Building a Local Marketing Strategy for Franchises [Guide Sneak Peek]

Posted by MiriamEllis

A roller is a good tool for painting a house in big, broad strokes. But creating a masterpiece of art requires finer brushes.

Franchises face a unique challenge here: they know how to market at the national level, but often lack the detailed tools for reaching their local customers at a granular level. Google has stated that localization of search results is the greatest form of personalization they currently engage in. For franchises, where local sensitivity is lacking in the marketing plan, opportunity is being lost.

Don’t settle for this. Know that less-motivated competitors are losing this opportunity, too. This creates a large, blank canvas for a franchise you’re marketing to paint a new picture which takes state, regional and community nuances into account.

One famous example of localized marketing is McDonald’s offering SPAM in Hawaii and green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico. For your franchise, it could revolve around customizing content for regional language differences (sub sandwich vs. po’ boy), or knowing when to promote seasonal merchandise at which locations (California vs. North Dakota weather).

What you need is marketing plan capable of scaling from national priorities to hyperlocal customers. Want the complete strategy now?

Get The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing

From paint roller to sumi-e brush: A franchise marketing plan

Today, we’ll explore the basics of getting to know your local customers, so that your national franchise can customize how you serve them. Build a strategy around the following:



Your step-by-step guide to how to create a local marketing strategy

Finding your target audience

First, you need to understand who your customers are. If you have an existing franchise, you can do this fairly easily by simply observing or asking them. You might run an online survey, or you might do some quick spot interviews right in your place of business. What you want to work out is:

  • Demographics: What are the common ages, genders, income levels, and other relevant characteristics of your customers.
  • Psychographics: How do your customers think? What are their attitudes, behaviors and beliefs as they relate to your franchise?
  • Pain points: What problems do your customers have that you could potentially solve? Maybe they want to eat healthy but have no time. Maybe they want a gym that will help them become better athletes.
  • Consumption habits: How do your customers decide where to buy? Are they online? Do they have smartphones? Do they prioritize reviews/recommendations? Do they like video, or podcasts? Which social platforms do they frequent? What events do they attend?

Understanding the customer’s journey

Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about what we call the “customer journey.” This is just another way of saying we want to understand what happens between us and customers before they know our brand exist, after they discover it, up until they buy, and then beyond.

The best way to do this is to divide that experience into steps, understanding that some people will drop out of the process at every stage. Most corporate franchisers will recognize this as the “sales funnel.”

Here’s a simplified version of a sales funnel. Take the time to determine what happens at each stage in your own customers’ experience, and you’ll be a long way toward understanding how you can influence and help customers from one step to the next. 

Mapping a sales funnel


  1. Awareness
    This is where a customer first discovers you exist and starts to form an opinion about you based on what they see. Often, this is managed by the activities being conducted by corporate franchisors (like a national TV ad campaign). But, it can also happen through franchisee-generated references and referrals (like a searcher discovering you via a Google Maps search on their phone).
  2. Discovery
    This is where a customer has already absorbed information about you and your product and begins to actively try to learn more about it. This stage often encompasses online research. It local word-of-mouth queries between potential customers and their friends and family.
  3. Evaluation
    This is where a customer has decided to probably purchase something similar to what you offer, but is trying to decide where to buy. They might stop by your business in this stage, or they may give you a call. They might visit your online website or listings to look at your hours, or menu or price list. This stage is influenced by both franchisor and franchisee activity.
  4. Intent
    Now the customer has decided to buy from you — which means they are your customer to lose. Franchisors can lose them at this stage through misinformation in the brand’s local business listings — like incorrect hours or bad directions that lead customers to the wrong place and cause them to give up. Franchisees could lose the business through poor on-premises experiences — like uncleanliness, long wait times, low inventory, pricing, or poor customer service.
  5. Purchase
    This is where the transaction takes place, and is generally entirely within the control of the franchisee.
  6. Loyalty
    This stage determines whether the customer will return to buy again, and whether or not they will become an advocate for your business, give you good reviews, or rate you poorly. Again, this is typically within the control of the franchisee unless the issue is a decision made at the franchisor level, such as product/menu, pricing or policy.

Sometimes this whole funnel can take place in the time it takes to spot a sign for ice cream and purchase a double scoop sundae. Sometimes it may take weeks, as your customers labor over the right financial advisor to choose.

Understanding how your customer is thinking and what goes into making the decision to use you is important and will guide decision-making and sales activity at both the franchisor and franchisee levels.

Scoping out the competition

Most brands have already worked out their positioning with regard to other national brands, so this one is mainly for franchisees. Take some time to figure out who your direct competitors are in your local market. They might be other big brands, but there will also probably be local SMBs that are not on the corporate franchisor’s radar.

Understand:

  • Where they are stronger or weaker, compared to you
  • Who they attract, compared to you
  • How they are marketing their business

Having this information should help you to position yourself to win a bigger piece of the local pie. Is your competitor a gym that has better weight training and machines than you? Are they marketing mainly to younger men and athletes? Are they advertising on local radio? Perhaps you should double down on your cardio and yoga classes and try to attract more women or older clientele. Maybe adding some nutrition classes will encourage people trying to lose weight. And so on.

Building your authority

Once you’ve figured out who your customers are, how they buy, and how you plan to position your franchise in the local market, it’s time to put that plan into action by creating some content to support it.

For franchisors at corporate this means putting in the time to create an informative, interesting brand website with dynamic, engaging content. Your content should aim to educate, inform and/or entertain, rather than only sell. The more points of engagement your website offers to customers, the more reason they have to read, share, and link to your content, building authority. Your most valuable content will, of course, be the elements or pages that directly convert visitors into customers.

The content you put out over social media should follow this same precept, and lead back to your site as often as possible. Experts suggest that “60% of your posts you create should be engaging, timely content, 30% should be shared content, and only 10% should be promoting your products & services.” (Medium)

Invest some time in link building, in order to show Google’s algorithm how influential your site is and boost your authority and ranking.

Here are a few tips:

    • Use Moz’s “Find Opportunities” feature to locate sites which are linking to your competitors and not you (yet).
    • Look for people who are already referencing your site and ask them to hyperlink to you.
    • Do a little PR or news-making and ask articles to link to your site. (This is something local franchisees can excel at.)
    • Ask for links from local trade organizations, community organizations or commerce groups.
    • Sponsor events and ask for a link.
    • Start a scholarship and post it on local .edu sites.

Find out more about link building and unstructured citation and how to increase them in The Guide to Building Linked Unstructured Citations for Local SEO

Managing channels and budgets efficiently

Armed with good, authoritative content and an effective website, you’ll want to focus on how you manage all the channels available to you. This also includes managing your budget effectively. Most franchisor budgets are focused on the brand, and many franchisees don’t have a lot left over for local marketing, but here are some things to think about.

  • Listings first: Your listings aren’t expensive to manage, but they give your marketing it’s biggest overall value — in some cases literally guiding people to your registers. Make great local business listings your top priority.
  • Claim everything: Franchisors, be sure you are the one in control of your directory listings and social profiles. Complete your Google My Business profile and establish a presence on key social media and review platforms like Facebook and Yelp.
  • Budget wisely: Do the strategy work to understand who your customers are and how best to reach them before you allocate your franchisor or franchisee marketing dollars.


Pointillism for franchises

Adept franchise marketing requires the eye of Seurat: the ability to see life in hundreds of tiny points, making up a masterpiece. For you, franchise pointillism includes:

  • Points representing each customer
  • Points for the customer’s community, as a whole
  • Points representing your locations on the map
  • Points across the web where engagement happens
  • Points offline where engagement happens
  • Points of resource at all levels of the franchise, from franchisor to franchisee

Ready for expert help from Moz in seeing the finer points? Download your copy:

The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing

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What Deep Learning and Machine Learning Mean For the Future of SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Imagine a world where even the high-up Google engineers don’t know what’s in the ranking algorithm. We may be moving in that direction. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores and explains the concepts of deep learning and machine learning, drawing us a picture of how they could impact our work as SEOs.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are going to take a peek into Google’s future and look at what it could mean as Google advances their machine learning and deep learning capabilities. I know these sound like big, fancy, important words. They’re not actually that tough of topics to understand. In fact, they’re simplistic enough that even a lot of technology firms like Moz do some level of machine learning. We don’t do anything with deep learning and a lot of neural networks. We might be going that direction.

But I found an article that was published in January, absolutely fascinating and I think really worth reading, and I wanted to extract some of the contents here for Whiteboard Friday because I do think this is tactically and strategically important to understand for SEOs and really important for us to understand so that we can explain to our bosses, our teams, our clients how SEO works and will work in the future.

The article is called “Google Search Will Be Your Next Brain.” It’s by Steve Levy. It’s over on Medium. I do encourage you to read it. It’s a relatively lengthy read, but just a fascinating one if you’re interested in search. It starts with a profile of Geoff Hinton, who was a professor in Canada and worked on neural networks for a long time and then came over to Google and is now a distinguished engineer there. As the article says, a quote from the article: “He is versed in the black art of organizing several layers of artificial neurons so that the entire system, the system of neurons, could be trained or even train itself to divine coherence from random inputs.”

This sounds complex, but basically what we’re saying is we’re trying to get machines to come up with outcomes on their own rather than us having to tell them all the inputs to consider and how to process those incomes and the outcome to spit out. So this is essentially machine learning. Google has used this, for example, to figure out when you give it a bunch of photos and it can say, “Oh, this is a landscape photo. Oh, this is an outdoor photo. Oh, this is a photo of a person.” Have you ever had that creepy experience where you upload a photo to Facebook or to Google+ and they say, “Is this your friend so and so?” And you’re like, “God, that’s a terrible shot of my friend. You can barely see most of his face, and he’s wearing glasses which he usually never wears. How in the world could Google+ or Facebook figure out that this is this person?”

That’s what they use, these neural networks, these deep machine learning processes for. So I’ll give you a simple example. Here at MOZ, we do machine learning very simplistically for page authority and domain authority. We take all the inputs — numbers of links, number of linking root domains, every single metric that you could get from MOZ on the page level, on the sub-domain level, on the root-domain level, all these metrics — and then we combine them together and we say, “Hey machine, we want you to build us the algorithm that best correlates with how Google ranks pages, and here’s a bunch of pages that Google has ranked.” I think we use a base set of 10,000, and we do it about quarterly or every 6 months, feed that back into the system and the system pumps out the little algorithm that says, “Here you go. This will give you the best correlating metric with how Google ranks pages.” That’s how you get page authority domain authority.

Cool, really useful, helpful for us to say like, “Okay, this page is probably considered a little more important than this page by Google, and this one a lot more important.” Very cool. But it’s not a particularly advanced system. The more advanced system is to have these kinds of neural nets in layers. So you have a set of networks, and these neural networks, by the way, they’re designed to replicate nodes in the human brain, which is in my opinion a little creepy, but don’t worry. The article does talk about how there’s a board of scientists who make sure Terminator 2 doesn’t happen, or Terminator 1 for that matter. Apparently, no one’s stopping Terminator 4 from happening? That’s the new one that’s coming out.

So one layer of the neural net will identify features. Another layer of the neural net might classify the types of features that are coming in. Imagine this for search results. Search results are coming in, and Google’s looking at the features of all the websites and web pages, your websites and pages, to try and consider like, “What are the elements I could pull out from there?”

Well, there’s the link data about it, and there are things that happen on the page. There are user interactions and all sorts of stuff. Then we’re going to classify types of pages, types of searches, and then we’re going to extract the features or metrics that predict the desired result, that a user gets a search result they really like. We have an algorithm that can consistently produce those, and then neural networks are hopefully designed — that’s what Geoff Hinton has been working on — to train themselves to get better. So it’s not like with PA and DA, our data scientist Matt Peters and his team looking at it and going, “I bet we could make this better by doing this.”

This is standing back and the guys at Google just going, “All right machine, you learn.” They figure it out. It’s kind of creepy, right?

In the original system, you needed those people, these individuals here to feed the inputs, to say like, “This is what you can consider, system, and the features that we want you to extract from it.”

Then unsupervised learning, which is kind of this next step, the system figures it out. So this takes us to some interesting places. Imagine the Google algorithm, circa 2005. You had basically a bunch of things in here. Maybe you’d have anchor text, PageRank and you’d have some measure of authority on a domain level. Maybe there are people who are tossing new stuff in there like, “Hey algorithm, let’s consider the location of the searcher. Hey algorithm, let’s consider some user and usage data.” They’re tossing new things into the bucket that the algorithm might consider, and then they’re measuring it, seeing if it improves.

But you get to the algorithm today, and gosh there are going to be a lot of things in there that are driven by machine learning, if not deep learning yet. So there are derivatives of all of these metrics. There are conglomerations of them. There are extracted pieces like, “Hey, we only ant to look and measure anchor text on these types of results when we also see that the anchor text matches up to the search queries that have previously been performed by people who also search for this.” What does that even mean? But that’s what the algorithm is designed to do. The machine learning system figures out things that humans would never extract, metrics that we would never even create from the inputs that they can see.

Then, over time, the idea is that in the future even the inputs aren’t given by human beings. The machine is getting to figure this stuff out itself. That’s weird. That means that if you were to ask a Google engineer in a world where deep learning controls the ranking algorithm, if you were to ask the people who designed the ranking system, “Hey, does it matter if I get more links,” they might be like, “Well, maybe.” But they don’t know, because they don’t know what’s in this algorithm. Only the machine knows, and the machine can’t even really explain it. You could go take a snapshot and look at it, but (a) it’s constantly evolving, and (b) a lot of these metrics are going to be weird conglomerations and derivatives of a bunch of metrics mashed together and torn apart and considered only when certain criteria are fulfilled. Yikes.

So what does that mean for SEOs. Like what do we have to care about from all of these systems and this evolution and this move towards deep learning, which by the way that’s what Jeff Dean, who is, I think, a senior fellow over at Google, he’s the dude that everyone mocks for being the world’s smartest computer scientist over there, and Jeff Dean has basically said, “Hey, we want to put this into search. It’s not there yet, but we want to take these models, these things that Hinton has built, and we want to put them into search.” That for SEOs in the future is going to mean much less distinct universal ranking inputs, ranking factors. We won’t really have ranking factors in the way that we know them today. It won’t be like, “Well, they have more anchor text and so they rank higher.” That might be something we’d still look at and we’d say, “Hey, they have this anchor text. Maybe that’s correlated with what the machine is finding, the system is finding to be useful, and that’s still something I want to care about to a certain extent.”

But we’re going to have to consider those things a lot more seriously. We’re going to have to take another look at them and decide and determine whether the things that we thought were ranking factors still are when the neural network system takes over. It also is going to mean something that I think many, many SEOs have been predicting for a long time and have been working towards, which is more success for websites that satisfy searchers. If the output is successful searches, and that’ s what the system is looking for, and that’s what it’s trying to correlate all its metrics to, if you produce something that means more successful searches for Google searchers when they get to your site, and you ranking in the top means Google searchers are happier, well you know what? The algorithm will catch up to you. That’s kind of a nice thing. It does mean a lot less info from Google about how they rank results.

So today you might hear from someone at Google, “Well, page speed is a very small ranking factor.” In the future they might be, “Well, page speed is like all ranking factors, totally unknown to us.” Because the machine might say, “Well yeah, page speed as a distinct metric, one that a Google engineer could actually look at, looks very small.” But derivatives of things that are connected to page speed may be huge inputs. Maybe page speed is something, that across all of these, is very well connected with happier searchers and successful search results. Weird things that we never thought of before might be connected with them as the machine learning system tries to build all those correlations, and that means potentially many more inputs into the ranking algorithm, things that we would never consider today, things we might consider wholly illogical, like, “What servers do you run on?” Well, that seems ridiculous. Why would Google ever grade you on that?

If human beings are putting factors into the algorithm, they never would. But the neural network doesn’t care. It doesn’t care. It’s a honey badger. It doesn’t care what inputs it collects. It only cares about successful searches, and so if it turns out that Ubuntu is poorly correlated with successful search results, too bad.

This world is not here yet today, but certainly there are elements of it. Google has talked about how Panda and Penguin are based off of machine learning systems like this. I think, given what Geoff Hinton and Jeff Dean are working on at Google, it sounds like this will be making its way more seriously into search and therefore it’s something that we’re really going to have to consider as search marketers.

All right everyone, I hope you’ll join me again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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The Best of the Best: Celebrating the Top 10 of the Moz Top 10 for 2014

Posted by Isla_McKetta

Oh no, another year-end roundup! But before you click away, let me sell you a little on why this is the roundup you actually want to read.

You see, to compile the
Moz Top 10 over the last year, we probably read 50 or more articles EACH WEEK, that’s around 100 articles for every issue. We then spent innumerable hours curating and culling until we could share with you the very best of those articles in the bi-weekly Top 10.

So this is not just another listicle. This article is in fact the distillation of the very best content from all over the interwebs for the past year that has anything to do with digital marketing. Basically,
we read 2,600 (or so) articles so you don’t have to.

What does “best” mean?

There’s no formula for what makes an article Top-10 worthy. We look for the best content of each two week period and then try and winnow and fit it until each newsletter contains just the right balance of digital marketing tips, tricks, analysis, and inspiration.

We work to reach beyond SEO and find articles that will help people who specialize in content, social, design, UX, and more broaden their skill set and understand the work their marketing compatriots engage in. The mix and style changes as the author of this newsletter changes. I’m biased toward content marketing, Cyrus loves SEO. Trevor’s a sucker for a journalistic slant.

But whoever is writing the latest edition is trying to find that perfect balance so you come away from the newsletter having found at least one article that teaches you something new, changes the way you think about marketing, or makes your job a little easier.

We look for articles by authors new and old that are
well written, well illustrated, and comprehensive. Sometimes we publish something because it’s a really good resource or because it says the thing that needs to be said.

Some pieces make the Top 10 because they are
heart-achingly eloquent. And sometimes we include a little something fun, playful, or easy on the eyes (but still educational) at the end to finish your day off right.

Then news
breaks (ahem, Google) and we reconfigure it all.

The Top 10 of the Top 10

For the Top 10 of the Moz Top 10, we could have gone with the most newsworthy content—articles that claim
some tactic is dead
or some era is over, but Search Engine Land already did that, so I wanted to take a different approach.

Instead, I chose the articles from 2014 that endure. Below you’ll find articles that continue to inspire, how-tos and guides so comprehensive they deserve a revisit, and, yes, even a few tips and tricks that you should really get to. Without further ado, here are the best of the best…

1. Life is a Game. This is Your Strategy Guide

If you can master life, all that marketing stuff is a cake walk. Level up in your day-to-day with this thoughtful, comprehensive, and gorgeous guide from Oliver Emberton.

2. Announcing the All-New Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

Paddy Moogan knows a thing or two about link building, and here he’s teamed up with some folks at Moz to turn all of that information into an easy-to-follow yet comprehensive guide. I had no part in this project, so I can safely tell you I <3 the Zelda references.

3. No Words Wasted: A Guide to Creating Focused Content

From getting customer interviews right to nailing content promotion, this massive guide from Distilled covers everything you need to know about content strategy. I learn something new (or rediscover something I should never have forgotten) every time I read it.

4. Micro Data & Schema.org Rich Snippets: Everything You Need to Know

If you don’t know what micro data are and you haven’t figured out what to do with Schema.org, your content marketing is missing a crucial element for SERP success. BuiltVisible to the rescue with this amazing and easy-to-follow guide.

5. The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

If you suspect there’s a blockage in your sales funnel, it’s time to think about CRO. This guide from Qualaroo will tell you everything you need to know to start pinpointing (and fixing) your barriers to conversion.

6. 2014 Industry Survey Results

A survey so big we can only do it once every two years. Peek at salaries, tools, and trends to compare where the digital marketing industry was at the beginning of 2014 to where you are now for a peek at what the future may hold. 

7. UX Crash Course: User Psychology

Composed of 31 lessons, this online “course” will help you understand user motivation and how you can use psychology to massively improve your user experience.

8. A Geek’s Guide to Gaming The Algorithms

Sometimes looking at information from a slightly different angle makes it easier to digest. In this delightful piece, Ian Lurie teaches us when it’s okay to game the algorithms at the same time as he’s spelling out, in plain language, what each algorithm update was really about.

9. The Ultimate List of IFTTT Recipes for Marketers

Favorite part of this amazingly detailed post from SEER? The fact that it starts from a user’s perspective. So whether you want to “stalk your competitors’ stocks” or “keep track of industry meetups,” there’s an answer (in the form of an IFTTT recipe) here for you.

10. The Rich Snippets Algorithm

So much changed in the realm of rich snippets last year. AJ Kohn delves into the relationship between those rich snippets and knowledge graph results. It’s a heady post that just might offer some interesting insight into the future of SERPs.

Sign up for the Moz Top 10

Like what you see? Want us to read all the articles while you peruse a summary of the most important things you need to know?

Sign up for the Moz Top 10

After you click that big red button, you’ll be taken to the Moz Top 10 page and asked to enter your email and hit “subscribe.” At that moment we’ll put you on the list for the very next edition, currently scheduled for January 13.

Submit to the Moz Top 10

And if you’re someone who’s writing Top-10-worthy content and we just haven’t found you yet, we want to read what you’ve got. So please send us your suggestions. Each edition of the Moz Top 10 only covers content from the most recent two-week period, so send that link while the content is still fresh.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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The Best of 2014: Top People and Posts from the Moz Blog

Posted by Trevor-Klein

At the end of every year, we compile a list of the very best posts and most popular and prolific people that have been published on the Moz Blog and YouMoz. It’s a really fun way to look back on what happened this year, and an insight-packed view of what really resonates with our readers.

Here’s what we’ve got in store:

  1. Top Moz Blog posts by 1Metric score
  2. Top Moz Blog posts by unique visits
  3. Top YouMoz Blog posts by unique visits
  4. Top Moz Blog posts by number of thumbs up
  5. Top Moz Blog posts by number of comments
  6. Top Moz Blog posts by number of linking root domains
  7. Top comments from our community by number of thumbs up
  8. Top commenters from our community by total number of thumbs up

A huge thanks goes to Dr. Pete Meyers and Cyrus Shepard; their help cut the amount of time creating this piece consumed in half.

We hope you enjoy the look back at the past year, and wish you a very happy start to 2015!

1. Top Moz Blog posts by 1Metric score

Earlier this year, we created a new metric to evaluate the success of our blog posts, calling it “the one metric” in a nod to The Lord of the Rings. We even
wrote about it on this blog. With the help and feedback of many folks in the community as well as some refinement of our own, we’ve now polished the metric, changed the spelling a bit, applied it retroactively to older posts, and are using it regularly in-house. The following posts are those with the highest scores, representing the 10 posts that saw the most overall success this year. In case there was any doubt, Cyrus really (really) knows what he’s doing.

1. More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO
October 21 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
As marketers, helping search engines understand what our content means is one of our most important tasks. Search engines can’t read pages like humans can, so we incorporate structure and clues as to what our content means. This post explores a series of on-page techniques that not only build upon one another, but can be combined in sophisticated ways.

Dr-Pete

2. New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
March 20 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Google’s 2014 redesign had a big impact on search result titles, cutting them off much sooner. This post includes a title preview tool and takes a data-driven approach to finding the new limit.

MarieHaynes

3. Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird
June 11 – Posted by Marie Haynes
Do you have questions about the Panda algorithm, the Penguin algorithm, or Hummingbird? This guide explains in lay terms what each of these Google algorithm changes is about and how to improve your site so that it looks better in the eyes of the big G.

4. 12 Ways to Increase Traffic From Google Without Building Links
March 11 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
The job of the Technical SEO becomes more complex each year, but we also have more opportunities now than ever. Here are 12 ways you can improve your rankings without relying on link building.

OliGardner

5. The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read
May 20 – Posted by Oli Gardner
If you’ve ever been bored while reading a blog post, your life just got better. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about conversion rate optimization, and how to design high-converting landing pages, without falling asleep, you’re in the right place. Buckle up, and prepare to be entertained in your learning regions.

6. Illustrated Guide to Advanced On-Page Topic Targeting for SEO
November 17 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
The concepts of advanced on-page SEO are dizzying: LDA, co-occurrence, and entity salience. The question is “How can I easily incorporate these techniques into my content for higher rankings?” The truth is, you can create optimized pages that rank well without understanding complex algorithms.

josh_bachynski

7. Panda 4.1 Google Leaked Dos and Don’ts – Whiteboard Friday
December 05 – Posted by Josh Bachynski
Panda is about so much more than good content. Let Josh Bachynski give you the inside information on the highlights of what you should (and should not) be doing.

8. 10 Smart Tips to Leverage Google+ for Increased Web Traffic
April 15 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
While not everyone has an audience active on Google+, the number of people who interact socially with any Google products on a monthly basis now reportedly exceeds 500 million.

9. The Rules of Link Building – Whiteboard Friday
April 04 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Google is increasingly playing the referee in the marketing game, and many marketers are simply leaving instead of playing by the rules. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Cyrus Shepard takes a time-out to explain a winning strategy.

gfiorelli1

10. The Myth of Google’s 200 Ranking Factors
September 30 – Posted by Gianluca Fiorelli
Nothing like the “The 200 Google Ranking Factors” actually exists. It is a myth, and those who claim to be able to offer a final list are its prophets. This post explains how the myth was born and the importance of knowing the stages of search engines’ working process.

2. Top Moz Blog posts by unique visits

The heaviest-weighted ingredient in the 1Metric is unique visits, as one of our primary goals for the Moz Blog is to drive traffic to the rest of the site. With that in mind, we thought it interesting to break things down to just this metric and show you just how different this list is from the last one. Of note: Dr. Pete’s post on Google’s new design for title tags is a nod to the power of evergreen content. That post is one that folks can return to over and over as they fiddle with their own title tags, and amassed more than
twice the traffic of the post in the #2 slot.

Dr-Pete

1. New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
March 20 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Google’s 2014 redesign had a big impact on search result titles, cutting them off much sooner. This post includes a title preview tool and takes a data-driven approach to finding the new limit.

OliGardner

2. The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read
May 20 – Posted by Oli Gardner
If you’ve ever been bored while reading a blog post, your life just got better. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about conversion rate optimization, and how to design high-converting landing pages, without falling asleep, you’re in the right place. Buckle up, and prepare to be entertained in your learning regions.

3. 12 Ways to Increase Traffic From Google Without Building Links
March 11 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
The job of the Technical SEO becomes more complex each year, but we also have more opportunities now than ever. Here are 12 ways you can improve your rankings without relying on link building.

briancarter

4. Why Every Business Should Spend at Least $1 per Day on Facebook Ads
February 19 – Posted by Brian Carter
For the last three years I’ve constantly recommended Facebook ads. I recommend them to both B2C and B2B businesses. I recommend them to local theaters and comedians here in Charleston, SC. I recommend them to everyone who wants to grow awareness about anything they’re doing. Here’s why.

5. More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO
October 21 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
As marketers, helping search engines understand what our content means is one of our most important tasks. Search engines can’t read pages like humans can, so we incorporate structure and clues as to what our content means. This post explores a series of on-page techniques that not only build upon one another, but can be combined in sophisticated ways.

MarieHaynes

6. Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird
June 11 – Posted by Marie Haynes
Do you have questions about the Panda algorithm, the Penguin algorithm, or Hummingbird? This guide explains in lay terms what each of these Google algorithm changes is about and how to improve your site so that it looks better in the eyes of the big G.

Chad_Wittman

7. Make Facebook’s Algorithm Change Work For You, Not Against You
January 23 – Posted by Chad Wittman
Recently, many page admins have been experiencing a significant decrease in Total Reach—specifically, organic reach. For pages that want to keep their ad budget as low as possible, maximizing organic reach is vital. To best understand how to make a change like this work for you, and not against you, we need to examine what happened—and what you can do about it.

n8ngrimm

8. How to Rank Well in Amazon, the US’s Largest Product Search Engine
June 04 – Posted by Nathan Grimm
The eCommerce SEO community is ignoring a huge opportunity by focusing almost exclusively on Google. Amazon has roughly three times more search volume for products, and this post tells you all about how to rank.

iPullRank

9. Personas: The Art and Science of Understanding the Person Behind the Visit
January 29 – Posted by Michael King
With the erosion of keyword intelligence and the move to strings-not-things for the user, Google is pushing all marketers to focus more on their target audience. This post will teach you how to understand that audience, the future of Google, and how to build data-driven personas step by step.

Dr-Pete

10. Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0 & eBay’s Very Bad Day
May 21 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Preliminary analysis of the Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0 updates, major algorithm flux on May 19th, and a big one-day rankings drop for eBay.

3. Top YouMoz Blog posts by unique visits

One of our favorite parts of the Moz community is the YouMoz Blog, where our community members can submit their own posts for potential publishing here on our site. We’re constantly impressed by what we’re sent. These 10 posts all received such high praise that they were promoted to the main Moz Blog, but they all started out as YouMoz posts. 

Chad_Wittman

1. Make Facebook’s Algorithm Change Work For You, Not Against You
January 23 – Posted by Chad Wittman
Recently, many page admins have been experiencing a significant decrease in Total Reach—specifically, organic reach. For pages that want to keep their ad budget as low as possible, maximizing organic reach is vital. To best understand how to make a change like this work for you, and not against you, we need to examine what happened—and what you can do about it.

Carla_Dawson

2. Parallax Scrolling Websites and SEO – A Collection of Solutions and Examples
April 01 – Posted by Carla Dawson
I have observed that there are many articles that say parallax scrolling is not ideal for search engines. Parallax Scrolling is a design technique and it is ideal for search engines if you know how to apply it. I have collected a list of great tutorials and real SEO-friendly parallax websites to help the community learn how to use both techniques together.

Jeffalytics

3. (Provided): 10 Ways to Prove SEO Value in Google Analytics
February 25 – Posted by Jeff Sauer
We and our clients have relied on keyword reports for so long that we’re now using (not provided) as a crutch. This post offers 10 ways you can use Google Analytics to prove your SEO value now that those keywords are gone.

danatanseo

4. How to Set Up and Use Twitter Lead Generation Cards in Your Tweets for Free!
May 07 – Posted by Dana Tan
Working as an in-house SEO strategist for a small business forces me to get “scrappy” every day with tools and techniques. I’m constantly on the lookout for an opportunity that can help my company market to broader audiences for less money. Here’s how to set up your Twitter Cards for free!

Amanda_Gallucci

5. 75 Content Starters for Any Industry
February 06 – Posted by Amanda Gallucci
Suffering from blank page anxiety? Before you go on the hunt for inspiration all over the Internet and elsewhere, turn to the resources around you. Realize that you can create exceptional content with what you already have at hand.

nicoleckohler

6. The Hidden Power of Nofollow Links
June 08 – Posted by Nicole Kohler
For those of us who are trying to earn links for our clients, receiving a nofollow link can feel like a slap in the face. But these links have hidden powers that make them just as important as followed ones. Here’s why nofollow links are more powerful than you might think.

YonDotan

7. A Startling Case Study of Manual Penalties and Negative SEO
March 17 – Posted by Yonatan Dotan
One day in my inbox I found the dreaded notice from Google that our client had a site-wide manual penalty for unnatural inbound links. We quickly set up a call and went through the tooth-rattling ordeal of explaining to our client that they weren’t even ranked for their brand name. Organic traffic dropped by a whopping 94% – and that for a website that gets 66% of its traffic from Google-based organic search.

malditojavi

8. How PornHub Is Bringing its A-Game (SFW)
July 23 – Posted by Javier Sanz
Despite dealing with a sensitive subject, PornHub is doing a great job marketing itself. This (safe-for-work) post takes a closer look at what they are doing.

ajfried

9. Storytelling Through Data: A New Inbound Marketing & SEO Report Structure
January 07 – Posted by Aaron Friedman
No matter what business you are in, it’s a pretty sure thing that someone is going to want to monitor how efficiently and productively you are working. Being able to show these results over time is crucial to maintaining the health of the long term relationship.

robinparallax

10. The Art of Thinking Sideways: Content Marketing for “Boring” Businesses
April 08 – Posted by Robin Swire
In this article, I’ll examine the art of thinking sideways for one of the slightly more tricky marketing clients I’ve worked with. I hope that this will provide an insight for fellow content marketers and SEOs in similar scenarios.

4. Top Moz Blog posts by number of thumbs up

These 10 posts were well enough received that liked that quite a few readers took the time to engage with them, logging in to give their stamp of approval. Whiteboard Fridays are always a hit, and two of them managed to make this list after having been live for less than a month.

1. More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO
October 21 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
As marketers, helping search engines understand what our content means is one of our most important tasks. Search engines can’t read pages like humans can, so we incorporate structure and clues as to what our content means. This post explores a series of on-page techniques that not only build upon one another, but can be combined in sophisticated ways.

Dr-Pete

2. New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
March 20 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Google’s 2014 redesign had a big impact on search result titles, cutting them off much sooner. This post includes a title preview tool and takes a data-driven approach to finding the new limit.

randfish

3. Dear Google, Links from YouMoz Don’t Violate Your Quality Guidelines
July 23 – Posted by Rand Fishkin
Recently, Moz contributor Scott Wyden, a photographer in New Jersey, received a warning in his Google Webmaster Tools about some links that violated Google’s Quality Guidelines. One example was from moz.com.

MarieHaynes

4. Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird
June 11 – Posted by Marie Haynes
Do you have questions about the Panda algorithm, the Penguin algorithm, or Hummingbird? This guide explains in lay terms what each of these Google algorithm changes is about and how to improve your site so that it looks better in the eyes of the big G.

randfish

5. Thank You for 10 Incredible Years
October 06 – Posted by Rand Fishkin
It’s been 10 amazing years since Rand started the blog that would turn into SEOmoz and then Moz, and we never could have come this far without you all. You’ll find letters of appreciation from Rand and Sarah in this post (along with a super-cool video retrospective!), and from all of us at Moz, thank you!

6. Illustrated Guide to Advanced On-Page Topic Targeting for SEO
November 17 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
The concepts of advanced on-page SEO are dizzying: LDA, co-occurrence, and entity salience. The question is “How can I easily incorporate these techniques into my content for higher rankings?” The truth is, you can create optimized pages that rank well without understanding complex algorithms.

josh_bachynski

7. Panda 4.1 Google Leaked Dos and Don’ts – Whiteboard Friday
December 05 – Posted by Josh Bachynski
Panda is about so much more than good content. Let Josh Bachynski give you the inside information on the highlights of what you should (and should not) be doing.

OliGardner

8. The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read
May 20 – Posted by Oli Gardner
If you’ve ever been bored while reading a blog post, your life just got better. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about conversion rate optimization, and how to design high-converting landing pages, without falling asleep, you’re in the right place. Buckle up, and prepare to be entertained in your learning regions.

randfish

9. Does SEO Boil Down to Site Crawlability and Content Quality? – Whiteboard Friday
July 11 – Posted by Rand Fishkin
What does good SEO really mean these days? Rand takes us beyond crawlability and content quality for a peek inside the art and science of the practice.

randfish

10. How to Avoid the Unrealistic Expectations SEOs Often Create – Whiteboard Friday
December 12 – Posted by Rand Fishkin
Making promises about SEO results too often leads to broken dreams and shredded contracts. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand shows us how to set expectations that lead to excitement but help prevent costly misunderstandings.

5. Top Moz Blog posts by number of comments

While the discussions can take a big chunk out of an already busy day, the conversations we get to have with our community members (and the conversations they have with each other) in the comments below our posts is absolutely one of our favorite parts of the blog. These 10 posts garnered quite a bit of discussion (some with a fair amount of controversy), and are fascinating to follow.

1. Take the SEO Expert Quiz and Rule the Internet
May 28 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
You are master of the keyword. You create 1,000 links with a single tweet. Google engineers ask for your approval before updating their algorithm. You, my friend, are an SEO Expert. Prove it by taking our new SEO Expert Quiz.

2. The Rules of Link Building – Whiteboard Friday
April 04 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Google is increasingly playing the referee in the marketing game, and many marketers are simply leaving instead of playing by the rules. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Cyrus Shepard takes a time-out to explain a winning strategy.

randfish

3. Dear Google, Links from YouMoz Don’t Violate Your Quality Guidelines
July 23 – Posted by Rand Fishkin
Recently, Moz contributor Scott Wyden, a photographer in New Jersey, received a warning in his Google Webmaster Tools about some links that violated Google’s Quality Guidelines. One example was from moz.com.

Dr-Pete

4. New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
March 20 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Google’s 2014 redesign had a big impact on search result titles, cutting them off much sooner. This post includes a title preview tool and takes a data-driven approach to finding the new limit.

Carla_Dawson

5. SEO Teaching: Should SEO Be Taught at Universities?
October 09 – Posted by Carla Dawson
Despite the popularity and importance of SEO, the field has yet to gain significant traction at the university level other than a few courses here and there offered as part of a broader digital marketing degree. The tide could be turning, however slowly.

6. 12 Ways to Increase Traffic From Google Without Building Links
March 11 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
The job of the Technical SEO becomes more complex each year, but we also have more opportunities now than ever. Here are 12 ways you can improve your rankings without relying on link building.

evolvingSEO

7. The Broken Art of Company Blogging (and the Ignored Metric that Could Save Us All)
July 22 – Posted by Dan Shure
Company blogging is broken. We’re tricking ourselves into believing they’re successful while ignoring the one signal we have that tells us whether they’re actually working.

MichaelC

8. Real-World Panda Optimization – Whiteboard Friday
August 01 – Posted by Michael Cottam
From the originality of your content to top-heavy posts, there’s a lot that the Panda algorithm is looking for. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Michael Cottam explains what these things are, and more importantly, what we can do to be sure we get the nod from this particular bear.

EricaMcGillivray

9. Ways to Proactively Welcome Women Into Online Marketing
September 17 – Posted by Erica McGillivray
SEO may be a male-dominated industry, but let’s step out of our biases and work hard to welcome women, and marketers of all stripes, into our community.

10. More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO
October 21 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
As marketers, helping search engines understand what our content means is one of our most important tasks. Search engines can’t read pages like humans can, so we incorporate structure and clues as to what our content means. This post explores a series of on-page techniques that not only build upon one another, but can be combined in sophisticated ways.

6. Top Moz Blog posts by number of linking root domains

What, you thought you’d get to the bottom of the post without seeing a traditional SEO metric? =)

Dr-Pete

1. New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
March 20 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Google’s 2014 redesign had a big impact on search result titles, cutting them off much sooner. This post includes a title preview tool and takes a data-driven approach to finding the new limit.

Dr-Pete

2. Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0 & eBay’s Very Bad Day
May 21 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Preliminary analysis of the Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0 updates, major algorithm flux on May 19th, and a big one-day rankings drop for eBay.

iPullRank

3. Personas: The Art and Science of Understanding the Person Behind the Visit
January 29 – Posted by Michael King
With the erosion of keyword intelligence and the move to strings-not-things for the user, Google is pushing all marketers to focus more on their target audience. This post will teach you how to understand that audience, the future of Google, and how to build data-driven personas step by step.

briancarter

4. Why Every Business Should Spend at Least $1 per Day on Facebook Ads
February 19 – Posted by Brian Carter
For the last three years I’ve constantly recommended Facebook ads. I recommend them to both B2C and B2B businesses. I recommend them to local theaters and comedians here in Charleston, SC. I recommend them to everyone who wants to grow awareness about anything they’re doing. Here’s why.

JamesAgate

5. The New Link Building Survey 2014 – Results
July 16 – Posted by James Agate
How has the marketing industry changed its views of link building since last year? James Agate of Skyrocket SEO is back with the results of a brand new survey.

Dr-Pete

6. Google’s 2014 Redesign: Before and After
March 13 – Posted by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Google’s SERP and ad format redesign may finally be rolling out, after months of testing. Before we lose the old version forever, here’s the before-and-after of every major vertical that’s changed.

7. Google Announces the End of Author Photos in Search: What You Should Know
June 26 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Many of us have been constantly advising webmasters to connect their content writers with Google authorship, and it came as a shock when John Mueller announced Google will soon drop authorship photos from regular search results. Let’s examine what this means.

randfish

8. The Greatest Misconception in Content Marketing – Whiteboard Friday
April 25 – Posted by Rand Fishkin
Great content certainly helps business, but it isn’t as simple as “publish, share, convert new customers.” In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains what’s really going on.

OliGardner

9. The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read
May 20 – Posted by Oli Gardner
If you’ve ever been bored while reading a blog post, your life just got better. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about conversion rate optimization, and how to design high-converting landing pages, without falling asleep, you’re in the right place. Buckle up, and prepare to be entertained in your learning regions.

MarieHaynes

10. Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird
June 11 – Posted by Marie Haynes
Do you have questions about the Panda algorithm, the Penguin algorithm, or Hummingbird? This guide explains in lay terms what each of these Google algorithm changes is about and how to improve your site so that it looks better in the eyes of the big G.

7. Top comments from our community by number of thumbs up

These 10 comments were the most thumbed-up of any on our blogs this year, offering voices of reason that stand out from the crowd. 

MarieHaynes

1. Marie Haynes | July 23
Commented on: 
Dear Google, Links from YouMoz Don’t Violate Your Quality Guidelines

Backlinko

2. Brian Dean | September 30
Commented on: 
The Myth of Google’s 200 Ranking Factors

mpezet

3. Martin Pezet | July 22
Commented on: 
The Broken Art of Company Blogging (and the Ignored Metric that Could Save Us All)

dannysullivan

4. Danny Sullivan | July 23
Commented on: 
Dear Google, Links from YouMoz Don’t Violate Your Quality Guidelines

5. Cyrus Shepard | October 21
Commented on: 
More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO

SarahBird

6. Sarah Bird | September 17
Commented on: 
Ways to Proactively Welcome Women Into Online Marketing

randfish

7. Rand Fishkin | July 04
Commented on: 
5 Fashion Hacks for the Modern Male Marketer – Whiteboard Friday

mpezet

8. Martin Pezet | September 30
Commented on: 
The Myth of Google’s 200 Ranking Factors

FangDigitalMarketing

9. Jeff Ferguson | October 24
Commented on: 
Is It Possible to Have Good SEO Simply by Having Great Content – Whiteboard Friday

magicrob

10. Robert Duckers | March 20
Commented on: 
New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool

8. Top commenters from our community by total thumbs up

We calculated this one a bit differently this year. In the past, we’ve shown the top community members by sheer number of comments. We don’t want, however, to imply that being prolific is necessarily good within itself. So, we added up all the thumbs-up that each comment on our blogs has received, and figured out which community members racked up the most thumbs over the course of the year. (We’ve intentionally omitted staff members and associates from this list, as they’d stack the deck pretty heavily!)

The graphics to the right of each community member show the number of comments they’ve left on blog posts in 2014 as well as the total number of thumbs up those comments have received.

This list is truly an illustration of how amazing the Moz community is. This site would hardly be anything without all of you, and we
so appreciate your involvement on such a regular basis!

SamuelScott

1. Samuel Scott (Moz username: SamuelScott)
MozPoints: 1557 | Rank: 54

paints-n-design

2. Andreas Becker (Moz username: paints-n-design)
MozPoints: 667 | Rank: 148

MarieHaynes

3. Marie Haynes (Moz username: MarieHaynes)
MozPoints: 4706 | Rank: 7

MarkTraphagen

4. Mark Traphagen (Moz username: MarkTraphagen)
MozPoints: 993 | Rank: 102

steviephil

5. Steve Morgan (Moz username: steviephil)
MozPoints: 1249 | Rank: 72

russangular

6. Russ Jones (Moz username: russangular)
MozPoints: 3282 | Rank: 16

mpezet

7. Martin Pezet (Moz username: mpezet)
MozPoints: 464 | Rank: 211

Pixelbypixel

8. Chris Painter (Moz username: Pixelbypixel)
MozPoints: 2707 | Rank: 25

billslawski

9. Bill Slawski (Moz username: billslawski)
MozPoints: 709 | Rank: 140

danatanseo

10. Dana Tan (Moz username: danatanseo)
MozPoints: 4071 | Rank: 11

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!

Reblogged 4 years ago from moz.com

A Content Strategy Template You Can Build On

Posted by Isla_McKetta

Picture it. A room full of executives from a company you never thought you could land as a client. They’re so engaged in what they are saying that they’re leaning forward in their chairs. The CEO looks poised to ask a question but you can tell she doesn’t want to interrupt your flow.

This is the moment content strategists dream of.

But if you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in how new the field is and wonder, “Am I even doing this right?” There are lots of posts to help you, such as 
How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy and Content Strategy: You’re Doing it Wrong. There are also comprehensive guides to creating content strategies. There’s even an epic list of content strategy resources. And there are books (my favorite is Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach’s Content Strategy for the Web).

Still, sometimes you just want to peek over someone else’s shoulder at a concrete example to see if there’s anything you can learn. This can be especially true if you’re working in-house and don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of.

So, I built a
template.

What a content strategy should look like

Content strategies take many forms, from a 50-page word document to an hour-long PowerPoint presentation. That means this template is not meant to be gospel. Instead, it introduces you to the many moving parts that make up a content strategy and gives you an example of how I, based on the years I spent consulting on content strategies for everything from stock photography to software as a service, would write it up.

Peek over my shoulder to get your next strategy started, or just to get a glimpse of how someone else approaches a strategy. Build on this template and make it your own. You’ll find that the template is written from an agency perspective (with lots of references to “the client”) but it works equally well if you are in-house and are writing for that one, all-important client—your boss.

What goes into a content strategy

The content strategy template walks you through researching and writing up the three key elements of a content strategy: what content looks like now, what it should look like, and the ecosystem in which content is created.

Content today

A strategy should provide an assessment of the client’s current content, as well as insight into their competitors’ content. That assessment may include any or all of the following:

  • Personas 
  • Stakeholder interviews 
  • Content inventory 
  • Content audit 
  • Gap analysis 
  • Competitive analysis

Content in the future

Then you want to show your client where the content should take them and how they can use various channels to get there. Some of
many places content resides are:

Onsite content 

  • Homepage
  • Landing pages 
  • Category pages 
  • Product descriptions 
  • Blog 
  • Error pages 
  • Etc.

Offsite content 

  • Emails 
  • Social media 
  • Brochures 
  • Packaging 
  • Invoices 
  • Voicemail messages 
  • Etc.

Governance (aka the content ecosystem)

Finally, you want to think about the environment in which the content gets created—the governance of content. This includes:

  • Brand, voice, and style guidelines 
  • Workflow analysis 
  • Best practices for writing on the web 
  • SEO tips 
  • Editorial calendar

See the template for more in-depth descriptions of all of these elements as well as some of my favorite tools to get them done.

Again, take these pieces and use them to create your own template. Each strategy you do will require its own tweaks, but this will give you the leg up to put your own stamp on this emerging field.

The storytelling of content strategy

My brand of content strategy, and you’ll see this reflected a little in the template, is that a content strategy is a story. For a deeper understanding of this, check out the Mozinar I gave a few weeks ago,
The Storytelling of Content Strategy.

Basically, I advocate for taking the elements of fiction and using them to get a fresh perspective on a brand’s journey toward a goal.

Here’s how the five elements of a story are also the basis of a content strategy:

1. Brands and customers are heroes

A content strategy can either be about a brand’s journey to land a customer (useful when a brand is new or has lost its way), or a content strategy can be about a customer’s journey and how the brand can help. See the webinar for an example of each.

2. Your current landscape is your ground situation

You can’t start a strategy until you know where your hero is coming from. Most of the initial research you do—from
stakeholder interviews to content inventories and audits—is to understand the starting point of your strategy. This is where the journey begins. You will be measuring all future success against the understanding you build of this landscape.

3. Goals articulate your central desire

You can’t plot a strategy if you don’t know what direction the brand wants to grow. Goals should come from the brand itself, but you might find that the brand needs a little coaching. It’s helpful if you distinguish overall business goals from content goals. They are related, but there are some goals (e.g. reducing employee turnover) that content plays a much smaller role in achieving. Setting specific goals for your content strategy also lets you get more granular about some goals in which content is the star player (e.g. increasing email open rate).

4. Competitors are antagonists

Even if you’re going to write the most TAGFEE content strategy ever, you still need to figure out where your competitors are and how you can learn from their example. And it’s important to remember that because of the way search engines work, your business competitors might be different than your SERP competitors. Ideally a content strategy will address both.

5. Plot is strategy

At this point in the story, you know who the players are, what’s working and what’s not, and have some ideas about how to move forward to achieve those goals.

When I write up a strategy, I think about them as though I were plotting a novel. Each tactic or channel is a way to move the brand closer to those goals. What obstacles might they encounter? Who are they competing with in the space? How can they master this tactic or channel? And how can content help them achieve their goals and ride happily off into the sunset?

Making a content strategy your own

Now it’s time to
download that template and see what story your content strategy is trying to tell. Once you’re confident in the strategy you’re presenting, you’ll have the complete attention of every executive in that conference room. And, with any luck, they’ll refer you to their friends. 

I want to learn from you, too. Is there anything you’d include in the template that I haven’t covered? Do you have any strategies for success in presenting content strategies or any lessons learned? Please share your ideas and stories in the comments.

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!

Reblogged 5 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

Demystifying Data Visualization for Marketers

Posted by Annie Cushing

I presented on wrangling and demystifying the data visualization process for marketers at MozCon this year, and it turns out there was far more to talk about than could fit into that half-hour. For the sake of those who couldn’t make it and those who could but want to learn more, I pulled together this overview of my presentation, offering more detail than I could in the slides.

To see all of the links shared in this post, check out my
MozCon Bitly bundle.

You may want to open the SlideShare file in another tab or browser window, so you can easily toggle between the post and the SlideShare.

I’m going to go through the presentation slide by slide to bring the narrative to print.

Slide 3

I have a confession: Although it’s probably safe to say I’m a fairly advanced Excel user — at least among marketers — until recently I had no real charting strategy. In fact, I signed up to do this presentation partly to force me to carve out a strategy, particularly with Google Analytics data.

Slide 4

In this presentation I have focused on Google Analytics data for a couple reasons:

  1. If you can wrangle Google Analytics, other marketing data is a walk in the park.
  2. It has naming conventions that map beautifully to Excel, making it an ideal tutor.

Slide 5

My approach may seem a bit Karate Kid-esque, but if you can grasp the interplay between Google Analytics and Excel, you’ll never be left wondering how to visualize your data.

Although there are many aspects to data visualization, I focus primarily on charting.

Slide 6

In Excel there are two components to charts that are critical to understand: data series and categories. They are always used together.

Think of categories as buckets for your data and data series as the data itself.

Slide 7

If you dumped a pile of Legos in front of a group of kids and told them to organize them by color into their corresponding, labeled containers and then count them, the containers would be categories. And the data series would be the count of Lego bricks.

Slide 8

First let’s peek under the hood on a PC by cracking open the Select Data Source dialog. You get to it by right-clicking on your chart and choosing Select Data.

Slide 9

Excel for Mac also has data series on the left and categories on the right. And that’s about all they have in common.

Slide 10

But, as with most features in Excel for Mac, the functionality of the Mac’s Data Source dialog is far inferior to that of the PC.

Slide 11

This sort option is helpful if you have a stacked chart and want to sort the individual data series. I like to put the larger series on the bottom and smaller ones on the top. But if you have a stacked chart on the Mac and you want to reorder the data series, you actually have to delete the series you want demoted and manually add it back in.

It’s kind of like that game, Hand on Hand, you might have played as a kid where kids go around in a circle putting their right hands in the middle, followed by the left hands. Then they go around the circle moving the bottom hands to the top of the pile as fast as possible.

Although in this case, you’re moving the data series to the
bottom of the pile.

Slide 12

To move the Sessions data series to the bottom of the pile, first select it from the Series list.

Slide 13

Then click the Remove button to delete it from the list.

Slide 14

Then click the Add button to add it back to the list of data series.

Slide 15

Click the data selector button to the right of the Name field and select the series name, as directed in the screenshot.

Slide 16

Click the data selector button to the right of the Y values field and click-and-drag over the values. If the column is long, just click the first cell and press Ctrl-Shift-Down Arrow (Mac: Command-Shift-Down Arrow) to select the entire column without scrolling. (We are nothing if not efficient.)

Slide 17

And finally you need to click-and-drag over the category axis labels. Which brings us to the Mac’s other issue ….

Slide 18

In the PC version, there’s one place for the category axis labels. On the Mac you have to choose the axis labels for each series. It’s counter-intuitive.

Slide 19

Categories end up along the horizontal axis — or the vertical axis for horizontal bar charts.

Slide 20

The data series ends up in the legend and is usually a metric (from GA). But there are a couple exceptions, which we’ll get to in a minute. The categories populate to the horizontal axis label or vertical axis label with the bar chart.

Slide 21

Transition to Google Analytics.

Slide 22

The two major players in Google Analytics – that we’ll be mapping to Excel – are dimensions and metrics. They’re (practically) inseparable.

Slide 23

Dimensions are the buckets your data is broken up into. These come into Excel as text – even if they’re values – like you get with the Days to Transaction dimension (which you can get from Conversions > Ecommerce > Time to Purchase). They are always the far-left column of the table.

  • Add a secondary dimension in any report (standard or custom).

  • Create a custom flat table with two dimensions. Learn how in this post.
  • Use the API. This is the only option that will allow you to use more than two dimensions. You can pull up to seven dimensions in one API call.

Slide 24

Metrics are anything that can be measured with a number.

Slide 25

If you’re in a custom report (or have clicked the Edit link at the top of most standard reports), metrics always show up to a party in blue.

Slide 26

And dimensions show up as green.

You can learn more about custom reports from the
video tutorial I created to help marketers.

Now it’s time to marry Google Analytics and Excel.

Slide 27

In most cases dimensions in Google Analytics map to categories in Excel.

Slide 28

And metrics map to data series in Excel.

Slide 29

I’m going to break this down systematically, based on the number of dimensions and metrics you’re wanting to visualize.

Slide 30

Dimensions: 0

Metrics: Multiple

You want this if you want to know aggregate numbers, e.g, sessions for the month, or revenue, or goal completions.

Slide 31

I hate to start on a downer, but you need the API to do this. The GA interface requires at least one dimension.

Slide 32

As with most things, if you prod enough, you’ll discover hacks and workarounds. But the name of the game here is to come up with a dimension that will only have one bucket. Going back to the Legos analogy, it would be kind of like saying, “Put all the plastic Legos in this bucket and count them.”

Slide 33

Workaround: Set dimension to something that will encompass all of your data, meaning you’ll only have one row in the report. One example of that would be the User Defined dimension (under Audience > Custom > User Defined).

As you’ll see in the screenshot, all of the values are consolidated as (not set) since this profile (now called view) doesn’t use the User Defined dimension.

Slide 34

If you’re still using the User Defined dimension (and, therefore, have multiple rows reporting), you really need to update.

If you’re using classic GA, you should be using custom variables and custom dimensions if you’re using Universal.

Slide 35

Another option is to use the Year dimension with a custom report. This is ideal if you are gathering data for a single month. You can aggregate data beyond one month, as long as the date range you choose doesn’t straddle more than one year.

Slide 36

Here’s what the custom report looks like under the hood. Learn how to 
create custom reports in Google Analytics in a video tutorial I did.

Slide 37

You can access this report 
here while logged in to Google Analytics.

Slide 38

This data isn’t conducive to charting, but you can sexy up a table with
sparklines and conditional formatting.

Slide 40

Dimensions: 1

Metrics: 1

An example of this might be revenue segmented by country or bounce rate segmented by device category.

Slide 41

Pie Chart Basics

Here are some highlights about the pie chart:

  • They use angles to show the relative size of each value.
  • You should put data in descending order to put the most significant data point at 12:00 and radiate clockwise.
  • Avoid 3D pie charts. They distort data.
  • Data points must add up to 100%. So you can’t take traffic from 5 of your 8 campaigns and chart them.
  • Microsoft says no more than seven categories; I say no more than five.
  • None of the values in your data series can be negative.
  • Learn more

Pie Chart Tricks

Ways to trick out your chart:

  • You can grab a piece of the pie to isolate it and drag it out slightly to draw attention to it. This is called exploding pie pieces.
  • You can also change the values to percentages in the data labels or even add the categories, thereby negating the need for a legend.

Slide 42

Donut Chart Basics

Here are some highlights about the donut chart:

  • Donut charts show data in rings, where each ring represents a data series
  • It uses the length of the arc to indicate the size of the value.
  • You should put data in descending order to put the most significant data point at 12:00 and radiate clockwise.
  • Data points must add up to 100%. So you can’t take traffic from 5 of your 8 campaigns and chart them.
  • Microsoft says no more than seven categories; I say no more than five.
  • None of the values in your data series can be negative.
  • Learn more

Donut Chart Tricks

Ways to trick out your chart:

  • You can put the title or the value you want to highlight in the center. 

  • I don’t recommend using the donut chart for multiple series or dimensions. They’re more difficult to interpret. 

  • Like the pie chart, you can pull one out to draw attention to it.
  • You can use a donut chart to create a speedometer chart.
  • You can fill it with an image that resembles the surface of a donut to make it look like a … Okay, yeah, never mind …

Slide 43

Column Chart Basics

  • Should sort in descending order.
  • The axis should start at 0.
  • Categories don’t have to add up to 100%
  • Learn more

Column Chart Tricks

  • You can add a trendline to make trends stand out.
  • Consider going totally minimalist with the techniques I demonstrate in this video tutorial. (You can skip to the 15:53 mark.)
  • Don’t be afraid to move the legend around.
  • Excel’s default axis tends to be dense. I typically double the Major Unit, so if the major unit is set to 100, I typically up it to 200. Learn more about the major unit from the Microsoft site. (But I also show how in the above-mentioned video tutorial.
  • You can use a column chart to create a bullet graph to show current data vis-à-vis goals or projections.
  • You can use a column chart to create a waterfall chart.
  • You can add a target line to your chart.
  • If you have many categories to chart, you can use a scrollbar.
  • You can use a column chart to create a thermometer chart.
  • Just remember safety first when working with column charts.

Slide 44

Bar Chart Basics

  • You need to sort your data in ascending order to put the longest bars at the top.
  • Bar charts are good for categories with longer labels.
  • You shouldn’t use bar charts if your dimension is time based (date, month, etc.).
  • Learn more

Bar Chart Tricks

  • You can use all of the tricks (except the last two) listed in the Column Chart Tricks list.

Slide 45

Radar Chart Basics

  • Category labels are at the tip of each spine.
  • You can use a fill with your radar charts.

Radar Chart Tricks

  • Radar charts can be compelling when you compare multiple entities at once. For example, I saw a set of 50 radar charts that compared metrics like crime rates for different types of crime for each state.
  • If you don’t want the axis labels to show, you can set the number formatting to ;;; to hide them altogether. You can then include an annotation on your chart that lets viewers know the intervals. 

Slide 46

Notes about the Heat Map

Learn how to create a heat map in
this video tutorial I did.

Slide 47

And now let’s look under the hood at a typical chart that uses 1 dimension and 1 metric. Let’s say we have this table of analytics data ….

Slide 48

If we create a column chart from this table, this is what it’s going to look like (with some cleanup).

Slide 49

Now if we look at the data source this is what we’ll see ….

Slide 50

The mediums show up over here in the categories …

Slide 51

And the sessions values show up here in the data series …

Slide 52

Which populates to the legend. But you can delete the legend when you only have one metric (or data series). You’ll then want to include the metric in the chart title.

Slide 53

And the mediums populate the horizontal axis labels.

A little piece of Excel trivia: The Select Data Source dialog still says Horizontal Axis Labels, even for bar charts where the labels are on the vertical axis. #pedantic

Slide 54

Example of 1 dimension and multiple metrics: Sessions, goal completions, and revenue broken down by Device Category (mobile, tablet, desktop)

BTW, the Device Category dimension is one of the most important in Google Analytics. By itself it’s pretty useless, but in the context of other data, it’s very useful. You should be segmenting all of your data by it.

Slide 55

Notes about the Clustered Column Chart

  • Clustered column charts are good for showing comparisons (e.g, sessions vs revenue for each month or ROI vs Margin by campaign (or keyword).
  • You could transform the clustered column chart into a combination chart by adding a line chart on the secondary axis that adds a percent value.

Slide 56

Notes about the Stacked Column Chart

  • The stacked column chart is good for showing how each data series contributes to the whole.
  • An example might be revenue broken down by medium.
  • If you want to order the columns by overall height, you can create a total column for the series. You just won’t chart that column.

Slide 57

Notes about the Clustered Bar Chart

  • All of the notes in the above-mentioned stacked column chart.
  • Like the [single] bar chart, the clustered bar chart is better for categories with long labels.
  • You can hack the clustered bar chart to create a double-sided bar chart. You can view a video tutorial I did on how to do this.

Slide 58

Notes about the Stacked Bar Chart

  • If you want to sort the bars so that the longer bars are on top, create a totals column and sort it in ascending order.
  • You shouldn’t use the stacked bar chart if your dimension is time oriented (date, month, etc.).

Slide 59

Notes about the 100% Stacked Column Chart

  • Use the 100% stacked column chart when you are working with percentages.
  • The data series must add up to 100%.
  • For example, if you wanted to see what percentage of social referrals came from desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Slide 60

Notes about the 100% Stacked Bar Chart

All of the notes under the 100% stacked column chart apply here.

Slide 61

Notes about the Radar Chart

  • Category labels are at the tip of each spine.
  • You can use a fill with your radar charts.
  • Radar charts can be compelling when you compare multiple entities at once. For example, I saw a set of 50 radar charts that compared metrics like crime rates for different types of crime for each state.
  • If you don’t want the axis labels to show, you can set the number formatting to ;;; to hide them altogether. You can then include an annotation on your chart that lets viewers know the intervals. See the screenshot under the Slide 45 note above.

Slide 62

Notes about the Combination Chart

Learn all about combination charts in
this post I wrote on the Search Engine Land site.

Slide 63 – 69

Self-explanatory as they follow the same dialog as slides 46 – 52.

Slide 71

Notes about the Line Chart

  • In a line chart, category data is usually distributed evenly along the horizontal axis and value data is distributed evenly along the vertical axis.
  • Line charts can show continuous data over time, so they’re ideal for showing trends in data at equal intervals, like months, quarters, or fiscal years.
  • You can add markers and set the lines to none to use them in ranking charts.
  • Avoid using stacked line charts. It’s not always apparent that the data series are stacked. If you want to stack, use an area chart instead.
  • You can add interesting line markers like the ones I created in this video tutorial to replicate the charts in Moz’s tool set

Slide 72

Notes about the Stacked Area Chart

  • Ideal for showing stacked data series over time, especially if you want to demonstrate a fluid trend. Stacked column charts should be used if you want to keep each of the categories more disparate.
  • You should order the data series so that the larger series are at the bottom of the stack with the smaller series being clustered together at the top because people’s eyes naturally travel from the horizontal axis upward with stacked area charts.
  • If you keep the gridlines, make them significantly lighter. A light gray works well.
  • Make sure you have adequate contrast between contiguous data series. Sometimes Excel puts two colors next to each other that blend.
  • If you have smaller data series that are difficult to see, use stronger colors to make them easier to view.
  • If you have all larger data series and you want to add some finesse, give your data series a line (what would be called a stroke in graphic design programs) that’s slightly darker than the fill.
  • You can create a combination chart with a stacked area chart. Just don’t use a line chart for the other style. I like to use a chart style that stands out from the area chart, such as a column chart. You may want to increase the transparency of its fill so that you can easily see through to the stacked area chart.

Slide 73

Notes about the Clustered Column Chart

  • You use the clustered column chart to show comparisons between data series (as opposed to how they contribute to the whole).
  • The clustered column chart is especially effective for showing year-over-year data. The categories would just have the name of the month (I abbreviate to three letters, which you can learn how to do in this tutorial), and one column would be used to show data from one year and the other colored column would indicate the previous year. To show the month from each year as a disparate data series, you would have to make each year a separate column in your data.
  • You can add a line chart on the secondary axis that highlights the percent change between values.
  • You can play with the gap width and overlap settings to adjust the series. You get to those by selecting a column, pressing Ctrl-1 (Mac: Command-1), and navigating to the Series Options (Mac: Options) area of the Format Data Series dialog.
  • Excel doesn’t provide the option to add a data label that indicates the total of all the data series for each column. You can hack one by adding a total column that you include in the clustered column but then change to a line chart. From there, remove the line and add data labels above the line.

Slide 74

Same as Slide 60.

Slide 75

Same as Slide 58

Slide 76 – 77

Self-explanatory.

Slide 78

Things get more complicated when you want to chart two dimensions. There are three ways to get 2 dimensions:

Slide 79

So here we have two dimensions (Device Category and User Type). I picked these dimensions to demonstrate because they have a finite number of options. I LOVE the device category dimension and use it frequently to segment my data in Google Analytics.

Note: When you chart two dimensions, you can only use one metric (or data series in Excel).

Slide 80

Here’s an example of what a clustered column chart might look like.

Slide 81

We now have a dimension in the legend — or category in Excel.

Slide 82

Using the Switch Row/Column button ….

Slide 83

This is what the chart would now look like. Notice we now have three data series and two categories.

Slide 84

Now let’s take a peek under the hood.

Slide 85

Again, here you see we have dimensions, not metrics, in the data series. The metrics should be included in the chart title.

Slide 86

And now the Device Category dimension is in the category area.

Slide 87

Your chart options are the same as when you had one dimension and multiple metrics. These options are not exhaustive.

Slide 88

Slide 89

The data in this table is in report format. If only marketing export data came in this format. (It doesn’t.)

Slide 90

This is how marketing data actually comes out of different marketing tools. It’s called tabular format.

Slide 91

Just as in a database, rows in tabular data are called records.

Slide 92

Columns are called fields.

Slide 93

And the column headings are called field names. But if I were to select two dimension columns and one metric and select a chart, here’s how Excel digests the data …

Slide 94

Gross, I know. I’m a child.

Slide 95

Here’s what it actually looks like. A royal mess.

Slide 96

Excel requires that data be in a report format in order to chart two dimensions. And the one metric (sessions, revenue, impressions, whatever) goes into the green area. There’s only one way to corral an export with two dimensions and one metric into report format …

Slide 97

Pivot tables sound scary and intimidating but not if you think about what pivot means.

Slide 98

When a soldier pivots, s/he very simply goes from standing facing one direction to turning at a 90 degree angle. That’s what a pivot table does. By moving one of your dimensions into the Columns field (Mac: Column Labels field), Excel puts that dimension’s values across the top of your data. 

Once you have your data in report format, and you can chart it. You typically want to put the dimension with fewer values into the columns area.

Learn how to create pivot tables in this comprehensive video tutorial I did.

Slide 99

Although pivot tables come with a lot of junk in the trunk, you can see the pivot table puts the data into report layout, which Excel can then use to chart the data. If you’re on a PC, you can create a pivot chart. If you’re on a Mac, you can create a static chart from the pivot table because Excel for
Mac still doesn’t support pivot charts. Still. Ridic.

Slide 100

Now you’re ready to look at GA data — nay, all marketing data — with a more strategic eye… And spend less time tooling around in Excel trying to figure out how to visualize your data!

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