What Are Second-Tier Links, and Why Do They Matter for SEO?

Back in 2016, Google confirmed that content and link building is what put your website in the SERPs. And unless you’re brand new to the digital marketing and SEO world, you’re probably not surprised. Link building is often the most used form of SEO because, for the most part, it’s the easiest. Create ways to link back to your website and BOOM, instant traffic, right? Not so fast. It takes time to build a link building strategy, and there are a few ways you can boost traffic to your website.

This is where “second-tier links” come into play. You’ve probably used these types of links without even knowing what they’re called, but it’s important to realize what SEO tactics you’re using so you can get more advanced in the future. Below shows you the less talked about type of link that can be an asset to your strategy.

What are Tiered Links?

When you think of link building, you most likely don’t think of tiered links, but there are first- and second-tier links that build traffic to your website. Sound like black hat SEO tactics? It can be if done incorrectly.

  • First-tier links are web links that link directly back to your website, and they are easy to create. For example, you may write a blog post that has a link to your website. That would be a first-tier link, or more commonly known as an internal link.
  • Second-tier links are a bit different—you’re linking to content that has links to your website. An easy example would be sharing an email or social post that links to your guest post. That guest post would then link to your website. Make sense?

Of course, second-tier links go a bit deeper than social posts. For example, you can find an authoritative site to link to the website where your guest post is housed. This doesn’t mean linking to your website (that would be an external link), it just means getting one authoritative site to link to another authoritative site that isn’t you, but does link to you.

Why Second-Tier Links are Important

Traffic is great, but what does that have to do with SEO? While second-tier link building is great for traffic, it’s also super helpful for SEO. Traffic is one of the features that Google uses to rank websites. Google looks at the traffic going to and from a website to determine whether or not it’s worth ranking. The use of second-tier links also allows search engines to determine the following:

  • Authority. It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know. Writing a guest blog post for an authoritative site helps build your credibility, but getting an authoritative site just to link to you does the same thing (the true organic way to earn links and always the best).
  • Relevance. Google loves relevance. Think about your keywords—they’re related to your website information, right? The same should be of your links—it helps Google and other search engines understand what your website is about. When your website is linked with others in your industry, Google understands exactly where it belongs.

These factors come together to help with your SEO strategy. It shouldn’t be the only focus, but it does help boost rankings. You can learn more about other factors that affect rankings here.

Black Hat vs. White Hat Tactics

Here’s where things can turn from white hat to black hat quickly. If you’re looking to build second-tier links, an easy way to do that would be to create a bunch of websites that link back to your website. But that’s not a good look for your SEO strategy. Here are more effective (and legitimate) ways to secure second-tier links:

  • Approach a quality, authoritative site and ask them if they’d like to link to your website content. Offer them an example. This isn’t overly affective and it is definitely a long term play, but it can work.
  • Find a broken link in another website’s content? Why not use this as an opportunity to ask them to replace that broken link with one of your own.
  • Propose a guest post to another website, and then generate links to that guest post (potentially by more guest posting!). If other sites are sending traffic your way via your guest post, you’ve secured a second-tier link.
  • Share your guest post on social media outlets. Chances are the site owner will also be sharing your post to boost traffic to their website.
  • Find out who’s linking to your website already. Use a site explorer tool, like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Moz’s Open Site Explorer, and find out who’s linked to your website. Once you have this information, use it to your advantage and build links to those pages! Here’s what you’ll see if you use Open Site Explorer:

open-site-explorer

The Basics: Things to Remember about Second-Tier Links

As any true digital marketer knows, there’s more than one focus you should have when it comes to your SEO strategy (hint: automation can help!). As with anything else, link building shouldn’t be your only SEO trick. Remember that Google and other search engines are constantly changing—one tactic won’t work forever. Some things to consider when you’re utilizing second-tier links:

  • Create quality content. Content is still king, and Google will certainly take notice if your content is garbage.
  • Perfect your target site list. Just because a website is linked to your page, doesn’t mean it’s credible enough to link to. For example, if it’s not in your niche or industry, why would you want it as a second-tier link?
  • Quality over quantity. Don’t use this as an opportunity to grab up any link you can. Just because a website is willing to post your guest blog or link back to your website, doesn’t mean it’s going to be helpful to your SEO strategy. Go after quality rather than quantity—it’ll pay off in the long run. Learn more about earning traffic to your blog this way here.

The Takeaway

Tiered link building doesn’t have to be black hat—it is possible to use these types of links to boost traffic to your website. While it’s not always the first tactic on every marketer’s list, it’s an effective one. Continuing to create quality content that’s worthy of being linked to and from will set you up ahead of your competitors.

How to you earn second-tier links? Is this something you focus on, or let happen naturally? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Anatomy of a Technically Great Blog Post

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For many, a “technically” great blog post has everything to do with SEO and optimization. While this may be a small part, SEO is actually a very creative aspect of blog post writing. Focusing on something called Open Graph can actually bring your blog posts to the next level. This idea is unfortunately still overlooked by your average blogger, but why be average? Open Graph helps you move from average to technically above.

Open Graph (Og) is a digital data communication protocol that allows your publications to become enriched objects within the social graph. The Open Graph protocolOpen Graph. Confused? Don’t sweat it. Read on to learn more about what this means and how to take advantage.

What a Great Blog Post Should Look Like

Twitter cards and Rich Pinterest Pins, for example, are specific tools for these social networks that allow you to add metadata to your posts to be read by each network. To implement this protocol on your website, you must add a series of Meta tags within the <head> of your website, where you indicate the specific metadata that will be accessed by Facebook trackers and search engines. These are known as open graph data. The tags include:

Og: title: The title of the object as you want it to appear. There is no limit of characters, but for good practice, it is recommended to put between 60 and 90 characters; In the case of Facebook if you put more than 100 characters this will only take 88.

Og: type: Specify the type of the object.

Og: image: A URL that points to the image that will represent your object.

Og: URL: The canonical URL of your object that will be the permanent ID of the object.

Og: description: Some descriptive lines for the object. For good practice, we should not use more than 200 characters.

Og: locale: We declare the place of origin of the object in the format.

Og: site_name: If the web or app is large, so to speak, this property will be the one that identifies the entire site.

Og: Audio: The URL of the audio that accompanies this object.

Og: video: The URL of the video that compliments the created object.

Once you have implemented the Meta tags for your website, I recommend that you use the Open Graph Object Debugger from Facebook, a tool that will find the Meta tags that you have added and will point out the errors if any. It will also show you a preview of how your publications will look, with everything implemented.

google-developer

If your website is in WordPress, you can use the Facebook Open Graph Meta Tags plugin for WordPress, which makes this implementation much easier. Besides, your integration already brings by default the basic Meta tags that you should use; all you have to do is complete the information on your website. It all sounds technical, but it’s just like uploading any other plugin.

The Basic SEO Technicalities for Your Blog Posts

When talking about technical, you can’t ignore SEO. It’s always a fine line to walk when it comes to SEO and blog posts because blog posts should not focus on SEO. More than anything, it’s important for you to focus on writing quality content for your readers. With that said, there are SEO tips to keep in mind when the creative part is done and it’s time to get technical.

A few optimization tips to remember include:

Alt Text on Images

Always remember that Google cannot see your images. Whatever you type into the alt-text will let Google know what the image references. Use your keyword(s) here to further boost your bottom line with the bots.

alt-text

URL Structure

You have control over the URL structure of each individual blog post. Always check this to make sure your keywords are included, it is under 100 characters, and there are no symbols other than letters, numbers (if relevant) or hyphens.

url-structure

Meta Description

This is where you can tell Google directly what your blog post is all about. We highly recommend using the SEO Yoast plugin in order to easily see when you wrote the perfect optimized description (aka using your keyword and keeping it short). Visual Composer is also one of our favorite plugins to help you stay technical, which you can learn more about here.

meta-description

Heading Tags

On each individual blog post you should utilize heading tags to establish a structure to your blog post. This makes it easier to read for users, and therefore is seen as a positive in the eyes of Google because you’re improving user experience.

heading-tags

For other options when it comes to a technically great website in general, including page speed, https protocol, linking, and more, visit here. For more information about how to write a technically savvy blog post for mobile specifically, visit here.

The Takeaway

It is likely that you are producing relevant and very good quality content, but you should use the same effort in making search engines understand and recognize those masterpieces you are writing to appear on the first page of search results and reach as many possible readers as you can. In the end, although being technical may come second to creative, it can be what puts your blog post ahead of the rest. Once you’re read, use FeedOtter to send your blog posts to your Pardot and Marketo leads.

What do you think encompasses a technically great blog post? Let us know your thoughts and your experiences in the comment section below.

 

How to Grow Your Blog Traffic (Without Obsessing Over SEO)

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Ever wonder how to not only grow an audience for your blog, but a committed audience? One that comes back to read your content and, potentially, grow your business? It’s easy to say you’re going to grow your blog traffic and then pay for ads, social posts, email lists, and more, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that growing a committed audience takes a lot of hard work and a ton of dedication. While SEO is essential, there are other ways to grow your traffic that are underrated. Below focuses on the ten best methods you can use to improve your blog traffic meaningfully and efficiently.

Consult With Other Bloggers

Building relationships with other bloggers in similar subjects or fields is absolutely essential. Why? Because you all have the same goal: to attract a bigger audience. Collaborating to give and receive feedback can be useful when evaluating your audience’s experience, the style of your writing, the content you publish, and the frequency of your posting. You can start by reaching out to other bloggers via social media or subscribing to their blogs and developing a rapport through comments.

In addition to simply market research, utilizing other bloggers audience can be incredibly beneficial. Depending on your company, you may want to work with a complimentary business (in other words, definitely not a direct competitor), or if you are more focused on entertainment, it may make sense to consult with others in your direct line of work. For example, MasterCard and Apple don’t usually have much in common, but with the new Apple Pay their audience is suddenly overlapping. Apple wants people to use their service to pay, and MasterCard wants those same people to pay with their card. It’s a win-win:

Contribute Guests Posts: Celebrity Shot!

Once you build up some of these relationships, consider writing a guest piece to contribute to another blog (and returning the favor). This can expose your content to an entirely different audience that could potentially share your information and commit to your blog. Put your quality content out there and respond to questions or comments to build relationships just as if it were your own blog.

Now this may sound overdone, and you’ve likely read the “guest blogging is dead” articles, but it can still be incredibly effective if done right. The truth is that content is still king, and while guest posting has lost some of its luster; Google is still taking it seriously. Google aside, focus on high quality blogs over quantity as a way to get your own blog in front of new, relevant eyes. It’s time consuming, but well worth it.

Publish Content Tailored to Your Target Audience

Your faithful subscribers count on you to keep them up-to-date on what’s current and pragmatic. You, therefore, need to be aware of news, buzzwords, and trends as they are happening. You could subscribe to Google Alerts to help you with this; every time content related to your blog topics is published, you will be made aware of it.

Some of the options you can choose from include how often you are alerted, the sources from which the information comes (news, blogs, web, video, books, discussions, or finance), the country or region from which you want the information, and where you want it sent.

Create a Schedule and Maintain It

Whether you post once a week or once a month, you want to make sure you maintain a consistent schedule. If your audience is waiting for your weekly post on Monday mornings, do not disappoint them. The more it becomes a habit of yours to post on the same day at the same time, the more it becomes a habit of theirs to read those posts on the same day and the same time. You want this consistency and commitment from them just as they want it from you.

A great way to stick to a schedule is to upload your blog posts, schedule them through WordPress (shown below, just click “edit” and then “OK” and the “publish” button will change to “schedule”), and utilize a calendar plugin such as Editorial Calendar. Write all of your blog posts as early as you can and then schedule them accordingly.

Note: We recommend that if you have a solid amount of traffic and data, consider a CRM tool to help you grow your reach even further.

Encourage Social Sharing

You want your content out there, wherever “out there” might be. You don’t just want your audience members to read your content – you want them to share it with their friends, partners, and employees. To encourage this action, you must provide sharing on your blog; see the example below:

You will note a few things: the location on the page, the number of networks, and the number of shares. The social sharing options don’t need to be overbearing or distracting from your content; a relatively small icon to the side of your post is sufficient. These options also do not need to include EVERY social media network in existence. Do some initial research. Where are you seeing your information posted the most? What are your followers using the most? Choose a few of those networks and roll with it. Finally, consider how many shares you are actually getting before making your share count visible. If the number is relatively high, include it. This shows your audience that your content is worthy and sought after. If the number is relatively low to start with, then wait until you build up your audience.

Also keep in mind that connections mean everything to your blog’s success. As I’ve mentioned, it’s not enough to just have avid readers. You need your readers to share your information in order for your audience size to grow. More than that, you need to connect with your readers on social media. Follow up one of your posts with a fact or anecdote on social media. That way, when you are in between your lengthier posts, you can still provide a brief reminder of the quality information you provide to your followers.

Clean Up the Audience’s Blog Experience

Obviously, your page should be easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. Unnecessary distractions such as too many menu options, too many ads, sidebars, or pop-ups can deter readers and diminish your audience size. The page should also be organized in a way that catches readers’ eyes. Balance what is necessary and unnecessary to be successful. Elegant Themes put together a list of bad blogs that shows what not to do:

Your Turn

Building your blog’s traffic is essential to building your audience. You want visitors to not only appreciate what they read, but subscribe to it and share it. Following the listed steps will ensure your audience grows and your blog remains successful.

What do you grow your blog traffic? What has worked for you in the past? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

Feature Image Photo Credit: DigitalMarketingPro.net

Dialing in WordPress for a Company Blog

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Did you know that companies who have blogs receive 55% more visits to their website than those without blogs? Blogging is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your company’s website because it’s free marketing that doesn’t require much more than consistent blog posting. This is, of course, time consuming, but the benefits far outweigh the time-spent writing. This is where WordPress comes into play as a place to not only house your company website but also your company blog. Below provides a foundation for starting a company blog with WordPress from how to incorporate images into your posts to how long your posts should be and everything in between.

First: Creating Content 101

Before we even get into WordPress, in order to have a successful blog for your company, your blog posts need to be valuable to your audience. Your blog posts will be used to show that you’re an authoritative source in your industry, so you should avoid crafting blog posts that have zero relevance to your product or service. It seems obvious, but so many business blogs today worry about keyword rankings and where they’ll get the most eyes that they forget the importance of writing what you know and what makes sense to the business. This will get you the eyes you want.

As you begin to focus on creating great content and using WordPress to market and highlight that content, consider the tips below.

Start with a Great Headline

Think of some of the most recent articles you’ve read. What about them caught your attention? Chances are the catchy headline made you want to click on the article or post. Crafting a good blog post for your company should start with an eye-catching headline. You should consider the following things when crafting the perfect headline:

  • Urgency. Craft a headline that creates some type of call to action. For example, an article listing the ways a customer can use today or for a limited time.

“Use THIS Tip to Create Excellent Blog Posts”

  • Try to incorporate blog headings that touch on something none of your competitors have written about before. Use words or phrases that will grab the reader’s attention. This sets you apart from the crowd and keeps your readers interested in what you have to say.

“5 Supercharged Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic”

  • Remember, you’re trying to create valuable, informational posts for your customers. Tips, tricks, and how-to guides are just a few types of headlines you should create so that people know you are offering actionable tips they can take with them.

“10 Examples of Excellent Blog Posts”

If you’re having trouble coming up with useful, engaging headlines, WordPress has tons of plugins you can use to create the best headline for your post including plugins specifically created for law, sports, and news blogs.

Extra Tip: Having trouble figuring out the topics you’d like to touch on? Look to your customers! You may have received reviews or emails addressing topics or questions your customers may have. Take a look at this data and use it to power your next blog post.

Choose the Ideal Length for Your Post

The “ideal” length of your post is changing as quickly as the digital marketing industry. The magic number used to be around the 500-600-word mark; however, long blog posts are being seen as better for search engine optimization (SEO) as well as for your readers’ attention spans. According to several studies, the length of your blog posts should be between 1000 and 1500 words per post.

The takeaway? While longer blog posts are ideal for generating traffic, you should also remember that quality posts, no matter the length of words, will always generate a better response than poor quality posts regardless of length.

Incorporate Images into Your Blog Posts

Blog posts that contain images receive 94% more views than articles that do not. Adding images, graphs, and charts within your content make it easier for your visitors to read, but there is a science behind it. Having too many large image files in your WordPress blog post can make your site run slower, and the quality of the image can be ruined.

There are a few factors to consider when you determine the ideal size for your images. You need to consider the file dimensions, width and height in pixels, and file size in kilobytes (KB) or megabytes (MB).

In order to optimize your images properly, make sure that the width (dimension) of your image is not wider than your web page. WordPress gives you three default options to resize your images:

  • Large – 600 pixels
  • Medium – 300 pixels
  • Small (Thumbnail) – 150 pixels

You also want to make sure that your file size is not too large. The larger your file size, the longer it takes to download to your page; however, you don’t want to lower image quality as you lower the size. In other words:

  • If an image takes up the full page, the best size would be between 80 and 100KB. A half page image would ideally be between 20 and 30KB.

This may take a couple tries to ensure you’re not affecting quality. To make sure you haven’t over optimized your image, compare the original image to the optimized image. If you notice any significant pixelation, you may have lowered the quality too much. You can learn more about images for your WordPress blog post here.

Second: Dialing Into WordPress Features for Your Company Blog

Now that you know how you craft the perfect blog post, let’s take a look at how WordPress can help you craft your company blog. WordPress offers tons of features, including their many plugins available. We’ll take a look at how you can optimize your blog just by using the WordPress features.

Use SEO Plugins like Yoast to Optimize Your Posts

One of the most beneficial plugins you can use within WordPress is the WordPress SEO by Yoast. If you’re struggling with the science that is SEO, this is handy plugin takes all the pressure off you. Below are some of the most helpful parts of this plugin.

Open Graph Tags

Chances are you’re going to share your blog posts on social media. But have you ever scrolled through your Twitter or Facebook feed and seen a poorly optimized link? When you share a post on social media, you should see a custom thumbnail, title, and a description. That’s where an open graph tag comes into play.

However, using open graph tags can be a pain to get right. Unless you’re an HTML pro (and if you are, more power to you!) you probably don’t want to mess with adding graph tags into your posts. That’s the great thing about the Yoast plugin – it automatically adds in these tags for you.

Once you’ve installed the plugin, head over to SEO > Social. Make sure the “Add open graph media data” feature is checked. The plugin will automatically add graph tags to all social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter.

Keyword Focus

Even an SEO novice knows that keywords are one of the most important factors in an SEO strategy. If you have some keywords in mind for your company blog, do you know whether or not you’re using them enough?

Yoast SEO helps with that. Simply set a focus keyword (the keyword you’d most like to be searched for) and Yoast runs a check throughout your content. It will pick up things like:

  • You use the keyword too often
  • You used the keyword in the URL
  • You used the keyword in a blog post title
  • You have links in your keyword

The plugin then takes this feedback and ranks it with a green, orange, or red bullet. Ultimately, you want to have a green bullet next to your focus keyword. Below is a screenshot that shows how it works:

Readability Check

You’ve created content for your blog, but how do you know it’s easy for users to read? Among other features, Yoast has a readability check that tells you just how easy it is to read your blog posts. Some things it will consider:

  • Length of sentences and paragraphs
  • Use of transition words
  • Excess use of passive voice versus active voice
  • Calculates the Flesch Reading Ease score

You can see how this works below. It shows you what you need to improve upon if you want it to be easier to read:

Commenting Systems

Allowing comments on your blog posts promotes engagement. But it’s not enough to simply allow blog comments. You need to utilize the best commenting system available. And while WordPress has an excellent commenting system in place, there are other options available that will make engaging on your blog posts more enticing for your readers. We’ll run through some of the best commenting plugins available to implement into your WordPress company blog.

Disqus

Disqus is one of the more popular WordPress plugins for commenting. While one of the downsides is the requirement to sign in (users can create their own Disqus account, or they can login via their social media accounts, such as Facebook). This prevents many users from commenting. However, there are impressive qualities of this platform that also encourages users to comment. Here are a few positive qualities of this platform:

  • Users are able to leave media, such as images or videos, in their comments
  • Disqus users can follow each other and view their comment history
  • You’re able to moderate comments from your end
  • Email notifications so users can reply immediately to other users

Jetpack

Yet another popular commenting system plugin available through WordPress, Jetpack takes the native WordPress commenting system and elaborates on it. One of the great features of Jetpack is that users aren’t required to sign in to comment. They are, however, required to leave their name and email address (which makes it easy for you to use these email addresses as future leads).

Users are given the option to receive email notifications. So if they decide they’re done with the conversation, they won’t continue to receive notifications of a reply.

wpDiscuz

This is a newer commenting plugin that you may not have heard about. Some of its key functions include:

  • Anonymous comments or the option to sign into favorite social media networks to leave a comment
  • The ability to comment directly from the user’s email notifications
  • Comments are loaded on an as needed basis – for example, comments are loaded once the user has made it to the bottom of the post
  • Additional add-on options including emoticons, the ability to tag other users, and the ability for users to flag the least helpful comments

Other WordPress Plugins to Boost Your Company Blog

There are literally thousands of plugins available in the expansive WordPress directory. There are so many that you could spend days looking through them. We’re looking at some of the must-have plugins that will help advance your company’s blog.

OptinMonster

Possibly one of the coolest plugins available in the WordPress directory, OptinMonster allows you to turn your blog’s abandoning website visitors into leads. As soon as your visitors try to leave your blog OptinMonster targets them with a campaign right before they leave. This plugin uses technology to determine when a visitor is about to leave. This is one plugin your blog definitely needs.

MaxCDN

Chances are your blog posts will incorporate images and videos within them. However, these types of media can slow down your blog quickly. And everyone knows that the slower your website loads, the quicker visitors will opt out. MaxCDN works to cache your content so images, videos, and downloads on servers that are located closer to your visitors.

MonsterInsights

If you’re already using Google Analytics, you need a great plugin to incorporate the data from your company’s blog. One of the coolest things you’ll get from this plugin is the ability to see where your visitors are coming from, and where they’re headed to next. There’s also a link tracking feature that helps you keep tabs on your outbound links. You also get a clear view as to how your users are interacting on your website. You can take this information and make changes to your blog or keep things exactly the same.

Your Turn

You may have thought that WordPress was only for the personal blogger, but it is growing into one of the most popular tools for companies to use for their business blogs. Having total control of your company’s blog is one of the many perks of using WordPress.

How do you use WordPress for your company blog? Are there any tools you would add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Feature Image Credit: ElegantThemes.com

UTM Tracking Best Practices For Content Marketing and A Step-By-Step Guide

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In the simplest terms, UTM tracking attaches a custom URL to a source, medium, or campaign name in order to customize tracking. UTM tracking can be used on social ads, social posts, email campaigns and newsletters, affiliates, display ads and retargeting, even on webpages you’re advertising on a bus or a car wrap.

There are five different parameters in a UTM code, three of which are mandatory for tracking to work. The three mandatory parameters include medium, source and campaign.

  • Medium is essentially the traffic channel, such as social, email or affiliate.
  • Source would be the website or type of ad, such as Facebook, newsletter or affiliatesite.com.
  • Campaign would be unique to the advertising initiative, like a Black Friday sale, new product launch or free e-course.

The two optional parameters are term and content. Term is rarely used because it applies to instances where you’re targeting specific keywords, and AdWords and Bing Ads do this by default. Content can actually be very useful if you’re testing several emails or social ads to see which works best. You can use content to describe the creative strategy used, the messaging, landing page.

The Two Ways to Set Up UTM Parameters

Google’s Campaign URL Builder Tool. If you’re a small company not particularly interested in data or rarely running campaigns you want to track, then Google’s tool is a good option for you.

A Spreadsheet. If your larger business and you’re interested in keeping tracking consistent across your teams your teams, this Google Spreadsheet has the formulas built in to generate the UTM tracking URLs for you when you add the destination URL and parameters. It also serves as a repository. It’s a great asset and I recommend making a copy for your company. Below is an example I created to show how it could work:

 

 

The Best Practice Schema

A schema as it applies to UTM tracking is simply the naming convention you use. It’s important to keep that consistent. Describing the different parameters in UTM tracking above, you might have an idea of how a schema applies to your business, but I’ve written up a few examples (which can also be found in the Google Spreadsheet) to help you understand the use cases a bit more.

In example 1, your customer was so thrilled with one of your products that you produced a case study on them and posted it to your Facebook account.

In example 2, you mentioned the launch of a product in your monthly newsletter email and tested a couple email layout variations.

In example 3, one of your affiliates, named Joe Smith, produces a video demo of your main product on YouTube.

In example 4, you run a display ad from AdWords specifically targeting your Canadian market testing two different ad images.

In example 5, you’re retargeting your website visitors with ads on Facebook promoting your Black Friday sale and testing an ad that lands on the homepage with an ad that lands on the page that lists your products.

In example 6, you run a full-page print ad in Time Magazine promoting career development at your company with hopes of acquiring great talent. Don’t worry; keep reading and you’ll learn how to track print ads and other traditional marketing with UTM codes.

4 Steps to Track Traditional Marketing with Google Analytics

Traditional marketing is still very much alive. If you’re company spends money here you should try to measure the impact digitally. Users will usually search your company on Google, which would show up as Organic Search, or go directly to your homepage, which would show up as Direct, but by following the four steps below you will be able to measure a portion of your traditional marketing and make your traffic mix a little more accurate. Below explains the four-step process:

  1. Create a Vanity URL

Vanity URL’s are unique, short and/or simple URL that demonstrates the brand or ad campaign. Vanity URLs should be kept as simple as possible because most of the traffic from traditional marketing will come from mobile devices. For example, if EntoBento, a San Diego based dog treat company, ran a promotional ad in Time Magazine, the vanity URL might be “entobento.com/time”.

  1. Create and Apply UTM Parameters for the Ad

Use the Google Campaign URL Builder or Google Spreadsheet to create the tracking URL for the ad. Continuing the previous example, the tracking URL for EntoBento’s ad might look like:

entobento.com/?utm_source=time%20magazine&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=promo

  1. Redirect the Vanity URL to the URL with the UTM Parameters

Have a developer create a redirect to send traffic from your vanity URL to the tracking URL. Example:

So entobento.com/time would redirect to entobento.com/?utm_source=time%20magazine&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=promo

  1. Check Google Analytics Real-Time Report

After setting up the redirect, paste the vanity URL into the browser to make sure both the redirect and the UTM tracking is working. Then, open Google Analytics, navigate to Real-Time reports on the left side, and select traffic sources to confirm that you see your test traffic:

By implementing traditional marketing tracking you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is wrongly classified as Direct or Organic Search, which can provide insight into how those efforts translate to your website.

3 Creative Uses for UTM Tracking

  • Printed Materials: This same redirect process from above can be applied on your business cards, handouts, fliers, bench ads, bus stop ads or event marketing materials. Imagine knowing the bounce rate on one of your salesman’s business cards? Or how many sessions you got from the samples you gave out at a trade show? Pretty cool right?
  • Links in an Email or Signature: If you send someone links via email or have a link in your email signature, those clicks typically result in Direct traffic. However you can use the UTM tracked URL as the hyperlink. This is another great way to track some of the efforts of Business Development or Sales teams.
  • Linking to Someone Else’s Site to Get Noticed: If you’re sending referrals to a website because you want to partner with them or be an affiliate or brand ambassador or even get a job there, you could use UTM tracking for the traffic you refer them and if someone is reviewing traffic on their end, hopefully they are, you can get noticed. You could even put your name or phone number as the campaign parameter!

Overall, UTM tracking is under rated in the digital world. To many businesses it might seem tedious or not worth the time to learn and apply these processes, but if you’re data hungry, love measuring and are always curious about the various efforts you’re undertaking to grow, I suggest applying them. If you have any questions about UTM tracking or Google Analytics, we’d love to hear from you! You can contact us here.

Employee Newsletters Need Your Content Too

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6 Ways to Use Your Content for Employee Growth

While producing content is obviously great for driving traffic to your website, increasing your SEO, and educating and informing your readers, it can also be extremely beneficial for your employees. When businesses create content, it’s often with consumers in mind as their target audience, and while this is great, it doesn’t have to mean that your own employees can’t benefit. Why can’t content speak to both customers and employees and/or be included in your employee newsletters?

Since employees are the ones who have the closest relationships with consumers, you definitely want them to be educated about what’s going on in the company and in your industry. Below are some ways entrepreneurs can use their resources in order to ensure that their employees are learning from the content that the company is producing.

1. Ask Employees for a List of Questions and Build Content Ideas from There

Instead of just assuming you know what your employees still need to learn about the business, why not ask them? Have them compile a list of questions they have about various aspects of the company and the industry. In some cases, some of these questions are coming right from consumers and employees want to know how to better answer them. Once you’ve received everyone’s lists, compare them to see if there are some common concerns and inquiries, and start from there. The content you’re producing should answer their questions in detail, and will hopefully act as clarification for both employees and customers on certain topics.

2. Use Your Connections in the Industry to Discuss What Content has Been Most Meaningful to Their Staff

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Companies have been producing content for quite a while now, and the idea of employees learning from these articles is nothing new. Use your connections in the market to see what has worked for other businesses. Reach out to them and ask them which content ideas have been most popular with their staff, and why. Then, adapt the ideas to meet the needs of your employees. Every business is different, so while it may not work to take the same exact idea from someone else, chances are the root of the idea is good and can be changed a little to work with your own employees.

In addition, it never hurts to ask for feedback. If something doesn’t seem to be working, don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions…and then learn from them!

3. Have an Email Marketing Campaign/Message Every Other Week Just for Employees

Email marketing works great for customers, so why not try it for employees? If you don’t already have an employee newsletter start by picking a new topic each time (perhaps from the list of questions the employees compiled in #1) and explain it further in an email to employees sent every other week. The timing and frequency of this campaign is key (just like any other email marketing campaign); if you send too many, employees will most likely disregard them and your message will end up in their junk folder. But if you take the time to find content that is meaningful to them, and you don’t inundate their inbox with it (which is why we suggest emails sent every other week), they’re more than likely going to take the time to read the message and thus learn from the content provided inside.

4. Bring in Influencers to Talk to Each Department (Content isn’t Always Written, Remember!)

When talking about how an employer can use their toolset, this is maybe the best option. Everyone likes a little variety in their day, so if you sense that your employees are getting burned out from written content, consider bringing in a guest speaker to work with them. The more personalized the presentation, the better, so it’s a good idea to tailor each speaker and each presentation to a specific department. Plus, employees will be more engaged and probably feel more comfortable asking questions in a smaller setting. Again, the key is to make the presentation meaningful, so before you go hunting for someone to speak, make sure you know which are “hot topics” for your departments: what are they confused about, what are they interested in, what do they want to know more about? And then try to find a dynamic speaker to address their concerns.

5. Once Per Week, Have One of Your Employees be a Guest Writer for Your Blog

A great way to engage employees is to involve them in the process of producing content. Ask for volunteers to guest post on the company blog on a topic that is meaningful to them. It’s important that you don’t force anyone to do this; not everyone considers himself/herself a writer, and if you force someone to post who isn’t interested then they’re not going to learn from the experience. With that said, there should be plenty of people willing to give it a shot, especially if you tell them that they don’t have to worry about grammar and editing. They should just focus on the message they’re sending, and you can have someone else take care of the proofreading. This will not only help them get the most from your content, but their peers as well.

6. Loop Employees in on Your Trello Board or Editorial Calendar

Employees Need Your Content Too

If you create a schedule for your posts (whether it be through Trello, Google Calendar, or something else), employees will be aware when hot topics that peak their interest will be written, and they can be sure to check them out. This will be a time saver for them since they probably don’t have a ton of extra time to constantly be checking the blog for new content that’s interesting to them. They’ll also appreciate your consideration of their time, and hopefully reward you by making sure to read the posts that engage them. Setting a schedule also encourages collaboration; if a department head sees that an article will be written on a topic that is important to him/her, they can make a plan for each employee to read it and then create a set time to discuss the content together. This would be much harder to do without some kind of advance notice.

The Takeaway

Hopefully now you can see the benefit of including employees in on your content marketing. Not only will it improve their knowledge of the business (which will then translate to the customers), but it’s a great way to engage them and make sure that the content you’re producing is meaningful to everyone and your company continues to move forward together as a team.

So how are you going to make sure your employees are learning from your content?  Do you plan on utilizing any resources not discussed above? Is there anything you would add to the list? Comment in the section below!

Image Credit: trello.com

Crafting the Perfect Blog Email Subject Line

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We’ve all been there, sifting through undesired emails or irrelevant content just to find the few important ones worth opening. Emailing blog subscribers is a proven way to increase engagement and ultimately website conversions but the right subject line can make all the difference in whether your blog content is opened or deleted. It is crucial to capitalize on the opportunity to reach more subscribers by drawing them to your content with compelling subject lines.

Over one third of all emails are never opened based solely on an ineffective subject line. That’s a large percentage of wasted resources put forth to create content that will never see the light of day in the subscriber’s eyes. Simply stated, this means that as much strategic effort that goes into creating the blog content also needs to be put into crafting a powerful subject line.

The subject line is the first means to connect with your reader. Since you want them to open the email, read it and ultimately click through to read your blog content, the invitation to do so must be compelling. Below are key points to creating strong subject lines:

Subject lines should be as short as possible.

With more and more emails being opened on mobile devices, shorter is better. Less than 50 characters is optimal for displaying properly and being easy to read.

Use action verbs

Since you want people to take action and read your blog content, invite them to do so with verbs that inspire that very thing.

Action verbs create a sense of urgency and inclusion. For example, in a blog post about an NFL fundraiser, the subject line might read, “Practice with Packers legend Brett Favre,” instead of a less appealing “Brett Favre Practice Session for Charity.” The first email invites people to see themselves playing football for a good cause.

Use personalization when possible

Create a sense of kinship by using the reader’s name. Even though it seems cheesy, people like to see their own name used in marketing materials.

Be precise with wording

At best, your unopened blog content is likely to receive a quick glance so be concise with the language. Think of the main point of that post or the main benefit and highlight it.

Creative the sense of exclusiveness

Make people feel like they belong to your club. When they feel like an insider, it creates loyalty and makes them want to open your content.

A few ideas that we have seen work well are:

“Exclusive: The latest blog post title here…

“Best of Your Company for the week of December 12th 2016

“Insiders Only – Exclusive Content Just For You”

FOMO

Use the “fear of missing out” to inspire readers to click on the email. Urgent or time-specific subject lines will inspire readers to open to your content now instead of waiting until a later time or not at all.

Use a creative question

Ask a compelling question to pull people in, especially if you’re asking a question that is relevant to the reader’s interests or needs.

Conduct A/B tests

See what works and what doesn’t with A/B testing. Most major marketing automation and emailing tools allow you to A/B test subject lines.  Edit subject lines in accordance with the results of whatever does well.

Conclusion

When it comes to nurturing your leads and blog subscribers through emails, the goal is to let the quality of your content shine through.  Prove it right off the bat with a subject line that’s equally worthy.

Have a great newsletter subject line to share?  File a comment!

Need Data? Create a Company Blog Dashboard in Google Analytics

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At my last company our small marketing team struggled to identify the real impact our company blog was having on business.  A seemingly simple task is often complicated by the fact that today most companies host their blog inside their corporate website ala https:pardot.com/blog.  This makes reporting and isolating only the blog visitor metrics more challenging. The key to un-cloaking your company blog-only metrics might be creating a Custom Segment in Google Analytics to focus on traffic coming through your company blog.

I’ve spent the past week researching the best way to segment your blog metrics and create a Google Analytics dashboard to give a baseline of your company blog’s value.  This post will walk through segmenting your website traffic and importing my company blog dashboard template into your Google Analytics account.  If you’d like a full run-down of why and what these metrics are check out my post on the Pardot blog: How to Track Key Blog Metrics!

Requirements:

This walkthrough assumes you have Google Analytics installed on your company website.

Let the uncloaking begin.

Importing the Company Blog Dashboard Template

To get started, import my Google Analytics Company Blog Dashboard into your account.  You can do this by clicking the button below:

[minti_button link=”https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=4MaTLsBTSgOMl9D8tD2VlA” size=”medium” target=”_blank” lightbox=”false” color=”green” icon=”fa-download”] Import the Company Blog Dashboard[/minti_button]

Assuming that you are logged into company Google Analytics account you should land at a page that looks similar to my screenshot, prompting you for a name, name it Company Blog Dashboard.  You will also need to choose the website data from which to pull, choose the View most appropriate for your website.

Import the FeedOtter Company Blog Dashboard Template

After clicking the Create button you will see a number of widgets showing data from your entire website.  However interesting and impressive we want to limit this dashboard to only show data corresponding to our company blog so we must now create a custom segment, read on!

Creating a Custom Blog Users Segment

To create a custom Blog Users Segment

  1. Click on the light grey Add Segment text in the top middle of your dashboard
  2. Click the red New Segment button
  3. Select Conditions from the left-side list of options
  4. Name your Segment and create a filter as shown in the screenshot below:

Configuring Your Blog Users Segment in Google Analytics

  1. Name your segment Blog Users Segment
  2. Choose Users
  3. Select Landing Page
  4. This is the path of to your blog.  For me, the FeedOtter blog is located at /blog/ but this is typically what you would consider your blog’s homepage minus your website’s domain name.
  5. Click the blue Save button

The top of your Blog Dashboard should look similar to mine below… The new Blog User Segment will have replaced the All Users.  If All Users is still there click the little “down arrow” and select “Remove”.  Now you are looking at only blog visitors!

The Completed Company Blog Dashboard

 

Customization

Since no 2 websites are alike you may need to tweak some of the widgets to show the right data, here are a couple you might want to pay attention to:

  • Which posts are most popular? – this is currently configured to only show posts from the /blog/ subdirectory of your website.  If your blog is not located at /blog/ you will want to update the filter on this widget.  Click the Pencil to edit, and change /blog/ to /youbloghomepath/
  • Free trials created – I added this widget to demonstrate how you can link your blog traffic to Google Analytics Goals.  For example, I have this setup to detect how many free trial sign-ups result from blog traffic.

What other metrics would you like to report on?  Please comment and share your customizations and ideas on how to make this dashboard better.

How To Remove “This Post First Appeared” From Your Blog Posts

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Several clients have written in lately asking how to remove a sentence appearing at the bottom (or top) of their blog posts.  This sentence reads: “This Post First Appeared On” and can be problematic.  Let’s examine how this sentence gets added and then I will show you how to remove it.

It is no secret that many company blogs and websites rely on WordPress as their CMS (content management system).  The first plug-in that most businesses install (or should install) is the Yoast SEO plugin.  The Yoast plugin has been around forever and makes tweaking the SEO subtleties of any WordPress website simple.  If nothing else it is a great tool for ensuring your XML sitemaps are in order. One downside to using Yoast is that some of the default settings add unwanted text to your blog posts and content -specifically the content that displays in your website’s RSS feed.  If you are using your RSS feed to distribute content via email newsletters or marketing automation software this can be less than ideal. Why?

By default Yoast adds a small fragment of text to every WordPress Post which looks like this:

Example of This Post First Appeared On Text

Fortunately, it is easy to adjust Yoast so that this line doesn’t show up.  Here’s where to go:

  1. In your WordPress Admin, look for the SEO section on the left-side menu.
  2. Select Search Appearance
  3. Then select the RSS Tab

 

Yoast - Fix this post last appeared in

 

 

See where the green arrow is pointing?  That is the culprit.  So all you need to do is delete the text found there and click the Save Changes button.

Are there other Yoast settings that you’d like to know more about?  Write a comment and let me know!