Friday, January 18, 2019

The Quick & Easy Guide to Fixing HTTP Error 405 (Method Not Allowed)

In a world hooked on instant gratification, one of the worst things a brand can do is not give their audience what they want. If your website visitors see an error page when they're looking for help or information to do their jobs better, they could get annoyed and lose trust in your brand, permanently damaging your reputation.

Unfortunately, 405 Method Not Allowed Errors are rather mysterious. They indicate what happened to your website, but they don’t tell you why it happened, making it challenging for you to pinpoint its cause and correct the issue.

To help you fix your 405 Method Not Allowed Error and avoid losing brand trust, we’ve fleshed out exactly what the issue is and its most common solutions.

Download our free guide here to uncover 10 SEO mistakes to avoid in your next redesign.

Image Credit: Testing Nook

Fortunately, there are three common and effective solutions for fixing most 405 Method Not Allowed Errors.

How to Fix 405 Method Not Allowed Errors

1. Comb through your website’s code to find bugs.

If there’s a mistake in your website’s code, your web server might not be able to correctly answer requests from a content delivery network. Comb through your code to find bugs or copy your code into a development machine. It’ll perform a thorough debug process that will simulate the exact situation your 405 Method Not Allowed Error occurred in and allow you to see the exact moment where things went wrong.

2. Sift through your server-side logs.

There are two types of server-side logs -- applications logs and server logs. Application logs recount your website’s entire history, like the web pages requested by visitors and which servers it connected to. Server logs provide information about the hardware running your server, revealing details about its health and status. Sift through both types of server-side logs to uncover any alarming information about your server or website.

3. Check your server configuration files.

The last way to find out what’s causing your 405 Method Not Allowed Error is by taking a look at your web server’s configuration files. You can usually find instructions for solving unintentional redirects there.

website redesign seo mistakes

Full Funnel Testing: SEO & CRO Together - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by willcritchlow

Testing for only SEO or only CRO isn't always ideal. Some changes result in higher conversions and reduced site traffic, for instance, while others may rank more highly but convert less well. In today's Whiteboard Friday, we welcome Will Critchlow as he demonstrates a method of testing for both your top-of-funnel SEO changes and your conversion-focused CRO changes at once.

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

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. My name is Will Critchlow, one of the founders at Distilled. If you've been following what I've been writing and talking about around the web recently, today's topic may not surprise you that much. I'm going to be talking about another kind of SEO testing.

Over at Distilled, we've been investing pretty heavily in building out our capability to do SEO tests and in particular built our optimization delivery network, which has let us do a new kind of SEO testing that hasn't been previously available to most of our clients. Recently we've been working on a new enhancement to this, which is full funnel testing, and that's what I want to talk about today.

So funnel testing is testing all the way through the funnel, from acquisition at the SEO end to conversion. So it's SEO testing plus CRO testing together. I'm going to write a little bit more about some of the motivation for this. But, in a nutshell, it essentially boils down to the fact that it is perfectly possible, in fact we've seen in the wild cases of tests that win in SEO terms and lose in CRO terms or vice versa.

In other words, tests that maybe you make a change and it converts better, but you lose organic search traffic. Or the other way around, it ranks better, but it converts less well. If you're only testing one, which is common — I mean most organizations are only testing the conversion rate side of things — it's perfectly possible to have a winning test, roll it out, and do worse.

CRO testing

So let's step back a little bit. A little bit of a primer. Conversion rate optimization testing works in an A/B split kind of way. You can test on a single page, if you want to, or a site section. The way it works is you split your audience. So your audience is split. Some of your audience gets one version of the page, and the rest of the audience gets a different version.

Then you can compare the conversion rate among the group who got the control and the group who got the variant. That's very straightforward. Like I say, it can happen on a single page or across an entire site. SEO testing, a little bit newer. The way this works is you can't split the audience, because we care very much about the search engine spiders in this case. For the purposes of this consideration, there's essentially only one Googlebot. So you couldn't put Google in Class A or Class B here and expect to get anything meaningful.

SEO testing

So the way that we do an SEO test is we actually split the pages. To do this, you need a substantial site section. So imagine, for example, an e-commerce website with thousands of products. You might have a hypothesis of something that will help those product pages perform better. You take your hypothesis and you only apply it to some of the pages, and you leave some of the pages unchanged as a control.

Then, crucially, search engines and users see the same experience. There's no cloaking going on. There's no duplication of content. You simply change some pages and not change others. Then you apply kind of advanced mathematical, statistical analysis trying to figure out do these pages get statistically more organic search traffic than we think they would have done if we hadn't made this change. So that's how an SEO test works.

Now, as I said, the problem that we are trying to tackle here is it's really plausible, despite Google's best intentions to do what's right for users, it's perfectly plausible that you can have a test that ranks better but converts less well or vice versa. We've seen this with, for example, removing content from a page. Sometimes having a cleaner, simpler page can convert better. But maybe that was where the keywords were and maybe that was helping the page rank. So we're trying to avoid those kinds of situations.

Full funnel testing

That's where full funnel testing comes in. So I want to just run through how you run a full funnel test. What you do is you first of all set it up in the same way as an SEO test, because we're essentially starting with SEO at the top of the funnel. So it's set up exactly the same way.

Some pages are unchanged. Some pages get the hypothesis applied to them. As far as Google is concerned, that's the end of the story, because on any individual request to these pages that's what we serve back. But the critically important thing here is I've got my little character. This is a human browser performs a search, "What do badgers eat?"

This was one of our silly examples that we came up with on one of our demo sites. The user lands on this page here. What we do is we then set a cookie. This is a cookie. This user then, as they navigate around the site, no matter where they go within this site section, they get the same treatment, either the control or the variant. They get the same treatment across the entire site section. This is more like the conversion rate test here.

Googlebot = stateless requests

So what I didn't show in this diagram is if you were running this test across a site section, you would cookie this user and make sure that they always saw the same treatment no matter where they navigated around the site. So because Googlebot is making stateless requests, in other words just independent, one-off requests for each of these of these pages with no cookie set, Google sees the split.

Evaluate SEO test on entrances

Users get whatever their first page impression looks like. They then get that treatment applied across the entire site section. So what we can do then is we can evaluate independently the performance in search, evaluate that on entrances. So do we get significantly more entrances to the variant pages than we would have expected if we hadn't applied a hypothesis to them?

That tells us the uplift from an SEO perspective. So maybe we say, "Okay, this is plus 11% in organic traffic." Well, great. So in a vacuum, all else being equal, we'd love to roll out this test.

Evaluate conversion rate on users

But before we do that, what we can do now is we can evaluate the conversion rate, and we do that based on user metrics. So these users are cookied.

We can also set an analytics tag on them and say, "Okay, wherever they navigate around, how many of them end up converting?" Then we can evaluate the conversion rate based on whether they saw treatment A or treatment B. Because we're looking at conversion rate, the audience size doesn't exactly have to be the same. So the statistical analysis can take care of that fact, and we can evaluate the conversion rate on a user-centric basis.

So then we maybe see that it's -5% in conversion rate. We then need to evaluate, "Is this something we should roll out?" So step 1 is: Do we just roll it out? If it's a win in both, then the answer is yes probably. If they're in different directions, then there are couple things we can do. Firstly, we can evaluate the relative performance in different directions, taking care that conversion rate applies generally across all channels, and so a relatively small drop in conversion rate can be a really big deal compared to even an uplift in organic traffic, because the conversion rate is applying to all channels, not just your organic traffic channel.

But suppose that it's a small net positive or a small net negative. What we can then do is we might get to the point that it's a net positive and roll it out. Either way, we might then say, "What can we take from this?What can we actually learn?" So back to our example of the content. We might say, "You know what? Users like this cleaner version of the page with apparently less content on it.The search engines are clearly relying on that content to understand what this page is about. How do we get the best of both worlds?"

Well, that might be a question of a redesign, moving the layout of the page around a little bit, keeping the content on there, but maybe not putting it front and center to the user as they land right at the beginning. We can test those different things, run sequential tests, try and take the best of the SEO tests and the best of the CRO tests and get it working together and crucially avoid those situations where you think you've got a win, because your conversion rate is up, but you actually are about to crater your organic search performance.

We think this is going to just be the more data-driven we get, the more accountable SEO testing makes us, the more important it's going to be to join these dots and make sure that we're getting true uplifts on a net basis when we combine them. So I hope that's been useful to some of you. Thank you for joining me on this week's Whiteboard Friday. I'm Will Critchlow from Distilled.

Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

14 Copywriting Examples From Businesses With Incredible Copywriters

You all know the Old Spice guy, right?

The years-old "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign was memorable for many reasons, but one of them was that it gave Old Spice a voice -- voice that came through in every video, commercial, tagline, Facebook update, tweet ... you name it.

And do you know who is behind all of that marketing collateral?

Copywriters. The ability to find the exact right words to tell your company's story isn't an easy feat, and it's even harder to do so consistently.

Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

So when we come across companies that are doing it successfully, we think their copywriters deserve a pat on the back (and a raise?). Take a look at some of the companies we think have stellar copywriting, and if you're looking, maybe get some inspiration for your own brand, too.

1. UrbanDaddy

UrbanDaddy has mastered the art of getting me to open emails. And when I click into them, they don't disappoint.

Below is the copy from an email they sent me with the subject line, "Fun."

urbandaddyemail

There are a couple things in this email that caught my eye.

First of all, there's no long preamble. The writers get straight to the point -- a wise choice for something as simple as a rubber band gun lest the reader feel cheated reading sentence after sentence for something so common.

Secondly, take a look at the purposeful sentence structure. This copywriter eschews conventional grammar rules by combining run-on sentences and traditional product promotion copy in sentences like:

Lock and load with Elastic Precision, a Kansas City-based workshop that manufactures high-powered weaponry except not at all because they actually just shoot rubber bands, now available online."

Keep reading, and you see a conversational tone that mildly mocks the silliness of the product, but also loops the reader in on something kinda fun.

And then, of course, they close with badgers. And how can you go wrong with badgers?

Best of all, UrbanDaddy's unique tone is found in every single piece of copy they publish -- from emails, to homepage copy, even to their editorial policy:

UrbanDaddy editorial policy

This company clearly knows its audience, which jokes to crack, and has kept it consistent across all their assets.

2. Articulate

Articulate, a HubSpot Agency Partner based in the U.K., is an inbound marketing agency, and their website copy is full of witty, confident copy on pages where you wouldn't think you'd find it. Here's exhibit 'A':

articulate-team-copyThe copy above introduces Articulate's "Meet the Team" page -- not a page you'd think can pull off witty copy, right? Well, Articulate's page goes beyond employee photos and their job titles.

In addition to the playful header, "not the usual blah blah," the copy above takes on a farm theme, assuring visitors that employees aren't simply "caged hens." Rather, they're a "free-range, artisanal, cruelty-free team." Funny on the surface, but helpful to job seekers who, much like food, want to know where their work comes from and how it's made.

3. Moosejaw

Not many brands are brave enough to touch the products they're selling with unconventional copy ... but Moosejaw isn't afraid to have a little fun.

The outdoor apparel outlet store uses humor as a way to sell their products without being overly forward about it. By appealing to people's emotions, they're more engaging and memorable.

Here are a few examples:

moosejaw-hedgehog-fastpack.png

moosejaw-out-dry-backpack.png

Same goes for the call-to-action buttons that show up when you hover your mouse over a product photo -- like this one, which reads, "Look This Cool."

moosejaw-look-this-cool.png

Does their brand voice carry over to the product descriptions, you ask? See for yourself:

moosejaw-maverick-mandy.png

moosejaw-tent.png

If you think the brilliant copy stops at their homepage, think again. They extend it to their return policy, too. Here, they do a great job of not sacrificing clarity for humor. Their copywriters successfully made people laugh while still being helpful.

moosejaw-return-policy.png

4. First Round Capital

While a sign of great copywriting is making people smile, another is making people feel understood. The copywriters at First Round do a phenomenal job at letting the value of their offerings for their customers sell themselves.

For example, they hold over 80 events every year connecting their community together. Instead of just explaining that they have events and then listing them out, they begin that section of their website with a simple statement that hits close to home with many entrepreneurs: "Starting a company is lonely."

first-round-events.png

Using words like "imperfect," "safety net," and "vulnerable" encourages readers to let their guards down and feel understood by the brand and their community.

Plus, you've gotta love that last line about stick-on name tags. Those things get stuck in my hair.

5. Trello

Do you know what Trello is? If the answer is no, then behold the copywriting on their website. Their product description -- like most of the copy on their site -- is crystal clear:

trellohomepage

And then check out how clear this explainer content is:

Trello Basics

Some of the use case clarity can be attributed to how smart the product is, but I think copywriters deserve some credit for communicating it clearly, too. They call it like it is, which ultimately makes it really easy to grasp.

And I couldn't write about the copywriting talent at Trello without including the clever references in the microcopy of their login page:

trello-login-ender-1.png trello-login-dana-1.png

Each time you refresh the login page, you see a different, equally clever example email belonging to a fictional character, like Ender from Ender's Game and Dana Scully from The X-Files -- a great example of nostalgia marketing. This is a small detail, but nonetheless a reminder that there are real humans behind the website and product's design. Delightful microcopy like this kinda feels like I just shared a private joke with someone at the company.

6. Velocity Partners

No post from me about excellent copywriting would be complete without mentioning the folks at Velocity Partners. A B2B marketing agency out of the U.K., we've featured co-founder Doug Kessler's SlideShares (like this one on why marketers need to rise above the deluge of "crappy" content) time and again on this blog because he's the master of word economy.

What is "word economy"? It's taking care that every word you use is the right word. It means getting your point across concisely and not dwelling on the details when you don't have to. In a world of shortening attention spans, this is the ultimate goal when communicating your message.

And since we're talking about word economy, I'll shut up and let you check out one of Kessler's SlideShares for yourself:

Whereas SlideShares are typically visual, Kessler's is heavily focused on copy: The design stays constant, and only the text changes. But the copy is engaging and compelling enough for him to pull that off. Why? Because he uses simple words so his readers understand what he's trying to say without any effort. He writes like he speaks, and it reads like a story, making it easy to flip through in SlideShare form.

The copy on Velocity Partners' homepage stood out to me, too. Check out, for example, how humble they are when introducing their case studies:

Our_Work_Velocity_Partners.png

I also like how casual and honest they kept their email subscription call-to-action. The header is especially eye-catching -- and it plays off of the popular SlideShare about crappy content we mentioned earlier.

velocity-partners-opt-in-form.png

In fact, Velocity Partners' Harendra Kapur recently wrote a blog post on what goes in to great B2B writing -- starting with this disclaimer, of course.

velocity-partners-blog-post.png

7. Intrepid Travel

The copywriters at Intrepid Travel, a Melbourne-based adventure travel company, are on this list because they're at the intersection of interesting and informational.

I love seeing copy that is totally and utterly functional -- that delivers critical information, but is so pleasant to read that you actually keep reading. Quite a feat on the internet these days.

Take a look at their company description, package names, and package descriptions below for some examples of this fantastically functional copywriting in action:

intrepid-travel-homepage-copywriting.png

intrepid-travel-latest-blog-posts.png

Of course, they do benefit from quite a lovely subject matter, but still -- hats off you to, Intrepid Travel.

8. Cultivated Wit

The copywriters over at the "comedy company" Cultivated Wit do a great job of embracing their own brand of quirk throughout their site. They already have one of the best "About" pages in the game, but their delightful copy is spread throughout their site -- sometimes in the most unexpected of places.

For example, take a look at the copy around contact information at the very bottom of their homepage:

cultivated-wit-contact-us.png

This section of the homepage is an afterthought at best for most companies. But for these folks, it was an opportunity to have a little fun.

They also have two, unique email subscription calls-to-action on different pages of their website. They're very different, but both equally funny and delightful. Here's one from the homepage:

cultivated-wit-homepage-copy.png

And one from the "About" page:

cultivated-wit-newsletter-cta.png

9. Cards Against Humanity

You may or may not be familiar with Cards Against Humanity, the self-declared "party game for horrible people." It's a card game -- one that's simultaneously entertaining and inappropriate. The copywriting on the cards themselves are guaranteed to make you laugh.

The brand voice is very distinctive, and can seem a little abrasive, and even a little offensive. But that's their whole shtick: They're not trying to appeal to everyone, and that's perfectly okay. What they do do a great job of doing is appealing to their target audience.

One look at their FAQ page and you'll see what I mean:

cards-against-humanity-dumb-questions.png

Here's a sneak peek into some of the answers to these questions. You'll see they make fun of both themselves and the reader -- which is exactly what the card game is about.

cards-against-humanity-uk-edition.png

cards-against-humanity-ship-foreign.png

cards-against-humanity-questions.png

10. R/GA

With the exception or UrbanDaddy, I've been focusing a lot on site copy so far, so I wanted to check out some examples of excellent social media copywriting.

I know you all like to see some more B2B examples in here, too, so I surfaced one of the best examples of the holy grail: Twitter copy, from a B2B company, that's funny. Behold, some recent highlights from the R/GA Twitter account:

11. innocent

Check out U.K.-based drink makers innocent, and you'll see a language, style, and tone that matches their philosophy, product, and even their branding and design. It's all just clean, straightforward, and simple. And believe it or not, simple is a really, really hard thing to nail in copywriting.

This stands out best on their "Things We Make" page. (Isn't that page name even beautifully simple?)

innocent-smoothies.png

innocent-kids.png

This same straightforward-but-charming copywriting philosophy extends to their site navigation:

innocentnav

Their meta description is pretty awesome, too:

innocent-meta-description.png

And my personal favorite:

bananaphone

12. GymIt

I've always loved the copy at GymIt. In fact, I check their site and social profiles all the time to see if they've freshened anything up. Luckily, they're no one-trick pony. They continue to keep their site fresh with captivating copy.

Here are some of my favorites, all of which hit on the pain points of gym-goers that they try to solve -- and actually do solve with their customer-friendly policies.

gymit1

I can vouch for that one. I know how much of a hassle it is to move far away from your gym -- and how refreshing it must be to be able to walk in and just ... quit.

All of this rolls up to their philosophy, espoused eloquently on their "About" page, that gyms should just be about working out:

gymit-description.png

Talk about having an understanding of their core audience. The copy both in its value proposition and across its marketing materials reflects a deep understanding of their customers.

And how did their copywriters choose to make sure everyone knew what this new gym franchise was about if they didn't read that "About" page? This tagline:

gymittagline

Doesn't get much clearer than that.

13. ModCloth

ModCloth is a brand that has always had an excellent grasp of their buyer persona, and it comes through in their pun-filled copywriting. All of their products are silly plays on words -- check out this screen grab of some of their new arrivals, for example:

modcloth-new-arrivals.png

Dive into their product description copy, and it's equally joyous, evocative, and clever -- just like their customers. Often, it'll also tell the story of what you'll do while wearing their items:

modcloth-product-description.png

After reading their descriptions, one can imagine what their life would be like if they owned this product. That's Copywriting 101, but so few brands can actually pull it off like the folks at ModCloth do.

14. Ann Handley

When it comes to building up your own personal brand, it can be easy to get a little too self-promotional. That's where the copywriting on your site can make a big difference.

On Ann Handley's personal website, she added bits of microcopy that shows, despite her many accomplishments (like being a best-selling author and award-winning speaker), that she still doesn't take herself too seriously.

Check out her email subscription call-to-action, for example:

ann-handley-subscribe-cta.pngAnyone can be a successful copywriter with the right brand voice -- and a little editorial guidance along the way. Want to learn how to write awesome copy for your business? Grab the free ebook below. 

free guide to writing well