Best WordPress Hosting in 2019 (Compared)


Are you looking at different hosts and trying to find the right one for you? We’re speaking directly with our founder Syed Balkhi in this video to bring you his recommendations based on your needs. Come take a look at our video to help you decide what WordPress hosting would be best for your needs.

In this video, we mention hosting providers we are affiliates of and have negotiated discounts for. The hosting providers and our links are here:

Best Starter Hosting:
BlueHost:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/refer/bluehost/

SiteGround:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/refer/siteground

HostGator:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/refer/hostgator

Best Managed:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/refer/wpengine/

To Join Our Facebook Group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/wpbeginner/

For those just starting out, we recommend starting with a smaller, shared hosting to get you up and running with your site’s content. Shared hosting is a section of a server that you are sharing with other users. While your site’s content is your own, the resources your site uses to run are part of that server’s resources rather than all of them.

VPS is the next step for your site as it grows, this is a server that separates a specific section virtually so all of that sections resources are for your specific site. This is similar to a dedicated server where the entire server is yours but these require more technical knowledge than other servers.

Finally, there is managed hosting, which is a style of hosting that scales with you as your needs grow. There are some limitations on what can be added to these sites but you will benefit from better support as well.

With the different types of hosting covered, there are four factors to consider when selecting which hosting provider you want to use. Uptime as you want your site to never go down if able. Speed, a slow server will eventually cause issues with your SEO. Features, a feature-rich hosting provider gives you even more tools based on your needs. Finally, support, having good support is great for if you ever run into any issues with your site and need a hand with solving the issue.

Keeping the above factors in mind, for a beginner we recommend not overspending, only purchase the plan level that would suit your specific needs rather than an oversized plan for a site just starting out. We’re recommending BlueHost, SiteGround, and HostGator as we’ve worked with them and have discounts that we have negotiated to get you a discount.

For enterprize or similar users, we recommend Pagely or WPEngine. For most we would recommend Pagely unless it is a starter site then we would still recommend BlueHost, SiteGround or HostGator.

If you liked this video, then please Like and consider subscribing to our channel here for more WordPress videos.
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17 WPForms Power Hacks To Grow Your Business Online


Looking to grow your business online and convert more visitors? WPForms is the best WordPress form plugin for beginners to create forms on their WordPress sites and digital marketers know that forms are more than just a simple way for users to contact you. In this video, we’ll cover powerful tools inside WPForms to help you grow your business online.

This video brought to you by WPForms, take a look at their site here:
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https://wpforms.com/
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For the discount, use our code: WPBVIP

To begin this tutorial we will be using WPForms premium and we will install the templates addon to give us powerful templates to start out with rather than a blank form where each field needs to be manually added.

WPForms’ conditional logic allows you to change what is shown and where the form is sent based on the user’s choice. This means, as an example, you can send the filled-in forms to different department emails based on the type of question or selection that the user inserts in your form or modify the confirmation message.

With the pro addons, you have the power to connect WPForms to tools such as Google Sheets, Slack, or Salesforce to let your team know about high importance messages through those different tools.

For dropdown options, WPForms has presets for filling in information such as countries, postal codes, states, months, days, or even your own custom lists. If you’re wanting to prevent everyone from only selecting the same option you can even select the option to randomize the choices per user.

There are tools for Geolocation, hidden fields, GDPR, and terms of service to give you all of the tools you’ll need to get for your site’s forms. For one time purchases, you can add PayPal and Stripe integrations for fundraising or other small purchase needs.

To prevent spam, WPForms has honeypot on by default as well as reCAPTCHA should you want to protect the form further. If you have multiple sites you can import or export the forms to each site among may other powerful tools available.

If you liked this video, then please Like and consider subscribing to our channel here for more WordPress videos.
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Feel free to take a look at the written version of this tutorial here:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-use-fomo-on-your-wordpress-site-to-increase-conversions/

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Fresh Features & Functionalities: A Six Month Look back at What’s New in Moz Pro

Posted by rachelgooodmanmoore

If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering how the heck it’s already August — where did the first half of the year go? 

As we move into the last months of 2019, it’s a great time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished so far this year. And here at Moz, we’ve been hard at work getting a bunch of cool features out the door.

We’ve made these improvements with you in mind, to help your day-to-day workflows and make your experience in our tools easier and more efficient. Ready for a quick look back at the new functionalities we’ve rolled out? Let’s do it!

Not a Moz Pro user yet?

Start a free trial today!

Domain Authority 2.0

Gauging the strength of a website can be a complicated task. Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) metric has served the SEO industry for years as one such method of measurement. In March, we updated the algorithm that powers DA — to keep pace with the search engines and predict ranking ability better than ever before. You can use DA to identify the growth of your own site over time, understand the strength of your website against competitors, determine the difficulty to rank on a particular SERP, and much more.

Pro tip: Always use DA as a relative metric in comparison to your competitors’ sites, rather than as an absolute metric in isolation.

Want to know how others are using Moz Pro to get the competitive edge? See how TopSpot increased their organic traffic by 29 percent within 90 days of switching domains by leveraging Link Explorer, Page Authority, and DA.  

Read the Case Study

Keyword Clustering

Keyword clusters are groups of closely-related keywords — and tracking keywords as clusters (rather than as individual terms) allows you to more accurately track your ranking, understand your search visibility, and stay ahead of your competitors. In June, we introduced fresh functionality in Campaign setup that supports clustering of semantically-related keywords. We’ll even help you get started by automatically suggesting potential clusters and keywords you might want to track as part of these groups!

As you set up a Campaign to begin tracking a site, you’ll have the opportunity to group keywords into different clusters. Once you’ve got your Campaign set up, the Search Visibility graph in the Rankings section will allow you to compare multiple clusters to each other. To see a keyword cluster’s performance, use the filter. Click the plus sign, and type in the names of the clusters you’d like to compare. This will give you a visual representation for how each keyword cluster is performing – including which are your strongest topics, and which are your weakest, to identify what areas need more attention.

Pro tip: Consider building separate clusters for each of the product types you offer, the types of services your business provides, or related query types that you hope to rank for.


Bulk upload keywords by CSV

Speaking of labels and keyword clusters, we’ve made one of your most-requested features a reality and added the option to bulk upload keywords to a Campaign. Rather than adding keywords manually, use a CSV to quickly and easily upload keywords, with labels and locations tied to them. In your Tracked Keywords Overview, simply click Add Keywords and toggle to the Upload CSV tab.

Filter by SERP Feature in Keyword Lists

Having trouble prioritizing keywords? Identify opportunities for featured snippets and other SERP features faster than ever. If you already have a keyword list in Keyword Explorer, simply hop into the list and refresh all keywords. Once the list is refreshed, you’ll be able to quickly view, filter, and export SERP Feature data for your keywords.

Don’t have a list yet? Just add keywords from Keyword Explorer into a list, and you’ll be off and running!

Pro tip: Want the inside scoop on which content is most likely to win you a particular feature snippet type on a SERP? Use this filter to get a glimpse into which terms already have featured snippets; then apply what you’ve learned to drive your own content creation.

Advanced filtering in Keyword Suggestions

Keyword research can take even the savviest SEO quite a bit of time to navigate. Advanced filtering in Keyword Explorer helps you to keep your keyword research laser-focused and saves you major time and effort. Filter your keyword suggestions to include a particular term that is important to you— or exclude a term that you don’t need mucking up your suggestions list. Stack up your “includes” and “excludes” to refine your suggestions list and ensure you’re seeing the types of keywords that meet your needs.

Pro tip: Try excluding branded terms (your own, or your competitors’ branded terms) to keep keyword suggestions brand-agnostic.

Format annotations in Custom Reports

Custom Reports allow you to share your hard work and SEO efforts with stakeholders, providing the opportunity to pull in areas of your Moz Pro Campaign. Drag and drop modules from your Campaign into your custom-ordered report, and add customizable notes to help your readers understand and interpret your SEO work.

All-new custom formatting of those notes allows you to add in your preferred formatting — from headers to font formatting, to bullets, links, images, and more, using Markdown. Ensure that the stakeholders reading your reports know exactly what your work means and see the value of the SEO efforts you’ve been working on.

Improved Moz Pro navigation

We’ve improved navigation within Moz Pro to help you quickly access all areas of the tool. In the left navigation, you’ll have the option of toggling between Campaigns, navigating around a Campaign easily, and hopping straight into the research tools.


“Make a Suggestion” button

If you’ve ever been in the Moz tools and thought, “I wish I could tell Moz how I feel about this feature!” this one is just for you. 

When you hop into a Campaign, you’ll notice a button on the top of your Dashboard that says “Make a Suggestion.” A click of this button will give you the power to tell us what you want to see. We love hearing from you and we’re always looking for ways to iterate and improve our product for you so that your job as an SEO is as easy as possible.


Outside of Moz Pro, other big things are happening
Moz Certification

We launched the Moz Certification in April — an instructor-led, six-part course covering the SEO Essentials. The Certification brings six hours of online content that you can take at your own pace and includes exams to test your knowledge as well as and a LinkedIn badge to share your credentials with your network.

Client Onboarding Course

Outside of the Certification, we also have standalone courses on additional topics, including our newest addition: The Client Onboarding Course — perfect for when you’ve just signed a new SEO client and want to know what the next steps are. This course delves deep into internal communication processes, how to best get to know your new client, setting expectations—and even provides a new client questionnaire that Moz’s SEO experts have developed.

New Moz Local

As local search continues to evolve, we’ve been working to evolve our toolset in a number of ways. 

The launch of the new Moz Local in June brought features like real-time profile management and sync, data cleansing, automated duplicate detection and deletion, and deep integrations with Google and Facebook. The new platform also provides the chance to manage your reviews and post to social networks, straight from the Moz Local interface! Check out how PAPYRUS saw a 42 percent increase in direction requests and a 26 percent increase in click-to-call requests after Wpromote harnessed Moz Local to optimize their business listings. This drove 90,000 more potential in-store shoppers annually and was celebrated by the US Search Awards!  

Read the Case Study

And there’s more to come! 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have oodles of exciting more launches on the docket before the end of the year is through. Stay tuned!

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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How to Get Started Building Links for SEO

Posted by KameronJenkins

Search for information about SEO, and you’ll quickly discover three big themes: content, user experience, and links. If you’re just getting started with SEO, that last theme will likely seem a lot more confusing and challenging than the others. That’s because, while content and user experience are under the realm of our control, links aren’t… at least not completely.

Think of this post as a quick-and-dirty version of The Beginner’s Guide to SEO’s chapter on link building. We definitely recommend you read through that as well, but if you’re short on time, this condensed version gives you a quick overview of the basics as well as actionable tips that can help you get started.

Let’s get to it!

What does “building links” mean?

Link building is a term used in SEO to describe the process of increasing the quantity of good links from other websites to your own.

Why are links so important? They’re one of the main (although not the only!) criteria Google uses to determine the quality and trustworthiness of a page. You want links from reputable, relevant websites to bolster your own site’s authority in search engines.

For more information on different types of links, check out Cyrus Shepard’s post All Links are Not Created Equal: 20 New Graphics on Google’s Valuation of Links.

“Building links” is common SEO vernacular, but it deserves unpacking or else you may get the wrong idea about this practice. Google wants people to link to pages out of their own volition, because they value the content on that page. Google does not want people to link to pages because they were paid or incentivized to do so, or create links to their websites themselves — those types of links should use the “nofollow” attribute. You can read more about what Google thinks about links in their webmaster guidelines.

The main thing to remember is that links to your pages are an important part of SEO, but Google doesn’t want you paying or self-creating them, so the practice of “building links” is really more a process of “earning links” — let’s dive in.

How do I build links?

If Google doesn’t want you creating links yourself or paying for them, how do you go about getting them? There are a lot of different methods, but we’ll explore some of the basics.

Link gap analysis

One popular method for getting started with link building is to look at the links your competitors have but you don’t. This is often referred to as a competitor backlink analysis or a link gap analysis. You can perform one of these using Moz Link Explorer’s Link Intersect tool.

Link Intersect gives you a glimpse into your competitor’s link strategy. My pal Miriam and I wrote a guide that explains how to use Link Explorer and what to do with the links you find. It’s specifically geared toward local businesses, but it’s helpful for anyone just getting started with link building.

Email outreach

A skill you’ll definitely need for link building is email outreach. Remember, links to your site should be created by others, so to get them to link to your content, you need to tell them about it! Cold outreach is always going to be hit-or-miss, but here are a few things that can help:

Make a genuine connection: People are much more inclined to help you out if they know you. Consider connecting with them on social media and building a relationship before you ask them for a link. Offer something of value: Don’t just ask someone to link to you — tell them how they’ll benefit! Example: offering a guest post to a content-desperate publisher. Be someone people would want to link to: Before you ask anyone to link to your content, ask yourself questions like, “Would I find this valuable enough to link to?” and “Is this the type of content this person likes to link to?”

There are tons more articles on the Moz Blog you can check out if you’re looking to learn more about making your email outreach effective:

Supercharge Your Link Building Outreach! 5 Tips for Success – Whiteboard FridayLink Building in 2019: Get by With a Little Help From Your FriendsHow We Increased Our Email Response Rate from ~8% to 34%Why You Should Steal My Daughter’s Playbook for Effective Email Outreach
Contribute your expertise using services like HARO

When you’re just getting started, services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) are great. When you sign up as a source, you’ll start getting requests from journalists who need quotes for their articles. Not all requests will be relevant to you, but be on the lookout for those that are. If the journalist likes your pitch, they may feature your quote in their article with a link back to your website.

Where do I go from here?

I hope this was a helpful crash-course into the world of link building! If you want to keep learning, we recommend checking out this free video course from HubSpot Academy that walks you through finding the right SEO strategy, including how to use Moz Link Explorer for link building.

Watch the video

Remember, link building certainly isn’t easy, but it is worth it!

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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5 Common Objections to SEO (& How to Respond) – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

How many of these have you heard over the years? Convincing clients and stakeholders that SEO is worth it is half the battle. From doubts about the value of its traffic to concerns over time and competition with other channels, it seems like there’s an argument against our jobs at every turn. 

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins cover the five most common objections to SEO and how to counter them with smart, researched, fact-based responses.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and today we’re going to be going through five common objections to SEO and how to respond. Now I know, if you’re watching this and you’re an SEO, you have faced some of these very objections before and probably a lot of others.

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure you’ve faced a ton of other objections, whether you’re talking to a potential client, maybe you’re talking to your friend or your family member. A lot of people have misunderstandings about SEO and that causes them to object to wanting to invest in it. So I thought I’d go through some of the ones that I hear the most and how I tend to respond in those situations. Hopefully, you’ll find that helpful.

1. “[Other channel] drives more traffic/conversions, so it’s better.”

Let’s dive in. The number one objection I hear a lot of the time is this other channel, whether that be PPC, social, whatever, drives more traffic or conversions, therefore it’s better than SEO. I want to respond a few different ways depending. 

Success follows investment

So the number one thing I would usually say is that don’t forget that success follows investment.

So if you are investing a lot of time and money and talent into your PPC or social and you’re not really doing much with organic, you’re kind of just letting it go, usually that means, yeah, that other channel is going to be a lot more successful. So just keep that in mind. It’s not inherently successful or not. It kind of reflects the effort you’re putting into it.

Every channel serves a different purpose

Number two, I would say that every channel serves a different purpose. You’re not going to expect social media to drive conversions a lot of the time, because a lot of the time social is for engagement. It’s for more top of the funnel. It’s for more audience development. SEO, a lot of the time that lives at your top and mid-funnel efforts. It can convert, but not always.

So just keep that in mind. Every channel serves a different purpose. 

Assists vs last click only

The last thing I would say, kind of dovetailing off of that, is that assists versus last click only I know is a debate when it comes to attribution. But just keep in mind that when SEO and organic search doesn’t convert as the last click before conversion, it still usually assists in the process. So look at your assisted conversions and see how SEO is contributing.

2. “SEO is dead because the SERPs are full of ads.”


The number two objection I usually hear is SEO is dead because the SERPs are full of ads. To that, I would respond with a question. 

What SERPs are you looking at? 

It really depends on what you’re querying. If you’re only looking at those bottom funnel, high cost per click, your money keywords, absolutely those are monetized.

Those are going to be heavily monetized, because those are at the bottom of the funnel. So if you’re only ever looking at that, you might be pessimistic when it comes to your SEO. You might not be thinking that SEO has any kind of value, because organic search, those organic results are pushed down really low when you’re looking at those bottom funnel terms. So I think these two pieces of research are really interesting to look at in tandem when it comes to a response to this question.

I think this was put out sometime last year by Varn Research, and it said that 60% of people, when they see ads on the search results, they don’t even recognize that they’re ads. That’s actually probably higher now that Google changed it from green to black and it kind of blends in a little bit better with the rest of it. But then this data from Jumpshot says that only about 2% to 3% of all search clicks go to PPC.

So how can these things coexist? Well, they can coexist because the vast majority of searches don’t trigger ads. A lot more searches are informational and navigational more so than commercial. 

People research before buying

So just keep in mind that people are doing a lot of research before buying.

A lot of times they’re looking to learn more information. They’re looking to compare. Keep in mind your buyer’s entire journey, their entire funnel and focus on that. Don’t just focus on the bottom of the funnel, because you will get discouraged when it comes to SEO if you’re only looking there. 

Better together

Also, they’re just better together. There are a lot of studies that show that PPC and SEO are more effective when they’re both shown on the search results together for a single company.

I’m thinking of one by Seer, they did right now, that showed the CTR is higher for both when they’re on the page together. So just keep that in mind. 

3. “Organic drives traffic, just not the right kind.”

The number three objection I hear a lot is that organic drives traffic, just not the right kind of traffic. People usually mean a few different things when they say that. 

Branded vs non-branded

Number one, they could mean that organic drives traffic, but it’s usually just branded traffic anyway.

It’s just people who know about us already, and they’re searching our business name and they’re finding us. That could be true. But again, that’s probably because you’re not investing in SEO, not because SEO is not valuable. I would also say that a lot of times this is pretty easily debunked. A lot of times inadvertently people are ranking for non-branded terms that they didn’t even know they were ranking for.

So go into Google Search Console, look at their non-branded queries and see what’s driving impressions and clicks to the website. 

Assists are important too

Number two, again, just to say this one more time, assists are important too. They play a part in the eventual conversion or purchase. So even if organic drives traffic that doesn’t convert as the last click before conversion, it still usually plays a role.

It can be highly qualified

Number three, it can be highly qualified. Again, this is that following the investment thing. If you are actually paying attention to your audience, you know the ways they search, how they search, what terms they search for, what’s important to your brand, then you can bring in really highly qualified traffic that’s more inclined to convert if you’re paying attention and being strategic with your SEO.

4. “SEO takes too long”

Moving on to number four, that objection I hear is SEO takes too long. That’s honestly one of the most common objections you hear about SEO. 

SEO is not a growth hack

In response to that, I would say it’s not a growth hack. A lot of people who are really antsy about SEO and like “why isn’t it working right now” are really looking for those instant results.

They want a tactic they can sprinkle on their website for instant whatever they want. Usually it’s conversions and revenue and growth. I would say it’s not a growth hack. If you’re looking at it that way, it’s going to disappoint you. 

Methodology + time = growth

But I will say that SEO is more methodology than tactic. It’s something that should be ingrained and embedded into everything you do so that over time, when it’s baked into everything you’re doing, you’re going to achieve sustained growth.

So that’s how I respond to that one. 

5. “You can’t measure the ROI.”

Number five, the last one and probably one of the most frustrating, I’m sure this is not exclusive to SEO. I know social hears it a lot. You can’t measure the ROI, therefore I don’t want to invest in it, because I don’t have proof that I’m getting a return on this investment. So people kind of tend to mean, I think, two things when they say this.

A) Predicting ROI

Number one, they really want to be able to predict ROI before they even dive in. They want assurances that if I invest in this, I’m going to get X in return, which there are a lot of, I think, problems with that inherently, but there are some ways you can get close to gauging what you’re going to get for your efforts. So what I would do in this situation is use your own website’s data to build yourself a click-through rate curve so that you know the click-through rate at your various rank positions.

By knowing that and combining that with the search volume of a keyword or a phrase that you want to go after, you can multiply the two and just say, “Hey, here’s the expected traffic we will get if you will let me work on improving our rank position from 9 to 2 or 1” or whatever that is. So there are ways to estimate and get close.

A lot of times, when you do improve, you’re focusing on improving one term, you’re likely going to get a lot more traffic than what you’re estimating because you tend to end up ranking for so many more longer tail keywords that bring in a lot of additional search volume. So you’re probably going to even underestimate when you do this. But that’s one way you can predict ROI. 

B) Measuring ROI


Number two here, measuring ROI is a lot of times what people want to be doing.

They want to be able to prove that what they’re doing is beneficial in terms of revenue. So one way to do this is to get the lifetime value of the customer, multiply that by the close rate so that you can have a goal value. Now if you turn on your conversions and set up your goals in Google Analytics, which you I think should be doing, this assumes that you’re not an e-commerce site.

There’s different tracking for that, but a similar type of methodology applies. If you apply these things, you can have a goal value. So that way, when people convert on your site, you start to rack up the actual dollar value, the estimated dollar value that whatever channel is producing. So you can go to your source/medium report and see Google organic and see how many conversions it’s producing and how much value.

This same thing applies if you go to your assisted conversions report. You can see how much value is in there as well. I think that’s really beneficial just to be able to show people like, “Look, it is generating revenue.My SEO that’s getting you organic search traffic is generating value and real dollars and cents for you.” So those are some of the most common objections that I hear.

I want to know what are some of the ones that you hear too. So pop those in the comments. Let me know the objections you hear a lot of the time and include how you’re either struggling to respond or find the right response to people or something that you found works as a response. Share that with us. We’d all love to know. Let’s make SEO better and something that people understand a lot better. So that’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

Come back again next week for another one.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections

“Perhaps more than any other art form, comedy cannot exist for its own sake,” according to comedian Andrew Orvedahl in an essay published a few years back. “Comedy requires a bond between performer and audience. And if either ingredient sucks, comedy doesn’t happen.”

He’s right, but we could swap in content marketing for comedy and the statement would still hold plenty of weight. If your content isn’t connecting and resonating with your audience, it may as well not exist. This is one of the most critical skills of the discipline, and also one of the most difficult to harness.

While a standup comic can read the room, scanning faces in the crowd for signs of reception and gauging the volume of laughter and applause, content marketers face a greater challenge. We can’t typically interpret reactions in such a direct manner, meaning we must lean on our intuition, research, and analytics to assess whether our efforts are hitting home. 

To help you master this essential capability, we enlisted some of the best in the biz when it comes to understanding and relating to their audiences in an authentic way. Their guidance for show-stopping performances are featured in our new interactive experience, Witness the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth, courtesy of TopRank Marketing, Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and a lineup of awesome CMWorld speakers. 

The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth

Today we’ll explore their (and our) specific insights around the vital art of audience connections. 
Three Keys to Creating Powerful Audience Connections
#1 – Learn About Your Audience 
MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley is basically a comedian and content marketer wrapped up into one package (her contribution to the CMWorld preview literally opens with a joke, which is the least surprising thing ever). As such, her advice on this particular topic is especially pertinent.

“Delighting your audience includes understanding your customers, and understanding how your prospects or customers interact with your brand,” she says. One of her suggestions for doing so is to “Undercover Boss your own brand,” referring to the television show in which corporate executives step into a low-level roles at their companies — incognito style — to gain a more accurate understanding of what’s really happening in the trenches.

[bctt tweet=”Sign up for your own service. Opt-in to your own email list. Place a call to your support center. Interact on your social channels. Ask a customer care rep what patterns they see day in, day out. — @MarketingProfs” username=”toprank”]

At TopRank Marketing, completing due diligence around the people we hope to reach — their aspirations, pains, and needs — is an integral component of launching a new content program. As Ann suggests, it’s important to adopt your customer’s point of view and gain a truly empathetic perspective. 

Sometimes this means simply asking ourselves questions in a different way. Instead of “How can we raise brand awareness?” ask “Why would people want to be aware of our brand?” Instead of “How do we define success for our marketing efforts?” ask “How do we define success for our audience?”

As any comedian knows, just because a joke is funny in our head doesn’t mean it’ll be funny to a room full of strangers. 
#2 – Confront the Personalization Conundrum
One of the most pervasive hurdles in modern content marketing is personalization at scale. It’s written about often, here and elsewhere, because it’s a pivotal objective and also a paradoxical dilemma. As Marketing Insider Group CEO Michael Brenner astutely (and humorously) puts it, the phrase itself seems to be a contradiction:

[bctt tweet=”Personalization at scale is kind of an oxymoron like ‘jumbo shrimp.’ I love shrimp. And content marketing. So if you love shrimp and content marketing, we have a lot in common. See what I did there? — @BrennerMichael” username=”toprank”]

He goes on to note that the ways to overcome this discrepancy are to “know something about your audience” and “be able to deliver a tailored piece of content to those unique characteristics.” 

“It doesn’t have to be individualized,” he adds, “just tailored.”

Content marketers can accomplish this by creating more defined and descriptive audience segments (or personas). This is fundamental to our approach at TopRank Marketing, and it can take many forms. Sometimes it’s about whittling down your target audience to the most valuable prospective customers and tightly orienting your content to their role and professional context — even if that means turning away readers who don’t fall into the category. Other times, it might mean leveraging an account-based marketing approach, and refining your focus on the companies you’d really like to land.  

As I’ve written here before, effective personalization is instrumental to trust:

Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate alarms. Personalization comes in many forms. It can be as sophisticated as using adaptive AI, or as simple as narrowing the scope and voice of your content to resonate with very specific audiences. Whatever the approach, customers clearly want it. And the potential revenue benefits are undeniable.
#3 – Invite Feedback, and Take It Seriously
Jerry Seinfeld’s elite penchant for generating laughs is rare among standup comedians, but his process for vetting jokes is not. He’s very attentive to the crowd’s reactions to each of his quips. This excerpt from a New York Times profile, describing his period of reflection after a set, says it all:

Seinfeld retired to a dressing room, plopping down beside a bucket of bottled water. I congratulated him on the performance. “I’d say two-thirds of that set was garbage,” he said, matter-of-factly. “Whether it was lines coming out wrong or the rhythm being off.” He said he’d counted “probably eight” jokes that failed to get the kinds of laughs he desired. “There’s different kinds of laughs,” he explained. “It’s like a baseball lineup: this guy’s your power hitter, this guy gets on base, this guy works out walks. If everybody does their job, we’re gonna win.”

I liken the unsatisfactory laughs to vanity metrics in content marketing. Sure, you might’ve gotten the requisite impressions and clicks, but were they meaningful? Are they moving the needle? Are they indicative of audience delight?

To reach these important conclusions, we need to facilitate the feedback loop. We need to create dialogues instead of one-way conversations. And as Tameka Vasquez of Genpact points out, “In a dialogue, you cannot truly listen if you’re just impatiently waiting for your turn to speak.”

[bctt tweet=”We pump out content and then wait until it’s our turn to speak again and pump out some more per our content calendars. What use is it if neither side is listening? — @tameka_vasquez” username=”toprank”]

With this in mind, it’s important to craft your content strategy and editorial calendar with the audience’s voice in mind. One method for doing this, as our Josh Nite suggests in his rundown of content planning tips, is by leaning on user-generated content: “Still stuck with a few blank spaces in your calendar? Let your audience fill them in for you. User-generated content helps foster community, builds enthusiasm for your offering, lets customers see real-world examples of what your company can do, and a host of other benefits.” 

Other methods for eliciting this type of feedback include chatbots, conversations with your sales team, in-depth analysis of website user behavior, and more.
Delivering Great Experiences is No Laughing Matter
Comedians might make a living by telling jokes, but they take their work as seriously as anyone. Their careers depend on forging connections with audiences, and they know the best way to retain and grow those audiences is by delivering an enjoyable, memorable experience that leaves fans walking away smiling. Sound familiar?

You’ll experience plenty of laughs and learnings at Content Marketing World 2019 when the curtains open on Sept. 3 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on dazzling your audience in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.

The post Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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"Study Finds:" How Data-Driven Content Marketing Builds Links and Earns Press Mentions

Posted by KristinTynski

In 2019, high-authority links remain highly correlated with rankings. However, acquiring great links is becoming increasingly difficult. Those of you who operate publications of any variety, especially those who enjoy high domain authority, have likely received several link building requests or offers like this each day:

“Please link to my suspect site that provides little or no value.”
“Please engage in my shady link exchange.”
“I can acquire 5 links of DA 50+ for $250 each.”

Or maybe slightly more effectively:

“This link is broken, perhaps you would like to link here instead.”
“You link to X resource, but my Y resource is actually better.”

This glut of SEOs who build links through these techniques above have been consistently eroding the efficacy of this style of little-to-no-value ad outreach link building. In the past, perhaps it was possible to convert 2% of outreach emails of this style to real links. Now, that number is more like 0.2 percent.

Link building outreach has become glorified email spam—increasingly ignored and decreasingly effective. And yet, high-authority links remain one of the single most important ranking factors.

So where do we go from here?

Let’s start with a few axioms.

The conclusion: Leveraging data journalism to tell newsworthy stories re-enables effective promotion of content via outreach/pitching. Doing so successfully results in the acquisition of high domain authority links that enjoy the potential for viral syndication. Overall data journalism and outreach represents one of the only remaining scaleable high-authority link building strategies.

How can I leverage data journalism techniques to earn coverage?

To answer this question, I conducted my own data journalism project about the state of data journalism-driven link building! (Meta, I know.)

The primary goal was to understand how major publications (the places worth pitching content) talk about data journalism findings from external sources. By understanding how data journalism is covered, we lay the groundwork for understanding what types of data journalism, themes, and strategies for outreach can be most effective for link building.

We pulled 8,400 articles containing the text “study finds.” This keyword was used as a heuristic for finding data-driven news stories created by outside sources (not done internally by the news publication themselves). We then supplemented these articles with additional data, including links built, social shares, and Google’s Machine Learning topic categorization.

The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us four ways to show the results within each category: The main topic area (containing all relevant subcategories), just the first subcategory, just the second subcategory, and just the third subcategory.

Which outlets most frequently cover data-driven stories from external pitches?

Let’s begin by taking a look at which top-tier news outlets cover “study finds” (AKA, any project pitched by an outside source that ran a survey or study that had “findings”). For companies conducting studies, they hope to win press coverage for, these top sites are prime targets, with editorial guidelines that clearly see outside pitches of study findings as attractive.

It’s not surprising to see science-based sites ranking at the top, as they’re inherently more likely to talk about studies than other publications. But sites like The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, CNN, Washington Post, and NBC News all ranked highly as well, providing great insight into which established, trusted news sources are willing to publish external research.

Which topic areas do these publishers write about most?

Diving a little deeper, we can explore which topics are covered in these publications that are associated with these external studies, providing us insight into which verticals might be the best targets for this strategy.

There are many unique insights to be gleaned from the following charts depending on your niche/topical focus. This data can easily be used as a pitching guide, showing you which publishers are the most likely to pick up and cover your pitches for the findings of your study or survey.

Here is a view of the overall category and subcategory distribution for the top publishers.

As you can see, it’s…a lot. To get more actionable breakdowns, we can look at different views of the topical categories. The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us several ways to show the results within each category.


You can explore the Tableau sheets to get into the nitty-gritty, but even with these views, a few more specialized publications, like InsideHigherEd.com and blogs.edweek.org, emerge.

Which topic areas drive the most links?

Press mentions are great, but syndication is where data journalism and content-based outreach strategy really shines. I also wanted to understand which topic areas drive link acquisition. As it turns out, some topics are significantly better at driving links than others.

Note that the color of the bar charts is associated with volume of sharing by topic—the darker the bar on the chart, the higher it was shared. With this additional sharing data, it’s plain to see that while links and social shares are highly correlated, there are some categories that are top link builders but do not perform as well on social and vice versa.

This next set of data visualizations again explore these topic areas in detail. In each batch, we see the median number of links built as an overall category aggregate and then by each category.





Which domains generate the most links when they pick up a data-driven story?

Another interesting question is which domains overall result in the largest number of links generated for “study finds” stories. Below is that ranking, colored by the median number of total shares for that domain.

Notice that while The Independent ranked supreme in the earlier graph about including the most “study finds” pieces, they don’t appear at all on this graph. Sites like The Guardian, CNN, The Washington Post, and NBC News, however, score highly on both, meaning they’re probably more likely to publish your research (relatively speaking, since all high-authority sites are tough to get coverage on), and if you’re successful, you’re probably more likely to get more syndicated links as a result.

Which topic areas are the most evergreen?

Now, let’s look at each category by BuzzSumo’s “evergreen score” to see what kind of content will get you the most bang for your buck.

The evergreen score was developed by BuzzSumo to measure the number of backlinks and social shares an article receives more than a month after it’s published.

When you’re considering doing a study and you want it to have lasting power, brainstorm whether any of these topics tie to your product or service offering, because it appears their impact lingers for longer than a month:


What this all means

Link building through data-driven content marketing and PR is a predictable and scalable way to massively impact domain authority, page authority, and organic visibility.

Always consider:

1. Which publishers make sense to pitch to?

Do they often cover external studies?Do they cover topics that I write about?Does their coverage lead to a high volume of syndicated links?

2. Does my topic have lasting power?

To really make the most of your content and outreach strategy, you’ll need to incorporate these tips and more into your content development and pitching.

In previous articles on Moz I’ve covered:

The emotional factors that influence press pickup and virality.The news syndication networks that impact pickup and distribution.How to find the absolute best people and media outlets to pitch.Which topic areas result in the highest success rates for press coverage, social sharing, and link building as well as the outlets that have are most likely to cover data-journalism pitches.

These ideas and methodologies are at the heart of the work we do at Fractl and have been instrumental in helping us develop best practices for ideation, content creation, and successful outreach to press. Pulling on each of these levers (and many others), testing, and accumulating data that can then be used to refine processes is what begins to make a real impact on success rates and allows you to break through the noise.

If you want to discuss the major takeaways for your industry, feel free to email me at kristin@frac.tl.

Did anything surprise you in the data? Share your thoughts below!

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The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary

Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.

I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.
Similarities Between Social and Search
Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.

Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.

People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)

Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.
Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically
SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.

#1: Keyword Research and Application

Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.

With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.

In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?

#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search

Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)

LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:

“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”

#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search

It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.

We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”

In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.

The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.

#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial

Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.

This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)  

If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.
Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom
These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.

Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Empathetic Consulting: 3 Things to Remember When Working With Other Teams

Posted by LaurelTaylor

Whether you consult with teams within your company or with outside clients, the chances are fairly high that at least once, you’ve left a meeting frustrated by the actions of others, even asking yourself: “why would they do that?”

It’s easy to walk into a project thinking of it as a simple matter of “they brought me in to fix a problem.” But the reality is rarely so simple. Consulting with other teams always entails organizational and emotional nuance that you may not be privy to.

Every interpersonal relationship is unique, and hopefully the circumstances I’m discussing won’t apply to many engagements or projects you take part in. However, when you do end up in a difficult consulting situation, it’s helpful to have a bit of empathy for those you’re working with.

I’ve found that remembering these 3 points can help me put myself in the shoes of my point of contact and interact with them in a way that is sensitive to what they may be dealing within their environment.

1. Your point of contact may not have asked for your help

It is entirely possible that the person you are trying to help may not want to be helped.

Management has its own ideas sometimes and internal communication isn’t always perfect at any company. This can lead to situations where your point of contact may feel defensive, especially if their job functions seem like they might cover what you are consulting on. The best intentions of a manager who wants to help by bringing in more resources may look like distrust or undermining to the employee who didn’t get a say.

At one point during my stint as an in-house SEO, I actually found myself in this exact position. Leadership brought in an outside agency to help with SEO during a domain migration, and while their intentions may have been to provide more help, they didn’t effectively communicate that to me.

As a result, since I was the one who was responsible for that area, it made me feel insecure about how management viewed me and my skills. I was lucky enough to work with a great consultant who was able to support me and help move forward the many projects that were already in-flight. But because I initially felt like they were undermining my credibility by being involved in the first place, it took a while to build that trust and be able to get things done effectively.

The best way to deal with this potential issue is to ensure that you respect the context and institutional knowledge that the team you are helping possesses. Work to have a collaborative relationship instead of an authoritative one. The more context and communication you have, the better the recommendations you can contribute.

2. If they did ask for help, they may be feeling vulnerable or insecure

Step back for a second and think about why a team might bring in an outside consultant, to begin with. There are tons of specific issues they could need assistance with, but all of this boils down to a problem that they presumably want or need help to solve — a problem that they couldn’t solve on their own. Regardless of whether they couldn’t solve it because of knowledge, resources, or even office politics, your contributions add something that they couldn’t contribute themselves — and that can be hard to deal with.

This isn’t something that needs to be discussed with the client or another team, but it is something that you should acknowledge and keep front-of-mind when you communicate with them. Respect the vulnerability of seeking out help, and appreciate the trust that they have placed in you.

3. Your client is accountable for the results of their project

When planning a long-term strategy, making tactical recommendations, or accessing the results of a marketing campaign that you helped execute, it’s easy to feel invested or accountable for the results of a project. However, it’s important to remember that your point of contact is usually far more accountable for results than you are. Their job, success, and emotions are all on the line much more than yours.

As an outside subject matter expert, your job is to give them all the information and resources to make the best decision. At the end of the day, the choice is theirs. I know how hard it can be to see your recommendations or projects rejected, but it’s important to try not to take it personally if they, having all the facts, make what they believe to be the best decision.

If they seem like they are questioning everything you say, maybe it’s because they want to be 100 percent sure it’s the best approach. Perhaps their micromanaging comes from a place of good intentions — just wanting to follow through and get the best outcome with every aspect of a project. Even what can come off as argumentative or difficult could be them playing devils advocate to ensure that everything has been considered.

Wrapping up

All this being said, perhaps none of these circumstances apply to the client that you are finding it hard to work with. People can have bad days, hard years, or even just generally prickly dispositions. But more empathy and compassion in the world is never a bad thing. So, I would encourage anyone who works with other teams to avoid the impulse to judge a harsh response, and instead, consider what may be behind it.

Have you ever been faced with a complicated consulting situation? Share what helped you navigate it in the comments below!

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How to Add Content Locking in WordPress


Do you want to lock content and require your users to sign up for your newsletter to be able to read it? This gets you more email subscribers while also letting you know what content your users are interested in. In this article, we will show you how to add content locking in WordPress without annoying your users.

This video brought to you by OptinMonster, take a look at their site here:
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For the discount, use our code: WPBVIP

TimeStamps
0:20 Understanding content locking
1:48 Installing OptinMonster
2:09 Getting your OptinMonster API key
3:01 Creating the content locker
5:39 Placing the content blocker

In this video we will be using OptinMonster, you can use the discount above to reduce the price of your purchase. Install and activate the OptinMonster plugin and add your API to the plugin’s settings area to connect it.

Now, go to the OptinMonster site and begin creating your content locking page. We will be using an inline optin using the action theme for the campaign. Set up the campaign to be designed how you want it and in the inline settings select lock content below Campaign to be set to active.

Activate the campaign and now when you refresh your available campaigns on your WordPress site you should see this campaign available. Now you can copy the shortcode from the campaign’s settings area and paste it into the articles you want to require the email signup to view.

If you liked this video, then please Like and consider subscribing to our channel here for more WordPress videos.
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