Saturday, February 17, 2018

Infographic: 14 Ways to Get Backlinks Without Begging

Are you producing lots of great content on a regular basis but still not seeing organic traffic?

The issue may be a lack of external sites linking to you, also known as backlinks. While SEO has evolved over the years, backlinks still remain as one of the most important SEO ranking factors.

What you shouldn’t do is get involved in shady link schemes. This is known as black hat SEO, and it is unethical and ineffective over the long run.

The key to getting backlinks in a sustainable way, without begging for them, is to continually produce high-quality content that people want to link to and share.

So, when you’re thinking of your link building strategies, keep these 14 in mind and try any or all of them. Give each a lot of effort and measure the results appropriately.

Click here if you’d prefer to skip this list and just go straight to the infographic.

1. Original Research

Conducting research and surveys isn’t cheap in time or cost, but outlets like Hubspot and ConversionXL routinely conduct and publish research findings because they generate backlinks.

Hubspot frequently publishes blog posts like this

My friend Brian Dean has also published research-based blog posts:

And has seen a lot of backlinks from the blog post:

If you prefer to not do research yourself or hire a researcher, you can reach out to other companies that conduct research and publish it in PDFs. Ask them for the PDF and if you can write a short blog post that summarizes the findings, or summarizes parts of it, in exchange for a link to their landing page to download the full report. You’ll still get a lot of links and social traffic, even if the data isn’t yours. You’re simply reporting on it.

After all, that’s what all science publications (i.e. ScienceDaily) do everyday. They write reports and summarizations of the latest scientific research, and cite the study in their article.

When your article is ready to go, it may help to put something like this in the headline:

  • New Research
  • New Findings
  • New Data

This way, people browsing on Google or social will see that it’s research-based, and they’ll want to check out your article.

Finally, when you release original data, reach out to some companies you have relationships with that may be interested in sharing your research. You can write to them with a simple request – here’s the research we did, here’s the article of the research, maybe it would come in handy for you at some point in the future.

Bonus points if you create an infographic based on your original research.

2. Create Long-Form Guides

More and more publishers are cutting their word counts short and producing content with few words. You can stand out and get backlinks by creating 10x content and giving it away for free.

This involves finding something useful that people will want to read, examining the competition, and creating something 10x better. You (or a writer you hire) will write about 15,000 words, and split the organization up into different chapters.

I’ve created many of these guides and published them Quick Sprout.

Ramit Sethi produced a guide to personal finance and now he ranks #1 on Google for the query personal finance guide.

Brian Dean wrote a keyword research guide:

Guess where this ranks on Google

I’d recommend you take a look at some of these guides so you can get an idea of the breadth of undertaking for producing a 10x guide.

These 10x guides are expensive (writing and design time) and time-consuming, but they can pay off in the form of backlinks to your site.

3. Interview an Influencer

Influencer marketing is all the rage right now. Most brands want to figure out how to get a big celebrity or athlete to endorse their product. Or better yet, be business partners with them.

But there’s another strategy you can take if you’re interested in getting backlinks. This involves interviewing an influencer to get their knowledge that would help your audience. If you don’t have connections, you’ll have to be good at email outreach and be a skilled people-person.

If you are granted an interview, it’s important to come prepared with thoughtful questions, and have respect for their time. Most influencers probably won’t want to chat for more than 15 minutes, but if you’re a skilled interviewer who asks good questions that should be more than enough time to get valuable information from them.

You can publish your interview either in a video format or via a transcript. If you can, I’d opt for a video if you can make sure it’s high quality. If not, stick with a transcript of the interview.

4. Create an Infographic

Kissmetrics has produced lots of infographics that have brought us a ton of backlinks. We had our own in-house designer create the infographic, but if you don’t have your own designer you can hire one through Upwork.

The most difficult part of the infographic process is brainstorming a topic that’s a good fit for the infographic, then creating the copy and graphs to go in the infographic. A great designer will take a lot of the weight off your shoulders. Just come up with a topic, produce the content, and let the designer work their magic.

Don’t forget to add an embed code at the bottom to make it easy for people to put it on their website. A lot of other sites may just download your infographic and put it on their site. This is why it’s useful to have your logo on the infographic – so even if you don’t get the backlink, you still get your brand some exposure around the web.

5. Create a Quiz

Much like infographics, quizzes are popular and get a lot of shares. If you create on your site, you can add an embed code and get backlinks just like you would do with an infographic.

Your quizzes should be enjoyable for people to take. They don’t have to be a knowledge test. It’s best if you create something that encourages people to look inward and think about themselves. The end result then makes something that’s shareable with others.

This is what Buzzfeed does so well. They create quizzes like, “What Kind of [fill in the blank] Are You?”. People love taking the quizzes and sharing them because it’s about each person.

Try adding quizzes to your marketing strategy and see what results you get!

6. Contact Sites that Link to Defunct Sites

This is known as the Moving Man Method, courtesy of Brian Dean. I’d recommend you check out his full video for a breakdown of this. It’s pretty brilliant and I have to give him the proper credit.

The important thing to keep in mind is to only reach out to high quality sites. Remember that crappy sites that link to you are your problem. You are responsible for who links to you. Remove the crappy sites that are linking to you and you’ll improve your overall backlink profile.

7. Testimonials

Offering a free testimonial is a win-win relationship. The business gets a testimonial and you get your name and company name on their website, along with a link back to your site.

Obviously, when you reach out to these companies, you need to be a customer of their product or service. Don’t contact companies you don’t use and offer a testimonial.

I’ve done this on a lot of different sites and it’s helped to increase my exposure.

Here I am on the homepage of Backlinko:

And here I am with Brian Dean on the Ahrefs homepage:

And on Viewership.com:

I have many more around the web, but how many visits do you think these three sites receive? That’s how much free exposure I’m getting, because I endorse their product and wrote a testimonial.

8. Guest Blogging

This is one of my favorite methods for gaining links and exposure. Guest blogging can be free (if you’re a good writer) or paid if you prefer to hire a ghostwriter. If you haven’t written for other blogs before, I’d recommend hiring a ghostwriter. It will cost between $250-$500 for a quality article with at least 2,000 words.

In the article, you can link to your own content. I’ve done this with my articles in Entrepreneur:

Don’t go overboard and put a dozen links back to your site. Keep it reasonable (maybe 1-3 for every 2000 words) and make sure the owner of the blog is okay with it. If they’re not, you may want to take your content somewhere else. I think it’s a fair tradeoff considering that you’re giving them great free content in exchange for some links and exposure.

Be sure to also use your byline wisely. Keep it sharp and to the point. Tell readers who you are, what you do, and what value you bring. Link to your site. Bonus points if you can link to other parts of your site, like Bnonn does on the Kissmetrics blog:

In his byline, he’s advertising his free course (which brings him leads) and has a link back to his website.

9. Find Unlinked Mentions

If you’re well known, you’ll have hundreds or even thousands of sites that mention your company or name but don’t link to you. Using this method, you find those high-quality sites that aren’t linking.

For example, if I write about Copyblogger or mention one of their blog posts but don’t link to it, they can reach out to me in a helpful way and suggest I add in a link to their site or blog post. I’m already mentioning them; so adding the link is only helpful to readers.

Credit to Brian Dean for this tactic – he calls it link reclamation.

10. Public Relations For Page Rank

Having good relationships with journalists and news outlets is great for public relations and backlinks. But you shouldn’t cold email a journalist and ask them to promote your company. That won’t work and will only make you look bad.

Use Help a Reporter Out, but don’t rely on it. You need to make an active effort to make relationships with journalists and help them out when they need it. All good relationships rely on reciprocity.

Some of you may have a unique story or angle that a news outlet would like to cover. That’s how I got coverage on CNN:

I knew they wouldn’t want to hear about my business, but rather that I live in hotels. I did get links to my businesses from this article, and it brought a lot of referral traffic.

So as you build those relationships, you’ll eventually start getting mentions in outlets and publications. This can do wonders for your exposure and your “link juice”.

11. Use Outreach Efforts When You Write a Post

When you write a blog post, you’ll probably be linking to other companies and articles. When you do that, you should make an effort to contact the people that run those companies or write those articles and tell that them that you mentioned them on your blog post. They may share it social media or mention you in a future article. Remember – trust the laws of reciprocity.

When you reach out, it’s important to not ask for a backlink. That will make you look desperate, and no one wants to look desperate. Just simply reach out and tell them that you liked their article/post or company so much that you wanted to share it on your blog post. Then share the link to your blog post. That’s all you have to do.

Finally, don’t write a blog post that has hundreds of links. If you do that and reach out to each one you linked to, it will make you look bad because you’re giving out a bunch of links in order to ask for a link back. Keep the number of links on your blog posts reasonable, and tell bloggers and companies when you write about them. Then, trust the laws of reciprocity.

12. Quality on Quality Blogs

This can be one of the best ways to gain exposure. You’ll also get backlinks if the comments are not a nofollow.

The priority when writing a comment is to make sure it’s thoughtful, relevant, and adds to the discussion. Writing, “great post, keep it up” isn’t thoughtful or relevant and it doesn’t add to the discussion. When someone reads your comment, it should be clear that you actually read the blog post or article and have something unique to add to it. Your comments should be like the blog posts you write – high quality, thoughtful, and useful.

The WordPress commenting plugin Commentluv uses dofollow comment URLs by default. I’d recommend searching for these blogs, subscribing to them, reading them as they come out, and making comments shortly after they’re published.

You can also link to your blog in the comment:

13. Request Your Company or Article Be Added to a Resource Page or Listicle

It’s important to only do this if you really think that what you want to link to would improve the article. I get a lot of requests from bloggers asking for links. I ignore all of them because none of them make sense for my blog. I can see that they don’t want to make any of my articles better, they just a backlink.

Check out the script Brian Dean has for you in his mega-guide.

14. Create a List of Your Own

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, list-based posts get a lot of traffic.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of marketers and content creators view them as a shortcut. They’ve been brainwashed by viewing the listicles that are in slideshow form, thinking that if they just brainstorm a few things to put on their list, and add a sentence or two to each one, that their job is done. You shouldn’t make it that easy on yourself.

Other marketers will go overboard and make their list so long (i.e. 150+ items) that no one will read it all. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this if you can make manage to make each item useful. Don’t add things to your list that don’t make sense just so you can have a bigger number.

Keep in mind, as with everything, quality over quantity. (Ideally you have both quality and quantity). You’re better off keeping your list at the right amount and making more quality list-based posts instead of putting all your energy into one post.

The Infographic

Want to display this infographic on your site?

Simply copy and paste the code below into the html of your website to display the infographic presented above:



Conclusion

Building backlinks on quality sites isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. It takes creativity, hustle, and good people skills.

But all the work is worth it. I’ve been in content marketing for years and I still find that backlinks are crucial to ranking higher in Google.

I hope you’ll examine these 14 tactics, find some that work for you, put in meaningful effort in each, and measure the results. Then let me know how they work for you.

What methods have you found useful and effective to get backlinks without begging for them?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Friday, February 16, 2018

How to Write Meta Descriptions To Boost Your SEO

How many times have you Googled something and your search results have little to no content below the link?

Yeah, that’s the meta description. And every website should have one.

If you have a website, then meta descriptions should matter to you.

Even if you don’t personally have a website and simply browse online, meta descriptions should still matter to you.

A meta description is a website’s final attempt to get your attention and seal the deal with a click-through.

Not only is a meta description a link’s last-ditch effort to gain a visit or two, but it is also a factor in search engine optimization that many digital marketers ignore.

But a neglected meta description could mean lost viewers, forgotten leads, and less traffic.

What?

Thankfully, adding meta descriptions is simple. Writing good meta descriptions that help SEO is the tougher part — but it can get easier with help and a little practice.

I’ll explain exactly how.

Meta descriptions explained

A meta description is the snippet of text displayed below each link in the search results. It is the HTML element that provides more information about a website to search engines and searchers.

Why do meta descriptions exist?

Well, they serve a couple purposes. They describe the contents of a web page to the searcher while simultaneously convincing and persuading the searcher to click the link.

Meta descriptions play a big role in search results.

Any words that match the search query are made bold in the description.

They also serve as a sort of advertisement for that specific website, providing the searcher with a brief glimpse into what they could gain or see by clicking.

See the below example of search results for “simple SEO guide.”

The meta descriptions above are the few lines of text below the link title and URL.

You will see that some included the bold words from the search query, and others are simply the first few words of the website or blog post.

But meta descriptions aren’t reserved for search engine results pages (SERPs).

They also appear when people share content on websites and social media channels. While search results and SEO aren’t relevant in this particular instance, well-written meta content will still encourage opens on social media and external sites.

And click-throughs on social media, while not technically recorded by Google or Bing, will still contribute to a site’s overall traffic, relevance, and publicity.

All in all, meta descriptions can contribute a ton to your website’s success.

The importance of meta descriptions

A meta description is your website’s last sales pitch to a searcher. It is the most important feature to improving click-through rates from an organic search.

Meta descriptions are a major tool that searchers use to decide which search results will be the most helpful, relevant, and authoritative.

They are also super important for search engine optimization–but not in the way that you may think.

It is important to point out that meta description content is not factored into search results. So it’s not necessary to put keywords into your meta description.

But let’s take a step back and consider not just search engine behavior, but human behavior. Meta description content may not influence the search engine algorithm, but click-through rate does.

That’s right. Google is actively measuring — and factoring in — user behavior when it comes to search results.

There are so many factors that go into ranking a website; it’s easy to forget that human activity is constantly being analyzed and considered.

Kind of makes you think about the way you conduct searches, doesn’t it?

Knowing this, think about the way that your meta descriptions look to an average searcher.

Do they appeal to a computer or a person? Is the content arranged to grab an algorithm’s attention or the human eye?

Meta descriptions may not directly benefit SEO, but click-through rates do, and meta descriptions help get clicks.

And the more people that click on your link, the better the content will perform in search results.

Now, for any search engine results page, it is not a given that every searcher will scroll all the way to the bottom — not to mention clicking over to a second or third page.

In fact, click-through percentages taper off as you move down the results page because, logically, the more relevant and reliable links are already situated at the top.

At least, that’s what the average searcher assumes.

If your website is located further down the first page, or even on the second, you are already working with less than your competitors.

This makes a concise, persuasive meta description all the more crucial to that link’s success.

But those results that fall at the top don’t necessarily have their work cut out for them, either. Ranking in the first few results doesn’t always guarantee a click-through.

Providing a high-quality meta description will ensure that a searcher doesn’t go scrolling for another result.

Relevant results encourage clicks. Meta descriptions help searchers understand why your link is the most relevant, helpful, trustworthy option.

And the more searchers click on your website, the better your site will perform overall.

Here’s how to add — and write — killer meta descriptions that convert search queries to surefire clicks.

How to write meta descriptions

For now, head over to your website’s HTML and take a look at the <head> section. It’ll look similar to this.

<head>
<meta name=”description” content=”Insert meta description here!”>
</head>

To add a meta description to the site, insert the content next to (you guessed it) where the HTML code says “content=”.

Regardless of what content management system you use, you should have complete control over what your meta descriptions say.

The especially goes for WordPress, whose backend platform makes it easy to alter this information.

If you use an SEO plugin like Yoast, you can add the meta description to the section labeled “meta description”. You can even preview how it will look in the SERPs.

Now that we have the technical how-to out of the way, let’s review some tips for writing meta descriptions that grab a searcher’s attention, wrangle a click-through, and boost your SEO.

At its core, writing a great meta description isn’t all that different from writing great sales copy. It is an exercise in concise persuasion designed to sell whatever lies beyond the link.

You have a few sentences to grab someone’s attention and garner a click-through.

Every single word you add to that meta description should be dedicated to producing a click, while still maintaining factual accuracy to meet expectations.

This may take practice, but it is worth it for the overall health of your website. Thankfully, changing out your website’s meta description is pretty easy.

If you test one meta description and don’t love how it performs, you can simply head back to the HTML and try a new one.

If you’re overwhelmed about where to start, prioritize your homepage and most important pages, like your product pages, top blog posts, or About page.

Get a feel for writing meta descriptions, and then take the time to fill them out for the rest of your website.

Now, let’s dive into how to write up meta descriptions that are clear, helpful, and persuasive.

Be specific and relevant, including the focus keyword.

Within your meta description, you essentially have two to three sentences to persuade people to click. So every word in your meta description matters.

Nowadays, the average searcher will recognize a generic, fluffed-up meta description from a mile away.

They will also most likely ignore that sort of description for one that better suits their search query.

Use your meta description to further connect with the target audience of your website or blog post link. Use relevant language that will appeal to them and be specific about what your website offers.

Layer your focus keyword into your meta description authentically. (That means don’t repeat it multiple times or throw in a few different variations for the sake of better SEO.)

Search engines will often bold the words in your meta description that correspond to a searcher’s query. This makes it easier for a searcher to see exactly how your website aligns with what they have searched.

Use action-oriented language, with a call-to-action.

Great sales copy always includes present-tense, actionable language. Your meta description should read no differently.

Use the meta description to describe exactly what you want the searcher to do or what exactly will happen when they click on your link.

Give the searcher a clear picture of what lies beyond the link.

Consider starting with words like “Learn,” “Discover,” “Experience,” or “Read” so the searcher has a clear idea of what your website provides. This may also inspire new actions beyond the searcher’s original query.

Provide a solution or benefit.

Think about why people make searches online. Most likely, they want to research, buy, learn, or read something, right?

Your meta description should serve as the “Ah-ha — found it!” moment for a searcher.

How can your website give them what they’re looking for? How do they benefit by clicking on your link? What lies beyond your search result that can benefit or help them in some way?

Use your meta description to answer these questions. This information is especially valuable when competing with other blogs or websites.

Nowadays, most search queries result in multiple sites offering similar content. What makes your website different, and how can you use this information to entice a click-through?

Keep it short and sweet.

Good digital marketers recognize that, as humans, we have the attention span of a goldfish — eight seconds, to be exact.

You should remember this in any circumstance that involves writing content to persuade or sell, especially when crafting your meta descriptions.

Don’t assume that searchers will take the time to review all meta descriptions on the search engine results page.

Choose each word wisely, knowing that people most likely skim your description before continuing down the page.

Another important thing to recognize is that Google cuts off meta descriptions that are too long. There have been reports of Google testing snippets of longer length, but about 150 characters is a safe length.

Case in point — Do not get caught with your most valuable information at the end!

Don’t deceive, but inspire curiosity.

You might think it a good idea to embellish your meta description solely to get a click. Who cares if a searcher stays on your website as long as they click-through first?

Not a stellar strategy.

If you’re not truthful about what a searcher can expect from your link, he or she probably won’t hesitate to hit that “back” button.

And too many quick exits can hurt your site’s bounce rate — and, more importantly, the searcher’s trust in your content.

Be honest and clear about the content of your website.

Don’t stuff your meta description full of keywords, either. Instead, consider asking a question that contains a couple of keywords.

Provide just enough (true) information about your link without giving it away. Inspire a click-through with curiosity — not deception.

Good and not-so-good examples of meta descriptions

Need real examples of the above criteria? Below we’ll cover some good and not-so-good meta descriptions based on a few popular search queries.

Let’s review the results from some popular search queries relevant to online marketing, starting with good examples.

“How to build backlinks”

This meta description is short, but includes the focus keyword (“backlinks”) and utilizes words like “little-known” and “never seen” to inspire curiosity.

This meta description is strong because it mentions the benefit of building backlinks. It also explains exactly what a searcher will see when he or she clicks the link.

“What is white hat SEO”

This meta description not only employs an actionable word (“learn”) but also explains the benefit of learning white hat techniques and how they can help your website.

This meta description uses a question to grab the searcher’s attention and then provides a clear solution that outlines the contents of the website, including action words like “teach” and “execute.”

“Content marketing best practices”

This meta description spreads out the focus keywords so that more of the content is made bold, increasing its chances of being noticed. It also mentions both B2B and B2C, which increases the number of audience members who will benefit from a click-through.

This meta description, although short and cut off at the end, provides a concise benefit of content marketing and explains what the webpage contains.

Sometimes, an ellipses at the end of a meta description can help inspire curiosity and garner a click-through.

Now, for the not-so-great meta description examples, using the same keywords.

“How to build backlinks”

It’s clear that this website doesn’t have a meta description because it simply repeats the headline and dives right into the first line of the content, providing no preview or enticing language.

Forgetting to include a meta description leaves your website open to random and irrelevant meta content. Searchers will recognize when you’ve neglected it.

“What is white hat SEO”

Although this meta description is interesting and personable, it lacks relevance and focus keywords. In fact, it’s more likely to appear in results for “black hat SEO” given that keyword is mentioned twice.

Meta descriptions could be compared to email subject lines in this case. Using something unique and fun can help grab attention, but going too far outside the line can just be plain confusing.

“Content marketing best practices”

This meta description does not include any information relevant to the site title, nor does it feature any focus keywords.

This may be another case of a neglected meta description, leaving it open to capturing the first few lines of content.

In this case, that was a bad move for the website, especially since it’s featured on the third page of search results.

Conclusion

While your meta descriptions may not have a direct effect on your SEO, they play a huge role in explaining your web page content and garnering click-throughs.

Adding them is easy — it’s writing them well that’s a little more difficult. Treat them as you would your ad or website copy, and your website traffic numbers will thank you.

In what ways have you improved your meta descriptions to help SEO?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Building Strong B2B Brand Equity Can Increase Your Profits

You often hear business owners talk about how quickly they're growing their business - it's a common measure of success, a badge of credibility, as though business growth is the single most important goal of a business. 

There is no doubt that business growth is an important goal, but we need to be clear that there are different kinds of business growth, such as a growth in sales, growth in total revenues, growth in headcount, or growth in market share.

However, these much touted types of growth, are not necessarily the best way to show business success, and they are probably not ideal KPIs for your business, as these goals are all relatively easy to achieve. All you have to do is lower your price and sell more stuff, just by discounting your pricing and increasing your sales volume - you will be able to hit those goals - and obviously this isn't ideal.

In the long term, lowering price to increase sales or grow market share is not sustainable.

Most of these growth strategies unfortunately lead to a lowering of overall profitability, and possibly losing money and moving the business into the red. This is definitely an undesirable way to run your business, and one that will ultimately stifle growth.

So what growth goal should you go after? Which growth goal is the most desirable? And which is the one goal you should relentlessly chase?

Why Every Public Speaker Should be Using Messenger Bots

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at the Multifamily Social Media Summit in Napa, CA. It was my second consecutive year attending the event, and I wanted to give the audience something fresh  --  my talk was going to be about Facebook Messenger.

A few days before the talk, a member of the HubSpot Academy team asked me if I would be using Messenger to educate the audience on Messenger (very meta -- I know). I surprisingly hadn’t thought much about it, but since our Academy team is full of smart people who know a thing or two about teaching, I decided they were probably onto something.

So, on the six hour plane ride from Boston to San Francisco, I built a Messenger bot to use during my presentation

Setting Goals: Why Do I Need a Bot During My Presentation?

I started by setting a few goals to ensure my bot would truly serve the objectives of my presentation. Here's the list of things I decided my bot needed to accomplish:

  • Teach the audience about Messenger: The core purpose of my presentation was to educate the audience about Messenger. If my bot wasn't going to help reach this goal, then there was no reason it create it.
  • Engage the audience during the presentation: The bot couldn't make the presentation more complicated or challenging to follow. It had to contribute to a better audience experience overall.
  • Collect NPS after the event: The bot needed to enable audience members to share feedback on the presentation in a fast, friendly, and ultimately simple way.
  • Share slides with attendees after the event: Tracking down a speaker to get their slides after a presentation sucks. The bot had to make this experience easier for everyone involved.
  • Drive traffic to my personal pages to connect with the audience after the event: The bot had to encourage users to continue the conversation with me.

Once I had the goals and function of the bot firmly established,  it was time to build.

Creating and Unleashing the Bot

The first thing I did was build a temporary Facebook page to connect Messenger for the event.

Then, I developed a custom QR code with the event logo for audience members to enter the bot experience.

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This is no longer active, FYI.

This QR code was tied to a sequence designed specifically to accomplish my goals for the event.

The first message in the sequence welcomed users into the bot and allowed me to understand the audience’s familiarity with the subject before my presentation.

This gave me a good idea of how I'd need to adapt my presentation to meet my audience's expertise level and expectations.

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About 20 minutes into my talk, I sent another quick message asking for audience questions. Instead of waiting for a prompt at the end of the session when time was running short, the bot enabled audience members to ask questions without needing the floor. It also helped me plan the rest of my talk accordingly.

Once the talk ended, it was time for NPS. I set the bot up to send this 20 minutes after my scheduled talk.  The results were great:

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Two days after the event ended, I sent the slides to everyone who opted in to my Messenger bot.

And finally, for some icing on the cake, I set up a persistent menu that would allow the audience to connect with me on Twitter and Medium. Oh, I also linked them to get a free HubSpot CRM, too.

null

Did People Actually Use the Bot?

The results of this mini experiment were great. Here are some quick hits:

  • 70 people opted in to the bot, ~50% of the audience members in attendance
  • 51% of people responded to the NPS
  • 100% of NPS respondents were promoters (woo!)
  • Messages sent during the event had open rates of 
    98.5%, 96.9%, 93.8%, and 93.9% (not too shabby)
  • 85% of attendees opened the broadcast message 2 days after the event which included slides from the event
  • 25 people clicked to follow me on Twitter, 11 on Medium, and 5 clicked to get their free HubSpot CRM

As you can see, the numbers really speak for themselves.

By using Messenger before, during, and after my talk , I was able to effectively engage the audience and create a lasting, personal connection. Additionally, due to the topic itself being Messenger, I was able to educate the audience on the channel’s capabilities with tangible examples.

If you’re a public speaker, I honestly cannot imagine a reason not to be using Messenger before, during, and after your talks -- even if you aren't discussing Messenger.

The potential of the channel is unmatched. And, if you’re a speaker talking about Messenger, you can’t afford to miss this opportunity!

Using the Cross Domain Rel=Canonical to Maximize the SEO Value of Cross-Posted Content - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Same content, different domains? There's a tag for that. Using rel=canonical to tell Google that similar or identical content exists on multiple domains has a number of clever applications. You can cross-post content across several domains that you own, you can benefit from others republishing your own content, rent or purchase content on other sites, and safely use third-party distribution networks like Medium to spread the word. Rand covers all the canonical bases in this not-to-be-missed edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Using the Cross Domain Rel=Canonical to Maximize the SEO Value of X-Posted Content

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're going to chat about the cross-domain rel=canonical tag. So we've talked about rel=canonical a little bit and how it can be used to take care of duplicate content issues, point Google to the right pages from potentially other pages that share similar or exactly the same content. But cross-domain rel=canonical is a unique and uniquely powerful tool that is designed to basically say, "You know what, Google? There is the same content on multiple different domains."

So in this simplistic example, MyFriendSite.com/green-turtles contains this content that I said, "Sure, it's totally fine for you, my friend, to republish, but I know I don't want SEO issues. I know I don't want duplicate content. I know I don't want a problem where my friend's site ends up outranking me, because maybe they have better links or other ranking signals, and I know that I would like any ranking credit, any link or authority signals that they accrue to actually come to my website.

There's a way that you can do this. Google introduced it back in 2009. It is the cross-domain rel=canonical. So essentially, in the header tag of the page, I can add this link, rel=canonical href — it's a link tag, so there's an href — to the place where I want the link or the canonical, in this case, to point to and then close the tag. Google will transfer over, this is an estimate, but roughly in the SEO world, we think it's pretty similar to what you get in a 301 redirect. So something above 90% of the link authority and ranking signals will transfer from FriendSite.com to MySite.com.

So my green turtles page is going to be the one that Google will be more likely to rank. As this one accrues any links or other ranking signals, that authority, those links should transfer over to my page. That's an ideal situation for a bunch of different things. I'll talk about those in a sec.

Multiple domains and pages can point to any URL

Multiple domains and pages are totally cool to point to any URL. I can do this for FriendSite.com. I can also do this for TurtleDudes.com and LeatherbackFriends.net and SeaTees.com and NatureIsLit.com. All of them can contain this cross-domain rel=canonical pointing back to the site or the page that I want it to go to. This is a great way to potentially license content out there, give people republishing permissions without losing any of the SEO value.

A few things need to match:

I. The page content really does need to match

That includes things like text, images, if you've embedded videos, whatever you've got on there.

II. The headline

Ideally, should match. It's a little less crucial than the page content, but probably you want that headline to match.

III. Links (in content)

Those should also match. This is a good way to make sure. You check one, two, three. This is a good way to make sure that Google will count that rel=canonical correctly.

Things that don't need to match:

I. The URL

No, it's fine if the URLs are different. In this case, I've got NatureIsLit.com/turtles/p?id=679. That's okay. It doesn't need to be green-turtles. I can have a different URL structure on my site than they've got on theirs. Google is just fine with that.

II. The title of the piece

Many times the cross-domain rel=canonical is used with different page titles. So if, for example, CTs.com wants to publish the piece with a different title, that's okay. I still generally recommend that the headlines stay the same, but okay to have different titles.

III. The navigation

IV. Site branding

So all the things around the content. If I've got my page here and I have like nav elements over here, nav elements down here, maybe a footer down here, a nice little logo up in the top left, that's fine if those are totally different from the ones that are on these other pages cross-domain canonically. That stuff does not need to match. We're really talking about the content inside the page that Google looks for.

Ways to use this protocol

Some great ways to use the cross-domain rel=canonical.

1. If you run multiple domains and want to cross-post content, choose which one should get the SEO benefits and rankings.

If you run multiple domains, for whatever reason, let's say you've got a set of domains and you would like the benefit of being able to publish a single piece of content, for whatever reason, across multiples of these domains that you own, but you know you don't want to deal with a duplicate content issue and you know you'd prefer for one of these domains to be the one receiving the ranking signals, cross-domain rel=canonical is your friend. You can tell Google that Site A and Site C should not get credit for this content, but Site B should get all the credit.

The issue here is don't try and do this across multiple domains. So don't say, "Oh, Site A, why don't you rel=canonical to B, and Site C, why don't you rel=canonical to D, and I'll try and get two things ranked in the top." Don't do that. Make sure all of them point to one. That is the best way to make sure that Google respects the cross-domain rel=canonical properly.

2. If a publication wants to re-post your content on their domain, ask for it instead of (or in addition to) a link back.

Second, let's say a publication reaches out to you. They're like, "Wow. Hey, we really like this piece." My wife, Geraldine, wrote a piece about Mario Batali's sexual harassment apology letter and the cinnamon rolls recipe that he strangely included in this apology. She baked those and then wrote about it. It went quite viral, got a lot of shares from a ton of powerful and well-networked people and then a bunch of publications. The Guardian reached out. An Australian newspaper reached out, and they said, "Hey, we would like to republish your piece." Geraldine talked to her agent, and they set up a price or whatever.

One of the ways that you can do this and benefit from it, not just from getting a link from The Guardian or some other newspaper, but is to say, "Hey, I will be happy to be included here. You don't even have to give me, necessarily, if you don't want to, author credit or link credit, but I do want that sweet, sweet rel=canonical." This is a great way to maximize the SEO benefit of being posted on someone else's site, because you're not just receiving a single link. You're receiving credit from all the links that that piece might generate.

Oops, I did that backwards. You want it to come from their site to your site. This is how you know Whiteboard Friday is done in one take.

3. Purchase/rent content from other sites without forcing them to remove the content from their domain.

Next, let's say I am in the opposite situation. I'm the publisher. I see a piece of content that I love and I want to get that piece. So I might say, "Wow, that piece of content is terrific. It didn't do as well as I thought it would do. I bet if we put it on our site and broadcast it with our audience, it would do incredibly well. Let's reach out to the author of the piece and see if we can purchase or rent for a time period, say two years, for the next two years we want to put the cross-domain rel=canonical on your site and point it back to us and we want to host that content. After two years, you can have it back. You can own it again."

Without forcing them to remove the content from their site, so saying you, publisher, you author can keep it on your site. We don't mind. We'd just like this tag applied, and we'd like to able to have republishing permissions on our website. Now you can get the SEO benefits of that piece of content, and they can, in exchange, get some money. So your site sending them some dollars, their site sending you the rel=canonical and the ranking authority and the link equity and all those beautiful things.

4. Use Medium as a content distribution network without the drawback of duplicate content.

Number four, Medium. Medium is a great place to publish content. It has a wide network, people who really care about consuming content. Medium is a great distribution network with one challenge. If you post on Medium, people worry that they can't post the same thing on their own site because you'll be competing with Medium.com. It's a very powerful domain. It tends to rank really well. So duplicate content is an issue, and potentially losing the rankings and the traffic that you would get from search and losing that to Medium is no fun.

But Medium has a beautiful thing. The cross-domain rel=canonical is built in to their import tool. So if you go to Medium.com/p/import and you are logged in to your Medium account, you can enter in their URL field the content that you've published on your own site. Medium will republish it on your account, and they will include the cross-domain rel=canonical back to you. Now, you can start thinking of Medium as essentially a distribution network without the penalties or problems of duplicate content issues. Really, really awesome tool. Really awesome that Medium is offering this. I hope it sticks around.

All right, everyone. I think you're going to have some excellent additional ideas for the cross-domain rel=canonical and how you have used it. We would love you to share those in the comments below, and we'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

15 of the Best Lifestyle Mobile Apps You Need in Your Pocket

Want to track your packages with the swipe of your finger? Now you can. Need to split a complicated dinner bill? It's no longer a 10-minute math problem.

Lifestyle apps constanly appear in the Apple App Store and Google Marketplace and at least attempt to make our lives easier. Not only have some of our favorites gone through redesigns and similar changes, but a ton of new apps have been created since we last looked.

Here are some of the best lifestyle apps that have made a difference in my life, whether through better organization, helpful tips, or teaching me something new.

15 of the Best Lifestyle Mobile Apps You Need in Your Pocket

1. Get The Flight Out

Category: Travel

Whether you need to fly home for a family emergency or you're just plain spontaneous, you've probably needed to book a last-minute flight at some point in your life. Affectionately nicknamed "GTFO" (which usually means something, well, a bit more aggressive), Get the Flight Out allows you to type in an airport name and see the available upcoming flights to destinations all over the world. It's a way to quickly see and assess all your options in one place.

Here's what the it looks like once you've plugged in your home airport:

Get the flight out mobile app home screen

And here's what a list of available flights to different cities looks like:

Get the flight out mobile app list of flights

(Download GTFO for iOS, or its parent company's app, Hopper, for Android.)

2. IFTTT

Category: Productivity

Ever wished you could tell your computer or mobile device to do something really, really specific? Like email you when there's a new file in your Dropbox, or text you the local weather forecast every morning at 6:00 a.m.?

Good news, folks: You can do almost any command of this nature you can think of using an app called IFTTT, or "If This, Then That." In a nutshell, IFTTT lets you set up triggers for different events. For example, instead of spending all of your time manually going through the news or your social media accounts, you can get alerted by the things that are really important to you.

The crazy thing about this app is how easy it is to set up. The main screen walks you through the setup by letting you choose the first part of your "if" statement, and then allowing you to choose the "then" statement -- a.k.a. what happens after a trigger is set off.

Here's the "if" statement:

IFTTT mobile app

And the "then" statement:

ifttt-2

(Download IFTTT for iOS or download IFTTT for Android.)

3. Yahoo! Weather

Category: Weather

There are dozens of weather apps out there; iPhones even have a default weather app. So why take the extra time to download Yahoo! Weather?

Yahoo! Weather is one of the most beautifully designed and easy-to-use apps I've ever, ever seen. It provides more information than your typical weather app, but understands the order in which the information will be the most valuable to the user.

The app shows off a gorgeous picture of the area (pulled in from Flickr) and displays hourly weather, the forecast for the week, a map, the chance of precipitation, wind and pressure rates, the sunrise and sunset times, and more. You can easily add more locations and then swipe from location to location. This is one of those apps that anyone can use without instruction.

Yahoo! weather app home screen

(Download Yahoo Weather for iOS or download Yahoo Weather for Android.)

4. Swarm

Category: Travel

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm all about checking in to different places on my phone. When Foursquare split into Swarm & Foursquare back in 2014, I was pretty torn at first -- until I realized both of these apps significantly improved my experience of checking in (Swarm) and exploring new places (Foursquare).

Swarm is a "lifelogging" app that allows you to connect with friends and family and log the places you routinely visit. Whereas Foursquare focuses on checking in to certain locations you and your friends like, Swarm gives you opportunities to check in to the types of places your friends like.

For example, if I find my friends have checked into the gym more times than I have, Swarm might tally checkins to any fitness facility. It'll give me the same information for restaurants and bars in general, rather than specific restaurants and bars we always go to. (Warning: May increase FOMO.)

Swarm recently launched Swarm 5.0, showing us they're always improving on how much we can know about our friends' typical routines. Here, I'm adding a status update and tagging my friends:

Swarm mobile app

And here, I can see a friend's profile with a map of total checkins and trends based on the types of places he commonly visits:

Swarm 5.0 app profile page

Image by Mark Krynsky

( Download Swarm for iOS or download Swarm for Android.)

5. Foursquare City Guide

Category: Food & Drink

Foursquare is no longer used to check in and share your location with friends. The newest version of Foursquare is meant to help you explore new places in your current location.

Foursquare City Guide provides recommendations for new places to try out based on other people you follow or topics you've said you're interested in. For example, if you specify that you like Thai food, Foursquare always lets you know when there is a Thai food restaurant nearby.

And if you want to check in to one of the locations you've just learned about through Foursquare, it will bring you into Swarm -- making the experience between the two apps seamless.

Foursquare city guide mobile app
Image via Beebom

(Download Foursquare for iOS or download Foursquare for Android.)

6. Divvy

Category: Food & Drink

We've all been there: You're enjoying a delicious meal with a great group of friends. Then the bill arrives. The conversation comes to a screetching halt as everyone scrambles to figure out how much they owe. Maybe you have an accountant friend who splits the bill for you, or maybe you have Divvy.

Divvy allows you to split a check based on its picture. You read that right: Snap a photo of the check with your phone, and Divvy itemizes it for you. Did five of your friends share an appetizer? No problem -- you can easily split courses by dragging orders from the check to each person you pull from your phone's contact list. You can even include tax and tip.

Here's what the app looks like as it processes the picture you take:

divvy-mobile-app-check.jpg

Once you drag each order to its respective person, your final result will look something like this:

divvy-app-billing.jpg

Image via iMore

(Download Divvy for iOS.)

7. Slice

Category: Shopping

Whenever I order something online, I obsess over the tracking number to see when I will receive the package. If you've ever ordered a new phone online, you know what I'm talking about. Slice makes this so much easier.

Slice, an app by Rakuten, will search through your emails for any order confirmations or tracking codes. It will then populate with information on when you should expect your packages, when they are out for delivery, and when they have been delivered. No need to type in long tracking numbers -- all you have to do is connect your emails, and you're set.

Here's what your list of pending orders looks like:

slice-1

And the details of an individual order:

slice-2

(Download Slice for iOS or download Slice for Android.)

8. Moovit

Category: Navigation

Let's be honest, public transportation may be an easy alternative to driving and parking, but it's no picnic. Disabled trains, schedule changes, and that one bus line that's always late can make your morning commute the last thing you want to do when you wake up.

This is why we Moovit.

Moovit pulls together all of the train, bus, and subway schedules near you, and shows you where they are and where they're going -- even if there are delays on a particular route. It'll also show you where they are on a map, how far away they are (in minutes), and how many stops it would take to reach a set destination.

Is there a faster way to get somewhere? Moovit can suggest it and show you where to go. The app adapts to whichever city you're in, and is only getting better at it: It syncs with a new city around the world every 15 hours.

Here's what a commuter in Boston might see when following a set of directions:

moovit_transportation_app_directions.png

Here's what they'd see when simply checking on a station's schedule:

moovit_transportation_app_stations.png

(Download Moovit for iOS or download Moovit for Android.)

9. Outlook

Category: Productivity

I know, this likely isn't a lifestyle app you expected me to include. But when Microsoft acquired a small calendar app called Sunrise in 2015, it slowly merged everything it loved about this tool with its own mail and calendar tool. The result? A new and definitely improved Outlook.

Outlook is a mobile app by Microsoft that combines an inbox with a beautifully designed calendar that helps you craft your schedule based on the mail you send and receive. From the main calendar view, you can see when all of your meetings are, whom they're with (with nice, handy headshots of the people you're meeting with), where the meeting is located, and even who's accepted the meeting.

It also offers icons that match keywords you'd normally use to describe the type of event you're setting -- making it easier than ever to know what your week looks like at a literal glance.

outlook_mobile_app.png

Image by Casey Newton

(Download Outlook for iOS or download Outlook for Android.)

10. SwiftKey

Category: Utilities / Productivity

By now, you might have seen touchscreen keyboards where you drag your finger to each key to form each word, rather than tap the letters you want individually. Combine that with a dose of artificial intelligence (AI), and you get SwiftKey.

SwiftKey offers both tap- and swipe-based keyboards that actually learn how you talk and suggest your next word. Believe it or not, it helps you type way less. You'd be amazed by what the app learns: If you often type "Karla" and "Sophia," for example, it would eventually reveal the word "Sophia" after you simply type "Karla and."

swiftkey_app_swipe_keyboard.jpg

Image by Allyson Kazmucha

(Download SwiftKey for iOS or download SwiftKey for Android.)

11. Snapguide

Category: Lifestyle

Snapguide is kind of like Pinterest, except it includes how-to steps with each item. Basically, it lets you explore anything you may want to learn how to do yourself. This could be a new recipe, decorations for your house, an arts and crafts project, or even new games and tricks.

snapguide-1

Once you click into a category, the mobile app brings you to how-to guides for that particular category. You can choose to learn anything you want, while swiping through step-by-step instructions with large images on how to complete the project.

snapguide-2

(Download Snapguide for iOS.)

12. Splitwise

Category: Finance

Do you share expenses with someone? Maybe a roommate, or a few friends you went away with for a weekend? It can be complicated to keep track of who paid for what and who owes whom. Enter Splitwise.

Splitwise lets you keep track of all of your expenses that you share with others. All you have to do is enter the name of your expense, the dollar amount, how much you paid versus your friends, and then categorize the expenses. Splitwise will automatically calculate who owes whom what after each person logs their expense.

Here's what your home page might look like:

splitwise-1

And here is a history or "feed" of what you and another individual have paid and owed each other:

splitwise-2

(Download Splitwise for iOS or download Splitwise for Android.)

13. Edison Assistant

Category: Productivity

Similar to the new Outlook, Edison Assistant is a task-management app that makes it easier to book meetings, check your schedule, and even get directions to meetings in your calendar. You might know it by its original name, EasilyDo.

One of the great features of this app is that it will alert you if you have duplicate contacts on your phone and help you de-dupe to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. It will even pull in information from your email about package deliveries and flight itineraries.

The best part about this app is how it intelligently pulls in important information from other apps on your device to make sure you're as organized as possible.

easilydo-1

(Download Edison for iOS or download EasilyDo (soon to be Edison) for Android.)

14. AnyList

Category: Productivity

AnyList is the dream app for anyone who cooks a lot and likes to coordinate grocery lists with other people. You can share grocery lists with other people who are using the app to help communicate what you've picked up at the store for your household.

In the app, you can store your favorite recipes including a picture of the dish, ingredients you need to make the dish, and any notes you want to remember. But the best part is you can quickly add the ingredients from any recipe to your grocery list with literally the tap of a button. So once you add a recipe into your app, adding the ingredients is easy peasy.

But wait ... it gets better. (Can you tell I like this one?) Once you're on the main grocery list part of the app, AnyList will actually organize the items you need to purchase into categories based on where items are around the grocery store. The categories include bakery, beverages, dairy, deli, frozen foods, grains, pasta and sides, household and cleaning, produce, snacks, and more.

This makes it easy for you to navigate the grocery store, check items off your list, and see in real time what you versus your roommates are purchasing.

anylist_grocery_list_app.png

Image via TechSolvers

(Download AnyList for iOS.)

15. Venmo

Category: Finance

One time, I was at a restaurant with a friend who had never heard of Venmo. When it came time to split the bill and she had no cash, she said, "I wish there was a way to text people money!" Well, that's in essence what Venmo does.

Venmo allows you to transfer money to friends quickly, easily, and securely. Simply connect your bank account to the app or transfer money into a Venmo account, and you will be able to send money back and forth with your friends with only a few clicks.

You may be thinking: Doesn't PayPal do that? Yes, you're right -- there are definitely other similar apps out there, but Venmo's popularity has grown because of how easy it is to use and how easy it is to keep track of your expenses on the main screen.

venmo-2

(Download Venmo for iOS or download Venmo for Android.)

P.S. -- Try out the HubSpot app on any Apple device or Android device to stay up to date with everything going on in your HubSpot account, from your social media accounts, to your analytics, to everything you need to know about your contacts and leads.

hubspot blogging assessment