Monthly Archives: January 2016

9 Best Webinar Software for WordPress Users

Do you want to run a webinar on your WordPress site? Webinars provide an interactive way to reach users, share your experience, and grow your business. In this article, we will share some of the best webinar software for WordPress users.

Webinar software for WordPress users

What is Webinar Software and When You Need it?

The term webinar comes from seminar, a gathering to exchange ideas, learning, collaborate and meet. The only difference is that webinars take place on the web, and all the participants join in using their desktop or mobile devices.

Webinars are popular on websites that offer online classes. A webinar software allows multiple users to join in a video stream. The organizer and participants can all interact, share content, chat, and conference simultaneously.

If you want to run an online training website, then take a look at our guide on how to add a learning management system in WordPress.

Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the best webinar software available for WordPress users.

1. GoToWebinar

GoToWebinar

GoToWebinar brought to you by GoToMeeting is one of the most popular choice for webinar software. They are known for their reliable platform and ease of use. It works beautifully on all devices and offers equally great user experience.

They have ‘pass the control’ feature which allows you to give your keyboard and mouse control to any participant in the meeting. You can also share desktop applications, screen, presentations, and files.

Their training webinar solution allows easy registration and quick setup. The training webinar solution also offers live polls and surveys, course material sharing, and the ability to host large or small groups. All the features that a training provider would need from a webinar software are packed right in.

GoToWebinar comes with different pricing plans for different usage scenarios. Their starter plan starts from $89 per month for 100 attendees going up to $299 / month for 1000 attendees.

2. Webinars OnAir

Webinars OnAir

One disadvantage of using Google Hangouts is that you cannot charge users directly. Webinars OnAir is built around Google Hangouts and allows you to charge users for joining a webinar.

It comes with all the features of Hangouts and then some more. It has a built-in retargeting pixel which allows you to track your audience across the web. You can show special offers to your attendees during the webinar, generate leads, and automatically save webinar to YouTube.

Webinars OnAir pricing starts from $19.97 per month for maximum 25 participants. For $99.97 per month you can have maximum 5000 participants and all the features.

3. WebinarJam

Webinar Jam

WebinarJam is another webinar software that uses Google Hangouts and adds marketing features to it. This allows you to host very large webinars with all the powerful features of a professional webinar tool.

WebinarJam allows you to manage registrations, use screen and file sharing, interact with participants all under the same software. It is built for marketers and has custom landing pages that you can use for registration, email notifications, polls, quizzes, and live offers during sessions.

It also automatically records all webinar sessions, you can decide whether you want to publish them to YouTube. You can also replay them whenever you want.

Pricing starts from $497/year, which makes it one of the most affordable options.

4. StealthSeminar

StealthSeminar

StealthSeminar is another easy to use webinar software. It not only offers the live webinar software, it also combines it with recorded webinars or automated hybrid webinars. This allows you to completely automate the process of running a webinar.

You get powerful moderation tools to control the discussions and user flow. StealthSeminar also integrates easily with email service providers like MailChimp, AWeber, etc.

There are quite a lot of features for marketers, like placing unlimited call to actions that can be fired automatically at any given time. It also provides detailed analytics and split testing so that you can analyze your performance and improve on that.

Stealth seminar costs $97.00 in registration fee, then $69.95 per month for 150 users plan.

5. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is probably the most easy to use webinar software currently available. It is incredibly fast and free. Anyone with a Google account can use it.

Apart from the usual voice and video calling, it allows multiple users to join a hangout. Users can share files, chat, share computer screens, and so much more.

Hangouts on Air allow you to live broadcast webinars and share them with the world of specific people. You can also record your hangouts and share them on YouTube.

The downside is that it does not have paid user registrations or any marketing features that you would need to run a professional webinar.

Take a look at our guide on how to embed a live Google+ Hangout session in WordPress and how to add a Google+ Hangout event countdown in WordPress.

6. Cisco WebEx

Cisco WebEx

Cisco WebEx is one of the industry leaders in premium web conferencing and organizing professional webinars. It has all the professional tools you will need to conduct professional meetings.

WebEx’s training center allows you to create webinars targeted towards teaching and learning. It has additional tools to take live polls, quizzes, track performances, conduct tests and surveys, etc. Users can also share any apps, screens, notes, and files.

Pricing starts from $24 per month for 8 users to $69 per month for upto 100 users.

7. Zoom

Zoom

Another powerful contender in the webinar software industry is Zoom. It allows you to host highly interactive video conferences and meetings with HD quality audio and video.

One of the most interesting features of Zoom is the ability to share mobile screens from your phone or tablet. You can also split the screen in two to show the panelists and the shared screen at the same time.

Zoom has a free plan with limited features. Their basic plan starts at $14.99 per month. They also have an educational plan for learning centers of all shapes and sizes.

8. AnyMeeting

AnyMeeting

AnyMeeting offers solutions for hosting large and small webinars. It comes with all the standard features you would expect from a professional webinar software.

It allows you to host large group calls, video and audio conferences, with screen and file sharing features. As a training tool it also includes polls, quizzes, follow up tests, notes, presentations, and large groups of upto 1000 attendees.

AnyMeeting’s pricing plans start from $18/month for 30 participants to $298 per month for 1000 participants.

9. Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect is one of the most powerful and feature rich webinar software in the market. It offers all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a platform created by one of the IT giants.

Adobe Connect makes it super easy to host online meetings and conferences, run webinars, training, and online courses. Their highly interactive platform makes sharing easier for both the audiences and the host.

Users and experts have repeatedly praised the user experience, ease of use, reliability and performance of Adobe Connect.

It has different pricing plans billed annually. For Adobe Connect Webinars, the pricing starts from $1250/year/webinar manager for upto 100 users.

We hope this article helped find some of the best webinar software for WordPress users. You may also want to see our list of 40 useful tools to manage and grow your WordPress blog

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 9 Best Webinar Software for WordPress Users appeared first on WPBeginner.

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Targeted Link Building in 2016 – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

SEO has much of its roots in the practice of targeted link building. And while it’s no longer the only core component involved, it’s still a hugely valuable factor when it comes to rank boosting. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand goes over why targeted link building is still relevant today and how to develop a process you can strategically follow to success.

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Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about four questions that kind of all go together around targeted link building.

Targeted link building is the practice of reaching out and trying to individually bring links to specific URLs or specific domains — usually individual pages, though — and trying to use those links to boost the rankings of those pages in search engine results. And look, for a long time, this was the core of SEO. This was how SEO was done. It was almost the start and the end.

Obviously, a lot of other practices have come into play in the industry, and I think there’s even been some skepticism from folks about whether targeted link building is still a valid practice. I think we can start with that question and then get on to some of these others.

When does it make sense?

In my opinion, targeted link building does make sense when you fulfill certain conditions. We know from our experimentation, from correlation data, from Google’s own statements, from lots of industry data that links still move the needle when it comes to rankings. If you have a page that’s ranking number 4, you point a bunch of new links to it from important pages and sites around the web, particularly if they contain the anchor text that you’re trying to rank for, and you will move up in the rankings.

It makes sense to do this if your page is already ranking somewhere in the, say, top 10 to 20, maybe even 30 results and/or if the page has measurable high impact on business metrics. That could be sales. It could be leads. It could be conversions. Even if it’s indirect, if you can observe both those things happening, it’s probably worthwhile.

It’s also okay if you say, “Hey, we’re not yet ranking in the top 20, but our paid search page is ranking on page 1. We know that we have high conversions here. We want to move from page 3, page 4 up to page 1, and then hopefully up into the top two, top three results. Then it is worth this targeted link building effort, because when you build up that visibility, when you grow those rankings, you can be assured that you are going to gain more visits, more traffic that will convert and send you these key business metrics and push those things up. So I do think targeted link building still makes sense when those conditions are fulfilled.

Is this form of link building worthwhile?

Is this something that can actually do the job it’s supposed to do? And the answer, yeah. Look, if rank boosting is your goal, links are one of the ways where if you already have a page that’s performing well from a conversion standpoint — from a user experience standpoint, pages per visit, your browse rate, things like time onsite, if you’re not seeing high bounce rate, if you have got a page that’s clearly accessible and well targeted and well optimized on the page itself — then links are going to be the most powerful, if not one of the most powerful, elements to moving your rankings. But you’ve got to have a scalable, repeatable process to build links.

You need the same thing that we look for broadly in our marketing practices, which is that flywheel. Yes, it’s going to be hard to get things started. But once we do, we can find a process that works for us again and again. Each successive link that we get and each successive page whose rankings we’re trying to move gets easier and easier because we’ve been there before, we’ve done it, we know what works and what doesn’t work, and we know the ins and outs of the practice. That’s what we’re searching for.

When it comes to finding that flywheel, there are sort of tactics that fit into three categories that still do work. I’m not going to get into the individual specific tactics themselves, but they fall into these three buckets. What we’ve found is that for each individual niche, for each industry, for each different website and for each link builder, each SEO, each one of you out there, there’s a process or combination of processes that works best. So I’m going to dictate to you which tactics works best, but you’ll generally find them in these three buckets

Buckets:

One: one-to-one outreach. This is you going out and sending usually an e-mail, but it could be a DM or a tweet, an at reply tweet. It could be a phone call. It could be — I literally got one of these today — a letter in the mail addressed to me, hand-addressed to me from someone who’d created a piece of content and wanted to know if I would be willing to cover it. It wasn’t exactly up my alley, so I’m not going to. But I thought that was an interesting form of one-to-one outreach.

It could be broadcast. Broadcast is things like social sharing, where we’re broadcasting out a message like, “Hey, we’ve produced this. It’s finally live. We launched it. Come check it out.” That could go through bulk e-mail. It could go through an e-mail subscription. It could go through a newsletter. It could go through press. It could go through a blog.

Then there’s paid amplification. That’s things like social ads, native ads, retargeting, display, all of these different formats. Typically, what you’re going to find is that one-to-one outreach is most effective when you can build up those relationships and when you have something that is highly targeted at a single site, single individual, single brand, single person.

Broadcast works well if, in your niche, certain types of content or tools or data gets regular coverage and you already reach that audience through one of your broadcast mediums.

Paid amplification tends to work best when you have an audience that you know is likely to pick those things up and potentially link to them, but you don’t already reach them through organic channels, or you need another shot at reaching them from organic and paid, both.

Building a good process for link acquisition

Let’s end here with the process for link acquisition. I think this is kind of the most important element here because it helps us get to that flywheel. When I’ve seen successful link builders do their work, they almost all have a process that looks something like this. It doesn’t have to be exactly this, but it almost always falls into this format. There’s a good tool I can talk about for this too.

But the idea being the first step is opportunity discovery, where we figure out where the link opportunities that we have are. Step 2 is building an acquisition spreadsheet of some kind so that we can prioritize which links we’re going to chase after and what tactics we’re going to use. Step 3 is the execution, learn, and iterate process that we always find with any sort of flywheel or experimentation.

Step 1: Reach out to relevant communities

We might find that it turns out for the links that we’re trying to get relevant communities are a great way to acquire those links. We reach out via forums or Slack chat rooms, or it could be something like a private chat, or it could be IRC. It could be a whole bunch of different things. It could be blog comments.

Maybe we’ve found that competitive links are a good way for us to discover some opportunities. Certainly, for most everyone, competitive links should be on your radar, where you go and you look and you say, “Hey, who’s linking to my competition? Who’s linking to the other people who are ranking for this keyword and ranking for related keywords? How are they getting those links? Why are those people linking to them? Who’s linking to them? What are they saying about them? Where are they coming from?”

It could be press and publications. There are industry publications that cover certain types of data or launches or announcements or progress or what have you. Perhaps that’s an opportunity.

Resource lists and linkers. So there’s still a ton of places on the web where people link out to. Here’s a good set of resources around customer on-boarding for software as a service companies. Oh, you know what? We have a great post about that. I’m going to reach out to the person who runs this list of resources, and I’m going to see if maybe they’ll cover it. Or we put together a great meteorology map looking at the last 50 winters in the northeast of the United States and showing a visual graphic overlay of that charted against global warming trends, and maybe I should share that with the Royal Meteorological Society of England. I’m going to go pitch their person at whatever.ac.uk it is.

Blog and social influencers. These are folks who tend to run, obviously, popular blogs or popular social accounts on Twitter or on Facebook or on LinkedIn, or what have you, Pinterest. It could be Instagram. Potentially worth reaching out to those kinds of folks.

Feature, focus, or intersection sources. This one’s a little more complex and convoluted, but the idea is to find something where you have an intersection of some element that you’re providing through the content of your page that you seem to get a link from and there is intersection with things that other organizations or people have interest in.

So, for example, on my meteorology example, perhaps you might say, “Lots of universities that run meteorology courses would probably love an animation like this. Let me reach out to professors.” “Or you know what? I know there’s a data graphing startup that often features interesting data graphing stuff, and it turns out we used one of their frameworks. So let’s go reach out to that startup, and we’ll check out the GitHub project, see who the author is, ping that person and see if maybe they would want to cover it or link to it or share it on social.” All those kinds of things. You found the intersections of overlapping interest.

The last one, biz devs and partnerships. This is certainly not a comprehensive list. There could be tons of other potential opportunity to discover mechanisms. This covers a lot of them and a lot of the ones that tend to work for link builders. But you can and should think of many other ways that you could potentially find new opportunities for links.

Step 2: Build a link acquisition spreadsheet

Gotta build that link acquisition spreadsheet. The spreadsheet almost always looks something like this. It’s not that dissimilar to how we do keyword research, except we’re prioritizing things based on: How important is this and how much do I feel like I could get that link? Do I have a process for it? Do I have someone to reach out to?

So what you want is either the URL or the domain from which you’re trying to get the link. The opportunity type — maybe it’s a partnership or a resource list or press. The approach you’re going to take, the contact information that you’ve got. If you don’t have it yet, that’s probably the first thing on your list is to try and go get that. Then the link metrics around this.

There’s a good startup called BuzzStream that does sort of a system, a mechanism like this where you can build those targeted link outreach lists. It can certainly be helpful. I know a lot of folks like using things like Open Site Explorer and Followerwonk, Ahrefs, Majestic to try and find and fill in a bunch of these data points.

Step 3: Execute, learn, and iterate

Once we’ve got our list and we’re going through the process of actually using these approaches and these opportunity types and this contact information to reach out to people, get the links that we’re hoping to get, now we want to execute, learn, and iterate. So we’re going to do some forms of one-to-one outreach where we e-mail folks and we get nothing. It just doesn’t work at all. What we want to do is try and figure out: Why was that? Why didn’t that resonate with those folks?

We’ll do some paid amplification that just reaches tens of thousands of people, low cost per click, no links. Just nothing, we didn’t get anything. Okay, why didn’t we get a response? Why didn’t we get people clicking on that? Why did the people who clicked on it seem to ignore it entirely? Why did we get no amplification from that?

We can have those ideas and hypotheses and use that to improve our processes. We want to learn from our mistakes. But to do that, just like investments in content and investments in social and other types of investments in SEO, we’ve got to give ourselves time. We have to talk to our bosses, our managers, our teams, our clients and say, “Hey, gang, this is an iterative learning process. We’re going to figure out what forms of link building we’re good at, and then we’re going to be able to boost rankings once we do. But if we give up because we don’t give ourselves time to learn, we’re never going to get these results.”

All right, look forward to your thoughts on tactical link building and targeted link building. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Who Owns WordPress and How Does WordPress Make Money?

There has always been confusion among beginners about who owns WordPress? It’s a bit unreal to think something can be 100% free. If you have ever wondered who owns WordPress and how does WordPress make money, then you’re in the right place. In this beginner’s guide, we will answer these common questions along with covering how does that impact the ownership rights of your WordPress site and blog content.

Understanding the Differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Before we can answer the question about the ownership of WordPress, it’s important that you understand which WordPress you are talking about.

The #1 root cause for confusion is that often people don’t know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two fundamentally different products with different owners.

The difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the popular content management system (CMS) that you always hear about. This is the real WordPress, and it is 100% free. It is often referred as self-hosted WordPress. When you hear things like you can create any type of website in WordPress with plugins and custom themes, this is the WordPress people are talking about.

WordPress.com is a web hosting service that offers a stripped down version of WordPress to make it easy for you to blog. You don’t get all the WordPress goodies like plugins, custom themes, etc.

To keep this article focused, we will not go into the feature comparison of the two. You can learn more about that in our WordPress.com vs WordPress.org chart.

Understanding the difference between the two is essential for understanding the ownership and business models behind the two products.

Who owns WordPress.org and the popular WordPress software?

WordPress is an open-source software. This means that anyone can see the code and contribute to the software to make it better. It’s the contributions by thousands of independent people from across the world that built WordPress to what it is today.

WordPress is licensed under GPL, and it’s important that you understand the benefits of the GPL license because that will help you better understand the ownership.

We will summarize the GPL in three main benefits:

  • You can use WordPress in whatever way you like without any restrictions.
  • You can customize, add or remove anything in WordPress that you don’t like without any restrictions.
  • You can repackage, rebrand, sell and distribute WordPress without any restrictions except that it is also released under the GPL license.

The last part usually blows people’s mind away. Yes, you can indeed take WordPress, change the logo and the name, and start selling it (100% legal).

In other words, the code base of WordPress belongs to the community (you). The thousands of people who contributed to this non-profit project did it without any direct compensation. We will explain this in more details in the business model section of this article.

Summary: Any website you create using the self-hosted WordPress software is 100% owned by you. The content you upload to these sites is also 100% owned by you.

The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org domain is owned by the WordPress foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, whose sole purpose is to ensure that WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed.

Who owns WordPress.com

WordPress.com is owned by a privately held company called Automattic.

You have to understand a little bit of history of the open-source WordPress project to understand Automattic’s contributions and the reasons why they get favorable treatment such as the ability to use the WordPress trademark and the coveted WordPress.com domain as part of their paid product.

Automattic was started by the co-founding developer of the open source WordPress software, Matt Mullenweg.

Matt created Automattic in 2005, almost two years after WordPress, with the primary purpose to make WordPress hosting easier and allow people with little technical knowledge to start a blog with WordPress.

Since WordPress.com platform was powered by the open source WordPress software, Automattic had a vested interest in the further development of the free WordPress software.

Several of the early Automattic employees were contributing developers of WordPress prior to the company, so it should go without saying that financial interest wasn’t the only reason why Automattic invested in WordPress.

Because the open-source project didn’t really make any money in the beginning, Matt first registered the WordPress trademark through Automattic.

As WordPress grew in popularity, Automattic donated the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation in 2010 to ensure long-term sustainability of the non-profit project.

It’s important to note that Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and also serves in the board of the WordPress foundation.

Now that you are familiar with the history, let’s talk about ownership of content on WordPress.com.

When you build a site using WordPress.com, you have to adhere to their Terms of Service policy. Although it clearly states that it’s designed to give you as much control and ownership of your content, someone can still shut down your site if they believe it’s in violation.

While you have 100% control over your site, you’re limited to the feature-set that’s offered to you which does not include plugins, custom themes, etc.

Hopefully by now you should have the answer to your question about who owns WordPress.

Now let’s take a look at how does WordPress make money.

Business Model of Automattic vs Business Model of WordPress

The business model of Automattic is to sell WordPress related services such as hosting, backup, and others, so we won’t spend too much time on that.

In short, Automattic makes money on WordPress.com by selling advertising on your free sites. If you choose to pay for their hosting plans, then you get additional premium upgrades such as the ability to hide ads, purchase domains, additional disk space, commercial themes, etc.

Our goal in this section is to explain the business model behind the open source WordPress software and answer common questions like how do WordPress developers make money if they’re voluntarily contributing to a free non-profit project.

Let’s start with the question on why do developers contribute to WordPress if they aren’t getting paid?

While there can be altruistic reasons, we’re going to focus on the two primary monetary reasons:

  • They sell WordPress products or services (custom plugins, themes, web development, consulting, etc.)
  • They work for a company that sell WordPress products or services.

In other words, they are making money, but they are not getting paid by the WordPress foundation.

As WordPress has grown in popularity, there have been an increase in the number of businesses that sell WordPress related products / services. This has increased the commercial interest in the further development of the open-source WordPress software.

Think of what Automattic was able to do in the beginning, except now there are multiple companies hiring dedicated staff who contribute in the development of WordPress because they understand as the WordPress project grows, so will the revenue opportunities.

So where does the WordPress foundation fit in the picture?

WordPress foundation is a non-profit organization, so it’s primary source of revenue is through donations.

These donations are made by individuals like yourself and also corporations who’re using WordPress to make money.

How does this all apply to you as the user?

While you are not directly paying for WordPress, you could be indirectly paying for it.

For example, if you host your website on Bluehost, Siteground, WPEngine, or any other major WordPress hosting company, then you are indirectly paying for WordPress. Because all these companies regularly contribute back to WordPress.

If you are using Yoast SEO, BackupBuddy, Sucuri, or any of WPBeginner family of products (OptinMonster, Envira Gallery, Soliloquy, etc) then you are indirectly paying for WordPress. Because all these companies regularly sponsor WordCamps and/or contribute to WordPress.

Hopefully, this helps you better understand the WordPress business model and clear up all the concerns regarding that matter.

What can we do to improve and clear up some of the confusion?

There is very little that can be done about the domain situation due to the business models involved.

The only real way to solve it is through education which has to be two part.

The first and foremost is the role of media.

Major tech media outlets like TechCrunch, Recode, TheNextWeb, etc need to do a better job at fact-checking to avoid articles that claim Automattic as the parent company of WordPress. It could be as simple as saying the parent company behind WordPress.com.

You can simply google the term “WordPress parent company” and you’ll find tons of articles from major tech media outlets that report false information (example: here, here, here, here, and here).

The second role is enforcement by the WordPress foundation as well as Automattic.

These media outlets are usually pitched these press releases, so if there were some re-enforcement with the top outlets, the rest will follow.

Often at blogging events when you see a WordPress booth, it’s usually an Automattic (WordPress.com) booth. While the marketing verbiage can be improved, having personally seen the employees answering questions at the booth, they are extremely helpful and almost always explain the difference.

At TBEX North America 2015, while we visited their booth, at least two people asked the question in the roam of ownership of WordPress and the Automattic employees did an excellent job clearly explaining the difference.

Conclusion

We hope this article helped you answer the question about who owns WordPress, how does WordPress make money, and what that really means for your website’s control and ownership. You may also want to read our article on 15 most frequently asked questions by WordPress beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Who Owns WordPress and How Does WordPress Make Money? appeared first on WPBeginner.

My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

Howdy Moz Fans,

After more than 5 years — including an 18-month hiatus as a Moz associate — tomorrow marks my last day working as a Mozzer.

Make no mistake — I love this job, company, and community. Moz has taught me to be a better marketer. Both Rand Fishkin and Sarah Bird (and many others) have taught me more about emotional intelligence and how to treat others than I thought possible of myself. Moz has introduced me to amazing coworkers and industry folk around the world. I’m truly grateful for this experience.

Since my first YouMoz post was accepted for publication by Jen Lopez before I even worked here, I’ve done my best to share SEO tips and tactics to help people advance their marketing and improve online visibility. These posts are truly the thing I’m most proud of.

Time for one last SEO tip, so I hope it’s a good one…

SEO white lies

The beauty of SEO is that, instead of pushing a marketing message onto folks who don’t want to hear what you have to say, you can reverse-engineer the process to discover exactly what people are looking for, create the right content for it, and appear before them at exactly the moment they are looking for it. It’s pull vs. push.

Works like magic. Customers come to you.

Let’s begin this process by telling a lie.

“Content is king.”

Bull hockey. The king doesn’t rule jack squat. A truer statement is this: If content is king, then the user is queen, and she rules the universe. Let’s say that again, because this is important.

“The user is queen, and she rules the universe.”

Google only cares about your content inasmuch as it answers the user’s search query. Search results are not a collection of “good” content; they are a ranked list of content that best satisfies what the user is looking for.

Here’s a typical process many SEOs use when building content:

  1. Conduct keyword research to discover what people are searching for relative to your niche.
  2. Pick a series of high-volume, low-competition phrases
  3. Build content around these phrases and topics
  4. Launch and market the page. Build some links.
  5. Watch the traffic roll in. (Or not)
  6. Move on to the next project.

The shortcoming of this approach is that 1–4 are often hit or miss. Google’s Keyword Planner, perhaps the best available keyword tool available, is famous for not surfacing most long-tail keywords. Additionally, creating the exact content and building the right links in order for Google to rank you for precise pages is challenging as well.

Unfortunately, this where most people stop.

My advice: Don’t stop there.

This whole process relies on traditional SEO signals to rank your content higher. Signals like keyword usage and PageRank (yes, it’s a real ranking factor). While these factors remain hugely important, they miss the point of where SEO has already moved.

In our latest Ranking Factors Expert Survey, we asked over 150 top search marketers to rate which factors they see gaining and losing significance in Google’s algorithm. The results showed that while most traditional SEO features were expected to either retain or decrease in influence, we found that user-based features were expected to increase.

In addition to signals like mobile-friendliness, site speed, overall UX, and perceived quality, the factors I want to focus on today include:

  1. Page matches the searcher’s intent: In other words, the page has a high probability of being what the user is actually looking for.
  2. Search engine results clickstream data: This may include measuring the search results that users actually click, as well as the pogo-sticking effect.
  3. Task completion: The user is able to complete the task they set out to do. In other words, their questions have been completely answered.

What I am going to talk about is how to improve all three of these factors for underperforming pages at the same time, using a single technique.

Here’s the tip: Optimize for how users are actually using the page — as opposed to how you optimized the page ahead of time — and you’ll see significantly better traffic.

Once you begin receiving traffic from search engines, you have an incredible amount of data regarding real search visits. If your page receives any traffic at all, Google has already guessed what your content is about — right or wrong — and is sending some traffic to you. In all reality, there is a gap between the traffic you thought you were optimizing for when you created the page, and the traffic you are actually getting.

You want to close that gap. We’ll ask and answer these 3 questions:

  1. Is my content matching the intent of the visitors I’m actually receiving?
  2. Based on this intent, is my search snippet enticing users to click?
  3. Does my page allow users to complete their task?

Here’s how we’re going to do it. I present your SEO homework.

1. Identify your low-to-mid performing pages

This process works best on pages with lower or disappointing traffic levels. The reason you want to stay away from your high-performing pages is the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

That’s not to say that high-performing pages can’t be improved, but whenever you make changes to a page you risk ruining the things that work well, so for now we’re going to focus on our under-performers.

The simplest way is to use analytics to identify pages you believe are high quality — and target good keyword phrases — but receive less traffic than you’d expect based on site averages.

For this example I’ll use Google Search Console for my data, although you could use other platforms such as Bing Webmaster or even features found in Moz Pro.

Here’s a picture of our traffic and search queries for Followerwonk. While it’s a good amount of traffic, something looks off with the second URL: it receives 10x more impressions than any other URL, but only gets a 0.25% click-through rate. We’ll use this URL for our process.

2. Discover mismatches between user intent and content

Next, we want to discover the keyword phrases that surface our URL in search results. Here’s how you do it in Search Console.

After you complete #3 above by clicking on the URL you wish to analyze, you’ll find a page of data isolating that URL, but it will lack keywords. Now hit the “Queries” tab to filter keywords filtered for this specific URL.

For our Followerwonk URL, we discover an interesting result. The phrase “twitter search” generated a million search impressions, but only 724 clicks. Google believes we deserve to rank for this query, but obviously the page doesn’t offer what people are looking for

Or does it?

The Followerwonk Bio Search page offers advanced Twitter bio search, complete with lots of advanced options you can’t find on Twitter. It’s reasonable that tons of people searching for “twitter search” would find enormous value in this page. So why the disconnect?

A quick screenshot reveals the heart of the problem.

That’s it — the entire page. Very little explanatory text makes it difficult to quickly grasp what this page is about. While this is an awesome page, it fails in one key aspect for its highest volume search query.

The page fails to satisfy user intent. (At least in a quick, intuitive way.)

So how can we fix this? Let’s move on to the next steps.

3. Optimizing for user intent

Now that we understand how users are actually finding our page, we want to make it obvious that our page is exactly what they are looking for to solve their problem. There are 5 primary areas this can be accomplished.

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description
  3. Page title and headers
  4. Body text
  5. Call to action

Rewriting the title tags and descriptions of underperforming pages to include the keyword queries users perform to find your URL can lead to a quick increase in clicks and visits.

Additionally, after you get these clicks, there’s a growing body of inconclusive evidence that higher click-through rates may lead to higher rankings. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. The whole point is that you get more traffic, one way or another.

The key is to take this data to optimize your search snippet in a way that entices more and better traffic.

Earning the click is only half the battle. After we get the visitor on our site, now we have to convince them (almost immediately) that we can actually solve the problem they came here to find. Which leads to…

4. Improving task completion

Consider this: A user searches for “best restaurants in Seattle.” You want your pizza parlor to rank #1 for this query, but will this satisfy the user?

Likely not, as the user is probably looking for a list of top restaurants, complete with reviews, hours, maps, and menus. If you can offer all — like TripAdvisor, Opentable, and Yelp — then you’ve helped the user complete their task.

The key to task completion is to make solving the user’s problem both clear and immediate. On our Followerwonk page, this could be accomplished by making it immediately clear that they could perform an advanced Twitter search, for free, along with an expectation of what the results would look like.

A standard for task completion can be found by answering the following question: After the user visits this page, will they have completely found what they are looking for, or will they need to return to Google for help?

When the query is satisfied by your website, then you’ve achieved task completion, and likely deserve to rank very highly for the targeted search query.

5. Submit for reindexing

The beauty of this process is that you can see results very quickly. The easiest thing to do is to submit the page for reindexing in Google, which can help your changes appear in search results much faster.

You may see changes submitted this way reflected in search results within minutes or hours. Usually it’s not more than a day or two.

6–7. Measure results, tweak, and repeat

Now that your results are live, you want to measure present performance against past. After a few days or weeks (whenever you have enough data to make statistically significant decisions) you want to specifically look at:

  • Rankings, or overall impressions
  • Clicks and click-through rate
  • Engagement metrics, including bounce rate, time on site, and conversions

Warning: You may not get it right the first time. That’s okay. It’s fine to iterate and improve (as long as you don’t destroy your page in the process). In fact, that’s the whole point!

If you follow this process, you may see not only increases in traffic, but improved traffic coming to your site that better aligns what you offer with what the visitor is searching for.

The best content that aligns with user intent is what search engines want to deliver to its users. This is what you want to broadcast to search engines. The results can be rewarding.

Transitions

What’s next for me? In the near term, I’m starting a boutique online publishing/media company, tentatively named Fazillion. (Our aim is to produce content with heart, as we ourselves are inspired by sites like Mr. Money Mustache, Wait but Why, and Data is Beautiful.)

I can’t express enough how much this company and this community means to me. Moving on to the next adventure is the right thing to do at this time, but it makes me sad nonetheless.

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Coincidentally, my departure from Moz creates a unique job opening for a talented SEO and Content Architect. It should make a wonderful opportunity for the right person. If you’re interested in applying, you can check it out here: SEO Content Marketer at Moz

Happy SEO, everybody! If you see me walking down the street, be sure to say hi.

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!

18 expert quotes from ClickZ’s Digital Trends 2016 Report

Our sister site ClickZ has launched its first Intelligence report of 2016 and it’s a firecracker.

The Digital Trends 2016 report is a comprehensive guide to all the digital-related trends you need to know about in 2016.

Sure every digitally-focused publisher has its own trends report, but what makes ours stand out from the rest is the sheer weight of expert opinion throughout its 46 pages, with more than 40 specialist contributors giving their insight on the most pressing topics, including: ecommerce, content marketing, customer experience and, of course, search.

And if all that wasn’t enough, it’s completely free! You just need to fill in a quick registration form.

To whet your appetite further, I’ve compiled a few of the reports most insightful quotes covering all of the topics…

Advertising

Paul Rouke, Founder and Director of Optimisation, PRWD:

“Data scientist will become one of the hottest and in-demand roles – although the vast majority of people relabelling themselves as one will be years away from having the experience and knowledge to warrant such a title.”

Jonathan Beeston, Managing Director, Croud UK:

“It could be a transformative year for brand advertising as YouTube and Facebook go up a gear with video. If Snapchat can find the right model, it could be explosive.”

Content Marketing

Andy Betts, chief marketer and consultant:

“Producing content for content’s sake is a 2015 tactic that will become more redundant in 2016. Last year’s comfort metrics, such as shares and likes, will be re- placed in 2016 with more meaningful measures such as engagement, reach and audience.”

Kevin Lee, Executive Chariman, Didit:

“The rise of ad blockers combined with the ‘banner blindness’ caused by 20 years of mind-numbingly off-target banners are forcing a doubling down on true native advertising.”

clickz content marketing on mobile

Customer Experience

Helen Colclough, Ecommerce Development Manager, River Island:

“It doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ situation. The mobile website has its purpose, but apps can help retailers to provide a great experience for the most engaged customers.”

Paul Rouke, Founder and Director of Optimisation, PRWD:

“[A key trend will be] the slow, quite painful move of brands starting to ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to truly understanding their visitors and customers, and harnessing these in- sights to improve their customer experience through data-driven optimisation.”

Data and Analytics

Andrew Hood, Managing Director, Lynchpin:

“People will become increasingly philosophical about ‘big data’ as technologies mature, the hype starts to subside, and it becomes more a case of ‘cheaper and faster data’. Faster will quickly become the most important factor as demand for data feeds for (up-to-date) personalisation become the critical norm.”

Benjamin Spiegel, CEO, MMI Agency:

“The ingestion of streaming data will become a key requirement for digital leaders. With rising competition in the digital advertising space the ability to ingest, analyse and act on data within a minimal time window is a crucial requirement for digital leadership. I expect to see a lot of disruptive technology solutions emerge in the next months in both the open source as well as the VC space.”

Ecommerce

James Gurd, Owner, Digital Juggler:

“Speed and flexibility are both important. The time to consumer is constantly reducing with the introduction of services like Amazon Prime Now. Multichannel retailers like House of Fraser and Argos have ramped up their Buy & Collect offer with later cut off times for next day delivery, and local collection services like Collect+, Amazon Lockers and Doddle have given consumers more choice.”

Tessa Wegert, Media Strategist and Content Developer:

“2015 was the experimentation stage, and a time for gathering insight into consumer preferences and behaviour. Now, social sites will get to the business of tweaking their tools, and brands will be better equipped to know what social commerce strategy is most likely to pay off.”

Email marketing

Parry Malm, CEO, Phrasee:

“Email in 2016 is going to be much like email was in 2015, and 2014, and 2013 – insofar as it’s still going to be the highest performing online channel out there. 2015 was the year of ‘email automation’ and most brands either have programmes in place, or are planning them.”

Tim Watson, Founder, Zettasphere:

“The idea in some circles that triggered emails replace broadcast is wrong… The future is integrating broadcast and triggered emails. We can expect to see the best email marketing programmes in 2016 use the same type of intelligence for sending triggered email in broadcast email marketing.”

clickz email marketing

Mobile

Greg Stuart, CEO, Mobile Marketing Association:

“Brands will drastically shift to mobile video, realising that it is hugely underpriced by more than 50 per cent compared to its effectiveness. Mobile audio and ‘sound’ as a strategy is a huge opportunity and mobile brings this to life.”

Andy Favell, Digital and Mobile Consultant:

“The majority of mobile development today is still focused on consumer applications and services that are at best nice-to-have and at worst pointless. This is changing because such initiatives often don’t deliver return on investment for businesses – measured either in terms of financial rewards, customer loyalty or brand perception.”

Search

Jon Earnshaw, CTO, Pi Datametrics:

“The kids out there are leading the way – asking questions and refining further questions based on the answers they receive as they engage in something best described as a dialogue that in the not too distant future will see Google exhibiting behaviour capable of passing the Turing test.”

Mags Sikora, Co-Founder, PeriodBox:

“Can your customer service affect SEO? Absolutely! A large number of negative complaints may lead to negative reviews and non-flattering mentions across blogs! We really have to delight the customer across the entire brand experience and that doesn’t finish with the moment of purchase. That delight should be the driver behind all our actives.”

Social Media

Bob Cargill, Director Of Social Media, Overdrive Communications:

“Scheduling a series of messages, posts and updates on a regular basis may put you in the game, but the only way to win is to show that you’re alive and kicking, not some robot. Real time is big time on social media.”

Maggie Malek, Head Of Social And PR, MMI Agency:

“Brands will only matter if consumers’ needs and desires are central to everything they do. Listening to the consumer— with our data brains as well as our hearts — can help us discover the stories worth telling.”

Download the full 46-page Digital Trends 2016 report now. 

7 Most Expensive Premium WordPress Themes and Why They’re Worth It

Do you want to know what are the most expensive WordPress themes in the market? This was an odd but fun article requests we got from one of WPBeginner’ readers. The premium WordPress theme market is flooded with great products across different prices (mostly at $50). In this article, we will list some of the most expensive premium WordPress themes and why they are totally worth it.

Expensive WordPress Themes

A note on Expensive Premium WordPress Themes

When we started researching, we didn’t really know what to expect. Since the average price range for themes are around $50, we wanted to pick themes that were at least double that.

In our research, the most expensive WordPress theme that we found was $299. Now there were some that were higher, but they were just way too spammy and sold as part of an info-product package.

Just because these themes are expensive, doesn’t mean you have to use them. See our guide on choosing the perfect theme for WordPress.

The main reason why we believe these themes are more expensive is because they target an industry and offer everything that’s needed to make a perfect website. So in reality, you’re buying a theme + bunch of what would be premium plugins.

Having said that, let’s look at some of the more expensive premium WordPress themes in the market.

1. Get Noticed

The Get Noticed Theme in Action

The Get Noticed Theme for WordPress came into existence by our friend Michael Hyatt’s efforts to build his platform.

Just like many other WordPress users, Hyatt was disappointed by the complexity and limitations of the available WordPress themes. He set out to build one for his website.

Get Noticed gets out of your way so that you can focus on content creation. It does not confuse users with complicated settings. It is straightforward and takes very little time to setup.

Everything you need to succeed as a blogger is taken care of. Get Noticed provides functionality of several WordPress plugins packed right into your theme. This alone would save you from lots of plugin updates, compatibility issues, and security concerns.

Get Noticed has social sharing, events, subscription forms, analytics, custom landing pages, FTC disclosure, advertisement management, podcasts, books, and much more.

Most importantly, everything can be setup without you having to write any code or spend too much time with settings.

It is designed to establish your brand identity and makes it super easy to do so. You can easily upload your own logo and headshot.

WPBeginner’s founder and CEO, Syed Balkhi, uses a customized version of Get Noticed on his personal website.

Price: Starting from $197 for a single site license.

2. Bordeaux

Boardeaux

Bordeaux is a premium WordPress hotel theme. It comes with all the standard features you would expect from a premium theme.

Bordeaux is fully responsive and looks equally great on all devices and screen sizes. It is highly optimized for speed, performance, and SEO. All theme settings can be easily set up with an intuitive theme options panel.

Apart from the standard premium features, Bordeaux comes with features specific for hotel websites. It allows you to easily integrate popular hotel booking systems into your WordPress site.

You can easily add custom templates for rooms, rooms and rates, testimonials, attractions, photo gallery, blog, etc. This allows you to quickly fill your website with content.

Bordeaux is fully compatible with plugins like The Event Calendar, WooCommerce, Gravity Forms, and WPML to create multilingual websites.

Price: $99

3. Imperial

Imperial

Imperial is another fully mobile responsive WordPress theme for hotels and travel websites. It comes with all the usual features of a premium theme packed in an easy to setup theme.

Imperial comes with full support for WPML, WooCommerce, Gravity Forms, and all other popular WordPress plugins. Most importantly it works with popular hotel reservation systems. You can also use a WordPress plugin for bookings too.

Imperial comes with ready to use templates for pages like attractions, testimonials, image galleries, rooms and rates, accommodation, etc. It has a separate page for blog section, a homepage, and a robust theme’s options panel.

Price: $99

4. Startup Framework

Startup Framework

Startup Framework is a theme framework for WordPress design agencies, startups, and businesses to rapidly build beautiful and functional websites.

It comes with 25 ready to use samples. Samples are like starting points with different design schemes and colors. You can build your pages by adding or removing content blocks or components.

Startup Framework comes with 100 components that you can simply drag and drop. There are components for content areas, header areas, feature boxes, pricing tables, contact forms, call to action, sliders, videos, and almost any element that you can think of.

You can also add components to create beautiful pages for different sections of your website. Startup Framework comes with blocks for blog, testimonials, full width pages, and a variety of content blocks.

Using content blocks makes it super easy to design any kind of layout you need and easily modify it on as-needed basis.

Price: $249

5. Carrington Build

Carrington Build

Built on top of the Carrington Core theme framework, Carrington Build allows users to create layouts using a modular templating system.

Carrington Core framework was designed for developers to build WordPress themes. However, it is not very easy to use for businesses and beginners who want to build websites on their own.

Carrington Build allows users to build their websites using an elegant, drag and drop system. Users can now easily create beautiful landing pages using modules.

It comes packed with a wide range of modules that you can just drag and drop on any page. There are modules for the most common web design elements like adding sliders, shortcodes, text areas, columns, call to action and many more.

Carrington acts as the parent theme. It comes with a sample child theme called Favebusiness. It also comes with child theme samples using Twenty Ten, and FaveText themes.

Price: $299

6. Zealot

Zealot

Zealot is an excellent premium WordPress theme built to work with Aesop Story Engine plugin.

Aesop Story Engine is a collection of components that allow you create engaging content in a storytelling format. It empowers journalists, site owners, bloggers, and even businesses to craft beautiful emotionally charged pages.

The Aesop engine works with any WordPress theme, but there are themes designed specifically to be used with the plugin.

Zealot is designed by the folks behind Aesop story engine. It uses all the components of the plugin and also supports existing addon plugins. It is designed specifically for news and membership websites.

The theme supports both full-width pages and pages with sidebar. It comes with easy customization tools to choose theme colors and add custom logo. It also has multiple widget-ready areas.

Price: $120

7. Fable

Fable

Fable is another storytelling theme for WordPress built for Aesop Story Engine. It has a magazine style layout with fullscreen cover images. The design is fully mobile responsive and supports all options of Aesop Story Engine and addon plugins.

The most prominent feature of Fable is how it generates a homepage layout. It uses the featured image for the last post as the cover image for the page. The display for other posts is in a beautiful grid layout.

If you want to override the cover image for posts, then you can do so by making a sticky post which will then become the cover image.

The single story pages feature large images, with beautiful blockquotes, pullquotes, large background images, and parallax support.

Price: $120

We hope this article helped you find some of the most expensive premium WordPress themes. You may also want to see our checklist of 15 things you must do before changing WordPress themes.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 7 Most Expensive Premium WordPress Themes and Why They’re Worth It appeared first on WPBeginner.

3 Soon-to-be-Everywhere Social Media Trends You Can Profit on in 2016

What is the next big wave of social media?

Maybe it’s Peach—or another hot new social network. Maybe it’s a strategy like posting times or text faces. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

It’s really hard to say!

(And yet here I am saying it.) :)

To ride the wave of the next big thing in social media, it often takes a lot of trial-and-error, a good deal of trendspotting, and some courage to try new things. I’ve spent some time reading up on what’s to come for social media and I’d love to get your thoughts on three new trends that might be monumental.

1. Social shopping

You can buy stuff straight from your News Feed!

E-commerce has felt a bit like a missing piece from the social media feeds. Sure, you can tweet/post/Snap about a product that you’re selling, yet your potential customers must still leave the social network they’re on to visit your site in order to complete the purchase.

Previously:

Social --> your site --> $$

Soon:

Social = $$

This is already in the works in some moderate ways, on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Pinterest has a “Buy It” option on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, where you can buy Pinned products directly from Pinterest. Available products have a blue “Buy It” button next to the standard red “Pin It” button.

Here’s a preview of how the process works:

Pinterest buy it apple pay

Facebook has been testing a Buy button for well over a year now and has been slowly rolling it out to more and more users. Like with Pinterest, Facebook’s option allows shoppers to buy products without ever leaving Facebook.

Facebook buy button

And you might be familiar with Domino’s pizza emoji tweet?

Yep, Twitter shopping is a thing, too. In addition to the pizza emoji, Twitter has a buy button that users can access to buy and sell directly from the Twitter stream. Here’s an example of the experience with a Warby Parker set of sunglasses.

Twitter buy button

Buying and selling on social media feels like it may be on the verge of something big.

And whatever solution falls into place here could go a long way toward solving one of the Big Mysteries of social media marketing:

How can I accurately measure my social media ROI?

For some time now, one of the biggest challenges for social media marketers has been assigning dollars-and-cents results to efforts on Twitter, Facebook, and the like.

And though this new frontier of social shopping and e-commerce might be only part of the return on investment (there’s still the lead gen and funnel parts that are important to consider), it’s one of the biggest steps toward tying a direct, monetary result to one’s social media marketing.

If purchases take place on social media, ROI becomes clearer, social media’s position in the marketplace improves, and we all win—buyers and sellers.

Ways you can profit on this:

  • Join the Pinterest waitlist or use “Buy It” straight away today if you’re on a platform like Shopify
  • Check your Facebook page and ads center to see if you have the “Buy” option turned on for your call-to-action buttons
  • Check Twitter’s list of partners to see if you’ve already got access via a service like Gumroad or Stripe perhaps
  • For Instagram, you can look into services like Penny, which let shoppers buy straight from Instagram with hashtag #sold

2. Social media at work

One of my favorite topics to write on (and one that I probably didn’t have a really great answer to) is the split between who you are on social media inside of work and outside of work.

Well, moving forward, that might not be an obstacle any more!

Facebook at Work, announced last year, seeks to carve out a work-specific social media zone for coworkers to communicate with one another.

facebook-buy

Like this TechCrunch headline stated: Facebook at Work lets businesses create their own social networks.

LinkedIn is interested in similar work-style social media, and like a lot of other Facebook features, it’s possible that this one will trickle out to a whole host of other networks, too.

Even apps like Slack and Hipchat have helped add distinction to the work/life split, making it easy to converse with teammates in a medium that doesn’t dip into personal life.

This new, explicit distinction between work social media and personal social media could represent a huge shift in how social networks are used. It’s quite early days with things (Facebook at Work is starting its slow roll out, available on mobile currently). Guessing at some of the effects here, you could see changes to:

  • Ideal posting time: If the typical high-engagement window of 9-to-5 is spent with 9-to-5ers hanging out on their own private networks, optimal timing might shift.
  • Message content: Instead of reaching folks at work and play, now a brand’s updates might be targeted toward one or the other
  • Ad types: Will it be possible to get a message into a “work” network?

A lot remains to be seen here, but the early signs of work-centric social networks feels like too big a trend to miss.

Ways you can profit on this:

  • Stay tuned into Facebook’s updates on the subject so you’re first in the door. (Facebook publishes lots of great updates to its Business blog.)
  • Start honing your messages to different types of people and different times of day: Custom audiences and ads provide a good playground for tests

3. Messaging & chat apps

How to reach people who aren’t checking their feeds

When we go on our semi-annual Buffer retreats, we all stay in touch with one another not on social media but on messaging platforms: WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.

Is the same true for the ways you communicate with your nearby friends and family?

This seems to be a growing trend for a lot of the back-and-forth convos that take place. If social media is seen as a broadcast medium, messaging apps feel a bit more conversational. 

And it’s possible that these two reasons might be why. With messaging apps, there’s:

  1. No algorithm.
  2. No ads.

Algorithms and ads have come to define social media more and more. Messaging apps are the complete opposite. For instance, on Snapchat (not quite a messaging app per se but disruptive enough in this sense), a user will choose to view a branded story and give it their full attention, whereas on Facebook the algorithm decides which posts the user might see.

So with people choosing a way around ads and algorithms, how does your content stand a chance of being seen?

This one definitely calls for some outside-the-box thinking. We’re currently spinning our brains with this one at Buffer and taking inspiration from folks who are charting new territories here already.

The WhatsApp newsletter

Alex Laughlin of the National Journal came up with a pretty neat experiment last year: She uses WhatsApp to send a daily newsletter to a group of subscribers.

whatsapp-newsletter

The setup for the list is pretty simple. Here’re Alex’s instructions:

  • Download WhatsApp
  • Save this number in your contacts as Lunch Links: 706–604–5805.
  • Send “Lunch Links” a message on WhatsApp asking to be added to the newsletter.

Essentially, people would opt in with a phone number rather than an email, and they’d get the newsletter messages straight away as chats. It’s a super interesting concept! And I quite liked this as the motivation for exploring this type of network:

If my fifteen-year-old sister’s social networking use is any indication, organizations should be hopping on these chat technologies — and quickly.

The Everlane Facebook messages

Online clothing retailer Everlane is one of the first to explore Facebook Messenger as a way to engage with customers and perform those standard e-commerce support roles with order confirmations, updates, shipping info, etc.

Customers can chat directly with Everlane support reps for any questions—even adding more items to an order.

10734313_913483538682703_1802322266_n

(Here’s a bit more from Facebook’s announcement about their Messenger platforms).

The new wave of Slack, chat, and notifications

And then there’s all the many different ways to get a message into things like desktop notifications or a Slack chat room (the next frontier!). Here’re just a few options:

  • Roost – Let folks turn on desktop notifications for your blog’s content
  • Slackbots and integrations: This neat list on Product Hunt features things like a Slack bookmarklet for sharing links, plus lots of other cool marketing ideas

Ways you can profit on all this:

  • Give people more than one way to hear from you: Offer subscription via text, Messenger, and more
  • Survey your audience to find out what new technologies they’re using most, then adjust your strategies accordingly
  • Not sure what some of these apps are? Give them a go yourself so it’s easier to empathize with how your customers might experience your brand

Bonus: A few extra social media trends

I originally researched more than 20 new trends that social media folks thought might be big this year. The three above are the ones that seemed really promising, and a bunch of these below were simply too intriguing not to mention. They are:

  1. Emoji responses
  2. 360 video
  3. Livestreaming
  4. Social media customer service
  5. “Everything platforms”

I’ve added all these to a new story on Buffer’s Medium collection.

Click to read more detail on any of these. (And feel free to follow us on Medium if you happen to hang out there some. We post cool stuff!)

Over to you

What trends are you keeping your eye on this year?

What do you see coming for social media?

I’d love the chance to learn from you with any thoughts you have on these items or any that I might have missed! It’d be awesome to connect in the comments or on Twitter.

The post 3 Soon-to-be-Everywhere Social Media Trends You Can Profit on in 2016 appeared first on Social.

Manufacturing Serendipity: How to Create Content that Captivates Your Audience

Posted by Isla_McKetta

Fifteen minutes into my first ever flight with my newborn son — a flight that had been delayed for an hour and a half, during which we’d held off feeding him so he could eat on the way up to make sure his little ears wouldn’t pop from the pressure and he wouldn’t start the flight screeching — fifteen minutes in, we were still ascending and even with his little head concealed beneath a nursing scarf, I could tell he was starting to get full.

I was terrified.

If he started screaming I had no idea how we would survive the four hours left in the flight. My husband and I were not the cool couple who had brought earplugs and coffee cards for all the passengers around us. I was certain everyone would hate us and, even worse, we’d never, ever fly again. I was the worst mother in the history of mothers.

As I was readjusting my son and trying to keep him calm, I noticed this phrase on the back of the nursing scarf’s label:

“You’re doing a great job!” Were there any words I needed more to hear in that moment? Would anything less perfect have incited me to expose this very personal, vulnerable moment to the vast readership of the Moz Blog? If the makers of the Itzy Ritzy nursing scarf hadn’t reached deep into my soul and sent me a message across the universe, would you have ever heard of their product?

You, too, can grab your audience by the heartstrings and build a lasting connection that gets them to come back to you time and again while also evangelizing your business to all their friends. Because while the designers of the Itzy Ritzy nursing scarf did not know specifically when or how this new mom was going to need encouragement and, yes, the kindness of strangers, it was an easy guess to say that every one of their customers would at some point. And with a cheap, but creative, insertion of content on the back side of their label, they won my heart and loyalty.

This is called manufacturing serendipity and here’s how you do it.

Understand your audience’s needs

We talk a lot about empathy at Moz, and that’s because the value of empathy cannot be overstated — in marketing or in life. Empathy is a super power. Dr. Brené Brown describes that super power as “feeling with people,” and it creates a spark of connection for the person being empathized with. That spark can be fanned into the burning passion of a long-lasting relationship — in business and in life.

To understand how to empathize with your customer, first create personas. Find out where your audience is emotionally. Figure out what they’re insecure about, what scares them, what they most need in the moment that they’re visiting your site. It’s not rocket science to understand that a new mom might be feeling insecure about nursing her child in public, and if that’s what your product is designed to help her with… go that extra mile to connect.

Ways to reach into your customer’s soul and speak to their needs include:

  • A car insurance company that caters to the accident prone starting their rate page with copy that assures the customer the company will be there no matter what happens.
  • Creating an ROI calculator after uncovering that your customer needs your software to generate client reports, sure, but she also needs to be able to show her boss the value she’s adding to the company with her daily work.
  • Understanding that everyone’s time is limited, ask the most essential survey question first and then give your customer the chance to expound if he wants to. Like Sears does at the bottom of their two-question satisfaction survey:

Put content in the right places

Are you using all the content opportunities available to you? Reeling from the sniffles, fussiness, and, yes, boogies, that came with my son’s first cold, I opened up the lid on a package of Boogie Wipes to find this:

The wise marketers at Boogie Wipes know that many parents will buy almost anything to make their child feel better. So they seized the opportunity to let me know that they have even more products to help me. Serendipity? It sure felt like it. And you can bet someone (not it!) dashed off to the drug store to buy some saline spray.

You don’t have to turn your site into the Times Square of the Internet to put content in the right places. Instead:

  • Include a call to action at the end of product-related blog posts for a free trial or other promo.
  • Send a reminder email to a customer who’s filled their cart and then left your site. Bonus points if you can pinpoint and speak to why they might not have finished the transaction. Comparison shopping? Offer a discount. Too busy to finish? Suggest a recurring delivery option.
  • Use the mobile version of your site or app to direct customers to your nearest storefront.
  • Make sure the link to your next webinar or event is on your homepage so no one has to dig for it.
  • Or, like clothing retailer Boden, put an order widget at the bottom of all those reviews so it’s super easy to order the item after doing your due diligence:

It doesn’t always take a large change to connect your customer with the content they need.

Surprise, delight, inform

Serendipity is the feeling of happy coincidence. If your content sparks surprise, incites delight, and manages to inform along the way, you’re more likely to get the response you’re looking for from a potential customer. According to Dr. Read Montague, a neuroscientist at Baylor, surprise lights up the brain’s reward pathways. And, unfortunately, delight in marketing is still surprising to most people, so by delighting your customer, you’re creating a positive association with your brand in two ways.

Some favorite examples of content that’s surprised, delighted, and informed me are:

  • The way The Land of Nod positions a website error is both amusing and perfectly tailored to their audience:
  • A “Moments” announcement email from Twitter. Instead of telling me about their new feature, they clued into what I use this account for (live-tweeting The Bachelor) and surfaced content that’s specific to my interests:
  • The image on AirBNB’s 503 error page captures that feeling we have when something gets between us and that sweet treat (or vacation reservation) we’ve been dreaming about:
  • And, finally, because not all content is online, I love the way yogurt maker Brown Cow uses the lids of their yogurt to playfully highlight the many ways a customer could eat the yogurt’s cream top. This both signals to me that the yogurt has a cream top (not everyone’s favorite) and shows me new ways to experience it:

Serendipity isn’t new. Rand’s been talking about it for a long time. But it’s important to remember that serendipity sometimes needs a little help.

Now that you understand your customer’s needs, are looking at creative content placement, and understand how important it is to surprise, delight, and inform your audience, you have the tools you need to help serendipity along.

So if you’re ready to build a lasting connection with your customers, go manufacture some serendipity already. You might just soothe the nerves of a new mom so well that she’ll start evangelizing your products the minute she safely steps off the plane with her calm, jet-setting son.

The title for this post may have subconsciously been inspired by an earlier (but much different) post by Rand. Serendipity? You decide.

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What you need to know about Yahoo Product Ads

Back in November 2015, Yahoo Product Ads officially launched, an umbrella name that encompassed a few different types of ad units within the Yahoo Gemini universe.

I’ve been working specifically with the Search Product Ads unit, which appears on Yahoo.com search results properties with feed driven product ad units.

You might be saying, “Wait, those were there before!” and you would be right. What’s changed is now those ads can now be served by Yahoo from Yahoo submitted feeds through a Yahoo Gemini Merchant Center.

Previously, that inventory had primarily come from the Bing partnership that was renegotiated earlier in 2015. As a result, the amount of traffic being served from Bing Ads started to shift, especially as it pertained to mobile, of which most of the product ads are to come from Yahoo Product Ads or their partners, which does include the deal they also signed with Google in October 2015.

Things to beware of

Yahoo has begun to take advantage of this Google deal, serving Google Product Listing Ads and Bing Ads Product Ads on some Yahoo.com desktop SERPs as a part of the search partner network, as well as testing text ads with extensions from Google in the sidebar results.

Which means that if you are advertising on Google and Bing currently there’s a good chance, particularly in desktop results, that your ads are showing on Yahoo.com SERPs in a multitude of variations of product and text ads from all three engines.

Additionally:

  • If you don’t have a Yahoo account representative, you may not be able to get started yet, otherwise, you’ll need to email the support team and wait for enablement
  • You’ll want to make sure the category that you want to advertise in is ‘open’ first
  • To submit a feed, you need a Dropbox account set up by Yahoo or Fetch
  • The feed specs for Yahoo mimics Google very closely, you should be able to utilize almost the exact same feed
  • There is not an offline editor and you can create campaigns by hand through the bulk import process, or
  • You could utilize your existing Google AdWords account structure and import as is into the account
  • If you have a small to mid-size budget and pressed for time to manage, consider simplifying or collapsing a few of the product groups or campaigns (don’t send your entire Google account)
  • Not all third party tools support this feature yet, so if you have a bid management tool, check to make sure that they’re up and running
  • Billing is the same, if within an up and running Yahoo Gemini account

What we’ve seen so far

There’s definitely some ‘wait and see’ going on right now in terms of adoption rates of the program in the industry and I would expect that in your day to day, you’re already running up against a time constraint to launch and possibly budget issues as well.

I’ve also run into a couple of industry friends that have had trouble launching, due to account enablement or open categories. I would recommend that if you can’t do your entire catalog, choosing a few test campaigns where you have solid volume on Google or Bing in which to capture that traffic that lives between the two search engines.

I’ve also observed that it also matters what category or categories your catalog is in. Apparel was one of the earliest launched categories during the beta and has a lot of strength in terms of volume of impressions and clicks, where as other categories, like Food & Beverage aren’t really built out yet.

Other strong categories that may make Yahoo Product Ads worth it for you now are Electronics, Sporting Goods, Health & Beauty and Home & Garden. If you’re in a smaller niche like Pet Supplies or Luggage, don’t expect volume and performance that competes with Google or Bing.

During an early beta test for a large retailer for one vertical that contained at least a hundred thousand SKUs and a healthy sized budget that was in the apparel category, we saw return for the campaigns at a promising six times, but with an overall volume (impressions and clicks) that was smaller than Bing Ads Product Ads during the test period.

In total from beta launch to when the feature was opened up publically, the CPC has averaged out to .25 with some further tweaking planned, now that more optimization options are available than there were during the beta.

Most of the estimates I’ve been seeing for specific categories have had high impressions, low CTR, but also a low CPC (under .50 cents), very reminiscent of early content network stats.

What we need

I understand the low adoption rate right now for Yahoo Product Ads – it’s new, there’s a lot of cloudiness around Google and Bing’s involvement and whenever that happens, the wait and see attitude comes out. But I do have a wish list of features needed to really convince clients and other paid search industry folks to give this new ad unit a try:

  • Easily accessible estimates or ranges for categories, around impressions or clicks (anything to help determine what the potential opportunity might be)
  • Case studies on return, CPC or even engagement metrics like new to file visitors, lift in organic or assisted conversions
  • Easier account start up, no rep needed and feed submittal directly through the Merchant Center
  • Offline editor
  • Ad scheduling by hour of the day and day of the week capabilities

Clearly, Yahoo is just getting started in the product ads space and with their heavy investments in mobile and acquisitions like Polyvore and Brightroll, logically there is a lot of potential for advertisers needing to capture new eyeballs, especially with the depreciation of some of the comparison shopping channels for more niche discovery shopping markets.

However, the addition of both Google and Bing ad units to the Yahoo.com SERPs makes it harder to justify the management and cost of a third platform, which means that the wait and see is going to continue for now.

Moz Announces $10 Million Financing Round to Build on Momentum of New Products

Posted by SarahBird

Greetings, Moz Community!

We’ve been very busy at Moz. In keeping with my tradition, I’ll tell you what we’ve been up to in excruciating detail in my upcoming 2015 Year in Review post (next week).

But first, some big news! Moz closed a $10 million Series C round of financing yesterday. We’ve got great VC partners in Foundry Group and they are ponying up the entire round.

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Unlike Jack Donaghy, my leadership mentor, I’m buzzing with excitement. I have ambitious goals for Moz and it feels fantastic to get more support on our journey.

[The Aspiration]

The fundamental relationship between organizations and their current and potential customers is changing. New marketing disciplines are emerging to take advantage of exciting changes in how we learn, communicate, make friends, and conduct business. Moz was founded to help marketers capitalize on these shifts.

We are helping people understand and grow their digital influence, and using ours to spread TAGFEE. We’re helping organizations transform how they market to be more Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic, and Exceptional. People have higher expectations about how businesses will interact with them, and less patience for dated and inauthentic approaches.

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My dream is that Moz will be a force for good in marketing and in our communities. I’m passionate not just about what we do, but about how we do it. And I’ve got great investors, like Foundry, who feel the same.

We want to build beautiful software that customers love and that consistently delivers value. We want to be an inclusive place that helps you learn and build something greater than you can build alone. We also want to share what we have with the communities around us. After all, we’re all in this together, one way or another.

[The Struggle]

We’ve soared and stumbled along the way. Sometimes within the same day. It’s exhausting and exhilarating simultaneously. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.

Late 2013 and early 2014, in particular, tested our mettle. We struggled through a brutal product launch and a bunch of scaling challenges. We made mistakes large and small, a few of which we’re still working to resolve.

In the immortal words of Jack Donaghy, management legend, “Business doesn’t get me down; Business gets me off.” We tortured ourselves for lessons, questioned and gave up old dogmas, and began transforming ourselves into an even greater company.

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[The Transformation]

At the time of our Series B, we had a single SAAS product and an API. We ended 2015 with a portfolio of FIVE products and another big project on the way. In 2015, we invested in building new products, new engineering platforms, and retiring tech debt. We’re not slowing down in 2016. We’re building on our momentum.

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Moz Local growth is burning up!

Moz Local makes it fun and painless for brick-and-mortar businesses in the US and UK to grow their digital influence. After a mere 21 months, Moz Local has already generated an impressive $5.7 million USD in its lifetime (cash, not revenue). Moz Local revenue grew over 400% last year alone! We’re currently helping over 60,000 business locations manage their information across the web.

In November 2015, we released a major update to Moz Local that shows how a business location is performing over time and compared to its competitors. We’re also making it easier for businesses to manage their Google My Business profiles. The new features are in beta now and will be available for purchase in February.

If you haven’t played with Moz Local yet, start by checking to see if your business’s information is accurate.

Introducing our newest addition: Moz Content

We’re hoping to replicate Moz Local’s success by launching more standalone tools.

For example, our recently launched Moz Content helps marketers understand and improve their content marketing efforts. This product is powered by a proprietary Moz API to identify keywords and topics interesting to their audience. We’re still very early in this newborn product lifecycle and we’re shipping updates regularly. Since December, over 28,500 marketers have performed ~22,000 content audits and 44,000+ content searches. Usage continues to climb as we add features and polish to our brand-new product.

If you haven’t yet, give Moz Content a whirl.

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This round of financing allows us to build on the momentum we’ve started by growing our new product lines, and kicking Moz Pro and Moz Local up a notch.

In the year ahead, we’ll use the money for growth initiatives, like marketing, experimenting our way to product/market fit, and adding sales and account management folks.

If you’re really into the funding details…

Our pre-money valuation was $120 million. We did about $38 million in revenue for 2015. For reference, our 2012 Series B pre-money was $75 million. We’ve carried forward the same basic terms from the last round (1x liquidation and non-participating preferred). Foundry is contributing the entire $10 million. (Thanks, Foundry!)

Brad Feld, whom we love, is stepping off of the board, and Seth Levine (also from Foundry) is stepping on. I’m getting to know Seth and I’ve enjoyed all my interactions with him. He’s TAGFEE, deeply experienced, and passionate about Moz. He’ll be a great addition to the board. I like to think of this as gaining Seth, rather than losing Brad; they are both still on Team Moz.

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Thanks for your support!

I want Moz to be a company that customers and employees love. I want to create something lasting and meaningful.

We have an ambitious mission. We help organizations transform the way they market to match how people want to engage, learn, and shop. Although I’ve been working on it since 2007, we’ve still got a long way to go, because the target is always moving. Happily, we’re invigorated by big challenges.

We’ve got strong momentum heading into 2016, and I appreciate Foundry’s continued support. Moz is an exceptional company, and we plan on keeping it that way.

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I’m also grateful for this TAGFEE team. Mozzers are optimistic, courageous, creative, and committed. We’ve been accused of being cult-like, and I’m proud of that. And thank you to everyone in the Moz community for cheering us on. We endeavor to serve you.

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!