​Preview the MozCon 2016 Agenda (and Other Exciting News!)

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Like the talking mice to Cinderella, we’re already working hard on MozCon and crafting Roger one heck of a ball gown. (And letting our metaphors get out of control in the meantime.) Which means I’m here to share with all of you the current MozCon 2016 Agenda and a ton of other preview goodies.

If you’re suddenly like “Oh snap, I haven’t bought my ticket(s)!”, I’ll pause while you:

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

Roger hugs at MozCon

New emcees: we’re mixing it up!

As some of you know, Cyrus won’t be emceeing MozCon this year. (We still adore him, and I’m sure his face will make it into a few slide decks.) So we decided to take this opportunity to shake it up.

Emceeing MozCon is a hard job. We want each and every speaker to feel supported by our stage and have the emcee warm up the audience for their talk. Instead of having one emcee for three days, we’re having three different emcees, one each day.

Please congratulate them!

Jen Sable Lopez

Jen Sable Lopez

Sr. Director of Community and Audience Development at Moz

@jennita

Leading our community and audience development efforts here at Moz, Jen Sable Lopez’s the biggest fan of you: our community. She’s deeply invested in being TAGFEE and bringing educational content and community love to you. Jen also does a great Grumpy Cat impression, serves as Moz gif maker, and loves traveling and her family.

Ronell Smith

Ronell Smith

Strategist at RS Consulting

@ronellsmith

Ronell Smith is a business strategist with a passion for helping brands create a user experience their customers will recognize, appreciate, and reward them for with their business.

Zeph Snapp

Zeph Snapp

CEO at Altura Interactive

@zephsnapp

A bilingual, bicultural marketer, Zeph Snapp helps international companies reach Spanish speakers in the US and Latin America. If you want him to go on a rant, ask him about machine learning as it relates to translation and content.

The sneak peek MozCon 2016 Agenda

Because we’re releasing this earlier than ever, there’s still a few TBD spots and topics. I can’t thank our speakers enough for being so gracious and super hard-working to settle on their topics.

Wil on the stage

You’ll also notice that community speakers are still forthcoming. That’s right — they’re coming soon (keep an eye out for the submission post!), and we wanted to give you a head start to noodle on your potential topic.

Monday


08:00–09:00am
Breakfast


Rand Fishkin

09:00–09:20am
Welcome to MozCon 2016! with Rand Fishkin

Wizard of Moz
@randfish

Rand Fishkin is the founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. Rand’s an unsaveable addict of all things content, search, and social on the web.


Cara Harshman

09:25–10:10am
Uplevel Your A/B Testing Skills with Cara Harshman

Content Marketing Manager at Optimizely
@caraharshman

A/B testing is bread and butter for anyone who aspires to be a data-driven marketer. Cara will share stories about how testers, from one-person agencies to dedicated testing teams, are doing it, and how you can develop your own A/B testing expertise.

Cara Harshman just celebrated her four-year anniversary at Optimizely. Besides managing content strategy, customer case studies, and the blog, she has been known to spend a lot of time writing parody songs for company all-hands meetings.


10:10–10:30am
AM Break


Lauren Vaccarello

10:35–11:05am
TBD with Lauren Vaccarello

VP of Marketing at Box
@laurenv

Lauren Vaccarello is a best-selling author and currently runs corporate and field marketing at Box.


11:05–11:35am
TBD


11:35am–12:05pm
TBD


12:05–01:35pm
Lunch


Joe Hall

01:40–02:10pm
Rethinking Information Architecture for SEO and Content Marketing with Joe Hall

SEO Consultant at Hall Analysis LLC
@joehall

Information Architecture (IA) shapes the way we organize data, think about complex ideas, and build web sites. Joe will provide a new approach to IA for SEO and Content Marketing, based on actionable insights, that SEOs can extract from their own data sets.

Joe Hall is an executive SEO consultant focused on analyzing and informing the digital marketing strategies of select clients through high-level data analysis and SEO audits.


Talia Wolf

02:10–02:40pm
Breaking Patterns: How to Rewrite the CRO Playbook with Mobile Optimization with Talia Wolf

CMO at Banana Splash
@Taliagw

Best practices lie. Talia shares how to build a mobile conversion optimization strategy and how to turn more mobile visitors into customers based on A/B testing their emotions, decision making process, and behavior.

As CMO at Banana-Splash and Founder of Conversioner, Talia Wolf helps businesses optimize their sites using emotional targeting, consumer psychology, and real-time data to generate more revenues, leads, and sales. Talia is a keynote speaker, author, and Harry Potter fan.


02:40–03:10pm
TBD


03:10–03:30pm
PM Break


03:35–04:05pm
TBD with Ross Simmonds

Founder at Foundation Marketing
@TheCoolestCool


Dana DiTomaso

04:05–4:50pm
TBD with Dana DiTomaso

Partner at Kick Point
@danaditomaso

Dana DiTomaso is a partner at Kick Point, where she applies marketing into strategies to grow clients’ businesses, in particular to ensure that digital and traditional play well together — separating real solutions from wastes of time (and budget).


Tuesday


08:00–09:00am
Breakfast


Dr. Pete Meyers

09:05–09:50am
You Can’t Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter with Dr. Pete Meyers

Marketing Scientist at Moz
@dr_pete

Google is getting better every day at understanding intent and natural language, and the path between typing a search and getting a result is getting more winding. How often are queries interpreted, and how do we do keyword research for search engines that are beginning to understand concepts?

Dr. Pete Meyers is Marketing Scientist for Seattle-based Moz, where he works with marketing and data science on product research and data-driven content. He has spent the past four years building research tools to monitor Google, including the MozCast project.


Joanna Wiebe

09:50–10:20am
How to Be Specific: From-The-Trenches Lessons in High-Converting Copy with Joanna Wiebe

Creator and Copywriter at Wiebe Marketing Ltd
@copyhackers

Abstracted benefits, summarized value, and promise-free landing pages keep marketers safe — and conversion rates low. Joanna shares how and why your copy needs to get specific to move people to act.

The original conversion copywriter, Joanna Wiebe is the founder of Copy Hackers and Airstory. She’s optimized copy for Wistia, Buffer, Crazy Egg, Bounce Exchange, and Rainmaker, among others, and spoken at CTA Conf, Business of Software… and now MozCon.


10:20–10:40am
AM Break


10:45am–12:05pm
Community Speakers


12:05–01:35pm
Lunch


Mike Ramsey

01:40–02:25pm
Local Projects to Boost Your Company and Career with Mike Ramsey

President at Nifty Marketing
@mikeramsey

Mike will walk through the projects that his individual team members took on to improve how they handled local links, reviews, reports, and lots of areas in between.

Mike Ramsey is the President of Nifty Marketing, which works with big brands and small businesses on digital marketing. He talks about running agencies, local search, and Idaho a lot.


Kristen Craft

02:25–02:55pm
Reimagining Customer Retention and Evangelism with Kristen Craft

Director of Business Development at Wistia
@thecrafty

As Director of Business Development at Wistia, Kristen Craft loves working with Wistia’s partner community, building connections with other companies that care about video marketing. Kristen holds degrees in business and education from MIT and Harvard.


02:55–03:15pm
PM Break


Rebekah Cancino

03:25–03:55pm
TBD with Rebekah Cancino

Co-Founder and Content Strategy Consultant at Onward
@rebekahcancino

Rebekah Cancino spent the last decade helping clients, like Aetna and United Way, overcome some of their toughest content problems. Her consultancy offers workshops and training for in-house teams that bridge the gap between content, design, and technical SEO.


Wil Reynolds

03:55–04:40pm
TBD with Wil Reynolds

CEO/Founder at Seer Interactive
@wilreynolds

Wil Reynolds — Director of Strategy, Seer Interactive — founded Seer with a focus on doing great things for its clients, team, and the community. His passion for driving and analyzing the impact that a site’s traffic has on the company’s bottom line has shaped the SEO and digital marketing industries. Wil also actively supports the Covenant House.


Wednesday


09:00–10:00am
Breakfast


Kindra Hall

10:05–10:35am
The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling with Kindra Hall

Strategic Storytelling Advisor at Kindra Hall
@kindramhall

Whoever tells the best story, wins. In marketing, in business, in life. Going beyond buzzwords, Kindra will reveal specific storytelling strategies to create great content and win customers without a fight.

Kindra Hall is a speaker, author, and storytelling advisor. She works with individuals and brands to help them capture attention by telling better stories.


Mike Arnesen

10:35–11:20am
29 Advanced Google Tag Manager Tips Every Marketer Should Know with Mike Arnesen

Founder and CEO at UpBuild
@mike_arnesen

Google Tag Manager is an incredibly powerful tool and one you’re likely not using to its full potential. Mike will deliver 29 rapid-fire tips that’ll empower you to overcome the tracking challenges of dynamic web apps, build user segments based on website interactions, scale the implementation of structured data, analyze the consumption of rich media, and much more.

Mike Arnesen has been driven by his passion for technical SEO, semantic search, website optimization, and company culture for over a decade. He is the Founder and CEO of UpBuild, a technical marketing agency focusing on SEO, analytics, and CRO.


11:20–11:40am
AM Break


Tara Reed

11:45am–12:15pm
Engineering-As-Marketing for Non-Engineers with Tara Reed

CEO at AppsWithoutCode.com
@TaraReed_

Tara shares how to build useful tools like calculators, widgets, and micro-apps to acquire millions of new users, without writing a single line of code.

Tara Reed is a Detroit-based entrepreneur and founder of AppsWithoutCode.com. As a non-technical founder, she builds her own apps, widgets, and algorithms without writing a single line of code.


12:15–12:45pm
TBD


12:45–02:15pm
Lunch


Cindy Krum

02:20–03:05pm
Indexing on Fire: Google Firebase Native and Web App Indexing with Cindy Krum

CEO and Founder at MobileMoxie, LLC
@suzzicks

In the future, app and web content will be indistinguishable, and Google’s new Firebase platform allows developers to use the same resources to build, market, and maintain apps on all devices, in one place. Cindy will outline how digital marketers can use Firebase to help drive indexing of native and web app content, including Deep Links, Dynamic Links, and Angular JS web apps.

Cindy Krum is the CEO and Founder of MobileMoxie, LLC, and author of Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are. She brings fresh and creative ideas to her clients, and regularly speaks at US and international digital marketing events.


Sarah Weise

03:05–03:35pm
Mind Games: Craft Killer Experiences with 7 Lessons from Cognitive Psychology with Sarah Weise

UX Director at Booz Allen Digital Interactive
@weisesarah

Sarah Weise is UX Director at Booz Allen Digital Interactive. She has crafted experiences for hundreds of websites, apps, and products. Over the past decade, she has specialized in creative, lean ways to connect with customers and build experiences that matter.


03:35–03:55pm
PM Break


Rand Fishkin

04:00–04:45pm
Earning, Nudging, and (Indirectly) Buying the Links You Still Need to Rank with Rand Fishkin

Wizard of Moz
@randfish

Links still move the needle — on rankings, traffic, reputation, and referrals. Yet, some SEOs have come to believe that if we “create great content,” links will just appear (and rankings will follow). Rand will dispel this myth and focus on how to build the architecture for a link strategy, alongside some hot new tools and tactics for link acquisition in 2016.

Rand Fishkin is the founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. Rand’s an un-save-able addict of all things content, search, and social on the web.


Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

Don’t worry, we’ve got your MozCon evenings covered!

After a day of learning and possibly discovering a brand-new city, I know I sometimes struggle with what to do after the conference closes for the day. At MozCon, we work to bring you three evening events where you can chill, network, make new friends, and grab some food and drinks. (We will also have a post in late August or early September with a ton of great recommendations for things to do and food to eat in Seattle!)

Monday’s MozCrawl from 7–10pm

The best part of our MozCrawl is being able to explore a neighborhood in Seattle. Bring your walking shoes (or load your favorite rideshare app), and get to know a little about the flavor of Seattle. While the locations are still TBD, Moz and our MozCon partners will each host a bar with light appetizers and drinks.

MozCrawl

To ensure you see as much of Seattle as possible, each bar will have a scavenger hunt element. Our sweet, bar-hosting partners:

  • Buffer
  • BuzzStream
  • SimilarWeb
  • Unbounce
  • Whitespark
  • Wordstream

(We also have two other partners, STAT and Wistia, who will be keeping a low profile that night.)

Tuesday’s MozCon Ignite from 7–10pm

In my completely biased opinion, this is my favorite MozCon evening event. For those who’ve never been to an Ignite-style talk, they are 5 minute talks with auto-advancing slides. Because we’re learning all day at MozCon about online marketing, our Ignite talks are 100% not about marketing or business. They are passion projects, hobbies, and interests.

MozCon Ignite

Last year, our 16 talks ranged from a touching tale about helping a terminally ill child musician record an album, to how to love opera, to how to make frosting. You can sit back, relax, laugh, and cry. Plus, beforehand, there are networking opportunities to chat with your fellow attendees.

If this sounds like something you’d want to speak at, we’ll be opening up pitches in early July. Our venue is currently TBD.

Wednesday’s MozCon Bash at the Garage from 7pm–12am

MozCon Bash

Make sure to book your flight home the day after MozCon so you can join us at our annual MozCon Bash to celebrate another great year of learning. Put on your bowling shoes and see if you can out-turkey your new friends! Or play a round of pool, or sing your heart out with some karaoke. Food and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are on us. You’ll take home even more memories and some photobooth mementos to look back on.

Grab your ticket today — we’ve sold out for the last 5 years.

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

If you have any questions about MozCon programming, please don’t hesitate to ask 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!

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Here’s How I’m Using Moz Content for Mining Local Link Opportunities

Posted by David_Farkas

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.

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

Creating content for local link building can be intimidating.

Sure, you know your business. You know your area, but do you know what locals want to read about?

You can always guess, and you might strike gold. My guess is you don’t have the time, resources, or budget for guesswork.

I don’t either, which is why I like to go in educated.

Enter Moz Content.

Even if you don’t have a Moz account, Moz Content allows you to audit any website and find its most popular content. You can figure out which pages and posts have the most shares, the most links, and the sort of reach each page might have.

You can go much more in-depth with the paid version of the tool, and it’s absolutely worth the money.

But this post is about using the free version to remove the intimidation factor from local-based content, so we might as well start slowly.

By the end, you should have a good idea how to create local content that resonates with your audience and attracts links.

Local links

To my mind, the best links come from relevant websites, but there are (at least) two types of relevance:

  • Industry-based
  • Local

So, for this article, let’s say you own an auto repair shop in New Haven, Conn., and you want to build links.

You’re just starting, so maybe you don’t have the time or the budget to build a fantastic piece of content about auto repair, the kind that draws links from gearhead hobbyists, dealership blogs, and parts manufacturers.

Local links should be your priority. Local links can be easier to be build and there’s not as much of a barrier to entry.

But you still must create a useful, engaging piece of content that people want to read.

You don’t have to guess, though. You can use the free version of the tool to come up with great ideas for local content, and you’ll have numbers to back it up.

For this hypothetical auto shop in New Haven, I didn’t analyze a single hypothetical competitor. Instead, I analyzed sites focused on New Haven.

I wanted to analyze three things:

  • An official city website or a reputable tourism website to see what the big dogs are doing right;
  • A popular local site or blog to see how small websites are appealing to locals;
  • Content from a big, national brand that writes area-specific content about multiple cities to see how national brands are trying to get links and shares from regional-based content.

Here are the three sites I analyzed and the content ideas they gave me:

Site #1: VisitNewHaven.com

The first site I analyzed was VisitNewHaven.com. It’s full of tourist information, meaning it probably has a good handle on why people enjoy New Haven, and it knows what they like about it.

Heck, many New Haven residents probably use it, too. It’s full of information about local events, businesses, and websites. I thought it was a good start.

So, I put the URL into Moz Content:

mozcontent1.jpg

When I scrolled down to view “popular pages,” I saw that, other than the home page, the annual events page had the most links. The dining and nightlife pages did OK, too, so we’ll file that away for later use.

We’re after links, and the annual events page has the most links, so it’s a good place to start.

I clicked on the analysis for that page:

mozcontent2.jpg

Reach isn’t great, and it doesn’t have many links, but it beats anything else on the site, so I decided it was worth a look. People like this page enough to link to a tourism website, so they’re doing something right.

Here’s what the annual events page on VisitNewHaven.com looks like:

mozcontent3.jpg

There’s little text here, but it does the job, providing relevant, up-to-date info about annual events with appropriate links.

Since there’s little here, you could make something better. If it’s good enough, you could probably even get your first link from VisitNewHaven.com, especially if you credit them for inspiring you.

Content Idea: Build a guide to local events from your point of view. You could build one for a complete year or make several and target them to winter, spring, summer, and fall tourists.

To one-up this piece of content, you’d have to write a paragraph about each event, and give local insight.

You’d already have an outreach list, too. You could email the organizers of each event you mentioned and see if they want to link to your guide.

You know people are interested in annual events, and by one-upping this page, you could generate at least five relevant, local links.

When you’re just starting, five links are an excellent bounty.

Site #2: ConnecticutLifestyles.com

Next, I did an audit for ConnecticutLifestyles.com. It has good content, and it does well in Google search results.

It’s not backed by a city government or tourism board, but it’s about as good as you’ll find for a local website that’s not a business blog.

I plugged in the URL:

mozcontent5.jpg

Next, I scrolled down to look at popular pages:

mozcontent4.jpg

I found that recipes dominated their other blog posts. They had the most shares and links, even when there weren’t many shares or links.

Clearly, Connecticut audiences are interested in authentic food.

Content Idea: Offer some recipes.

Even if you own an auto shop, you still eat food. You probably have family recipes, or you can get them from friends, family, and employees.

Content that focuses on local recipes can work for almost any local business. The recipes must come from you or your employees.

So, you could publish a few recipes, or you can make a guide to spicy Connecticut food or Connecticut desserts and link to recipes from other authentic Connecticut sites.

You could even try to replicate the food from your favorite restaurants. You might even get them in on the action.

As long as you focus on authentic recipes, coming from authentic Connecticut residents, you have a good shot at building links. People care about recipes. We have the proof. They outperform all other content on ConnecticutLifestyles.com.

Site #3: Movoto

Next, I analyzed Movoto’s New Haven section. Movoto is a real estate website, but they also pump out local-based content that strokes the egos of local residents and earns plenty of links and shares.

You’ve probably seen your friends share some of their content on Facebook. Movoto puts a lot of money into earning shares and links from locals, so I thought they were a good site to analyze.

I plunked the URL into Moz Content:

mozcontent6.jpg

Immediately, I looked at this section of Movoto’s most popular pages:

mozcontent7.jpg

And we’re not seeing many links. That’s a bummer.

But we are seeing plenty of shares on one post.

You might have guessed it, based on the previous two websites. An article about restaurants is in the lead.

Here’s what it looks like:

mozcontent9.jpg

These Movoto articles might not be getting the links they do in other cities, but knowing that a list of 15 restaurants blows everything else away might give you some ideas.

Content Idea: This piece of content features a quality photo for each restaurant. They could be stock photos, but they look authentic. It also gives each restaurant’s Yelp score, with a paragraph about the food.

And that’s it.

Chances are, you eat food every day. You might not be a food critic, but you’re qualified to talk about why you like your favorite restaurants. All you’d have to do is take photos, write something more in-depth, and keep it authentic.

Hear me out.

Restaurants write about their own food all the time, and it often comes off as salesy.

As a non-food-related, local business, you’re writing about the food you like. You’re not trying to sell it. That puts you at an advantage, because you’re inherently trustworthy.

Plus, you could likely get a link from most restaurants you write about.

This wouldn’t have to be a huge piece of content. It would just have to be better than an article that’s 15 paragraphs and 15 photos.

That’s doable.

Putting it all together

So, what’s the real reason I analyzed three websites for content ideas?

I wanted to see if I could combine three ideas into something unique.

You could find success with a single idea from any of these websites I audited, but I wanted to dig a little deeper.

So, in the VisitNewHaven audit, dining and nightlife were popular, although not as popular as annual events. With ConnecticutLifestyle and Movoto, recipes and restaurants blew away all the competition.

You could combine them all into:

  • A piece that shows New Haven’s favorite foods based on ConnecticutLifestyle’s recipes;
  • The best restaurants to find those foods in New Haven;
  • The best annual events for foodies in New Haven.

Basically, you’d make a post that highlights annual food-based events. Within the post, you’d highlight the participating restaurants and food vendors and then talk about the New Haven favorites they serve.

Heck, you could even link to recipes for those foods.

That post seems like a win in my book.

You’d have a big list of restaurants, food vendors, event sites, tourism sites, and lifestyle blogs to contact for links as well.

Creating content for local link building need not be overwhelming or scary. With just an hour or two of extra research, you can find out what people in your area are reading about.

Then, no matter your industry, you can come up with an idea for local content that kills the competition.

I always advocate starting small. I recently wrote a post about building links at the neighborhood level and working your way up. You can use Moz Content for local link building at any level.

If you start small, armed with the knowledge of what a local audience wants, you’ll be creating bigger and better content in no time.

You have the tools. They’re free and at your disposal. You simply have to get started.

What about you? Have you tried Moz Content yet? Do you have other tools/workflows you’d recommend?

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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5 Actionable Talks from Conversion Experts

Posted by christinew603

As marketers, we can’t turn a corner without hearing about how to generate leads with existing content. But CRO [Conversion Rate Optimization] is about so much more than just leveraging content in different ways; optimization is really the process of finding out and testing how to convert people on your site pages, landing pages, blog posts, and marketing efforts.

Don’t know where to start? Listen to these five actionable talks from a few of today’s top conversion experts. Hear directly from the landing page, copywriting, mobile, and conversion design experts on how to optimize your marketing for lead conversion. (And save your spot in a live Google Hangout with these experts and HubSpot on June 1st!)


1. Peep Laja – How to Turn Data into Insights & Customers

Bio via ConversionXL:

As ConversionXL founder, Peep is an entrepreneur and conversion optimization expert with 10+ years of global experience. He has extensive experience across verticals: in the past he’s run a software company in Europe, an SEO agency in Panama, a real estate portal in Dubai, and worked for an international non-profit.

In this talk from TractionConf, Peep covers:

  • 6 steps to thinking of conversion optimization as a process and not tactics
  • Why “best practices” aren’t necessarily the best ways to optimize your own blog posts and landing pages
  • Digging into the formula for conversion success (hint: it starts with the number of tests run, the percentage of winning tests, and impact per successful experiment)
  • Getting better data, not more
  • Gathering qualitative and quantitative data to find out if your ideas are actually good
  • Identifying problems and holes for conversion on your site

2. Oli Gardner – 4 Corners of Conversion

Bio via Inbound.org:

Unbounce’s legendary Oli Gardner has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet. His disdain for marketers who send campaign traffic to their homepage is legendary. He is a prolific webinar guest and writer, and speaks internationally about conversion-centered design where he is consistently ranked as the top speaker.

In this presentation from INBOUND15, you’ll learn:

  • Bull sh*t marketing and how to spot it on your own landing pages
  • Conversion-centered design and utilizing psychology for conversion
  • How to apply the 4 corners of conversion — copy, design, interaction, and psychology — in all forms of your marketing, not just landing pages
  • Utilizing information hierarchy and ensuring your copy comes before design

3. Joanna Wiebe – 3 Undeniably Real Test-Proof Truths That Will Shake What You Know About Copywriting

Bio via Inbound.org:

As copywriter and creator of Copy Hackers, Joanna helps startups use their words so people fall in love with them, flood them in cash, tell all their friends about them, and name their firstborn after them. (“Buffer Anastasia McGillicuddy. That’s got a nice ring to it.”)

In this particular talk from CallToAction Conference 2014, she covers:

  • How to approach “clever” copy and learning to write for conversion
  • How to lead a headline: what we’ve learned from the advertising world of David Ogilvy and modernizing those ideas
  • What color your buttons should actually be
  • How to break patterns in language and copy when you’re stuck
  • Ideas for new tests to run on your pages

4. Tim Ash – Mobile Conversion Strategies

Bio via SiteTuners:

Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book, Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization.

At INBOUND15, Tim covered:

  • Top 10 things to stop doing on your mobile pages
  • How to manage navigation on mobile and prioritize content
  • Setting expectations for your mobile users and acknowledging their attention spans

5. Angie Schottmuller – 7 Secrets to Drive Epic Conversion with Hero Shot Images

Bio via LinkedIn:

Angie is an inbound marketing thought leader skilled at wielding magnetic content optimized for search, social, conversion, and mobile. With over seventeen years in multichannel B2B and B2C experience in both agency and corporation settings leading successful marketing technology projects for brands like Nestle USA, Gerber, Red Wing Shoes, Andersen Windows, The Home Depot, and more, she’s adept at harnessing online and emerging technologies to drive tangible results for improving business — social engagement, lead generation, sales conversion, customer loyalty, and brand advocacy.

At Conversionista Conference, Angie talks about:

  • 7 hero shot persuasion factors to learn and test from
  • How to say more in a visual than header text
  • Connecting hero images in your marketing
  • How to persuade through credible imagery and encourage prospects
  • Staying away from “fancy” brand images and gearing hero shots for conversion

Want to see some of these experts in action? Learn all about how to increase your lead conversion in a live Google Hangout on June 1st!

Save me a seat!

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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Is Your Writing Readable? 3 Concepts to Master for Copy That Converts

Posted by Isla_McKetta

You know you’re supposed to write scannable copy. But do you know why?

On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.
– Jakob Nielsen

Nope, it’s not just that. Although the tiny fraction of attention readers have for your content is always important to keep in mind. But instead of another “write for the F-pattern reader” article, let’s dig into the psychological underpinnings of how readers process information. You’ll learn ways to make your content more memorable and how not to disenfranchise any audience members who struggle with legibility, however unintentional.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to immerse yourself in academic theories for the next three weeks. I’ve waded through those dusty tomes for you, and I’m here to report back on how readability actually works. I’ll also suggest some implications for your content. This’ll get a little wonky at times, but I hope you’ll learn something from my research. I know I did.

These are the concepts I’ll cover and where they fall on the legibility, readability, and comprehension spectrum:

  1. Chunking (readability)
  2. Word recognition (comprehension)
  3. Universal design (legibility)

1. Chunking (readability)

In the field of user-experience design, ‘chunking’ usually refers to breaking up content into small, distinct units of information (or ‘chunks’), as opposed to presenting an undifferentiated mess of atomic information items.
Kate Meyer

Chunking was first identified by George A. Miller in “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” While the article focuses on how many items we can hold in our memory, Miller goes on to suggest that we can remember more items if that information is properly separated out for us. For example, this string of numbers (even though it only contains eight digits):

A string of numbers: 09112001

is harder to understand or remember than this unforgettable number:

A string of numbers broken up by forward slashes: 09/11/2001

Those slashes help us parse the numbers into shorter (and more recognizable) units, which makes it easier to understand and remember the information.

The span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process, and remember. By organizing the stimulus input simultaneously into several dimensions and successively into a sequence of chunks, we manage to break (or at least stretch) this informational bottleneck.
George A. Miller

So when you’re dividing up your web content with headers, images, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs, consider how those chunks of information are working for you. A listicle of the 100 greatest things about summer might be a lot more memorable if you subdivide that list with headers every 5–9 items. Likewise, if you write single-line-paragraph after single-line paragraph, your reader might get lost on the screen and miss something important. Instead, improve the readability of your content by varying the length of those paragraphs every so often.

2. Word recognition (comprehension)

That wasn’t too painful, was it? This next concept, an area of research into psycholinguistics called the “cohort model,” is a little harder to wade through, but since it speaks to our ability to comprehend information, I’m going to do my best to model that.

First, though, you might be thinking “psycho….what?” That’s exactly the point. We’re going to look at some incomprehensible content and then delve into how that affects readers. Then we’ll consider how we can convey whatever information we need to and still keep people reading.

Faced with a paragraph like this:

The cohort model relies on a number of concepts in the theory of lexical retrieval. The lexicon is the store of words in a person’s mind; it contains a person’s vocabulary and is similar to a mental dictionary. A lexical entry is all the information about a word and the lexical storage is the way the items are stored for peak retrieval. Lexical access is the way that an individual accesses the information in the mental lexicon. A word’s cohort is composed of all the lexical items that share an initial sequence of phonemes, and is the set of words activated by the initial phonemes of the word.
Wikipedia

All but the most dedicated linguistics nerd would be lost inside that mouthful of incomprehensible information. I know I was. Not only were the concepts foreign, but I hadn’t seen a lot of those words since college. So let me try to capture the gist:

The cohort model looks at the way we connect a spoken (or in the case of web content, written) word with meaning. The potential meanings for a word start out broad, based on the initial sound/letter. As we see or hear more of the word, the potential meanings narrow down until we can choose which word we are seeing or hearing.

We read so quickly that it’s difficult to even recognize how our own reading happens. It’s easier to think about a word we don’t encounter every day like “psycholinguistics.” The cohort model suggests our brains first pull out a list of words that start with “psy” and begin to narrow down what word we might be looking at:

Two columns of words. To the left, "See," with the word "Psycholinguistics" listed beneath, the psy underlined. To the right, "Understand," with the words "psyche, psyllium, psychotic, psychology, psychedelic, psychoanalysis, psycholinguistics" listed underneath.

As we read further into the word so that our brains have processed “psycho,” the options narrow:

Similar to the above image: "See" to the left, with "psycholinguistics" listed underneath. "Understand" to the right, with "psychotic, psychology, psychoanalysis, psycholinguistics" listed underneath.

Note that although “psycho” could have been one of the words we initially thought of, by this point in our attempt to comprehend this word, we’ve likely also taken in the fact that the word is well over five letters.

As we process letters and sounds in reading “psycholinguistics,” most of us will find that this is an unfamiliar word — that it does not match up to any word already in our lexicon — and so our brains look for alternate ways to comprehend its meaning. In this case, we’d likely break it down into the most familiar component parts: “psycho” and “linguistics.” We might still not fully comprehend the word, but we have two possible meanings: 1. something related to both psychology and linguistics, or 2. the linguistics of a psychopath. One of these is more likely than the other…

So why do you care?

Stop words

In this case, it’s easy to see how using unfamiliar terminology (or overly jargon-y terms like “terminology” when I mean “words”) slows the reader down. Using these kinds of stop words might even stop a reader entirely and lead them to close your tab and move on to the next site.

Ambiguity

Ambiguous words, or those with more than one meaning, might be expected to cause difficulties in lexical processing.
Treiman et al.

That’s just another way of saying that you can slow a reader down by using words that have more than one meaning.

Two columns: "See" and "Understand." Under "See" is listed "address"; under "understand" is listed "location, orate, a dress."

Even very short words can be ambiguous.

Two columns: "see" and "understand." Under "see" is listed "lie"; under "understand" is listed "make oneself horizontal, tell a falsehood."

Context clues do help with comprehension, but if your goal is to convert a reader to a customer, there’s no reason to make them think harder than they have to about your copy. So unless you have the linguistic command of a poet and are slowing readers down on purpose, think carefully about possible misunderstandings when you use ambiguous words.

Multiple meanings

Processing a polysemous word in one of its senses can make it harder to subsequently comprehend the word in another of its senses.
Treiman et al.

“Polysemous” simply means “having multiple meanings” and it can contribute to the ambiguity we just discussed. But the point here is that if you first use a polysemous word like “bank” in one context, you should carefully consider whether and how to use that word again.

Two columns, "See" and "Understand." Under "See" is listed the word "bank." Under "Understand" is listed the nouns "financial institution, row of elevators, edge of a river, place where blood is stored," and the verbs "store for future use, have trust in."

Because we all want to be able to bank on our bank, but sometimes customers would rather throw it over a bank.

Have trouble moving from one meaning to the next in that last sentence? Me too, and I wrote it.

3. Universal design (legibility)

Legibility can feel like the one aspect of intelligibility that we writers have the least control over (at least on the web). It’s rare for us to get asked what font to use or how the color of our text should contrast with the background.

But legibility is important to accessibility. To borrow the universal design principle from architecture, if we design our sites (and our content) to be legible by all, we’re removing potential blockers for all readers.
Felicia, the tireless editor of the Moz Blog, is in talks with our UX crew about making our blog more accessible overall. Having worked at an organization that loved the look of light blue links against grey (and tiny) text, it’s something I wish more sites thought about.

Screenshot of a site that mixes link color with text color, making links difficult to discern from regular text.

I’m only picking on AIA Seattle because I was party to some of the website redesign discussions there where members mentioned this very issue. Not only is there very little contrast in color between the links and text, but the links in the left nav are gray while those on the rest of the page are blue. I’d show you their redesigned page, but now you have to hover over text to even see if it’s a link. Instead, take a quick look at the page for the national AIA:

Screenshot of a site where text and links are easily distinguished

Writers can help! As Laura Lippay wrote last week for the Moz Blog, by creating and implementing effective title tags, we can improve navigation for people with vision, memory, and mobility impairments. Properly structured headings, something we’re using for readability anyway, also help with navigation.

Screenshot of a page using proper headings

Having recently had a baby, I’m finally starting to empathize with readers who are sleep-deprived, having trouble seeing, reading in a second (or third) language, or in a screaming rush. Not to mention people who are dyslexic, grew up in crappy school districts, or are naturally much more gifted in some other area of life than reading.

I hope these investigations into readability, comprehension, and legibility can help you create better copy. Your audience is counting on you. And by creating easily intelligible content, you just might keep them around long enough to convert.

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The Landscape of Mobile Search is Changing – How Will You Adapt?

Posted by bridget.randolph

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]

Note: this post is based on a recent presentation I gave at LearnInbound Dublin. You can find the slides here.

Mobile search as a topic has changed a lot over the past few years. When I first started looking at this, back in 2012, there was already a lot of discussion happening around the topic of mobile. And back then, the big question everyone was asking was, “what should my mobile strategy be?”

Even then, things were shifting. At one of my early conference presentations on the topic, I made the point that we should stop thinking about a “mobile strategy” as different from our web strategy, because mobile technology was becoming simply another way to access the Internet. This isn’t surprising; after all, global purchases of smartphones are increasing at an exponential rate:

Source

And because of this, the questions we’re asking have changed.

  • We used to ask whether we needed a separate mobile site (and it was around this time that Google really began to encourage the use of responsive design), whereas now “mobile-friendliness” often seems to be used interchangeably with “responsive.” (This is, of course, a whole other topic!)
  • We used to worry about treating mobile users differently because we thought they were always “on the go,” whereas now we realize that most people use mobile devices all the time, and in fact most of the time these devices are used even when other options are available, such as at home or at work. And most recently, Google have started speaking in terms of “micro-moments,” the various use cases of search: Do-Go-Know-Buy, which apply equally to mobile users as to desktop.
  • And we used to talk a lot about apps, and about whether to use an HTML web app vs a native app, how hard it was for the average app to stand out from all the noise in the app store, and about app store optimization (ASO) harking back to the old days of SEO, with its emphasis on keywords for ranking. Now, we talk about the other ways in which people can use and discover our apps — such as app indexation and app streaming.

This shift is hardly surprising, when you consider that, in 2015, 52% of UK internet users have stated that mobile is their “preferred way to access the web” — up from only 24% in 2013. This means the number of people who view mobile as their primary web device has doubled in just 2 years, and we have every reason to believe that this trend with continue.

It just makes sense, because (as Benedict Evans recently wrote), “it’s actually the PC that has the limited, basic, cut-down version of the Internet…it only has the web.”

Whereas our mobile devices have so much more information to draw on (photos, geolocation, friends, physical movement) and greater interactivity: with the external world (through technology like beacons), with you when you’re not using it (through notifications), and with your personal identity (because a phone is always signed-in and it is almost always an individual device rather than a shared one).

So what are the key ways in which we’re seeing this shift in user behavior change our approach to SEO?

To answer that question, I’d like to focus on four key areas in which Google seems to be shifting its approach to mobile search, and some things we can do about it:

  • Mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor
  • Site speed and page load times
  • Mobile-first design of SERPs
  • App integration with web search

Mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor

In 2015, when Google first rolled out the Mobile-Friendliness Update (or “Mobilegeddon” as it was nicknamed), the impact was felt in two ways. More directly, by those sites which were impacted by the rollout — some sites lost up to 35% of their mobile rankings within the 1st month after the rollout — and indirectly, by the move towards mobile-friendliness in the lead up to the update. Google announced that they saw a 4.7% increase in the number of mobile-friendly sites in the two months between announcing that the update was coming and when it actually rolled out.

A new version of the update has recently rolled out, so we can expect to see further impact from this in the next few months.

What should we do about it?

The key action here is to ensure that your site passes the mobile-friendly test, and to check Google Search Console reports for mobile-specific errors.

Site speed and page load times

Hand in hand with the focus on mobile-friendliness, there is also a push towards improving site speed and page load times. This is particularly noticeable on editorial sites, where an ad-revenue business model leads to lots of different elements required to load a page, despite the actual content being fairly lightweight.

Google are not the only ones addressing this issue: Facebook Instant Articles and Apple Newsstand both use in-app versions of content pages to speed up the loading process, and some publishers have also created their own native apps to help solve this.

Google’s solution to this is their Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP), which allows publishers and creators of editorial content to build versions of their pages with stripped-back, skeleton HTML, following a set of rules which guarantee speed and force distribution (an important thing to be aware of if you choose to utilize this approach).

This set of rules allows the page to:

  1. load quickly (speed), and
  2. be cached by Google and served directly in the SERP (distribution).

Example (L–R): primary URL, AMP version on primary website, and AMP version cached by Google.

What should we do about it?

The first step is to decide whether AMP is relevant for you.

You should use AMP if:

  • Google News is an important traffic source for you;
  • You make a lot of content, particularly editorial content;
  • You want wider distribution of your content;
  • You have a high proportion of mobile traffic.

If this is a good approach for you, you can learn more about how to implement it here.

Mobile-first design of SERPs

This third key area is around Google making desktop search look and feel more like mobile search.

There are two major ways that this has happened:

1. The card-style layout, which makes the distribution of content easier on a variety of different screen sizes and types:

2. And the move to get rid of the sidebar ads on desktop search in favor of more ads at the top of the page (on “highly commercial” searches):

“Old” Google desktop SERP

“New” Google desktop SERP without sidebar ads

What should we do about it?

There’s not a huge amount that can be done to address this trend head-on. However, it’s important to ensure that, for these “highly commercial” SERPs, you are taking account of the changing SERP layout in your tracking and reporting.

In addition, you may want to shift some of your focus towards building out your top-of-funnel search strategy, to target less commercial keywords where you will have fewer paid ads to compete with.

App integration with web search

Google needs to find a way to integrate app content with the rest of the web, or they risk becoming irrelevant. The “walled garden” effect from having apps on your phone’s home screen, coupled with recent stats which show that around 85% of users’ time on their mobile devices is spent on apps rather than on the mobile web, means that apps present a very real threat to Google continuing to act as an intermediary between users and content discovery.

The solution for Google is to start indexing and serving app content in the web search results, and this is what they are trying to do with their work around app indexation and app streaming.

App indexation involves setting up your app so that the same http:// web link can be used to link to a page on your desktop site, its mobile version (responsive design or dynamic serving), and the equivalent content inside your app (deep linking). This allows Google to serve the most relevant version based on the context which they have around that particular user and how they prefer to use the web.

app indexation.gif

Image credit: http://ift.tt/1TIRhiw;

In the longer-term, they seem to be moving towards the option of “app streaming,” which would allow a user to access app content without having the app installed on their device. The content would instead be served via Google search interface, again firmly positioning Google in the middle between the user and the content provider:

wordsearch-google-app-stream-try-now.png

Example of app streaming in SERP

What should we do about it?

If you don’t already have an app, this may not be relevant to you. However, it is worth considering whether you should create one. To determine whether or not you should have an app, you can ask the following questions:

Would my app…

  • Add convenience?
  • Offer unique value?
  • Provide social value?
  • Offer incentives?
  • Entertain?

If the answer is no to all of these, you probably don’t need an app.

If you do have an app, though, make sure that it supports http:// web links, and then head over to my post on app indexation for a walkthrough on how to set this up.

Where’s this all heading?

I believe that all of these trends are supporting a wider push by Google towards their goal of building the ultimate, intelligent personal assistant.

Sergey Brin stated in 2013: “My vision when we started Google 15 years ago was that eventually, you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all.”

This may seem impossible, but when you consider the implicit signals which Google is now able to access through the enhanced features on a mobile device, it seems less farfetched. Already, they are able to access data around:

  • Search history
  • Language
  • Social connections
  • Time of day
  • Browser
  • Device
  • Location

And already, users are realizing that they can provide fewer contextual signals within their keyword search and the search engine will still know what they’re asking. In addition, the technologies are becoming more finely tuned and gathering more data all the time:

  • wearables that can monitor physical activity and health signals (like heart rate),
  • beacons which can pinpoint a location down to which side of the street you’re standing on, and
  • phones which can tell whether you’re walking, running, cycling or riding in a car.

These are all signals which in the future could be used to determine the most relevant results to serve – potentially before you even ask.

When you combine all of these signals with the integration of the public index (what we currently think of as the Google search index), the private index (your emails, photos, calendar, etc) and app content, Google could have the ability to know as much about your day to day activities as any human PA. This means a single interface for all types of searches, and eventually, an intelligent personal assistant which can anticipate your next question before you ask it.

So maybe, instead of focusing just on keywords, or even topics, the next question we should start asking is: “How can I be the most useful source from a personal assistant app’s perspective?”


If you’re interested in learning more about these trends which are shaping the future of search, like implicit signals, the changing Google interface, intelligent personal assistants, beacons, wearables, and other new devices, and more, we’ve been writing and discussing our predictions over on the Distilled blog for our new #Searchscape project.


How have you seen the mobile search landscape shift over time? Do you agree that it’s heading towards the development of intelligent personal assistants? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Getting Local Store Locator SEO Right

Posted by MiriamEllis

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]

Right now, a customer is trying to find your local business. How quickly are you delivering the NAP, directions and other details he needs, on the go?

Volumes of excellent free advice have been written for small businesses about creating quality, optimized local landing pages, but today, I’d like to talk about a topic that has received much less attention: helping customers discover locations when you’ve got a ton of them. This article is for the medium-to-large business with 20, 100, 500 physical locations and a pressing goal to have each one be found by the customers local to it. Let’s talk about store locators!

Shopping wisely for store locators

A business with 5 or even 10 locations can easily work them into a menu tab labeled ‘Locations’ and trust that customers hitting the site will be able to click to their landing page of choice to access NAP, hours of operation, photos, reviews, etc. But when your company has grown beyond this, it simply isn’t practical to list dozens of locales in your top level navigation, whether on desktop or mobile devices. The solution, then, is a store locator widget that enables customers to enter a city and/or zip code, or click on an interactive map, to be guided to the right resource.

There are six main things you are looking for when assessing the quality of a store locator widget:

  1. Does it let me build and/or link directly to a customizable, permanent landing page for each of my locations? If so, this is a good sign. If not, your SEO opportunities will be severely limited.
  2. Does it allow me to search by city as well as zip code? If not, then you’ll have a problem with all travelers who may be trying to find your business in a strange city and have no idea what the local zip codes are.
  3. Does it work properly on all devices? This is must these days, given that as many as 50% of mobile queries may have a local intent.
  4. It’s a must that the widget will work with your existing website, whether that’s running on WordPress, Magento, Shopify, or what have you. You don’t want to have to redevelop your website, just to get your widget to function.
  5. A bonus to look for would be automatic geolocation detection — the ability of the widget to detect where a customer is searching from. This provides convenience.
  6. And, finally, there may be extra features you’d like to have to ensure the best possible experience for both users and your business. This might include search text autocompletion, the ability to sync with Google Docs to upload location data, or search filters that allow users to refine results based on personal criteria.

Keep all of these necessary and optional features in mind when evaluating Store Locator widget choices. Captera has recently done a good job of profiling a number of popular options which should help you hone in on the right solution for your company.

Pricing varies widely, from free to upwards of a $1,000 initial investment with reduced rates for subsequent years of service. WordPress offers a number of free and premium store locator plugins with varying degrees of popularity. For any paid product, I recommend choosing only those which offer a free trial period of at least 1–2 weeks so that you can be sure the solution works for you.

Weak landing pages? Weirdly, not a big worry!

I’m now going to write something kind of shocking you thought never thought you’d read on the Moz Blog: you can evidently get away with thin and duplicate content on location landing pages — if your brand is established enough.

I’m writing this because, having looked at a considerable number of live store locators while researching this article, I found landing pages like this one with next to zero content on them, landing pages like this one with a very meager attempt at content that is observably duplicative, and landing pages like this one with some duplicate content, but also, some added value for local users. Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but, with the exception of the last example, the sheer volume of locations operated by these companies has likely caused their marketers to settle on the most minimal effort possible to differentiate between landing pages. The last of these (REI) has actually done a good job of adding interest to their pages by including a regional event schedule. I like what they’ve done, but is it necessary?

The answer may surprise you

In a word: no. Google is correctly finding for me each of these businesses in the right cities, both organically and locally, when I search for them. While I would never advise a small business to take a least-effort approach with their store landing pages, it’s my conclusion from my research that established brands can get away with a great deal, simply because they are established. It seems you can get the right data in front of the customer with a very minor effort, and that the minimum requirements for data on those pages would be that they have correct company NAP on them and are indexable.

Am I handing out a lazy pass for all?

Are lax standards a good reason to go with the minimum effort and call it a day? In another word: maybe. The investment you make in landing page development for your brand is going to be dictated by:

  • Funding
  • Scalability
  • Creativity
  • Competition

If funding is modest, you may need to spend elsewhere in your marketing for now. If you have hundreds of locations, the cost of going the extra mile on your store landing pages may not show any easily-discernible ROI. If your marketing department throws its hands up in the air regarding differentiating store #157 from store #158, there may be a lack of available creative solutions to the scenario. But this last bullet point — competition — this is where things get interesting.

Besting your toughest competitors

Let’s say you’re operating one of three sporting goods stores in town. Competitor A has zero content beyond NAP and hours on his landing pages. Competitor B has thin, duplicate content on her landing pages. But, you, you smartie, have not only got a unique paragraph of text on your pages, but also store-specific reviews, and a maintained schedule of guided hikes in the region. All three of you link to your respective landing pages from your Google My Business listings. If you were Google, would A, B, or C look like a more authoritative resource to you?

And let’s look at this from the perspective of me on my cell phone on a winter’s day, looking for a high end snowboard and being given raw NAP by one competitor, a generic message by the second, but a promise of a free cup of hot cocoa (according to your reviewers) and a welcome message from you that states that every employee at your shop is a fanatical outdoors enthusiast, ready to show a novice like me the ropes of investing in sporting goods.

In a competitive scenario, if your store is the only one maximizing the potential for consumer engagement on your store landing pages, you are working towards impressing not just search engines, but customers, too. You could end up earning more than your fair share of those 50% of local-intent mobile queries, in city after city.

Supercharge your landing pages

Here’s a quick brainstorming list of both typical and optional content you could include on store landing pages to make them extra useful and extra persuasive:

  • NAP
  • Hours of Operation
  • Driving Directions
  • Unique welcome message
  • Proofs of local community involvement
  • Store-specific reviews or testimonials
  • Links to major review profiles for the store
  • Social media links
  • Live chat apps
  • Store-specific specials, including coupons
  • Location-specific schedule of in-store or topically related regional events
  • A summary list of brands, goods and/or services offered at that location
  • Indoor/outdoor imagery of the specific store
  • Video content relative to the store or region
  • A statement of guarantees offered at the store
  • An interactive map
  • Calls-to-action for how to communicate with the brand after hours
  • Education about the availability of beacons or other in-store apps

Looking for more inspiration? Try this Moz Academy video to spark extra landing page content ideas.

You may necessarily end up with a minor amount of duplicate content, but by brainstorming a list like the above, you will be making a maximum effort to inspire bots to consider your pages authoritative and to inspire searchers to become customers.

Discovery and indexing: Making landing pages pay off

Now that you’ve made the effort to create all of these individual landing pages for your locations, your top priority is to be sure they can be discovered by customers and indexed by search engines.

Simple enough

The first is really easy: be certain your Locations or Stores link is in your top level navigation, at the top of every page of your website. Don’t count on users finding it if you’ve stuck it in a box somewhere within your homepage layout. Many users will not be entering your website via the homepage and you want to deliver the link to find the store nearest them immediately. Don’t make them search for it.

Take care here

Ensuring that search engines can crawl and index your local landing pages requires a bit more thought, given that different store locator widgets are developed with different types of code. Google can crawl CSS, and they can typically crawl Javascript and AJAX. Hopefully, the widget you choose will facilitate your landing pages being properly indexed with no additional effort.. But, to make this foolproof, here are additional things you can do:

  1. Be sure you are linking from the Google My Business listing for each location to its respective landing page on the website.
  2. Be sure your other citations also consistently link to the landing pages instead of to the homepage.
  3. Submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console.
  4. Create a permanent sitemap on your website, that includes links to all of the landing pages.
  5. On the main Locations page of the website, include an alphabetical directory of all locations with crawlable links. You can see an example of this at REI.com.
  6. Earning inbound links to these pages from third parties and, also, linking internally to landing pages from other pages of the website or blog posts, where appropriate, are other forms of insurance that they will be discovered, crawled and indexed.

You say “local landing pages,” I say, “customer service!”

Comscore/Neustar Localeze have estimated that more than ½ of desktop local searches and more the ¾ of mobile local searches result in an offline purchase. The same study asserts that almost half of the searches surrounding services, restaurants and travel are performed by users looking for companies with whom they’ve never had any previous transactions.

In this lively scenario, the smart business will be that one which gets name, address, phone number and driving directions in front of the customer fast. The winning business in a competitive environment may be the one which not only extends the courtesy of basic data to the customer, but which offers extra inducements (in the form of additional useful information) to be that customer’s choice.

Store locator widgets and local landing pages have become an established component of customer service. Properly implemented and developed, they may be the very first sign you give to a major percentage of your incoming customers that you are there to serve their needs. Serve them well!

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App Search – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Tom-Anthony

App search is growing and changing, and there’s more opportunity than ever to both draw customers in at the top of the funnel and retain them at the bottom. In today’s special British Whiteboard Friday, Tom Anthony and Will Critchlow of Distilled dig into everything app search and highlight a future where Google may have some competition as the search engine giant.

App Search Whiteboard

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Video Transcription

Tom: Howdy, and welcome to another British Whiteboard Friday. I’m Tom Anthony, head of the R&D Department here at Distilled. This is Will Critchlow, founder and CEO. Today we’re going to be talking about app search. App search is really, really important at the moment because research shows that the average user is spending 85% of their time in apps on their mobile phone.
Will, tell us a bit about app search.

Will: When we say “app search,” we could potentially mean three things. The first is App Store Optimization or ASO, which is not what we’re going to be talking about today. It’s an important area, and it’s got its own quirks and intricacies, but it’s pretty far down the funnel. Most of the searches in app stores are either branded or high-level category searches.

What we want to spend more of our time on today is…

App indexing

This is right at the top of the funnel typically, and it’s taking over the opportunities to rank in long-tail search. So this gives you the opportunity to acquire new users via search really for the first time in app marketing.
The third element that we’ll touch on later is the personal corpus, which is the idea right down at the bottom of the funnel and it’s about retaining the users once you have them.

The critical thing is app indexing. That’s what we want to spend most of our time on. What are the basics, Tom? What are the prerequisites for app indexing?

Tom: The first thing, the most important thing to understand is deep links.

Close-up of App Search whiteboard: a tree graph depicting Deep Links leading to the Distilled Twitter account.

Tom: People sometimes struggle to understand deep links, but it’s a very simple concept. It’s the parallel of what a normal URL is for a web page. A URL takes you to a specific web page rather than a website. Deep links allow you to open a specific screen in an app.
So you might click a deep link. It’s just a form of a URL. It might be on a web page. It might be in another app. It can open you to a specific point in an app, for example the @Distilled page in the Twitter app.
There’s been various competing standards for how deep links should work on different platforms. But what’s important to understand is that everyone is converging on one format. So don’t bother trying to learn all the intricacies of it.
The important format is what we call universal links. Will, tell us a bit about them.

Will: Universal links — this is actually Apple’s terminology, but it is, as Tom said, spreading everywhere — which is the idea that you can take a URL just like we use to a regular HTTP or HTTPS URL and this URL would normally open up the web page on the desktop.

Close-up of App Search whiteboard: a URL pointing at a web page

Will: Now if instead we were on a mobile device — and we’ve brought our mobile whiteboard again to demonstrate this concept — then if you clicked on this same link on your mobile device, same URL, it would open up the deep view within the app like Tom mentioned.
So the critical thing about the universal link is that the form of this link is the same, and it’s shared across those different devices and platforms.

Now before that was the case, in the world where we had different kinds of links, different kinds of link formats for the different devices and platforms, it was important that we mapped our web pages to those mobile URLs. There were various ways of doing that. So you could use Schema.org markup on your web pages. You could use JSON-LD. You could match them all up in your robots.txt. Or you could use rel=”alternate” links.

Tom: This is much like how you would’ve done the same thing for the mobile version of a desktop web page.

Will: Right. Yeah, if you had a different mobile website, an m-dot website for example, you would use rel=”alternate” to match those two together. In the old world of deep links, where there were the application-specific links, you could use this rel=”alternate” to map them together.

Close-up of whiteboard: a normal desktop page on the left with a two-sided arrow with "alternate" written underneath, a drawing of a mobile phone to the right

If you’re using universal links, it’s not so much about this mapping anymore. It’s not about saying it’s over there. But it’s about advertising the fact that there is an app, that you have an app that can open this particular view or web page. That’s kind of important obviously to get that indexed and to get that app ranking.

Tom: Google and Co. are encouraging you to have parity at the moment between your app. So you’ve got your desktop site, your mobile site, and then you’ve got the same screen in the mobile application.

Will: Absolutely, and they’d like that all to be on these universal URLs. Now all of this so far is pretty familiar to us as search marketers. We understand the concept of having these URLs, having them crawled, having them indexed. But in the app world there’s more opportunity than just crawling because both Google and Apple on iOS have opened up APIs, which means that you can push information to the search engine about how the app is actually being used, which opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities.

Tom: Absolutely. The first one is new types of ranking factor, the big one being engagement. Apple have already confirmed that they’re going to use engagement as a ranking factor. We anticipate that Google will do the same thing.
This is the idea that users opening your app, using your app, spending time in your app is a clue of the value of that app. So it’s more likely to appear in search results. There are two layers to this. The first is appearing in personalized search results. If I use a specific app a lot, then I’ll expect to see that more.
Then, there’s the second level, which is the aggregated user statistics, which is where they see that most people like this app for this thing, so other people will see that in the search results.

The second point is taking us back to what Will mentioned at the start.

The personal corpus

This is the idea where you get search results specific to yourself coming from your data. So you might run a search and you’ll see things such as your messages, entries in your calendar, photos from your gallery. I’d see different results to Will, and I’d see them all in the same interface as where I’d see the public search results.

So I might do a search for a restaurant. I might see a link to the restaurant’s website in the public search results, but I might also see that Will sent me a message about going for dinner at that restaurant, and there might be an entry in my calendar, which other people wouldn’t see. It’s a really interesting way that we might start to appear in search results in a new format.

Then the third interesting thing here is the idea of app-only indexing.

Closeup of whiteboard: Showing the top of the funnel (app indexing) and the bottom of the funnel (a personal corpus).

With universal links, we talked about needing parity between the desktop site, the mobile site, the app. With app-only indexing, we could be looking at a model where there are screens in apps that don’t have a web equivalent. So you might start to see search results where there’s no possibility of a website actually appearing for that. That’s also a fascinating new model. Apple already do this. Google have confirmed that they’re going to be doing this. So it’s definitely coming.

Then further out into the future one of the important things is going to be app streaming. So Will, are you going to tell us a bit about that?

Will: Right. App streaming, this is another thing that Google has announced. It’s kind of available in limited trials, but we think it’s going to be a bigger thing because they’re trying to attack this core problem, which is that to use an app and for an app to appear in search results, if you haven’t already got it, you have to download it and you have to install it. That’s both a slow process and a data-hungry process. If you’re just kicking the tires, if this is an app you’ve never seen before, it’s a little bit too much to ask you to do this multi-megabyte download and then install this app, just to try it out.

So what they’re trying with app streaming is saying, “We can simplify that process. This is an app you’ve not used before. Let’s preview it for you.” So you can use it. You can see it. You can certainly check out the public areas of the app and then install it if it’s useful to you.

The current setup is a little bit of a kind of a kludge; they’re running in a virtual machine in the cloud and streaming. It’s all very weird. We think the details are going to change.

Tom: Yeah.

Will: Fundamentally, they’re going to figure out a way to make this streamlined and smooth, and it will become much easier to use apps for the first time, making it possible to expose them in a much broader array of search results. Then there’s all kinds of other things and stuff coming in the future. I mean, Tom’s passionate about the personal assistant.

Tom: Yeah. The intelligent personal assistant thing is really, really exciting to me. By intelligent personal assistant, I mean things like Siri, Cortana, Google Now, and the up-and-coming ones — Facebook M and SoundHound’s Hound app. What’s fascinating about personal assistants is that when you do a search, you do a search for weather in Siri for example, you just get a card about the weather for where you are. You don’t get taken to a list of results and taken elsewhere. You just get a direct answer.
Most of the personal assistants are already able to answer a lot of search queries using this direct answer methodology. But what we think is exciting about apps is that we anticipate a future where you can store an app and it allows the personal assistants to tap into that app’s data to answer queries directly. So you can imagine I could do a search for “are the trains running on time.” Siri taps into my train app, pulls that data, and just lets me know right there. So no longer am I opening the app. What’s important is the app is actually sort of a gateway through to a data source in the backend. We start to get all this data pulled into a central place.

Will: It’s fascinating. You mentioned a whole bunch of different tools, companies, platforms coming up there. The final thing that we want to point out is that this is a really interesting space because Google’s had a lock on web search for what feels like forever.
App search is a whole new area. Obviously, Google has some advantages just through the fact that the Android devices and they’ve got the apps installed in so many places and it’s part of people’s habits. But there are certainly opportunities. It’s the first crack. It’s first chink in the armor that means that maybe there are some upcoming players who will be interesting to watch and interesting for us as marketers to pay attention to.

Thank you for joining us here in Distilled’s London HQ. It’s been great talking to you. Thank you for taking the time. Bye.

Tom: Bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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