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How to write PPC text ads in 2017’s sophisticated environment

There are now so many ways to customize your search ads that optimization can seem complex. Columnist Matt Umbro discusses which components are likely to make the biggest impact on your CTR and conversion rates.The post How to write PPC text ads in 2017’s sophisticated environment appeared...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Wall Street Journal pulls some content out of Google’s “First Click Free” program

WSJ move might cause other publishers to remove content from Google's program, if it turns out "Subscription" label doesn't hurt conversions.The post Wall Street Journal pulls some content out of Google’s “First Click Free” program appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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You’ll love the SMX West speaker lineup

Speakers make the conference. And with over 100 experts presenting, sharing and networking, you’re going to love meeting them at SMX West! Join us for 3 days of actionable tactics from SEO, SEM and conversion optimization experts. You’ll leave a more educated, inspired and creative marketer; we...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Accelerate Your SEO Knowledge: New SEO Bootcamps and In-House Training from Moz

Posted by BrianChilds

SEO training classes provide a smart, accessible way to accelerate your knowledge of our industry's best practices, tools, and processes. For several months we've offered three workshops on our SEO Training page that focused on core SEO capabilities like keyword research, competitor research, and site audits.

Starting now in February 2017, we're expanding these classes to include more topics and more opportunities to help your team deliver value faster.

See upcoming classes

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What's changed about our SEO training classes?

There are two major changes we’ve made to our SEO training solutions that you can see today:

  1. We've redesigned, renamed, and expanded our workshops
  2. We now offer custom in-house SEO training

Workshops = SEO bootcamps

Previously, our workshops were focused on a few essential topics that every online marketer could benefit from. We're now expanding these into a six-part series of classes that cover not only essential topics, but also the process of implementing a search engine optimization strategy. Each SEO bootcamp can be taken separately or together as a series, and are geared for beginner to intermediate marketers.

The topics we’re starting with are as follows:

  1. Intro to SEO
  2. Keyword and competitor research
  3. How to conduct an SEO site audit
  4. On-page optimization best practices
  5. Off-page optimization best practices
  6. How to report on SEO performance

What is in-house SEO training, exactly?

I used to be the VP of a marketing agency and like many agencies, we were pulled into the world of SEO by our clients. Many web designers are asked by their clients to provide SEO and subsequently need to learn how to scale up their capability fast. In-house SEO training is a way to help agencies and marketing services firms add SEO to their portfolio quickly to meet the needs of their proposal commitments.

Another common use case for custom in-house SEO training: those in-house marketing teams that want to grow their online marketing capability. In-house training can help advance your new team members' knowledge, so they can start delivering value to your organization right off the bat. Interactive SEO training solutions allow businesses to quickly accelerate their skills.

Different learning options for different learning styles

The main thing that will remain unchanged is our commitment to helping you do better SEO. We recognize that people have different learning styles and different time commitments. I'm a great example of someone who learns by doing and values the ability to ask questions during class from a professional instructor. When I was training to be a commercial pilot, I spent most of my time doing hands-on learning in a very structured class environment. That experience aligned well with my learning style.

Some people learn by reading. Some learn by videos alone. And others value live, interactive experiences. Here at Moz, we're building an ecosystem of learning solutions to meet every type of learning style.

Sign up for a class!

And this is just the beginning. We'll continue to invest in your skills. Check back often to the moz.com/training page to see new SEO classes as they launch!


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!

Google Maps new feature lets users create lists of saved places that can be shared & accessed offline

Users can keep track of saved places and share lists with others via text, email and popular messaging apps.The post Google Maps new feature lets users create lists of saved places that can be shared & accessed offline appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Organic traffic & link building for small businesses

Link building is often one of the most challenging digital marketing tasks for small businesses. In this helpful how-to, columnist Marcus Miller explores how link building works today and what small businesses can do to get started.The post Organic traffic & link building for small businesses...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Can we machine-learn Google’s machine-learning algorithm?

As Google becomes increasingly sophisticated in its methods for scoring and ranking web pages, it's more difficult for marketers to keep up with SEO best practices. Columnist Jayson DeMers explores what can be done to keep up in a world where machine learning rules the day.The post Can we...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Missed link-building opportunities: Reclaiming broken links

Link building is an investment, so don't let your efforts go to waste! Columnist Janet Driscoll Miller shares two ways you can reclaim backlinks that are producing 404 errors.The post Missed link-building opportunities: Reclaiming broken links appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Search in Pics: Google indoor clouds, Bing heart balloon & stroopwafels

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Indoor clouds at Google’s office: Source: Instagram Google sleeping...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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179 reasons to attend MarTech San Francisco – rates increase next week!

Marketing technology is growing rapidly and the magnitude of the next MarTech conference (San Francisco, May 9-11) keeps pace. This event is doubling in size from just one year ago to provide you with the insights, intelligence and strategies to drive your digital transformation and improve your...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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The 2017 Local SEO Forecast: 10 Predictions According to Mozzers

Posted by MiriamEllis

Maybe it takes a bit of daring to forecast local search developments in quarters 2, 3, and 4 from the fresh heights of Q1, but the Moz team thrives on challenges. In this post, Rand Fishkin, Dr. Pete Meyers, George Freitag, Britney Muller, and I peer into the future in hopes of helping your local business or local search marketing agency be mentally and tactically prepared for an exciting ride in the year ahead.


Read more...
7 tips for small manufacturers thinking about using AdWords

New to AdWords? Feeling intimidated? In this helpful how-to, columnist Dianna Huff explains how to start small with AdWords so that you can be successful, even if you've never done a paid search campaign before.The post 7 tips for small manufacturers thinking about using AdWords appeared first on...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to Prioritize Your Link Building Efforts & Opportunities - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We all know how effective link building efforts can be, but it can be an intimidating, frustrating process — and sometimes even a chore. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand builds out a framework you can start using today to streamline and simplify the link building process for you, your teammates, and yes, even your interns.

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Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. As you can see, I'm missing my moustache, but never mind. We've got tons of important things to get through, and so we'll leave the facial hair to the inevitable comments.

I want to talk today about how to prioritize your link building efforts and opportunities. I think this comes as a big challenge for many marketers and SEOs because link building can just seem so daunting. So it's tough to know how to get started, and then it's tough to know once you've gotten into the practice of link building, how do you build up a consistent, useful system to do it? That's what I want to walk you through today.

Step 1: Tie your goals to the link's potential value

So first off, step one. What I'm going to ask you to do is tie your SEO goals to the reasons that you're building links. So you have some reason that you want links. It is almost certainly to accomplish one of these five things. There might be other things on the list too, but it's almost always one of these areas.

  • A) Rank higher for keyword X. You're trying to get links that point to a particular page on your site, that contain a particular anchor text, so that you can rank better for that. Makes total sense. There we go.
  • B) You want to grow the ranking authority of a particular domain, your website, or maybe a subdomain on your website, or a subfolder of that website. Google does sort of have some separate considerations for different folders and subdomains. So you might be trying to earn links to those different sections to help grow those. Pretty similar to (A), but not necessarily as much of a need to get the direct link to the exact URL.
  • C) Sending real high-value traffic from the ranking page. So maybe it's the case that this link you're going after is no followed or it doesn't pass ranking influence, for some reason — it's JavaScript or it's an advertising link or whatever it is — but it does pass real visitors who may buy from you, or amplify you, or be helpful to achieving your other business goals.
  • D) Growing topical authority. So this is essentially saying, "Hey, around this subject area or keyword area, I know that my website needs some more authority. I'm not very influential in this space yet, at least not from Google's perspective. If I can get some of these links, I can help to prove to Google and, potentially, to some of these visitors, as well, that I have some subject matter authority in this space."
  • E) I want to get some visibility to an amplification-likely or a high-value audience. So this would be things like a lot of social media sites, a lot of submission type sites, places like a Product Hunt or a Reddit, where you're trying to get in front of an audience, that then might come to your site and be likely to amplify it if they love what they see.

Okay. So these are our goals.

Step 2: Estimate the likelihood that the link target will influence that goal

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Second, I'm going to ask you to estimate the likelihood that the link target will pass value to the page or to the section of your site. This relies on a bunch of different judgments.

You can choose whether you want to wrap these all up in sort of a single number that you estimate, maybe like a 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all valuable, and 10 is super, super valuable. Or you could even take a bunch of these metrics and actually use them directly, so things like domain authority, or linking root domains to the URL, or page authority, the content relevance.

You could be asking:

  • Is this a nofollowed or a followed link?
  • Is it passing the anchor text that I'm looking for or anchor text that I control or influence at all?
  • Is it going to send me direct traffic?

If the answers to these are all positive, that's going to bump that up, and you might say, "Wow, this is high authority. It's passing great anchor text. It's sending me good traffic. It's a followed link. The relevance is high. I'm going to give this a 10."

Or that might not be the case. This might be low authority. Maybe it is followed, but the relevance is not quite there. You don't control the anchor text, and so anchor text is just the name of your brand, or it just says "site" or something like that. It's not going to send much traffic. Maybe that's more like a three.

Then you're going to ask a couple of questions about the page that they're linking to or your website.

  • Is that the right page on your site? If so, that's going to bump up this number. If it's not, it might bring it down a little bit.
  • Does it have high relevance? If not, you may need to make some modifications or change the link path.
  • Is there any link risk around this? So if this is a — let's put it delicately — potentially valuable, but also potentially risky page, you might want to reduce the value in there.

I'll leave it up to you to determine how much link risk you're willing to take in your link building profile. Personally, I'm willing to accept none at all.

Step 3: Build a prioritization spreadsheet

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Then step three, you build a prioritization spreadsheet that looks something like this. So you have which goal or goals are being accomplished by acquiring this link. You have the target and the page on your site. You've got your chance of earning that link. That's going to be something you estimate, and over time you'll get better and better at this estimation. Same with the value. We talked about using a number out of 10 over here. You can do that in this column, or you could just take a bunch of these metrics and shove them all into the spreadsheet if you prefer.

Then you have the tactic you're going to pursue. So this is direct outreach, this one's submit and hope that it does well, and who it's assigned to. Maybe it's only you because you're the only link builder, or maybe you have a number of people in your organization, or PR people who are going to do outreach, or someone, a founder or an executive who has a connection to some of these folks, and they're going to do the outreach, whatever the case.

Then you can start to prioritize. You can build that prioritization by doing one of a couple things. You could take some amalgamation of these numbers, so like a high chance of earning and a high estimated value. We'll do some simple multiplication, and we'll make that our prioritization. Or you might give different goals. Like you might say, "Hey, you know what? (A) is worth a lot more to me right now than (C). So, therefore, I'm going to rank the ones that are the (A) goal much higher up." That is a fine way to go about this as well. Then you can sort your spreadsheet in this fashion and go down the list. Start at the top, work your way down, and start checking off links as you get them or don't get them. That's a pretty high percentage, I'm doing real well here. But you get the idea.

This turns link building from this sort of questionable, frustrating, what should I do next, am I following the right path, into a simple process that not only can you follow, but you can train other people to follow. This is really important, because link building is an essential part of SEO, still a very valuable part of SEO, but it's also a slog. So, to the degree that you can leverage other help in your organization, hire an intern and help train them up, work with your PR teams and have them understand it, have multiple people in the organization all sharing this spreadsheet, all understanding what needs to be done next, that is a huge help.

I look forward to hearing about your link building prioritization, goals, what you've seen work well, what metrics you've used. We will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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How We Increased Our Email Response Rate from ~8% to 34%

Posted by STMartin

It's no secret that reply rate is the golden metric of email campaigns.

The reason is obvious. As opposed to open and click rate, reply rate tracks how many recipients were interested (or annoyed) enough to actually write you back. For guest blogging and email outreach, your reply rate will determine your campaign's success.

We still believe that guest blogging is a great opportunity to improve your site’s link profile and brand exposure. However, the time-investment needed in prospecting/email outreach can leave you questioning its ROI.

It doesn't often make sense to spend 3 hours prospecting and emailing different opportunities to get only 3 replies.

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So how do you make all your prospecting and emailing worth your while?

Simple: Boost your reply rate to generate more "opportunities won" in the same timeframe.

The pain point: Time

At Directive Consulting, we rely on guest posting for our most valuable backlinks. ;) With that said, four months ago our email outreach was still struggling at around an 8% reply rate.

This is actually around the industry standard; guest blogger outreach emails might expect a reply rate in the 5–15% range.

With the below template, we were sending out 20–50 emails a week and receiving no more than 2–4 positive replies.

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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Part 3:

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To make the system more time-efficient, we had to get our reply rate at least into the double digits.

The hypothesis: Value

To boost our reply rate, we asked ourselves: What makes the best online content so engaging?

The answer: The best online content speaks to the user in terms of value. More specifically, the user's personal values.

So, what are these user values that we need to target? Well, to look at that we need to understand today's average user.

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Image source

As opposed to their predecessors, today's savvy post-digital users value personalization, customization, and participation.

Our hypothesis was as follows: If we can craft an email user experience that improves upon these three values, our reply rate will spike.

The results: Too hot to handle

3 successful tests later, our reply rate has gone from 8% all the way up to 34%.

And our guest blog content queue is piling up faster than the lines at the mall the night before Black Friday.

In three tests we addressed those three values: personalization, customization, and participation. Each new test brought a spike in reply rate.

How did we do it? Don't worry, I'll tell you how.

3 reply rate tests (& a mini test) and what we learned

We started by stepping into the user’s shoes. Everyone knows that receiving random outreach emails from strangers can be jarring. Even if you're in the industry, it can at least be annoying.

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So how do you solve that problem? The only way you can: delight.

How we approached creating a more delightful and comfortable email experience took testing. This is what we learned.

Test #1 - The personalized introduction (8%–16%)

The first feature of our email we tackled was the introduction. This included the subject line of the email, as well as how we introduced ourselves and the company.

Here's what it looked like:

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As you can see, while the subject line packs some serious authority, it's not very personable. And if you look at the in-email introduction, you'd see a similar problem.

Plenty of professional context, but hardly a personalized first impression. This user-experience screams BLOGGER TRYING TO GET GUEST BLOG OPPORTUNITY.

Now let's look at the variant we tested:

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Big difference, huh?

While all the same authoritative references are still there, this is already far more personal.

A few noteworthy differences in user-experience:

  • Subject line: Natural, single sentence (almost seems like the email could have been forwarded by a co-worker).
  • Name and title: The letterhead not only replaces a useless sentence, it supplies a smiling face the user can match the name/title with.
  • Creative/disruptive branding: The creative letterhead is a real disrupter when you compare it to any old email. It also gets our logo above the fold in the email, and actually saves space all together.

Packing all the context of the email into a single, creative, and delightful image for the user was a huge step.

In fact, this first test alone saw our biggest jump in reply rate.

The results? Our reply rate doubled, jumping all the way from 8% to 16% — above the industry benchmark!

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Mini test: The psychology behind "Because" (16%–20%)

If that wasn't a big enough jump to please us, we added on one more addition after the initial test.

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If you don't know who Brian Dean is, I'll leave his bio for you to read another time. For now, all you need to know is that his "because" tactic for increasing reply rates works.

Trust me. He tested it. We tested it. It works.

The tactic is simple:

  1. Provide the exact context for your email in a single sentence.
  2. Use the phrasing "I am emailing you because..." in that sentence.
  3. Isolate that sentence as it's own paragraph as early in the email as possible.

...

That's it.

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And this little change bumped our reply rate another 4% — all the way up to 20%. And this was before we even ran test #2!

Test #2 - Customizing/segmenting the offer (20%–28%)

Test #2 focused on customization. We had nailed the personalized first impression.

Now we needed to customize our offer to each individual recipient. Again, let's take a look at where we started:

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As far as customization goes, this isn't half bad. There are plenty of prospective topics that the editor or blogger could choose from. But there's always room for improvement.

Customization is a fancy word for segmentation, which is our industry's fancy word for breaking lists into smaller lists.

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So why not segment the topics we send to which editors? We can customize our email's offer to be more relevant to the specific recipient, which should increase our chances of a positive reply.

Instead of a single list of prospective topics, we built 8.

Each list was targeted to a different niche industry where we wanted to guest post. Each list had 10 unique topics all specified to that blog's niche.

Now, instead of 10 topics for the umbrella category "digital marketing," we had 10 topics for:

  1. Pay-per-click advertising blogs
  2. Content marketing blogs
  3. Social media management blogs
  4. Software as a service (SaaS) blogs
  5. Interactive design blogs
  6. Search engine optimization blogs
  7. Agency management blogs
  8. E-commerce optimization blogs

Not only did the potential topics change, we also changed the email copy to better target each niche.

This test took a bit of time on its own. It's not easy to build a list of 80 different targeted, niche, high-quality topics based on keyword research. But in the end, the juice was definitely worth the squeeze.

And what was the juice? Another spike in our reply rate — this time from 20% up to 28%!

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Test #3 - Participating in topic selection (28%–34%)

We were already pretty pleased with ourselves at this point, but true link builders are never satisfied. So we kept on testing.

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We had already addressed the personalization and customization issues. Now we wanted to take a crack at participation. But how do you encourage participation in an email?

That's a tricky question.

We answered it by trying to provide the most adaptive offer as possible.

In our email copy, we emphasized our flexibility to the editor's timeline/content calendar. We also provided a "open to any other options you may have" option in our list of topics. But the biggest change to our offer was this:

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As opposed to a list of potential topics, we went one step further. By providing options for either long or short pieces (primary and focalized) we give them something to think about. They can choose from different options we are offering them.

This change did increase our reply rate. But what was surprising was that the replies were not immediately positive responses. More often than not, they were questions about the two different types of guest posts we could write.

This is where the participation finally kicked in.

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(Chasing your first reply like Leo’s first oscar….)

We were no longer cold-emailing strangers for one-time guest posts. We were conversing and building relationships with industry bloggers and editors.

And they were no longer responding to a random email. They were actively participating in the topic selection of their next blog post.

Once they started replying with questions, we knew they were interested. Then all we had to do was close them with fast responses and helpful answers.

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This tiny change (all we did was split the targeted list we already had into two different sizes) brought big results. Test #3 brought the final jump in our reply rate — from 28% up to the magic 34%.

After we had proved that our new format worked, then we got to have some real fun — taking this killer system we built and scaling it up!

But that's a post for another day.

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Takeaways

So what have our reply rate tests taught us? The more personal you are and the more segmented your approach, the more success you'll see.

2017 is going to be the year of relationship building.

This means that for each market interaction, you need to remember that the user's experience is the top priority. Provide as much delight and value to your user as possible. Every blog post. Every email. Every market interaction.

That’s how you triple reply rates. And that’s how you triple success.


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!

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