All posts on December, 2015


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A Year In Review: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Columns Of 2015

Which columns truly captivated our readers this year? We conclude our year-in-review series by highlighting our most widely read columns of 2015.

The post A Year In Review: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Columns Of 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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About Search Engine LandAll Things SEO ColumnChannel: SEOMost Popular StoriesSEO - Search Engine OptimizationSEO: General

Organic Food For Thought: Our Top All Things SEO Columns For 2015

What types of content were search engine optimization (SEO) professionals hungry for this past year? Our most read SEO columns covered topics ranging from Google developments to JavaScript crawling to mobile search — and more!

The post Organic Food For Thought: Our Top All Things SEO Columns For…

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Related Questions Grow +500% in 5 Months

Posted by Dr-Pete

Earlier this year, Google rolled out the Related Questions feature (AKA “People Also Ask”). If you haven’t seen them yet, related questions appear in an expandable box, mixed in with organic results. Here’s an example from a search for “Samsung Galaxy S6”:

If you click on any question, it expands into something that looks like a Featured Snippet:

Currently, Related Questions can occur in packs of between 1–4 questions and answers. Here’s an example of a box with only one question, on a search for “lederhosen”:

Once expanded, a typical answer contains a machine-generated snippet, a link to the source website, and a link to the Google search for the question.

How common are related questions?

We started tracking Related Questions in late July on the MozCast 10K, where they originally appeared on roughly 1.3% of queries. Keep in mind that the MozCast set tends toward commercial queries, and the absolute percentage may not represent the entire web. What’s interesting, though, is what happened after that. Here’s a graph of Related Questions prevalence since the end of July:

You can clearly see two spikes in the graph — one measured on October 27th, and one on December 1st. As of this writing (December 10th), Related Questions appeared on about 8.1% of the queries we track. In less than 5 months, Related Questions have increased 501%. This is a much faster adoption rate than other Knowledge Graph features.

Where do the answers come from?

When you expand a question, the answer looks a lot like another recent Knowledge Graph addition — Featured Snippets. Digging deeper, though, it appears that the connection is indirect at best. For example, here’s an expanded question on a search for “monopoly”:

If you click on that search, though, you get a SERP with the following Featured Snippet:

It’s interesting to note that both answers come from Investopedia, but Google is taking completely different text from two different URLs on the same site. With Featured Snippets, we know that the answer currently has to come from a site already ranking on page one, but with Related Questions, there’s no clear connection to organic results. These answers don’t seem tied to their respective SERPs.

Where do the questions come from?

It’s clear that both the answers in Related Questions and the snippets in Featured Snippets are machine-generated. Google is expanding the capabilities of the Knowledge Graph by extracting answers directly from the index. What may not be as clear, at first glance, is that machines are also generating the questions themselves. Look at the following example, from a search for “grammar check”:

Out of context, the question doesn’t even make sense. Expanded, you can see that it relates to a very specific grammar question posted on Quora. While the topic is relevant, no human would attach this question, as worded, to this search. Consider another example, for “cover letter examples”:

The first and last question are obviously, to a human, redundant. To a machine, though, they would look unique. To be fair, Google has come a long way in a short time — even a couple of months ago, some of these questions were riddled with grammar and spelling errors. As of this writing, I can’t find a single example of either.

Finally, there are the questions that no human would ever ask:

No rational human would ever want to know what kind of meat is in a gyro. It’s better that way.

What’s coming next?

It’s clear that Google is rapidly expanding their capability to generate questions and answers from the index. Both Featured Snippets and Related Questions have evolved considerably since their respective launches, and Google’s ability to understand natural language queries and semantic data is growing daily. It may be months before we fully understand if and how these results cannibalize organic clicks, but it seems very clear that Google no longer considers these features to be experimental and will be aggressively pushing forward question-and-answer style SERPs in the near future.

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All Things SEO ColumnChannel: SEOMobile MarketingMobile Marketing: App Indexing & SearchSEO - Search Engine OptimizationSEO: Content & WritingSEO: EngagementSEO: Mobile SearchSEO: Structured Data & Schema.org

5 Essential Search Trends That Will Impact Online Revenue In 2016

What will search marketers need to focus on in the coming year to stay ahead of the curve? Columnist Jim Yu explores five trends to keep an eye on.

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How [and Why] to Build a Booming Facebook Group

Posted by ryanwashere

Over the last 2 months, I’ve driven well over 6,000 organic Facebook visits to my site.

Facebook Traffic

It’s not coming from a Facebook Page; it’s coming from a Facebook Group.

Several months ago I started my own Group, Digital Marketing Questions — this week we hit 3,000 active, engaged, spam-free members.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.41.53 PM

In this post, I’m going to retrace my steps and tell you exactly how to build your own Facebook Group.

What are the benefits of building a Facebook Group?

Before I tell you how to build one, I quickly need to talk about why you should build one.

Facebook might not be “cool,” but it’s crazy effective

All the kids left Facebook years ago for Instagram (now Snapchat) and a number of businesses gave up on Facebook marketing efforts when “organic reach” plummeted.

Despite this, there are still hundreds of millions of users still on Facebook.

In fact, Mark Zuckerberg posted a status a couple of months ago stating that for the first time in the network’s history, Facebook had over 1 billion active users in a single day.

Let that marinate for a second.

Facebook is a powerhouse that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon — it’s time to re-invest back into the network.

Group updates send notifications to members

Facebook pages and personal posts rely completely on the Newsfeed algorithm for organic exposure. Facebook Groups send users a notification whenever someone posts to the Group, thus driving traffic to each post.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 8.31.57 PM

On mobile as well:

IMG_1055

Facebook gives users the option to silence these notifications. However, if your Group consistently adds value, they won’t.

Groups have more organic “reach” than Pages

A while back I ran a test:

  • My page had 660 likes; My Group had 660 members
  • I took a link from my blog and tagged it with 2 different CIDs in the URL Builder
  • I called tagged the first URL as “Group Test” and the second as “Page Test”
  • I took both appended URLs and posted “Group Test” to my Group and “Page Test” to my Page at the exact same time
  • Results: Group = 122 visits, Page = 8 visits
  • That’s over 15 times the traffic!

Facebook Group Reach

Owning a quality Group is a bargaining chip

Let’s piggyback off the previous point for a second.

  • When the Group had 660 members, we were driving 122 visits per post = 18% visit rate (CTR)
  • A recent post when the Group had 2,700 members drove 600 visits = 22% visit rate (CTR)

With the ability to drive quality traffic with a single post, you’ve got a powerful value proposition. I do a ton of link outreach for clients — including the Group in my pitch has skyrocketed success rate.

I mean, which outreach email would you respond to?

Outreach email 1:

Hey [Editor’s name],

I came across your post [insert URL] and really enjoyed it. I noticed you’re linking out to some posts about [insert topic] and wanted to pitch you on my latest guide that fits in perfectly.

If interested, let me know and I can send you the URL to check out for yourself.

Outreach email 2:

Hey [Editor’s name],

I came across your post [insert URL] and really enjoyed it. I noticed you’re linking out to some posts about [insert topic] and wanted to pitch you on my latest guide that fits in perfectly.

If included, I’d be happy to share it with my active Facebook Group [insert link] that regularly drives over 600 visits every time I post.

Link building (and marketing, really) is about the exchange of value. When you’ve got a solid value proposition in exchange for the link, your acceptance rate goes through the roof.

Can you say… free content?!

Despite the lack of organic reach, Facebook Pages are still a tremendous marketing resource. However, you need invest time into creating content to be successful. This is a full-time job in itself which requires you (or someone else) to spend time managing it.

When properly managed, Facebook Groups run themselves because the content is crowd sourced from members.

All you need to do is stay active on threads and make sure you’re keeping a close eye on spam.

How to build your own active Facebook Group

Hopefully I’ve convinced you about the benefits of building a quality Group. Now, let’s talk about the how…

Step 1 – Create a Group

I’m not going to go into detail on how to create your Group because it’s easier than setting up a Facebook Page.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.30.24 PM

I do want to talk about creating the context of your Group. In other words, what should your Group be about?

Unless you’re a brand, don’t make it about you.

Shopify has a number of helpful Groups geared towards customer support, marketing, general tips, etc. They’re able to build communities based on their brand.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 9.56.54 AM

For those of us who aren’t brands, we don’t have that luxury.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m a nobody. If I would’ve made my Group “Ryan Stewart’s Digital Mastermind”, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because nobody would’ve joined.

Focus the context of your Group on the value it provides to members. I like to approach it like I would content strategy:

  • If you own a coupon website, create a Group focused on exchanging couponing tips
  • If you own a local bakery, create a Group about recipes, holiday treats, etc.
  • If you own an oil-changing business, create a Group for motorheads

Facebook Groups shouldn’t be approached with a conversion or direct marketing mindset. They work best when approached as a branding tool.

If you can create a valuable resource, your brand will grow with the Group by association.

Step 2 – Keep your Group active

Remember, Groups are communities—they need to be focused on what engages members. That means hold off on promoting yourself, your business, and links until you’ve earned the Group’s trust.

How do you build trust? By delivering value.

Create native content for the Group

Some Facebook groups are just a feed of links to the admin’s blog articles.

Don’t do that.

Instead, create native content specifically for the group. Keep ALL the content and engagement within the Group, instead of trying to drive them to your latest post.

In fact, I went a full month without posting a link directly to my site.

Things to try:

  • Polls
  • Images
  • Native video uploads

Make it obvious you’re there to help them.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.31.18 PM

Do this well and when you do post a link to blog/promotion, people will trust you enough to click it.

Step 3 – Promote your Group

A Facebook Group can grow much faster than a Facebook Page (my Group grows 20x times faster than my Page). However, they don’t grow on autopilot. They need a significant investment of time, energy, and resources to drive members.

The key to growing a Group (or anything, really) is making it a priority. If you foresee value in owning a Group, take it seriously by investing the necessary resources into growth.

Get influential people to join

First, let me say this…

DO NOT add people to the Group without their permission.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 8.17.41 PM

2 reasons:

  1. It’s annoying.
  2. Facebook’s algorithm is heavily based on engagement. If you add people who don’t want to be there, they won’t participate. If they don’t participate, your Group’s content will get poor engagement, i.e. poor visibility.

Instead, target influencers in their space and share their content.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 9.49.18 AM

Tag them in the post so they know you shared it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.09.04 AM

They’ll most likely join the Group on their own. This is a huge bonus for Group members and incentive for more to join.

Promote the Group on your site

You’ve got your Facebook Page on your website, right? Why not add (or replace) this with a link to your Facebook Group?

If your website does significant traffic, this is a great way to grow your Group.

Private Group Screenshot

Data shows the standard logos in the header attract little to no attention. Instead, I added a link to my Group in the bottom right-hand corner of my footer and tagged the link with a tracking CID.

Over 3 months, it drove 346 clicks. Not a massive amount, but every little bit helps.

Create “gated content” to entice people to join

It’s not uncommon to create a great piece of content to entice email opt ins (aka “gated content”). Instead of asking for emails, you can drive people to your Facebook group.

For example, I wrote a post about how to create an SEO proposal. I also took the time to create a free proposal template for visitors to download for their own use.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.36.06 PM

I hosted the proposal template within the “Files” section of the Group.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.40.58 PM

To download it, they had to join the Group. Of course, just creating content isn’t enough, we’ve got to promote it as well.

I chose to use organic channels like Inbound.org, GrowthHackers, Warrior Forum, and a few others.Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 7.01.53 AM

This was by far the most effective method I used, not only to gain members, but quality ones as well. Try and focus your promotion efforts in places where your target users are spending their time.

We want to focus more on building a quality, engaged member base as opposed to a massive, inactive one.

Facebook Ads are extremely effective

It took me some tinkering to figure out how to promote the Group with Facebook Ads.

You can’t promote a Facebook Group the way you can with a Page.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 7.13.48 AM

Here’s how to get around it:

  1. Write a post on your Facebook Page and drop a link to the Group
  2. Create a new Ad, select “Boost your posts”
  3. Select the post with a link to your Facebook Group

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 1.45.30 PM

I started by targeting by remarketing list and then expanding to lookalike audiences after that was exhausted.

In honor of full transparency, exact results from the ads are difficult to track.

“Results” are calculated by post engagements, i.e. Page likes, comments, shares, etc. Not included in “results” are people who clicked through and joined the Group.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 1.25.07 PM

From my own calculations, the Group grew 300 members during the 1 week we were boosting the post — that’s three times the organic growth rate.

Even though you can’t directly track new members with analytics, Facebook ads are no doubt a valuable promotion tool.

Drive [indirect] traffic to it

I write a lot of guest posts. Within my posts I often link to my personal website.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.19.46 AM

That site has a big ol’ call to action to join the Facebook Group:

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.18.27 AM

This helps to strategically reach new audiences without directly promoting the group within the post.

You can also use guest posts to drive traffic to your post with “gated” content. Both tactics work well, but this one is slightly more direct.

Cross-promote with other Groups

If you’re consistently adding new members, you can pitch other Group admins to exchange cross promotion posts. I’ve had good success using Facebook’s internal search to find similar groups.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.46.47 PM

It takes a while to find spam-free Groups, but once you do it’s just a matter of tracking down admins, adding them as friends, and sending them a quick pitch.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.47.11 PM

If you’ve got a different audience base, you can add tremendous value to each other by exposing your Groups to new audiences.

Step 4 – Keep your Group spam-free

The biggest knock against Facebook Groups is spam. A Group can turn into a discount Ray Ban marketplace overnight if not carefully watched by the admins.

It’s your job to set and enforce the rules.

It starts with a strong Group description

Leave no room for guessing. If someone joins the Group and immediately promotes a link, they’re banned, no questions asked. It’s entirely too much work to give individual warnings to people.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.27.07 PM

Encourage Group members to flag spam if they see it — stand firm on your no spam rule.

Remind members of the rules from time to time

Some people are in a lot of Facebook groups. They don’t always remember what they can or can’t do in each group.

If you get an uptick in spam in your group, post a reminder about the rules. This has the added benefit of pulling the group together, since the members genuinely want a spam-free place for questions and discussion.

I got tired of repeatedly posted warnings so I created a video and pinned it to the top of the Group. Since doing that, we’ve seen a significant drop in spam posts.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.42.48 AM

Handle rules infractions via PM

Even established members of the group will occasionally break the rules. Usually it’s because they forgot or weren’t sure if something was okay to promote.

In those cases, delete the post, but also PM the offending member and let them know what happened.

Often the person will apologize and that’s all you’ll need to do. If they argue with you, just remember it’s your group, not theirs. You get to decide who stays and who goes.

Occasionally let people know when you ban someone

When you ban someone from the Group, it’s an opportunity to reinforce the pride people feel at being part of the “inner circle.”

They get to stay, because they followed the rules. The other people broke the rules, so they got banned.

This also reminds people to report spam or rules infractions when they see them.

Moderate disputes by PM

Sometimes a passionate discussion devolves into an ugly argument. When that happens, PM to the parties involved and let them know it’s not okay to have a big public fight in the Group.

Usually that will calm things down. If things got really nasty, you also have the option to just delete the entire thread.

Consider getting a full-time moderator

Finally, when your group gets big and active, you might not have time to properly moderate it.

That’s the time to hire a moderator. Often you can find someone who’s already active in the group, knows the rules and is willing to do it for free.

Bottom line — a Facebook Group can turn to spam quickly. Make sure you’re prepared to invest some resources to make sure it stays clean over time.

Conclusion

The numbers don’t lie — my Facebook Group is the strongest brand asset I have.

If you’re looking to build an active, engaged community around the problems your business solves, I strongly suggest you look into creating one of your own.

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About Search Engine LandChannel: SEOLink BuildingLink Building: GeneralLink Week ColumnMost Popular StoriesSEO - Search Engine OptimizationSEO: General

Authoritative Links: Search Engine Land’s 10 Top Link Week Columns Of 2015

Though naysayers continue to predict the death of link building, it’s still going strong. Check out our most widely read link building columns from the past year.

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Channel: SEMGoogleGoogle: AdWordsPaid Search ColumnSearch AdsSearch Ads: GeneralSearch MarketingSearch Marketing: General

3 PPC Trends And Tactics You Can’t Ignore In 2016

Columnist Pauline Jakober discusses what she believes will be big in paid search in 2016, with a look back at some of this past year’s biggest developments.

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Case Study: How Switching Tools Increased Email Reply Rates by 187% in 1 Month

Posted by kelseyreaves

The link building world is in a constant state of evolution. New tools are continually introduced to the market, with SEOs ready to discover what works best. Our outreach team at Modernize recently found ourselves in this position. In need of a new email automation service, we were eager to explore and test out new tools to see what improved our overall outreach system.

Modernize is in the home improvement space, and we focus heavily on energy efficiency and green living — thus, we target lots of green blogs, solar websites, etc. Our aim at Modernize is to be a resource for homeowners and provide quality content so homeowners can make informed decisions when it comes any home improvement project.

When faced with this task of changing our email automation service, we were pleasantly surprised to come across a more effective tool. This recent switch drastically increased response rates and ultimately our number of attainable back links. In an effort to help other link builders increase reply rates, I wanted to detail our process of switching from Get Response to Pitchbox, and how we eventually increased our response rate by 187% in only one month’s time.

The original setup: Get Response and Infusionsoft

Our link building strategy has two main parts that work in conjunction to generate links: our initial outreach email sent via Get Response and our marketing automation built in Infusionsoft. Both parts are essential to our outreach strategy; however, with time we had realized Infusionsoft was working great, while Get Response was causing us some trouble.

To begin, we take the list of prospects we’ve assembled and upload them into Get Response. Next, we craft our initial outreach message using a Get Response template. Each email used similar messaging, although we swapped writing examples based on the vertical we sent to. For example, green websites would be sent samples of our content on “How to Save Energy at Home This Winter” and “Why Solar is Always a Good Investment.” Home decor bloggers were sent our sample content on “Trendspotting: Home Accents in Neon” and “Great Sources for Temporary Wallpaper.”

For each response, we’d create a record in Infusionsoft that contained their basic information, including their first name, the source, email, website name, Domain Authority, and Page Authority. We also place each contact within the appropriate status in the 10-point sales sequence we created.

Here’s each step in that sequence:

  1. Not Interested: The contact isn’t interested in having us contribute content.
  2. Interested: When an individual is interested in learning more about what we are doing. They may ask questions like “What’s in it for me?”, “What is in it for you?”, “Do we have to pay for content?”, etc.
  3. Negotiation: When they’re interested in hearing article topics. We usually pitch 2–3 article topics for them to choose from. We also leave the option open for them to suggest ideas to us.
  4. Article Requested: When we’ve agreed upon an article topic and it’s now time for our content team to write the article.
  5. Article Sent: The article is completed and sent out to be reviewed.
  6. Scheduled: Article is scheduled to go live.
  7. Won: The article is published and live on their website.
  8. Paid: There’s a fee for posting an article.
  9. Lost: If a contact had at one time expressed interest and was moved into the sales sequence, then changed their mind (ex. they did not like the article), we classify them as “lost.” The biggest reason for moving a contact to lost is that we simply never received a response back, even after a series of follow-up messages.
  10. TTYL: When the individual is interested but would like to discuss at a later date.

modernize example photo2.JPG

Example contact in Infusionsoft

modernizeexample3.JPG

Example contact placed into marketing automation within Infusionsoft

We place each record created in Infusionsoft within our marketing automation. If a prospect doesn’t respond within a week, they get an automated follow-up. The messaging varies dependent upon where they are in the sales sequence. Each stage has a series of 5 follow-up messages. If after 5 tries there’s still no response, we move the contact to “Lost.”

Infuionsoft.JPG

Snapshot of 2 stages of our sales sequence built in Infusionsoft

Problems we experienced with Get Response

As we standardized the process, it was clear that Get Response had drawbacks. With Get Response, you’re required to use one of the pre-made templates when sending out a bulk email. We tried to make the template look as “real” as possible. However, the best template we found offered a cupcake-yellow background and unusual centering. As one would expect, our initial email looked very spammy. Furthermore, the “From: 332015@getresponse.com” at the top was a dead giveaway that the email was automated.

Original Message.JPG

With this process, you cannot set up automatic follow-ups to those who do not respond or open the initial email. It’s essentially a one-and-done deal. Therefore, if a prospect didn’t respond to our initial email, we would have to manually export the list, craft a follow up template, and send an entirely new message. Needless to say, this was not a viable option for the volume we were striving to reach on a weekly basis.

Why we made the switch

When making the switch from Get Response, we had certain features we were in need of that the new tool we tried, Pitchbox, was able to fulfill. These included:

  • Follow-up messaging: After the initial email is sent, we wanted the ability to create two unique follow-up messages for those that that do not open the first email, second email, and so on.
  • Lots of personalization: The ability to personalize each email with website name, first name, etc. Pitchbox syncs each website with their Facebook and Twitter, giving us the option to quickly access their social media if we feel the need to mention their latest article or social media post within the outreach message.
  • Synced with Gmail: Our message will be sent through our own Gmail accounts; therefore, it’s a real email that doesn’t come off spammy.

Pitchbox2.JPG

Pitchbox templates, including the initial message and two follow-up messages

Setting up Pitchbox

Our first step when setting up Pitchbox was to connect our outreach email to the account. After we synced our account, we crafted the first outreach message. Minus a few changes in wording, we essentially used the same message in Pitchbox as we had used with Get Response. The pitch read:

secondmessage2.JPG

Over time, we tested different subject lines and discovered our highest-performing subject line was “quick question about: domain.com” that had an average open rate of 60.19% across all verticals.

Next, we went ahead and created the follow-up messages. We wanted the follow-up messages to look as realistic as possible, and therefore used the following message as our first follow-up. The idea was to make it seem like we were replying to the last message we sent them.

Here’s what the follow-up message looked like:

secondmessage3.JPG

The last follow-up message followed in the exact same form:

secondmessage4.JPG

We decided the optimal wait time between follow-up messages was 4 days. This gave us time both to respond to all emails and to follow up close enough to convey a sense of urgency.

Our next step was composing the outreach schedule. Pitchbox sends one email out every 3–4 minutes; with multiple campaigns running at once, it was essential to create an outreach schedule that could handle a large volume of emails. Therefore, our outreach schedule sends out emails every day of the week, 7am until 8pm specific to the recipient’s time zone. We also added another outreach email that helps to split up the volume of the emails.

Now we could send out two emails every 3-4 minutes, not just one. With Get Response, we did have the ability to send out emails all at once, therefore we could test different times of the day to see what works best. Since Pitchbox sends via Gmail, we don’t have the luxury of testing different send times.

Tracking our emails with Bananatag

Pitchbox provides you with awesome analytics, specifically related to response rates. It can differentiate between the different replies, such as an out-of-office response versus an actual response back. It also looks at the opportunity age and accounts for the amount of responses over time. Get Response didn’t have analytics on responses, but it did have analytics on opens and clicks, which Pitchbox does not currently have (though it’s a feature they’re adding in the future). Our weekly reporting focused heavily on response rates as well as open rates, so we needed to find a solution that would track the open rate and click rate of our outreach emails.

After researching our options, we discovered the email tracking service Bananatag. With this tool, every email sent through Pitchbox is given a tag that tracks the interaction.

pitchboxgraph.JPG

Individually-tracked emails found in Bananatag

For reporting, I’d simply export all tags and do a VLookup in Excel to compare email lists sent with the tags Bananatag has tracked. From there, I’m able to find the open rate and click rate for each campaign.

The hard numbers speak volumes

It’s clear in this case; the numbers tell the story. When we were using Get Response as our email automation service, our average reply rate was 16.55%. The accept rate of an individual expressing their desire for an article was 5.32%. When we made the switch from Get Response to Pitchbox, our average reply rate increased by over 187% to 47.44%. The accept rate increased as well: it’s at 7.35% and continues to steadily increase over time.

We also saw a positive increase in open rates of the initial outreach email. With Get Response, the average open rate was 49.59%. With Pitchbox, the average open rate is now 54.76%.

Reasons for the overall increase in performance?

It’s safe to say the switch in email automation service was the reason for the overall increase in response rates and accept rates. We hypothesized that the main reason for the overall increase was the legitimacy of the initial email. Because it’s sent through gmail, therefore looks like (and is) a genuine email. There aren’t any weird alignment issues or off-colored backgrounds — just a good, ol’-fashioned email that looks as if I crafted each one individually. The follow-up messages are also another big reason for our increased reply rates. With Pitchbox, we increase our chances of getting a response with the three message we send, unlike the one chance we got with Get Response.

How could the process be improved?

Moving forward, we really want to test different types of messaging, specifically related to the follow-up messaging and the outreach schedule. Currently, the two follow-up messages we use in our campaign are sent out every 4 days. We’d like to test this and see if we should narrow that time from 4 days to 2, or possibly extend the time in between follow-ups from 4 days to 7. Testing our messaging is also vital to improving the process. Are prospects losing interest too quickly because our message is too long? We plan on A/B testing this in the future, using our original message and a shortened version.

In conclusion

When faced with the task of changing our email automation service, we were pleasantly surprised to have not only improved upon the tools we use in our link building process, but ultimately increase our reply rates drastically — by 187%. Have you had your own success with any particular outreach tools? Share your tips in the comments!

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Channel: IndustrySearch In Pictures

Search In Pics: Google Robot Reindeer, Star Wars Gifts & Dublin Office Gift Box

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Google Dublin Office & The Christmas Gift Box Entrance: Source: Twitter…

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Giving Searchers a Reason to Prefer Your Brand – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s the season of giving, and that notion extends to search! Brand preferences have an almost tangible impact on several levels, from consumer affinity to a rankings boost on Google. In this holiday edition of our now-traditional Whitebeard Friday, Rand explains why it’s important to keep brand recognition at the forefront of your strategy, and offers up a framework on how to get started on giving searchers a reason to prefer your brand.

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to the special Christmas edition of Whiteboard Friday. Now, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, my family is Jewish, at least ethnically, but we still love Christmas. We used to get a tree and presents and all that kind of stuff. But Merry Christmas to all those of you who celebrate religiously or non-religiously, and to all the rest of you, hopefully you’re having a lovely and wonderful December holiday break time, middle of wintertime. The sun’s going to start getting a little higher in the sky. The days get a little longer. I’m really looking forward to that, especially being here in Seattle.

I want to talk today about giving searchers something, a reason to prefer your brand. This is why it is so critical going forward into the next year, into 2016. We have seen that the last few years have been years where Google, where social media sites, where consumers and customers, web users of all kinds and platforms of all kinds have given brands — especially brands that have recognition, that people have an affinity for — they give them a lot of preference. I’ll show you what I mean.

Even small brand preferences can yield these sort of remarkable and amazing results because of the amplification that they receive all the way down the line in your marketing effort. Let’s say, for example, that you are able to get a slight lift in brand recognition, in brand affinity, in recall, and in positive associations. It’s going to do a few things for you.

Raise CTR in search results

First off, it’ll raise your average click-through rate in search results. As a searcher is performing whatever queries they are, the hopefully many thousands of queries that lead to your site, if you appear in position four, five, or six, you might see a slightly higher click-through rate than what you would normally see for an average website ranking in that position because of the brand preference. What this does, actually, is over time it results in higher rankings because Google is set up to reward a long-term click-through rate bump and all the other signals that come with that into higher ranking

So even if you are someone who says, “Ah, I’m not really sure whether Google’s using click-through rate models in my stuff,” they are in a lot of stuff now. Even if you don’t believe that, what’s happening is you’re getting a slightly higher share of visits, which means a slightly higher share of people who can amplify your brand, link to your brand, all those kinds of things. All of those signals over time slowly, positively increase your potential ranking.

Increase return visits to site

Next up, if you have that slight brand preference, you’re going to increase the rate at which visitors return to your site, come back to you through bookmark, through type-in, through branded search, all of those kinds of things. Those forms of returning visits, whether it is branded search or direct visit or a bookmark, that will lead to browser and search biasing. You can see this in all of your browsers.

If I’m on my iPhone or my Android device, if I’m in Google Chrome on a laptop or desktop, and I start typing something, all of those browsers and all of those systems will look for previous patterns that start to match what I’m typing in or voice searching, and they will be more likely to bias to show me those kinds of things. If I’ve been to Moz in the past and I type just “M” into my Chrome browser, I’m likely to see Moz in that dropdown list of things that it suggests to me, particularly if I visit with some real frequency. So you get that preferential treatment.

But this also goes back to helping your rankings up here because brand-based search queries, as Google has shown, can have an impact on non-branded, unbranded query ranking. If lots of people are searching for let’s say “Virgin America flights to San Francisco,” when Google sees the query of flights to San Francisco, they might say, “Hey, you know what, Virgin America should rank a little bit higher because we’ve seen lots of branded search volume for them.”

Improve conversion likelihood & likelihood for social, press, and WoM Aamplification

Obviously, brand lift can help conversion likelihood which leads to more sales. That’s one of the most direct and obvious ones. That’s one of the reasons that big brand marketers invest so much in it. But it’s also the case they will increase the likelihood, so let’s say that you are reaching out through social media or amplifying messages through social media, through press, obviously through word of mouth which may be somewhat under your control and a lot not in your control, all of that amplification will be slightly enhanced each time with additional brand preference, and that means that in the future you have a larger audience for future marketing, future targeting. It’s hugely helpful there.

Perception of value and quality improves

Also, you can see that perception of value and quality actually improves as brand affinity and recall and recognition goes up. You’ve seen this in lots of consumer tests. One of my favorite examples is the Bing study, where Bing looked at replacing Google’s results with Bing’s results, but they had the Google logo and the Google layout, and then they showed Google’s results in Bing. No matter whose results they showed, if they showed the Google logo next to it, people said those were the better results. So essentially, the brand is part of how we judge the quality of something. It is part of that.

This goes to some consumer-based tests around wine, the flavor that you get from wine or the enjoyment you get from wine. If you set something down and it is a recognized bottle known to be very high in price, known to be hard to get, you will actually see areas of the brain light up and perceive that wine to be better tasting and to provide more enjoyment, even if it’s actually filled with cheap $5.00 wine. This psychological preference is actually improving our perception of quality from the brand perspective, and because of that we get higher retention, more recidivism.

So brand can help you in a huge number of ways, both technical through algorithmic and social means, and also psychological means. Worth investing in absolutely, for the years to come, and certainly as the last few years have pushed more and more stuff in web marketing, it becomes essential for all of us.

But how do we do this? I’m not going to be able to get into all the tactical details today. I mean, we could spend a whole Whiteboard Friday on any one tactic in these groups, but I wanted to provide some framework around these groups for you to think about and add potentially to your strategy going into the new year.

Brand values

Things like brand values matching customer values or overlapping with them, or working against them, can impact how a brand is perceived. Most obviously, many consumers are very frustrated with brands like Volkswagen or Enron before that, who we feel like they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes and they’ve been dishonest. Cigarette marketing in the tobacco industry turned off many, many consumers in the western world to a lot of those brands. Then brands that have values that we recognize and respond to, we can see those getting brand lift.

Voice, tone, and visuals

Voice, tone and visuals, this is essentially the style of how you present yourself and whether that matches and has resonance with your audience’s preferences, with their own styles, and with existing cultural cues. So you can see that it’s like speaking the language of your customer, but we’re not talking about a verbal language like English versus Hindi versus Spanish versus German. We’re talking about the resonance on the cultural language level. Are we in the same cultural zeitgeist? Do we have the same cues and recognition? Do we have the same things around nostalgia and associations between concepts, all those kinds of things?

Content

Content, this is one that we talk about a lot, matching your content to your audience’s potential needs, their desires, things they enjoy, their influencers and what their influencers are going to amplify. This is really where content strategy comes into play, because if you take content down to the tactical level only, you are not thinking about the overlap. Well, many times when you’re doing tactical content creation and content amplification, you’re not thinking about the strategic overlap with what’s my audience’s needs, what do they desire, what do they have associations with, what do they enjoy, what do their influencers enjoy, all of that kind of stuff. When you do this, you get closer and closer to making that Venn diagram match, and your content is much more likely to have a strategic, positive impact on brand association.

Brand representatives

Brand representatives, the human beings that we associate with a brand are critically important. In fact, I would say, and many, many marketers have been talking about this for the last couple of years, but more important to a brand’s presence than ever before. We are getting to build brand associations through human associations. Oftentimes that’s founders and CEOs, but many times it is also brand representatives, which can include a large number of people. It can include people who are amplifiers of that brand, not necessarily people who work at the brand, but amplifiers. It can include the testimonials that are present in the marketing messages. It can include brand contributors, whether those are guest contributors or full-time, and of course team members. The big one is often founders and CEOs and sort of the leaders of an organization, but many of these others have influence as well. If those match well to who your customers’ influencers are or the zeitgeist of your customers’ world, that can create additional brand resonance as well.

Pricing and positioning

Pricing and positioning, this is sort of the classic, old-school four P’s of marketing, but the value perceived and the value that is quantifiable against the pricing and the cost associated with the service. Costs, I don’t just mean financial cost, but also setup cost and work-wise and process cost and customers’ own self-perception, meaning that if a customer believes that they are a medium-sized business but you’re selling them a package that’s called enterprise, they may perceive that they’re paying too much. They don’t think of themselves as an enterprise. Even though the enterprise package is right for them and it’s providing the right kind of value, you’re now sort of disconnecting the language of the positioning from what the customer actually thinks of themselves as. That can potentially harm brand affinity.

Psychological nudges

Then, of course, lots and lots of psychological nudges that build associations around a brand. So these are things like familiarity, liking, processing fluency, which we’ve had a whole Whiteboard Friday on processing fluency, I think last year in 2014. Those kinds of things, when I say “processing fluency,” what I’m talking about is the ease with which I recognize something and can make an association. For example, one of my favorite studies around this was the correlation between stock prices of companies that have easily pronounceable names versus hard-to-pronounce names, and you can see that the easier processing fluency of an easier-to-pronounce name over time tends to correlate with higher stock value. Weird. Seems like markets would be more sophisticated than that, but human beings are subject to this stuff. User experience flow, that also fits into the psychological nudges.

As we’re thinking about influencing all this stuff, a lot of times when people talk about brand and building brand, they talk exclusively about brand advertising. But as you can see from all of these categories there’s a lot of organic work that we can do in SEO, in social, in content, in email, in community, in all the channels that we talk about here at Moz that can have a big influence on your brand, and that can have a big influence over time on all of these things positively as well.

All right, everyone. Merry Christmas. If you are celebrating another holiday, may you have a great holiday, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Channel: MobileGoogle: Maps & LocalGoogle: MobileSearch Engines: Mobile Search Engines

Relcy Founder Satapathy Says He Has Built A Better Mobile Search Engine

The founder of mobile search app Relcy, Rohit Satapathy, believes he has built a better mobile search engine. His focus is less on mobile web content, though that’s there, than “apps and actions.” Satapathy and his team for the past two years have been constructing what he says is…

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About Search Engine LandChannel: LocalLocal Search ColumnMost Popular StoriesSearch MarketingSearch Marketing: Local Search MarketingSEO - Search Engine OptimizationSEO: Local

Locally Sourced: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Local Search Columns Of 2015

What aspects of local SEO captured readers’ interest this year? From tactical guides to mistakes to avoid, here are the year’s most widely read local search columns.

The post Locally Sourced: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Local Search Columns Of 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Channel: ConsumerYour Guide To Santa TrackersYour Guide To The Google Santa Tracker

Where’s Santa Claus? Your 2015 Guide To NORAD Tracks Santa & Google’s Santa Tracker

Santa Claus is coming to town! Here’s how to keep track of his approach via the web, smartphone, or even by making a voice call.

The post Where’s Santa Claus? Your 2015 Guide To NORAD Tracks Santa & Google’s Santa Tracker appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas… Moz-Style

Posted by FeliciaCrawford

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all throughout Moz
Not a laptop was whirring, the office on pause.
The colorful Great Wheel spun slow on the pier,
Downtown Seattle alive with good cheer.

The Moz Dogs were nestled at home in their beds,
Dreams of dropped tacos alive in their heads.
And I, staying late to write on the blog,
Had just closed my MacBook, and downed my eggnog.

Whence from down the hall came a soft pitter-patter;
I arose from my desk to spy what was the matter.
Peering ‘round corners, obscured by the dark,
Though I couldn’t see who, something gave a small bark.

Then, lit by the glow of some USB lights,
To my eyes did appear a confusing sight.
With a fuzzy red cap and Muppet-like paws,
Lettie Pickles the Moz Dog looked like…Santa Claus?

Though smaller in stature, with pointier teeth,
Her red hat the colorful glow did enwreathe.
With a very stuffed sack and a beard mighty thick,
No way to deny, she looked just like St. Nick!

As I watched from the shadows, her night’s work begun,
St. Pickles took off with her bag at a run.
From desktop to desktop, from seat to seat,
All Mozzers were gifted with savory treats.

While the flavor of liver won’t everyone please,
To give with abandon, the spirit it frees.
As she sprinted around with a comical gait,
From her magical gift bag did drop some small freight.

Creeping forward to read the scribbled-upon note,
(No crying, I swear! In my eye, a dust-mote).
The night’s giving detailed, no naughty or nice,
Just a list of those needing some holiday spice.

All over the world, dogs old and dogs young,
St. Pickles some holiday cheer will have brung.
As I stood there agape, the note in my hand,
Silent beside me Lettie Claus did stand.

With a wag of the tail and a sparkle of tooth,
No words were required to feel out the truth.
From Moz to the streets, from my home to yours,
It’s all about helping folks win their hard wars.

With all treats delivered and message made clear,
Lettie Pickles leapt off, other homes to appear.
So take just a moment, and Google a cause
Whether for those with two feet, roots, or four paws.

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Channel: IndustryMost Popular Stories

Search Engine Land’s Top 10 News Stories Of 2015: Google’s Quality Update, Mobilegeddon, RankBrain & More

Our annual year-in-review coverage starts with a look at the most popular news stories we covered in 2015.

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In-SERP Conversions: Dawn of the 100% Conversion Rate?

Posted by Alan_Coleman

By now, we’re all pretty used to Knowledge Graph results in the SERPs. But what could it mean when Google offers the ability to make a purchase, a call, book an appointment, or otherwise convert customers within those results? In this video blog, Alan Coleman speculates about a potential 100% conversion rate in the SERPs and raises the question of Google’s role in an increasingly app-centric world.

Video transcript

In this video blog, I’m going to talk to you about a key trend we’ve noticed with Google here at Wolfgang.

12 months ago, the key trend that we were talking about was Google had shifted its focus. From Google’s birth right up until last year, its objective was to get you to the website that was most relevant, most authoritative, most likely to answer your question — whereas what we saw 12 months ago was Google taking a lot more ownership of your journey from question to answer. And what we were seeing 12 months ago was a lot more questions literally being answered on the SERPs, pulling information from Wikipedia, from other websites and giving that to the user directly on Google.

A very recent update to this innovation is that Google is now actually using their own search data to give you further details. Last weekend I was searching for a restaurant and not only did it give me the reviews in the knowledge panel — the website, phone number, and opening hours — it also used its own data to give me the popular times: when I was most likely to get seated in the restaurant, and when it could be a problem.

So, armed with that information, we could go and have a lovely Italian lunch last weekend. But it doesn’t just stop at answering the question.

Conversions facilitated on the SERPs

Google’s methodology has always been to test things out in the organic list first and then, when they’ve learned the mechanics of it, they might try and commercialize it. What we’re beginning to see is not just questions being answered on the SERPs, but we’re beginning to see conversions being facilitated by the SERPs.

What you’re seeing here is someone searching for a medical practitioner. The searcher is actually able to book an appointment directly from the search engine results page.

Another recent innovation: call-only campaigns. Somebody’s searching for a courier, for example, and again, they can call the courier directly from the search engine results without even visiting the website. We’ve also seen click-to-call campaigns, another example of Google users being able to convert directly from the SERP. Very exciting! In theory, we’re talking about 100% conversion rates here: everyone who clicks on your ad becomes a lead or becomes a sale.

There’s also this beta which is currently out — with a very limited number of retailers in the States — whereby searchers are taken from search, to checkout, to placing their order in 3 clicks, all happening on a Google property.

googlepurchase.gif

Image courtesy of Google

Why I believe this is significant:

This is Google safeguarding its position as we move to an app ecosystem. World Wide Web usage is actually in decline of late, because people are moving so much of their web behavior to apps, and Google’s strength has been that it’s our gateway to the Web. Google went down for a period of 4 minutes two years ago, and World Wide Web traffic fell off a cliff — it declined by 40% for that period.

Google is our gateway to the Web. However, if we start moving our Internet usage to apps, Google needs to be relevant there as well. I see that answering questions within Google and on Google, allowing people to convert, again in Google and on Google, is a move for them to safeguard their position as the place where we get our questions answered and where we do our transactions on the Web.

***

Do you have any thoughts on in-SERP conversions? Join the discussion in the comments below!

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