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

This may be of some interest.

Posted by BritneyMuller

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

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

Video Transcription

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

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

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

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

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

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

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

☑ Emphasize quick wins

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

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

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

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

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

☑ Prioritize your terms

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

☑ Flinch!

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

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

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

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

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

☑ Never be the key decision maker

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

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

Tips for negotiation newbies

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

☑ Power pose!

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

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

☑ Walk the walk

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

☑ Good > perfect

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

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

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

Take inspiration where you can find it

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

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

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

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

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

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

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

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

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

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

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

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

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

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

Thank you for reading.

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

This may be of some interest.

Posted by BritneyMuller

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

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

Video Transcription

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

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

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

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

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

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

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

☑ Emphasize quick wins

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

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

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

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

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

☑ Prioritize your terms

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

☑ Flinch!

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

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

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

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

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

☑ Never be the key decision maker

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

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

Tips for negotiation newbies

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

☑ Power pose!

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

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

☑ Walk the walk

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

☑ Good > perfect

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

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

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

Take inspiration where you can find it

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

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

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

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

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

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

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

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

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

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

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

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

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

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

Thank you for reading.

SEO Pack: 21 Worksheets, Templates, and Cheat Sheets

This may be of some interest.

SEO is tough.

It’s time-consuming and hard to implement.

And, because of that, I have a free SEO training course and even an SEO tool to help you out.

But what if you don’t have the time to go through a 21-part training series? Or what if my SEO tool doesn’t give you the step-by-step instructions you need?

What other options do you have?

Well, today I thought I would make your life easier by sharing 21 of my own SEO and content marketing worksheets and templates to help you get higher rankings in less time and, best of all, with less effort.

Marketing definitions

Let’s start off with the basics.

In marketing, we all use terms that might be a bit confusing.

Sure, you probably know what SEO is and what it means, but what about terms like CPC?

Or more complicated ones like CAC, BANT, LTV, or even NPS.

I’ve created marketing acronyms glossary that breaks down what each marketing acronym stands for and what it means.

So, when you are reading any marketing blog or book, you’ll now know what these “unusual” acronyms and words mean.

Local SEO

If you want to rank for local-based terms, it’s not just about optimizing for keywords. There’s much more to local SEO and a lot of it has to do with your landing page.

Here’s a template that breaks down the anatomy of an optimized local landing page.

What’s cool about this template is that it breaks down the percentage of impact each element will have when it comes to your SEO.

Keyword research

The easiest way to find keywords is to use tools like Ubersuggest.

Just type in a keyword…

You’ll see a report that looks like this…

Then click on “Keyword Ideas” in the left-hand navigation.

But as you go through the list of thousands of thousands of keywords, how do you know which ones are valuable?

Sure, in general, if a keyword has a high “volume” it means it is searched a lot, which is good. And if it has a high “CPC” it means that advertisers are willing to spend a lot to advertise on that keyword, which again is good because it typically means that the keyword drives qualified traffic that causes purchases.

And if a keyword has a low SD (SEO difficulty) that’s great as well because it means the keyword is easier to rank for.

When looking for keywords, ideally you want ones that meet all 3 of those requirements.

But just because a keyword doesn’t meet all of those 3 requirements doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for you and your strategy.

There’s actually a lot of hidden gems out there that don’t meet all of those requirements because marketers don’t know they are lucrative.

So to help you find the best ones, I’ve created a 220 profitable keyword cheat sheet. It breaks down keywords that have buyer intent for all industries.

Now, I want you to go back to Ubersuggest to perform a keyword search and look for keywords that contain some of the phrases within my profitable keyword cheat sheet. Those are keywords you’ll want to target.

Seriously, just spend 5 to 10 minutes hunting for keywords. Perform at least 10 searches and you’ll find some gold.

As you are doing the keyword research, you’ll find that it may be difficult to remember and keep track of all the amazing keywords you are finding, which leads me to the Ubersuggest keyword planner spreadsheet.

You can use it to keep track of the keywords you want to focus on first, second, third…

Trust me, it will make your life simpler.

SEO factors

There are over 200 factors in Google’s algorithm.

But let’s face it, you aren’t going to optimize for each of them because it takes too much time.

And even if you have the time, where do you start, and which ones do you fix first?

Well, an easy solution is to go here and put in your URL.

You’ll end up with a report that looks like this…

And if you click on any of the error boxes, it will break down what to fix in order.

You can then click through and get details for each SEO error.

And although I highly recommend that you fix your errors in the above report (it’s a great way to boost your rankings), you don’t want to just keep playing defense.

You want to start playing offense with your marketing and make sure that you are doing things right as you release new pages or make changes to your website.

So I’ve created an SEO factors cheat sheet that breaks down important factors that you need to think about when creating new pages on your site.

It’s great to pass along to your team members and your content writers as well (and even your developers!) so you can make sure that everyone is on the same page.

And don’t worry, it doesn’t break down all 200 factors as that would be too overwhelming… it focuses on the important ones that you need to get right from day 1.

But if your team does want something more detailed, I’ve also created a thorough SEO checklist that is 20 pages long.

Anytime my team is doing major changes like a redesign or change our site structure, I make sure that they go through that checklist as it helps ensure we at least maintain our rankings if not increase them.

Supercharging your content

Content marketing is a key ingredient to more search traffic.

But these days, there is so much content on the web. How do you make sure that your content stands out and ranks?

Just think of it this way, there are over a billion blogs on the web.

Let that sink in.

That’s such a large number it comes out to roughly 1 blog for every 7 people.

Do you think we really need more blogs?

Not really… we just need good ones.

And one way to make your content better is to use data and research that can be integrated within your content as that helps create more backlinks.

For example, look at this post I created on the future of content marketing. It contains tons of charts and data.

People loved it so much that it generated 414 backlinks from 110 referring domains.

PS: If you are wondering how many backlinks you have or any piece of your content has, just put your URL in here.

And best of all, I did it all without even sending one outreach email.

But of course, you probably don’t have the time, resources, or team to do the custom research we did.

So how do you create content that contains data, amazing insights, and research that people love? Well, I’ve created a data sources document that you can use to easily find all of the information I just mentioned.

It will break down sites that contain unique data, charts, and research that you can cite within your content so you can naturally build more backlinks like me.

And on top of that, if you really want to supercharge your content and make sure that it not only drives traffic but more importantly sales, here are a few more templates and worksheets I’ve created for you:

  • WHIPS – the WHIPS template breaks down the cycles people go through before they purchase. Such as someone could be a window shopper, in which they are interested in purchasing something, but maybe not from you. Or they may know that they have a problem and are just looking for the right solution. No matter what situation your potential customers are in, the WHIPS template breaks down each of them so you can create the appropriate content that fits their needs.
  • 20/20 Rulebook – whether it is you who writes your own content or if you have writers, have them follow the 20/20 Rulebook. It breaks down the 20 rules that your content needs to follow if you want it to do well. Now in many cases, you won’t follow all of them, but your goal is to get as close to 20 as possible.
  • Content creation template – if you want my framework to write blockbuster blog posts, follow the content creation template. It’s a 20-page process, but once you use it a few times you’ll quickly get the hang of it and find that it’s easy to remember. And I’ve found that when people use it to write 6 blog posts, by the 7th they don’t even need to look at it because they know the steps by heart.

Content editing

I know my content has grammatical and spelling errors every once in a while, but my content does well.

One of the reasons is I follow the templates and worksheets that I’ve mentioned above.

But it is because I put a lot of emphasis on editing.

See, once you write content, let it sit for a day. It will give you time to think about how it can be made better.

And the next day, you’ll want to go in and edit it.

Don’t worry, editing doesn’t have to take a lot of time… I’ve broken down our editing hacks into 3 worksheets:

  1. 10 Commandmentsthis worksheet breaks down the 10 things to look for when editing. If you are short on time, start with this worksheet because you can typically get your editing done in less than 30 minutes by following the steps.
  2. Editing checklist – and if you have someone dedicated to editing on your team, have them complete this checklist each time they edit any content.
  3. Step-by-step editing guide – for those of you who really want to master editing, here is a 27-page guide that breaks down each step of the editing process. I’ll be honest with you, it is a bit overkill, but it is great if you have someone dedicated to just editing.

You may find the editing process a bit overwhelming, and if that is the case, stick with the checklist or the 10 commandments.

You can also use this editorial calendar to help you out. It is an Excel file, but you can load it up using Google Sheets for free.

Fine-tuning your content

Whoever says editing is the last step of content marketing is lying.

Going the extra mile by fine-tuning little things and making those small tweaks is what can help your content go viral.

Look, no matter how good of a marketer one might be, you will make mistakes. Even if you make very few, there is always room for improvement.

If you have already published hundreds (if not thousands of blog posts), don’t worry. You can tweak them still.

So, lets fine-tune your content to get that extra traffic.

Every little bit adds up, right?

It’s how I grew my SEO traffic to over 4 million visits a month:

  • Headline formula – as David Ogilvy once said, you spend 80 cents on the dollar in the headline. And it’s true, 8 out of 10 people will only read your headline, but only 2 people will click through and read the rest of your copy. So follow this headline formula swipe file to create amazing headlines.
  • Constructive criticism – having the attitude that you can always get better will help you beat your competition. The moment you think you know it all is the moment you lose. This worksheet will teach you how to critique your own content without being biased. I love using it to critique my competitions’ articles as it helps me better understand how to beat them.
  • WordPress SEO cheat sheet – you’re probably using WordPress like me. And if you are, fine-tune your blog with this cheat sheet. It’s an Excel file, but you can use Google Sheets to open it up.

Don’t forget to build links

Link building sucks. But if you don’t build links, you won’t rank well.

I wish there was another way… but there isn’t. 🙁

As you are building links you may be wondering, am I building the right links or the wrong links?

Are my existing links good? Do I need to disavow any of them?

For this reason, I’ve created a link-building scorecard. You can use Google Sheets to view it.

It will help you keep track of your links, which ones are good or bad, and what you need to fix so that you can reduce your risk of a Google penalty.

Once you download the link building scorecard, you’ll also want to download these two worksheets:

  1. Link building search operatorsthis worksheet teaches you how to use advanced search parameters within Google to find new link building opportunities. It is simple yet very effective.
  2. Outreach templates – once you find link opportunities, you’ll have to send outreach emails to convince sites to link to you. Here’s my outreach template. It contains 24 pages of outreach emails that you can use to build more links.

Conclusion

I know I’ve given you a lot of templates, worksheets, and cheat sheets, but you don’t have to use them all.

Use the ones you need and just save the rest for later. It will make your life easier, helping you get results faster and in less time.

And if you are wondering how much time you should spend on each task, here is the SEO taskmaster worksheet.

It breaks down all of the SEO tasks you need to complete, how long each will take, the importance of each one, and how to prioritize them because there is no way you can do everything in one day.

So, what do you think of all of these templates? Are you going to use them? And what has worked for you that I didn’t discuss here?

The post SEO Pack: 21 Worksheets, Templates, and Cheat Sheets appeared first on Neil Patel.

Thank you for reading.

Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve — Best of Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by BritneyMuller

Page speed has always been a crucial part of SEO work, and as more companies make the shift to online operations, optimization becomes more important than ever. However, it’s a complex subject that tends to be very technical. What are the most crucial things to understand about your site’s page speed, and how can you begin to improve? To help you answer these questions, we’re sharing this popular episode of Whiteboard Friday (originally published in February 2019) where Britney Muller goes over what you need to know to get started.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things page speed and really getting to the bottom of why it’s so important for you to be thinking about and working on as you do your work.

At the very fundamental level I’m going to briefly explain just how a web page is loaded. That way we can sort of wrap our heads around why all this matters.

How a webpage is loaded

A user goes to a browser, puts in your website, and there is a DNS request. This points at your domain name provider, so maybe GoDaddy, and this points to your server where your files are located, and this is where it gets interesting. So the DOM starts to load all of your HTML, your CSS, and your JavaScript. But very rarely does this one pull all of the needed scripts or needed code to render or load a web page.

Typically the DOM will need to request additional resources from your server to make everything happen, and this is where things start to really slow down your site. Having that sort of background knowledge I hope will help in us being able to triage some of these issues.

Issues that could be slowing down your site

What are some of the most common culprits?

  1. First and foremost is images. Large images are the biggest culprit of slow loading web pages.
  2. Hosting can cause issues.
  3. Plugins, apps, and widgets, basically any third-party script as well can slow down load time.
  4. Your theme and any large files beyond that can really slow things down as well.
  5. Redirects, the number of hops needed to get to a web page will slow things down.
  6. Then JavaScript, which we’ll get into in a second.

But all of these things can be a culprit. So we’re going to go over some resources, some of the metrics and what they mean, and then what are some of the ways that you can improve your page speed today.

Page speed tools and resources

The primary resources I have listed here are Google tools and Google suggested insights. I think what’s really interesting about these is we get to see what their concerns are as far as page speed goes and really start to see the shift towards the user. We should be thinking about that anyway. But first and foremost, how is this affecting people that come to your site, and then secondly, how can we also get the dual benefit of Google perceiving it as higher quality?

We know that Google suggests a website to load anywhere between two to three seconds. The faster the better, obviously. But that’s sort of where the range is. I also highly suggest you take a competitive view of that. Put your competitors into some of these tools and benchmark your speed goals against what’s competitive in your industry. I think that’s a cool way to kind of go into this.

Chrome User Experience Report

This is Chrome real user metrics. Unfortunately, it’s only available for larger, popular websites, but you get some really good data out of it. It’s housed on BigQuery*, so some basic SQL knowledge is needed.

*Editor’s note: We’ve edited this transcript for accuracy. In the video Britney said “BigML,” but intended to say BigQuery. It’s hard filming an advanced-topic Whiteboard Friday in a single take! 🙂

Lighthouse

Lighthouse, one of my favorites, is available right in Chrome Dev Tools. If you are on a web page and you click Inspect Element and you open up Chrome Dev Tools, to the far right tab where it says Audit, you can run a Lighthouse report right in your browser.

What I love about it is it gives you very specific examples and fixes that you can do. A fun fact to know is it will automatically be on the simulated fast 3G, and notice they’re focused on mobile users on 3G. I like to switch that to applied fast 3G, because it has Lighthouse do an actual run of that load. It takes a little bit longer, but it seems to be a little bit more accurate. Good to know.

Page Speed Insights

Page Speed Insights is really interesting. They’ve now incorporated Chrome User Experience Report. But if you’re not one of those large sites, it’s not even going to measure your actual page speed. It’s going to look at how your site is configured and provide feedback according to that and score it. Just something good to be aware of. It still provides good value.

Test your mobile website speed and performance

I don’t know what the title of this is. If you do, please comment down below. But it’s located on testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com. This one is really cool because it tests the mobile speed of your site. If you scroll down, it directly ties it into ROI for your business or your website. We see Google leveraging real-world metrics, tying it back to what’s the percentage of people you’re losing because your site is this slow. It’s a brilliant way to sort of get us all on board and fighting for some of these improvements.

Pingdom and GTmetrix are non-Google products or non-Google tools, but super helpful as well.

Site speed metrics

So what are some of the metrics?

What is first paint?

First paint is he first non-blank paint on a screen. It could be just the first pixel change. That initial change is considered first paint.

What is first contentful paint?

First contentful paint is when the first content appears. This might be part of the nav or the search bar or whatever it might be. –That’s the first contentful paint.

What is first meaningful paint?

First meaningful paint is when primary content is visible. When you sort of get that reaction of, “Oh, yeah, this is what I came to this page for,” that’s first meaningful paint.

What is time to interactive?

Time to interactive is when it’s visually usable and engage-able. So we’ve all gone to a web page and it looks like it’s done, but we can’t quite use it yet. That’s where this metric comes in. So when is it usable for the user? Again, notice how user-centric even these metrics are. Really, really neat.

DOM content loaded

The DOM content loaded, this is when the HTML is completely loaded and parsed. So some really good ones to keep an eye on and just to be aware of in general.

Ways to improve your page speed

HTTP/2

HTTP/2 can definitely speed things up. As to what extent, you have to sort of research that and test.

Preconnect, prefetch, preload

Preconnect, prefetch, and preload really interesting and important in speeding up a site. We see Google doing this on their SERPs. If you inspect an element, you can see Google prefetching some of the URLs so that it has it faster for you if you were to click on some of those results. You can similarly do this on your site. It helps to load and speed up that process.

Enable caching & use a content delivery network (CDN)

Caching is so, so important. Definitely do your research and make sure that’s set up properly. Same with CDNs, so valuable in speeding up a site, but you want to make sure that your CDN is set up properly.

Compress images

The easiest and probably quickest way for you to speed up your site today is really just to compress those images. It’s such an easy thing to do. There are all sorts of free tools available for you to compress them. Optimizilla is one. You can even use free tools on your computer, Save for Web, and compress properly.

Minify resources

You can also minify resources. So it’s really good to be aware of what minification, bundling, and compression do so you can have some of these more technical conversations with developers or with anyone else working on the site.

So this is sort of a high-level overview of page speed. There’s a ton more to cover, but I would love to hear your input and your questions and comments down below in the comment section.

I really appreciate you checking out this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and I will see you all again soon. Thanks so much. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

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Bookmark these COVID-19 trackers to see how state reopening policies affect outbreaks

This may be of some interest.

The excellent Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center has added two critically helpful new tools.

As 4.8 million Americans returned to work in June, COVID-19 did not magically go away. New cases are spiking in a number of southern states—and tracking this clusterjam from your screen has become the new people watching of our era.

Read Full Story

Thank you for reading.

Why Marketers Should Implement User-Generated Content: 23 Stats to Know

This may be of some interest.

As a Boston-based young professional, the biggest product I’ve had to invest in was an over-priced apartment.

And this year, with apartment tours going fully virtual, I’ve found it even harder to do the extreme research needed before committing to a lease. Now, as I research apartment after apartment online, my new process feels like an intense buyer’s journey.

In my research phase, I spend hours on end scouting listings, looking up addresses on Google Maps, researching neighborhoods, skimming through Yelp reviews of prospective property managers, and analyzing photos or video tours for potential problems that an unseen apartment could have.

Ultimately, I’ve found that the apartment listings I’m most drawn to have links to video tours filmed by current tenants.

When I’ve watched tours filmed by tenants, they’ll explain what they like about their apartment, note major pros and cons, and give tiny — but authentic — details that the average salesperson might not offer. For example, in one video, a tenant honestly revealed one pro and one con about a bathroom by saying, “The bathtub has a great jacuzzi, which makes up for the lower water pressure.”

After viewing a pleasant and seemingly trustworthy virtual tour, I feel like I’ve gotten an in-depth and authentic look at the product, as well as thoughts from a previous customer who is an expert on the product. Additionally, because the tenant often voluntarily offers their time to host the create video or virtual tour, I also get the sense that they are willing to help a trusted landlord find a new tenant.

Ultimately, I’m more likely to respond to an apartment listing with a great tenant-generated virtual tour than a listing with over-produced images or videos edited by an outsider.

When it comes to smaller purchases, I feel the same way about promotional content created by customers. This content shows me what the product is like in real life and proves that customers are delighted enough about their experience to promote a trusted brand.

And, I’m not the only consumer (or marketer) who thinks this. An estimated 90% of consumers say user-generated content (UGC) holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and even search engine results.

Below, I’ll highlight more stats, facts, and figures that demonstrate the benefits of user-generated content.

23 User-Generated Content Stats to Know in 2020

Benefits of User-Generated Content

  • Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content. (Stackla, 2020)
  • 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, (Stackla, 2020)
  • 48% of marketing professionals believe that content created by customers can help humanize their marketing. (TINT, 2018)
  • 34% of TINT users surveyed and 45% of marketing professionals agreed that UGC helps increase key social media KPIs. (TINT, 2018)
  • 42% of marketers say user-generated content is a vital component of their marketing strategy. (TINT, 2018)
  • Ads featuring UGC garnered 73% more positive comments on social networks than traditional ads. (Jukin Media, 2018)
  • 31% of consumers say advertisements that feature UGC content are more memorable than traditional ads without it. (Jukin Media, 2018)
  • 28% of consumers say ads with UGC content in them are also more unique than ads without this type of content. (Jukin Media, 2018)
UGC ads are more memorable than traditional ads.

Image Source

UGC Tactics

  • 50% of marketers have utilized user-generated content in email marketing, (TINT, 2018)
  • Meanwhile, 58% of marketers have implemented UGC in ad campaigns. (TINT, 2018)
  • Nearly half of marketers use UGCto support their overall marketing campaigns. (TINT, 2018)
  • 41% of marketing professionals ranked content engagement as their top KPI for tracking user-generated content. (TINT, 2018)
  • The most common types of UGC are photos, videos, social media content, customer reviews or forums, and content created with branded AR filters. (IAB, 2019)

Brand Authenticity

  • 60% of consumers believe UGC is the most authentic marketing content. (Stackla, 2017)
  • 75% of marketers believe user-generated content feels more authentic than other types of content. (TINT, 2018)
  • Although 92% of marketers think they’re creating authentic content, 51% of consumers think their favorite brands offer authenticity. (Stackla, 2020)
  • 57% of consumers think that less than half of the content brands create resonates as authentic. (Stackla, 2017)
  • Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content. (Stackla, 2020)
  • 56% of internet users say they find out about products from friends or acquaintances while 32% rely on customer reviews. (Statista, 2020)
  • On average, 20% of consumers have unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic. (Stackla, 2017)
  • 70% of the time, consumers are able to distinguish between consumer-created content and brand-created content. (Stackla, 2017)
top user generated content strategies

Image Source

UGC Audiences

  • Demographically, more Gen Z YouTube viewers prefer UGC to professional videos more than older generations. (YouTube, 2020)
  • Globally, Gen Z and millennial generations watch more user-generated content than Gen X and Boomer generations. (YouTube, 2020)
  • More than 30% of millennials have unfollowed a brand due to inauthentic content. (Stackla, 2017)
consumers unfollow brands due to inauthentic content

Image Source

Defining a User-Generated Content Strategy

As you can see from the stats above, user-generated content not only saves you production time, but it can also make your brand more authentic and trusted.

If the data above has persuaded you to implement UGC in your marketing strategy, here are a few next steps you can consider:

  • Get inspiration from other brands: Seeing successful examples of UGC from brands in a similar industry will give you an idea of which customers to reach out to and how to amplify their positive thoughts about your product. For a few great UGC examples, check out this blog post.
  • Determine how you’ll get the content: Will you encourage fans to send you videos on social media, host a content-related contest, or directly ask your clients to promote a product via email? For tips on this step, read this post,
  • Be authentic: Remember, the biggest strength of user-generated content is that it allows audiences to see an authentic view of your product. Don’t be afraid to promote UGC that might be lower quality but highlights all the best features of your brand or product.

To learn more about how to leverage user-generated content in your marketing, click here.

Thank you for reading.

Three B2B Marketing Tactics That Will Outlast the COVID19 Pandemic

This may be of some interest.

B2B Marketing Pandemic

B2B Marketing Pandemic

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the B2B world with companies generally reducing marketing budgets. At the same time, many B2B companies are maintaining or increasing marketing spend as we’ve seen with most of our clients at TopRank Marketing.

While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to brand messaging that is more aligned with the times and empathetic to customers, sales expectations still exist for B2B brands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge many B2B marketers are facing is to understand how to navigate both the short term changes in what works for customers in the current environment as as well as in the long term, post-crisis.

According to research from McKinsey, one of the biggest changes that has happened is the boost in importance of B2B digital over traditional means of engaging customers – 200% more than before COVID-19. This move to digital means higher expectations by B2B customers of self service as well as B2B ecommerce experiences. With those changes in expectations come changes in marketing, short and long term.

Not only do B2B companies need to mitigate sales losses because of the uncertainty during the pandemic but those who want to continue being the best solution and top of mind for customers when purchasing behavior comes back need to look at what pandemic-era tactics will stick after the crisis has subsided.

For a great overview of how to measure marketing goals in a crisis, be sure to check out Birdie’s post here. 

How buyers feel about B2B brands short and long term will directly contribute to which brands are the most relevant as budgets open up and business solutions investments experience substantial growth. Some of the long term metrics include branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media.

So, can B2B marketers do to optimize and measure their pandemic era marketing?

Content is the kingdom. Providing customers with information and resources for surviving and thriving during the pandemic that are useful from the customer’s perspective is a good starting point. Demonstrating how the B2B brand’s solution provides value in the current environment is also essential for creating relevance and utility with customers. Of course, useful information isn’t all there is. The shift towards digital, B2B brands need to make sure the digital experiences they provide are 100%: Information is easy to find, the inquiry or ordering process is easy and fast, there are zero glitches in using online systems.

Search is even more relevant. As mentioned in the research from McKinsey, self service is an increasing expectations amongst B2B buyers. One way buyers are performing self serve marketing  is through the use of search engines.

An emphasis on search also helps B2B brands reach sales goals without being “salesly”.  This trend has been picked up on by savvy B2B marketers with 63% of marketers saying it will be most important during the pandemic according to a survey by Conductor. This confidence is also exemplified from data reported by G2 Crowd showing B2B tech categories having a 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic.

Of course to make search work, B2B brands need content and SEO best practices in place to ensure optimized visibility for what customers are looking for. We’ve seen many B2B brands emphasize SEO during the pandemic which enables buyers who are no longer attending trade shows and engaging in experiential or field marketing activities to use search engines for finding useful information and solutions on their own terms.

Findability works best with credibility.  Customers are as skeptical of brand marketing as ever and are tiring of the “in these uncertain times, we’re here for you” ads and messaging. While bypassing that with search engine optimization and advertising works well for connecting with customers, optimized content that has added 3rd party credibility can work even better.

In our own research in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 77% of B2B marketers say their prospects rely on influencers for information. Confidence in influencer marketing is on the rise for B2B marketers. 63% of survey respondents believe they would have better marketing results with an influencer marketing program.

So, crisis era marketing that emphasizes SEO to help buyers pull themselves to brand content that also includes credibility inspiring content from industry experts is what can really create trust and the confidence for buyers to make the connection. This is why SEO and influence are essential partners for any B2B marketing effort during and after the pandemic.

Measuring the impact of B2B content marketing that is optimized and influencer activated means understanding the search phrases and topics of influence that are most relevant for customers and then tracking the brand’s relevance, engagement and conversion for those topics.

For  search marketing, key measures include:

  • Topic visibility reporting & share of search for those topics
  • Referred traffic to content optimized for the target topics
  • Conversions from target topic content

Influencer marketing, metrics to track include:

  • Share of voice on topics of include
  • Growth of brand affinity with influencers
  • Reach of topic content amongst influencer networks
  • Engagement and conversion performance of topic content shared by influencers
  • Growth in affinity of topics and brand in social
  • Growth of organic brand advocacy by influencers and their networks

Uncertainty is a dangerous state for businesses and making no decision is often worse than making the wrong decision or failing fast. Understanding the shifts in buyer behavior can help B2B brands gain confidence in the role content marketing will play in the short and long term. Relevant content that is both findable for increasingly self-serve buyers and credible through industry expert contributions can give the competitive advantage needed to perform both short term and post-pandemic.

The post Three B2B Marketing Tactics That Will Outlast the COVID19 Pandemic appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Thank you for reading.

Third-party vs. In-house Delivery: A Guide to Informed Choice

This may be of some interest.

Posted by MiriamEllis



Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker

Before all else, gratitude to every delivery person, whether in-house or third party, doing the essential work of keeping households safer and supplied in these times. I’m dedicating today’s column to the manager of a nearby Sprouts grocery store who personally drove my order to my door when an Instacart driver just couldn’t get the job done.

If your business or clients are weighing whether to fulfill delivery in-house or partner with a third party, my small experience is an apt footnote to the huge, emergent debate over last-mile fulfillment options. I’d searched all over town for scarce potatoes, finally arranging by phone with the local Sprouts market to hold their last two bags for me one morning, and texting the Instacart driver about where the spuds were being held. Next:

For whatever reason, the driver chose not to retrieve them, claiming the manager told them there was nothing being held for me. Not knowing whom to believe, I phoned the manager who confirmed the driver had never asked for the potatoes and, to my astonishment, told me he was going to bring the groceries to my house right away, himself.

“I feel really bad about this,” he said. “Sometimes Instacart’s drivers just go so fast, they don’t do a good job. It’s really important to me that my customers get good service and feel good about our store, especially with this hard time we’re all going through.”

And that’s the crux of what has suddenly become a pressing issue for millions of local businesses, as well as all local search marketers who draw a through-line between reputation and revenue.

Today, we’ll:

  • Stack up the pros and cons of in-house vs. third-party delivery
  • Interview a software engineer who has been on the ground with this evolving narrative of critical choices
  • Excerpt the revealing comments of a former head of development at Grubhub.
  • Plan SEO and marketing strategy for competing with corporate delivery
  • Examine the welfare of and best options for drivers
  • Help your brand or clients make a better-informed delivery decision

A piece of the pie

On March 15, 2020, downloads of Instacart’s app shot up 218% over their normal daily average. Restaurants, grocers, and a wide variety of retailers have spent the past two months forging paths from shelves to customers’ front doors to meet demand. While initial implementation may have been a scramble for the state of emergency, we’re getting to the place where it’s time to talk long-term plans.

I recently surveyed a group of several hundred local business owners and local search marketers to ask whether they intend to permanently offer home delivery. Of those who answered “yes,” I asked whether they would be staffing up an in-house delivery fleet or outsourcing to a third party, like Instacart, or Postmates, GrubHub, or Uber Eats. I found it amazing that my survey group was split right down the middle:

Clearly, there’s an even divide between brands that expect to manage the entire customer experience from start to finish, and those whose circumstances are causing them to entrust the last mile to a workforce they can’t directly control. I wondered if the 50/50 split represented settled decisions or indecisions and, also, how my pie chart might look a year from today, when all parties have had more time for implementation and analysis.

For now, we’ll start by examining another type of pie with a technician who experienced a pizza company shifting from in-house to third-party delivery.

A tale of cold pizza and ghosting drivers

My friend is a software engineer who worked on last-mile delivery integration for a headlining US pizza startup, and whose anonymized takeaways serve as a stunning cautionary tale. The engineer tells it this way:

“We started with an in-house delivery fleet, with two drivers assigned to each company vehicle and each vehicle servicing a radius of approximately five miles. Delivery times were under fifteen minutes with this setup, and we had a ton of very happy customers. Leadership then decided to outsource delivery to a well-known third party.”

Take note of what happened next.

“Average delivery time shot up to sixty minutes for peak dinner hours, and holidays were especially bad. One Hallowe’en, it was taking three hours for customers to receive their dinnertime pizza because of driver availability. The third party can’t simply add more drivers as they have no control over when drivers sign onto their platform, but with an in-house fleet, you can plan for high demand and increase staffing. And, instead of having an in-house driver waiting with their truck on the premises to take a delivery, you have to wait for the third party to assign a driver (between 5-30 minutes), wait for the driver to arrive (another 5-30 minutes), and then, finally, deliver. You’d sometimes see deliveries assigned to third-party drivers twenty miles away who would end up ghosting because they don’t want to be bothered with the long drive.”

As for technical concerns, the engineer told me:

“Technically, the third-party service was not reliable. I had to deal with a lot of random bugs in their API, as well as constant service interruption, and they had very poor engineering support for their API. This might not be true of all third-party services, of course.”

And, finally, here’s how the engineer summed up the impact of this on customers:

“The third-party delivery fleet wasn’t just inefficient in terms of time, but often, they didn’t have the proper bags to keep the pizzas warm. Customers waiting a long time for cold pizza will obviously lead to dissatisfaction. In-house drivers care more about the product they’re delivering, in my experience. I’m convinced that, given the choice, customers would always prefer restaurants to have in-house delivery staff, but it’s hard to compete nowadays with the big name last-mile platforms. Some brands have taken a very public stance on refusing to work with third parties, and I’d like to see Google and Yelp roll out features to let customers know when businesses have their own delivery staff, because it can make such a difference for the customer.”

As a local SEO, I know that difference for the customer is going to show up in the reviews and word-of-mouth sentiment for any brand, and that, cumulatively, it could equal the brand building, maintaining, or shedding loyalty. Reputation can, quite literally, be the difference between solvency and closure.

Positive press for third-party deliveries

If there are so many potential negatives associated with outsourcing delivery, why do so many successful brands go this route? We’ve looked at some cons, but this shortlist of pros is illuminating:

  • Third parties have their own, highly-visible, well-ranked directories of businesses they service. These websites are hard to compete with if you’re not included in them. Seen in a certain light, third parties can bring a business new visibility and new customers. More on this ahead.
  • Third parties have ordering technology, logistics, drivers and either proprietary or driver-owned vehicles all ready to go, doing much of the heavy lifting. Not having to pay for a fleet of vehicles or directly pay the wages of drivers can impact brands’ initial, fixed, and ongoing costs. Concerns about insuring these drivers also belong to the third party, not the brand.
  • Third-party reliance means the grocer can focus on groceries and the chef can focus on cooking, not delivery. For some brands, the challenge of becoming delivery experts is just too distracting.

Many brands report having a good experience with major third parties. It’s important to read pre-COVID stories like these told by QSR’s Daniel P. Smith about companies that have relied on these providers for multiple years. Consider:

  • The Buona family found that trying to focus on delivery detracted from the core operations of their 27-location Italian restaurant chain. In 2017, they turned the last mile over to DoorDash and were so pleased with the operation that they’re now also partnering with Uber Eats and Grubhub.
  • Two years ago, the Habit Burger Grill launched a Postmates partnership in Northern California, and were happy enough with the arrangement to expand delivery from all 240 of their locations via Postmates, Doordash, and Uber Eats.
  • Meanwhile, the 40-unit Just Salad chain has been using Grubhub since it launched sixteen years ago and praises their delivery time of under 35 minutes. At the same time, Just Salad also has an in-house delivery fleet. CEO Nick Kenner states that the company would prefer customers to choose the brand’s own delivery service, to “cut out the middleman.”

That last point is absolutely key to this story and to the third-party vs. in-house decision.

Cost issues with the middleman



A narrative amplifying in volume during the public health emergency is that third-party delivery fees simply aren’t sustainable for small businesses. When BBQ restaurant owner Andy Salyards shared his Uber Eats bill with a local news station, I started doing some math.

  • Salyards made $636.00 (pre-tax) selling 22 dinners.
  • Uber Eats charged him $190.80 to deliver them.
  • Salyards paid Uber Eats 30% of his earnings.

I found averages stating that a driver can typically make 2.5 deliveries per hour, though this depends on geography. Out of respect for the drivers, let’s hypothesize that Salyards is operating in a city that’s passed a $15 minimum wage and that he decides to employ in-house delivery persons.

  • It would take 8.8 hours for one driver to make 22 deliveries.
  • 8.8 hours x $15 an hour = 132.00.
  • Salyards would be paying 20.75% for in-house delivery instead of 30% for third-party fulfillment for the same work in this dynamic. And obviously, where the minimum wage is lower, Salyards costs for in-house delivery would be far less.

On the face of it, in-house fleets look far more profitable than third parties, but here’s what my math doesn’t cover:

  • Do in-house drivers use their own cars, or does the business have to make a major initial investment in a vehicle fleet?
  • Who pays for gas/electric charging, auto maintenance, and liability insurance?
  • How do you measure out the benefits of marketing your own brand by advertising on your company vehicles, vs. the loss of that opportunity because third-party vehicles don’t display your logo?
  • What is the true cost to reputation, retention, and revenue when a brand loses control of the last mile of the customer experience? Is there an acceptable level of customer dissatisfaction caused by slower delivery times, lack of proper equipment, or ghosting drivers?

Each business has a unique scenario, and all of them will need to find customized answers to all of these questions.

Trust issues with the middleman

Customer service rules the viability of local businesses, and the best ones labor over every aspect of their operations to get things just right. Handing off the home stretch between the physical locale of the business and the customer’s front door is a phenomenal act of trust, and unfortunately, the local SEO industry has long been documenting the damages of trust misplaced.

To be completely honest, being set down amid Google, Yelp, and some of the major delivery brands, local business owners are gazelles amid a pride of lions. Some of the more infamous accusations against the lions over the past few years have included:

This last example, published by Ranjan Roy, received hundreds of frustrated comments, but it was the epic statement of Collin Wallace that glued me to my screen and deserves excerpting here:

“I was the former Head of Innovation at Grubhub, so I have seen the truth behind many of these claims first hand. Sadly, I invented a lot of the food delivery technologies that are now being used for evil…COVID-19 is exposing the fact that delivery platforms are not actually in the business of delivery. They are in the business of finance… like payday lenders for restaurants and drivers…

In the case of restaurants, these platforms slowly siphon off your customers and then charge you to have access to them. They are simultaneously selling these same customers to your competitor across the street, but, don’t worry, they are also selling their customers to you.

For drivers, they are banking on a workforce that is willing to mortgage their assets, like cars and time, well below market value, in exchange for money now. They know that most delivery drivers are simply not doing the math…If they did, drivers would realize that they are actually the ones subsidizing the cost of delivery.

Delivery platforms are “hyper-growth” businesses that are trying to grow into a no-growth industry. Food consumption really only grows at the rate of population growth, so if you want to grow faster than that, you have to take market share from someone else. Ideally, you take it from someone weaker, who has less information. In this industry, the delivery platforms have found unsuspecting victims in restaurants and drivers… Restaurants need to realize that they are now running e-commerce businesses and they need to act accordingly. Being proficient on Google, Yelp, Facebook and the dozens of other platforms is no longer optional, it is essential.”

Local SEOs will nod their heads over the need for local Internet proficiency, but it’s Wallace’s summation of the welfare of the drivers that strikes the most discordant note with me for relationships hinging on trust.

The Instacart driver who didn’t bother to bring me my potatoes sincerely worries me, not for my family’s sake, but for theirs. I already knew before reading Collin Wallace’s comments that some gig workers are living in their cars, camping in parking lots, and being forced to choose between safety and money. When you have a moment, brace yourself and read Quora threads in which gig drivers are arguing about how little they make. One of my own nieces is a gig worker, and she’s out there today as I write this column, trying to make ends meet and sanitizing her hands every five minutes. I’m worried about her every single day.

There are local business owners who treat their staff like family, and others who don’t. Where trust and your brand’s reputation are involved, a question that deserves to be asked is whether you can trust business partners and models that rely on a desperate workforce. How do you feel about your handcrafted pizza being delivered, not by employees whose wellbeing you directly influence, but by one in four drivers who are hungry enough to be eating the food they’re supposed to deliver?

As we look ahead with hope to a post-COVID marketplace, it’s worth taking the time to reflect on this question and how it relates to the quality of life in the community where you live and serve.

Dignified work for local delivery drivers



“Please leave it on the walkway. Thank you so much!”

“Okay. You take care!”

“Thank you. Stay safe! Take care!”

This is the socially-distant duet I now sing through my kitchen window several times a week with the essential delivery workforce. While we may not deserve a Grammy, I do feel every driver who has brought water, food, and goods to my family these past few months deserves more than recognition — they deserve a dignified workplace and wage.

If Grubhub’s former head of innovation is troubled by drivers subsidizing delivery costs in exchange for urgently-needed quick money, I am completely convinced that no local community is improved by reliance on an underpaid workforce with few protections, inadequate healthcare in time of illness, or housing insecurity. That’s the thing about seeing life through a local SEO’s lens: everyone is a neighbor, and people working in your city are your friends and family.

I would prefer my niece to find work with a local business with an in-house delivery fleet being paid a living wage. I’d prefer her workforce to have a union, too. This is the advice I would give both as an aunt and as a local SEO, but if you are a driver trying to evaluate your personal decision about where to work, these links are for you:

In recent memory, many delivery jobs were filled by teenagers — like my big brother at 16 — with a new driver’s license, a stack of pizzas, and a need for part-time income to purchase disco records and car insurance. Now, it’s mothers, fathers, and grandparents driving those long miles to bring absolute necessities to our doors.

If you work in delivery, my best advice to you is to study what Collin Wallace has said, study the market, and seek jobs with the best pay and best protections. You and your work are essential, and if you plan to work in delivery for the long haul, finding a union job, like the American Postal Workers Union, is likely to offer you the most protections and benefits.

It’s not accurate to state that in-house drivers will automatically do a better job than gig workers for third parties. Many gig workers are going above and beyond to provide excellent service, day-in-day-out. But it’s only the in-house model that enables employers to ensure staff are receiving what they need to support themselves and support the brand. Last year, I did a very quick Twitter poll asking what it is that employees want most:

Employers: keep seeing that through-line between reputation and revenue when weighing the wages and working conditions you feel will make your brand most trusted by customers. Think of me, and my hunt for taters, and my feelings of uncertainty about trusting Instacart again, or any business that’s using them for fulfillment right now.

If you opt for in-house delivery, how will you compete?

While competition will differ from market to market, here’s a very simple schematic of the typical set of Google results I’ve seen in my region for delivery-related queries, broken down into third-party vs. in-house delivery entries:

As referenced above, corporate delivery services have massive, authoritative websites and big ad budgets that allow them to gobble up visibility in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages). In my schematic of 16 opportunities — which represents an actual SERP in my town for the keyword phrase “hamburger delivery near me” — 10 of the entries are being bought or won by brands like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates.

If your business isn’t listed on the highly-ranked directories published by these services, and you lack a large paid advertising budget, a SERP like this leaves you just six places to compete for the customer’s attention. Here’s a basic three-part framework for how to compete:

1. Build your business for customers

If Collin Wallace is right in casting third parties as payday lenders and in the business of finance, your competitive advantage is to be in the business of customers’ needs. In practical terms, this means:

2. Build the strongest website you can

The usefulness, optimization, and technical quality of your website will all help you compete in both the organic and local SERPs. The more competitive your market, the more you will need to invest in implementing:

Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO and Local Learning Center will get you well on your way to competitive wins. And double down in writing about the superlatives of your delivery service — don’t be shy about explaining exactly why ordering directly from your brand is best for the customer, the business, the delivery staff, and the community.

3. Build the strongest local SERP presence you can

Your ability to publish, distribute, and manage your non-website-based local assets will strongly contribute to your ability to compete in Google’s local search engine results. Depending on your market competition, you’ll need to meet and exceed your competitors’ investments in:

There’s no downplaying the hold corporate delivery websites have on Google’s SERPs, nor the fact that Google has special relationships with some of them that redound to Google’s own financial interests. In competitive markets, it will be no easy task to compete with these brands. Many local businesses may feel that “if you can’t beat them, join them” is the only option to remain operational.

But don’t overlook the powers you do have to compete by dint of running a beloved business and a brilliant search marketing strategy. You could even choose to utilize a third-party service only until you’ve got a large, built-in customer base you can guide to come directly to you for fulfillment in the years ahead.

Summing up third-party vs. in-house delivery risks and benefits

As you evaluate which solution will be the best fit for last-mile operations for your brand, you’ll want to painstakingly chart out the pros and cons of each option. Here’s my simple checklist to get you started, delineating which solution is most likely to afford the benefits we’ve covered today, as well as a few extra points of consideration:

It’s too soon to predict what the sum total of change will be to the whole concept of delivery across all relevant industries. I talked with multiple business owners on St. Patrick’s Day, when California instituted its shelter-in-place order and all of them were hustling to create piecemeal solutions for remaining operational and serving my community. Several months later, brands are in a better position to evaluate consumer feedback and make adjustments to their delivery strategy.

As our risk/benefit chart shows, there are clear pros and cons for in-house vs. third-party implementation. Many brands will take a “best of both worlds” approach, like Just Salads, while hoping more customers come directly to them instead of their outsourcing partner. Other business owners may steer clear of the big delivery brands and bet on a smaller service, like Takeout Central serving North Carolina, or Lodel covering seven states in the American West. And definitely check out this CHOMP restaurant cooperative story over at Localogy.

What we can say with certainty in June of 2020 is that the brands you operate and market have major decisions to make about serving customers in both the best and worst of times. This is crucial work, and the only thing more important in local commerce right now is the significant power brands are suddenly wielding to set standards for how delivery and delivery persons will work. Recognize that power.

We’ve all had enough of experiencing the “worst”, and it’s motivation enough to plan a better future, with consistently excellent service for customers, the building blocks of lucrative reputation for brands, and local communities that deliver fair and dignified livelihoods for valued essential workers.

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How to Get Backlinks in 2020 [Series] – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by BritneyMuller

Link building is never-ending in SEO, but a little creativity and smart tactics can help you ferret out great link opportunities from their hiding spots. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller kicks off a series on modern link building (including the sage advice: let people choose their own anchor text!)

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going to be looking at the easiest ways for you to get backlinks to your website. None of these involve content creation whatsoever.

Really excited to dive into this. It will be part of a larger “Link Building in 2020 Series and Beyond.” So really excited to dive into some of the easiest things that you can do today to enhance your backlink profile. Let’s take a look.

No-brainer link building

☑ Unlinked brand, product, name, etc. mentions

This is simply just going to Google, doing a search for these things within quotes, and looking at the first several pages of results to ensure that all of those results are linking back to your site.

They likely are not, so those will be your opportunities to send a message or an email asking for the webmaster or the writer to provide a link back to your site with your mention. It’s one of the easiest things to do. So is unlinked images. 

☑ Unlinked images

This is a gold mine if you’re working with a website that has a lot of proprietary images or really great graphic design, maybe you have infographics or some things that are special to the brand or the domain. Use Google reverse image search and put in the images that you think might have been taken or used on other websites.

You will immediately see what those websites are and whether or not they link back to your site. So again, very similar to this first one. You’re basically just asking for them to credit the website and link back accordingly. 

☑ Redirect your 404 pages with backlinks

This is completely within your control. No outreach required. In fact, Moz Link Explorer provides this really, really easily within Moz Pro. You basically take a look at all of your pages that have backlinks, and you can filter by status code.

You just change that to 400s, 404s, and you can see all of the pages to your website that currently have backlinks but the page is no longer there. All you want to do with that is just simply 301 redirect that old broken page to a new relevant page, and you’re kind of saving that authority that is being sent to your site.

So, so easy. A lot of people forget about that one. It’s great. 

☑ Keep an eye on recently lost links

The keyword here is “recently.” If you can engage with another website that has recently either by accident or changed things around on purpose on the page, you are more likely to reclaim your lost link.

It’s also just important to really understand why. 

  • Is that website going through a redesign? 
  • Have they gotten rid of pages? 
  • Did a competitor come in and provide a better resource than what you currently had? 

There are all sorts of reasons why you really want to identify what’s going on.

☑ Move backlink targets

This is a new tactic that was recently brought to my attention by the brilliant Sarah Hollenbeck at Siege Media. They have a brilliant team. I highly recommend you checking out this article that’s basically all about moving backlink targets, which has never really occurred to me, where you basically have backlinks to older resources or older content or products that you want restructured to newer or more important pages on your website. 

Sarah goes into great detail about this and can help explain just how you can do this successfully and what that means for your site. So really, really neat. I highly suggest that. 

☑ Sites that list competitors, but not you

Check out sites that list competitors but not you. These might be resource pages or roundups of information of sorts.

You can play around with this in Google as well by providing competitors within quotes and then minus your company or the website you’re working on. 

It really starts to give you an idea of what websites might be great opportunities for a backlink, because you fit within that vein. It makes sense. 

☑  Sites that provide topic/industry + geo information

Similarly sites that provide topic or industry plus geo information, so again finding those resource pages, those roundups. Oftentimes you will see these on lots of .edu sites or even .gov. So you can do some different searches around, if you were Columbia, outdoor clothing in Minnesota.

Play around with this a bit. This could be in the Midwest, in the United States. You can change these words around and really start to identify some higher-quality link prospects. 

☑ Build relationships

Lastly, build relationships. I cannot speak more highly about this.

Just for your own career longevity and what you do in SEO and marketing in general, it is so important to develop genuine, real relationships with individuals that work in the industry, whether that be at other websites or just in the same vein of things.

Not only can you bounce ideas off of these people and really get help with different things, but you get to help support the incredible things that they’re working on. It’s just an all-around, feel-good, help each other out situation. So if you’re not already reaching out and building relationships, I highly suggest you do that.

It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t stress enough there are so, so many good people within our industry it’s incredible. 

☑ BONUS: Let people choose anchor text!

Lastly, we really want to take a modern look at link building practices in 2020 and beyond, and a big part of that goes around things like let people choose the anchor text for your backlink.

Five or 10 years ago it was standard to request very specific anchor text for the keyword you wanted to rank for. It’s not really the case anymore. Especially with the addition of BERT, Google has gotten so much more sophisticated in understanding text and language and websites that it’s really unnecessary and might even cause problems to ask for those specific anchor link texts.

Definitely take a look at this article we’ll link to down below by David Farkas here, who wrote about link building lies. It’s a really great article. We’ll continue to build upon this series to provide you with some fresher information around link building today. I really look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions down below.

Feel free to let us know what you liked about this, what you didn’t like. If you have any great ideas, please let us know down in the comments, and I look forward to seeing you all next time. Thanks so much. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

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

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

We can’t wait to see you there!

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!

Thank you for reading.