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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


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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

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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.

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.

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!

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How to Be a Better Marketer Through Mindfulness and Meditation

This may be of some interest.

Let’s get this out into the open: I bite my nails. Or at least I did. (Kinda gross, right?)

But a few summers ago, I watched as my then three-year-old son chomped down on his fingernail. That was it. The final kick in the butt I needed to see to finally stop a decades-old bad habit.

Little did I know that in my quest to stop biting my nails, I’d unlock something much bigger for myself — both personally and professionally. It was mindfulness.

According to the folks at U-Cal Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, mindfulness is about “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” 

For me, mindfulness has helped me make better decisions, listen more, and above all, be present. Amidst the chaos of our busy, multi-screen, too-many-browser-bookmarked lives, it helps me return to a more centered self.

More and more, people are embracing both big and small mindfulness tactics. So, what can you do to get in on the goodness? I’ll tell you. Here’s how I met mindfulness. 

Consulting a Mindfulness Expert

I knew that guided meditation and hypnosis was probably a good bet to kick the nail-biting habit.

So, I reached out to Paul Gustafson, a Boston-area consulting hypnotist. Gustafson helps people — via guided meditation and hypnotic suggestion — with anything from quitting smoking to overcoming a fear of flying.

I sat down with him for three, 30-minute sessions where he talked me into a deep relaxation and then, as I reached a deep meditative state, he provided guidance and suggestions for me to figuratively cut the cord of my past nail-biting behavior. From there, I kept his guided meditation recording on repeat. 

“The immediate benefit of guided meditation is profound relaxation,” Gustafson told me. 

“It’s impossible to be stressed or to worry while enjoying deep meditative bliss. One of the long-term benefits of meditation is that the relaxation becomes the rule rather than the exception. People who meditate are happier, and often feel less affected by the pace of day-to-day life. They’re healthier and more productive.”

Paul has become an oft-invoked name at my house. My wife, also a marketer, has gone to see him and notes that it’s been entirely transformative in finding her chi, both in and out of work. (After all, anyone with small children can attest to the need for mindfulness.)

How Mindfulness Contributes to Better Marketing

Mindfulness is a terrific asset for today’s marketers … but you’re probably wondering where the data is, right? 

Well, a study conducted by INSEAD and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that 15 minutes of mindful meditation could help a person make better decisions. That same study shows that mindfulness “can reduce confirmation bias and overconfidence, allowing decision makers to better differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information.”

This isn’t the only study that points to how mindfulness can help you in the business world. More recent research suggests that 10 minutes of mindfulness each day can lower stress, improve your mood, and make you more creative.

Considering the vast information available to marketers, having a filter for the superfluous can let you focus on what’s most important and make decisions accordingly.

Gustafson has helped patients deal with stress related to dealing with a boss, or co-worker, too.

“I’ve had many clients come to me because of work-related stress. When someone repeats a stressful response to certain situations it becomes a pattern. Over time, patterns become rooted, and people feel powerless to change the situation. Guided meditation enables individuals to release and become free of unpleasant patterns,” Gustafson told me.

Some companies — like Google, Goldman Sachs, and Medtronic — have gotten on board the mindfulness train, too. 

I’ve been lucky enough to work for a company that values its employees’ approach to work, rather than just the output.

The HubSpot perk I took full advantage of while in my role was the Nap Room in the Cambridge, Mass. office.

For me, the nap room is a meditation chamber. Just 20 minutes of guided meditation — or slow, deep breathing as the hammock gently rocks back and forth — will clear the mind and bring a sense of focus that even the strongest cup of coffee can’t conjure.

Nap_room.jpg

But, unfortunately, many companies don’t have a Nap Room. Some also don’t take time to encourage mindfulness or positive mental health practices. If you’re in this type of situation, there are still a number of ways to embrace mindfulness in any environment. 

How to Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

What You’ll Need

When you really need to pause, contemplate life, or navigate stress, here’s a quick and simple recipe for a solid meditation session:

Mindfulness Ingredients:

  • A quiet spot
  • An open mind
  • 20 minutes each day

Optional:

  • Headphones, with guided sessions
  • Popular apps for reminders or self-guided meditation

Mindfulness Tips

1. Meditate in the mornings.

Akin to the adage that a trip to the gym in the morning gives you
more energy, a trip to mindfulness early in your day sets your mind up for success, too. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your bed. Just put on the headphones as you awake.

2. Or, try to meditate at night.

At the other end of the day, it’s entirely acceptable and effective to
fall asleep as you meditate. If you’re using a guided meditation track, whether you’re awake or asleep, your mind is taking in the information.

3. Block out time for meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness activities.

Set up a recurring daily calendar item so that others don’t cut into your “mindfulness meeting.” My colleague 
Steve Haase has written quite a bit on meditation and mindfulness. Haase and other colleagues sit in silence for 20 minutes on Wednesday mornings to clear their minds for the day.

4. Practice deep breathing.

Sometimes the biggest rewards come from the smallest of actions. Deep breathing falls into that category. Take deep breaths throughout the day when you feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, or just need to top off the mindfulness tank.

5. Fight distractions while meditating.

The brain is a muscle. And, when you work out any muscle, it can be hard to try doing something that feels unnatural with it. Sitting in quiet is something that is challenging for the brain, especially when you’re busy or stressed, but this is something you can train yourself to do. 

For many of us, our instincts when idle — in line at the grocery store checkout, in the elevator, at the traffic light — are to fill the void with a few swipes of the screen. Don’t do it. In much the same way that good ideas sometimes arrive whilst in the shower, lying in bed, or even sleeping, simply being present can be the difference in finding clarity or that elusive good idea you’ve been chasing.

6. Practice mindfullness and meditation regularly.

Like any new workout, you might fail the first couple of times you try to meditate. For some, it can be surprisingly hard. And, no matter how much you feel like you’ve gotten mindfulness down, your mind can still slip on any given day.

Are you going to enter a state of deep bliss every time you sit down to meditate? Probably not. Your mind will wander. Just like some runs or workouts feel better than others, so do meditation sessions. No two are alike.

Mindfulness Apps and Software

While finding a quiet space and trying to clear your mind will provide a good foundation for mindfulness and meditation, there are also a number of digital aids that can ease you into a more mindful state. Here are just a few:

Headspace

Headspace is a mobile app and subscription service which allows you to stream or purchase thousands of guided meditations from mindfulness experts. When search “Best meditation apps” on Google, it appears at the top of the list on a number of blogs. 

Aside from meditations, Headspace also offers sleep sounds and mindfulness workouts that people can try before going to sleep. 

Although you can get a free trial for Headspace, the subscription costs $12.99 per month. At the moment, Headspace is also offering free subscriptions to those who are unemployed. 

Calm

For those looking for a cheaper app, Calm (Roughly $6 a month or $70 perr year) similarly provides guided meditations, mindfulness training, and sleep sounds. The app allows a 7-day free trial before charging users.

When joining the app, you can answer a few questions about why you’re looking to learn more about mindfulness and meditations. This will help the software send meditations that fit your lifestyle. 

Calm app information formFor businesses and academic institutions that want to embrace mindfulness, managers and colleges can invest in a company Calm membership, which allows employees globally to use the app on multiple devices. This membership price is not specified on Calm’s site. 

Ten Percent Happier

If you’re skeptic of meditation, but interested in learning scientifically-backed meditation practices, you can consider the paid app, Ten Percent Happier. 

The app takes a realistic approach to meditation. The creators and brand admit that meditation isn’t perfect, easy, or an answer to all of life’s woes. However, science does prove that it can help you in some areas. The primary goal of the subscription is to make users just 10% happier. 

Ten Percent Happier Product ShotImage Source

Pricing is not directly listed on the app’s website, however, a paid membership includes hundreds of guided and daily meditations, as well as access to one-on-one conversations with a meditation coach.

Ten Percent Happier offers both a free trial of the full membership and a limited free version which offers basic meditations and information, stats related to meditation performance, and daily notifications reminding you to meditate. 

Sound Machines or Voice Assistants

While sound machines might offer a plethora of natural relaxing sounds or white noise that can drown out roommates or traffic outside, a voice assistant, like an Amazon Echo or Google Home, might have a number of meditation or sound related skills pre-programmed on the device. Investigate what your voice assistant or sound machine can offer and identify ways to implement these machines in your mindfulness strategy.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Still feeling skeptical about whether or not you should try mindfulness and meditation practices? I’ll leave you with just a small handful of benefits to keep in mind:

1. Your mind will become more open to opportunities.

If you expect a lot from yourself, you’ve probably experienced the anxiety of your expectations actually
getting in the way of success. With mindfulness, you can open yourself up to the moment. You can focus less on the eventual outcome (though
mindful of that goal) and instead be present to new ideas.

2. Stress-management could become easier.

Do I get worked up still? Sure (ask my wife). But more often I can find myself navigating stressful situations with a bit more grace or awareness of solutions rather than focusing on frustrations.

3. Planning things on the spot might get easier.

A less cluttered, focused mind tends to provide more room for planful thought. I’ve found myself able to pull together a thoughtful response or tidy plan in less time.

4. Being present can improve your outlook on life. 

Take it
from Bill Murray. We do our best when we’re present. But it’s not easy.

Thank you for reading.

Welcome to Ecommerce Unlocked: Your Free Ecommerce Marketing Course

This may be of some interest.

E-commerce is booming.

There are currently 24 million e-commerce sites and counting. And with only 12% of sales taking place online, you can expect there to be massive growth in the years to come.

So if you want to create an online business, one of the best ones to create is an e-commerce store.

But how do you market it? How do you grow your traffic? And, most importantly, how do you get sales?

Sure you can use tools like Ubersuggest to help you out, but what do you do if you need step-by-step instructions from the very beginning… especially if you have little-to-no marketing experience?

Introducing E-Commerce Unlocked

Over the next 4 weeks, I am going to teach you how to market an e-commerce website. From SEO to paid ads to even CRO… I am going to cover all aspects of e-commerce marketing.

And of course, all for free. 😉

E-Commerce Unlocked is similar to my free SEO training course, SEO Unlocked.

But unlike SEO Unlocked, which is a 7-week course, I thought it would be more efficient to get you the training you need in just 4 weeks.

So, every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, I will release new videos to teach you how to get more traffic and sales to an e-commerce site.

And just like SEO Unlocked, E-Commerce Unlocked will contain worksheets, cheat sheets, PDFs, spreadsheets, and everything else you need.

Here’s the first lesson, which you can watch below:

Make sure you go here to download the worksheets that go along with it.

So what exactly will I learn?

As I mentioned above, it is a 4-week course. Here is an overview of what will be broken down in each week and in each lesson:

Week #1

Lesson #1: Getting Started

  • Foundation methodology
  • Strategies you’re going to learn
  • Strategies & mindset

Lesson #2: Sales Channels

  • History of e-commerce the timeline
  • What is working in the e-commerce space
  • Introduction to sales channels
  • Understanding sales channels

Lesson #3: Marketing Channels

  • Multi-channel marketing
  • Which market and sales channels work
  • Building visibility and brand
  • Current & future movers and shakers in the e-commerce industry

Week #2

Lesson #1: Conversion Rate Optimization

  • Introduction
  • Product pages made to convert buyers
  • Experience
  • Using reviews
  • Urgency and scarcity
  • Abandoned carts and follow up
  • Increase your AOV (Average Order Value)
  • Exit intent – capture lost traffic
  • Split testing with Crazy Egg
  • Increasing conversions on your e-commerce store
  • Email marketing campaigns for your site
  • Action tasks for optimizing your website for conversions

Lesson #2: SEO & Content Production

  • Setting up your Google organic feed
  • Rank your product listing pages
  • E-commerce content marketing workflow
  • Technical SEO for e-commerce
  • Making your content & transaction pages
  • E-commerce topical clusters
  • Content examples to look at

Lesson #3: Content Promotion

  • Link building for e-commerce
  • Building links to content, PDPs, & PLPs
  • Social media and social proof leveraging
  • Social media platforms in the long-term
  • Strategy for content promotion

Week #3

Lesson #1: Amazon

  • Keyword research for Google & Amazon rankings (and the differences)
  • Data sources
  • How to write good copy, product descriptions, ads, and come up with different marketing “angles” for Amazon
  • Amazon promotions & lightning
  • Optimize your listings
  • Using Facebook Messenger & Manychat
  • Amazon PPC
  • Sell more to your existing customers

Lesson #2: Sales Channels

  • Getting higher rankings on marketplaces
  • Walmart – how to get set up and what to expect
  • eBay – how to get set up and what to expect
  • Etsy – how to get set up and what to expect
  • Wish – how to get set up and what to expect
  • Facebook Commerce – how to win
  • Getting traction on each platform & what to do to win in each platform

Lesson #3: Marketing Types

  • E-commerce Marketing for (B2B) vs (B2C)
  • Sales process for B2B e-commerce vs B2C
  • Picking the one that’s right for you – do both or pick one?

Week #4

Lesson #1: PLA Campaigns

  • Setting everything up
  • Google dynamic remarketing
  • Google product listing ads (Google Shopping Ads) introduction + setting up
  • Your PLA campaigns
  • Bing product listing ads + setting up
  • Facebook dynamic product ads + setting up DPA’s correctly
  • PLA + DPA summary

Lesson #2: Additional Marketing Channels

  • Instagram ads
  • YouTube PPC – world’s 2nd largest search engine work to get you sales
  • Etsy PPC – what’s working on Etsy
  • Email marketing campaigns must have campaigns for e-commerce
  • Automate your customer emails and gather reviews much faster

Lesson #3: Additional Channels

  • Working with influencers
  • Push notification – lists & messaging
  • Understanding your metrics (COGS, ROAS, ROI to see what SKUs to scale with)
  • Case studies
  • Summary

How can I follow along during the 4 weeks?

You’ll see videos released every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.

The videos are roughly 10 to 15 minutes in length on average so it shouldn’t take you more than an hour per week to follow along, including the completion of the homework assignments and worksheets.

To make things easier, the worksheets and homework assignments will be somewhat pre-filled so you will know what to do every step of the way.

No matter what, make sure you complete each assignment. Watching the videos is not enough.

Sure, the videos will teach you theories and strategies, but you also need to learn how to execute and implement. That’s why I want you to complete the worksheet and homework assignments.

In total, I’m asking you to commit an hour each week. If you are new to marketing, maybe an hour and a half, which should be doable. 🙂

Once you complete the 4 weeks (12 videos), you’ll know how to market any e-commerce website and even how to sell products online on sites like Amazon.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss a lesson (because I won’t be blogging about each lesson), make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel as I will be uploading the lessons there.

Once you click the link above, you’ll see a subscription box popup on YouTube. All you have to do is click the “SUBSCRIBE” button.

Once you click “Subscribe,” you’ll notice a bell image next to the subscribe button, make sure you click on that as well.

When you click on the bell, you’ll be given a few options.

Click on the “All” option. Next to the “subscribed” button, you should see a new bell notification :

This makes it so YouTube notifies you when I release a new E-commerce Unlocked lesson.

Conclusion

E-commerce is a booming field. Just look at Amazon, they are bigger than any traditional retailer.

Having the skillset of knowing how to market an e-commerce site can never be a bad thing.

And who knows, maybe you’ll do it full time as either a consultant or through running your own e-commerce site.

If you are new to marketing, don’t worry about being overwhelemed. I am going to teach you the main tactics that drive the majority of the results. And I will break them down in a simple step-by-step formula.

You’ll also be provided with the worksheets and tools you need, so you all you have to do is bring yourself and be willing to commit an hour to an hour and a half each week.

So, are you ready to learn e-commerce marketing?

PS: Leave a comment below letting me know what course you would like me to create next. I already did one on SEO, and now I am doing one on e-commerce marketing. Would you like one on content marketing, paid ads, Instagram…? It can be anything, just let me know in the comments.

The post Welcome to Ecommerce Unlocked: Your Free Ecommerce Marketing Course appeared first on Neil Patel.

Thank you for reading.

The MozCon Virtual 2020 Final Agenda

This may be of some interest.

Posted by cheryldraper

We’re just about a month out from this year’s MozCon and we couldn’t be more excited! If you’ve never considered it before, it’s high time you became acquainted with the idea of a “couchference” — a full-fledged conference held from the comfort of your home office space, real office space (depending on your local quarantine phase), or even your sofa.

On July 14th & 15th, we’ll be charting brand-new territory with MozCon Virtual: with a choose-your-own-adventure two-stream show, robust opportunities for online networking, and some of the industry’s top speakers, you’re in for all the turbo-charged SEO education and peer interaction of in-person MozCon with none of the troubles of travel. Plus, at $129 per ticket (including full access to the professionally produced video bundle, a $350 value!) you’ll access incredible marketing thought leadership at an unheard-of price:

Nab my ticket and video bundle for $129

And remember, this is a great opportunity for our friends around the world and those who aren’t able to travel to experience the MozCon magic live! If this will be your first time attending, we’d love to hear what talk you’re most excited for in the comments(All talk times are in Pacific, so keep that in mind when planning your day! We promise we won’t judge if you’re watching in your jammies.)

Read on to see what your favorite industry leaders are speaking on this year!


Tuesday, July 14th


8:30am – Networking

Open time for attendees to connect with other attendees and MozCon partners.

9:00am – Keynote – Welcome to MozCon Virtual 2020 + State of the Industry

Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz

Sarah has a storied history of kicking MozCon off with a bright, sparkly bang. The fearless leader of Moz will be welcoming each and every one of us to this year’s virtual event, laying out all the pertinent details of the conference, and setting the tone for two jam-packed days of learning with a look at the State of the Industry.

9:25am – Keynote – Thought Leadership and SEO: The 3 Key Elements and Search Ranking Strategies

Andy Crestodina, Co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media

Everyone wants to do it, but no one really knows what it is. So what is thought leadership? What isn’t it? And how does it affect search rankings?

This presentation is a data-rich perspective on the oh-so-popular topic of thought leadership, filled with practical takeaways for becoming an authority. And it’s all about the relationship between thought leadership and SEO. We’ll see how the research answers the questions and informs the tactics: Can brands be thought leaders? Can it be outsourced? Do you need to publish research? Or strong opinion? And how does it attract links and authority, rankings, and qualified visitors? Learn how a personal brand combines with content to drive big wins in SEO.

10:20am – Stream 1 – Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns

Shannon McGuirk, Head of PR & Content, Aira

In her talk, Shannon will challenge the desire for virality over consistency when it comes to digital PR and link building campaigns, while exploring the impact on the industry, team morale, and client expectations. By honestly sharing her own shortcomings, she’ll push you to learn from your own campaign failures using tried and tested frameworks that’ll mean you can face any creative campaign or outreach struggle head-on.

10:20am – Stream 2 – Whatever You Do, Put Billboards in Seattle – Getting Brand Awareness Data from Google

Robin Lord, Consultant, Distilled

How can you harness the vast power of Google data to gain special insight into city- and product-level brand awareness? Robin will lead us on a journey through his Google Trends methodology to use Adwords search volume data for better brand intelligence.

11:15am – Stream 1 – How to Build a Global Brand Without a Global Budget

Phil Nottingham, Brand and Video Marketing Strategist, Phil Nottingham Ltd.

As funnel-based marketing becomes less effective and harder to measure, “building a brand” is frequently touted as the panacea for all marketer’s woes. But it’s unclear how this can be achieved scalably and with a limited budget. Large enterprises resort to huge creative advertising campaigns that get their names out there by force of spend alone — but this isn’t realistic for the smaller companies and the number of impressions is not the number of people impressed. In this session, Phil explains how modern brands are built through advocacy more than awareness alone, offering a deliverable method of brand marketing to radically shake up your content strategy.

11:15am – Stream 2 – The Science of Seeking Your Customer

Alexis Sanders, Senior SEO Account Manager, Merkle

Users are at the core of everything we do in modern SEO. However, finding and understanding audiences can be daunting. Alexis will cover how to find your audience, share tools that are available for all price points, and show ways in which she’s found audience research to be useful as an SEO.

12:10pm – Birds of a Feather discussion groups

Connect and chat with like-minded marketers on a wide range of digital marketing topics!

12:55pm – Keynote – Moving Targets: Keywords in Crisis

Dr. Peter J. Meyers, Marketing Scientist, Moz

Too often, we take a once-and-done approach to keyword research, but Google changes at the pace of information, and that pace speeds up even more during a crisis. How do we do keyword research in fast-paced industries and during world-changing moments? Dr. Pete provides concrete tactics for adaptive keyword research and spotting trends as they happen.

1:45pm – Stream 1 – A Novel Approach to Scraping SEO Data

Rob Ousbey, VP Product, Moz

Throughout a decade in SEO consulting, Rob needed to extract data from websites on many an occasion. Often this was at scale from sites that didn’t have an API or export feature, or on sites that required some kind of authentication. While this was primarily a way to collect & combine data from different SEO tools, the use-cases were endless.

He found a technique that helped immensely, particularly when traditional tools couldn’t do the job — but hadn’t seen anyone using the same approach. In this very tactical session, Rob will walk through the steps he’s used to extract data from all sorts of sites, from small fry to the giants, and give you the tools and knowledge to do the same.

1:45pm – Stream 2 – Let It Go: How to Embrace Automation and Get Way More Done

Francine Rodriguez, Manager of Customer Success, WordStream

Let the robot uprising begin! We’ve all heard horror stories about the dangers of automating your tasks, but now is not the time to deny yourself extra help. Robots never sleep. They don’t get tired or overwhelmed by their to-do lists, and they’re ready to work round-the-clock to accomplish whatever task we set before them. In this talk, you’ll explore all the areas were automation is kicking butt in PPC — and how you can harness the power of robots to make more time for other efforts.

2:35pm – Keynote – Designing a Content Engine: Going from Ideation to Creation to Distribution

Ross Simmonds, CEO, Foundation

What does it take to develop a content engine that drives results? In this presentation, Ross will share data around the power of having a content engine, tools & strategies for content ideation, tools and tactics for content creation, and frameworks that brands can use to ensure that their content is distributed effectively after hitting publish. This presentation will help you not only uncover content-market fit, but also capitalize on it.

3:30pm – Networking

Open time for attendees to connect with other attendees and MozCon partners.

4:30pm — Day One is in the books!


Wednesday, July 15th


8:30am – Networking

Open time for attendees to connect with other attendees and MozCon partners.

9:00am – Welcome to Day Two!

Cyrus Shepard, emcee

9:10am – Keynote – Accessible Machine Learning Workflows for SEOs

Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist, Moz

“Machine learning” and “automation” aren’t words SEOs need to fear. Machine learning enthusiast and ambassador of technical SEO Britney Muller shares a series of workflows intended for any SEO to access and use in their everyday work — no intimidation required.

9:55am – Stream 1 – How to Be Ahead of the (CTR) Curve

Izzi Smith, Technical SEO Analyst, Ryte

Let’s face it: Carrying out SEO magic is all in vain when you’re forgetting about how your brand and products are being surfaced in the SERPs. By not properly analyzing or enhancing our organic CTR, we’re greatly limiting our potential. Izzi will help you create the perfect SERP engagement strategy by covering practical ways to uplift your significant CTR, such as remedying your critical keyword rankings that could soon be lost, leveraging brand-empowering entity features (and assessing the risks of doing so), more intelligent testing of rich & featured snippet optimizations, and a whole lot more. CTR-you-ready?? You better be!

9:55am – Stream 2 – How to Go Beyond Marketing for Clients: The Value of a Thriving Brand Ecosystem

Flavilla Fongang, Brand Strategist, 3 Colours Rule

Too many marketers serve their clients the bare minimum of what’s expected from an agency. To stand out among the crowd, cultivate real loyalty, and maximize the lifetime value of your clients, you have to go beyond mere marketing — developing a thriving brand ecosystem that aligns with the brand’s ultimate goals. Flavilla Fongang shares her tried-and-true framework for optimizing the customer journey, improving acquisition and retention, and going beyond what’s expected to serve your clients well.

10:50am – Stream 1 – How to Promote Your Content Like a Boss

Brian Dean, Founder, Backlinko

Creating content is easy. But getting people to see your content? That’s a different story. Brian Dean shares over a dozen practical strategies that you can use to spread the word about your latest blog post, podcast episode, or YouTube video.

10:50am – Stream 2 – Google My Business: Battling Bad Info & Safeguarding Your Search Strategy

Joy Hawkins, Owner, Sterling Sky Inc.

What’s the harm in a little misinformation here and there? In the realm of local SEO, Joy Hawkins is here to outline exactly that. When it comes to local search and Google My Business, bad info can be make or break for your campaigns. Follow real data from a recent case study that illustrates why strategic decisions should be based on accurate information — and what can happen when that info is bad, wrong, or just plain incomplete.

11:45am – Birds of a Feather discussion groups

Connect and chat with like-minded marketers on a wide range of digital marketing topics!

12:10pm – Keynote – Runtime: The 3-Ring Circus of Technical SEO

Michael King, Managing Director, iPullRank

Mike redefined technical SEO and its importance in our industry back in 2016. In 2018, he taught us everything we didn’t know about SEO. This year, he’s back to share the hottest technical tactics to up-level your efforts, plus the case studies and data that should be guiding your decisions.

1:25pm – Stream 1 – Everyday Automation for Marketers

David Sottimano, Independent Marketing Consultant, Opensource.org

As a general rule, we shouldn’t be doing things that a computer can do better. However, a lot of automation is achieved through programming expertise — and that expertise isn’t usually a marketer’s forte. In this session, you’ll learn how to gather data, use machine learning, and automate everyday tasks for marketers using low-code or no-code solutions.

1:25pm – Stream 2 – Red Flags: Use a Discovery Process to Go from Red Flags to Green Lights

Dana DiTomaso, President and Partner, Kick Point

Ever get a few months into working with a new client and you’re thinking “if only we’d known…”? Or how about when you start that new job, except you can’t seem to make any forward progress because you’re always mopping up prior mistakes? Running a discovery process at the start of a project — or even as its own project — will help you turn those red flags into green lights.

2:20pm – Stream 1 – Competitive Advantage in a Commoditized Industry

Heather Physioc, Group Connections Director, Discoverability, VMLY&R

SEO isn’t dead — it’s commoditized. In a world where search companies are a dime a dozen and brands tout bland “unique selling propositions” that aren’t unique at all, how can you avoid drowning in the sea of sameness? What are you doing that’s any different from every other SEO firm? In this talk, you’ll learn how to find, activate, and articulate your competitive advantage. Learn how to identify unique strengths and innovative offerings that equate to competitive advantage through these real, working examples so you can bring them to life in search. You’ll leave with actionable tips and homework to help your search business stand out — and that you can use with clients to help them find their competitive edge, too.

2:20pm – Stream 1 – I Wanna Be Rich: Making Your Consultancy Profitable

Russ Jones, Principal Search Scientist, Moz

How will your company weather the next update? How will you avoid layoffs and salary cuts? Being a master of SEO doesn’t guarantee that your consultancy will succeed. After a decade and a half of experience, Russ Jones will outline the techniques that will keep your clients happy and your bottom line healthy.

3:10pm – Keynote – The CMO Role Has Been Disrupted: Are You Ready for Your New Boss?

Will Reynolds, Founder & Vice President of Innovation, Seer Interactive

CMOs have the shortest tenure in the c-suite, and the CMO role has been eliminated at some of the largest brands. CEOs are now asking tougher and tougher questions about the value of marketing — and oftentimes marketers are not prepared.

Connecting your data and building your data flywheel is one way to support the swift answers CEOs expect from their CMOs. We need to get stronger at bridging our day-to-day work to the value it drives. And more than ever, “brand lift” isn’t enough to satisfy CEOs.

This presentation will start at the top. How businesses are run, how CEOs talk, and how we as search marketers can use the data we have access to everyday in new ways to answer the questions of the c-suite and raise our visibility and value in organizations.

4:15pm – Networking

Open time for attendees to connect with other attendees and MozCon partners.

5:15pm – That’s a wrap for MozCon Virtual 2020!


See you there?

Chatting with speakers via Q&A, connecting with peers and potential partners over Birds of a Feather groups, absorbing all the knowledge for another fruitful year of marketing… we can’t wait to share it with you! 

Yep, I’m going to MozCon Virtual!

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.