33 Epic Instagram Captions That Will Break Your Like-Ometer

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/w-t5MrZyBBg/instagram-captions

The first step to getting a ton of Instagram likes is posting a great photo. But photo quality isn’t enough if you want to join the best of the best – you also need a killer caption. Great Instagram captions push your post over the top. They make your audience laugh, cry, and above all, identify with your photo. But more importantly, great Instagram captions help your account get found, so you can get more followers.

Instagram Captions

Still, crafting an engaging caption isn’t as easy as it looks. Not only is it easy to second guess yourself, but if you second guess yourself over and over again, it’s easy to lose confidence. And a lack of confidence can be enough to discourage posting altogether.

Our solution? Look at the funniest users on the platform, and study how they craft their Instagram captions. We pulled 33 captions from a handful of well-known Instagram users, and grouped them into four categories. Once internalized, you’ll be able to easily adapt these categories to your own content—and post witty and engaging Instagram captions at a moment’s notice!

Ready for 33 epic Instagram captions that will break your like-ometer? Let’s dive in!

Self-deprecating Instagram captions

One of the best ways to come up with a funny Instagram caption is to practice self-deprecation. People use self-deprecation to get away with posting pictures of themselves—i.e., it can’t be self-aggrandizing if you’re poking fun at yourself. As a method, it’s super easy—simply pick out a detail about yourself, small or large, and poke fun at it. The key is to not take yourself too seriously. Let’s start by looking at the king of not-taking-himself-too-seriously, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

1. The Rock gets head-y  

Instagram Captions Rock

Some people are self-conscious about their knees. Some people might hesitate before posting a gym picture of themselves wearing skin-tight leggings. If we asked The Rock, maybe he’d count himself a member of both those groups. We’ll never know—because by posting anyway, and making fun of himself before anyone else has a chance, he redirects our attention to the intended message of the post: The Rock is an inspirational badass.

2. The Rock stays silly

Instagram Captions Rock 2

Staying for a moment with the king of action thrillers and 4am workouts—“Sexy and effective” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you see the face The Rock is making here. You know what is sexy? Humor. Comfort in one’s own skin. Those are what make this Instagram caption a winner.

3. Johnny Football is a polarizing dude. And he knows it.

Instagram Captions Johnny

Football fans across the country know Johnny Manziel. Many of us feel personally slighted that he’s spoiled his God-given gifts and eschewed NFL stardom for a life of partying. What’s disarming about this caption? It shows that Johnny Manziel also knows Johnny Manziel. The guy can’t even post a #ComebackSZN photo in earnest these days for fear of getting cyber-eviscerated. So here he is, attempting to steer into the skid. We just hope he posted this from a gym, after working on his throwing motion.

4. Ryan Reynolds: humor suits him

Instagram Captions Ryan

Ryan Reynolds is a handsome man. I know it. You know it. The guy who pumps your gas knows it. He’s so handsome, in fact, that it’s almost rude, him throwing his handsomeness all up in our social feeds. How does Ryan Reynolds get away with posting his well-manicured mug on Instagram without drawing the ire of his followers? By reminding us that deep down, he’s just another normal dude with deep-seated sock insecurities. As you were, Ryan. 

5. Paul Bissonnette: bad at hockey, good at social media

Instagram Captions Paul

If you’re not a hockey gal or guy, here’s an analogy to describe Paul Bissonnette: Paul Bissonnette is to professional hockey as Cobra is to 80s cult action flicks—so bad, he/it will never fall out of favor. Bissonnette revels in his role as a washed-up, skill-less scrapper, and has accrued hundreds of thousands of social media followers as a result. Here, he endears himself to his audience by belittling the one skill that allowed him to play professionally in the first place—his ability to fight. The hashtag also shows great self-awareness. Yes, the post is about him. But he’s self-deprecating, so it’s cool.

6. Karlie Kloss: uber funny with the Instagram captions

Instagram Captions Karlie

Ok. So Karlie Kloss doesn’t go too hard on herself here. But who among us hasn’t been a little rideshare-challenged? She gets high marks for this one.

7. Lena Dunham: postal worker

Instagram Captions Lena

We can’t say for sure what an elderly postal worker looks like, but we can imagine it’s not good. Selfie justified.

8. Coco haggles his way into some likes

Instagram Captions Coco

As a late night host, Conan O’Brien has a talent for (playfully) making light of his guests achievements. We love him because he rarely lets himself off the hook, either. Here, a strange man tails him as he haggles his way into some solid social engagement.

9. Kat Dennings puts cups on her eyes

Instagram Captions Cups

You might know Kat Dennings as one half of 2 Broke Girls. You might not know her as girl who throws cups on her eyes to prolong hitting the treadmill. And truly: we’ve all spent an extra minute or two in the locker room to avoid hitting the weights. The best self-deprecating Instagram captions are the ones we can all identify with.

“Imagine what they would say” Instagram captions

On to our next category. If you’re an avid user of the platform, you probably see several of these Instagram captions per day. “Imagine what they would say” is a technique by which—you guessed it—you imagine what a subject of your post would say if they had the ability to. This technique works best with babies and animals, but can also be applied quite effectively to grown human males and females. Let’s check out some of the best Instagram has to offer.

10. Pup, inhibited by cone, gets caught in doggie door   

A post shared by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on Jan 26, 2018 at 5:06pm PST

“Sharon, please just put down the phone and help me.”

Why are animals effective subjects for “imagine what they would say” Instagram captions? Because animals are hilarious. Exhibit A: this beagle getting his head stuck in his doggie door. Without the caption, all we have is a beagle getting his head stuck in a doggie door—funny, but also kind of sad. With the caption, with have a beagle that’s probably a little embarrassed about getting his head stuck, and is demanding assistance. Definitely funnier, definitely less sad.

11. Golden has a nose for the ball  

A post shared by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on Feb 2, 2018 at 6:05am PST

Put me in coach, I got a nose for the ball!

Continuing the theme of pups struggling to navigate human technology: here we have a very good boy showing very lackluster ball skills. That doesn’t temper his enthusiasm, though—and the caption reflects that.

12. Baby as physical specimen  

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on Jan 29, 2018 at 1:16am PST

I love this footage with all my soul. Walking into the @ufcpi in Las Vegas with my son Conor Jr. in hand. Look at his neck and back muscles and his total body control. I’ve watched this too many times. He is a specimen.

Conor McGregor is notorious for his bravado. It’s helped him earn deals, win fans, and probably, win fights. Is ascribing your very young son that same machismo a humorous social media tactic? For this writer, yes, very much so.

13. Armen Paul gets pensive

Instagram Captions Armen

Part-time comedian, full-time rising musician Armen Paul is always good for an online chuckle or two. This rarely-seen-but-effective tactic sees him substitute commentary for stream-of-consciousness monologue. Can’t think of anything funny to say about a solo shot of yourself? Simply select any one of the outrageous thoughts that occur to you throughout the day.

14. Doggo does a thing

Instagram Captions Doggo

There’s a new dialect emerging on the internet. Some find it incredibly annoying; some live by it.

Instagram Captions Bork

If you can stomach it, Doggo™ is quickly becoming an Instagram like machine. And don’t feel bad about using your pet for social validation. We all do it.

15. Doggo says “thamk you”  

A post shared by John Trulli (@doggosdoingthings) on Feb 3, 2018 at 12:32pm PST

Given that Doggo is not the easiest dialect to master, we figured we’d give you another chance to see it in action. We saw this video spread to multiple accounts and news feeds, and get mounds of engagement along the way. If you can somehow situate your pet in a majestic wildlife predicament, and set the scene with a psychedelic keyboard number, get ready to see even more likes roll in.

16. Evil cat

Instagram Captions Cat

It’s easy to play on the over-zealous and occasionally dim-witted demeanor of dogs for the sake of a good Instagram caption; but it might be even easier to play on the demeanor of cats. Evil cat—conniving cat, jerk cat, what have you—is always good for a laugh when you’re posting a picture of your fuzzy calculating one. Just look at that face. That is an animal that will maul you in your sleep, then all but ruin the chiffarobe.

17. #DogSelfie

Instagram Captions Doggo 2

This is less an “imagine what they would say” than a “imagine what they would do,” but the premise remains the same. You probably know Allison Williams from Get Out and Girls. You probably didn’t know that her pup rarely misses an opportunity to hack her phone with a #DogSelfie. If you have a dog or a cat, the faux-selfie is a guaranteed crowd favorite.

Wordplay Instagram captions

We’ve come to the category that’s my personal favorite—wordplay. Not only is wordplay funny, and not only is it obvious, but often, the more obvious it is, the funnier it is. So if you’re apprehensive about sounding lame—don’t worry. In the world of wordplay, it’s better to be lame than not.

Let’s check out some examples of great wordplay Instagram captions.

18. Minne-snow-ta

Instagram Captions Pats

The New England Patriots were hard luck losers in the Super Bowl, but I think we can all agree they go home winners with this Instagram caption. “Minne-snow-ta” sounds like the punchline of the joke your Dad told at Thanksgiving. It’s so bad, it’s good.

Good on ya, New England. If only we’d seen this kind of execution on defense.

19. Bored of your job? Anastasia Ashley isn’t.

Instagram Captions Bored

We didn’t know Anastasia Ashley had this #fire ad copy in her! Ashley is a pro-surfer-turned-social-influencer who uses her clout to help companies like FreeConferenceCall build brand awareness. This awfully punny bit of wordplay was enough to earn a spot on our list.

20. Armen Paul likes turtles

Instagram Captions Turtles

If you were asleep in 2007, and missed the I Like Turtles Kid, do yourself a favor and click the link. As far as this post is concerned: it takes not only musical chops to make it in the music business today, but a stellar social media presence. Armen Paul knows that all too well. Wordplay like this has allowed him to gradually amass a solid Instagram following. Slow and steady wins the race.

21. Godzingis, #Shaqtin a fool  

A post shared by DR. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on Jan 27, 2018 at 5:14pm PST


You’re forgiven if you’re not a sports fan and didn’t understand most of the words you just read. “Godzingis” is the nickname of Kristaps Porzingis, the 7’ 1” Latvian savior of the New York Knicks franchise. #Shaqtin is the social media hashtag Shaquille O’Neal uses to call out people for doing silly, clumsy, or idiotic things—i.e., Shaqtin’ a fool. That’s right. Wordplay has the power to change one’s own name into a social media movement. (Doesn’t hurt being Shaquille O’Neal either.)

22. When bay leaves

Instagram Captions Bay Leaves

Looking for silly wordplay captions? Look no further than Tilda Lindstam. Tilda is a 24-year old Swedish model who gets damn creative with her Instagram captions. For the social media lay person, “bae” is another word for “love interest.” Nobody likes when bae leaves. (Definitely throw a couple bay leaves in your jambalaya too, though.)

23. BaeGoals

Instagram Captions Bae

Not too much to say here. Fit a popular two-word meme into a food item and you’re at the top of your game.

24. Karlie Kloss, biologist model

Instagram Captions Kloss 2

Ms. Kloss’ name is spattered all over this list—but it’s not for her tree-identifying abilities. If you really scrutinize this picture, you’ll notice that in it, there are in fact no spruce trees. Still, you have to appreciate the range. Karlie made this list for self-deprecation and wordplay. That’s a diverse caption portfolio, people.

“Call out a friend” Instagram Captions

Our final category is “call out a friend” Instagram captions. This method is best practiced by making a playful joke about a friend in your photograph; but as you’ll presently see, there are a few different ways to go about it. Let’s dive in!

25. Chris Pratt gets wedged

Instagram Captions Wedged

This caption is pretty indicative of Chris Pratt’s brand of humor—ridiculous to the point of defying a category. We figured we’d throw this one in “call out a friend” because, hey, the description bears a striking resemblance to James Franco’s 24 Hours. But truly, what makes this caption effective is that it turns the subject from a guy who earnestly looks off into the distance into a guy who earnestly looks off into the distance but has a sense of humor about it. If you’re ever looking for caption inspiration, Pratt’s Instagram is a good place to start.

26. Sarah Silverman says a not nice thing

Instagram Captions Sarah

As far as pointed jokes go, Sarah Silverman has certainly done better. Still, if you’re looking for a formula for how to call out a friend in an Instagram caption, you can do worse than this. Mention friend in post. Say not nice thing about said friend. Friend experiences embarrassment. Post experiences engagement.

27. You are…not the father

Instagram Captions Chrissy

Who’s safe from Chrissy Teigen’s diabolical captions? No one. Not even her husband, John Legend. The “he’s not the father” is a favorite among celebrities—you might have seen Blake Lively’s dig at Ryan Reynolds—and why not? Those guys get some pretty big egos. A little cage-rattle every now and again is totally healthy.

28. The “ageless” Hugh Jackman

Instagram Captions Hugh

Speaking of Ryan Reynolds—the guy just keeps bringing the Instagram caption heat. To wish Hugh Jackman a happy birthday, he paid homage to time Jackman weighed 130 pounds, lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the projects, and smoked $2 cigars. We’re sure Hugh appreciated the sincerity.

29.  Patton Oswalt and his runaway

Instagram Captions Patton

Pictured in this post is Patton Oswalt’s wife, Meredith Salenger. A talented actress in her own right, Meredith is decidedly not 14. Still, for her age (47), she has a youthful complexion. This caption is a good example of the fact that you don’t have to be totally facetious in your call out. You can be complimentary as well (even if that compliment is shrouded in sarcasm).

30. Chelsea Handler calls out unwillingly photobombing man

Instagram Captions Chelsea

There is an Instagram account out there devoted to men who have been forced to go shopping with their wives and girlfriends. We think there should be another devoted to men forced to take or be in pictures. Either there was a riveting game on, and this guy was too intrigued to notice Chelsea Handler’s picture, or he simply didn’t have the energy for a proper photobomb, and decided to feign interest in a faux-game to avoid having to get up. Whatever the case, he adds a funny element to the post, and good on Chelsea for having the wherewithal to call him out.

31. Ryan Reynolds wishes his mom a happy Mother’s Day

Instagram Captions Ryan 2

You can’t keep this guy off this list! Reynolds comes back here with a dynamite Mother’s Day Instagram caption. Like Chris Pratt’s earlier post, the humor here sort of defies a genre. Is it absurdist? Mother-ist? Difficult to say. What we can say for sure: it’s eminently like-able.

32. Swardson & Spade: big budget film guys

Instagram Captions Bench

There’s definitely a tragic sort of bravery in Benchwarmers, but we can safely say it’s of a different breed than that shown in Braveheart. We love this Instagram caption from Nick Swardson because it’s self-aware. Also, because he calls out himself as well as a friend. He’s not a big budget dramatic actor. Nor is David Spade. Thus, Swardson gives us the best of both worlds—the friend call-out, as well as self-deprecation.  

33. Spaghetti Western Ted Cruz  

A post shared by Patton Oswalt (@balvenieboy) on Mar 27, 2016 at 7:00pm PDT

Still love Ted Cruz’s work in FISTFUL OF DOLLARS.

Patton Oswalt takes a break from his wife in this post to focus on his other love interest: bashing the GOP. This is a variation on the “call out” method we’ll call, “call out your enemy.” No, that is not in fact Ted Cruz at the end of this clip. But it’s really, really funny to imagine that it is.  

Closing Thoughts

In this post, we’ve outlined four different ways to approach Instagram captions on your next Instagram post. Internalize these categories, adapt them to fit your own life, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Instagram caption pro. Most important of all, don’t think too much about it. Take a page out of Spaghetti Western Ted Cruz’s book: fire from the hip!

Twitter Engagement: How to Connect With People on Twitter

Originally published on: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/twitter-engagement-how-to-connect-with-people-on-twitter-andrew-and-pete/

Wondering how to increase your reach on Twitter? Want tips for building your audience and boosting engagement? To explore the Twitter algorithm and creative ways to interact with others on Twitter, I interview Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social […]

This post Twitter Engagement: How to Connect With People on Twitter first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

How to Drive Meaningful Interactions in Facebook Groups

Originally published on: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-drive-meaningful-interactions-in-facebook-groups/

Are you struggling to get visibility on Facebook? Wondering how a Facebook group could help? In this article, you’ll learn how to use a Facebook group to foster engagement and drive the meaningful interactions favored by Facebook’s news feed algorithm. Why Revisit Facebook Groups for Business? Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg outlined the changes to […]

This post How to Drive Meaningful Interactions in Facebook Groups first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

New AdWords Remarketing Features in WordStream Advisor Are Here!

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/lfVTHocXIss/remarketing-features

Hi there, my name is Rachael. As part of the Product Marketing team of two here at WordStream, I am happy to share my first post to this blog with you! Sharing ways we are enhancing your online advertising experience is what I’m here for, so in the future you can expect to read more product updates like this from me. Now onto the latest and greatest in product news…

Our customers rely on our software to manage all their online advertising campaigns, while providing them with a seamless and streamlined workflow to put time back in their day and save them money along the way.

To add to the cross-platform capabilities Advisor already supports, search (for AdWords and Bing) and social (Facebook and Instagram), we are happy to announce NEW capabilities to support remarketing with AdWords.

With the power of remarketing in AdWords, WordStream Advisor users can now stay connected with their target audience, beyond direct website interaction and emails. Plus, remarketing ads have much higher engagement (both click-through rates and conversion rates) than typical display ads – bonus!

So how exactly does WordStream help? Let’s break that down…

WordStream Supported Display Campaign Types

The intuitive workflow of the Advisor platform enables you to easily create and manage AdWords remarketing campaigns with a simple step-by-step process to cut out the clutter and target the audiences you want to reach. Now in Advisor, you can create Display campaigns with existing remarketing lists to target website visitors, customer email lists, and “similar to” lists.

wordstream advisor remarketing

By creating display remarketing campaigns, you are able to show enticing visual ads to your recent website visitors or customer lists even as they browse other parts of the web, thus gaining brand exposure, raising trust, and becoming more recognizable to your target audience.

And if that doesn’t get you excited to jump on the display remarketing wagon, these types of campaigns can dramatically increase your conversion rates and ROI, since past site visitors who are already familiar with your brand are much more likely to become customers or complete other valuable actions on your site.

Smart Ads for Responsive Display Ad Creation

Building creative assets for use on the Google Display Network is complicated, time-consuming and – if you opt to hire someone – expensive! But now, you can become your own creative manager without opening a design application or hiring out.

By combining machine-learning with your website and Facebook business pages, Advisor’s Smart Ads suite automatically turns your existing images into agency-caliber creative to produce appealing and attractive responsive display ads.

wordstream smart ads for display ad creation

With the functionality to pre-populate and auto-crop images from your website or Facebook Business page, you no longer need to create specific ads for all display sizes. All your existing creative is at your fingertips to pick and choose from to create ads you can be proud of.

Centralized Place for your Targeting Efforts

With cross-platform capabilities, Advisor allows you to manage all your advertising campaigns in one place for quick access and a comprehensive view of your online advertising efforts.

This means that you can edit your AdWords remarketing targeting and exclusion lists on one page, and within two clicks, change the age range for a Facebook remarketing campaign. Or, you can see where all your spend is going per platform and adjust your budget between AdWords, Facebook and Bing, to get the most out of your advertising dollars.

wordstream remarketing cross platform capabilities

Between the Performance Dashboard which offers an overall view of your spend, conversions, CPA, clicks, and CPC per platform, and the customizable, auto-generated Cross-Platform Success Reports, you are sure not to miss a metric or key insight for all of your accounts.

Getting Started with the New Remarketing Features

WordStream customers: Make sure you’ve added the AdWords remarketing pixel to your website so that visitors can get added to your AdWords remarketing audiences through browser cookies, then simply log-in to Advisor to get started!

While in the “Manage” section, you can access the “Campaigns” Tab to create and manage new Display Campaigns, or review your current targeting efforts in the new “Targeting” tab.

new wordstream remarketing features

Not using Advisor yet? Start a free trial and take these AdWords remarketing features for a test drive.

More to Come

Check back often as we will continue to enhance our AdWords remarketing and Display Network capabilities in the coming months. In the meantime…

Whether you are trying to decide if display remarketing is right for you or looking for a single software solution to help you manage all your online advertising needs, the WordStream experts are here to help. We LIKE giving demos! Contact us here to set one up.

Do you have product ideas and feedback? Send them to ProductFeedback@wordstream.com!

Google Releases AMP Stories: What Are They All About?

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/j07qClQFSJQ/amp-stories

A massive tech company developing a new, interactive way to shove wads of content into our eyeholes: What a novel idea!

google amp logo 

Announced in a Developers blog post released on Tuesday, AMP Stories are a “mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories.” While this might sound a lot like something Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook has already done, it has one distinct advantage over its predecessors: it’s backed by the world’s most-used search engine.

Let’s dig into AMP Stories in a bit more detail (and discuss whether you should consider using them).

But first…

AMP: A Beginner’s Guide

AMP stands for “Accelerated Mobile Pages.” It’s a Google-led initiative that exists for one reason: to create really fast, really pretty experiences for users on mobile devices. And it’s been popping up a lot lately.

Initially, AMP pages were stripped down versions of the blog posts and news articles most of us tend to read on the go; as their adoption has become more widespread, so too has the platform’s innovation. From new image size requirements to a Gmail application, Google’s push towards creating a rich mobile experience that’s less taxing on software, hardware, and the human eye is clear. 

google amp gmail application 

There’s even AMP crossover into the world of online advertising!

The search titan unleashed AMP landing pages for AdWords last year (haven’t seen too many people use them, though), a neat little innovation that can make a serious dent in page load time. The rate at which your landing page loads can have a drastic impact on Quality Score, so any leg up advertisers can get in terms of quickening load times (particularly on mobile devices) should be welcomed with open arms.

And earlier this week, Google announced that AMP’s ecommerce application has led to millions of dollars in additional sales and 20% increases in conversion rates for some businesses. In response to this success, Google continues to provide new, innovative AMP features, including an interactive calendar (for scheduling) and enhanced integrations with a handful of payment processing companies: both of these features, though wholly unsexy, strip frustrations and limitations out of the mobile browsing experience.

 amp ecommerce application

So basically, AMP is neat.

Stories represent its most creative application to date.

With that…

So What Are AMP Stories, Anyway?

At the most fundamental level, AMP Stories are an engagement play.

What exactly does that mean?

Let’s say you’re sitting on the T, staring absently into the grey abyss of Boston in mid-February. You suddenly decide that the only thing that could possibly pull you from the doldrums of winter is the opportunity to learn more about the impending royal nuptials. You search “Harry and Meghan Wedding” on your phone and begin flitting through walls of text. Eh. You try to load a video, but there’s a tunnel in sight and you don’t want to run the risk of losing service in the middle of some rousing tour of prospective crystal stemware.


Now, what if instead, when you searched for “Harry and Meghan Wedding” on your phone on the train, you were served this. Behold!

amp story in action 

This, my friend, is an AMP Story, a “new, creative and visually rich way of storytelling.” It’s a way for publishers to grab and hold the attention of readers. In a world where we’re all swimming in content, this level of engagement–particularly on mobile devices–is invaluable. Better still, though, is the fact these gorgeous nuggets of whirring images and copy stick to the AMP ethos: they’re fast as hell.

They also have a user-friendly interface that makes testing the platform relatively easy (even for those of us who don’t know a thing about JavaScript). This was done on purpose. Per Google, “AMP stories aim to make the production of stories as easy as possible from a technical perspective. The format comes with preset but flexible layout templates, standardized UI controls, and components for sharing and adding follow-on content.” 

 examples of amp stories produced by media companies

That being said, despite the templated interface, Stories give content creators the ability to fold in as much creativity as they can muster.

Right now, AMP Stories are being used by huge media outlets like Conde Nast and The Washington Post. You can check out some examples of their content here, provided you’re reading this on your phone.

Should You Start Using AMP Stories?


AMP Stories are really neat. While that might not be enough incentive to invest time and energy into creating one of your own, it should certainly encourage some of you to experiment with the format. Unfortunately, I see them going the way of Facebook’s Canvas ads or the story features on, well, all social platforms: really cool, but not worth the sweat equity associated with its creation unless your SMB’s rocking one hell of an art department.

 amp story creation tutorial

That being said, Google has made AMP stories pretty easy to create; while you might not be able to make something as neat and shiny as the stuff CNN and Vox are cookin’ up, you can still craft an engaging, multi-page story that serves up bite-sized kernels of content, giving your prospects and most rabid fans a better mobile experience.

If content marketing is a cornerstone of your business and you’re looking to make a splash by doing something a little different, you can learn how to create an AMP Story of your own using this tutorial.

12 Ways to Get More Subscribers on YouTube

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/iBD2Yo5HVpc/how-to-get-subscribers-on-youtube

Did you know that 1 billion hours of YouTube are watched by users per day? That’s equivalent to 8.4 minutes per day per human!

With its widespread popularity, it’s hard for marketers to ignore the video marketing channel. But with such high popularity comes high competition. The channel is crowded with an endless library of video content, so how can you stand out?

how to get more youtube subscribers

We’ve all caught ourselves binge watching hours upon hours of cat videos. There is nothing to be ashamed of! The question is, how can marketers steal attention away from these famous cats to get more eyes on their own YouTube channels? This is just what this article aims to provide for you – because if you’ve spent the time to invest in video then not only do you want a return, you need a return!

It’s time to grow your channel’s subscribers through some strategic work. Here are 12 tips to grow your YouTube subscribers, fast!

#1: Clean Up Your YouTube Channel

Before we get into the good stuff, it is important to do some housekeeping. While you may think everything your business does is flawless, you are not Beyoncé, so your audience might not think so… I know, I know, it’s hard to swallow, but it’s important to step away from your self and into the shoes of an outsider from time to time.

increase youtube subscribers

Taking a hard look at your YouTube channel and revaluating what is on there will likely lead to the realization that a chunk of old content should be deleted – whether it is outdated, poorly produced, or just a flop of a video that should have never made it up there in the first place. If you have something of this nature tied to your brand, it’s going to immediately turn that lead off, and cause them to lose trust in your brand. Delete it and never look back!

This brings me to my next tip…

#2: Only Create and Post Highly Watchable Content

Yes, I know this tip might seem obvious, but YouTube is full of clutter, so it’s easy to feel like you can get away with posting sub-par content. Well, you can’t! The only way to really stand out from the pack and grow your subscriber base it to create the best of the best content in your space.

The key to accomplishing this is planning during pre-production. Here are a few ways you can do this better then your competition:

Do Your Research

Watch your competitors’ videos, as well as videos in industries outside of yours, and jot down notes of the most intriguing parts. Rather then copying what your competition is doing, find a more creative way to do it better. For example, if I was in the gum business (or any other business for that matter) I’d probably take a tip or two from my all time favorite YouTube commercial, The Story of Sarah and Juan. Check it out, and just try and tell me this didn’t make you cry.

It is pretty obvious what is so wonderful about this commercial: the ability it has to elicit powerful emotions. How could your company do this?

Script ahead

You might think you can wing it on screen. Well, you can – but you shouldn’t. You need to plan out your script, do a table read, re-write it, table read, and re-write it again. This process improves your script to make it take on the story you’re trying to convey in the most powerful way. Businesses often underutilize the power of scripting, but mastering this art can take your videos to an entirely new level.

If you’re new to video scripting, check out this guide from Wistia!

Purchase the right equipment for an in-house studio

What is the “right” equipment? And can you afford it? This answer to the latter question is yes! Shockingly enough, the camera isn’t your most important piece of equipment. Why? Well, nowadays the camera on your iPhone is close in quality to a much more expensive alternative.

If you are shooting in-house, the most important equipment to have is a simple background, studio lights, and a tripod. Yes, there are a few other things you might need depending on the video, like props and audio equipment, but nailing down some of the basics and creating a solid in-office studio will lead to better video creation.

setting up a video studio

Wistia comes to our aid again with this awesome DIY Studio Set-up Guide. Also check out our own guide to creating a video culture at your company.

Make the first 10 seconds of your video the most memorable

Did you know that a whopping 20 percent of viewers drop off within the first 10 seconds of your video? This is why you need to make the most of the most first few seconds.

To make an awesome first impression, don’t start your video with a bland introduction, but rather with the most climactic part of your video. If you start with a bang viewers aren’t going to want to leave.

#3: Execute Top-Notch Channel Trailers

YouTube has this beautiful feature for marketers looking to grow their subscription base, called channel trailers. These are just as they sound, short trailers that automatically play when a visitor arrives on your YouTube channel page.

This is the perfect opportunity to build your subscription base, if, and only if, you create insanely compelling content.

These trailers need to be short (30-60 seconds), compelling, and most importantly they need to give your visitors a reason to stay. Do they need to be hilarious, beautiful, and emotionally charged? It will definitely help! What I really can’t stress enough is the need for an impactful call-to-action that gives the viewer a reason to subscribe.

Check out this awesome example from SoulPancake. Not only is the trailer the perfect length, it provokes motivational emotions, comedy, and ends with a very creative call-to-action.

youtube channel trailer tips

#4: Make Sure Your Videos Are Under 5 Minutes

So, your videos are all 30-60 minutes because your digital engineering software is complicated to explain? Or perhaps you’re in the law industry and believe the only way to instill trust is to include long video testimonials on your channel?

While testimonials are great, long videos and YouTube do not go well together! Regardless of how complicated the product you’re marketing is, your videos should never exceed 5 minutes.

Why? Well, science. Study after study proves that online video viewers have a short attention span. I mean, did you forget earlier when I told you how 20 percent of viewers drop off within the first 10 seconds? In fact, HubSpot has found that the ideal length for videos on YouTube is a nice and concise 2 minutes. So re-edit those long webinars, and turn them into short, snappy clips.

best length for youtube videos

If you feel like you can’t cut down your content, the tip below will definitely come in handy!

#5: Turn a Set of Videos into a Binge-Worthy Playlist

Do you have a set of videos that go together? Perhaps you do a recurring weekly educational series, or you have a set of webinars around the same theme?

Whatever it is, you should make that grouping into a YouTube playlist. This will allow your viewers to continue watching without having to manually search for and click into the next video.

Why is this good for subscription growth? Well, it will keep people on your channel longer, and show them that you have a plethora of quality content. This will also keep your video content highly organized so your channel doesn’t become a cluttered mess that turns users away.

BuzzFeed Tasty does an awesome job at this. Check out their YouTube playlist page, which is grouped by different categories like, “Dinner,” “Vegetarian,” and my personal favorite because I despise dishes, “One-Pot Recipes.”

using playlists to grow youtube subscriber base

#6: Add Powerful CTA’s Into Your Videos

All good marketers know how to create powerful calls-to-action, or CTA’s. So why not use these skills of yours to give users a reason to return to your channel through a subscribe-able call-to-action?

How does this work exactly? If the idea of inserting a CTA into a video sounds complicated, and possibly above your technical capabilities, I’ve got good news: It’s not! YouTube has made this easy by allowing marketers to add end screens and cards into their videos. Let me break down these two options a bit further:

End Screens: An end screen is just what it sounds like, a screen where a call-to-action will appear are the end of your video. Whether you want to encourage viewers to subscribe, point them to the next video, or even promote your website or crowdfunding campaign, you can do all of these things with end cards. End screens allow you to chose from four different elements depending on your goal.

adding youtube end screens

You can even have multiple elements per end-screen (like in the image below). End cards can appear during the last 5-20 seconds of your video, which must be at least 25 seconds long.  Check out this link to learn more about end screens.

youtube end screen example

Cards: If end screens aren’t your thing, check out YouTube cards! These babies allow you to add more interactivity during your video, whether it’s pointing viewers to a specific URL, showing a video or playlist, promoting your channel, or even polling your audience.

youtube cards to increase subscribers

Here’s an example of what a card looks like in action:

example of youtube cards

The only thing to keep in mind with cards is that users do need to press the little “I” icon at the right corner of the video to make the card appear. Check out this link to learn more about YouTube cards.

#7: Create Custom Human Thumbnails

Let’s face it, the reason we’re warned not to judge a book by its cover is because we do it all the time. Your video thumbnail is essentially the cover of your video, so you need it to be absolutely beyond engaging. In fact, I’d argue that the video thumbnail is the most critical item determining whether or not a visitor is going to play or not play your video.

The greatest way to ensure people play your video is by using an image of a smiling human making direct eye-contact as the thumbnail for your video. Why? People relate to other people. Another hot tip to take your thumbnail to the next level – throw a smile on it!

smiling video thumbnail example

“Smiling is the outward manifestation of happiness and serves to begin to connect us to others,” says Dr. Adrian Furnham, an organizational and applied psychologist.

#8: Post Often and Consistently

Yes, I understand this might be hard to fathom at first. Not every marketing team has a full-time videographer to be grinding out content after all.

Luckily, if you followed my advice in Tip #2 about building an in-house studio, scripting and creating well-done videos can easily become part of your weekly workflow. Consistency is key, because subscribers are not going to stay subscribed if you never update your channel or if you update 4 times in one week and then take a month-long hiatus.

If you’re at all into SEO, you have likely heard of Moz. Moz does a great series called Whiteboard Fridays, with a weekly video that breaks down some SEO concept on a crisp whiteboard.

whiteboard friday videos

Not only are these videos super-engaging and well produced, but they’re CONSISTENT. They are called Whiteboard Fridaysfor a reason. If you can nail down a re-occurring series like this, you’ll be golden for providing your subscribers consistent video content, leading you not only to keep current subscribers, but also attract new subscribers and increase video engagement.

#9: Invest in YouTube Advertising

The time has come to take your wallet out. You didn’t think all of these tips would be free of charge, did you?

Take a deep breath, I’m not asking you to shell out too much cash, but putting some budget behind promoting your YouTube channel is a pretty full-proof way of increasing your subscription base. The internet is a crowded space, and money talks, so it’s important to invest some of your marketing budget behind your channel.

YouTube makes advertising your channel very customizable with a variety of ad formats, including:

Display ads Overlay ads Skippable and non-skippable video ads Bumper ads Sponsored cards

Similar to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube also allows for video targeting based on interest, demographics, and/or in-market audiences.

promoting videos on youtube

If you’re new to the YouTube advertising world, check out this post for some additional tips.

#10: Promote your Channel to Relevant Online Communities

Whether it be a Twitter chat, LinkedIn group, Reddit, or another popular online community in your industry, you should be actively engaging in these worlds and spreading your video content when relevant.

Let’s say you work for an accounting firm and are participating in a conversation where people seem to be struggling with their taxes. This is the perfect time to share your helpful video to introduce your services that some of these tax payers may even take you up on.

#11: Incentivize People to Subscribe to Your Channel

All the parents out there understand the power of bribery. “If you eat your vegetables, I’ll let you watch the iPad for 10 minutes before bed.” These are words that I’ve heard my sister say to her boys time and time again.

The funny this is, bribery is not something that we grow out of. In fact, it works exceedingly well on adults because it’s human nature to love free things. So, yes, you should bribe people to subscribe to your YouTube channel. I know it might sound ridiculous, but it actually works!

get more subscribers on youtube

Here are two ways to incentivize people to subscribe:

Run a cross-channel contest: This is one of the oldest marketing bribery tricks in the book, but it works wonders if done well. For instance, let’s say you run a bowling alley in town. Create a contest where you promote your business on Facebook and Instagram, where the guidelines of winning a free night of food and bowling include liking your Instagram post, commenting, and subscribing to your YouTube channel. Inform contestants that the YouTube channel’s link is in your Instagram bio (#linkinbio) so they can easily navigate there and subscribe to your videos. And voila! Your YouTube subscription base has grown overnight. Encourage viewers to subscribe for additional benefits in your videos: Another easy way to grow subscribers is by working the viewers that have already landed on one of your YouTube videos. Clearly they are already interested in your brand on some level, so why not use this opportunity to get them to subscribe? Do a subscriber-only giveaway: Announce in the video that if they subscribe they’ll be sent a free e-book or be given a free month-long trial of your software. Of course you’ll need to deliver on those promises, but this is a great way to get more subscribers in the door. #12: Optimize Your YouTube Channel for Search

Last, but definitely not least, make sure your YouTube videos are optimized to rank in search engine results and in the results that show up when people search within YouTube itself.

how to optimize youtube videos

SEO for YouTube videos can get a bit technically involved, but there are some very easy wins you can do to get your videos in good SEO shape. A few of these best practices include:

Create Searchable Titles: Try to align your video with a popular keyword, and make sure to use the keyword you’re targeting in your video title (you can use AdWords or our Free Keyword Tool to pinpoint some good keywords people are searching for). Also, make sure your title isn’t too long; I’d recommend keeping it around 50 characters max. Add a Transcript to Every Video: Video transcripts are a great way to make your videos more accessible to a larger audience, and they also help with SEO! Transcripts essentially act as page copy, giving your video more indexable text so you can rank for more queries. Optimize Your Video Descriptions: Don’t just jam-pack this field with keywords, rather make it an engaging and well-written description of what the video is about, and do use your most critical keywords. Don’t Forget About Meta Tags: Meta tags are another way to get your keywords into your video, and make it more searchable. I’d recommend searching for popular videos in your space and seeing what meta tags they use. Again, make sure to not overdo it with the keywords here; just focus on the words that are most critical.

Ready for a lot more YouTube subscribers? Then get to work and make it happen!

To sum up…

Here are the best ways to get subscribers on YouTube: Delete any old, low-quality videos from your channel Write a great script, use the right equipment, and keep your videos short for maximum engagement Create a super-engaging channel trailer Edit videos to 5 minutes or under, with an attention-grabbing first 10 seconds String shorter videos together into a binge-able playlist Add CTA’s like end screens and cards into your YouTube videos Create a custom thumbnail, preferably featuring a smiling face Post new videos on a consistent schedule Promote your videos with YouTube advertising Promote your videos on other social channels and communities Incentivize people to subscribe with contests and giveaways Use SEO techniques to optimize your video for search

How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Costs and Get Better Results

Originally published on: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-lower-facebook-ad-costs-get-better-results/

Need to lower the cost of your ads on Facebook? Wondering if increasing your post engagement can help? Building engagement on your posts sends positive signals to the Facebook algorithm, which can boost your reach, increase the size of your warm audience, and ultimately lower your advertising costs. In this article, you’ll discover three tips […]

This post How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Costs and Get Better Results first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Diagnosing Why a Site’s Set of Pages May Be Ranking Poorly – Whiteboard Friday

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/FBR1-EJ7a5M/why-pages-rank-poorly

Posted by randfish

Your rankings have dropped and you don’t know why. Maybe your traffic dropped as well, or maybe just a section of your site has lost rankings. It’s an important and often complex mystery to solve, and there are a number of boxes to check off while you investigate. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares a detailed process to follow to diagnose what went wrong to cause your rankings drop, why it happened, and how to start the recovery process.

Diagnosing why a site's pages may be ranking poorly

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to talk about diagnosing a site and specifically a section of a site’s pages and why they might be performing poorly, why their traffic may have dropped, why rankings may have dropped, why both of them might have dropped. So we’ve got a fairly extensive process here, so let’s get started.

Step 1: Uncover the problem

First off, our first step is uncovering the problem or finding whether there is actually a problem. A good way to think about this is especially if you have a larger website, if we’re talking about a site that’s 20 or 30 or even a couple hundred pages, this is not a big issue. But many websites that SEOs are working on these days are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of pages. So what I like to urge folks to do is to

A. Treat different site sections as unique segments for investigation. You should look at them individually.

A lot of times subfolders or URL structures are really helpful here. So I might say, okay, MySite.com, I’m going to look exclusively at the /news section. Did that fall in rankings? Did it fall in traffic? Or was it /posts, where my blog posts and my content is? Or was it /cities? Let’s say I have a website that’s dealing with data about the population of cities. So I rank for lots of those types of queries, and it seems like I’m ranking for fewer of them, and it’s my cities pages that are poorly performing in comparison to where they were a few months ago or last year at this time.

B. Check traffic from search over time.

So I go to my Google Analytics or whatever analytics you’re using, and you might see something like, okay, I’m going to look exclusively at the /cities section. If you can structure your URLs in this fashion, use subfolders, this is a great way to do it. Then take a look and see, oh, hang on, that’s a big traffic drop. We fell off a cliff there for these particular pages.

This data can be hiding inside your analytics because it could be that the rest of your site is performing well. It’s going sort of up and to the right, and so you see this slow plateauing or a little bit of a decline, but it’s not nearly as sharp as it is if you look at the traffic specifically for a single subsection that might be performing poorly, like this /cities section.

From there, I’m going to next urge you to use Google Trends. Why? Why would I go to Google Trends? Because what I want you to do is I want you to look at some of your big keywords and topics in Google Trends to see if there has been a serious decline in search volume at the same time. If search demand is rising or staying stable over the course of time where you have lost traffic, it’s almost certainly something you’ve done, not something searchers are doing. But if you see that traffic has declined, for example, maybe you were ranking really well for population data from 2015. It turns out people are now looking for population data for 2016 or ’17 or ’18. Maybe that is part of the problem, that search demand has fallen and your curve matches that.

C. Perform some diagnostic queries or use your rank tracking data if you have it on these types of things.

This is one of the reasons I like to rank track for even these types of queries that don’t get a lot of traffic.

1. Target keywords. In this case, it might be “Denver population growth,” maybe that’s one of your keywords. You would see, “Do I still rank for this? How well do I rank for this? Am I ranking more poorly than I used to?”

2. Check brand name plus target keyword. So, in this case, it would be my site plus the above here plus “Denver population growth,” so My Site or MySite.com Denver population growth. If you’re not ranking for that, that’s usually an indication of a more serious problem, potentially a penalty or some type of dampening that’s happening around your brand name or around your website.

3. Look for a 10 to 20-word text string from page content without quotes. It could be shorter. It could be only six or seven words, or it could be longer, 25 words if you really need it. But essentially, I want to take a string of text that exists on the page and put it in order in Google search engine, not in quotes. I do not want to use quotes here, and I want to see how it performs. This might be several lines of text here.

4. Look for a 10 to 20-word text string with quotes. So those lines of text, but in quotes searched in Google. If I’m not ranking for this, but I am for this one … sorry, if I’m not ranking for the one not in quotes, but I am in quotes, I might surmise this is probably not duplicate content. It’s probably something to do with my content quality or maybe my link profile or Google has penalized or dampened me in some way.

5. site: urlstring/ So I would search for “site:MySite.com/cities/Denver.” I would see: Wait, has Google actually indexed my page? When did they index it? Oh, it’s been a month. I wonder why they haven’t come back. Maybe there’s some sort of crawl issue, robots.txt issue, meta robots issue, something. I’m preventing Google from potentially getting there. Or maybe they can’t get there at all, and this results in zero results. That means Google hasn’t even indexed the page. Now we have another type of problem.

D. Check your tools.

1. Google Search Console. I would start there, especially in the site issues section.

2. Check your rank tracker or whatever tool you’re using, whether that’s Moz or something else.

3. On-page and crawl monitoring. Hopefully you have something like that. It could be through Screaming Frog. Maybe you’ve run some crawls over time, or maybe you have a tracking system in place. Moz has a crawl system. OnPage.org has a really good one.

4. Site uptime. So I might check Pingdom or other things that alert me to, “Oh, wait a minute, my site was down for a few days last week. That obviously is why traffic has fallen,” those types of things.

Step 2: Offer hypothesis for falling rankings/traffic

Okay, you’ve done your diagnostics. Now it’s time to offer some hypotheses. So now that we understand which problem I might have, I want to understand what could be resulting in that problem. So there are basically two situations you can have. Rankings have stayed stable or gone up, but traffic has fallen.

A. If rankings are up, but traffic is down…

In those cases, these are the five things that are most typically to blame.

1. New SERP features. There’s a bunch of featured snippets that have entered the population growth for cities search results, and so now number one is not what number one used to be. If you don’t get that featured snippet, you’re losing out to one of your competitors.

2. Lower search demand. Like we talked about in Google Trends. I’m looking at search demand, and there are just not as many people searching as there used to be.

3. Brand or reputation issues. I’m ranking just fine, but people now for some reason hate me. People who are searching this sector think my brand is evil or bad or just not as helpful as it used to be. So I have issues, and people are not clicking on my results. They’re choosing someone else actively because of reputation issues.

4. Snippet problems. I’m ranking in the same place I used to be, but I’m no longer the sexiest, most click-drawing snippet in the search results, and other people are earning those clicks instead.

5. Shift in personalization or location biasing by Google. It used to be the case that everyone who searched for city name plus population growth got the same results, but now suddenly people are seeing different results based on maybe their device or things they’ve clicked in the past or where they’re located. Location is often a big cause for this.

So for many SEOs for many years, “SEO consultant” resulted in the same search results. Then Google introduced the Maps results and pushed down a lot of those folks, and now “SEO consultant” results in different ranked results in each city and each geography that you search in. So that can often be a cause for falling traffic even though rankings remain high.

B. If rankings and traffic are down…

If you’re seeing that rankings have fallen and traffic has fallen in conjunction, there’s a bunch of other things that are probably going on that are not necessarily these things. A few of these could be responsible still, like snippet problems could cause your rankings and your traffic to fall, or brand and reputation issues could cause your click-through rate to fall, which would cause you to get dampened. But oftentimes it’s things like this:

1. & 2. Duplicate content and low-quality or thin content. Google thinks that what you’re providing just isn’t good enough.

3. Change in searcher intent. People who were searching for population growth used to want what you had to offer, but now they want something different and other people in the SERP are providing that, but you are not, so Google is ranking you lower. Even though your content is still good, it’s just not serving the new searcher intent.

4. Loss to competitors. So maybe you have worse links than they do now or less relevance or you’re not solving the searcher’s query as well. Your user interface, your UX is not as good. Your keyword targeting isn’t as good as theirs. Your content quality and the unique value you provide isn’t as good as theirs. If you see that one or two competitors are consistently outranking you, you might diagnose that this is the problem.

5. Technical issues. So if I saw from over here that the crawl was the problem, I wasn’t getting indexed, or Google hasn’t updated my pages in a long time, I might look into accessibility things, maybe speed, maybe I’m having problems like letting Googlebot in, HTTPS problems, or indexable content, maybe Google can’t see the content on my page anymore because I made some change in the technology of how it’s displayed, or crawlability, internal link structure problems, robots.txt problems, meta robots tag issues, that kind of stuff.

Maybe at the server level, someone on the tech ops team of my website decided, “Oh, there’s this really problematic bot coming from Mountain View that’s costing us a bunch of bandwidth. Let’s block bots from Mountain View.” No, don’t do that. Bad. Those kinds of technical issues can happen.

6. Spam and penalties. We’ll talk a little bit more about how to diagnose those in a second.

7. CTR, engagement, or pogo-sticking issues. There could be click-through rate issues or engagement issues, meaning pogo sticking, like people are coming to your site, but they are clicking back because they weren’t satisfied by your results, maybe because their expectations have changed or market issues have changed.

Step 3: Make fixes and observe results

All right. Next and last in this process, what we’re going to do is make some fixes and observe the results. Hopefully, we’ve been able to correctly diagnose and form some wise hypotheses about what’s going wrong, and now we’re going to try and resolve them.

A. On-page and technical issues should solve after a new crawl + index.

So on-page and technical issues, if we’re fixing those, they should usually resolve, especially on small sections of sites, pretty fast. As soon as Google has crawled and indexed the page, you should generally see performance improve. But this can take a few weeks if we’re talking about a large section on a site, many thousands of pages, because Google has to crawl and index all of them to get the new sense that things are fixed and traffic is coming in. Since it’s long tail to many different pages, you’re not going to see that instant traffic gain and rise as fast.

B. Link issues and spam penalty problems can take months to show results.

Look, if you have crappier links or not a good enough link profile as your competitors, growing that can take months or years even to fix. Penalty problems and spam problems, same thing. Google can take sometimes a long time. You’ve seen a lot of spam experts on Twitter saying, “Oh, well, all my clients who had issues over the last nine months suddenly are ranking better today,” because Google made some fix in their latest index rollout or their algorithm changed, and it’s sort of, okay, well we’ll reward the people for all the fixes that they’ve made. Sometimes that’s in batches that take months.

C. Fixing a small number of pages in a section that’s performing poorly might not show results very quickly.

For example, let’s say you go and you fix /cities/Milwaukee. You determine from your diagnostics that the problem is a content quality issue. So you go and you update these pages. They have new content. It serves the searchers much better, doing a much better job. You’ve tested it. People really love it. You fixed two cities, Milwaukee and Denver, to test it out. But you’ve left 5,000 other cities pages untouched.

Sometimes Google will sort of be like, “No, you know what? We still think your cities pages, as a whole, don’t do a good job solving this query. So even though these two that you’ve updated do a better job, we’re not necessarily going to rank them, because we sort of think of your site as this whole section and we grade it as a section or apply some grades as a section.” That is a real thing that we’ve observed happening in Google’s results.

Because of this, one of the things that I would urge you to do is if you’re seeing good results from the people you’re testing it with and you’re pretty confident, I would roll out the changes to a significant subset, 30%, 50%, 70% of the pages rather than doing only a tiny, tiny sample.

D. Sometimes when you encounter these issues, a remove and replace strategy works better than simply upgrading old URLs.

So if Google has decided /cities, your /cities section is just awful, has all sorts of problems, not performing well on a bunch of different vectors, you might take your /cities section and actually 301 redirect them to a new URL, /location, and put the new UI and the new content that better serves the searcher and fixes a lot of these issues into that location section, such that Google now goes, “Ah, we have something new to judge. Let’s see how these location pages on MySite.com perform versus the old cities pages.”

So I know we’ve covered a ton today and there are a lot of diagnostic issues that we haven’t necessarily dug deep into, but I hope this can help you if you’re encountering rankings challenges with sections of your site or with your site as a whole. Certainly, I look forward to your comments and your feedback. If you have other tips for folks facing this, that would be great. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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What Does It Mean to "Write for SEO" in 2018? – Whiteboard Friday

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/yuzA1WTwqkg/write-for-seo-2018

Posted by randfish

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes” — it’s a quote that’s actually quite applicable when it comes to writing for SEO. Much of the advice given to copywriters, journalists, editors, and other content creators for SEO writing is dangerously out of date, leaning on practices that were once tried and true but that could now get your site penalized.

In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we hope you enjoy a brief history lesson on what should be avoided, what used to work and no longer does, and a brief 5-step process you should start using today for writing content that’ll get you to the front of the SERPs.

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about writing for SEO and what that means in 2018.

So writing for SEO has had a long history, and it meant something many years ago that it does not mean today. Unfortunately, I see a lot of bad advice, terrible advice out there for journalists and editors and authors of all kinds about what you need to do in terms of writing for SEO, meaning writing to get you to the top of search engines.

“Writing for SEO” in 2001

Now, let’s be clear, some of this stuff is mired in pure mythology. But some of it is mired in historical fact that just hasn’t been updated. So let’s talk about what writing for SEO used to be back in 2001, how it evolved in sort of the middle era of 2008, let’s say, and then what it means today in 2018.

So, back in the day, writing for SEO did mean things like…

I. Keyword stuffing

If you wanted to rank highly in early search engines, especially the late ’90s into the early 2000s, keyword stuffing was a real tactic that really did have effectiveness. So SEOs would cram keywords into all sorts of tags and locations.

II. They would use and reuse a bunch of different variants, slight keyword variants

So if I’m targeting the word blue watches, I would have blue watch, blue watches, blue watch accessory, blue watch accessories, blue watches accessory, blue watches accessories, ridiculous little variants on plurals because the search engines were not great at figuring out that all these things sort of had the same intent and meant the same thing. So raw, rough keyword matching, exact keyword matching was part of SEO.

III. Keyword use in every tag possible

If there was a tag, you’d cram keywords into it.

IV. Domain name and subdomain keyword use

So this is why you saw that brands would be outranked by, to use our example, blue-watch-accessories.bluewatchaccessories.info, that kind of silly stuff would be ranking. Some of it even maintained for a while.

V. SEO writing was writing for engines and then trying not to annoy or piss off users

So, a lot of the time, people would want to cloak. They’d want to show one set of content to the search engines and another set to searchers, to actual users, because they knew that if they showed this dense, keyword-stuffed content to users, they’d be turned off and they wouldn’t find it credible and they’d go somewhere else.

“Writing for SEO” in 2008

2008, we evolve on a bunch of these fronts, but not all of them and certainly not perfectly.

I. Keywords are still important in important locations

II. Exact matching still matters in a lot of places. So people were crafting unique pages even for keywords that shared the same intent.

Blue watches and blue timepieces might have two different pages. Blue watch and blue watches could even have two separate pages and do effectively well in 2008. 2018, that’s not the case anymore.

III. Domain names were definitely less powerful, subdomains more so, but still influential

They still had some play in the engines. You still saw a lot of debates back in ’08 about whether to create a keyword-rich domain.

IV. Since links in 2008 were overwhelmingly powerful rather than on-page signals, writing in order to get links is incredibly prized

In fact, it still is, but we’ll talk about the evolution of that a little bit.

“Writing for SEO” in 2018

So now let’s jump another decade forward. We’re in 2018. This year, what does writing for SEO mean? Well, a bunch of things.

I. Solving the searcher’s query matter most — writing that doesn’t do this tends not to rank well (for long)

Because engines have gotten so much better, Google in particular, but Bing as well, have gotten so much better at essentially optimizing for solving the searcher’s task, helping them accomplish the thing that they wanted to accomplish, the writing that does the best job of solving the searcher’s task tends to be the most highly prized. Stuff that doesn’t, writing that doesn’t do that, doesn’t tend to rank well, doesn’t tend to rank for long. You can sometimes get to the top of the search results, but you will almost certainly invariably be taken out by someone who does a great job of solving the searcher’s query.

II. Intent matching matters a lot more in 2018 than exact keyword matching.

Today, no credible SEO would tell you to create a page for blue watch and blue watches or blue watch accessories and blue watch accessory or even blue timepieces and blue watches, maybe if you’re targeting clocks too. In this case, it’s really about figuring out what is the searcher’s intent. If many keywords share the same intent, you know what? We’re going to go ahead and create a single page that serves that intent and all of the keywords or at least many of the keywords that that intent is represented by.

III. Only a few tags are still absolutely crucial to doing SEO correctly.

So SEO writing today, there are really only two that are not very fungible. Those are the title element and the body content. That’s not to say that you can’t rank without using the keyword in these two places, just that it would be inadvisable to do so. This is both because of search engines and also because of searchers. When you see the keyword that you search for in the title element of the page in the search results, you are more inclined to click on it than if you don’t see it. So it’s possible that some click-baity headline could outrank a keyword-rich headline. But the best SEO writers are mixing both of those. We have a Whiteboard Friday about headline writing on just that topic.

A few other ones, however, a few other tags are nice to have in 2018 still. Those include:

Headline tags (the H1, the H2),

URL field, so if you can make your URL include the words and phrases that people are searching for, that is mildly helpful. It’s both helpful for searchers who see the URL and would think, “Oh, okay, that is referring to the thing that I want,” as well as for people who copy and paste the URL and share it with each other, or people who link with the URL and, thus, the anchor text is carried across by that URL and those keywords in there.

The meta description, not used for rankings, but it is read by searchers. When they see a meta description that includes the words and phrases that they’ve queried, they are more likely to think this will be a relevant result and more likely to click it. More clicks, as long as the engagement is high, tends to mean better rankings.

The image alt attribute, which is helpful both for regular search results, but particularly helpful for Google Images, which, as you may know from watching Whiteboard Friday, Google Images gets a tremendous amount of search traffic even on its own.

IV. Employing words, phrases, and concepts that Google’s identified as sort of commonly associated with the query

This can provide a significant boost. We’ve seen some really interesting experimentation on this front, where folks will essentially take a piece of content, add in missing words and phrases that other pages that are highly ranking in Google have associated with those correct words and phrases.

In our example, I frequently use “New York neighborhoods,” and a page that’s missing words like Brooklyn, Harlem, Manhattan, Staten Island, that’s weird, right? Google is going to be much more likely to rank the page that includes these borough names than one that doesn’t for that particular query, because they’ve learned to associate that text with relevance for the query “New York neighborhoods.”

What I do want to make clear here is this does not mean LSI or some other particular tactic. LSI is an old-school, I think late ’80s, early ’90s computer tactic, software tactic for identifying words that are semantically connected to each other. There’s no reason you have to use this old-school junk methodology that became like pseudoscience in the SEO world and had a recent revival. But you should be using words and phrases that Google has related to a particular keyword. Related topics is a great thing to do. You can find some via the Moz Bar. We did a Whiteboard Friday on related topics, so you can check that out.

V. The user experience of the writing and content matters more than ever, and that is due to engagement metrics

Essentially, Google is able to see that people who click on a particular result are less likely to click the back button and choose a different result or more likely to stay on that page or site and engage further with that content and solve their whole task. That is a good sign to Google, and they want to rank more of those.

A brief “SEO writing” process for 2018

So, pragmatically, what does this history and evolution mean? Well, I think we can craft a brief sort of SEO writing process for 2018 from this. This is what I recommend. If you can do nothing else, do these five steps when you are writing for SEO, and you will tend to have more success than most of your competition.

Step 1: Assemble all the keywords that a page is targeting

So there should be a list of them. They should all share the same intent. You get all those keywords listed out.

Step 2: You list what the searchers are actually trying to accomplish when they search those queries

So someone searched for blue watches. What do they want? Information about them, they want to see different models, they want to know who makes them, they want to buy them, they want to see what the costs are like, they want to see where they can get them online, probably all of those things. Those are the intents behind those queries.

Step 3: Create a visual layout

Here’s going to be our headline. Here’s our subheadline. We’re going to put this important key concept up at the top in a callout box. We’re going to have this crucial visual next up. This is how we’re going to address all of those searcher intents on the page visually with content, written or otherwise.

Step 4: Write first and then go add the keywords and the crucial, related terms, phrases, top concepts, topics that you want into the page

The ones that will hopefully help boost your SEO, rather than writing first with the keywords and topics in mind. You can have a little bit of that, but this would be what I suggest.

Step 5: Craft the hook, the hook that will make influential people and publications in this space likely to amplify, likely to link

Because, in 2018, links still do matter, still are an important part of SEO.

If you follow this and learn from this history, I think you’ll do a much better job, generally speaking, of writing for SEO than a lot of the common wisdom out there. All right, everyone. Look forward to your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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