5 Chrome Extensions That All Social Media Managers Should Use

Chrome Extensions

Social Media work can seem like a never-ending task. Every time you surf the web you find a world of potential content to share on your social networks. Right? Well, if you’re a Chrome fanatic as I am, there are ways to make better use of your time online without even leaving your browser. How?! In this blog post you’ll find out! Today I’m going to show you 5 Chrome extensions that all Community Managers should use.

Get ready! I’m about to share with you my 5 favorite Chrome extensions for Social Media. All of these tools allow you to take advantage of the time you spend online and consequently save yourself time and energy.

1. Pin It Button

I love Pinterest! Who doesn’t? It’s one of my favorite sites because I can find and organize all of the interesting content I come across and share it later on my social networks. Plus, it’s a super fun and practical way to plan Social Media content calendars. So that’s why I take advantage of the Pin It Chrome extension. It allows me to send all the relevant content for my audience that I find while browsing straight to Pinterest, without leaving the page I’m on.

Chrome extensions

Basically, through the Pin It Button you can add any image that you find online to your Pinterest. Just click on the extension and a window will pop up and display all the images on the page you’re looking at. From there you can choose which one(s) you want to to send to your Pinterest board. Also, whenever your mouse is over an image, the Pin It button will appear. Is it not perfect?

chrome extensions

2. Rite Tag

Rite Tag is the perfect companion for working with Twitter, which is why I’ve added it to my Chrome extensions for Social Media. Why is it so valuable? Very simple: it allows me to analyze the hashtags I use in my tweets in real time. Just type any word with a number sign in front of it in order to see metrics instantly. Choosing which hashtags I’m going to use in my posts has become so much easier and more effective.

chrome extensions

In addition, Rite Tag gives you visual feedback about the popularity of a hashtag through colors: green is very positive, blue is regular and red indicates it has been excessively used. So, as you’re writing your tweet you will get info about each of the hashtags you’re considering. Then you can choose the best alternative to make your post reach your audience effectively. Not bad, right?

chrome extensions

3. Windows Resizer

I never get tired of saying it: 30% of Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, which is why it’s very important that you can control how your publications look through mobile devices. And that is exactly what Windows Resizer allows you to do. This super handy Chrome extension lets you view your publications across different screen resolutions, so you can adjust your text and design in the most convenient way possible.

chrome extensions

Windows Resizer is a great ally if you consider, for example, 90% of Twitter users access the network through their mobile devices. Knowing this information allows us to take a glimpse at the importance of offering content adapted to be read and shared easily via various technologies (mobile phones, tablets and computers). So, after installing this extension you can easily check the appearance of your content directly from Chrome. Oh, yeah!

chrome extensions

4. Postcron for Chrome

Postcron for Chrome is another one of my “secret weapons” for keeping my Social Media accounts updated. This extension works similarly to the Pin It Button, but in this case it allows you to publish directly to Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+. And best of all, you can schedule posts to be shared on the day and time that you decide, without even leaving Chrome or logging in to the application. You simply click the Postcron button that is added to your browser and schedule content to be published when and where you want it.

chrome extensions

Another advantage of using this tool is that you can post in several accounts at the same time, allowing you to save time and effort. That way, you can make surfing the web so much more effective and get ahead on weeks of work. Additionally, Postcron for Chrome lets you to add watermarks to your images, so you can display the authorship of your photos and expand the reach of your brand or website at the same time.

chrome extensions

5. Riffle

Riffle is another extension for Chrome that helps me with my Twitter tasks, and I suggest you add it to yours too. Why? Because this tool allows you to instantly view information about any Twitter user, by just clicking on the extension icon or the account name your interested in. Voilà!

chrome extensions

Thus, with Riffle you can access statistics (number of followers, tweets, etc.), top mentions, most used hashtags, most visited URLs and more. It also shows you in what other social networks the user manages accounts. So, this extension will help guide you when choosing who to follow and finding out who the most influential tweeters are. That way, you can plan your tweets to get more followers.

chrome extensions

So, if you start using this selection of 5 essential Chrome extensions for Social Media, you will save time working, increase productivity when updating your Social Media accounts and get more out of your time on the web.

Did you like this article? Would you add another Chrome extension to the list? Leave us a comment below and share this post with your Community Manager friends! 😉

The post 5 Chrome Extensions That All Social Media Managers Should Use appeared first on Postcron Blog.

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Raising the Bar: A Publishing Volume Experiment on the Moz Blog

Posted by Trevor-Klein

Content marketers hear regularly about how quality is far more important than quantity. You can publish a thousand blog posts in a year, but if only three of them are truly noteworthy, valuable, and share-worthy content—what Rand would call 10x content—then you’ve wasted quite a bit of time.

Here at Moz, we’ve published blog posts on a daily cadence since before almost any of us can remember. If you didn’t already know, Moz began as SEOmoz in 2004, and was little more than a blog where Rand fostered one of the earliest SEO communities. He offered a bit more background in a recent interview with Contently:

“It’s a habit that we’ve had since 2004, when I started the blog. It’s one of those things where I was writing every night. I think one of the big reasons that that worked so well in the pre-social-media era was because the Moz comments and the Moz blogs were like the Twitter or Facebook for our little communities.”

We’ve taken occasional days off for major holidays when we knew the traffic volume wouldn’t be there, but the guiding philosophy was that we published every day because that’s what our audience expected. If we stepped back from that schedule, we’d lose our street cred, our reliability, and a sizeable chunk of our audience, not to mention the opportunities for increased traffic.

It’s now quite easy to have those discussions on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and other networks, making our old approach an outdated philosophy that was based more on fear of the unknown and a misguided assumption than on actual data.

This May and June, we decided to change that. We’re raising the bar, and we want to show you why.

It started with a tweet:

This week, Hubspot published 49 unique blogposts (or ~10/weekday). I wonder if they’ve tested various quantities and found that to be ideal?
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) January 9, 2015

The ensuing discussion piqued the interest of Joe Chernov and Ginny Soskey at HubSpot, as they wondered what effects it might have to publish more or less frequently. We decided to collaborate on a pair of experiments to find out.

The setup

The experiments were simple: Set a benchmark of two “normal” weeks, then adjust the publishing volumes on each blog to (roughly) half the normal cadence for two weeks and double the normal cadence for two weeks.

One thing we should note from the get-go: We were always sure that Whiteboard Friday would continue to be a weekly tradition, so we didn’t alter the publishing schedule for those. This experiment altered the schedule from Monday-Thursday.

We closely monitored our blog traffic and engagement metrics, as well as subscriptions to our emailed blog newsletter. HubSpot ran their experiment first, allowing Moz to learn a few lessons from their experience before starting our own.

The results from HubSpot’s experiment were also published today; make sure you take a look.

The results

We had several central questions going into this experiment, and hypotheses for how each one would come out. There are six parts, and they’re laid out below as follows:

  1. Effects of increased/decreased volume on overall traffic
  2. Engagement thins as volume grows
  3. Subscription slowdown
  4. Community complaints/backlash
  5. Trading quantity for quality

Important note: We know this is non-scientific. These results are intended to be directional, not definitive, and our takeaways—while they represent our best attempts at progress—are by no means perfect. We want this to be an ongoing discussion, so please chime in with your ideas in the comments!

1. Effects of increased/decreased volume on overall traffic


Publishing fewer posts each week will lead to a significant decrease in overall traffic to the blog. Publishing more posts each week will lead to a significant increase in overall traffic to the blog. These changes will be proportional to the decrease/increase in publishing volume.


Let’s get the high-level overview before we dive into details. Traffic on the Moz Blog can obviously vary quite a bit depending on the traffic, but all things considered, it’s remarkably steady. Here are total daily unique pageviews to all pages on the blog so far in 2015:

Spikes and dips here and there, but we’re able to pull a pretty good benchmark from that data. Here’s what that benchmark looks like:

Average weekday uniques:


Average weekly uniques:


Now, here’s the traffic from the four weeks leading up to the reduced/increased publishing frequency, as well as the two weeks at half-cadence and the two weeks at double-cadence (I’ve also included a line for the average of 38,620):

There’s a bit of a difference. You can tell the traffic during half-cadence weeks was a little lower, and the traffic during double-cadence weeks appears a little higher. I’d take the numbers highlighted above in green over the ones in red any day of the week, but those curves show far smaller variation than we’d anticipated.

Here’s a look at weekly numbers:

That makes the dip a little clearer, but it’s hard to tell from that chart whether the loss in traffic is anything to be worried about.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the two testing periods and see if we can’t pick apart something more interesting. You might notice from the above daily charts that the blog traffic follows a regular weekly pattern. It peaks on Tuesday and falls gradually throughout the rest of the week. That’s characteristic of our audience, which finds less and less time to read the blog as the week goes on. We wanted to take that variability into account when looking at each day during the testing period, and the following chart does just that.

It plots the traffic during the tests as a percent deviation from the average traffic on any given day of the week. So, the four Tuesdays that passed during the test are compared to our average Tuesday traffic, the four Wednesdays to the average Wednesday, and so on. Let’s take a look:

This is a more noteworthy difference. Dropping the publishing volume to half our normal cadence resulted in, on average, a 5.6% drop in unique pageviews from those daily averages.

That actually makes perfect sense when it’s put in context. Somewhere around 10-15% of our blog traffic comes from the most recent week’s worth of posts (the rest is to older posts). If we publish half as many posts in a given week, there are half as many new pages to view, so we might expect half as many unique pageviews to those newer posts.

That’s pageviews, though. What about sessions? Are fewer people visiting the blog in the first place due to our reduced publishing volume? Let’s find out:

That’s a bit more palatable. We lost 2.9% of our sessions that included visits to the blog during a two-week period when we cut our publishing volume in half. That’s close enough that, for a non-scientific study, we can pretty well call it negligible. The shift could easily have been caused by the particular pieces of content we published, not by the schedule on which we published them.

Another interesting thing to note about the chart showing deviations from daily averages: Doubling the publishing volume did, on average, absolutely nothing to the number of unique pageviews. The average increase in uniques from daily averages during the double-cadence period is just a bit over 3%. That suggests relative saturation; people don’t have time to invest in reading more than one Moz Blog post each day. (I’m not surprised; I barely have time to read more than one Moz Blog post each day!) 😉

It also emphasizes something we’ve known all along: Content marketing is a form of flywheel marketing. It takes quite a while to get it up to speed, but once it’s spinning, its massive inertia means that it isn’t easily affected by relatively small changes. It’ll keep going even if you step back and just watch for a short while.

2. Engagement thins as volume grows


The amount of total on-page engagement, in the form of thumbs up and comments on posts, will remain somewhat static, since people only have so much time. Reducing the blog frequency will cause engagement to approach saturation, and increasing the blog frequency will spread engagement more thinly.


Moz’s primary two engagement metrics are built into each page on our blog: thumbs up and comments. This one played out more or less to our expectations.

We can get a good sense for engagement with these posts by looking at our internal 1Metric data. We’ve iterated on this metric since we talked about it in this post, but the basic concept is still the same—it’s a two-digit score calculated from several “ingredients,” including metrics for traffic, on-page engagement, and social engagement.

Here’s a peek at the data for the two testing periods, with the double-cadence period highlighted in green, and the half-cadence period highlighted in red.

Publish Date Post Title 1Metric Score Unique Pageviews
25-Jun How Google May Use Searcher, Usage, & Clickstream Behavior to Impact Rankings – Whiteboard Friday 81 12,315
25-Jun How to Rid Your Website of Six Common Google Analytics Headaches 56 7,445
25-Jun How to Build Links in Person 36 5,045
24-Jun What to See, Do, and More at MozCon 2015 in Seattle 9 2,585
24-Jun The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics 80 15,152
23-Jun Why ccTLDs Should Not Be an Automatic Choice for International Websites 11 2,259
23-Jun Brainstorm and Execute Killer Content Ideas Your Audience Will Love 38 5,365
22-Jun The Alleged $7.5 Billion Fraud in Online Advertising 85 44,212
19-Jun How to Estimate the Total Volume and Value of Keywords in a Given Market or Niche – Whiteboard Friday 78 15,258
18-Jun The Colossus Update: Waking The Giant 62 14,687
17-Jun New Features in OSE’s Spam Score & the Mozscape API 10 1,901
17-Jun How to Align Your Entire Company with Your Marketing Strategy 44 7,312
16-Jun Dissecting and Surviving Google’s Local Snack Pack Results 15 2,663
15-Jun Can You Rank in Google Without Links? New Data Says Slim Chance 81 15,909
15-Jun Study: 300 Google Sitelinks Search Boxes – Triggers and Trip-Ups Analyzed 23 3,207
14-Jun How to Choose a PPC Agency 14 2,947
12-Jun Why We Can’t Do Keyword Research Like It’s 2010 – Whiteboard Friday 90 22,010
11-Jun Eliminate Duplicate Content in Faceted Navigation with Ajax/JSON/JQuery 38 5,753
9-Jun 5 Spreadsheet Tips for Manual Link Audits 50 6,331
5-Jun Should I Use Relative or Absolute URLs? – Whiteboard Friday 79 15,225
3-Jun How to Generate Content Ideas Using Buzzsumo (and APIs) 50 10,486
1-Jun Misuses of 4 Google Analytics Metrics Debunked 51 9,847

The 1Metric scores for the half-cadence period (in red) average almost 60, suggesting those posts performed better overall than those during the double-cadence period, which averaged a 1Metric score of 45. We know the traffic was lower during the half-cadence weeks, which suggests engagement must have been significantly higher to result in those scores, and vice-versa for the double-cadence weeks.

Taking a look at our on-page engagement metrics, we see that play out quite clearly:

The number of thumbs up and comments stayed relatively level during the half-cadence period, and fell sharply when there were twice as many posts as usual.

We’re incredibly lucky to have such an actively engaged community at Moz. The conversations that regularly happen in the comments—65 of them, on average—are easily one of my favorite parts of our site. We definitely have a “core” subset of our community that regularly takes the time to join in those discussions, and while the right post will tempt a far greater number of people to chime in, you can easily see patterns in the users who spend time in the comments. Those users, of course, only have a limited amount of time.

This is reflected in the data. When we published half as many posts, they still had time to comment on every one they wanted, so the number of comments left didn’t diminish. Then, when we published twice the number of posts we normally do, they didn’t spend twice as much time leaving comments; they were just pickier about which posts they commented on. The number of comments on each post stayed roughly the same.

The same goes for the thumbs.

3. Subscription slowdown

The Moz Blog is available via an email subscription through FeedPress, linked to from a few different places on the site:

We wondered, what would happen to those subscriptions during the half-cadence period?


With fewer opportunities to impress people with the quality of the blog’s content and earn a spot in their inboxes, subscriptions to the blog posts will drop significantly during the half-cadence period.


As it turns out, there was minimal (if any) effect on email subscriptions. Check out the numbers for both periods below:

Here’s a view that’s a bit easier to digest, similar to the one for traffic in part 1 of this post. This shows daily deviations from the average number of new email subscriptions we get (about 34/day):

On the whole, this is a very uninteresting (and for that reason interesting!) result. Our subscription rate showed no noteworthy fluctuations during either of the two testing periods.

These numbers are based on the total number of subscribers, and with half as many emails going out during the half-cadence period, we can fairly confidently say that (since the total subscriber rate didn’t change) we didn’t get a decrease in unsubscribes during the half-cadence week, as we’d have seen an increase in the subscription rate. That’s a good sign: If people were fatigued by our rate of new emails already, we’d likely see a reduction in that fatigue during the half-cadence weeks, leading to less churn. No such reduction happened, so we’re comfortable continuing to send daily emails.

One important note is that we don’t send multiple emails each day, so during the double-cadence period we were sending daily digests of multiple posts. (Were we to send more than one each day, we might have expected a significant rise in unsubscribes. That’s something HubSpot was better able to track in their version of this experiment.)

4. Community complaints / backlash

This was another primary concern of ours: If we skipped days on the editorial calendar, and didn’t publish a new post, would our community cry foul? Would we be failing to meet the expectations we’d developed among our readers?


Having multiple days with no new post published in a relatively short period of time will lead to disappointment and outcry among the readership, which has grown to expect a new post every day.


While we didn’t proactively ask our community if they noticed, we were watching social traffic specifically for word of there not being a blog post on one or more of the days we skipped during the half-cadence period. We figured we’d find a bunch of “hey, what gives?” Our community team is great at monitoring social media for mentions—even those that don’t specifically ping us with @Moz—and this is what we found:

A single post.

I guess @Moz is looking into only posting 3 blogs a week. It’s the most depressing A/B test I’ve ever come across.
— Ben Starling (@BeenStarling) June 4, 2015

That’s really it. Other than this one tweet—one that elicited a heartfelt “Awww!” from Roger—there wasn’t a single peep from anyone. Crickets. This hypothesis couldn’t be more busted.

We asked in our most recent reader survey how often people generally read the Moz Blog, and 17% of readers reported that they read it every day.

Even if we assume some statistical variance and that some of those responses were slight exaggerations of the truth (survey data is never squishy, right?), that’s still a sizeable number of people who—in theory—should have noticed we weren’t publishing as much as we usually do. And yet, only one person had a reaction strong enough that they posted their thoughts in a place we could find them.

5. Trading quantity for quality

This is a far more subjective hypothesis—we can’t even measure the results beyond our own opinions—but we found it quite interesting nonetheless.


If we post fewer times per week, we’ll have more time and be better able to focus on the quality of the posts we do publish. If we publish more frequently, the quality of each post will suffer.


As nice an idea as this was, it turned out to be a bit backwards. Publishing fewer posts did leave us with more time, but we didn’t end up using it to dive deeper into revisions of other posts or come up with additional feedback for our scheduled authors. The Moz Blog is written largely by authors outside our own company, and even though we had more time we could have used to recommend edits, the authors didn’t have any more time than they otherwise would have, and it wouldn’t have been fair for us to ask them for it anyway.

What we did do is spend more time on bigger, more innovative projects, and ended the two half-cadence weeks feeling significantly more productive.

We also noticed that part of the stress of an editorial calendar comes from the fact that an artificial schedule exists in the first place. Even with the reduction in volume, we felt significant pressure when a scheduled post wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be by the time it was supposed to be finished.

Because we ended up spending our time elsewhere, our experiment didn’t focus nearly as much on the comprehensiveness of the posts as the HubSpot experiment did. It ended up just being about volume and maintaining the quality bar for all the posts we published, regardless of their frequency.

Our productivity gains, though, made us begin to think even more carefully about where we were spending our time.

Wrapping up

With some basic data clearly showing us that a day without a blog post isn’t the calamity we feared it may be, we’ve decided it’s time to raise the bar.

When a post that’s scheduled to be published on our blog just isn’t quite where we think it ought to be, we’ll no longer rush it through the editing process simply because of an artificial deadline. When a post falls through (that’s just the life of an editorial calendar), we’ll no longer scramble to find an option that’s “good enough” to fill the spot. If we don’t have a great replacement, we’ll simply take the day off.

It’s got us thinking hard about posts that provide truly great value—those 10x pieces of content that Rand mentioned in his Whiteboard Friday. Take a look at the traffic for Dr. Pete’s post on title tags since it was published in March of 2014:

See all those tiny bumps of long-tail traffic? The post still consistently sees 3-4,000 uniques every week, and has just crossed over 300,000 all-time. That’s somewhere between 60-100x a post we’d call just fine.


Now, there’s just no way we can make every post garner that kind of traffic, but we can certainly take steps in that direction. If we published half as many posts, but they all performed more than twice as well, that’s a net win for us even despite the fact that the better posts will generally continue bringing traffic for a while to come.

Does this mean you’ll see fewer posts from Moz going forward? No. We might skip a day now and then, but rest assured that if we do, it’ll just be because we didn’t want to ask for your time until we thought we had something that was really worth it. =)

I’d love to hear what you all have to say in the comments, whether about methodology, takeaways, or suggestions for the future.

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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Moz Local Officially Launches in the UK

Posted by David-Mihm

To all Moz Local fans in the UK, I’m excited to announce that your wait is over. As the sun rises “across the pond” this morning, Moz Local is officially live in the United Kingdom!

A bit of background

As many of you know, we released the US version of Moz Local in March 2014. After 12 months of terrific growth in the US, and a boatload of technical improvements and feature releases–especially for Enterprise customers–we released the Check Listing feature for a limited set of partner search engines and directories in the UK in April of this year.

Over 20,000 of you have checked your listings (or your clients’ listings) in the last 3-1/2 months. Those lookups have helped us refine and improve the background technology immensely (more on that below). We’ve been just as eager to release the fully-featured product as you’ve been to use it, and the technical pieces have finally fallen into place for us to do so.

How does it work?

The concept is the same as the US version of Moz Local: show you how accurately and completely your business is listed on the most important local search platforms and directories, and optimize and perfect as many of those business listings as we can on your behalf.

For customers specifically looking for you, accurate business listings are obviously important. For customers who might not know about you yet, they’re also among the most important factors for ranking in local searches on Google. Basically, the more times Google sees your name, address, phone, and website listed the same way on quality local websites, the more trust they have in your business, and the higher you’re likely to rank.

Moz Local is designed to help on both these fronts.

To use the product, you simply need to type a name and postcode at moz.com/local. We’ll then show you a list of the closest matching listings we found. We prioritize verified listing information that we find on Google or Facebook, and selecting one of those verified listings means we’ll be able to distribute it on your behalf.

Clicking on a result brings you to a full details report for that listing. We’ll show you how accurate and complete your listings are now, and where they could be after using our product.

Clicking the tabs beneath the Listing Score graphic will show you some of the incompletions and inconsistencies that publishing your listing with Moz Local will address.

For customers with hundreds or thousands of locations, bulk upload is also available using a modified version of your data from Google My Business–feel free to e-mail enterpriselocal@moz.com for more details.

Where do we distribute your data?

We’ve prioritized the most important commercial sites in the UK local search ecosystem, and made them the centerpieces of Moz Local. We’ll update your data directly on globally-important players Factual and Foursquare, and the UK-specific players CentralIndex, Thomson Local, and the Scoot network–which includes key directories like TouchLocal, The Independent, The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Scotsman, and Wales Online.

We’ll be adding two more major destinations shortly, and for those of you who sign up before that time, your listings will be automatically distributed to the additional destinations when the integrations are complete.

How much does it cost?

The cost per listing is £84/year, which includes distribution to the sites mentioned above with unlimited updates throughout the year, monitoring of your progress over time, geographically- focused reporting, and the ability to find and close duplicate listings right from your Moz Local dashboard–all the great upgrades that my colleague Noam Chitayat blogged about here.

What’s next?

Well, as I mentioned just a couple paragraphs ago, we’ve got two additional destinations to which we’ll be sending your data in very short order. Once those integrations are complete, we’ll be just a few weeks away from releasing our biggest set of features since we launched. I look forward to sharing more about these features at BrightonSEO at the end of the summer!

For those of you around the world in Canada, Australia, and other countries, we know there’s plenty of demand for Moz Local overseas, and we’re working as quickly as we can to build additional relationships abroad. And to our friends in the UK, please let us know how we can continue to make the product even better!

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 Inbound Marketing Economy

Posted by KelseyLibert

When it comes to job availability and security, the future looks bright for inbound marketers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for marketing managers will grow by 13% between 2012 and 2022. Job security for marketing managers also looks positive according to the BLS, which cites that marketing employees are less likely to be laid off since marketing drives revenue for most businesses.

change in advertising and marketing manager employment

While the BLS provides growth estimates for managerial-level marketing roles, these projections don’t give much insight into the growth of digital marketing, specifically the disciplines within digital marketing. As we know, “marketing” can refer to a variety of different specializations and methodologies. Since digital marketing is still relatively new compared to other fields, there is not much comprehensive research on job growth and trends in our industry.

To gain a better understanding of the current state of digital marketing careers, Fractl teamed up with Moz to identify which skills and roles are the most in demand and which states have the greatest concentration of jobs.


We analyzed 75,315 job listings posted on Indeed.com during June 2015 based on data gathered from job ads containing the following terms:

  • “content marketing” or “content strategy”
  • “SEO” or “search engine marketing”
  • “social media marketing” or “social media management”
  • “inbound marketing” or “digital marketing”
  • “PPC” (pay-per-click)
  • “Google Analytics”

We chose the above keywords based on their likelihood to return results that were marketing-focused roles (for example, just searching for “social media” may return a lot of jobs that are not primarily marketing focused, such as customer service). The occurrence of each of these terms in job listings was quantified and segmented by state. We then combined the job listing data with U.S. Census Bureau population estimates to calculate the jobs per capita for each keyword, giving us the states with the greatest concentration of jobs for a given search query.

Using the same data, we identified which job titles appeared most frequently. We used existing data from Indeed to determine job trends and average salaries. LinkedIn search results were also used to identify keyword growth in user profiles.

Marketing skills are in high demand, but talent is hard to find

As the marketing industry continues to evolve due to emerging technology and marketing platforms, marketers are expected to pick up new skills and broaden their knowledge more quickly than ever before. Many believe this rapid rate of change has caused a marketing skills gap, making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing.

The ability to combine analytical thinking with creative execution is highly desirable and necessary in today’s marketing landscape. According to an article in The Guardian, “Companies will increasingly look for rounded individuals who can combine analytical rigor with the ability to apply this knowledge in a practical and creative context.” Being both detail-oriented and a big picture thinker is also a sought-after combination of attributes. A report by The Economist and Marketo found that “CMOs want people with the ability to grasp and manage the details (in data, technology, and marketing operations) combined with a view of the strategic big picture.”

But well-rounded marketers are hard to come by. In a study conducted by Bullhorn, 64% of recruiters reported a shortage of skilled candidates for available marketing roles. Wanted Analytics recently found that one of the biggest national talent shortages is for marketing manager roles, with only two available candidates per job opening.

Increase in marketers listing skills in content marketing, inbound marketing, and social media on LinkedIn profiles

While recruiter frustrations may indicate a shallow talent pool, LinkedIn tells a different story—the number of U.S.-based marketers who identify themselves as having digital marketing skills is on the rise. Using data tracked by Rand and LinkedIn, we found the following increases of marketing keywords within user profiles.

growth of marketing keywords in linkedin profiles

The number of profiles containing “content marketing” has seen the largest growth, with a 168% increase since 2013. “Social media” has also seen significant growth with a 137% increase. “Social media” appears on a significantly higher volume of profiles than the other keywords, with more than 2.2 million profiles containing some mention of social media. Although “SEO” has not seen as much growth as the other keywords, it still has the second-highest volume with it appearing in 630,717 profiles.

Why is there a growing number of people self-identifying as having the marketing skills recruiters want, yet recruiters think there is a lack of talent?

While there may be a lot of specialists out there, perhaps recruiters are struggling to fill marketing roles due to a lack of generalists or even a lack of specialists with surface-level knowledge of other areas of digital marketing (also known as a T-shaped marketer).

Popular job listings show a need for marketers to diversify their skill set

The data we gathered from LinkedIn confirm this, as the 20 most common digital marketing-related job titles being advertised call for a broad mix of skills.

20 most common marketing job titles

It’s no wonder that marketing manager roles are hard to fill, considering the job ads are looking for proficiency in a wide range of marketing disciplines including social media marketing, SEO, PPC, content marketing, Google Analytics, and digital marketing. Even job descriptions for specialist roles tend to call for skills in other disciplines. A particular role such as SEO Specialist may call for several skills other than SEO, such as PPC, content marketing, and Google Analytics.

Taking a more granular look at job titles, the chart below shows the five most common titles for each search query. One might expect mostly specialist roles to appear here, but there is a high occurrence of generalist positions, such as Digital Marketing Manager and Marketing Manager.

5 most common job titles by search query

Only one job title containing “SEO” cracked the top five. This indicates that SEO knowledge is a desirable skill within other roles, such as general digital marketing and development.

Recruiter was the third most common job title among job listings containing social media keywords, which suggests a need for social media skills in non-marketing roles.

Similar to what we saw with SEO job titles, only one job title specific to PPC (Paid Search Specialist) made it into the top job titles. PPC skills are becoming necessary for more general marketing roles, such as Marketing Manager and Digital Marketing Specialist.

Across all search queries, the most common jobs advertised call for a broad mix of skills. This tells us hiring managers are on the hunt for well-rounded candidates with a diverse range of marketing skills, as opposed to candidates with expertise in one area.

Marketers who cultivate diverse skill sets are better poised to gain an advantage over other job seekers, excel in their job role, and accelerate career growth. Jason Miller says it best in his piece about the new breed hybrid marketer:

future of marketing quote linkedin

Inbound job demand and growth: Most-wanted skills and fastest-growing jobs

Using data from Indeed, we identified which inbound skills have the highest demand and which jobs are seeing the most growth. Social media keywords claim the largest volume of results out of the terms we searched for during June 2015.

number of marketing job listings by keyword

“Social media marketing” or “social media management” appeared the most frequently in the job postings we analyzed, with 46.7% containing these keywords. “PPC” returned the smallest number of results, with only 3.8% of listings containing this term.

Perhaps this is due to social media becoming a more necessary skill across many industries and not only a necessity for marketers (for example, social media’s role in customer service and recruitment). On the other hand, job roles calling for PPC or SEO skills are most likely marketing-focused. The prevalence of social media jobs also may indicate that social media has gained wide acceptance as a necessary part of a marketing strategy. Additionally, social media skills are less valuable compared to other marketing skills, making it cheaper to hire for these positions (we will explore this further in the average salaries section below).

Our search results also included a high volume of jobs containing “digital marketing” and “SEO” keywords, which made up 19.5% and 15.5% respectively. At 5.8%, “content marketing” had the lowest search volume after “PPC.”

Digital marketing, social media, and content marketing experienced the most job growth

While the number of job listings tells us which skills are most in demand today, looking at which jobs are seeing the most growth can give insight into shifting demands.

digital marketing growth on  indeed.com

Digital marketing job listings have seen substantial growth since 2009, when it accounted for less than 0.1% of Indeed.com search results. In January 2015, this number had climbed to nearly 0.3%.

social media job growth on indeed.com

While social media marketing jobs have seen some uneven growth, as of January 2015 more than 0.1% of all job listings on Indeed.com contained the term “social media marketing” or “social media management.” This shows a significant upward trend considering this number was around 0.05% for most of 2014. It’s also worth noting that “social media” is currently ranked No. 10 on Indeed’s list of top job trends.

content marketing job growth on indeed.com

Despite its growth from 0.02% to nearly 0.09% of search volume in the last four years, “content marketing” does not make up a large volume of job postings compared to “digital marketing” or “social media.” In fact, “SEO” has seen a decrease in growth but still constitutes a higher percentage of job listings than content marketing.

SEO, PPC, and Google Analytics job growth has slowed down

On the other hand, search volume on Indeed has either decreased or plateaued for “SEO,” “PPC,” and “Google Analytics.”

seo job growth on indeed.com

As we see in the graph, the volume of “SEO job” listings peaked between 2011 and 2012. This is also around the time content marketing began gaining popularity, thanks to the Panda and Penguin updates. The decrease may be explained by companies moving their marketing budgets away from SEO and toward content or social media positions. However, “SEO” still has a significant amount of job listings, with it appearing in more than 0.2% of job listings on Indeed as of 2015.

ppc job growth on indeed.com

“PPC” has seen the most staggered growth among all the search terms we analyzed, with its peak of nearly 0.1% happening between 2012 and 2013. As of January of this year, search volume was below 0.05% for “PPC.”

google analytics job growth on indeed.com

Despite a lack of growth, the need for this skill remains steady. Between 2008 and 2009, “Google Analytics” job ads saw a huge spike on Indeed. Since then, the search volume has tapered off and plateaued through January 2015.

Most valuable skills are SEO, digital marketing, and Google Analytics

So we know the number of social media, digital marketing, and content marketing jobs are on the rise. But which skills are worth the most? We looked at the average salaries based on keywords and estimates from Indeed and salaries listed in job ads.

national average marketing salaries

Job titles containing “SEO” had an average salary of $102,000. Meanwhile, job titles containing “social media marketing” had an average salary of $51,000. Considering such a large percentage of the job listings we analyzed contained “social media” keywords, there is a much larger pool of jobs; therefore, a lot of entry level social media jobs or internships are probably bringing down the average salary.

Job titles containing “Google Analytics” had the second-highest average salary at $82,000, but this should be taken with a grain of salt considering “Google Analytics” will rarely appear as part of a job title. The chart below, which shows average salaries for jobs containing keywords anywhere in the listing as opposed to only in the title, gives a more accurate idea of how much “Google Analytics” job roles earn on average.national salary averages marketing keywords

Looking at the average salaries based on keywords that appeared anywhere within the job listing (job title, job description, etc.) shows a slightly different picture. Based on this, jobs containing “digital marketing” or “inbound marketing” had the highest average salary of $84,000. “SEO” and “Google Analytics” are tied for second with $76,000 as the average salary.

“Social media marketing” takes the bottom spot with an average salary of $57,000. However, notice that there is a higher average salary for jobs that contain “social media” within the job listing as opposed to jobs that contain “social media” within the title. This suggests that social media skills may be more valuable when combined with other responsibilities and skills, whereas a strictly social media job, such as Social Media Manager or Social Media Specialist, does not earn as much.

Massachusetts, New York, and California have the most career opportunities for inbound marketers

Looking for a new job? Maybe it’s time to pack your bags for Boston.

Massachusetts led the U.S. with the most jobs per capita for digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and Google Analytics. New York took the top spot for social media jobs per capita, while Utah had the highest concentration of PPC jobs. California ranked in the top three for digital marketing, content marketing, social media, and Google Analytics. Illinois appeared in the top 10 for every term and usually ranked within the top five. Most of the states with the highest job concentrations are in the Northeast, West, and East Coast, with a few exceptions such as Illinois and Minnesota.

But you don’t necessarily have to move to a new state to increase the odds of landing an inbound marketing job. Some unexpected states also made the cut, with Connecticut and Vermont ranking within the top 10 for several keywords.

concentration of digital marketing jobs

marketing jobs per capita

Job listings containing “digital marketing” or “inbound marketing” were most prevalent in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and California, which is most likely due to these states being home to major cities where marketing agencies and large brands are headquartered or have a presence. You will notice these four states make an appearance in the top 10 for every other search query and usually rank close to the top of the list.

More surprising to find in the top 10 were smaller states such as Connecticut and Vermont. Many major organizations are headquartered in Connecticut, which may be driving the state’s need for digital marketing talent. Vermont’s high-tech industry growth may explain its high concentration of digital marketing jobs.

content marketing job concentration

per capita content marketing jobs

Although content marketing jobs are growing, there are still a low volume overall of available jobs, as shown by the low jobs per capita compared to most of the other search queries. With more than three jobs per capita, Massachusetts and New York topped the list for the highest concentration of job listings containing “content marketing” or “content strategy.” California and Illinois rank in third and fourth with 2.8 and 2.1 jobs per capita respectively.

seo job concentration

seo jobs per capita

Again, Massachusetts and New York took the top spots, each with more than eight SEO jobs per capita. Utah took third place for the highest concentration of SEO jobs. Surprised to see Utah rank in the top 10? Its inclusion on this list and others may be due to its booming tech startup scene, which has earned the metropolitan areas of Salt Lake City, Provo, and Park City the nickname Silicon Slopes.

social media job concentration

social media jobs per capita

Compared to the other keywords, “social media” sees a much higher concentration of jobs. New York dominates the rankings with nearly 24 social media jobs per capita. The other top contenders of California, Massachusetts, and Illinois all have more than 15 social media jobs per capita.

The numbers at the bottom of this list can give you an idea of how prevalent social media jobs were compared to any other keyword we analyzed. Minnesota’s 12.1 jobs per capita, the lowest ranking state in the top 10 for social media, trumps even the highest ranking state for any other keyword (11.5 digital marketing jobs per capita in Massachusetts).

ppc job concentration

ppc jobs per capita

Due to its low overall number of available jobs, “PPC” sees the lowest jobs per capita out of all the search queries. Utah has the highest concentration of jobs with just two PPC jobs per 100,000 residents. It is also the only state in the top 10 to crack two jobs per capita.

google analytics job concentration

google analytics jobs per capita

Regionally, the Northeast and West dominate the rankings, with the exception of Illinois. Massachusetts and New York are tied for the most Google Analytics job postings, each with nearly five jobs per capita. At more than three jobs per 100,000 residents, California, Illinois, and Colorado round out the top five.

Overall, our findings indicate that none of the marketing disciplines we analyzed are dying career choices, but there is a need to become more than a one-trick pony—or else you’ll risk getting passed up for job opportunities. As the marketing industry evolves, there is a greater need for marketers who “wear many hats” and have competencies across different marketing disciplines. Marketers who develop diverse skill sets can gain a competitive advantage in the job market and achieve greater career growth.

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The SEO Expert’s Guide to Web Performance Using WebPageTest

Posted by mark.isham

Any SEO professional knows that both site performance and user experience play an important role in search engine rankings and conversion rates. And just like there are great tools to help you find your search rank, research keywords, and track links, there are also excellent tools to help you improve your site performance. In this post, we will dive into one of the best free tools you can use to measure and improve your site performance: WebPageTest.

Do you know these questions?

There are several key questions an SEO professional should answer when it comes to improving the performance and user experience (UX) of your website:

  • What is my Time To First Byte? Time to first byte (or TTFB) is a measure of how fast the network and webserver returned that first byte of data in the HTML file you requested. The lower this number the better, since it means the site responded quickly. TTFB is an important metric since it is the performance measure most strongly correlated with a page’s search ranking. A high TTFB can also indicate an underpowered web server.
  • How quickly does my site render? Have you ever visited a page and then stared at a white screen waiting? Even if your site fully loads in only a few seconds, if the user isn’t seeing any progress they have a bad experience. Getting your site to render quickly can make your site “feel” faster than the competition. And speaking of competition…
  • How does my site compare to my competitors? Having a fast site is always a plus, but knowing how fast your site loads relative to your competitors can give you an idea about where you spend your resources and attention.
  • How does your site respond for mobile users? Sites are increasingly receiving the majority of their traffic from mobile users. When measuring your site performance, its critical you evaluate how well your site performs on mobile devices as well.
  • How do I make my site faster and provide a better UX? Collecting data and metrics is great, but creating a plan of action is even better. In this and a follow up post, we will show you clear steps you can take to improve your site’s performance and UX.

Understanding the answers to these questions will help you speed up your site to improve your conversion rates and UX. Luckily the free tool WebPageTest can help you get there!

What does WebPageTest Do?

Created originally at AOL by Patrick Meenan in 2008 and now enjoying backing by prominent technology companies like Google, WebPageTest (WPT) is the swiss army knife for measuring your site’s performance. While WPT’s capabilities are vast (and sometimes overwhelming), with some guidance you will find that it can be indispensable to improving your site performance. And best of all, WPT is FREE and open sourced under the free BSD license!

At its most basic level, WPT measures how a particular web page loads. As the page loads, a number of useful metrics are captured, cataloged and then displayed in various charts and tables useful for spotting performance delays. These metrics and visuals can help us answer the important questions we listed above. You can also control many aspects of WPT’s analysis such as the platform to use (desktop vs mobile), browser of interest (Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc), and even the geographic location.

Actually this is an incredible simplification of all the available options and abilities: WPT can do much much more…so much so a book is already in the works. Still you can get great value with just some high level basics, so let’s dive in!

Testing your site with WebPageTest

Let’s walk through an example. Even if you are familiar with WebPageTest, you might want to skim. We are going to select some specific options to make sure that WebPageTest collects and measures all the data we need to answer our important performance and UX questions above.

To start go ahead and visit http://www.WebPageTest.org. It’s okay to load this URL on your browser of choice (the browser you visit the URL with is NOT the browser used to run the test, that all happens on the remote server in a controlled environment). If possible, try to use Chrome since some of the more advanced visual tools for displaying the result data work best on Chrome, but it’s not a big deal if you’d rather not.

You should now see a page like this:


Right away you see 2 interesting options:

  • Test Location has a list of over 40 different regions around the world. Through its partnership program, WPT is physically running (for free) on servers located in all of those locations. When you enter a page URL for testing, the server at the location will load that URL locally with the browser you select. Truly wonderful, but of course, you get what you pay for: the speed and reliability of your tests may vary greatly from location to location. In addition, not all regions support the same testing options.
  • Browser contains a number of different desktop and mobile browser configurations available for testing at that location. Note that unless otherwise specified, the mobile specific browser tests are actually running on actual mobile devices and not emulators. Patrick Meenan has a neat picture of one of these configurations on his blog (below).


Let’s go ahead and stick with the defaults (Dulles, VA and Chrome).

Go ahead and expand the Advanced Settings section and you’ll see something like this:


Some comments here:

  • Connection is the simulated connection speed. Doesn’t matter too much unless you’re doing advanced testing. Just keep the default of Cable 5/1 for now.
  • Number of tests: as the name implies this controls the number of repeat tests to run. This is very important as the Internet can suffer frequent spikes and jitter in response times based on network congestion (see our earlier post on HTTP/2). To get a reliable result, its best to run multiple samples and have WPT automatically choose the median result. We recommend at least three tests, more if you have the time to wait.
  • Repeat View specifies if each test should load the page just once (with the browser cache cleared), or once with the cache cleared and again with the cache primed. Why does this matter? Whenever your browser visits a URL for the first time, there is almost always a large number of images, JavaScript files and other resources that must first be downloaded by the browser to be used by that page. Once the browser has all these files, it will (depending on the server settings) cache them locally on your device for each subsequent page loaded from that website. This explains why the first page you visit almost always loads slower then subsequent pages on the same website. We recommend setting First View and Repeat View here so you can measure both the first experience for your new users and the ongoing experience for your repeat visitors.
  • Capture Video: One of the coolest features of WPT. This allows you to visually see what your users would see on that device in that location. I’ll dive into this more below, but for now just make sure it’s checked.
  • For now leave the rest of the options blank, and you can ignore the other tabs.

Go ahead and enter your site URL and hit Start Test. It’ll usually take 30-60 seconds to get a result, depending on the options you selected and how deep the work queue is. If you find it taking an inordinately long time, try repeating the test from a different location.

Let’s now look at the results.

WebPageTest Results

Upon completion you’ll see a lot of data returned, much more then I can cover in this post. Let’s stick to the highlights for now.

First, at the top you’ll see some metrics on the overall page load time itself, for example:


As I mentioned above, this is the median result after 3 runs. You’ll also see a breakout of the first page load (no caching by the browser) vs. the repeat page load (browser is now caching some resources). You should almost always expect the repeat view to be faster then the first view. If not, you have some caching problems and should try free tools like PageSpeed Insights and Zoompf to diagnose why your caching is not properly configured.

There’s a lot to digest in these numbers, so let’s stick to the highlights:

  1. First Byte: This is the Time-to-first-byte metric we are looking for! As you’ll see below, the HTML document is usually a small sliver of the overall time – it’s all the images, JavaScript files, etc. that take most of the time to load. You want a number no more than about 200-400 ms. See our earlier article about optimizing Time to First Byte for recommendations on how to improve this value.
  2. Start Render: This is the point visually where you start seeing something other then a blank white page staring back at you. This also directly maps to a number that we want for our questions above.
  3. Document Complete: This is the point where the webpage has loaded up all the initial components of the HTML DOM and you can start interacting with the page (scrolling and such). You may still see images and other background parts of the page continue to “pop in” on the page after this, though. This number is helpful for developers, but less important from an SEO/UX perspective.
  4. Fully Loaded: This is the point at which everything is done loading. All images, all tracking beacons, everything. Many websites intentionally design for a faster document complete time (time you can interact with the page) at the expense of a slower fully loaded time (e.g. load the “extra stuff” in the background while the user is interacting with the page). There are raging debates over whether this is a good practice or not, I’ll steer clear of those and simply say “do what’s best for your users”. Again, this is a number that is helpful for developers, but less important from an SEO/UX perspective.
  5. Speed Index: This is a metric specific to WPT averaging when the visual elements of the page load. This attempts to solve a growing discrepancy between the values above and what the user perceives as “fast”. The math behind how it is calculated is kind of cool, and you can learn more about it here. The smaller the number, the faster and more completely you page loads.

These metrics help us answer some of our questions above. We will also see how to easily compare your metrics to your competitor.

Waterfall Charts

One place WPT really shines is its waterfall charts. Put simply, a waterfall chart is a graph of what resources were loaded by your browser to render a webpage, with the horizontal axis charting increasing time and the vertical axis representing the in-order sequence of loaded resources from top to bottom. In addition, each line in the chart is color coded to capture the various loading and rendering activities performed by your browser to load that resource.

For example:


Waterfall charts are valuable for identifying bottlenecks causing your page to load slowly. A simple frame of reference is that is that wider the chart, the slower your page loads, and the taller the chart, the more resources that it loads. There is a ton of information packed into a waterfall chart, and interpreting a waterfall is a big topic with a lot of nuances. So much so that we’re going to dive into this topic in much more detail in our next post. Stay tuned.

Seeing how your site loads

If waterfall charts are the “killer app” of WPT, its performance videos are the killer upgrade. By selecting that Capture Video checkbox when you started your test earlier, WebPageTest captured a filmstrip showing exactly what your user would see if loading your website using the test parameters you provided. This is extremely valuable if, for example, you don’t happen to be working in Singapore on a Nexus 7, but would still like to see what your users there experience.

To access your video, click the Summary tab on your test result, then scroll down and click the Watch Video link on the far right column next to the Test Result you want to view.


You’ll then see something similar to this:

Remember those metrics that are important? If you site has a slow TTFB, you see a big delay before anything happens. The video also helps show you your start render time. This really helps provide some context: 750ms might sound fast, but being able to visualize it really drives home what your users are experiencing.

WPT’s video of your page load in itself is a great way to share with others exactly what your users are seeing. It is also a phenomenal tool to help build the case internally for performance optimization if you aren’t happy with the results. But can we do more?

Comparing against your competitors (and yourself)

Yes you can! WPT’s video capabilities go further, and that’s where it gets really interesting: you can also generate side by side videos of your site versus your competition!

To do so, repeat the steps above to generate a new test, but now using the URL of your competitor. Run your test and then click Test History. You’ll see something like this:


Click compare on the 2 tests of interest and you’ll see a cool side by side filmstrip like this:


Scrolling left and right will show a visual comparison of how the 2 pages loaded relative to each other. The gold boxes indicate when visual change occurred on the site getting loaded. Scroll down and you’ll see an overlay showing where in the waterfall chart the visual images loaded. Click the Create Video button and you’ll see a cool side by side animation like this.

This is a fantastic way of visualizing how your users see you versus your competition. In fact, you can compare up to 9 simultaneous videos, as we whimsically did some time back in this video:

But what about testing for mobile? While you can run 2 separate WPT analyses for your site using a desktop and mobile device, this is rather clunky. You have to switch back and forth comparing results. I am a big fan of using the comparing options, but to test my site using multiple different devices. This allows you to leverage all the great features above, like side-by-side video loading, and quickly see problems. Is your mobile site loading faster than your desktop site? It should, and if not, you should investigate why.

Getting even more from WebPageTest

I could spend hours going over all the advanced features of WebPageTest, and in fact Patrick Meenan has done just that in several of his great presentations and videos, but I wanted to wrap this up with a few of the more particularly noteworthy features for the SEO focused performance optimizer:

  • Private Instances: If WPT is loading too slowly for you, or your geographic needs are very specific, consider hosting a private instance on your own servers. WPT is open source and free to use under the free BSD license. There are many great resources to help you here, including Google’s documentation and Patrick’s presentation.
  • API: Most if not all the data exposed in the WPT web interface is also accessible via Restful API. If you’d like to show this data internally in your own format, this is the way to go.
  • Single Point of Failure (SPOF) Testing: What happens to your site if a key partner is down? Find out with the SPOF testing option. Simply list the host name(s) you want to simulate downtime with via the SPOF tab when launching a test, and see how poorly your site performs when a key resource fails to load. You may be horribly surprised. Even “fast” sites can load in 20+ seconds if a key advertising partner is offline. In fact, this feature is so useful we will explore using SPOF testing in our next post.
  • TCP Dumps: If your network engineers are debugging a truly thorny problem, additional logging is available via TCP Dumps. Especially useful for debugging server-side problems. Skip to timecode 15:50 here to learn more.

Next Time: Diagnosing performance problems with WebPageTest

WebPageTest is an indispensable tool for finding and debugging front-end performance problems, and a faster site leads to better user engagement and improved search rank. By default, WPT exposes a number of key metrics that are critical to SEO professionals and their understanding of their site’s performance and UX. I hope this overview provided a basic foundation for you to start diving in and using WebPageTest to optimize your own website speed.

While we have answered nearly all the important questions listed at the start of this post, we left one largely unanswered: What do I do to make my site faster and improve the UX? To answer this question, we need to go beyond just looking at the data WPT presents us, and instead go deeper and review the data to diagnose your performance bottlenecks. This includes not only using some of the more advanced features of WPT like the SPOF testing, but also reviewing the waterfall charts and using tools like our free performance report tool to analyze what is slowing down your website and learn what you can do to improve your performance. We will do all that and more in our next post.

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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Controlling Search Engine Crawlers for Better Indexation and Rankings – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When should you disallow search engines in your robots.txt file, and when should you use meta robots tags in a page header? What about nofollowing links? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers these tools and their appropriate use in four situations that SEOs commonly find themselves facing.

Controlling Search Engine Crawlers for Better Indexation and Rankings Whiteboard

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to talk about controlling search engine crawlers, blocking bots, sending bots where we want, restricting them from where we don’t want them to go. We’re going to talk a little bit about crawl budget and what you should and shouldn’t have indexed.

As a start, what I want to do is discuss the ways in which we can control robots. Those include the three primary ones: robots.txt, meta robots, and—well, the nofollow tag is a little bit less about controlling bots.

There are a few others that we’re going to discuss as well, including Webmaster Tools (Search Console) and URL status codes. But let’s dive into those first few first.

Robots.txt lives at http://ift.tt/1h4oU6r, it tells crawlers what they should and shouldn’t access, it doesn’t always get respected by Google and Bing. So a lot of folks when you say, “hey, disallow this,” and then you suddenly see those URLs popping up and you’re wondering what’s going on, look—Google and Bing oftentimes think that they just know better. They think that maybe you’ve made a mistake, they think “hey, there’s a lot of links pointing to this content, there’s a lot of people who are visiting and caring about this content, maybe you didn’t intend for us to block it.” The more specific you get about an individual URL, the better they usually are about respecting it. The less specific, meaning the more you use wildcards or say “everything behind this entire big directory,” the worse they are about necessarily believing you.

Meta robots—a little different—that lives in the headers of individual pages, so you can only control a single page with a meta robots tag. That tells the engines whether or not they should keep a page in the index, and whether they should follow the links on that page, and it’s usually a lot more respected, because it’s at an individual-page level; Google and Bing tend to believe you about the meta robots tag.

And then the nofollow tag, that lives on an individual link on a page. It doesn’t tell engines where to crawl or not to crawl. All it’s saying is whether you editorially vouch for a page that is being linked to, and whether you want to pass the PageRank and link equity metrics to that page.

Interesting point about meta robots and robots.txt working together (or not working together so well)—many, many folks in the SEO world do this and then get frustrated.

What if, for example, we take a page like “blogtest.html” on our domain and we say “all user agents, you are not allowed to crawl blogtest.html. Okay—that’s a good way to keep that page away from being crawled, but just because something is not crawled doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be in the search results.

So then we have our SEO folks go, “you know what, let’s make doubly sure that doesn’t show up in search results; we’ll put in the meta robots tag:”

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

So, “noindex, follow” tells the search engine crawler they can follow the links on the page, but they shouldn’t index this particular one.

Then, you go and run a search for “blog test” in this case, and everybody on the team’s like “What the heck!? WTF? Why am I seeing this page show up in search results?”

The answer is, you told the engines that they couldn’t crawl the page, so they didn’t. But they are still putting it in the results. They’re actually probably not going to include a meta description; they might have something like “we can’t include a meta description because of this site’s robots.txt file.” The reason it’s showing up is because they can’t see the noindex; all they see is the disallow.

So, if you want something truly removed, unable to be seen in search results, you can’t just disallow a crawler. You have to say meta “noindex” and you have to let them crawl it.

So this creates some complications. Robots.txt can be great if we’re trying to save crawl bandwidth, but it isn’t necessarily ideal for preventing a page from being shown in the search results. I would not recommend, by the way, that you do what we think Twitter recently tried to do, where they tried to canonicalize www and non-www by saying “Google, don’t crawl the www version of twitter.com.” What you should be doing is rel canonical-ing or using a 301.

Meta robots—that can allow crawling and link-following while disallowing indexation, which is great, but it requires crawl budget and you can still conserve indexing.

The nofollow tag, generally speaking, is not particularly useful for controlling bots or conserving indexation.

Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console) has some special things that allow you to restrict access or remove a result from the search results. For example, if you have 404’d something or if you’ve told them not to crawl something but it’s still showing up in there, you can manually say “don’t do that.” There are a few other crawl protocol things that you can do.

And then URL status codes—these are a valid way to do things, but they’re going to obviously change what’s going on on your pages, too.

If you’re not having a lot of luck using a 404 to remove something, you can use a 410 to permanently remove something from the index. Just be aware that once you use a 410, it can take a long time if you want to get that page re-crawled or re-indexed, and you want to tell the search engines “it’s back!” 410 is permanent removal.

301—permanent redirect, we’ve talked about those here—and 302, temporary redirect.

Now let’s jump into a few specific use cases of “what kinds of content should and shouldn’t I allow engines to crawl and index” in this next version…

[Rand moves at superhuman speed to erase the board and draw part two of this Whiteboard Friday. Seriously, we showed Roger how fast it was, and even he was impressed.]

Four crawling/indexing problems to solve

So we’ve got these four big problems that I want to talk about as they relate to crawling and indexing.

1. Content that isn’t ready yet

The first one here is around, “If I have content of quality I’m still trying to improve—it’s not yet ready for primetime, it’s not ready for Google, maybe I have a bunch of products and I only have the descriptions from the manufacturer and I need people to be able to access them, so I’m rewriting the content and creating unique value on those pages… they’re just not ready yet—what should I do with those?”

My options around crawling and indexing? If I have a large quantity of those—maybe thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands—I would probably go the robots.txt route. I’d disallow those pages from being crawled, and then eventually as I get (folder by folder) those sets of URLs ready, I can then allow crawling and maybe even submit them to Google via an XML sitemap.

If I’m talking about a small quantity—a few dozen, a few hundred pages—well, I’d probably just use the meta robots noindex, and then I’d pull that noindex off of those pages as they are made ready for Google’s consumption. And then again, I would probably use the XML sitemap and start submitting those once they’re ready.

2. Dealing with duplicate or thin content

What about, “Should I noindex, nofollow, or potentially disallow crawling on largely duplicate URLs or thin content?” I’ve got an example. Let’s say I’m an ecommerce shop, I’m selling this nice Star Wars t-shirt which I think is kind of hilarious, so I’ve got starwarsshirt.html, and it links out to a larger version of an image, and that’s an individual HTML page. It links out to different colors, which change the URL of the page, so I have a gray, blue, and black version. Well, these four pages are really all part of this same one, so I wouldn’t recommend disallowing crawling on these, and I wouldn’t recommend noindexing them. What I would do there is a rel canonical.

Remember, rel canonical is one of those things that can be precluded by disallowing. So, if I were to disallow these from being crawled, Google couldn’t see the rel canonical back, so if someone linked to the blue version instead of the default version, now I potentially don’t get link credit for that. So what I really want to do is use the rel canonical, allow the indexing, and allow it to be crawled. If you really feel like it, you could also put a meta “noindex, follow” on these pages, but I don’t really think that’s necessary, and again that might interfere with the rel canonical.

3. Passing link equity without appearing in search results

Number three: “If I want to pass link equity (or at least crawling) through a set of pages without those pages actually appearing in search results—so maybe I have navigational stuff, ways that humans are going to navigate through my pages, but I don’t need those appearing in search results—what should I use then?”

What I would say here is, you can use the meta robots to say “don’t index the page, but do follow the links that are on that page.” That’s a pretty nice, handy use case for that.

Do NOT, however, disallow those in robots.txt—many, many folks make this mistake. What happens if you disallow crawling on those, Google can’t see the noindex. They don’t know that they can follow it. Granted, as we talked about before, sometimes Google doesn’t obey the robots.txt, but you can’t rely on that behavior. Trust that the disallow in robots.txt will prevent them from crawling. So I would say, the meta robots “noindex, follow” is the way to do this.

4. Search results-type pages

Finally, fourth, “What should I do with search results-type pages?” Google has said many times that they don’t like your search results from your own internal engine appearing in their search results, and so this can be a tricky use case.

Sometimes a search result page—a page that lists many types of results that might come from a database of types of content that you’ve got on your site—could actually be a very good result for a searcher who is looking for a wide variety of content, or who wants to see what you have on offer. Yelp does this: When you say, “I’m looking for restaurants in Seattle, WA,” they’ll give you what is essentially a list of search results, and Google does want those to appear because that page provides a great result. But you should be doing what Yelp does there, and make the most common or popular individual sets of those search results into category-style pages. A page that provides real, unique value, that’s not just a list of search results, that is more of a landing page than a search results page.

However, that being said, if you’ve got a long tail of these, or if you’d say “hey, our internal search engine, that’s really for internal visitors only—it’s not useful to have those pages show up in search results, and we don’t think we need to make the effort to make those into category landing pages.” Then you can use the disallow in robots.txt to prevent those.

Just be cautious here, because I have sometimes seen an over-swinging of the pendulum toward blocking all types of search results, and sometimes that can actually hurt your SEO and your traffic. Sometimes those pages can be really useful to people. So check your analytics, and make sure those aren’t valuable pages that should be served up and turned into landing pages. If you’re sure, then go ahead and disallow all your search results-style pages. You’ll see a lot of sites doing this in their robots.txt file.

That being said, I hope you have some great questions about crawling and indexing, controlling robots, blocking robots, allowing robots, and I’ll try and tackle those in the comments below.

We’ll look forward to seeing you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care!

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Case Study: How I Turned Autocomplete Ideas into Traffic & Ranking Results with Only 5 Hours of Effort

Posted by jamiejpress

This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.

Many of us have known for a while that Google Autocomplete can be a useful tool for identifying keyword opportunities. But did you know it is also an extremely powerful tool for content ideation?

And by pushing the envelope a little further, you can turn an Autocomplete topic from a good content idea into a link-building, traffic-generating powerhouse for your website.

Here’s how I did it for one of my clients. They are in the diesel power generator industry in the Australian market, but you can use this same process for businesses in literally any industry and market you can think of.

Step 1: Find the spark of an idea using Google Autocomplete

I start by seeking out long-tail keyword ideas from Autocomplete. By typing in some of my client’s core keywords, I come across one that sparked my interest in particular—diesel generator fuel consumption.


What’s more, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner says it is a high competition term. So advertisers are prepared to spend good money on this phrase—all the better to try to rank well organically for the term. We want to get the traffic without incurring the click costs.


Step 2: Check the competition and find an edge

Next, we find out what pages rank well for the phrase, and then identify how we can do better, with user experience top of mind.

In the case of “diesel generator fuel consumption” in Google.com.au, the top-ranking page is this one: a US-focused piece of content using gallons instead of litres.


This observation, paired with the fact that the #2 Autocomplete suggestion was “diesel generator fuel consumption in litres” gives me the right slant for the content that will give us the edge over the top competing page: Why not create a table using metric measurements instead of imperial measurements for our Australian audience?

So that’s what I do.

I work with the client to gather the information and create the post on the their website. Also, I insert the target phrase in the page title, meta description, URL, and once in the body content. We also create a PDF downloadable with similar content.


Note: While figuring out how to make product/service pages better than those of competitors is the age-old struggle when it comes to working on core SEO keywords, with longer-tail keywords like the ones you work with using this tactic, users generally want detailed information, answers to questions, or implementable tips. So it makes it a little easier to figure out how you can do it better by putting yourself in the user’s shoes.

Step 3: Find the right way to market the content

If people are searching for the term in Google, then there must also be people on forums asking about it.

A quick search through Quora, Reddit and an other forums brings up some relevant threads. I engage with the users in these forums and add non-spammy, helpful no-followed links to our new content in answering their questions.

Caveat: Forum marketing has had a bad reputation for some time, and rightly so, as SEOs have abused the tactic. Before you go linking to your content in forums, I strongly recommend you check out this resource on the right way to engage in forum marketing.

Okay, what about the results?

Since I posted the page in December 2014, referral traffic from the forums has been picking up speed; organic traffic to the page keeps building, too.



Yeah, yeah, but what about keyword rankings?

While we’re yet to hit the top-ranking post off its perch (give us time!), we are sitting at #2 and #3 in the search results as I write this. So it looks like creating that downloadable PDF paid off.


All in all, this tactic took minimal time to plan and execute—content ideation, research and creation (including the PDF version) took three hours, while link building research and implementation took an additional two hours. That’s only five hours, yet the payoff for the client is already evident, and will continue to grow in the coming months.

Why not take a crack at using this technique yourself? I would love to hear how your ideas about how you could use it to benefit your business or clients.

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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