches

Remember my friend “Lost Midas”? This is obviously not his real name. It’s Jason Trikakis. Not a hugely common name. So a search for it should return his website #1 right?

real name searches in serps

Wrong. You can’t always rely on Google to “figure it out.” The problem here stems back to the fact his website is not very search-friendly. His name is on the website but very hard for Google to find.

Solution in this case would be:

  • Ultimately to be on a better web platform.
  • But also adding his name into the title of the page (if possible on Flavors.me) would certainly be a step in the right direction 🙂

Also—remember Sylvan Esso? What if one were to be searching around for “Nick Sanborn” who makes up 1/2 of the Sylvan Esso duo?

real name search for band member

Now, I’d never argue something from sylvanesso.com should appear at the top. But there’s nothing from their domain on the first page. As a fan, I’d probably enjoy at least one result from one of their own domains.

Here’s a few ideas for them:

  • Create a bio page on their own site
  • Have a personal website which can then get people to the band website etc

There’s SO much more I could have mentioned in terms of marketing music these days. When I
played in bands it was the days of MySpace 🙂 I don’t even think YouTube was out yet.

There are so many opportunities out there now with social media, platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I left a LOT out of this post.

If you have any questions at all, please ask in the comments below! And I also love to chat about music!

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What Does an SEO Do In Their Day-to-Day Work – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

There’s a common misconception that SEO is a “one and done” task — that you clean up and optimize a site, and once that’s done, you can focus your efforts elsewhere. There’s so much more to the day-to-day work of an SEO, though, and in today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand walks us through those ongoing parts of the job.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

What Does and SEO do in Their Day-to-Day Work board

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to tackle a question I get sometimes about the day-to-day activities of an SEO and what should you do after you’ve completed that first site audit, sort of fixed the problems, what does the day-to-day work look like?

A lot of SEOs, especially those coming from consulting backgrounds or who’ve joined companies as in-house SEOs who’ve had kind of this big project based SEO work to do, find themselves struggling after that’s done. Typically, that process is pretty straightforward. You kind of do an audit. You look at all the things on the site. You figure out what’s wrong, what’s missing, where are opportunities that we could execute on. Maybe you do some competitive analysis, some market analysis. You identify those fixes. You work with teams to make those changes, validate the results have been completed, and then you’re sort of in this, “Well, do I go back and audit again and try to iterate and improve again?”

That doesn’t feel quite right, but it also doesn’t necessarily feel quite right to go to the very, very old-school SEO model of like, “All right, we’ve got these keywords we’re trying to rank for. Let’s optimize our content, get some links, check our rankings for them, and then try to rinse and repeat and keep improving.” This model’s pretty broken I’d say and just not reflective of the reality of opportunities that are in SEO or the reality of the tactics that work today.

So the way that I like to think about this is the SEO audit, an SEO focused audit — which is trying to say, “What traffic could we get? What’s missing? What’s broken and wrong?” — only works at the low level and the very tactical trenches of a marketing process or a business process. What you really need to do is you want to be more incrementally based, but you need to be informed by and you need to be evolving your tactics and your work based on what is the business need right now.

So this process is about saying, “What are the top level company and marketing goals overall? For everyone in the company, what are we trying to accomplish this year, this quarter, the next three year plan? What are we trying to achieve?” Then figure out areas where SEO can best contribute to that work, and then from there you’re creating tactical lists of projects that maybe you’re going to positively move the right needles, the ones that you’ve identified, and then you’re going to evaluate and prioritize which ones you want to implement first, second, and third in what order, and test implement those.

So, hey we’ve figured out that we think that a new blog section for this particular piece of content, or we think that getting some user generated content, building up some community around this section would be terrific, or we think outreach to these kinds of publications or building up our social stats in these worlds will expose us to the right people who can earn us the amplification we’ll need to rank better, etc., etc. Okay, this is a fine process, and you’re going to want to do this, I would say, at least annually and maybe even think about it quarterly.

All this work is essentially centered on a customer profile universe, a universe of people. I’ve got my person X, Y, and Z here, but your customer universe may involve many different personas. It may involve just one type of person you’re targeting that you’re always trying to reach over and over again, but it probably involves also the people who influence that direct subsection of your market.

From there, you can take the, “Hey, you know what, person Z is really interested in and consumes and searches for these types of content topics and these kinds of keywords, so we’re going to start by taking keyword set A or content set A and figure out our keyword list and our content list. We’re going to create, launch, and promote work that supports that.” It could be content pieces, could be video, could be some combination of those things in social media, all forms of content. It could be tools, whatever you want, an application.

We’re going to launch that, promote it, and then work on some amplification, and then we’re going to measure and learn, which is a critical part of that process. I want to not only see what are my results, but what can I learn from what we just did and hopefully I’ll get better and better at iterating on this process. This process will work iteratively, kind of similar to our broken process over here or to our site audit process there. It will work iteratively, and then every now and then you should pop back up and go, “Hey, you know what, I feel like we’ve exhausted the easiest 80% of value that we’re going to get from 20% of the work on keyword set A. Let’s move on and go visit keyword set B now, and then let’s go visit content set C.”

Occasionally, you’re even going to want to move one step up and say, “Hey, you know what, maybe our personas or our market is changing a little bit. We want to try targeting some new customers. We’re going to look at these folks over here or this guy over here and see if we can reach them and their influencers with new kinds of content and topics and keywords, and that sort of thing.”

If your site is rocking and rolling, if you’ve completed your audit, things are just smooth sailing, then this kind of a process is going to work much better, so long as it’s tied to real business objectives. Then when you achieve results here, you can point back to, “Hey, remember I told you these are the areas SEO can contribute to our overall goals, and now I can connect these up directly. The metrics that I get from all this SEO stuff can tie directly to those areas, can tie directly to the business goals.” Everyone from the CEO on down is going to love what you’re doing for the company.

All right everyone, I hope you’ll join me again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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The Delightfully Short Guide to Social Media ROI

If the concept of social media ROI feels rather enormous, you’re not alone.

I am amazed—and sometimes astounded—at the breadth of the topic.

So that’s made the exercise of writing a “delightfully short” guide to social media ROI all the more fun and challenging. I’ve given myself under 1,000 words to provide an overview of social media ROI and how to apply it to your social media marketing efforts. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!

What Does Social Media ROI Look Like?

ROI has its …

The post The Delightfully Short Guide to Social Media ROI appeared first on Social.

A Sneak Preview of #MozCon 2015

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Considering coming to MozCon, July 13-15 in Seattle this year? Maybe you’re on the fence because you’re not sure what’s going on, and most importantly, what our amazing speakers are talking about? I hear you, MozCon fans! While the agenda is still being finalized, we wanted to give you a sneak preview.

If you’re like “oh, shit, I forgot to buy my MozCon ticket!,” do so now:

Buy your ticket!

We’re still finalizing a couple more speakers and topics, and of course, community speakers submissions are fast approaching. Keep your eye out here on April 2nd for more info!


Adam Singer

Analytics Advocate at
Google

@AdamSinger

Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, startup adviser, investor, and blogger. He previously was director for a global consulting team and has provided digital strategy for brands in a variety of industries including marketing, technology, healthcare, and more.


Topic: Digital Analytics: People, Process, Platform

In a data-driven world, Adam will pull you back to think again about your analytics, best practices, and how you report.

Adam Singer


Cindy Krum

Founder and CEO at
MobileMoxie LLC.

Twitter:
@Suzzicks

Cindy Krum is the CEO and Founder of MobileMoxie, LLC, and author of Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are. She brings fresh and creative ideas to her clients, and regularly speaks at US and international digital marketing events.


Topic: Become a Mobile SEO Superhero

With Google’s algorithm mobile change, Cindy will walk you through the changes, what they mean for your site and its rankings, and what you should be focusing on going forward.

Cindy Krum


Courtney Seiter

Head of Content Marketing at
Buffer

Twitter:
@courtneyseiter

Courtney Seiter examines social media and workplace culture at Buffer, and her writing has been published at TIME, Fast Company, Lifehacker, Inc., and more. She lives in Nashville, where she is a founder of
Girls to the Moon, a leadership camp for girls.


Topic: The Psychology of Social Media

Courtney dives into the science of why people post, share, and build relationships on social media and how to create an even more irresistible social media experience for your audience.

Courtney Seiter


Dana DiTomaso

Partner at
Kick Point Inc

Twitter:
@danaditomaso

Whether at a conference, on the radio, or in a meeting, Dana DiTomaso likes to impart wisdom to help you turn a lot of marketing bullshit into real strategies to grow your business. Dana is also a fan of the random fact. Kick Point often celebrates “Watershed Wednesday” because of her diverse work and education background. In her spare time, Dana drinks tea and yells at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.


Topic: How to Make Your Marketing Match Your Reality

Too often, the tone and promises of marketing don’t match those of the business itself. Dana will help you bring your brand identity together, both in-store and online.

Dana DiTomaso


David Mihm

Director of Local Search Strategy at Moz

Twitter:
@davidmihm

David Mihm has created and promoted search-friendly websites for clients of all sizes since the early 2000’s. David co-founded GetListed.org, which he sold to Moz in November 2012. He now serves as Moz’s Director of Local Search Strategy.


Topic: Astoundingly Useful Applications of Facebook Search for Marketers

Facebook has long neglected its potential as a local search giant, and as a result, its Graph Search product is an afterthought for too many marketers. David showcases Graph-powered insights for small-business marketers—with utility well beyond Facebook.

David Mihm


Joanna Wiebe

Creator at
Copy Hackers

Twitter:
@copyhackers

The original conversion copywriter, Joanna Wiebe is the cofounder of Snap and Copy Hackers, where startups learn to convert like mofos. She is a natural-born thief who steals messages from the mouths of customers and turns their words into higher-converting copy.


Topic: Sinners Are Winners: How Messaging Your Prospect’s Darkest Desires Can Boost Engagement

Playing it too safe? Joanna will show you how to tap into your prospects’ secret wishes in your copy—and use bold messages your competitors wouldn’t dare use.

Joanna Wiebe


Kristina Halvorson

Founder at
Brain Traffic

Twitter:
@halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is widely recognized as one of the most important voices in content strategy. She is the founder of Brain Traffic, the coauthor of Content Strategy for the Web, and the founder of the Confab content strategy conferences.


Topic: How To Do Content Strategy (Probably)

Put 10 people in a room and ask them to define “content strategy,” and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Kristina will share her own tried-and-true approach!

Kristina Halvorson


Lexi Mills

Head of Digital at
Dynamo PR

Twitter:
@leximills

Lexi Mills is a PR SEO specialist, with over eight years experience working with both small firms and big brands. She has designed and implemented integrated PR, SEO, content, and social campaigns in the UK, Europe, and USA for B2B and B2C clients.

Topic title TBD, but Lexi will be covering PR.

Lexi Mills


Marshall Simmonds

Founder and CEO at
Define Media Group, Inc.

Twitter:
@mdsimmonds

Marshall Simmonds is the Founder of Define Media Group, the enterprise audience development company specializing in strategic search and social marketing. Define works with many of the most influential brands and networks in the world.


Topic: Dark Search and Social—Run Rabbit Run!

With data from 112 publishers with 164+ billion page views, Marshall will dive into the challenges of tracking social and search campaigns. He’ll focus on history’s lessons and what’s happening with direct and mobile traffic in an app-heavy world.

Marshall Simmonds


Marta Turek

Senior Digital Marketing Programs Manager at
ROI·DNA

Twitter:
@MTurek

Marta holds seven years of experience in digital advertising, specializing in lead generation, and paid search marketing. Developing digital strategies and telling stories through data is what rocks her boat.


Topic: Too Busy to Do Good Work

Don’t let your work suffer from being busy. Instead, let Marta show you the tactics to clean up your PPC processes to finally get more strategic.

Marta Turek


Matthew Brown

Head of Special Projects at Moz

Twitter:
@MatthewJBrown

Matthew runs Special Projects at Moz. This has been going on for two years, and we’re still not totally sure what that means.


Topic: An SEO’s Guide to the Insane World of Content

Find yourself arguing whether or not SEO is just great content? Matthew will talk through a strategic and tactical journey of content strategy from an SEO’s viewpoint and leave you with new tools and tactics.

Matthew Brown


Mig Reyes

Designer at
Basecamp

Twitter:
@migreyes

Mig Reyes is a traditionally trained graphic designer who escaped advertising agency life, cut his teeth at the T-shirt powerhouse known as Threadless, and now helps lead branding, marketing and even a bit of product work at Basecamp.

Topic title TBD, but Mig will be focusing on putting your creative energies into your marketing.

Mig Reyes


Pete Meyers

Marketing Scientist at Moz

Twitter:
@dr_pete

Dr. Pete Meyers is Marketing Scientist for Moz, where he works on product research and data-driven content. He has spent the past three years building research tools to monitor Google, including the MozCast project, and he curates the Google Algorithm History.


Topic: Surviving Google: SEO in 2020

Organic results are disappearing, replaced by Knowledge Graph, direct answers, new ad hybrids, and more. How can SEOs be ready for Google in five years?

Pete Meyers


Purna Virji

Founder and CEO of
Purview Marketing

Twitter:
@purnavirji

Purna is the founder and CEO of Purview Marketing, a boutique consulting firm helping companies of all sizes grow via search and content marketing. Purna is an avid traveler and speaks six languages (and can swear in 17!).


Topic: How to Better Sell SEO to the C-Suite

Whether you need more resources, trust, or buy-in, Purna will share practical tips for focusing on Profit & Loss and better communicating SEO planning, forecasting, and strategizing.

Purna Virji


Rand Fishkin

Founder at Moz

Twitter:
@randfish

Husband of Geraldine. Founder of Moz. Presenter of Whiteboard Friday. Writer of blog posts. Sender of tweets.


Topic: Onsite SEO in 2015: An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Marketer

SEO has come full circle as on-page SEO has returned to the forefront. Rand will share how and why on-site SEO is so important and show off uncommon tactics with powerful potential.

Rand Fishkin


Richard Millington

Founder at
FeverBee

Twitter:
@RichMillington

Richard is the Founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy, and the author of Buzzing Communities.


Topic: Reaching Critical Mass: 150 Active Members

Imagine you could create and rejuvenate a successful community whenever you like? Richard Millington will take you through a step by step action plan to reach critical mass.

Richard Millington


Wil Reynolds

Director of Strategy at
Seer Interactive

Twitter:
@wilreynolds

Wil Reynolds founded Seer with a focus on doing great things for its clients, team, and the community. His passion for driving and analyzing the impact that a site’s traffic has on the company’s bottom line has shaped SEO and digital marketing industries. Wil also actively supports the Covenant House.


Topic: The Time to Do the Web Right Is Incredibly Short

In “web time,” competitive advantage can be lost in an instant, speed matters. Wil shares how keep on the pulse of competitor agility and how to get things done to stay ahead of them.

Wil Reynolds


In addition to fabulous days full of great content from extraordinary minds, we’re also cooking up three nights of great fun, networking, and MozCon love. Monday night, our partners will be hosting a pub crawl in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood with special prizes for those who hit every spot. Tuesday night, we’re doing a networking event, featuring you, the community, and your passions besides marketing. Details to come as they’re finalized! And finally, Wednesday night, we’ll say ‘see you next year’ with our traditional party at the Garage: karaoke, bowling, pool, and chilling with friends.

Questions about MozCon? I’m happy to answer them in the comments.

See you at MozCon, friends!

Buy your ticket!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

The Research & Science Behind Finding Your Best Profile Picture

One of the first things I do when I join a new social network is to upload a profile picture.

But which profile picture should I choose? Is there a best one?

Profile pictures have always been a bit of a gray area for me inasmuch as I post a picture I think looks good without knowing its actual effect on my audience.

Is there such thing as a perfect, best profile picture?

Interestingly, there’s been some rather great research about the different elements of profile pictures …

The post The Research & Science Behind Finding Your Best Profile Picture appeared first on Social.

Advanced Content Analysis in Google Analytics

Posted by Jeffalytics

We analyze the performance of our content every day. Sometimes it’s subconscious, like when we check the number of tweets we get from a new blog post. Other times, we make more conscious efforts, like reviewing performance metrics in Google Analytics.

This feedback—both formal and anecdotal—informs what we do next. It influences future blog posts and validates our strategies. Reviewing content performance on a regular basis has been key to the growth of many online publishers. We should all be taking note of these successes as we build our own content marketing efforts.

Paying attention to which of your content efforts are working well is the cornerstone to data-driven marketing. The companies that make these investments can produce tremendous results. For an in-depth analysis on the importance of being data driven, here are two recent articles that inspired me:

These articles show how taking data-driven approach to producing content can produce great results. Exponential traffic and revenue in these cases.

I don’t know about you, but exponential traffic sounds pretty great to me!

But we will never get there without taking a methodical and data-driven approach to our efforts. We will never get there if we are only counting page views.

It’s time to take things to the next level!

Using Google Analytics Content Groupings and Dimensions to inform our content strategy

For many of us, Google Analytics is
the tool of choice for analyzing website performance. It’s free, easy to use, and extremely powerful. But because of the free and easy nature, most users do not explore the more advanced features of the product.

One of the more advanced features that you have at your disposal is content grouping. Content grouping allows you to gather your content into common themes to create a more meaningful analysis of your data.

For example, you can group your blog posts by the type of content that they represent. This grouping is helpful if you cover many topics on your website or sell many products.

This is something that I have been doing for years on my own site. It helps me understand which topics resonate the most with readers. It also helps understand which topics drive organic search visitors.

In the past, I would have to do this in a manual fashion. It involved exporting data into Excel and grouping content by the presence of certain words in the page URL. This was an ugly manual process that I would not wish on anyone.

With content grouping in Google Analytics, we can get a view of this data with little effort involved. Here is a screenshot of traffic performance by content groups, based on common topics that I cover on my blog.

Content Groupings for Jeffalytics This simple screenshot is quite revealing. It shows which topics resonate the most, as well as content deficiencies. And these reports get even more valuable once you start to segment your data. More on this shortly.

Configuring content groupings in Google Analytics

Content Grouping Options Before we can get into deep analysis of our content, it makes sense for us to talk about how we can configure this report in Google Analytics.

There are three ways to set up this feature. The easiest way to do it is by creating rules to define your groups. Rules work like advanced segments in Google Analytics. Set the criteria for your groupings and Google Analytics will do the rest of the work.

Note that these rules work only on the page URL, page title or screen name (for apps).

Here is an example of how to configure groupings matching words found in your page URLs.

Content Groupings by Rules

The definitions work as a waterfall. If a page url/title fits in your first definition, we exclude it from each future definition. For this reason, we want to be specific with our first rules and then leave the more general and “catch all” rules for the end.

Notice how I used a regular expression to define what makes up a PPC Page. The pipe (|) symbol serving as an “or” statement in the expression. You can also use the “or” statement on the right, but this can get unwieldy fast.

For long regular expressions, use the extraction method for content grouping. This works wonders for complex regular expressions with several criteria to classify posts.

Using code to define your content groupings

The above options use the data that you already send to Google Analytics with each page view (page URL and page title). While this works well if we have search friendly URLs and titles, it is also limiting in our ability to perform analysis.

If you would like to analyze beyond words in your content, then you will need to use code to push this data into Google Analytics.

While this sounds daunting, it is not too bad. I was able to get this code working in less than 30 minutes to provide a proof of concept.

What are some groupings that you might want to use for measuring content performance?

How about the length of your content? Many of us have seen studies on the importance of the length of our content. Is it worthwhile to write longer articles, or is that just a “best practice” that does not apply to your site?

Let’s measure it!

How about the date that you published your content? If you put the date of your post in the URL, you can use rules to build these content groupings. I don’t include the publishing year in my URL, so I would need code to get this done.

Here is how I configured Google Analytics to track word counts and publishing year of articles.

First, you set a new definition for your content grouping in the admin section. I selected indexes 4 & 5 to avoid any potential conflicts.

Tracking Code for Content Groupings As soon as you have defined your grouping, Google will give you code snippets to use for tracking in Google Analytics. There is code for Classic and Universal Analytics.

I use Google Tag Manager on my website, so I pushed data into the system using the data layer functionality.

My code looked like this for tracking word count, word count range and year published:

Data Layer Variables for Custom Content Groupings

We trigger this code on every page of my website using native functions from WordPress. If you are using Google Tag Manager and WordPress, I would be more than happy to provide you with the code that I used to build this data layer.

Next, I created a macro in Tag Manager to recognize these variables.
Data Layer Variable Google Analytics I gave a default value of 0-200—in the event that a word count is unavailable from WordPress, it will list 0-200 words. Then in my Universal Analytics tag, I set content groups in the tag configuration options. My indexes correspond to the groups we set in the Google Analytics interface. The words in the {{}} brackets represent the macros we defined above. Universal Analytics TagSetting Content Groupings in Universal Analytics After publishing, every page load will send content grouping data into Google Analytics. Pretty awesome!

Once your definitions are in place, you will see your groups listed in the admin section of Google Analytics. You can define up to 5 unique content groups per view.
Naming the Content GroupingsFor even more on the topic of setting up content groupings, here is an awesome article by Michael King on content groupings for the user journey.

Viewing this data in Google Analytics

Once your definitions are in place, Google Analytics will start to push this data into your account. Note that these definitions do not work retroactively—only on data moving forward. Unfortunately that means that you will need to wait a few days for meaningful analysis of this data.

But when the data starts to come in, it’s beautiful!

Let’s start with the content grouping definitions for post topic type. I have had these in place for a while, so this data is already providing meaningful insights. Here is what we start to see when looking at website visits by topic type.

content grouping to analyze content ideas While WordPress pages drive the most traffic, they have relatively low value per page view. This does not count any affiliate revenue, but it is indicative of the traffic brought in by this topic. High traffic volume/low value.

This high traffic volume, low page value metric helps me draw two conclusions:

  1. I need a better call to action and offer for WordPress content. I can’t write about this topic without having an action for visitors to take. I may need to invest in some sort of premium content for this topic.
  2. As I plan my content strategy, it may not make a lot of sense to focus on WordPress if I cannot find a way to get more value out of the visits. It is clear that Google Analytics content is more valuable for me.

By grouping my content into themes, I now have a fresh perspective on the effectiveness of my content. Instead of choosing the topic on my mind on any given day, I may benefit by only writing about Google Analytics.

This level of insight is not possible without content grouping. Content grouping is incredible when you have this data tied into the goals you have already set up with Google Analytics.

Checking in on our code-driven content groupings

As you can see, content grouping provides excellent insights into your content strategy performance. If you have thousands of articles on your website, content groupings will help you sift through the noise and go right to the signal.

You can gain insight into other aspects of your content strategy through this same method. Let’s check in on the groupings that we set up through code earlier in this article. Please note that this is a proof of concept with only a small amount of data to support the groupings. Over time, your picture will start to become more valuable as you see conversions rolling into your account.

How many page views are we getting for the content we produced over the past 4 years? This is easy to view with our content groupings.
Blog post visits by year This is a traffic pattern that I had assumed in my mind (I wrote much more in 2013 than 2014). Now, I have the numbers to prove it.

What about by word count?

Not surprising, lower word count pages (like the homepage) are getting the most traffic.

Word Count This data will get even more interesting over time.

Applying segmentation to our content groupings

We have grouped our content by length of the article and when it was published. Now we can measure how these factors impact our organic search traffic. We can do this a few ways. My preferred method is to look at the medium of organic search and then use a secondary dimension of content group.

Organic Search by Word Range Again, we see that our shorter articles are driving the most search traffic. This is for two reasons. 1) The default content range is 0-200, so this includes articles with no word count defined by WordPress. 2) It includes our home page, which often ranks for branded search results.

If granular keyword data were still available in Google Analytics, we would be able to segment brand/non brand traffic. But alas.

We can do this same analysis by year as well.

Organic Search by Year Notice that the current year is receiving the most organic traffic. I can only assume that this is again due to branded traffic.

Content grouping makes everything better!

Where else does content grouping make Google Analytics data shine?

Many of your favorite Google Analytics reports get better with content groupings. The behavior flow report comes to life with your content groupings.

Behavior Flow

We no longer need to look at this report with several branches of data hidden from view. Now you can see how people visit your site based on your pre-defined content groupings.

Behavior Flow Report

Custom Reports

You can also use custom reports to combine several fields together. For example, try to view organic visits by the year you wrote the content and the topics into a single report.

Google Organic by Year by TopicYou can also start to add your conversion data in place and understand the value of the content that you have produced over the years.

Several years ago I wrote a post about
investing in SEO for YouMoz. The basic premise is that SEO investment does not fit into normal budget constraints. For example, you may budget for all your SEO efforts in 2015, but there is a revenue impact of these efforts for years to come.

A custom report by post year can help you better understand the continued return on your SEO investment over the years.

What other content groupings make sense to explore?

Once we start grouping our content for analysis, many possibilities become available. Here are a few more ideas for what we can measure for content groupings:

  • Grouping by social share counts. How do share counts affect traffic and conversions? I have done a proof of concept with social shares in the past and the data is revealing.
  • Grouping by external links using the Mozscape API. Push this into your data layer and you can start to analyze how links may be impacting your content performance.
  • Grouping by any on page metadata for your post. We included word count here, but we can also include title length, keyword usage, etc.
  • Grouping by targeted keyword. Use a custom field from WordPress (or your CMS) to push this into your data layer for content grouping.
  • More specific date based grouping. Instead of grouping by year, group by month or week to see how strategies take hold more quickly.
  • Grouping by author of content. Which authors drive the most traffic and revenue?
  • Grouping by department of company. Are certain departments producing better content?

You can measure pretty much anything with content grouping. The only real limitation being your imagination AND Google’s current limit of 5 content groups in each view. You can even get around that by using multiple views if you want.

What type of questions can we answer with content groupings?

With content groupings in place, we can answer more business questions than standard content reports. Here are a few business questions I can start to answer with the content groupings we have already discussed.

  • Is our content marketing hitting the mark?
  • Are we making progress toward our goals with our recent content marketing?
  • Did our SEO investment mature like we thought it would?
  • Has our new focus on converting visitors affected overall revenue significantly?

Through content grouping, we can find answers within our pre-defined points of analysis. We no longer have to look at individual posts and pages to find answers.

We provide the taxonomy that works for our business. Then we use this taxonomy to show how visitors reached our website through acquisition reports. We see how they performed on the site through conversion reports.

Now Google Analytics starts to think a lot more like our business. It uses our own words to describe content within a structure we define. Plus, we have the tremendous processing power of Google Analytics to handle our queries.

Bonus: Use custom dimensions to make these reports even more useful

If you were paying close attention to the data layer variables I showed earlier in the post, you will see a third variable. This third variable is the exact word count for each page. This variable was added to the data layer as I was starting to do analysis on the content groupings. I found that some analysis may become easier if I have the exact word count available in Google Analytics.

In Google Tag Manager, I set a custom dimension of Word Count using my third data layer variable. Now, I can view post topic by word count of the article in Google Analytics.

Word Count Secondary Dimension Useful? Definitely! There are many times when you need an exact number available to conduct analysis.

You can add up to 20 custom dimensions per web property in Google Analytics. It only works with the Universal Analytics version.

What type of content analysis are you going to do now?

Groupings are like a cheat-code for content marketers to take their analysis to the next level. You get to push your own data into Google Analytics. You get to use your own definitions within the tool.

There are really no limits to what you can measure. What is it going to be? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

37+ Tips and Resources For Building a Fine-Tuned Content Marketing Machine From The Ground Up

Back when I started my career in SEO, content marketing didn’t exist—at least not in the way it exists now.

We used strategies to boost traction and traffic to websites through the creation of great content—it was content marketing before the term even existed. And it worked.

I’ve carried the lessons with me ever since. And I’d love to share them all with you—everything I’ve used to successfully help hundreds of companies benefit from content marketing over the past five years.

Here are …

The post 37+ Tips and Resources For Building a Fine-Tuned Content Marketing Machine From The Ground Up appeared first on Social.

11 Ways for Local Businesses to Get Links

Posted by Casey_Meraz

Let’s face it: Local link building is hard. Even if you have the budget and resources needed to earn or build links it will take time. Having a strong link profile is essential to your website’s success in search engines.

If you’re new to link building and want to develop a more in-depth understanding, check out this great resource from MOZ on link building
here.

In this guide we will look at
11 practical ways you can start earning links for your local business, which will make an impact on your bottom line today.

Who should care about local link building?

When I talk about local link building I don’t mean that these links are for local businesses exclusively. If you’re trying to boost the authority of your website, one good way is to get links from locally relevant sources.
This guide is for all types of businesses who want to increase their site’s link authority.

Since local business types vary from fast food restaurants, to ski rental shops, to law firms, and everything in-between, the tactics below are applicable across the spectrum.

About these links

Some of these links are harder to get than others. While it’s easy to start with the low hanging fruit, you should put a plan together to go after the harder ones. These are the links your competitors won’t get because they’re just too darn lazy. This is how real businesses set themselves apart in the customer’s eyes and the search engine’s eyes and build a brand that’s worth remembering. Aim for quality over quantity and don’t settle for crummy links.

How do you define a good link?

I recently read an article by Eric Enge from
Stonetemple that summed up what type of links you should be looking for pretty nicely. In this article he mentioned three key points to help define the type of links you’re looking for. They were:


  1. Links that will drive direct referral traffic
  2. Links that build visibility with your target audience for your brand
  3. Links that build your reputation

The link building methods I’ll be covering today will achieve at least one of the goals each. I always think it’s important to “think outside of the link” and the above three points make that practical. In addition to getting the link for an SEO benefit, will it actually drive relevant traffic? If so, that’s a great link to chase. The same goes for links built that place you in front of your target audience and links that build your reputation.

Keeping this in mind, lets build some links!


#1 Create controversy and get in the news

Creating a controversial story may seem hard at first glance, but it reminds me of this quote from Peter Marshall
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” If your clients don’t have any controversy or a cause to believe in, then they aren’t real people.

You can’t agree with 100% of the people 100% of the time and you just have to find out what that is. Some companies like Spirit Airlines seem to do this quite often, but the little guys can do this too with minimal investment.

Using this method you can get links from places like:

The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post and other local newspapers, Lexis Nexis

Actual case study

We were recently working with an attorney who was looking to earn links at a decent scale. We proposed a scholarship contest. While scholarship links from .edus are cool, we like
The Wall Street Journal and high authority news site links even more. After speaking with this client, who is a DUI attorney, we discussed how everybody talks about how destructive driving drunk is, but rarely do people admit to the habit.

From this idea, we came up with the concept of
a Scholarship for Colorado students who admit to drinking and driving.

After the scholarship information was published on the site, we reached out to our local newspaper,
The Denver Post, and informed them of the scholarship. From here, they went on to interview our client and write an article on the topic titled “Scholarship for Colorado students who admit to drinking and driving” that links to the scholarship page.

Once the
Denver Post article was published, it was easy to get other major publications to cover the story, including The Wall Street Journal:

How you can do this


Step 1:
Develop an idea that strikes a chord with people. Think about issues that are universally familiar and tend to be polarizing in some way.


Step 2:
Develop the on-page asset needed to support it. In this case we opted for the scholarship.


Step 3:
Once the asset is created, pitch it to a local newspaper.


Step 4:
If the story is picked up by a newspaper you can then pitch it to other major publications like The Wall Street Journal. Many websites have contact forms and areas to submit a tip. Something simple like “Hey I thought you guys might find this funny” with a link to the news publication article will do the trick since it adds credibility.


Step 5:
Share it on social media with groups that might be interested in the topic.


Step 6:
Consider paying for some exposure on Outbrain to widen the audience.

PRO tip: Don’t skimp on the content, graphics, or any step in this process. This will be fruitful if done right but will fall flat on your face if you try to take shortcuts.


#2 Easily get contest nomination links

Almost every city whether big or small has some type of local business awards. The awards might be run by a small local newspaper with a website, the chamber of commerce, or even another organization. In addition to these
“Best Of” type awards, there are also awards based on age like Top 40 Under 40 or by type of business including Best Restaurant or Best Law Firm.

The trick is to find the opportunities that are a good fit for your business and get listed. Sometimes you have to win to get mentioned and other times you just need to get nominated.

Get links from places like:

Chamber of commerce, news publications, and major publications if you’re good enough 🙂

Getting a link from the Chamber of Commerce like the example above is very relevant as it only serves businesses within that city. It’s also a plus for informed local shoppers.

How you can do it

The best way to find these potentially lucrative links is to do a Google Search. You need to start by coming up with a list of potential sources. Since these are generally city or state specific, it’s a good idea to use one of these search strings:

Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning in your brain:

  • “Nominate a business”+”STATE NAME” (Example: “Nominate a business”+”Colorado”)
  • “City Name”+”Nominate a business” (Example: “Los Angeles”+”Nominate a business”)
  • “best of STATE or CITY”+”nominate” (Example: “best of Colorado”+”nominate”)
  • “best BUSINESS TYPE”+”nominate”+”city” (Example: “best restaurant”+”nominate”+”denver”)
  • “AGE under AGE”+”GEO MODIFIER” (Example: “30 under 30″+”Denver”)
  • “nominate”+”young entrepreneur” (Example: “nominate”+”young entrepreneur)

Once you have curated a list of awards you want to try to apply for you can then send your pitch to each of these websites directly. Typically they have nomination forms that you would fill out or a certain procedure. If you can’t find out how, don’t be afraid to ask!


#3 Get eco-friendly links

Is your business green? Does it operate according to low energy standards or are you at least on track to be green? Why not help out the environment and get a link out of it as well? Now while you probably won’t show up on
Newsweek‘s America’s Greenest Companies 2014 for doing this, there are a lot of offline benefits to being green as well. I already mentioned saving the environment, but did you realize there are eco-friendly shoppers? Some shoppers do the majority of their business with companies that are eco-friendly and I suspect this will just continue to soar.

Get links from places like:

Mostly business directories and local news organizations who promote green businesses.

How you can do it

With this industry there are some low hanging fruits, but just like all link building, you should be smart about your approach. While it might be tempting to go out and get a link on a directory, I would personally spend time scrutinizing it to make sure it’s a strong website that’s human-edited and controlled. If you don’t find it reputable, nobody else will (including Google). That’s why it’s best to focus on local opportunities such as your local newspaper or community directory.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the Green Terminology
here. Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, you can conduct some easy searches such as the ones below to find directories. Again, please be sure to scrutinize them.


Search for directories by using search phrases like:

  • Eco-friendly business directory
  • Green business directories


#4 Sponsor a meetup group

An example of a meetup group sponsorship link

While of course we’re talking about links here, I always like to see the other side of a link and the actual benefit it will give you. Did you know you can sponsor meetup groups and get a link as well as get in front of your potential customers?

Meetup.com is a powerhouse website that connects like minded groups of people together through events they call meetups. If you have a good grasp of your target audience and you know where they hang out, you can get in front of them more easily.

For example, let’s say that you’re a bike store. Would it make sense to sponsor a local meetup biking club? Yes!

How you can do it

Sponsoring a meetup group does require the group owner to accept your sponsorship and terms. Your goal however is to get your business name, logo, discount, and link in the ad as shown in the example. If you’re ambitious and a local store you could ask to have your NAP displayed as well for Local SEO purposes.

Step 1: Start by determining what type of groups might appeal to your audience. I have included some tricky examples below:

  • Attorneys – Maybe sponsoring a cycling- or driving-based meetup with the safety approach
  • Doctors – Sponsor a healthy living meetup
  • Airsoft or Paintball Store – Sponsor a singles group by offering an event
  • Construction – Sponsor a charity group or a new homeowners’ group

That’s enough to get the wheels turning. Write these ideas down and proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Turn to Google to make your search easier! Use the search strings below to only search the meetup.com website with the keywords you’re looking for:

site:meetup.com state+keyword or site:meetup.com city+keyword

Step 3: Click through the results and find a meetup group that seems to fit the bill.

Step 4: Show up to the next scheduled local meetup group. Network. Meet the group owner and see if they’re seeking sponsorship’s.

Step 5: Negotiate and get your site up!


#5 Host a community event

If you want to do event link building check out my
local event link building post here or Kane Jamison’s event link post here. While those posts go more into how you can really promote an event and build some awesome local links, I want to talk specifically about how you can get listed on your city’s website by hosting a community event. The thing I like most about events is that you get to give back to your community and help people. Not even a link feels as good as that.

The only real requirements for this one is that you host an event where the entire community is invited and get a blessing from the town. In the example below you can see how a church in my town of Parker, Colorado was able to get a link by hosting an Easter Egg Hunt.

So not only are they getting exposure from people in their town (their target audience), they’re getting the link and mentions here too. If the event was hosted at your office or business location, then you can get the added superior benefit of your NAP listed on their website!

If it’s a county-wide event, you can get listed on the county website and if the event is public safety you might be able to get the Fire Department and Police Departments on board as well. Plus this can come with the added benefit of news coverage.

Get links from places like:

Your city’s website and major community news sources

How you can do it

The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of event you want to host. Depending on the size of your town and the size of the event, it can be a big deal. I’m a bit of a event fanatic so for me it comes easy. Don’t be afraid to start small though as long as you’re creating and providing a productive resource for your community.

Some potential ideas include:

  • Trash Pickup Day – Host a trash pickup day where the meeting place is your business or you sponsor the bags.
  • Toy Drop off for Needy Kids – Host a toy drive or drop off for kids in need.
  • Seminar – Host a seminar in your area of expertise that will be the most beneficial to residents. If you like this idea then also try starting a meetup group (see #4 above).

Step 1: Figure out the event type.

Step 2: Get the town on board with the idea and schedule a date at least 60 days out.

Step 3: Create the details page on your website with all pertinent event details.

Step 4: Make sure it goes up on the town’s website with your company event page linked.

Step 5: Promote the heck out of it using the event promotion guide here.

Pro tip 1: Invite local press to your event to cover it. Be sure to meet and greet them and get to know them. More on this later.

Pro tip 2: Invite the local Boy Scouts or other community organizations as well. If their name is attached to the event, you might get more exposure and more link opportunities.


#6 Sponsor or donate to a local club or organization

Sponsorship links can be a slippery slope, but there’s also a place for them. Over the years I have given back to a number of causes I support and have been an active member in charities and nonprofit organizations. Chances are you or someone you know is a part of one right now.

There are a lot of clubs in almost any community. Have you ever heard of the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc. These are commonly found in many communities and they typically have state, district, or chapter websites.

Below is a quick example I pulled from the Los Angeles Rotary Club sponsors webpage:

But don’t stop there. While the major clubs are popular, there are also a lot of other potential sponsorship causes and organizations. This is commonly touched on so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but here are some easy search stings you can use to find some opportunities.

  • “city inurl:sponsors” (Example: Los Angeles inurl:sponsors)
  • “city inurl:sponsor” (Example: Los Angeles inurl:sponsor)
  • “city intitle:sponsors” (Example: Los Angeles intitle:sponsors)
  • keyword donations
    (Example: Safety donations)

After you have explored these opportunities simply reach out to the organizers and see what type of commitment they’re looking for.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to promote your sponsorship. If you’re giving to a good cause, let the community know!


#7 Student, teacher, and alumni discounts

If you’ve done link building research you may have heard of the university discount link building where you can offer a discount to the students and faculty of a university. That has a place and it might be a good place for local links if you have a university nearby. But did you realize there are other student discount opportunities as well?

Typically when I look for opportunities locally I open my eyes a little wider and look for other opportunities like:

  1. K-12 Schools. These can be goldmines and aren’t really talked about much.
  2. Organization discounts. Organizations have students too. Take the Colorado Symphony for example.
  3. Alumni discounts. Sometimes these organizations also offer alumni listings for free.

Get links from places like:

Organizations, schools, K-12 schools, educational websites

How you can do it

This is another scenario where we will turn to Google and seek opportunities:

  • site:.org “student discounts” – Looks for organizations that offer student discounts
  • site:.org “high school”+”student Discount” – Checks for offers available to high school students
  • site:.edu “staff discounts” – Searches .edu domains for staff discounts (colleges and universities)
  • site:.edu “student discounts” – Searches .edu domains for student discounts (colleges and universities)

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to add geo modifiers. Remember that anything in “” will search exactly so plurals should be searched separately.


#8 Create and promote a local resource

So you want to send good local link signals and showcase you’re the expert of a local area? What better way than to create a community resource page on your website? Not only will it attract potential links with the proper marketing, it’s also going to show that you’re the expert in your area.

The good thing about creating a local resource is that you or the local operator running that location probably already has a good idea about the city in general. Even if they’re not the most familiar with the area, some research can solve that.

Get links from places like:

Hotels, travel websites, news organizations

How you can do it

Start by coming up with a list of ideas. Locally-based ideas can vary greatly. Here are a few to helps the mice turn the wheel:

  • Best of Local Guides – Best restaurants in the city or county, top bars, top microbreweries (I like beer, OK), top city attractions, top things for singles, top things for families, a perfect day trip for families, etc.
  • Local Calendar Creation – Create a local calendar of popular events by topic. High school football calendars, movie premiere dates, HOA meetings, and more.

Once you have the idea, you can move onto the creation of the asset. Notice my use of the word asset. If I’m going to spend the time to create this piece, I want to make sure it’s a linkable asset. That means that it should be substantial and also look great. If the content is weak, you’re going to get a weak appeal.

Once you have built your guide, the real key is promoting it and getting the exposure you need. Make sure to share it with relevant audiences such as Facebook and Google Plus groups. If there are town groups such as “You know you grew up in CITY, when…” those might be a good place to promote your resource.

Figure out where your community members hang out and post it there. Sometimes even city or town run pages will be willing to post or promote your piece. This is just another reason why you need to create a quality piece of content and not just do the bare minimum.


#9 Get manufacturer and wholesaler links

This is an easy one that is often overlooked by small businesses. If you operate a retail business or sell a product that somebody else manufactures, then you have a link opportunity. Many product manufacturers want to show their customers where to buy their products. This might be a store locator or it could just be an authorized reseller list. Either way you need to take advantage of it. This is an opportunity that even local businesses can take advantage of quickly.

One of the reasons we have extensive client intake forms is to address this issue. A lot of times clients will say that they’re listed without actually knowing. It’s best to find out for yourself by getting a complete list of all manufacturers they represent. If they have a website you can get a link.

Get links from places like:

Larger manufacturing companies

How you can do it

Even small stores might represent products from 100+ different manufacturers. Even if they don’t buy manufacturer direct they can still get a link from the manufacturer just by asking.

Step 1: Create a list of all of the brands the client carries and whether they buy direct or from a wholesaler.

Step 2: Visit each manufacturer and distributor website. Find out if they have a store locator or somewhere where they list where you can buy their products.

Step 3: Reach out to those that do from a company email address including all pertinent information (include NAP!) and the link to your website or store location.

Step 4: For those who don’t list this information, outreach to them and ask them if they are willing to set it up. After all it will only help you both sell more products.

Pro tip: Some websites will only display your Name, Address, Phone Number. But if they don’t link to you don’t be afraid to ask. A lot of times they can make the change and add your link.


#10 Build relationships with local influencers

If you want to earn links that will really set you apart from the rest of the herd, you need to start thinking about
building actual relationships with influencers. Finding influencers and getting connected can be hard; you have to be real while doing it. These people can range from your local competition, to politicians, to journalists. Finding and connecting with them requires some work, but it’s worth the payoff.

Get links from places like:

Niche publications, your competition’s website, local news media, government websites

How you can do it

The reality is, while some of this research and networking can be done online, at some point, you’re going to have to get out of your office and interact with real humans!

For our example, let’s look at how we might go about forming a relationship with a member of the local media. First off you will want to find a list of press associations in your area. This might be city based or state based. The easiest way to look for these is just to search for them in Google by typing in your state name + press association or press organization.

Once you have the list of the organization(s) you want to work with, check out their membership fees but more importantly their events and conferences. These are the real goldmines. Many of these organizations have an annual conference or event that you can attend. This is where you can usually expect to meet the people with the most connections. It’s important to speak with them in person, exchange contact information, and express your willingness to contribute. If you have an intriguing idea for a specific writer, for example, someone who always writes about tech news, you may be able to pitch a problem you see in your industry that exposes consumers. Your job is to figure out what interests them and offer to help in any way.


#11 Leverage business relationships

In many cases small businesses may already have complementary businesses that might be willing to give a link to your website. In fact, it might make sense from a referral standpoint too. If you use or refer your business to another type of business this is a great opportunity.

Get links from places like:

Other business websites

How you can do this

Getting these opportunities are as easy as curating the list and doing the outreach. Here are some examples for different business types:

  • Attorneys can get links from: Process servers, investigators, and other services they refer business to
  • Mortgage Brokers can link to recommended realtors and vice-versa
  • Doctors can get links from schools (emergency clinic references), insurance companies, and other doctors.

Another way to go about this is to approach like-minded companies that offer services you don’t and you don’t plan on offering. For example if you’re a greeting card store you might be able to get links from gift stores.


Conclusion

Although good link building takes time, thought, and a good amount of effort, it’s easy enough that anyone can do it. With so many different options and ways you can earn links, this is just a small sample that you can use to start gaining new ones today.

Please feel free to share your favorite link building tips. The more the better!

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