How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar

Social Media

If you’re a social media manager, you need to plan out your entire month of posts. Never leave it to the last minute, trying to come up with new and exciting post ideas day by day.

By creating a social media content calendar, you ensure that all of your posts adhere to your content strategy.

But creating a social media content calendar takes skill and know-how. You need to understand what a social media calendar is, why it’s useful, and how you can go about making one.

What is a Social Media Content Calendar?

If you’re a social media content manager, the first thing that you need to know about your content calendar is that it is an incredibly helpful tool that will let you plan out your social postings on a monthly basis.

Here’s an example of a social media content calendar:

If you’re not already using a social media management tool, then a social media content calendar is usually an excel file, with various tabs assigned to different social platforms. Remember, the posting requirements differ based on the platform you’re using. Facebook has different restrictions than Twitter. Twitter restrictions will be different from Instagram, and so on.

One of the best features of a social media content calendar is that it can help you keep track of themed days of the month.

That can mean two different things.

You can create your own themed days, like Inspirational Mondays or Workspace Wednesdays. It’s a great idea to have these days because you can create a hashtag around them and see if they catch fire.

The other meaning behind themed days of the month is national days. Every day of the year is “National (Something) Day.” There’s everything from National Bunny Day to National Bread Day. Creating social media content based around these holidays can generate interest. Keeping track of them in your content calendar is a great way to plan around them.

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The social media content calendar helps you plan out your content and schedule ahead of time using a system. It can also help you keep track of the images you’re going to share, organizing them week by week and day by day.

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Why Should You Use a Social Media Content Calendar?

Every business that wants to maximize their social media presence should be using a social media content calendar. There’s a reason that 92% of content marketing professionals use social calendars.

A social media content calendar can help you address the challenge of declining organic social media reach in two primary ways.

If you’ve tried to create a social media presence for your business, there’s one thing you probably noticed straight away…

Social media sites are crowded.

Every business is trying to get a piece of the social media pie. That’s because social media is the ideal marketing hunting ground. Practically every demographic has some kind of social media presence, from teens to senior citizens and everyone in between.

Because of this, the social media platforms themselves have seen dollar signs where business marketing is concerned. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t make any money if your organic post goes viral. Facebook and other social media giants want you to pay to boost your posts and purchase ads. That’s how they make their money.

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This was confirmed by Zuckerberg himself in 2018, when he publicly stated that Facebook users would be seeing fewer organic posts from businesses and brands.

One of the only ways to get noticed with organic posting is to approach your social media strategy with a plan.

And a content calendar helps you keep track of that plan.

The social media calendar will help you keep to schedule, a crucial element if you’re looking to make a splash in the social media world. Remember, the more consistently you post, the better your exposure will be. Customers get used to regular postings, and will seek you out in time.

But in order to establish that routine, you have to post on a regular basis.

And you need to plan out your content platform by platform.

You need to keep track of what you are posting and where. The calendar represents an easy record that you can go back and look through.

This record also helps you figure out how you’re doing in terms of social content. If you have a huge influx of comments and follows, you’ll want to remember what you did in order to duplicate your results.

The calendar can help you determine where these spikes occurred and what content was going on each platform.

It’s also important to keep track of the time that you’re posting, and check your results. Remember, different platforms experience high traffic at different times. That means all of your posts should not go out at the same time across every channel.

Finally, another great benefit of a social media content calendar is that it can be easily shared with team members for convenient collaboration.

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Creating a Social Media Content Calendar

Creating a social media content calendar takes a lot of effort. There are a number of steps you’ll have to take before you write the first line of content. There’s a massive amount of work that goes into creating the perfect social media strategy. Your calendar is just one part of that overall project.

Let’s look at the steps needed to make a social media content calendar one at a time and see where to begin.

Step 1: Information Gathering

You could consider the information-gathering stage of your social media content strategy to be an audit of your current social media needs.

In order to improve, you first have to figure out where you are, where you’ve been, and what’s preventing you from getting to where you want to be.

The first step to a good social media audit is determining which platforms you’re currently using and what level of success you’re seeing for all of them. You should take the time to review your results for at least the last six months and use them to rank all of your social media platforms in terms of success.

When you see all of this laid out before you, there’s a decision to be made. Moving forward, you need to decide if you’re going to eliminate anything from your lineup. For example, if you’re seeing no movement from Google+ whatsoever, try to figure out why that is. Are you not posting enough? Are you posting the wrong content? Are you posting at the wrong times?

Or is your audience not on that platform in large numbers?

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If you find that no matter what you do, Google+ just isn’t going to deliver, then it might be time to shut down your Google+ account, or at least put less effort into it.

It’s important to feed the strong, so if you’re getting a lot of interaction on Instagram, that’s where more of your effort (and by extension, marketing budget) should be going.

When you look at all of your social media accounts side by side, you should be contrasting and comparing them to one another.

Are these accounts uniform in terms of branding?

You need to present a united front when it comes to marketing. If your Twitter account looks wildly different from your Facebook, particularly your profile and header images, that could be jarring for potential customers. You want all of your branding to blend. That includes your social media sites and your website.

Do you have access to every account?

Sometimes when an account is neglected for a long period of time, an organization could misplace the login information. It’s important that you don’t have any duplicate pages sitting out there with outdated information. If customers were to search for your business and find that page, it makes you look bad.

When auditing your social media, you also need to figure out what kind of audience you’re reaching (if any) and what kind of audience you want to reach.

You should have a good handle on your ideal customer. Are you creating content specifically with them in mind?

Information on your demographic should be included in the social media content calendar. You can set that up as a static reminder in the heading of your document. That way you never forget who you’re speaking to when creating content.

Step 2: Demographic Study

When creating social media content to go in your calendar, there are a few key questions that you need to ask.

Who are your customers?

What do they want?

Once you understand the demographics you serve, you’ll be able to create better content that is geared specifically toward their interests. Once you’ve done that, it should be a simple matter to get them to participate in discussions.

Does your existing demo differ platform by platform? You need to figure out where the eyes of your audience are. Once you know that, put more effort into placing your content there. Don’t expect your customers to come to you. You have to go to them.

All of the content in your calendar should be tailored to each platform that you’re posting on. This is not a one size fits all approach. Content created for Twitter will differ from content created for Facebook.

Once you know what your audience is looking for and where they are looking, you can create tabs in your calendar file for each specific social media site.

Step 3: Create a regular schedule

The purpose of your social media calendar is to keep your posting to a schedule. Before you can start filling out content, you first have to decide what that schedule is.

How often are you going to post? That’s a question that can only be answered by understanding your audience. You don’t want to annoy them by popping up in their feed too often.

What time will you post?

As we mentioned above, this should differ on each platform, but (in general) here’s a good place to start:

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Step 4: Decide on Your Content Voice

What kind of content do you want to share? Should it be serious? Silly? Both? If you’re going to create both, what is the ratio you’re going for?

You also need to decide if you’re going to be creating posts that are designed more for engagement, and how often you are going to “shill” your products or services, if ever.

If your demographic seems open to creating user-generated content, you should invite that. Set up themed days for them to participate in. Try something like “Furry Friend Fridays,” where your Fans or Followers can post pictures of their pets.

Step 5: Create a Database of Content

Collect a library of useful articles, images, and concepts to share with your audience. Keep them in a folder and be ready to pop them into the calendar at a moment’s notice.

When you list this content, make sure that you mark any time-specific information. You don’t want to sit on a good article only to have so much time pass that it’s no longer relevant.

Step 6: Add the Content

Once you know when to post and what you’re going to post, it’s time to input all of that information into your calendar. You should have a set time where you do this every month.

For example, you could take the last week of the month to create a calendar for the next month. This ensures that you won’t forget to create the content and have to scramble to be ready for the month ahead.

Consistency is important in your preparation as well as your posting.

Step 8: Share Your Calendar

Make sure that you’re sharing your calendar with your supervisors and colleagues. That presents an opportunity to get feedback from the rest of your team.

Make adjustments to your content strategy based on calendar feedback. Sometimes it’s hard to critique yourself, and the people you work with might see things from a different perspective. Ask the sales team for advice. They speak with your audience on a more frequent basis and should have a good handle on what they’re looking for.

Helpful Tools

If you need a helping hand in getting started with your social media calendar, there are a number of online tools that you can turn to that will help you get moving in the right direction.

You’re going to want to use a pre-made template for your first calendar.

Here is a list of four templates that could help you get started.

  • Hubspot Template
  • com Template
  • SmartSheet Templates
  • Small Biz Trends Template

In Conclusion

All up and coming social media content managers need to develop a system.

And the most effective and widely-used system in play is a social media content calendar.

By inputting all of your social information ahead of time and keeping it organized, you’ll start seeing increased engagement and higher levels of brand awareness in no time.

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The post How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar appeared first on HigherVisibility.

3 Nonprofit Marketing Tactics Every Business Can Learn From

It’s been one heck of a year, and we’re only halfway through. Businesses are struggling in the pandemic, and there’s no clear end in sight to this period of chaos. Companies big and small need to figure out how they’ll continue growing and generating income.

But typical approaches to marketing and advertising are just not going to work.

Why? Because people’s needs have shifted drastically, and people are used to personalized marketing. A look at actual search trends over the last few months, compared to previous years, shows that interests across the board have shifted. So even if you’re hitting up the right audience, you may not have a clear understanding of what they actually need right now.

So what can you do to market effectively with an audience that is harder to connect with now?

Draw inspiration from an unexpected source: nonprofits.

nonprofit marketing tactics intro image

I want to look at three staple nonprofit marketing channels that any business can adopt:

  1. Nonprofit storytelling methods
  2. Nonprofit email marketing
  3. Nonprofit social media marketing

But first, let’s talk more about what defines nonprofit marketing.

What makes nonprofit marketing so special?

Nonprofits marketing takes place with limited resources, small teams of individuals performing multiple roles, and lots of competition (every other nonprofit that needs donations).

In that way, nonprofits are very much like start-ups or small businesses. These organizations need to do a lot with very little.

COVID-19 ad example

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On top of that, what they “sell” is immaterial: a social good. You can’t hold it, you can’t use it, and as a donor, there is usually no direct benefit to you.

So what makes nonprofits so effective at marketing? Their ability to connect on an emotional level. It’s arguably easier for nonprofits to connect with their audiences emotionally since these organizations serve a social good.

Still, every business has the ability to connect on a deeper level with their audiences, too. If that’s something your brand has struggled with before, now is definitely the time to take some notes!

Nonprofit storytelling

Storytelling is an effective way to communicate information. Data and statistics by themselves don’t evoke a lasting emotional response the way stories do. And winning people over emotionally is what makes them care about a cause. Or in the case of a business, its product or service.

Every product has a story behind it. A person who faced a problem, then discovered the product that was the perfect solution, and went on to experience oodles of success. Now, how do you tell a good story? Through visuals! I want to show you two very different examples. First, the World Bicycle Relief and its video on helping dairy farmers. Take a look.

Let’s break down the narrative to understand how World Bicycle Relief gets its message across.

A breakdown of the narrative

First, we are introduced to people who have a job to do. They face a challenge that they cannot overcome on their own. Then with the right tool—a bicycle—they succeed. With access to this bicycle, more things begin to fall in place. People can grow their cooperative, increase productivity and improve more lives. The initial benefit of the bicycle is compounded.

Why it works

Seeing real people describe this journey and their experiences moves us emotionally. We experience the feelings they do as they describe the impact a bike had on their lives. That sense of transformation and hope is something we enjoy as well, which is why the video sticks.

So how many bikes did World Bicycle Relief give out? In 2018 alone, World Bicycle Relief fund distributed 54,896 bikes around the world by raising over $15M! Not too shabby …

Videos are not the only storytelling medium out there. In some cases, they may be a little costly to produce or you just don’t have the team capable of doing it. Not a problem!

Nonprofit infographics are great examples of how data visualization can be used to narrate a story, too.

Just take a look at this infographic from The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

nonprofit infographic example

Source

Personally, I love this infographic. The illustrated icons are great, the colors are warm and vibrant, the color palette itself is funky and creative. It’s a pleasure just to look at! It’s also easy to read and take in.

But it’s not just a gorgeous infographic, it’s packed with data and a clear narrative.

A breakdown of the narrative

First, you’re introduced to the amount of harm human activity is causing to oceans. The figures are just staggering. You’re sufficiently shocked and concerned.

Then, you’re presented with the value of oceans, their importance to our survival, our economy, and our way of life. These are things you may not have known before (I certainly didn’t). The ways oceans sustain us is tremendous and made undeniably relevant to anyone reading the infographic.

Then, a ray of light: The solution is presented to us. A major problem can be tackled through minor changes in habits. There is no call for donations or volunteers—just some new habits.

Why it works

The infographic takes on a problem so vast we can barely wrap our minds around it. But it frames the solution in a way that’s so simple, we can get behind it. That’s it!

How does this all relate to for-profit marketing?

Alright, so how does any of this carry over into marketing a product and generating revenue?

In the context of a business, storytelling needs to zero in on a problem pertinent to your target audience. There are problems that a majority of small-business executives face, that differ from the problems that start-up marketers face, or B2B sales executives face.

Storytelling in marketing is a three-step process:

  1. Identify the issues your target audiences deal with.
  2. Position your product as that solution.
  3. Illustrate life after discovering your product.

That’s the narrative you want to construct.

Being able to capture the experience of your target market lets you establish an emotional connection. You show that you really understand the problem your potential customer faces, and you have created a solution specifically for them.

Demonstrating that level of understanding of your audience does the two things I mentioned earlier. It acknowledges the shift in priorities that your target audience is facing now, and it continues to be personalized and relevant to just them.

2. Nonprofit email marketing

Many businesses can get complacent with their email marketing. It’s natural. There are a lot of channels that can be optimized to increase sales and revenue, but only enough resources to focus on a few. Marketing teams are often small and setting up effective email funnels or improving existing ones is difficult.

But the reward for your efforts is certainly there.

Oberlo’s email marketing stats post shares some insightful data on the topic. The global average email open rate is around 20%, which doesn’t seem too bad. However, optimized emails can get close to 50% open rates!

Open rates aren’t enough to make your business swim—you need to engage your customers and get them to take actions. Personally, I like the approach taken by St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that funds pediatric cancer research.

What they do really well is prime me to expect more emails from them (genius!). Their emails typically mention that I can expect another email sharing more information.

Here’s an example of the first email I got from them.

nonprofit email marketing example

Simple but effective, and here’s why.

First, it’s considerate and human. This email is like a friendly neighbor saying hello as you’re moving into a new place. There’s nothing marketing-focused or sales-y about it.

The second thing it does? It primes me to expect more emails about their organization and the work they do.

That’s important.

Priming in marketing is key. It prepares your audience to see more content from you. You’ve planted a seed. They’re expecting something, they’re curious, and so they’re more likely to be receptive to what you share.

As an organization, this gives you the freedom to break up your emails, rather than being overly general or trying to address too many specific things all at once. Instead, you have the freedom to build out a specific campaign the way you want, and your audience is okay with it.

This is an approach carried throughout St. Baldrick’s emails. The subject lines tell you what to expect (while keeping things casual).
;

subject line example

That one sentence gives St. Baldrick’s the flexibility to educate me in small, bite-sized, digestible emails without overwhelming me. They prime me to see more emails in my inbox and generate anticipation by not telling me everything all at once.

The email copy also primes and nudges me in small, but important ways.

nonprofit email marketing copy

Something small, like letting me know they’re breaking up their emails “over the next few days” is also thoughtful. They don’t want to overwhelm me with information. They also don’t want to ask me for anything without educating me about their organization, the work they do, and the value of that work, first.

Basically, they want to win me over and in a way that’s not aggressive. Most importantly,everything about this email feels personable, human and genuine.

As a business, you can also craft email copy that helps you establish a human connection. Constantly selling is never a good idea. Being patient, sharing information, and providing value are what really matter.

Testing is an email marketing best practice and should be ongoing. With a number of different email marketing tools like Moosend or Mailshake, you can track open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates and compare the way campaigns perform.

On that note, I want to revisit an old marketing approach popularized by the ever-awesome Gary Vaynerchuk.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

As a business, you can make the mistake of constantly selling through email marketing. But with a thoughtfully constructed funnel, you’re also in a position to give.

This is an approach Gary Vaynerchuk outlines in his popular and still highly relevant book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It’s forever-relevant as a marketing approach.

jab, jab, jab, right hook image

By giving things for free repeatedly, you accomplish the following:

  1. Demonstrate clear value to your business and product.
  2. Establish trust and credibility.
  3. Amplify the value of paid products or services.

Oh, and increase the chance of conversions! Can’t forget that.

As people get used to your content, your insights, your products or services, you ingratiate your business into people’s lives. They start using your stuff, they rely on your emails, they discover how helpful you are, and they get used to your content.

That’s when people will pay for more.

With a considerate, human approach to copywriting, paired with a habit of giving, your email marketing game will take off!

3. Nonprofit social media marketing

Social media for businesses is a great way to craft a brand voice and brand identity. It’s a space where you can highlight the real people powering your brand, encourage conversations, and share insights.It’s a space to share achievements, show off a little bit, and demonstrate your value.

Plenty of nonprofits rock at social media marketing, while keeping things simple. Let’s go through a few great examples.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Here’s a post from the ACLU’s Instagram account.

ACLU Instagram post

There’s so much to love in this post.

In honor of Pride, the ACLU chose to highlight their LGBTQ staff members. With just a simple post, we learn so much about one of the folks working at the ACLU. Gerardo Romo is far more relatable to us, than the ACLU is as an organization.

The post also encourages people to ask him questions. It’s a great way to drive engagement.

This gives people the opportunity to learn about Gerardo, ask him life questions, tough questions, technical questions, silly questions, everything. In this instance, Gerardo represents the ACLU brand, its culture, its values and its mission in all of his responses.

In the same way, your team members can humanize your brand and make it relatable. It’s also a way to position your team members as thought leaders in the space you own. Even if you’ve ran AMA sessions on Twitter or other platforms, consider chatting about topics that don’t tie directly into your business.

Girls Inc.

Take a look at this post.

Girls Inc. Instagram post

This post from Girls Inc. is simple, mission-focused, and authentic. Delaney shares her personal experience coping with this pandemic and social distancing. She highlights Girls Inc. as an invaluable support system throughout this time.

What’s important about this post?It validates the organization’s commitment to its mission.

For a lot of businesses, the mission statement is just that—a statement, and oftentimes a vague one. But your mission statement is an objective that goes beyond revenue and sales, it is an ideal that propels a company forward, defines its culture, the people behind it and more.

Highlighting how your brand upholds its commitment to its mission can win over new customers, especially if existing customers can speak to that for you.

Water4Mercy

At some point, you have to go in with the right hook! But there are smart ways to do it. Water4Mercy’s post is simple.

Water4Mercy Instagram post

It compares our level of privilege and entitlement on this side of the world, with the hardships of those in developing nations to elicit empathy.

And then it encourages you to donate.

Why compare those two types of experiences first?Well, we can relate to our own experiences more than we can with the experiences of others.And so what the post effectively communicates is the freedom you had at seven years old, these girls don’t. You can change that. Framing the ask with that kind of comparison helps people empathize.

In the same way, when you understand what your target audience experiences on a regular basis, you can use that to create comparisons. What they deal with right now, versus what they experience with your product or service.

Sharing statistics, data, trends, or just experiences that are unique to your target audience will get their attention. Framing the solution that your product or service provides in the context of their frustrating experiences has a greater impact.

Take these cues from nonprofit marketers

If there’s one thing to take away from these nonprofit marketing approaches, is that extra step many nonprofits take to really get a point across. Sometimes it’s through a compelling narrative that draws you in, at times it’s very genuine and personable copywriting, and other times it’s different ways to highlight the brand and its values (not just the work it does).

These are just a handful of nonprofit marketing examples that stood out to me, and I encourage you to start following nonprofit organizations on social media or subscribing to their email lists. If you already have, then start taking a closer look at how they position themselves and their marketing copy.

Remember, most nonprofits aren’t doing anything costly or complex. They don’t have the resources for that. They’re also not doing anything way out there, just typical content marketing approaches with a dash of ingenuity and authenticity.

About the author

Jeilan Devanesan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online graphic-design tool. He writes on nonprofit marketing, content marketing and visual communication. He has written for CMI, Clutch, Classy, Nonprofit Hub and other publications. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn’t all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you’ll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.

It’s what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.

This is a really, really big deal. It’s something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you’re looking to get this deal.

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

You’re going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, “Okay, your competitors are here, and you’re currently here and this is why,”and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.

☑ Emphasize quick wins

I almost didn’t put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to…

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

You don’t want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can’t deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they’ve done in the past, what agencies they’ve worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.

☑ Prioritize your terms

So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, “Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?” Really important to think about as you go in.

☑ Flinch!

This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, “Oh, is that the best you can do?” It’s super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, “Nice flinch.” But it does tend to help you get better deals.

So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It’s so funny.

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

The words “fair” and “comfortable” do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can’t argue with fair. “I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair.”

You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.

☑ Never be the key decision maker

I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they’re the CEO.

They are this. You don’t have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.

Tips for negotiation newbies

So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, “I can never go on my own. I can never do these things.” I’m from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.

☑ Power pose!

I’m not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there’s a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.

Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.

☑ Walk the walk

You’ve got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.

☑ Good > perfect

Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It’s totally normal, but it’s good to acknowledge that it’s so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.

Take inspiration where you can find it

I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy’s old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They’re so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people’s reactions piece by piece that they brought out.

So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, “Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you’re leaving.”

They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone’s business. It just shows that you care, and you’re able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.

☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money

One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.

It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.

So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

Still not convinced? Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, is here to share five highly persuasive reasons to attend!

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!

Why You Shouldn’t Rank Your Homepage (And What To Do Instead)


One of the most common mistakes we see in SEO is trying to optimize the homepage for every keyword you want to rank for.

This can dramatically reduce your ability to rank for what you want to – AND can even hurt your rankings.

Here are the top reasons why you shouldn’t try to rank your homepage, and what to do instead:

1. The Business Case For Not Optimizing The Homepage

Successful businesses often offer multiple services and products at some point, even if they don’t when they begin.

When you eventually add those services, your homepage won’t be able to rank for all of them.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you start out selling 1 product, blue widgets, so you set up your site to be optimized for that:

homepage optimization

This is cool, until your business grows bigger, then later on down the road, you realize your customers want green widgets, red widgets, big widgets, and small widgets.

Then you start selling widget repair services, widget management, widget insurance, and more.

And then as you get bigger, you expand to have more locations. Now you have locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and London.

But the problem is, your website is just structured to rank for 1 product, so now it doesn’t make sense.

There is no way that Google is going to rank your homepage for:

  • Blue widgets
  • Red widgets
  • Big widgets
  • Widget Insurance
  • Widget Repair
  • Widget Management
  • Los Angeles widgets
  • Chicago widgets
  • London widgets

Your title tag would have to look like this:

stuffing title tag

That’s not going to work. Plus, Google usually only displays 50-60 characters of your title tag anyway (this is a faked screenshot for demonstration!)

But that’s not the only problem with trying to rank the homepage….

2. Wrecking Your Rankings Because Of Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization is when you try to rank two pages for the same terms and topic.

This often happens when you try to rank your homepage and rank a subpage.

Google will see that you have 2 pages with the same topic and get confused about which one should actually rank… and many times ends up not ranking either one of them.

Alternatively, it can cause an undesirable page (your home page) to rank ahead of your service page — which actually is about the search query.

It can effectively drag down both rankings in the long-term.

Here’s an example of what that looks like:

This is a screenshot from Ahrefs (an SEO tracking tool). Each color graph represents a different page on the site.

You can see in this example that one page will start to rank, then Google will drop it and try to rank another one.

This cycle continues and none of the pages rank to their full potential because Google can’t figure out the correct one.

3. Usability: Get The User To The Right Page From The Beginning

When a user finds your website, it would be optimal for them to land on a page that talks specifically about what they were searching for, not a homepage that lists everything.

When users land on a specific page that is exactly what they are looking for – they get right to where they need to go without needing to browse.

4. Conversions On The Homepage

This is more of a personal preference, but I really like to use our homepage to focus on conversions vs rankings.

To me, our homepage gets hit more and more as our brand grows, and I want the freedom to do whatever I want with it vs. needing to put 2000 words of text on it to try and rank for a certain keyword.

Our homepage now is still very simple and encourages people to sign up. It works.

So, with all that said, how do you fix these issues?

What To Do Instead

The fix is pretty simple – just build out separate pages for each specific topic (product, service, category, location) that you want to rank for.

For instance, you would build out a page for each product:

Products
/blue-widgets/
/red-widgets/
/green-widgets/

Service
/widget-insurance/
/widget-repair/

Locations
/widgets-los-angeles/
/widgets-chicago/

..and rank each of these page for what they are actually about.

Essentially, you need a page on your site for every keyword topic you have in mind. If you don’t – you need to build it!

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to build out a page for every single variation of a keyword you have, Google often will rank 1 page for many variations.

If you need help building out new service pages, check out our copywriting product, HOTH Web Copy, where we craft pages to attract your target customer, explain the features, and drive customers towards a sale.

Optimizing The Homepage

For your homepage, optimize it for your brand and general category. Explain to users and Google what you do in a broad sense.

That can look something like this:

homepage onpage optimization

Most people should find your homepage because they are searching for your brand.

Your home page title should say what you do in general terms, but in general, you shouldn’t count on this to rank.

Your sub-pages are going to be what puts you on the map when a searcher enters the term.

Pass Link Juice From Your Homepage

Your home page is often one of the most powerful pages on your site – so you don’t want to waste it.

Use this to pass the link juice to your most important pages by linking to them.

Build quality links with CTAs (call to actions) from your home page to each of your service pages.

You’ll want to leverage that link power from your home page at the same time that you’re building external links to your inner pages.

Conclusion

There are lots of reasons to NOT rank your homepage – but that doesn’t mean you can’t rank. All you need to do is build up specific pages for each topic.

Want some hep building out pages for each of your services or areas? You’re going to love HOTH Web Copy.

The post Why You Shouldn’t Rank Your Homepage (And What To Do Instead) appeared first on The HOTH.

The Ultimate Free Business Directory List for the USA – Updated 2020

Growing your online visibility via local business directories (also known as building citations) is integral to your local marketing strategy. Using a business directory list like the one below helps to increase search rankings, build trust and authority with search engines, and gives potential customers a greater chance of finding you online.

There’s a wealth of free business directory lists out there (many of which we’ve published ourselves), but we’re confident that this list of the top 50 is the very best place to start if you’re working int the USA.

Not in the USA? Check out the top free international citation sites!

Top 50 Free Business Directories for the USA

The following local business directories have been selected based on Domain Authority (DA) gathered in June 2020.

Business DirectoryDA
Google My Business100
Apple Maps100
LinkedIn Company Directory98
Facebook96
Bing94
Yelp93
Foursquare93
Better Business Bureau91
Map Quest90
YellowPages88
AngiesList85
Manta80
NextDoor77
JustLanded76
Merchant Circle73
SuperPages68
n4964
YellowBook60
Local59
Spoke58
BrownBook58
AmericanTowns58
Infobel58
CommunityWalk57
ChamberOfCommerce57
HotFrog56
eLocal56
BOTW55
EZLocal54
StoreBoard54
Tupalo52
Cylex USA52
Cybo51
iBegin50
Hub.biz50
ShowmeLocal50
Lacartes49
CitySquares48
eBusinessPages47
CallUpContact47
Tuugo47
A Greater Town46
2FindLocal45
GoLocal24/745
ExpressBusinessDirectory45
Yellow.Place45
ParkBench45
Opendi US42
iGlobal42
MyHuckleberry40

If you need further clarification of what an online directory or local business directory is, here’s a quick explanation:

A business directory is a website that indexes businesses based on their industry niche, location or category, similar to the Yellow Pages. Within the list, you’ll have the business Name, Address, and Phone number (known as NAP), along with a link back to the business website.

Submitting your business to local business directories with consistent information and links helps you build citations. Citations help search engines such as Google identify your business and can help to increase organic rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Consistent NAP provides a trust signal to Google, whilst the backlink to the business’s homepage benefits SEO. If business directories rank above your website in SERPs, then it makes sense to be listed in those directories too, right?

Now that you’re clear on the importance of adding local businesses to online directories, don’t postpone it – work through the table and begin the process today.

Not enough time on your hands to sort it? Let BrightLocal build and fix your listings on top business directories – quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively.

The post The Ultimate Free Business Directory List for the USA – Updated 2020 appeared first on BrightLocal.

Top 100 Free International Citation Sites – Updated 2020

Top 100 Free International Citation Sites – Updated for 2020

Citation Builder has been nurtured and developed over the years to provide you with the best, most efficient service. However, whilst we’d love to achieve world domination, expanding our citation building service on an international level takes time.

That’s why we’ve set you up with the next best thing in the meantime: a comprehensive list of 100 international citation sites that can be used to build citations across nearly 200 countries.

We’ve conducted extensive research into both international citations and local seo citations for each country listed in the table, and while we found a few helpful blog posts and lists along the way, there was nothing very extensive or broad in its geographic coverage.

We know how helpful such lists can be when SEOs and marketers are conducting citation research, so we’ve updated our free resource of international citation sites for 2020.

What are international citations?

International citations are sites and mapping services that cater to business listings in multiple countries.

There are multiple national or local citation sites that cover one to two countries (e.g. the USA and Canada), but there are not as many sites available which have global coverage. However, these international sites are very useful for local SEOs and marketers who wish to work with businesses in different countries across the globe.

How to navigate the table

The table below displays 100 top citation sites and their Domain Authority. We have listed the exact number of countries per citation site in the table.

Some of these sites serve dozens of countries, which is obviously too many to show in a table, so we’ve hidden the countries served in this display.

It’s easy to see the sites that serve a particular country, though! Use the search box at the top right of the table to filter by country. The table will automatically filter the sites and remove any that are not applicable.

Click here to see the full list of countries included.

When searching, just enter the country name or standard abbreviation, e.g.

  • France – enter ‘France’
  • United Kingdom – enter ‘UK’ or ‘United Kingdom’
  • United States – enter ‘USA’ or ‘United States’

Search Help: Please note that you don’t have to press ‘Enter’ in the search box. The table will automatically update as you start typing, even if the change is a subtle one.

Please Note: Citation sites listed here aren’t necessarily ones we can submit to using Citation Builder. Click here for more information.

The post Top 100 Free International Citation Sites – Updated 2020 appeared first on BrightLocal.

Social Media Image Sizes – 2020

social media image sizes

Social media platforms are always being updated, which means they’re frequently changing their profile and cover photo dimensions, layouts, and requirements for uploaded images. It can be tough to keep track of it all. We understand you’re busy; you can’t spend all your time sweeping the Internet for information that’s bound to change again tomorrow.

However, high-quality and creative imagery is imperative to social media marketing success, so it’s important to know the proper dimensions for each network you use.

That’s why we decided to gather the information for you and keep it in one continuously updated place for your convenience. We also sprinkled in some social media image best practices. Pretty handy, huh?

We thought so, too.

Facebook Image Sizes

Featuring high-quality imagery on Facebook shows your audience that your business is legitimate, reputable, and pays attention to the details (no matter how small).

Facebook wants to provide a positive user experience and prevent advertisers from being overly promotional or spammy, so they check to see how much text is featured in each image.

Use this tool to see if your images adhere to Facebook’s text-to-image ratio.

Facebook Profile and Cover Photo Dimensions

Most businesses use this space for their logo rather than a person’s photo. However, if your business is run by you and only you, using a photo of yourself might not be a bad idea.

As for your cover photo, you’ll notice that your desktop display looks a little different from your mobile device. That’s because Facebook is trying to create a better experience for users depending on the device they’re on.

In order to cater to both mobile and desktop displays, we recommend keeping the safe zones in mind:

  • 90 px on both the right and left sides of the image are visible on desktop
  • 24 px on both the top and bottom of the image are visible on mobile

 

Facebook Shared Image (Timeline & News Feed) Dimensions

These images appear both on your timeline and in most of your followers’ news feeds. With the decline of Facebook’s organic reach, try asking your fans to like or share your photos to gain visibility without a significant financial investment. Or consider paying a small fee to boost your posts to ensure that your audience sees it in their feed.

Facebook Shared Link Photo Dimensions

If you’re sharing a link to your business’ Facebook Page, there are a few more elements to consider and formats to choose from. When you paste a link into your status, depending on the size of the images on the web page, you’ll be prompted to include a carousel of up to 10 images. You also have the option of sharing the link without using the image—which can come in handy if you’d rather upload a new image to share with the link instead.

Pro Tip: Sharing images and links from other sources allows you to post relevant content to your page when you don’t have time to create your own. It’s also a great way to share content contributed by your audience or other businesses and keep promotions to a minimum.

All Facebook Image Dimensions

Instagram Image Sizes

Instagram is all about visuals, which should make the importance of high-quality images blatantly obvious for this social network.

Instagram Profile Photo Size

As with some other platforms, the profile photo is a circle that shows up next to all of your posts and at the top left of your profile page. For businesses, it’s a great idea to use your logo here so all of your photos are associated with your brand.

Now when you go to post on Instagram, you have a few more options available to you than in the past.

Square photos are no longer the be-all-end-all on this platform (though when you look at the grid view of your profile page, they will show as a square). You have the ability to upload portrait- and landscape-oriented photos and videos, as well as a carousel of up to 10 photos per post.

And, to ensure images look sharp across all devices with high-resolution displays, Instagram strives to upload your images at the best quality resolution it can (up to a 1080-pixel width).

Pro Tip: This is a great place to show your company culture, what happens “behind the scenes” of your business, the process of creating your products, customers using your products, etc.

All Instagram Image Dimensions

Twitter Image Sizes

Known for its real-time social buzz, Twitter is also an extremely popular customer service and experience tool for businesses.

Twitter Profile and Cover Photo Dimensions

Your profile photo will be visible not only on your profile, but in your news feed and next to a link in the “Who to follow” box. Most businesses use their profile photo as a place for their logo because it is seen practically everywhere: when you Tweet, when others Retweet your Tweet, when their Retweet gets Retweeted, and so on.

Your cover photo, however, is only seen when a user clicks to your profile—but that doesn’t mean it’s not important! It’s a large photo across the top of your profile, so you want it to be high-quality and represent your brand.

Twitter recommends that you upload your cover photo dimensions at 1500 x 500 pixels, but because the cover photo is responsive, yours may end up looking larger or smaller depending on the size of your browser or screen.

To be safe, we suggest keeping all-important content and design elements of your cover photo within the safe zone. ?

And when you’re creating your cover photo, don’t forget to account for your profile photo in the bottom left corner!

Pro Tip: Cover photos are a great place to describe what your brand does, display a new product, or use as free advertising space.

Twitter Timeline Photo Size

Twitter may have a limit of 280 characters, but you can use visuals to assist in representing your brand and enhancing your shared content.

Attaching a photo to your Tweet used to take away 23 characters (because it needed the URL to link to the photo), but now, links and media attachments (e.g. photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) are no longer counted in the Tweet character limit.

And it’s a good thing too because Tweets with images are over a third more likely to be Retweeted than those with only text.

All Twitter Image Dimensions

TweetDeck Image Sizes

You can’t make separate images for Twitter and TweetDeck since TweetDeck is not a separate social network, so everything you post on one site will show up on the other (there’s no way around it).

However, you still want to take into consideration the way that your Twitter images appear on TweetDeck because the dimensions do vary in size a bit.

Pro Tip: Some of your header image design will be covered by your profile photo and bio in TweetDeck. So if you have important text or imagery that you’d prefer be seen at all times, be careful about centering those elements.

PLEASE NOTE: Any images you upload to Twitter will appear on TweetDeck, so you cannot have two different image sizes. However, be sure to keep the below dimensions in mind when creating Twitter images to ensure that they render well across both platforms.

Google My Business Image Sizes

Engage with your customers and keep a fresh presence on Google with eye-catching imagery that will help you stand out in both the search results and on Maps.

Google My Business Profile and Cover Photo Dimensions

Consistency is key with Google My Business (GMB)—ensuring that your brand is easily recognizable right from the search results page.

With a strong GMB profile photo that represents your company (most commonly, it will be your logo!) and a cover photo to show some personality, you’ll make a great first impression when your business is searched for.

Pro Tip:Your cover photo is shown when a user is searching in Google Maps. Within your GMB account, you can choose what image you would prefer to display here, however, keep in mind, it does not guarantee that it’ll be the first image to populate for your business.

Google My Business Posts Dimensions

GMB posts allow you to push events, updates, blog posts, offers, and company news directly to the Google search results page.  Posts offer a unique and visual way to attract the interest of people searching for your brand. These posts only stay active for a week, so be sure to update them frequently.

You can start posting from directly within the Google My Business interface. Be sure to use captivating images and attention-grabbing headlines to stand out.

All Google My Business Image Dimensions

Pinterest Image Sizes

Pinterest is a valuable search tool in itself, with 90% of weekly pinners using the platform to make purchasing decisions.

Pinterest Profile Photo Size

This is one of the few platforms that doesn’t have a cover photo, so the representation of your brand rests heavily on the shoulders of your profile photo. Pinterest’s profile photo is uploaded as a square, but displays as a circle at the top of your profile.

Pin Image Size

With Pinterest’s layout being more portrait-oriented, vertically designed pins tend to perform better. When deciding on size, create a pin that caters to what you want to visually represent; larger pins do not necessarily mean you’ll attract more attention.

 

Pinterest Board Display Size

The first thing you see when you visit someone’s Pinterest profile is their collection of boards. Name your boards appropriately and include a relevant cover photo for each of them. You don’t want empty boards (or no boards at all), but you don’t want a plethora of boards with no purpose, either.

Pro Tip: Ensure that your first two or three boards are directly related to your industry or audience. You don’t want visitors to leave your profile because they don’t understand what your business does or can’t quickly find the information they’re searching for.

Also, infographics tend to do really well on Pinterest.

All Pinterest Image Dimensions

LinkedIn Image Sizes

LinkedIn is primarily for networking with other professionals, but it’s also a resource for businesses to connect with other businesses, prospective employees, and industry leaders. You can choose between a personal profile and business page (both with free or paid options).

LinkedIn Personal Profile and Background Photo Size

You should have a respectable, professional photo of yourself for your personal LinkedIn profile.

On LinkedIn, the background photo replaces the “cover photo” at the top of your profile page. As an oblong shape, it can be difficult to find imagery that fits the space well—that’s where creating your own visuals comes in handy.

LinkedIn Company Logo Size

The standard logo for a business account is a small square at the top of the profile page that is displayed next to your company’s name.

The square logo is what people see when they search for your company or see your posts in their news feed.

LinkedIn Company Cover Photo Image Size

The cover image on a business page stretches across your profile above your logo and company name.

Pro Tip: Use a photo of your employees or your business’ building as a banner photo—and avoid random stock photos. For background photos, it’s usually best to choose something subtle that doesn’t distract too much from the content on your profile.

All LinkedIn Image Dimensions

YouTube Image Sizes

YouTube is a video-sharing social network that is accessed by users on the largest variety of devices, including tablets, phones, desktops, and televisions, so it’s important to have imagery that displays correctly across devices.

YouTube Channel Icon and Channel Art

A small profile photo overlays the top left corner of your YouTube page. As important as profile and cover photos are to representing your brand, on YouTube, many users will most likely see one of your videos before they view your channel page. This makes having striking images even more important so that users associate the videos with your brand and are familiar with you when they do reach your page.

Pro Tip: You only upload one image for your YouTube channel art, but it will display differently across different devices. When you upload an image, you can crop it to fit the desktop layout (see the GIF below for a demonstration) – but make sure the important elements are right in the center to ensure they aren’t cropped out on smaller screens.

All YouTube Image Dimensions

Snapchat Image Sizes

With over 187 million daily active users, Snapchat provides businesses with a visual way to connect with their audience. Through the use of lenses, filters and ads, Snapchat is a source for engaging, unique content.

Below are the updated image sizes required to run successful Snapchat advertising campaigns.

All Snapchat Image Dimensions

Tumblr Image Sizes

Tumblr is a blogging and social platform where users share thoughts, quotes, music, articles, GIFs, videos, images—basically anything. Images are (of course) an important aspect of this social network, but text-based content is associated with Tumblr as well.

Tumblr Avatar (Profile Photo)

This photo will show up as a small square next to your posts in your followers’ main feeds and is embedded with your username in posts that users come across while perusing Tumblr.

You can choose a theme for your Tumblr page, which allows for added customization (think of it as a website or blog page); however, many users will still be able to see a “profile” preview with an avatar and header photo of your choice (see the GIF below for an example of the profile preview).

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that this header image will not show up on your Tumblr page unless you add it to your theme. Your avatar may also not be featured on your theme but will show up as your Tumblr’s favicon on browser tabs.

Tumblr Image Post

Now that your avatar is taken care of, it’s time to look to your posts. With eye-catching imagery, your post will have a greater chance of standing out and maybe even get some reblogs!

And it doesn’t just have to be one photo—choose up to 10 images to display per post. Don’t worry, Tumblr made it super easy to create a photoset.

Pro Tip: Consider placing your business’ logo directly on the photos you upload to increase brand visibility and recognition.

All Tumblr Image Dimensions

Social Media Image Size Infographic & All Image Templates

 

Download All Image Template PSDs

The post 2020 Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet appeared first on Mainstreethost.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020

search engine optimization

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is one of the best ways to get visitors to your website and boost sales in 2020. That’s because more than half of trackable website traffic comes from organic search.

But you might be wondering how you’re supposed to stand out from the crowd now that everybody and their grandmother is optimizing their websites for search.

Unfortunately, Google’s frequent search algorithm updates make it difficult to keep up with the best tactics and strategies. And with SEO becoming a standard part of digital marketing strategies for most businesses, competition is fierce.

In this article, we’re going to help improve your SEO performance for 2020. You’ll learn several up-to-date best practices for crafting an effective SEO strategy for your business. Use these modern practices to reshape your SEO game and propel your business to the top of the search engine results page.

Improving Your SEO in 2020 #1: Publish High-Quality Content

Content is the backbone of a successful SEO campaign and the heart of on-page SEO. But you can’t just pop some content on your website and expect it to pay out SEO gold continuously.

You have to update it. Like, a lot.

The reason for that is simple. If you want to drive increased traffic, you have to drive repeat traffic (new and returning visitors). You have to give people a reason to come back.

And Google knows this. Regularly-updated content is essential to scoring big with the world’s largest search engine.

But the content also has to be good.

When we say quality content, we mean a few things:

  • Persuasive, engaging writing with no errors.
  • New and up-to-date information.
  • Copy that is relevant to your business.

It’s also a great idea to repurpose old content, updating it as things change in your business and your industry. Just make sure you’re updating and not repeating. Google hates duplicate content.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #2: Target Keywords People are Searching For

When marketing to your audience, you have to understand how they think, how they shop, and, most importantly, how they search.

You should be able to understand what your target demographic is searching for on Google. That way, you can optimize your pages for those specific key terms.

Using an SEO tool like Google’s Keyword Planner will show you a list of relevant and high-volume target keywords.

Of course, much like the quality content you’ll be writing, the terms that you chase have to be relevant to your business.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #3: Improve The User Experience

Stellar user experience is essential when trying to get your website ranked highly on Google.

Think of it this way. Google is one of the most trusted, known, and respected companies on the planet. When you type a search into Google’s search engine, you’re getting a series of recommendations from Google.

If Google’s number one recommendation was a site that was lacking in content and not user friendly, then Google’s reputation just took a small hit. That’s why Google vets the sites that it lists so thoroughly, taking user experience into account.

So, how do you improve your user experience in a way that will impress both Google and your potential customers?

  • Write short easy to read paragraphs
  • Include headers throughout your content to make it easier to skim
  • Provide images as a visual representation of your content
  • Increase the speed of your site. The faster it loads, the lower your bounce rate will be.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #4: Make Your Site Responsive

Your site has to work for mobile devices.

That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact in 2020.

To illustrate, in 2019, 63% of Google’s U.S. searches were done on a mobile device. That means the bulk of searches on the largest search engine in existence are done on phones, tablets, and other mobile-ready devices.

According to the social media tool HootSuite, mobile internet use has been steadily increasing over the last five years.

(Image Source)

As such, you must optimize your site for mobile users. Failure to do so will lose you some significant points with Google.

A lack of mobile functionality is a severe blow to the user experience, which we already covered in the previous section.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #5: Improve Click-Through Rate

You want to make sure that when someone stumbles upon your listing on Google, they’re going to click on your link and follow it to your site.

There are a few ways to ensure that your click-through rate improves.

For starters, you should be writing titles that stand out and make the user want to follow your link. A compelling description and meta description also go a long way toward making a user click on your link. You have to draw them in with compelling optimized copy.

The trick is writing compelling content with limited space. You only have 65 characters for your headline. To make it compelling, you need to:

  • Make sure it is optimized with keywords. You should have some of your more important keywords toward the front of your titles and descriptions as people tend to skim content.
  • Make sure that you’re painting a clear picture about what you do.
  • Try to appeal to some kind of customer pain point to elicit an emotional response.
  • You could also always use our CTR Grader which tells you what you need to improve to increase CTR.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #6: Build Backlinks to Your Site

A backlink is a link featured on another website that links back to yours. It is one of the most critical aspects of Search Engine Optimization, and it is where most SEO campaigns fall apart. Another term for backlinks is inbound links.

A backlink is only useful if it comes from a credible source with good standing on Google. But, it also has to be relevant to your industry. If you’re a plumber and you get a backlink from a video game review website, it’s not going to help you.

One of the best ways to create backlinks is to write blog articles about your industry that contain links back to your site and shop those articles around to different sites.

Another way to go about it would be to create linkable assets, something that a person would use as a source when writing an article on your subject. A great example of a linkable asset would be something like an infographic.

You also need to have several internal links on your site. These are links on your site that connect to other pages on your website.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #7: Demonstrate Expertise

Because Google is recommending you to its users, it wants to ensure that you are an expert and that your words have weight and legitimacy.

Google’s algorithm heavily focuses on an acronym called E-A-T. That stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

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You can demonstrate your expertise in a lot of ways. One of the most effective ways of showing that you’re an expert or an authority in your field is by creating blog content. If that blog ends up becoming a linkable resource for others, that works out even better in your favor because it shows Google that other movers and shakers in your industry value your opinion.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #8: Optimize Your Images

Google loves to see that you have images, but unfortunately, that’s all it can see.

By that, we mean that Google’s search bots can’t actually see the content of an image. They can see that an image exists, but they can’t look at a photo of a firetruck and say, “that’s a photo of a firetruck.”

It’s up to us to help them by optimizing images to tell Google’s bots precisely what is on your page. Every image should have a title tag and an alt tag. This is an opportunity for you to write a brief description of the image, featuring a target keyword or two.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #9: Incorporate Other Media

You’re going to need more than just fancy pictures if you want to improve your SEO ranking. There’s a ton of awesome media that you can incorporate onto your site. Google will reward you for it.

Video content should be a central focus of your site. A massive 92% of marketers who are using video on their website say that it is an important part of their overall strategy. What’s more, it’s estimated that by 2021, the average internet user will spend more than 100 minutes per day watching videos online.

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Google owns YouTube, which is the world’s most popular video sharing service. They make it very easy to incorporate YouTube videos onto your site and will reward you for doing so.

There’s also audio content. Consider starting a podcast and featuring it on your site. Podcasting is a valuable medium that people enjoy. Associating your product and page with a podcast will help your brand both with customers and with Google.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #10: Feature Outbound Links

When you use outbound links on your site, you’re able to increase your credibility because you’re citing sources.

It’s one thing to make claims on your site, but it’s another altogether to back them up with facts.

If you were just to say that Barry Bonds has the most career home runs in major league baseball, that’s all well and good. But, if you were to say that Barry Bonds is the all-time home run leader with 762 home runs, backed by a link, you’ve proven yourself more credible.

Google looks for outbound links in your content because they want to make sure that you’re double-checking all of your facts and offering valuable and accurate information to its users.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #11: Fix Broken Links

Google doesn’t like to see broken links. They can seriously hurt your SEO score.

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re featuring strong links is to only link out to authority websites. These don’t tend to go anywhere. However, it is still possible that an article or infographic you’ve linked out to might be taken down, leaving you with a broken link.

It’s important to do periodic link audits on your entire site to ensure that all of your links are live. But that doesn’t mean you have to go page by page clicking on every link.

The website Dead Link Checker works well to check either your entire site all at once or just a single page. What’s more, it’s a totally free service.

By keeping track of your links and making sure that they’re all in working order, you should have no problem avoiding a potentially disastrous SEO pitfall.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #12: Encourage Visitors to Share Content

Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to your website content.

You need a social media presence in the modern business world, and social media is built on the idea of content sharing.

However, social media can also be one of the most significant SEO ranking factors. If people share links to your site on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, your organic search traffic and SEO ranking will go up.

The content that you post, whether it be an infographic or a blog post, should have some kind of social sharing icon included.

It can also help to incentivize sharing. Do some kind of contest where entry requires each participant to share a link on their social media pages.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #13: Set Up a Google Business Page

If you’re trying to improve your local SEO, it’s important to set up a Google My Business page. This is especially true for businesses that have a physical brick and mortar location.

It only takes a few minutes to set up. You add information on your business, including contact info, images, and more. People can also leave reviews for you there.

How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 #14: Monitor Analytics

You need to know how your SEO ranking is doing if your campaign is going to succeed. That’s why we recommend performing an SEO audit and SEO analysis regularly.

It’s important to check your SEO analytics regularly because that’s the only way to know if your efforts are paying off.

If you check your analytics and you’re getting no movement, then your current strategy is not working, and it’s time to try something new.

If you see that you’re steadily rising through the ranks, it means that what you’re doing is the right thing and to stay the course.

One of the best ways to do this is by using Google Analytics. It can quickly become one of your best SEO tools.

Conclusion

By utilizing these proven modern SEO tips and best practices, your business will be able to compete more effectively on the SEO battlefield and drive more traffic onto your website from Google.

Search engines can be a powerful tool for a business, but in order to use this tool, you have to know how it works.

Spend some time implementing the action items on this list. These are proven strategies — ways that businesses like yours are already succeeding. When implemented correctly, they can help land your website at the top of search results. The first step is an SEO audit to understand where you currently are and how you can improve.

If you’re still unsure where to start or all of this sounds like a bit too much to handle on your own, take a look at some of the SEO services we have to offer at Higher Visibility and how we can help improve your website’s SEO.

The post How to Improve Your SEO in 2020 [14 Proven Tactics] appeared first on HigherVisibility.

How to Create & Verify Your Google My Business Account

verify google my business listing

Your free Google business listing (known as your Business Profile) can do more than you think. When properly optimized, it showcases your best features and makes it easy for consumers to discover, learn about, and contact your business. But in order to properly optimize your Business Profile, you need access to it, and in order to access it, you need to verify with Google that you are the rightful owner.

While it seems as though it should be as simple as “step one create, step two claim, and step three verify,” the process is neither that simple nor that linear—which, if you’re reading this post, you have already figured out. That’s because it requires three different Google accounts and two different Google platforms, all of which have very similar names. Talk about a brain bender.

how to create and verify your google my business account account vs listing

So, in this post, I’m going to first iron out for you exactly what’s what in Google, and then give you a clear-cut roadmap to creating a Google My Business account and using it to claim and verify your Business Profile on Google.

Why create a Google My Business account?

Your Google My Business account makes it easy for consumers to discover, learn about, and contact your business online. These are the core benefits of a Google My Business account, and if that’s not enough to convince you, consider the disadvantages of not having one.

You risk losing customers. Without a Google My Business account, you don’t have control over the information displayed in your Business Profile, and according to a BrightLocal study, 68% of consumers would stop using a local business after finding incorrect information online.

You risk a poor reputation. Without a Google My Business account, you cannot respond to your Google reviews. And with reviews being both a Google ranking factor and the number one influence on consumer buying, being able to manage them is a must.

You lose out to competitors. An empty or bare-bones Business Profile is akin to having an unkept storefront. If you don’t take care of your business, how can consumers trust that you’ll take care of them? They’ll be much more likely to click on and engage with a Business Profile in the search results that has lots of attractive information and looks lively.

You lose SERP real estate. Google ranks Business Profiles according to their quality, and a Business Profile alone is not enough. A Google Business Profile managed through a Google Business account, however, can be optimized to rank above competitors for relevant keyword searches.

how to create a google my business account why you need one

Which listing would you choose? The unclaimed one on the left or the one optimized by Google My Business account on the right?

What you need in order to claim and verify your business on Google

By now, it should be clear that creating a Google My Business account and verifying ownership of your business is crucial if you want to provide accurate information, respond to reviews, attract customers, and rank higher in local search.

As mentioned earlier, however, the process is not super simple. It involves two different Google platforms and three different Google accounts, all of which have similar names, and some of which you likely already have. So to get you off on clear footing, let’s first iron out the terminology.

Google Account: This is the free account you create with Google so you can have access to Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Photos, Gmail, and more. Many call it their “Gmail account,” but Gmail is just one of the features; you can actually use any email to set up a Google Account. In this post, I’ll use the term “standard Google Account“ to refer to this account type, just to avoid confusion. Most business owners already have two standard Google accounts—one they use for their personal life and one they use for their business.

how to create and verify your google my business account what is google account

Business Profile: This is your free business listing on Google that appears on Google Maps, the local results of Google Search, and the right-hand Knowledge Panel of Google Search.

what is google my business business profile in maps fresh n clean dry cleaning

An example of a Business Profile on Maps.

Google My Business account: This is the free account you create that gives you a dashboard to manage and enhance your Business Profile.

how to create and verify google my business account google my business dashboard

Your Google My Business dashboard.

How to verify your business on Google

Now that you have the proper terminology laid out, let’s put the pieces together to form a full picture of the process.

The goal is to gain full access to your Business Profile on Google.

The means by which you do this is your Google My Business account, which you sign up for using a standard Google Account.

The steps to complete the process are as follows:

  1. Make sure you have a standard Google Account for your business.
  2. Make sure you have a Business Profile.
  3. Create a Google My Business account.
  4. Request to claim your Business Profile.
  5. Verify ownership of your business.

Now, with the groundwork laid out, you are armed and ready to successfully claim and verify your business on Google. The steps outlined below are written linearly, and in some cases, you’ll need to skip down a step. But I’d still encourage you to read them all carefully to avoid hitting roadblocks or creating duplicate accounts.

Step #1: Make sure you have a Google Account for your business

This is the standard Google Account we described in the terminology section above. If you already have one (make sure it’s not your personal-use Google Account), skip down to Step #2. If you don’t have a Google Account for your business, follow the steps below.

1. Go to accounts.google.com/signin.
2. Click “Create account.”

how to create and verify your google my business account create google account

3. You’ll see a drop-down with two options. Choose “To manage my business.”

how to create and verify google my business account manage a business

4, Supply the necessary information.

Step #2: Make sure you have a Business Profile

Your Business Profile is the official term for your Google business listing. As mentioned above, Google Business Profiles are separate from Google My Business accounts. A Business Profile can exist on its own, without Google My Business account. The problem with this is that the business owner has no control over the information in that Business Profile until they claim it, and this is done through Google My Business. Bottom line: You’ll want to make sure you have a Business Profile to claim once you’ve set up your Google My Business account.

If you know you’ve already created a Business Profile, skip down to Step #4. If you haven’t created one or are unsure, follow the steps below.

Note: Even if you didn’t create it, there’s a good chance your Business Profile already exists. This is because a Business Profile is simply a place on Google Maps, which any person or computer can add. So to check and see if you need to create a Business Profile, follow these steps:

1. Go to Google.com/maps.
2. Search your business name.
3.
If your business name populates in the drop-down with an address next to it, this means your Business Profile already exists. Great! You can move on to Step #4.

how to create and verify google my business account check maps for google business profile

If your business name does not populate with an address, select it and you’ll see something like this:

how to create and verify google my business account add missing place the token shop

4. Select “Add a missing place,” and you’ll see a screen like this:

how to create and verify google my business account add missing place form

5. Provide the requested information. Notice that you’ll have the option to claim the business within that same window. Since you don’t have a Google My Business account yet, you’ll need to move on to Step #3. If you already have a Google My Business account, you can follow the prompts and you’ll end up at Step #5—look at you go!

Step #3: Sign up for a Google My Business account

The means by which you claim your Business Profile on Google is through a Google My Business account. Provided you have a standard Google account (see Step #1), here’s how to sign up for a Google My Business account.

1. Make sure you are logged into the standard Google Account for your business (and not the standard Google Account for your personal life).
2. Go to google.com/business.
3. Select “Manage now.”

how to create and verify a google my business account google.com/business

4. Provide the basic information Google asks for, including.

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Website
  • Phone number
  • Delivery area (if applicable)
  • Category

Once you connect this account with your Business Profile (the final step of this post), additional fields will open up in your dashboard so you can provide even more information about your business. This information is the key to optimizing your business for local SEO and attracting more customers through your free listing.

Step #4: Request to claim your Business Profile

This is where we start putting the pieces together. Unfortunately, creating a Google My Business account (from Step #3) does not automatically connect it to your Business Profile (from Step #2). You need to tell Google to connect them, and you do this by verifying ownership of your business. To do this, start by locating your Business Profile on Google Maps or Google Search and requesting to claim it. You can do this one of two ways:

Claim request method #1:

1. Go to google.com and search for your business name and location. If your Business Profile appears on the right-hand side, find the “Own this business?” option and select it.

how to create and verify your google my business account own this business arnos cleaners

2. From there you’ll be taken to a screen that says “Manage this business so you can reply to reviews, update info, and more.”

how to create and verify your google my business account own this business arnos cleaners manage this business

3. Click “Manage now,” and follow the prompts to claim your business. Once again, make sure you’re logged in with the standard Google Account used for your business, and not for your personal life, referred to in Step #1.

Claim request method #2: Google Maps

1. Go to Google.com/maps.
2. Type in your business name.
3. Click on your Business Profile, which will expand.
4. You’ll then see an option to “Claim this business.”

how to create and verify your google my business account own this business arnos cleaners claim through maps

Clicking on “Claim this business” will then overlay the same screen you saw in the first method, but this time right over the map.

how to create and verify your google my business account manage this business google maps

4. Click “Manage now” and follow the prompts. Again, make sure you’re logged in with the Google Account you created for your business referred to in Step #1.

Step #6: Verify ownership of your business

This is the home stretch! If you need to grab a Gatorade or some orange slices, I’ll be right here when you get back.

When you click on “Manage now” as instructed in Step #5, you’ll be asked to provide information to prove you are the rightful owner of the business. Depending on the type of business you have, if you created the Business Profile and you’re logged into your Google My Business account, you might get validated on the spot. If you aren’t the one who created the Business Profile, Google will send you a verification code that you’ll enter into your Google Business dashboard. Depending on the circumstances of your account/security requirements of your industry, you may be given your verification code via regular mail, email, or text.

how to create and verify your google my business account verification pin code

Once you receive the code and enter it into the box, you will have full ownership of your Business Profile on Google! You can now manage reviews, update information, add more attractive details, and optimize it for successful local marketing.

Take the time to verify your business on Google

Google is changing the way consumers find and engage with local businesses, so if you want to continue reaching your audience and attracting customers with your free Business Profile, be sure to follow the above steps. The process has different parts and pieces, but it doesn’t have to be quite so complicated with guides like this and options like doing it on mobile. Get started with creating, claiming, and verifying through Google My Business today so you can get the most out of this incredible and free tool available to you.

Recession-Proof SEO. Seriously ?

local seo help

I have seen a lot of “It’s the best time to invest in SEO!” chatter on the socials. The Rt value of that message is definitely >1 in this industry, and it is certainly in my interest to believe it. But is it true or just the usual self-serving rap boast by a profession that thinks itself the most gangsta in all of digital marketing? Oh sorry, that’s the affiliate marketers…

In 2008, at the height of the Vampire Squid craze, my consulting business grew by something like 25%. I was a solo practitioner at the time with a modest number of clients, so all it took was a few new ones to grow like that. I assume it was a good investment for our clients (some are actually still with us!), but is past performance an indication of the future?

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PPC IS NOT PPE?

We have certainly seen many clients pause their PPC campaigns. The ease of setting them up works in reverse after all. One of the reasons we have not as an agency embraced PPC is that it can make clients feel like you had your hand in their pocket every day.

But SEO is such a longer-term game than PPC, or even Social (which can require brands to spend time actually building some kind of relationship with customers), so why would companies that are furloughing and laying off employees invest in something that is not going to show immediate results?

      1. For many businesses there are no immediate results to be had.
        It’s hard to buy demand that isn’t there, but what about demand down the road? Last week we got contacted by a small hotel in Baja. They have no business now, but were planning on adding more rooms by the end of the year and knew they would need their SEO issues solved by the time the economy came back if they wanted to make it. Same with the event venue in Brooklyn that was under construction when shelter-in-place started. If you are in “about to open” mode, SEO is one of the few digital marketing investments that makes sense at the moment. It’s a bet on the future (which tends to be a good bet, even if the odds of an actual future keep getting lower).

      2. Now you really don’t want to screw up your SEO
        When most things in your business are not going great, the last thing you want to do is to make them worse. As those of us who have been plying the SEO trade for way too long know there are many more ways to destroy your organic traffic than there are to grow it. We are seeing a lot of businesses using the current slowdown as an opportunity to redesign, replatform, rebrand, etc.

        There’s a reason this is the hero image for our SEO for Website Redesigns page:

        And this is the hero image for our SEO for Domain Name Changes page:

      3. Not Being Prepared For The Future Is How We Got Here In The First Place
        If you are the kind of business leader who guts your ability to fight pandemics two years before you have the worst pandemic in the past century, you may not care about what your business will look like two years from now. But if you are used to spending a large part of your marketing budget buying customers via clicks, you now are in the midst of a grand experiment about how powerless you are when that budget goes away.

        SEO, for all its frustrations as a reliable marketing channel, is one of the few that keeps paying off over the long term, like compounding interest. Hopefully we may all be able to emerge from our shelters this summer, but it seems highly likely next winter we could be in a similar situation. Even though the economy has slowed down, people are still buying stuff, just not as much of it. In times of lower demand and limited ad budgets, it’s probably not a bad idea to be ranking at the top of Google for your $ terms. And that takes time.

I am not saying everyone should plow what’s left of their marketing funds into SEO. And rereading this, it does seem like I am a bit too proud of all them Benjamins flapping around back there. I don’t know whether or not SEO is recession proof. But what the great master himself said nearly four years ago is still true today:

The post Is SEO Really Recession-Proof? appeared first on Local SEO Guide.