How to Add Stripe Donate Button in WordPress


Are you wanting to add a Stripe donate button to your WordPress site? Stripe is one of the best online payment processors for allowing you to get payments on your site including donations. In this video, we will show you how to collect donations on your WordPress site using Stripe.

For this tutorial we will be using WPForms pro which you can purchase here:

https://wpforms.com/

With the pro or higher plan, you will want to install and activate the plugin. Then go into your settings to add your license key to have your features active. Now, go into WPForms, Addons and scroll down to activate the Stripe addon.

Now in your Settings, Payments area you will want to add your Stripe API keys which can be found when you log into Stripe under Developers, API keys. The important keys you will need the publishable and secret keys for the standard payments to work. For this tutorial, we will also click the ‘View test data’ to get your test API keys to include as well.

With your keys pasted in you can activate test mode so you can ensure your donation form is set up and goes through the steps you want without issue without needing to actually pay. We can go into WPForms to add a form to start with including the donation information and a payment field.

Now, we can go to the Payment settings on the left-hand side to set up the stripe payments. We will check to activate the stripe payments, decide the payment description if the payment should be recurring, and how to handle the payment receipt. With that set, you can go into the general settings and customize the confirmation to use if you wanted a message, a link to one of your pages, or a custom URL.

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https://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/how-to-add-stripe-donate-button-in-wordpress/

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Best Google Forms Alternative for WordPress


Are you looking to create a distraction-free form landing page in WordPress? The biggest challenge has been all forms are controlled by your theme and not all themes have templates designed for forms. In this video, we’ll show you how to use Form Pages by WPForms to create a distraction-free form landing page.

For this tutorial we will be using WPForms Pro version which can be purchased here:

https://wpforms.com/

With the plugin purchased, install and activate it on your WordPress site and under WPForms, Settings add your license key for all of the plugin’s features.

With that set up, you can begin creating a form, in this tutorial we will create a quote form. WPForms will auto-fill based on the template you selected to use and you can modify the fields to suit your needs.

Next, we’ll go into Settings, and select Form Pages. As we didn’t install the addon it will bring up a popup asking if we want to install it. It will now add the form pages as a selectable option and in the options, we will check the checkbox for Enable Form Page Mode to make the form into its own page.

Select the Form Page Title for what you want the visitors to see, add the message to display before the form fields, decide if you want to change the permalink, upload a header image should you want, select the footer text or hide it, select the color, and finally select the style for the form.

Now when you go to the permalink you set for your form a full-page form should be visible on your site that uses its own design rather than taking from your theme’s templates. The form will have all of your customizations as well as all of the form’s fields you wanted to be added.

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https://www.wpbeginner.com/news/form-pages-by-wpforms-google-forms-alternative-for-wordpress/

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How to Embed a Facebook Video in WordPress


Do you want to embed a Facebook video on your WordPress site? With the popularity of Facebook live and Facebook’s videos, we’ve had several of our users ask if it was possible to embed Facebook videos in WordPress. In this video, we will show you how to easily embed a Facebook video and a Facebook live video in WordPress.

To start, you will want to visit the Facebook Embedded Video and Live Video Player page found here:

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/embedded-video-player

Here you will add the URL of the video from Facebook you would like to display as well as set the pixel width you want the video to display at and it should display below. There’s even the option to include the full post in a checkbox under the URL of the video box.

Now that your selected video is set, click the get code button to bring up the required code. For a Facebook video to display on your site you will need to add the first code block to your theme’s header. If your theme does not have a built-in method, you can use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin found here:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/insert-headers-and-footers/

With the above plugin, you would go under Settings, Insert Headers and Footers and add the code in the top box and click the Save button. This will automatically add the code in your site’s header for you. With that added you can add the second code from Facebook and it will embed the video the same as it would a YouTube video.

For a Facebook Live video, you will first need to go live due to Facebook’s limitations. That will allow you to right click on the date that you went live and copy the live video’s URL. Take that URL back to the Facebook Video Player Configurator to customize the display to how you’re wanting and click the Get Code button.

If you’ve already added the JavaScript to your header from another video or embed then you don’t need to add that for this new video. Add the second code block to your site where you want the live video to appear.

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How to Create Conversational Forms in WordPress (Typeform Alternative)


Do you want your forms to have a more human feel? Many people look for conversational forms to give their users a one question at a time experience. In this video, we will show you how to create a conversational form in WordPress.

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

For this guide, we will be using the paid version of WPForms which you can get using the link above. With the plugin installed, activated and you’ve added your license key you will want to go to the Addons section in WPForms and add the Conversational Forms Addon. For this specific tutorial, we will also be activating the Surveys and Polls Addon as we will be creating a conversational poll.

We can now go to WPForms, Add New, name the form and select the Poll Form template to have WPForms prefill the content to be a working poll that we can customize how we want. Now in the Settings, Conversational Forms area, we can activate the Conversational Form Mode to make the form similar to the Typeform conversational form. It will have a window where you can add a message to fill out the form, customize the permalink for the form page, and add some customization to it.

Now when we visit the URL for the form it will bring us to a page that has our selected image, background color, and the questions for the form. To make the link accessible for visitors you can go to your menu, under Custom Links add a link to your form with the URL to the title you want them to see, we’ve selected survey as the text.

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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!

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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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https://optinmonster.com/
=================================

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.

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How to Track Outbound Links in WordPress


Do you want to track outbound links in WordPress? Outbound links are links that send users to sites other than your own site such as for affiliate products, social networks, or simply other websites that you have linked to. In this video, we will show you how to easily track outbound links in WordPress to see which get the most clicks.

For this video, we will be using MonsterInsights which you can purchase from here:
https://www.monsterinsights.com/

Under MonsterInsights, Settings, Publisher you will want to add a path that should be considered an affiliate link and in the label section, add the label that you want it marked under in your Google Analytics and Monster Insights will start tracking these links for you. You can even include file extensions you want MonsterInsights to track as downloads from your site.

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How to Set Up Your Email List (The Right Way)


In this video, you’ll learn how to set up your own email list so you can grow your subscribers. To begin, you would want to ensure you have an email marketing service that you are signed up with such as Constant Contact. If you are looking for alternatives, we have a list of those we would recommend here:

https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/best-email-marketing-services/

This video brought to you by OptinMonster, take a look at their site here:
=================================
https://optinmonster.com/
=================================

For the discount, use our code: WPBVIP

In this video, we will use Constant contact and create a new list where we would like to send our subscribers.

Next, we will set up a call to action using OptinMonster. OptinMonster allows you customization freedom as well as guiding you with the recommended design from the text to the color and any credits on the signup.

With the call to action set how we want, we will connect the call to action to the Constant Contact account and name it whatever we like for housekeeping purposes. With it connected you can also select the specific list with Constant contact to send these users to.

Don’t forget to publish this call to action and then go back to your WordPress site to install and activate the OptinMonster plugin. In the plugin’s settings, you will want to add the API from your OptinMonster account to have access to your campaigns.

Refresh your campaigns page to have your campaigns be visible and go live with the campaign you want on your site. The setting you can choose will allow you to set up where and when this call to action will appear on your site for your visitors.

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The One-Hour Guide to SEO: Technical SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We’ve arrived at one of the meatiest SEO topics in our series: technical SEO. In this fifth part of the One-Hour Guide to SEO, Rand covers essential technical topics from crawlability to internal link structure to subfolders and far more. Watch on for a firmer grasp of technical SEO fundamentals!

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome back to our special One-Hour Guide to SEO Whiteboard Friday series. This is Part V – Technical SEO. I want to be totally upfront. Technical SEO is a vast and deep discipline like any of the things we’ve been talking about in this One-Hour Guide.

There is no way in the next 10 minutes that I can give you everything that you’ll ever need to know about technical SEO, but we can cover many of the big, important, structural fundamentals. So that’s what we’re going to tackle today. You will come out of this having at least a good idea of what you need to be thinking about, and then you can go explore more resources from Moz and many other wonderful websites in the SEO world that can help you along these paths.

1. Every page on the website is unique & uniquely valuable

First off, every page on a website should be two things — unique, unique from all the other pages on that website, and uniquely valuable, meaning it provides some value that a user, a searcher would actually desire and want. Sometimes the degree to which it’s uniquely valuable may not be enough, and we’ll need to do some intelligent things.

So, for example, if we’ve got a page about X, Y, and Z versus a page that’s sort of, “Oh, this is a little bit of a combination of X and Y that you can get through searching and then filtering this way.Oh, here’s another copy of that XY, but it’s a slightly different version.Here’s one with YZ. This is a page that has almost nothing on it, but we sort of need it to exist for this weird reason that has nothing to do, but no one would ever want to find it through search engines.”

Okay, when you encounter these types of pages as opposed to these unique and uniquely valuable ones, you want to think about: Should I be canonicalizing those, meaning point this one back to this one for search engine purposes? Maybe YZ just isn’t different enough from Z for it to be a separate page in Google’s eyes and in searchers’ eyes. So I’m going to use something called the rel=canonical tag to point this YZ page back to Z.

Maybe I want to remove these pages. Oh, this is totally non-valuable to anyone. 404 it. Get it out of here. Maybe I want to block bots from accessing this section of our site. Maybe these are search results that make sense if you’ve performed this query on our site, but they don’t make any sense to be indexed in Google. I’ll keep Google out of it using the robots.txt file or the meta robots or other things.

2. Pages are accessible to crawlers, load fast, and can be fully parsed in a text-based browser

Secondarily, pages are accessible to crawlers. They should be accessible to crawlers. They should load fast, as fast as you possibly can. There’s a ton of resources about optimizing images and optimizing server response times and optimizing first paint and first meaningful paint and all these different things that go into speed.

But speed is good not only because of technical SEO issues, meaning Google can crawl your pages faster, which oftentimes when people speed up the load speed of their pages, they find that Google crawls more from them and crawls them more frequently, which is a wonderful thing, but also because pages that load fast make users happier. When you make users happier, you make it more likely that they will link and amplify and share and come back and keep loading and not click the back button, all these positive things and avoiding all these negative things.

They should be able to be fully parsed in essentially a text browser, meaning that if you have a relatively unsophisticated browser that is not doing a great job of processing JavaScript or post-loading of script events or other types of content, Flash and stuff like that, it should be the case that a spider should be able to visit that page and still see all of the meaningful content in text form that you want to present.

Google still is not processing every image at the I’m going to analyze everything that’s in this image and extract out the text from it level, nor are they doing that with video, nor are they doing that with many kinds of JavaScript and other scripts. So I would urge you and I know many other SEOs, notably Barry Adams, a famous SEO who says that JavaScript is evil, which may be taking it a little bit far, but we catch his meaning, that you should be able to load everything into these pages in HTML in text.

3. Thin content, duplicate content, spider traps/infinite loops are eliminated

Thin content and duplicate content — thin content meaning content that doesn’t provide meaningfully useful, differentiated value, and duplicate content meaning it’s exactly the same as something else — spider traps and infinite loops, like calendaring systems, these should generally speaking be eliminated. If you have those duplicate versions and they exist for some reason, for example maybe you have a printer-friendly version of an article and the regular version of the article and the mobile version of the article, okay, there should probably be some canonicalization going on there, the rel=canonical tag being used to say this is the original version and here’s the mobile friendly version and those kinds of things.

If you have search results in the search results, Google generally prefers that you don’t do that. If you have slight variations, Google would prefer that you canonicalize those, especially if the filters on them are not meaningfully and usefully different for searchers. 

4. Pages with valuable content are accessible through a shallow, thorough internal links structure

Number four, pages with valuable content on them should be accessible through just a few clicks, in a shallow but thorough internal link structure.

Now this is an idealized version. You’re probably rarely going to encounter exactly this. But let’s say I’m on my homepage and my homepage has 100 links to unique pages on it. That gets me to 100 pages. One hundred more links per page gets me to 10,000 pages, and 100 more gets me to 1 million.

So that’s only three clicks from homepage to one million pages. You might say, “Well, Rand, that’s a little bit of a perfect pyramid structure. I agree. Fair enough. Still, three to four clicks to any page on any website of nearly any size, unless we’re talking about a site with hundreds of millions of pages or more, should be the general rule. I should be able to follow that through either a sitemap.

If you have a complex structure and you need to use a sitemap, that’s fine. Google is fine with you using an HTML page-level sitemap. Or alternatively, you can just have a good link structure internally that gets everyone easily, within a few clicks, to every page on your site. You don’t want to have these holes that require, “Oh, yeah, if you wanted to reach that page, you could, but you’d have to go to our blog and then you’d have to click back to result 9, and then you’d have to click to result 18 and then to result 27, and then you can find it.”

No, that’s not ideal. That’s too many clicks to force people to make to get to a page that’s just a little ways back in your structure. 

5. Pages should be optimized to display cleanly and clearly on any device, even at slow connection speeds

Five, I think this is obvious, but for many reasons, including the fact that Google considers mobile friendliness in its ranking systems, you want to have a page that loads clearly and cleanly on any device, even at slow connection speeds, optimized for both mobile and desktop, optimized for 4G and also optimized for 2G and no G.

6. Permanent redirects should use the 301 status code, dead pages the 404, temporarily unavailable the 503, and all okay should use the 200 status code

Permanent redirects. So this page was here. Now it’s over here. This old content, we’ve created a new version of it. Okay, old content, what do we do with you? Well, we might leave you there if we think you’re valuable, but we may redirect you. If you’re redirecting old stuff for any reason, it should generally use the 301 status code.

If you have a dead page, it should use the 404 status code. You could maybe sometimes use 410, permanently removed, as well. Temporarily unavailable, like we’re having some downtime this weekend while we do some maintenance, 503 is what you want. Everything is okay, everything is great, that’s a 200. All of your pages that have meaningful content on them should have a 200 code.

These status codes, anything else beyond these, and maybe the 410, generally speaking should be avoided. There are some very occasional, rare, edge use cases. But if you find status codes other than these, for example if you’re using Moz, which crawls your website and reports all this data to you and does this technical audit every week, if you see status codes other than these, Moz or other software like it, Screaming Frog or Ryte or DeepCrawl or these other kinds, they’ll say, “Hey, this looks problematic to us. You should probably do something about this.”

7. Use HTTPS (and make your site secure)

When you are building a website that you want to rank in search engines, it is very wise to use a security certificate and to have HTTPS rather than HTTP, the non-secure version. Those should also be canonicalized. There should never be a time when HTTP is the one that is loading preferably. Google also gives a small reward — I’m not even sure it’s that small anymore, it might be fairly significant at this point — to pages that use HTTPS or a penalty to those that don’t. 

8. One domain > several, subfolders > subdomains, relevant folders > long, hyphenated URLs

In general, well, I don’t even want to say in general. It is nearly universal, with a few edge cases — if you’re a very advanced SEO, you might be able to ignore a little bit of this — but it is generally the case that you want one domain, not several. Allmystuff.com, not allmyseattlestuff.com, allmyportlandstuff.com, and allmylastuff.com.

Allmystuff.com is preferable for many, many technical reasons and also because the challenge of ranking multiple websites is so significant compared to the challenge of ranking one. 

You want subfolders, not subdomains, meaning I want allmystuff.com/seattle, /la, and /portland, not seattle.allmystuff.com.

Why is this? Google’s representatives have sometimes said that it doesn’t really matter and I should do whatever is easy for me. I have so many cases over the years, case studies of folks who moved from a subdomain to a subfolder and saw their rankings increase overnight. Credit to Google’s reps.

I’m sure they’re getting their information from somewhere. But very frankly, in the real world, it just works all the time to put it in a subfolder. I have never seen a problem being in the subfolder versus the subdomain, where there are so many problems and there are so many issues that I would strongly, strongly urge you against it. I think 95% of professional SEOs, who have ever had a case like this, would do likewise.

Relevant folders should be used rather than long, hyphenated URLs. This is one where we agree with Google. Google generally says, hey, if you have allmystuff.com/seattle/ storagefacilities/top10places, that is far better than /seattle- storage-facilities-top-10-places. It’s just the case that Google is good at folder structure analysis and organization, and users like it as well and good breadcrumbs come from there.

There’s a bunch of benefits. Generally using this folder structure is preferred to very, very long URLs, especially if you have multiple pages in those folders. 

9. Use breadcrumbs wisely on larger/deeper-structured sites

Last, but not least, at least last that we’ll talk about in this technical SEO discussion is using breadcrumbs wisely. So breadcrumbs, actually both technical and on-page, it’s good for this.

Google generally learns some things from the structure of your website from using breadcrumbs. They also give you this nice benefit in the search results, where they show your URL in this friendly way, especially on mobile, mobile more so than desktop. They’ll show home > seattle > storage facilities. Great, looks beautiful. Works nicely for users. It helps Google as well.

So there are plenty more in-depth resources that we can go into on many of these topics and others around technical SEO, but this is a good starting point. From here, we will take you to Part VI, our last one, on link building next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

In case you missed them:

Check out the other episodes in the series so far:

The One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 1: SEO StrategyThe One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 2: Keyword ResearchThe One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 3: Searcher SatisfactionThe One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 4: Keyword Targeting & On-Page Optimization

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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8 Content Distribution Ideas to Meet Your Brand’s Goals

Posted by AlliBerry3

There’s a lot to consider when creating a content strategy in 2019. Not only is there more competition than ever online, but there are so many types of content and ways to reach your target audience. Do you start a blog? Do you podcast? Should you focus on research studies or whitepapers? How do you really know what to do?

But before you do anything else, you need to define what goals you want to accomplish with your content. 

I’ve written previously about the importance of having an audience-focused content strategy before — and it’s still relevant. Every single piece of content you create needs to be mapped to a goal, otherwise, it’ll leave your audience wondering why they should care and what to do next, assuming it even reaches your target audience at all.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you have your goals and your brand’s unique angle nailed down, you’ll also need to prioritize your means of content distribution. This is especially important if you’re just starting out — you should zero in on a few key distribution channels and master those before you expand into others, or you risk spreading yourself too thin and sabotage your chances of success in any of them.

This post will help you zero in on what distribution channels make the most sense for your goals, and how to create content that will perform well in them.

Content goal: Brand awareness

If you’re a new brand or a lesser-known brand in your vertical, it’s crucial to expose your audience to your brand and demonstrate how it can solve their problems. There are many distribution options for brand awareness, and they all involve using external platforms in some way to help you connect to a larger audience of people.

1. Syndication

If your brand publishes a large volume of daily content that covers broader, news-worthy topics, content syndication can be an effective way to get your brand in front of a new audience.

I work for a new affiliate marketing venture called The Ascent by The Motley Fool, and our coverage of broad, personal finance topics makes us a natural fit for content syndication. From Flipboard to Google News, major news outlets are always looking for money and finance-related content. Even though the SEO value is limited for content syndication, as links are typically no-followed, this is still an effective way for us to fulfill our brand awareness goal of reaching a wider, qualified audience. Just be sure any syndication partners will provide a canonical tag back to your site to ensure you don’t end up with duplicate content issues. The Fractl team did an impressive piece about understanding the networks of news syndication if you want to learn more.

Content created for syndication typically has a timely slant to it, as that’s what major news outlets are looking for from syndication partners. Whether it’s a finance topic related to an upcoming holiday (i.e. 7 Personal Finance Lessons Learned in 2018) or something happening in the news (i.e. How to Financially Prepare for the Government Shutdown), it needs to be a gripping headline with information valuable to a reader today. It also needs to be quality content, free of errors, and not miles long.

Answer the headline entirely, but eliminate the fluff. And don’t forget to include relevant links back to your site, so you can get this larger audience to visit your website.

Musts for Syndicated Content:

A catchy headlineA timely topic1,000 words or lessLinks in the content back to relevant content on your site
2. Sponsored content or guest posts

If your own website doesn’t have a great following, engaging in sponsored content on a more prominent website can be valuable for building brand awareness. The type of sponsored content I’m referring to here is online advertorials or articles  that look like normal articles, but are tagged as “sponsored content,” typically.

BuzzFeed is a prominent platform for brands. Here’s an example of one of their finest:

At the bottom, there’s a pitch for Wendy’s with a link:

Because visitors can see that this content is “sponsored,” they are naturally more skeptical of it — and rightfully so. To create a quality native advertising piece, you’ll want it to be genuinely helpful and not overly promotional. It’s already clear it’s a promotion for your brand, so the content doesn’t need to reinforce that further.

This above example clearly does not take itself seriously. It provides a quiz that is on-brand with what a BuzzFeed visitor would expect and want to see. There’s no overt promotional play for Wendy’s in the quiz.

If you don’t want to pay for a sponsored content spot on another website, you could also look for relevant sites that take guest posts. This post you are currently reading is an example of that: I’m not paying, nor am I getting paid to publish this post with Moz. But, I am getting more brand exposure for my team and myself. And Moz is getting unique content with a fresh perspective.

It’s a win-win!

If you do pitch a site for a guest post, make sure it’s compelling and in line with what their audience wants. Keep it helpful and not promotional. You will need to establish trust with this new audience.

Musts for Sponsored Content or Guest Posts:

A budget (for sponsored content)Content is not promotional, but helpful or entertainingA pitch and link to your site at the end of the content
3. Paid advertising

One of the big advantages of utilizing paid advertising is that you can see results right away and get your content in front of a qualified audience, whereas, organic takes longer to see growth.

To get your content to perform well in paid search, it’ll need to be more niche and targeted to the keywords you’re bidding on, otherwise, your quality score will suffer. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have their own forms of a quality score that takes into account a number of factors, including your expected CTR, landing page quality and relevance to your ad, and ad text relevance. This might mean you’ll need to develop more landing pages to cover your topics than you would for a page created for organic search. That’s not an issue from an SEO perspective as long as you no-index your landing pages.

For example, the query “podcast software” gave me a really relevant ad for Buzzsprout.com, not only using my keyword in the ad but also providing relevant extended links below.

Once on the landing page, it also gives me exactly what I’m looking for. The language varies slightly to “podcast hosting,” but it clearly answers my intent.

Similarly, both Facebook and Twitter have a ‘relevancy score’ that acts as the quality score. These social platforms are measuring your expected engagement rate with an ad, which indicates how well your content matches the needs and interests of the audience you’re targeting.

What this means is that, like with paid search, your content needs to be more niche and customized to your audience for higher performance.

So many different types of content can work for paid advertising. Visual content can be incredibly powerful for paid advertising — whether it’s through video or images. There’s no better way to know how something will perform in paid marketing than through testing, but it’s important your content has these primary components:

A catchy, keyword-aligned headlineStandout images or videoContent that supports your hyper-target audience and keywords
Goal: Organic acquisition

Organic traffic is often an appealing distribution method because prospects qualify themselves through their relevant search queries. Not only do you want to have targeted content for key search queries, but it is also important to build domain authority by acquiring relevant, authoritative external links.

For this, I have included two important tactics to achieve better results organically for your brand.

4. Blog posts

Blog posts are among the most common ways to rank well in organic search and acquire featured snippets. My team has almost exclusively been focused on blog articles up until this point, as it’s relatively easy and efficient to produce at scale.

There are many types of blog posts you can create, both for more the discovery phase of a prospect, as well as the mid-level, narrowing down phase in the customer journey. Some blog post ideas that tend to perform well include:

How-to articlesQuestion and answer articlesComparison articlesBest of articlesFirst person stories (ideally from a customer perspective)

The key to successful blog posts is to have a targeted topic informed by keyword research. The Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool are great places to find topics for your blog posts. I have found both with The Ascent, as well as in my previous role at Kaplan Professional Education is that having blog posts that target specific long-tail keywords tend to perform better, and are more likely to pick up a featured snippet. However, the best way to know for your vertical is to test it yourself.

In my experience, writing using the inverted pyramid technique works wonders for featured snippets. Answer the query broadly and concisely at the beginning of the article, and then dive into more details further into it. It’s a technique from journalism, so readers are used to it and search engines seem to really take to it.

Musts for Blog Posts:

Have a target keyword/topicFollow the inverted pyramid technique (cover the topic broadly and then narrow)Contain a call-to-action
5. Original research

If acquiring external links is one of your SEO goals, conducting original research can be a powerful tactic for achieving success. What makes original research so powerful for link building is that you are the only source of your data. If you publish data that is unique to your organization or conduct your own survey or focus group and report the findings, it provides new data with unique insights to glean from it (assuming your methodology is solid, of course).

Here is a great example of original research about how frequently brands produce original research (how meta!). It also provides great data on types of original research brands do if you want to learn more. This original data came from a survey of 700 marketers, and it worked. It got linked to by all kinds of prominent industry blogs like Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, Orbit Media, and now, this one too!

If you don’t have any data that you can or want to publish from your organization directly and you don’t want to conduct your own surveys, there is also the option of mining official sources in your industry (government or census data work well in many cases) and finding a unique take and interpreting it for your audience to understand. Often, there is rich data buried in technical jargon that people don’t know about, and your original perspective can add a lot of value to your audience.

For example, my team published this secondary research during the government shutdown in January. All of the government data in this piece is accessible to anyone, but it’s time-consuming to find and difficult to interpret. Our writer’s original take on it surfaced important insights that journalists incorporated in their shutdown coverage.

Remember: Putting your own research out there won’t necessarily acquire links on its own. Even if you are a well-known resource, your efforts will be better served with outreach to relevant journalists or bloggers. If you’ve got the resources to dedicate to outreach, or the ability to hire an agency to help, this can be an extremely effective strategy that can help to build the authority of your entire site.

Musts for original research:

An original take with supporting dataA solid research methodology (explained in the content)An outreach strategy with custom pitches
Goal: Lead generation

If generating leads is your goal, your content will need to be compelling enough for a prospect to give you their contact information. They know what’s in store for them by giving you their email or phone number, so they won’t sign themselves up for marketing messaging for just average content.

6. Whitepapers/E-books

Although we just talked about original research for link acquisition, original research can also be an amazing way to generate leads if you want to put your research behind a sign-up wall. While the basic principles remain unchanged, find a topic you can create a unique study on, and execute it using a solid methodology. You should focus on the prospective leads you are trying to attain and create a research study or whitepaper that is irresistible to them.

At Kaplan Financial Education, I developed e-books for each licensing prep product line. Using survey data that I gathered from previous Kaplan students, the intent was to help better prepare future Kaplan students for their journey through licensing and starting their career. The setup for creating this type of lead gen content was pretty simple: I pulled a list of previous customers and sent them a short survey via Survey Monkey. I asked:

What do you wish you had known when you were preparing for the licensing test?What advice do you have for new professionals?

After gathering over 100 responses, I extracted the data and grouped them into themes, pulling direct quotes for future insurance professionals. This is still successful lead gen content because it’s evergreen — it tells real stories from real people who have gone through the licensing process and started a relevant financial career. Prospective students can better understand what they are getting themselves into.

At the time, this kind of advice from so many qualified professionals didn’t live anywhere else, making the e-book exclusive content. Qualified prospects were willing to download it for it’s exclusivity and saving them the time of having to conduct multiple informational interviews.

Ideally, when you have lead gen content, you’ll want all of your free content to naturally lead into a call-to-action for your whitepaper or e-book. That way, any traffic that you attain through organic or paid advertising will naturally flow into the download. Creating a pitch at the end of your articles is a good habit to get into, as well as linking within your articles as appropriate.

It’s also a good practice to only ask for the minimum amount of contact information that will allow you to market to these leads. If you plan to send them emails, only collect their email address, for example. The more information you require, the lower your conversion rate tends to be.

Musts for whitepapers and e-books:

An original take with compelling data specifically targeting prospective leadsA solid methodology (explained in the content)Enticing content that leads users to the lead gen downloadMinimal contact information required to download
7. Webinars

Webinars that provide informative content for prospects can be an extremely effective medium for lead generation, particularly if you are using visuals to help explain concepts. The “in person” element also allows prospects to build a relationship (or the illusion of one) with the presenter(s) because they can hear and see the speaker live. You can also play up the exclusivity angle with webinars because the content is only available to those that choose to attend.

Types of webinars that work particularly well for lead gen:

Demonstrations or how-to’sPanel discussions about a relevant, timely topic in your industryAn interview with an industry expertAn in-depth presentation with a fresh take on a timely topic

Similar to e-books and whitepapers, you’ll want to collect the minimum possible amount of contact information on your sign up form. If you only need an email address or a phone number, stick to that. The more you ask for a life story, the fewer sign-ups you’ll receive.

Musts for webinar content:

Unique, relevant topic to prospectsContent that is designed for a real-time, audio and visual mediumMinimal contact information required for sign up
Goal: Revenue

Of course, any content program’s ultimate goal is to drive revenue. Content that leads to conversion directly, though, is often not given as much attention as some of other forms of content.

8. Product pages

Regardless of whether you sell your products online or not, your product pages on your website should be focused on driving action to purchase.

To do this, you should keep your pages simple. Each product, no matter how similar, should have a unique product name and description to keep you clear of duplicate content issues. Focus on what the product is and how it will ultimately improve the life of a customer in a brief description. Bullet points in the description help the user scan and digest the important features of the product. Ian Lurie at Portent recently wrote about utilizing Amazon Q&A to inform what common questions people have about your product, and answering those in your product page bullet points. If you can do that, that’s a winning formula.

Include images of the product, and if necessary, video too for a more holistic view of the product. And add a trust signal. Common trust signals include reviews, a customer quote, or a statistic about how the product helps customers.

Most importantly, you need a prominent, clear call-to-action. It should stand out, be above the fold, and have clear language about what will happen in the next step.

Must-haves for these pages:

Product DescriptionVisual of product (image, video)Call to ActionTrust signal – ie. a quote or review, statistic, etc.

Of course, these are just some of the most common goals I’ve seen in content strategies — there’s plenty more goals out there. Same goes for types of distribution for each of these goals — I’ve only scratched the surface. But if I listed out every possibility, you wouldn’t have made it this far through the post! 

Over to you!

These are just some common goals that have proven effective to me with clients and brands I have worked for. I’d love to know what you think, now: 

Do you agree with my points? Do you have other tactics that work for any of these goals? What different content goals do you have if they weren’t mentioned?

If you’ve got other suggestions or ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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