235: How to Build Authority, Influence and Trust When Nobody Knows Who You Are

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How to Build Authority and Influence with Your Audience

In today’s episode, I want to talk about building authority and influence.

This topic came about from talking to a number of bloggers who’ve just completed our Start a Blog course. They’re starting from scratch (as we all did), and want not only to be found, but also to make an impression on those who arrive at their blog.

How can you be seen as a trusted authority on your topic, and a credible source of information, people don’t yet know who you are?

Getting traffic is one thing, but how do you build influence?

In this episode, I want to share 13 things that I’ve noticed good influencers do to build authority and credibility with their audience.

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ProBlogger’s ultimate guide to start a blog 31 Days to Build a better blog

Further Reading

Demian Farmworth – CopyBlogger – 10 ways to build authority as an author Shane Snow – some writing he did on the level that great writers write at This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there. Welcome to episode 235 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create content for that blog that’s going to change the world, that’s going to change your reader’s lives, to grow traffic to your blog, and to build profit around your blog as well. You can learn more about what we do at problogger.com. In particular, check out our brand new course How to Start a Blog, our ultimate guide to starting a blog. Check out our new course which is coming in the next few weeks, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which is perfect for new bloggers and intermediate bloggers who want to give their blog a kickstart. You can find our How to Start a Blog course at problogger.com/startablog and 31 Days to Build a Better Blog at problogger.com/31days or just over on ProBlogger, look for the courses tab and you’ll find them all.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about building authority and influence with your audience. This topic came up as I was talking to a number of the bloggers who just completed our Start a Blog course. We just graduated 103 bloggers. They’ve just started their brand new blogs. We posted links to all of them on our site. If you want to check them out, head over to ProBlogger. Today I’ll actually link to them in our show notes as well.

These 103 bloggers, just like all bloggers starting out, they’re starting from scratch. They’ve got a number of challenges. One, they need to create content. Two, they need to build traffic. But also more important than building traffic, they need to actually build influence, they need to build authority, they need to build credibility. This is one of the things that a number of new bloggers have talked to me about in the last few weeks. They can see the traffic coming in but how do they actually become someone with authority on their topic? How do they become someone who is trusted as a credible source of information? How do you build this when the traffic that’s coming in has no idea who you are? It’s one thing to get traffic but how do you build influence?

In this episode I want to share 13 things that I’ve noticed good influencers do to build this authority and credibility with their audience. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/235.

Today we’re talking about how do you build authority, how do you build influence, how do you take this traffic from giving you their attention to actually beginning to feel connected to you on this deeper level and seeing you as someone to be trusted.

There’s a number of different approaches to this. One of the old school way of thinking about this, I’ve seen many people build their business in this old school way, that school of thought would say gather as much knowledge as you can. Then show what you know, show what you’ve achieved. Be an expert, look the part. If you don’t know it all, fake it ‘til you make it. Be confident, promote yourself. This is the advice that I grew up seeing other people living out. This kind of approach works sometimes. But over the years, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of bloggers, a lot of podcasters who don’t take that kind of approach, this approach where you build your authority but telling everyone that you’re an authority, that’s the approach that I see a lot of bloggers are doing. Sometimes it does actually work but in most cases I don’t think it does today. I think things have changed.

What I want to give you today is 13 things that I think you can do to help you to build some authority. We might call this the Authority 2.0. It’s a slightly different approach. It’s not just about telling everyone that you’ve got authority and they should trust you but it’s a deeper way. It’s perhaps a little bit slower in some ways but it’s actually more powerful, more sustainable. It’s hard to put your finger exactly on how someone builds authority so I can’t give you a definitive list of all the characteristics of these kinds of people. But in this episode, I want to share some of the common characteristics that I’ve noticed in meeting people who do have influence. They’re the people who I guess have had influence upon me.

Really I guess one of the things I would say before I get into my list is that I would encourage you to think about who influences you and to do some analysis on why you think they influence you because really, that is the answer. If you do that analysis yourself, what individuals, what authors, what companies, what friends influence you? If you can unlock why they influence you, you’ll probably find the answer as well. That’s really how I’ve come up with this list.

I will say I don’t know anyone who’s got all these 13 characteristics but let me have a go at describing some of what I’ve noticed about them. Number one, this is what I’ve noticed, their authority isn’t just built upon what they know but how generously they share what they know. I’m not discounting the fact that you need to know something about your topic. I do believe that the more you know about your topic, the better position you’re going to be in to be seen as a credible, authoritative type of person. Talking about your topic, knowledge is important but if you want to be influential, if you want to actually be trusted, if you want to be seen as someone that people want to connect with, it’s probably just as important to be known as someone who’s generously sharing what they know. Let me say that again, their authority isn’t just built upon what they know but how generously they share what they know.

I’ve seen this time and time again. Sometimes the people who rise to the top of the niche don’t know the most but they share everything that they know. I think about my own situation, Digital Photography School, I’m not a professional photographer. A lot of people are surprised at that, “You’ve built this site with millions of readers, how did you do that? You must be a professional in photography. You must know a lot about photography.” The reality is I didn’t know a lot about photography, I knew enough to teach beginners. I shared everything I knew on that topic.

I shared this one as number one because I want to be an encouragement to those of you who are struggling with impostor syndrome. This is something I see time and time again with bloggers starting out. They want to write on a topic but they’re not an expert in that topic yet so they discount themselves as being someone who should have a blog on that topic. You can be an intermediate level and write about that topic as long as you are transparent about what you know and what you don’t know and as long as you are aiming to teach people who are a bit behind you on that journey. That’s important.

Be known not just as someone who knows a lot about what you’re writing about but as someone who shares everything that they know. That goes a long way as well. Not to discount that you need to know something, you can’t just bluff your way through it. It’s not just a fake it and make it approach, you do need to know something, you need to be a learner on your topic, you need to be growing in your knowledge. But it’s just as important to be known as someone who is generously sharing everything that they know. Number one, their authority isn’t just built upon what they know but how generously they share what they know.

Number one, they don’t just talk about what they know but they also share what they don’t yet know. This comes into what I was just talking about, that transparency. The old school way of building authority is to just build yourself up to present yourself as the expert, as the guru. The reality is none of us know everything about our topic. We need to be clear with people that we have strengths and to promote those strengths but we also need to show people that there are areas that we don’t yet know and that we’re still learning about. That transparency about where your expertise ends and who you are best at serving, those types of things are really important.

If you’ve been traveling with ProBlogger over the years, you know that I’m not the most technical blogger in the world. I, quite often, in my Facebook live say I don’t know the answer to that question about how servers or domains or those types of things. I know enough to teach a beginner but we’ll find the answer for you because it’s not an area of expertise for me. I’m putting people around me who can fill in those gaps. Don’t just talk about what you know, talk about what you don’t know.

Whilst that might seem a little bit counterintuitive, it actually has a big impact upon your readers. They will trust you so much more because they see that you are willing to admit to a weakness or a deficiency in your knowledge in some way. It’s a very powerful thing. It’s a way of making a really deeper connection with people. Don’t just talk about what you know, talk about what you don’t yet know.

Number three thing is that these people that I’m thinking of who influence me and that I see as authorities learn in public. They learn in public. This is all a part of that transparency. When people see you as someone who’s still learning on a topic, who’s still gathering knowledge, who admits that they don’t know everything, that has big impression. But when you learn in public and share the journey of your learning, that is something that people want to be a part of as well because they can relate to that. They’re on your blog because they want to learn about that topic. When they see you learning and sharing immediately what you’re learning, then that’s a powerful thing.

Some of the things that you can do there to learn in public, I used to do interviews. I’ve used the example of Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner, one of the biggest social media blogs on the planet right now. He started out as someone who didn’t really know a lot about social media by doing interviews at conferences with social media experts. One of the reasons he did that was to learn from these people. He said, “I couldn’t get one-on-one coaching sessions with them all so I decided to interview them and record those interviews and then share those interviews.” It became a content creation strategy but it also was a learning strategy for him. It also built relationships with the people he was interviewing. He was learning in public. He was asking the questions he wanted the answers to. One, to gather his own knowledge and to improve the position that he was in but also to create content that he knew would be relatable to other people who’s in that same position. Interviews are a great way of doing this.

Doing experiments in public can be really important as well. I’ve seen people like Pat Flynn do this over the years really well. He’s known for doing experiments in starting new blogs, starting new businesses in public. He doesn’t do them behind closed doors and then report what happened. He actually says, “Here’s what I’m doing. Watch me do it. I’m experimenting, I’m learning.” People can really relate to that. Talking about the failures as well as the success is really important.

Asking lots of questions, this is one of the things I use to do on ProBlogger all the time, have blog posts that were me seeking information from my readers and me asking, “What would you do in this situation?” That again seems a bit counterintuitive, shouldn’t you as the expert be telling everyone what the answer is? No. People actually respect when you don’t know all the answers and when you are trying to find the answers for people. You will learn and as a result, you become more of an authority on your topic and more of an expert because you’ll be gathering these answers. Don’t pretend you know it all. Learn in public is a very powerful thing that you can do.

Tied into this is my fourth point. They use case studies, both case studies of themselves and others. Talk about the experiments that you’ve done, report back on what you are learning and what you are doing. But also talk doing case studies of other people can be a powerful way for you to learn but also for you to build credibility particularly when you’re doing case studies of what you were doing with other people.

Let me give you an example on ProBlogger. When I started ProBlogger, one of the things I did semi-regularly was to do case studies of how I would improve another blog. Sometimes these were blogs that hadn’t actually asked me to do this case study. It was just me seeing something and thinking I like the way they do this, this is what I would do to improve their blog and to actually write that type of post in a positive way. I never critiqued what they were doing. They were just suggestions and constructive things.

Down the track, people began to ask me to critique their blog and to coach them. Instead of coaching them one-on-one in private, I would coach them in public. I’d write the little critiques of their blog, with their permission, in public. This became really useful in the type of content that my readers wanted. The post became very popular but they also showed that I knew what I was talking about. This is one of the things that I’ve learned over the years. When you can demonstrate your knowledge indirectly, that’s a very powerful thing.

The old school way of building authority is to tell everyone what you know. But when you do this type of public coaching, in this case study, you’re demonstrating what you know. You’re actually showing people what you know by just doing it and by giving advice to someone else. People find that as a less confrontational way of building authority. Instead of telling people what you know, actually show them what you know in an indirect way, whether that be through a case study, whether that be through public learning or public coaching in some way.

Number five is that they show vulnerability. This, really, I guess comes into this transparency that I was talking a little bit about earlier. They don’t just show their credentials and strengths but also their weaknesses in that way. That’s vulnerability. There’s been a lot written over the years about vulnerability. Brené Brown’s written some great stuff on that topic. It’s similar to that transparency one earlier but I really want to emphasize it here because there’s something about being vulnerable in public that people really do respect. It builds relatability and it also shows that you are a human being.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years about people who take this old school way of building their authority, telling everyone what they know is that they almost become superhuman. It’s almost like they become a bit robotic. Sometimes they come across as having it all so much together that they don’t actually relate to me. People like to see the frailties and the humanness in other people as well. Showing your vulnerability is important.

As part of that, to show as much of your personality and your personal situation, your personal life as you feel comfortable to do. This doesn’t mean you need to be Instagramming your family life, you might want to have some boundaries around some of that. But people do appreciate when you are able to weave into your content the fact that you are a normal person. To show a little bit of yourself in that way can be powerful.

Last year I think it was, I had one of my sons do the intro for this podcast. You wouldn’t believe how many people contacted me about that. Actually hearing one of my kids’ voices on the podcast made a big impression upon people. When I meet people in public, that’s the podcast episode that people tend to remember the most for some reason. They don’t even remember the content I had there but they remember the fact that I let my kid to be on my podcast. That was something that connected with many people, I guess who are parents as well. Allowing these little personality quirks, your personal situation but also your vulnerabilities into your podcast can really make a deep connection with people as well.

The other thing I will say about this by way of a personal example is some of the podcasts where I’ve shared my failures and mistakes have been the most powerful. I did a podcast about my procrastination, my character trying to be a perfectionist and as a result procrastinating. That podcast, again, had a massive impact upon people. I did another podcast years ago now about my health situation, how I was gradually putting on weight and what I did about that. Those podcasts are slightly off topic in some ways but they actually had a massive impact and made a deeper connection with people. Share your vulnerability, share your personality – really important.

Number six. People with authority, people with influence that I respect the most, they share their transformations and conversions. This is a massive part of them being seen as a credible source. They don’t just talk about the destination of where they’ve arrived but they talk about their origins and who they were when they started out. This inspires and it also makes them more relatable. If you think about it, if you were hiring a personal trainer, would you be more likely to hire a personal trainer who was born with chiseled abs, perfect genetics, and had no struggles in their health or would you prefer to go to someone who had really struggled with their nutrition and with exercise over the years but through trial and error has gotten to a point where they’re healthy? I personally would prefer someone who has had ups and downs over their life and who has come out the other end in a better place because I can relate to that type of person. I can’t relate to someone who always had chiseled abs and who’s got perfect genetics and who’s never struggled with their health. I prefer to go and see someone who has journeyed through it and can relate to the struggles that I’m having.

The same is true with building authority in your particular topic. If you can demonstrate by telling your story about who you were and who you are now, you may have reached a point where things are really great but what were things like in the way to getting there? Actually sharing those stories is a very powerful thing. This taps into the transparency and the vulnerability. It’s amazing how many people on their about pages talk about their achievements and talk about where they are now but they don’t actually tell their story. I think your about page is a brilliant place for you to tell stories about your journey, about your transformations, about your conversions to the way that you’re living today. It’s not just about the destination but it’s about the journey. People are much more interested in the journey that you’ve had than the destination that you’re at now. Weave that into your about page. Weave that into your brand if you can. Weave that into the way you promote your blog, the taglines that you have, your content, you can be constantly telling those little stories.

Pretty much every time I talk, I tell my stories of becoming a blogger. I talk about how I really had no credentials to be a blogger, I talk about how it took me three months to work out how to make text bold on my blog once I’ve started. This is I guess an entry credential in some ways, me talking about my weaknesses. But it illustrates the transformation to get from that to being a full-time blogger, to get from no readers to having millions of readers. That is something that people get inspired by all the time but they can also relate to that because they can relate to having those same challenges in the early days as well. Share your transformations, build your brand on those transformations that you’ve had. It’s a very powerful thing.

Number seven thing, over halfway now. They tend to be positive, optimistic, and constructive in their outlook. I’m thinking here about people who I’m drawn to. Maybe it’s just partly my personality coming out here but I’m personally much more likely to be influenced by and see someone as an authority on their topic when they have this more positive, optimistic outlook. They’re not just interested in busting myths and tearing down and critiquing. They spend more time presenting solutions, solving problems, and pointing to a way forward. This isn’t to say that from time to time you can’t get negative with your blog. I think being negative, critiquing something, busting myths – these types of things can actually play a part in building authority. To show that side of yourself from time to time can be important. I think you don’t want to be known purely as a negative person.

I know some people build their whole brand around critique. But most of the people I’ve seen attempt that don’t tend to last the journey or they tend to transition into a more positive person at some point because they realize that people come to them for their critique but they’re coming almost more for the entertainment of the critique and the snarkiness but they don’t actually see them as an authority on that topic.

I think probably about ten years ago in the blogging about blogging space, there are a number of people who started blogs that were very negative, very snarky. They’re talking about the negative things that they were seeing other people were doing. They were having a go at people, they were tearing down, and they were calling them out. Their blogs became very popular. They got a lot of traffic but no one actually saw them as an authority on their topic, no one actually bought their products, no one actually saw them as an authority in their space. They weren’t actually putting forward a solution alongside their critique. Go there if you need to from time to time, bust myths, critique, that’s fine from time to time. But always do it with a solution, with an alternative, and you’re going to be in a much better position. They’re positive, they’re optimistic, they’re more constructive than being known for being negative.

Number eight, they build a platform of giving and generosity before they promote. There’s definitely a time for asking. There’s definitely a time for selling what you do. But as I think about the people who I see as influencers and the people who I bought their products, the asking tends to be dwarfed by their giving and by their generosity. Survivors don’t be self-serving. Yes you need to win out of the scenario and this is a trap that some bloggers get into, it’s like just give, give, give and don’t actually get. You’ve got to get some balance in there on that. But you want to be known as generous before you ask.

Blogs like Copyblogger. I’ve read Copyblogger for years. Brian Clarkson Simone generously gave amazing teaching. I read them for years and as a result of that, anytime they will release a product I was a buyer of that product based upon the generosity of what they’ve done. I wanted to reciprocate. The only reason I bought their products was because they were so generous. Build a platform of generosity, of giving before you ask or promote.

Number nine, they show up, they deliver quality, they ship, they’re reliable. Authority isn’t just built on what you know but rather people knowing they can rely and depend upon you, people knowing that you have their back. Don’t be flaky. Don’t promise things that you don’t deliver upon. You want to be shipping, you want to be showing up. If you say that you were going to do a podcast every week, do a podcast every week. If you’d say you’re going to do a blog post every week, do a blog post every week. If you’re going to send an email newsletter every week, send that email newsletter every week. Do everything you can to show up. Not to say that you can’t take a break but forecast that break. Tell people the reason why you’re taking that break.

It’s reliability. It’s being there for your reader and them feeling like you’re consistent and you’re going to continue to show up and you’re going to have their back. This builds credibility. When people know that you deliver a podcast every week or that you deliver articles every week and you deliver that newsletter, they begin to show up expecting that you’d be there as well. Be reliable in that way.

Point number ten is to keep your messaging clear and simple. Did you notice how clearly and simply I said that? Keep your messaging clear and simple. Authority isn’t built upon making yourself look smart and lording your intelligence over those who follow you. Authority comes when you make your audience feel smart, when you facilitate them making discoveries, when their knowledge grows because of you. Again, let me think about this. It’s not about you looking smart, it’s about you making your readers feel smart.

I love the quote from a guy called Adam Grant. He said, “Good communicators make themselves look smart. Great communicators make their audience feel smart.” Really important distinction there. The old school way of building authority is about look at me, look at all the things that I know, look at all the things that I can say, look at all the big words that I can use. That might make you look good but influence, trust is built upon people feeling that they are benefiting from the relationship and that they are getting smarter as a result of you.

This needs to shine through in your content, the way you write your content. I’ve read a number of articles recently that talk about how to best communicate is actually write at a low level. They write at an 8th grade level rather than a university level. Actually writing in a way that your readers can understand the words, they don’t need to go away and look up words in dictionaries, they don’t need to guess the jargon you used – actually writing in a very clear way that makes your readers feel like they can understand what you’re saying is actually so powerful in building authority and credibility as well. It needs to shine through in the content that you use but also in the way you promote yourself as well. Don’t just make yourself look smart, make your readers look smart. Bring them into that in many ways that you can.

Number 11 is one that I’m really passionate about. Great influencers use their influence for the benefit of those they influence. There are too many word influences in there but think about this. A lot of influencers use their influence to benefit them. “I want to be influential.” “Why do you want to be influential?” “I want to be influential because it’s going to get me a car, it’s going to get me a holiday, it’s going to get me money. It’s going to get me all this stuff. I’m going to get a lot out of being influential.” The reality is that that’s only going to get you so far.

Great influencers use their influence for the benefit of other people. Use your influence for the benefit of other people. I see a lot of people trying to build authority and influence because of how their influence and authority will improve their lives. But I’m struck by the fact that many of the great influencers that I’ve met live very simply. They use their influence to benefit others.

What can you do that’s going to improve the situation of your readers and make the world a better place in some way? I actually ask that question from time to time. You will discover ways to use your influence, as small as it may be, to benefit other people. Obviously, you can write content that’s going to solve your readers’ problems but what more could you do? What more could you do for your readers?

For example, as I think about this for ProBlogger, what can I do to benefit you as an audience? One of the things that we’ve been realizing over the last year or so is that yeah, we can teach you how to blog but one of the needs that we see a lot of bloggers having is they want more traffic, particularly new bloggers. As you start your blog, you’ve got no traffic. One of the things we realized as we were doing this Start a Blog course that we launched recently is that we can actually help our students to get their first traffic.

This is why we started International Start a Blog Day, which happened yesterday as I record this. We actually promoted the 103 blogs that started as a result of our course because we realized we could not only help these bloggers to start their blogs but we can actually give them a little bit of traffic. We’ve been promoting these blogs. I had an email this morning from someone who said, “Wow, I had 100 readers yesterday. I never thought I’d get 100 readers on the first day of my blog.” What could you do that could help your readers to have their dreams come true? What could you do to help your readers’ dreams come true? Don’t just use your influence to make your dreams come true. Find creative ways to make your readers’ dreams come true as well.

I’ve got two more here. Point number 12, these influencers, these authoritative people that I respect don’t seek to be known, liked, and trusted. They show that they know, like, and trust their audience. I’ve spoken about this before. The quote by Bob Burg, “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust.” This is a very well-known quote. I believe it. People will want to do business with you when they know, like, and trust you. One of the ways that you speed up people knowing, liking, and trusting you is to actually do those things to them as well. I think this quote is a two-way thing. Don’t just try and be known, don’t just try and be liked, don’t just try and be trusted but actually display that you know your audience, that you like your audience, and that you trust your audience. Let’s just break that down a little bit.

Do you know your audience? The more you know your audience, the better position you’re in to build authority with them. Do your research on who is reading your blog. Who are they? Their demographics. What are their needs? What are their dreams? When you know these things, you’re in a much better position to serve them and as a result they’re going to begin to realize that you actually know who they are. One of the best things that I get is emails from time to time from people saying, “I feel like that podcast was for me.” That is because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand who is my audience. I create content based upon knowing who they are having met many of them at our conferences and our events but also talking to them on Facebook lives and those types of things as well. The more you get to know your audience and show them that you know who they are, the more they’re going to want to know, like, and trust you as well. Know your audience. Know, like, and trust.

Like your audience. Show warmth to your audience. Show your audience that you actually like them. Make your audience feel they are charismatic. A lot of bloggers they want to be charismatic themselves. Actually make your audience feel like you know them but you also like them. Spend time with them. Get on Facebook live and answer their questions. Hang out with them. Some of the most popular Facebook lives that I’ve done have been the ones where I’ve sat with a beer on a Friday afternoon and I’ve just said, “Let’s hang out.” We just chatted back and forth. We’ve asked questions of each other. We’ve hung out, we’ve had fun. Those are the types of things that, actually as I look back over the year, I’ve built relationships with my audience the most. Hang out with them. Show them that you like them.

Lastly, show them that you trust them. This comes down to this vulnerability that I was talking about before. When you share something of yourself, you’re showing your audience that you trust them. By me sharing that I’ve got three boys and me sharing that I’ve just been on holidays and me sharing some of the mistakes that I’ve made and some of the insecurities that I have, that shows that I trust you as my audience. I wouldn’t share that type of stuff if I didn’t have some trust of you, if I didn’t like you. Don’t just try and be known, be liked, and be trusted. The way that you actually do that is to know who you’re speaking to, to like them and to show that you like them, and to trust them – very important.

The last thing I’ll say about building influence and trust and authority is that it takes time. Most of the people that I see as influencers and authoritative type people and people that I see having credibility in the topics that they talk about, as I think about it and as reflecting on this week, they’ve all been around for a while. I’ve been following them for a while. It didn’t happen overnight.

I look at someone like Chris Guillebeau. He’s been blogging for years, probably for a decade or so now. He’s someone that gradually over time I’ve come to know, like, and trust. He’s someone that overtime I’ve began to see has authority on certain areas. It’s because he’s done all of the things that I’ve just talked about. He’s been vulnerable, he’s put himself out there, he’s kept his messaging clear, he’s shown up, he’s delivered on his promises. All of these things I’ve just talked about, he’s done them but he’s done them time and time and time again over the years. It’s the accumulation of that that makes me think, “Yeah, he’s credible. I can trust him. He’s an authority.” That is key.

I know that’s a little bit disheartening for those who just finished our Start a Blog course and you just started. But it’s the accumulation of the little things that you do over time that are going to lead to people knowing, liking, and trusting you, and people seeing you as an authority. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the accumulation of these things. It’s the longevity of you doing these things overtime that’s really going to count the most. Yes you can build little bits of influence early on but it’s going to exponentially grow the longer you show up and the more consistent you are with these things over time as well.

I really hope that has been helpful to you. I hope it’s been clear and simple enough. As I thought through, I’m very aware that different people grow their authority and influence in different ways. I actually made a list of about 20 people that I see as authorities in their niches. As I looked at the list, I saw some of these characteristics but every time I look at a different person I’m like, “Yeah but they don’t quite fit with this one.”

I want to emphasize again that those 13 things I’ve just talked about, these are different mix and play for each person. Take it as a put it out list, some of it will resonate with you, some of it you want to try, some of it you might not relate to as much but somewhere in the mix of all that I think are some answers.

I’ve got some further reading for you today. I’ve got a few articles that I read in preparation for this podcast. There’s an article from Copyblogger Demian Farnworth, 10 Ways to Build Authority as an Author, which overlapped with a few of the things that I said. Then Shane Snow has a couple articles that I’ll link to and a couple articles he wrote about the level that writers write at. That touched on that, in keeping your messaging clear and simple. He’s written about some investigation that he’s done that talks about how writers that are most powerful in their communication tend to write at a lower level. He did some research into the level that great writers write at. He found about the 8th grade level was about the level that they were writing at, and that made them more relatable and easy to read. I’ll link to those in the show notes today as well as some further listening on the podcast as well.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/235. Thanks so much for listening. If you’ve got a moment, I would love it if you would head over to the ProBlogger blog and check out our list of 103 bloggers who started their blogs. The reason that we do have that list public is that we want you to visit them. We would love it if you would encourage those bloggers.

I know a lot of you have been blogging for years now. I want to encourage you just to remember what it was like that first week that you launched your blog. Wouldn’t it have made your day if someone had a shown up your blog and left a comment? Wouldn’t it have made your day if someone had shared your blog on their social media account? That would’ve been so encouraging for you. I really want to encourage you to head over to that list and find a blog that you can leave a comment on, maybe more than one. Find a blog that you resonate with that you could share on your social media account. Pass on a little bit of the traffic that you have. Use your influence to build and benefit other people as well. I really encourage you to do that.

We love the fact that there’s all these new blogs out there, and excited that there’s a lot more coming as well. I think almost 2000 people have started the Start a Blog course already. We’ve seen 100 blogs launched. There’s quite a few coming up behind them in the coming months as well. Anything you can do to support those new bloggers would be fantastic.

Thanks so much for listening today. I will link to the honor roll in the show notes as well, problogger.com/podcast/235. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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9 Predictions for SEO in 2018

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/UDucVmOcBWE/9-predictions-for-seo-in-2018

Posted by randfish

For the last decade, I’ve made predictions about how the year in SEO and web marketing would go. So far, my track record is pretty decent — the correct guesses outweigh the wrong ones. But today’s the day of reckoning, to grade my performance from 2017 and, if the tally is high enough, share my list for the year ahead.

In keeping with tradition, my predictions will be graded on the following scale:

Nailed It (+2) – When a prediction is right on the money and the primary criteria are fulfilled Partially Accurate (+1) – Predictions that are in the ballpark, but are somewhat different than reality Not Completely Wrong (-1) – Those that got near the truth, but are more “incorrect” than “correct” Way Off (-2) – Guesses which didn’t come close

Breakeven or better means I make new predictions for the year ahead, and under that total means my predicting days are over. Let’s see how this shakes out… I’m not nervous… You’re nervous! This sweat on my brow… It’s because… because it was raining outside. It’s Seattle! Yeesh.

Grading Rand’s 2017 Predictions

#1: Voice search will be more than 25% of all US Google searches within 12 months. Despite this, desktop volume will stay nearly flat and mobile (non-voice) will continue to grow.

+1 – We have data for desktop and mobile search volume via Jumpshot, showing that the former did indeed stay relatively flat and the other kept growing.

But, unfortunately, we don’t know the percent of searches that are done with voice rather than keyboards or screens. My guess is 25% of all searches is too high, but until Google decides to share an updated number, all we have is the old 2016 stat that 20% of mobile searches happened via voice input.

#2: Google will remain the top referrer of website traffic by 5X+. Neither Facebook, nor any other source, will make a dent.

+2 – Nailed it! Although, to be fair, there’s no serious challenger. The social networks and e-commerce leaders of the web want people to stay on their site, not leave and go elsewhere. No surprise Google’s the only big traffic referrer left.

#3: The Marketing Technology space will not have much consolidation (fewer exits and acquisitions, by percentage, than 2015 or 2016), but there will be at least one major exit or IPO among the major SEO software providers.

+2 – As best I can tell from Index.co’s thorough database (which, BTW, deserves more attention than Crunchbase, whose data I’ve found to be of far lower quality), Martech as a whole had nearly half the number of acquisitions in 2017 (22) versus 2016 (39). 2017 did, however, see the Yext IPO, so I’m taking full credit on this one.

#4: Google will offer paid search ads in featured snippets, knowledge graph, and/or carousels.

0 – Turns out, Google had actually done a little of this prior to 2017, which I think invalidates the prediction. Thus I’m giving myself no credit either way, though Google did expand their testing and ad types in this direction last year.

#5: Amazon search will have 4% or more of Google’s web search volume by end of year.

-2 – Way off, Rand. From the Jumpshot data, it looks like Amazon’s not even at 1% of Google’s search volume yet. I was either way too early on this one, or Amazon searches may never compete, volume-wise, with how Google’s users employ their search system.

#6: Twitter will remain independent, and remain the most valuable and popular network for publishers and influencers.

+2 – I’m actually shocked that I made this prediction given the upheaval Twitter has faced in the last few years. Still, it’s good to see a real competitor (despite their much smaller size) to Facebook stay independent.

#7: The top 10 mobile apps will remain nearly static for the year ahead, with, at most, one new entrant and 4 or fewer position changes.

+1 – I was slighly aggressive on wording this prediction, though the reality is pretty accurate. The dominance of a few companies in the mobile app world remains unchallenged. Here’s 2016’s top apps, and here’s 2017’s. The only real change was Apple Music and Amazon falling a couple spots and Pandora and Snapchat sneaking into the latter half of the list.

#8: 2017 will be the year Google admits publicly they use engagement data as an input to their ranking systems, not just for training/learning

-2 – I should have realized Google will continue to use engagement data for rankings, but they’re not gonna talk about it. They have nothing to gain from being open, and a reasonable degree of risk if they invite spammers and manipulators to mimic searchers and click for rankings (a practice that, sadly, has popped up in the gray hat SEO world, and does sometimes, unfortunately, work).

Final Score: +4 — not too shabby, so let’s continue this tradition and see what 2018 holds. I’m going to be a little more cavalier with this year’s predictions, just to keep things exciting 🙂

Rand’s 9 Predictions for 2018#1: The total number of organic clicks Google refers will drop by ~5% by the end of the year

In 2017, we saw the start of a concerning trend — fewer clicks being generated by Google search on desktop and mobile. I don’t think that was a blip. In my estimation, Google’s actions around featured snippets, knowledge panels, and better instant answers in the SERPs overall, combined with more aggressive ads and slowing search growth (at least in the United States), will lead to there being slightly less SEO opportunity in 2018 than what we had in 2017.

I don’t think this trend will accelerate much long term (i.e. it’s certainly not the end for SEO, just a time of greater competition for slightly fewer click opportunities).

#2: Twitter and LinkedIn will both take active steps to reduce the amount of traffic they refer out to other sites

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all had success algorithmically or structurally limiting clicks off their platforms and growing as a result. I think in 2018, Twitter and LinkedIn are gonna take their own steps to limit content with links from doing as well, to limit the visibility of external links in their platform, and to better reward content that keeps people on their sites.

#3: One or more major SEO software providers will shutter as a result of increased pressure from Google and heavy competition

Google Search Console is, slowly but surely, getting better. Google’s getting a lot more aggressive about making rank tracking more difficult (some rank tracking folks I’m friendly with told me that Q4 2017 was particularly gut-punching), and the SEO software field is way, way more densely packed with competitors than ever before. I estimate at least ten SEO software firms are over $10 million US in annual revenue (Deepcrawl, SEMRush, Majestic, Ahrefs, Conductor, Brightedge, SISTRIX, GinzaMetrics, SEOClarity, and Moz), and I’m probably underestimating at least 4 or 5 others (in local SEO, Yext is obviously huge, and 3–4 of their competitors are also above $10mm).

I predict this combination of factors will mean that 2018 sees one or more casualties (possibly through a less-than-rewarding acquisition rather than straight-out bankruptcy) in the SEO software space.

#4: Alexa will start to take market share away from Google, especially via devices with screens like the Echo Show

Voice search devices are useful, but somewhat limited by virtue of missing a screen. The Echo Show was the first stab at solving this, and I think in 2018 we’re going to see more and better devices as well as vastly better functionality. Even just the “Alexa, show me a photo of Rodney Dangerfield from 1965.” (see, Rand, I told you he used to be handsome!) will take away a lot of the more simplistic searches that today happen on Google and Google Images (the latter of which is a silent giant in the US search world).

#5: One of the non-Google tech giants will start on a more serious competitor to YouTube

Amazon’s feud with Google and the resulting loss of YouTube on certain devices isn’t going unnoticed in major tech company discussions. I think in 2018, that turns into a full-blown decision to invest in a competitor to the hosted video platform. There’s too much money, time, attention, and opportunity for some of the big players not to at least dip a toe in the water.

Side note: If I were an investor, I’d be pouring meetings and dollars into startups that might become this. I think acquisitions are a key way for a Facebook, an Amazon, or a Microsoft to reduce their risk here.

#6: Facebook Audience Network (that lets publishers run FB ads on their own sites) will get the investment it needs and become a serious website adtech player

Facebook ads on the web should be as big or bigger than anything Google does in this realm, mostly because the web functions more like Facebook than it does like search results pages, and FB’s got the data to make those ads high quality and relevant. Unfortunately, they’ve underinvested in Audience Network the last couple years, but I think with Facebook usage in developed countries leveling out and the company seeking ways to grow their ad reach and effectiveness, it’s time.

#7: Mobile apps will fade as the default for how brands, organizations, and startups of all sizes invest in the mobile web; PWAs and mobile-first websites will largely take their place

I’m calling it. Mobile apps, for 95% of companies and organizations who want to do well on the web, are the wrong decision. Not only that, most everyone now realizes and agrees on it. PWAs (and straightforward mobile websites) are there to pick up the slack. That’s not to say the app stores won’t continue to generate downloads or make money — they will. But those installs and dollars will flow to a very few number of apps and app developers at the very top of the charts, while the long tail of apps (which never really took off), fades into obscurity.

Side note: games are probably an exception (though even there, Nintendo Switch proved in 2017 that mobile isn’t the only or best platform for games).

#8: Wordpress will continue its dominance over all other CMS’, growing its use from ~25% to 35%+ of the top few million sites on the web

While it depends what you consider “the web” to be, there’s no doubt Wordpress has dominated every other CMS in the market among the most popular few million sites on it. I think 2018 will be a year when Wordpress extends their lead, mostly because they’re getting more aggressive about investments in growth and marketing, and secondarily because no one is stepping up to be a suitable (free) alternative.

35%+ might sound like a bold step, but I’m seeing more and more folks moving off of other platforms for a host of reasons, and migrating to Wordpress for its flexibility, its cost structure, its extensibility, and its strong ecosystem of plugins, hosting providers, security options, and developers.

#9: The United States will start to feel the pain of net neutrality’s end with worse Internet connectivity, more limitations, and a less free-and-open web

Tragically, we lost the battle to maintain Title II protections on net neutrality here in the US, and the news is a steady drumbeat of awfulness around this topic. Just recently, Trump’s FCC announced that they’d be treating far slower connections as “broadband,” thus lessening requirements for what’s considered “penetration” and “access,” all the way down to mobile connection speeds.

It’s hard to notice what this means right now, but by the end of 2018, I predict we’ll be feeling the pain through even slower average speeds, restrictions on web usage (like what we saw before Title II protections with Verizon and T-Mobile blocking services and favoring sites). In fact, my guess is that some enterprising ISP is gonna try to block cryptocurrency mining, trading, or usage as an early step.

Over time, I suspect this will lead to a tiered Internet access world here in the US, where the top 10% of American earners (and those in a few cities and states that implement their own net neutrality laws) have vastly better and free-er access (probably with more competitive pricing, too).

Now it’s time for your feedback! I want to know:

Which of these predictions do you find most likely?Which do you find most outlandish?What obvious predictions do you think I’ve shamefully missed? 😉

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

224: From 5 to Over 1,000,000 Readers a Month – A Finance Blogger Tells His Story

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/9PvCrY9EhwM/

From 5 to Over 1,000,000 Monthly Readers – A Finance Blogger Shares His Story

Once again I’m handing the podcast over to you, our listeners, to tell your stories and tips of starting and growing your blogs.

In today’s episode you’ll hear the story of Robert Farrington, a finance blogger. After a couple of fairly unfocused years where he made no money from his blog, Robert managed to turn things around through storytelling and taking his readers on a journey. In his third year he made $30,000, and today he earns a high seven-figure income from his blogging business, with more than a million people reading his blog every month.

I love that how the bloggers in the series who’ve ‘made it’ to a full-time level are giving us insights into their early years.

This series is designed to give those starting out (or about to start out) some inspiration, along with some practical tips and encouragement for those early days.

It’s part of the launch of our brand new Start a Blog course, which launches in the second week of January. To learn more about it, and get notified when it goes live, head to problogger.com/startablog

Links and Resources for From 5 to Over 1,000,000 Readers a Month – A Finance Blogger Tells His Story: ProBlogger Start a Blog Page Facebook Group Robert Farrington Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren : Hey there and welcome to episode 224 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience, to create some great content, to build community and monetize your blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, we’re continuing our series of blogger stories where I am handing the podcast to you as listeners of this podcast and the readers of the blog. To tell you stories, to share you tips of starting and growing your blog over these 12 episodes and they’re daily at the moment so they’re coming thick and fast. You’re hearing stories of bloggers who started out, some of them a few years ago and some of them 10 years ago now to tell us some of what has happened since for them. They talk about their mistakes, their tips, the lessons they’ve learned and the good things that have come as a result of starting their blog.

Today, you’re gonna hear the story of a finance blogger who started a few years ago now and it was a fairly lean start. He pushed through a couple of fairly unfocused years where he didn’t really have focus for his blog, where he wasn’t really making any money at all from his blog, but he pushed through it anyway to the point where in his third year, he began to get it together. In that third year, he made about $30,000 which was the beginnings of a new business that formed around his blog. Today, he has over a million readers a month and he’s making high six-figures a year from that blog.

I’m not guaranteeing that if you take our Starter Blog course that you are going to get to that point, but really, this series is about giving you a little bit of inspiration, to tell you some stories of what could happen as a result of starting a blog, but also to give you some practical tips, and to give an insight into the beginning days of these blogs. One of the things I love about this series is that we are hearing from bloggers who have, to all intents and purposes, made it. They’re at a full time level, they’ve built successful businesses but they’re giving us little insights into their early years. I love that and I’m very grateful to all these bloggers who are doing that.

This series is designed to give you, as a someone who’s potentially starting out in your blogging journey, or someone who’s about to start out in your journey, some inspiration but also those practical tips and some encouragement to get through those early days, to push through those days where you might feel things are a little bit unfocused, or you might feel things aren’t really reaching their potential.

This series is a part of our launch of a brand new Start a Blog course which is launching in the second week of January. You can learn more about that over at problogger.com/startablog. If you give us your email address there, we will let you know when that course goes live.

Today’s show notes with links to that Start a Blog course and a full transcript of the show today as well as links to our blogger of the day. You can find those show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/224.

Today’s blogger is Robert Farrington. I met Robert recently over at the FinCon conference and he is the blogger behind thecollegeinvestor.com. As it might sound, it’s a finance blog, someone who is focused particularly on those people in their young adult years, student loans, those type of things, but trying to help those younger people never get through some of the decisions they need to make. I’m gonna let Robert tell his story and then I will come back at the end to share a few of my thoughts on the story that he shares and some of the tips that he gives. Well-worth a listen, I’ll chat to you at the end of his story.

Robert: Hi there! My name is Robert Farrington and I am the founder of The College Investor and it’s at thecollegeinvestor.com. It is a blog all about personal finance for young adults. We talk about getting out of student loan debt, starting to invest, and building wealth for the future. I started this blog because I am passionate about investing. I was that guy in the back of my college class, on the internet, watching stocks, and really just wanted to share my insights about investing.

This was all the way back in September of 2009. I’ve been doing this for about eight years now. It’s pretty crazy to think about because, when I started, it was completely a personal blog. I really just shared my thoughts and my opinions, and you know what happened as a result? Nothing. Nothing happened. I probably had five visitors a day, everyday, for the first six months that I started this blog. But, you know what? I really enjoyed writing. I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts. I really enjoyed the technology of it. I find it interesting how you can put things together and build a WordPress site and all that type of stuff. Honestly, that’s how I started. It’s crazy to think about because, when I started, really, I just wanted to educate people.

My goal, my dream was just share my knowledge. But you know, my friends were telling me, they were like, “Robert, that’s great knowledge. I love the idea of investing but I have all this debt, and I have all this other stuff going on in my personal and financial life that I really just can’t do that right now.” I started to realize that while sharing my thoughts are great, it was really important to also help my readers with their questions, and their comments, and their concerns.. While I have my own opinions about things and I can inject that, if I am not helping others answer their question, I can’t ever get them where I want them to be.

That’s really what I started to transform my blog and it took about a year or two. Around the same time, about the two-year mark, is also when I started connecting with other bloggers. Honestly, when I started, I was in my silo. I didn’t really talk to anyone else. I didn’t really comment on other blogs. I didn’t really reach out to anyone and just hi. I just did my own thing. That was really disadvantageous to me. It really held me back. When I started connecting with others, and I started learning, and I started seeing what other people were doing, and getting some tips and getting some tricks, and getting some help from others. And then, I also started changing my messaging to help my readers more, to share my thoughts, but do it in a way that takes my readers and guides them and holds their hand through it. That’s what I really started to see some traction on my site.

Honestly, my site started going from no readers a month, to a couple hundred readers a month, to a couple hundred readers a day. It started getting some revenues well. I made zero money my first two years. Finally, in about year three, I think I was making about $30,000 a year. Getting it up there to $2000 or $3000 a month which was great money considering that I really was just writing stuff on the internet.

If I had to go back in time, what would I say to avoid, and what should you have to do? Well, you have to network with others. You have to connect with your community. Whatever your niche is, connect with them, and at the same time, you need to always remember your readers and you need to take your readers on a journey with story and with education, lead them down the path.  

Finally, you have to have the best content out there. Because especially in a space like personal finance, there’s only about six or seven topics you can write about. You can write about budgeting, investing, getting out of debt, credit cards, whatever. It’s the same stuff over, and over, and over again. What makes things unique and what makes thing different is the stories that you can tell and the path that you could take people on, and making sure that you have the best content possible out there.

I’ve been doing this and focusing on this now for eight years. But my last two years, I really haven’t created a lot of new content. What I have been doing is going back and picking out my gems in my archives and updating them, making them the best. Creating that story around them and resharing them. I can tell you now that after doing this for eight years, we get almost a million visitors a month on the website, we’re making really good money. It’s gonna be a high six-figure to seven-figure blog.

The opportunities in income continue to grow because we continue to focus on our readers, networking with others, and writing the best things out there on the topic that really could stand on its own. Hopefully that helps you get started with your blog.

Darren: Thanks so much, Robert, from thecollegeinvestor.com. Really appreciated you sharing your story today. I was really pleased when I saw Robert’s audio come in because I had bumped into him several times at the FinCon conference. He was someone who was networking incredibly. He was actually one of those people I just kept bumping into. He seemed to be really well connected. He has actually lived out that tip that he gave in his story today.

I find it interesting today to hear the similarities in Erin’s story from yesterday’s story. Robert started out because he was excited to share on a particular topic. This is that common thread that I hear from many full time bloggers today. I think it’s the case for a few reasons, people who start out just genuinely wanting to talk about a particular topic tend to do quite well, at least a lot of the full time bloggers do start that way. I think it’s because when you start out passionate about your topic, genuinely excited about sharing what you know, it comes across in your writing. People can sense that in your writing. When you bring energy and enthusiasm and excitement to your topic, it’s gonna shine through.

It will also shine through in the way that you go about promoting your blog, in the way that you network with other people. It’s a very attractive thing. It’s also gonna help you through the lean times. You heard Robert there talking about those first couple of years of what did he say there? Five visitors a day for the first six months? That’s not much in terms of readers. That could be the period where you might, if you didn’t have genuine enthusiasm for your topic, say, “This is too hard. I’m not gonna keep going.” But if you bring enthusiasm to your topic, you genuinely just like to talk about it, then you’re gonna be able to get through those times more easily.

I also love what he talked about focus and bringing more focus to his blog. His blogging in the early days was just his thoughts. It was all centered around what he was thinking. But, a shift to begin to think about his readers and to put them front and center, their questions, their problems. That simple shift and re-focusing less on his thoughts and more on his readers. Still able to bring his thoughts but from the perspective of what do his readers want to know, what do they need to know, what are their questions. Less about him, more about his readers, that was certainly a key thing there.

Then of course, as he talked about that he’d been operating in a silo, and the realization that he could learn a lot more about blogging, and he can grow his blog a lot faster if he began to network. Look at what others were doing and connect with others within his niche. Really, the sense I get is it was those two shifts from being an [00:12:21] blogger that was all about him and his thoughts to being more focused upon his readers and his niche seemed to really unlock things for him.

I was also fascinated there about what he said about the last two years writing less new content and picking out the gems and updating his archives. Whilst that may not be relevant to those of you who are starting a blog, because in the early days you really do need to build up your archives. If you’ve been blogging for a while, I think, this is a really important thing to do is to pay attention to those archives.

This is something that I’ve been hearing over the last year or so particularly at FinCom, conference that I mentioned earlier. I met a lot of bloggers who had really pulled back on the amount of new content that they’ve been writing. They really were re-optimizing the gems in their archives, the posts that were already ranking in Google actually taking them to the next level. Optimizing them, improving the content, making them more visually pleasing, adding further reading, making them deeper content, actually improving that content was paying off more than creating new content for them.

Again, that’s something for those of you who’ve been blogging for a while now. You might have some archives. I think that’s a brilliant tip and something that we’ve been doing a little bit more of over the last six months as well on both of my blogs. I hope you’ve got some value out of hearing Robert’s story today. I think it’s a great one.

Again, you can get a full transcript of Robert’s story and find his blog over on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/224. Tomorrow, another story for you. We’ve done five or four so far this week. I do encourage you to go back and listen to the last four or three episodes if you haven’t listened to those already. I’ve got one more coming for you tomorrow and then we’re gonna have a week off because it will be Christmas. Hopefully, in those last five or so episodes, there’ll be enough there for you to listen to. We’ll come back on the 1st of January with five more in a row and a couple more before we launch our Start a Blog course.

Again, if you are interested in starting a blog, check out problogger.com/startablog. Let us know your email address and we’ll let you know when that course goes live. Thanks for listening, chat with you tomorrow in episode 225.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 224: From 5 to Over 1,000,000 Readers a Month – A Finance Blogger Tells His Story appeared first on ProBlogger.

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7 Hard Truths About SEO in 2018

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/EB14_gTQ42k/seo-hard-truths

Are you aiming to make a seismic impact on your organic visibility in 2018?

Google and the wider industry have dropped many hints as to what will have the biggest impact in 2018. With all the noise, it can be difficult to see where to put your focus.

With that in mind, here’s our take on the six most important truths you need to accept along with the biggest SEO mistakes you need to avoid in the coming year.

how to do seo in 2018

1. Google’s mobile-first index is already here

Originally announced in 2016, Google has already started rolling out their mobile-first index. This essentially means that Google will rank mobile versions of content, or whatever content would perform best on mobile devices, over non-mobile content. This has been a long time coming, especially since Google reported that more searches are made on mobile way back in 2015.

However, Google has confirmed that websites that are not ready for the mobile-first index won’t be moved across just yet. In other words, you have a bit more time to prepare your website.

Here are some focus points to help get you there for 2018:

Move away from m-dot. Google recommends switching to a responsive design as opposed to maintaining a separate mobile website. Create consistent content for mobile and desktop users. This means not hiding or creating different content for specific devices. Check out Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool to make sure your site promotes a positive experience for mobile users. Whether it’s mobile or desktop, I cannot over-stress the importance of page load speed, and I’m positive that SEO experts around the world universally agree. Make sure you capitalise on site-wide opportunities such as browser-caching and image optimisation to boost content load speed on mobile. We all know it’s a ranking signal, but Neil Patel’s data below demonstrates a clear correlation between speed and position.

seo in 2018 strategy

Site speed vs. search engine ranking, via Neil Patel

2. You can’t neglect the influence of machine learning

Briefly, RankBrain is Google’s machine learning system that measures how searchers interact with their results pages. As one of Google’s top three ranking signals, RankBrain helps it determine search rankings along with content and backlink quality.

In 2018, put focus into two areas that RankBrain analyses to help determine rankings – click through rates and dwell time.

Optimising your organic click-through rates can provide significant gains. High-ranking keywords with poor CTRs in the Search Analytics section of Google Search Console are vulnerable to losing their rankings. Prioritise keywords in the top 5 with CTRs below 10% and refine with more enticing titles and description tags.

Dwell time is the period between clicking on a page in the Google search results and returning back to the search results – very similar to bounce rate, but only taking the user’s return to the SERP into consideration. As an indicator to RankBrain of user intent and engagement, take the time to identify pages within Google Analytics with high exit rates from organic visitors. Address the quality of the content and intent match to better retain searchers.

3. You can’t over-rely on guest blogging for links

Above all, it’s important to remember that SEO is primarily about content and links. This isn’t going to change in 2018, and the recent study below confirms this.

backlinks in 2018

Number of backlinks vs. Google position, via Backlinko

Content must be at the foundation of your link building strategy. If your content is bad, you won’t get links. It’s that simple.

If there’s one area of focus for 2018, it’s don’t rely heavily on churning out guest posting. While building links through guest posts still works and will continue to be effective in 2018, a return of one or two links for each article may not warrant the investment.

Instead, focus on creating content for your own site that has the potential to be picked up by influencers in your industry and adds real value. We’re drowning in content and it’s often to see dozens of blogs covering the same topic with the same level of depth. If you’re not adding anything new, why would people link to it?

link building in 2018

Via Brandwatch

Use 2018 as the opportunity to start adding real value to your audience. Also take the time to:

Identify existing content that has gathered great results, and make it better. If there’s an authoritative article on link building in 2018, why not turn it into an Infographic or an interactive piece? Both Buzzsumo and Ahrefs provide insight into what content has gathered decent traction. Export the data, and pick out popular pieces that could be updated or improved on. Scan knowledge bases and community hubs such as Quora. Listen out for common frustrations that your target audience shares, and create content to remedy them. Also consider investing in a social listening tool such as Hootsuite to gain further insight into what’s hot, and what’s your audience is talking about.

Traditional sources of link building are still relevant and still get results. So be sure to monitor and capitalise on native and competitor broken links and brand mentions.

4. It’s time to kill your thin, poor quality content

It’s always important to remember that Google’s objective is to show searchers the best result, and the algorithms keep changing to serve that objective. This will continue to be the case in 2018 and beyond.

There is a clear correlation between content depth and rankings, as shown in the findings of a study undertaken by Backlinko below.

word count vs. google rank

If you’ve noticed key pages slipping down the rankings, it’s important to address depth, and whether it’s still relevant. It’s also very likely that someone else has done a better job at addressing the topic since you wrote it.

For in-depth pieces such as guides and articles, always aim for 2,000 words, and kill any content that’s old, irrelevant and doesn’t contribute anything to your website in terms of authority and traffic. This is known as pruning, and I highly recommend auditing legacy content to find pages that don’t make the grade (i.e., no little to no organic traffic or links). However, always attempt to improve the content before cutting away completely.

5. You must actively optimize for featured snippets

Nearly 30% of Google’s search results contain a featured snippet according to a recent study undertaken by Stone Temple. In addition, Stone Temple’s study revealed that featured snippets significantly impact the CTR’s of traditional organic search results below them.

More SERPs are being dominated by featured snippets, knowledge graphs and rich snippets as Google continues to generate a more visual information source beyond the traditional organic results. Throw text ads, product ads and image results into the mix, and your organic listings are going to slide further down the pages.

Here are some actions you can take to ramp up your content’s visibility in featured snippets:

Identify page one rankings that currently don’t occupy a featured snippet in the SERP. This is your opportunity to jump in for some quick-wins. Update and optimise old but authoritative content on your website for featured snippets. Check out this study to find the sweet spot triggering featured snippets. Add Quora, Reddit and Answer the Public to your keyword research tool kit to identify questions that your audience is asking, and create new content around these. 6. Voice search shouldn’t be an afterthought

Voice search has been the one to watch since 2011, but the increasing adoption of virtual assistants and smart speakers have upped the game significantly. It’s been reported that voice-enabled smart speakers will reach 55% of US households by 2022.

seo for voice search

If voice search isn’t on your agenda, take a look at these statistics:

60% of people using voice search have started in the last year 40% of adults now use voice search once per day Prediction: 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020

For those relatively new to voice search, here’s a few tips to best optimise your content for voice search:

Buy a virtual assistant or smart speaker such as Google Home or Amazon Echo if you haven’t already to get a handle on exactly how they work. As previously highlighted, invest time in optimising content that currently ranks on page one to appear for a featured snippet. Use tools such as Answer the Public to identify conversation queries and create new content around these. Structure relevant content to include a question and answer. This would particularly apply to blog posts and FAQ content.

Google has hinted that they will be introducing better voice search reporting to Search Console. Hopefully we’ll see this come to light in 2018 along with more granular voice search reporting in Analytics, perhaps.

7. Video is a necessary investment

Video has exploded and well and truly really taken off in 2017. This is reflected in some mind-melting industry statistics, including:

45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week 1.3 billion people use YouTube

In a recent study by STAT, the number of video carousels appearing in Google’s SERPs has nearly doubled.

video seo 2018

Video carousels per rank via STAT

What does this mean? Google is paying more attention to video and placing it in prime real estate on the SERPs. If you’re not currently embracing video marketing and incorporating it into your strategy, now is the time to step up your game.

There are many opportunities to explore for video, including:

Explainer videos Product demos Video testimonials Video blogging Live video such as webinars and interviews

Don’t just stop with YouTube. Create and share video content on other platforms such as Vimeo and Dailymotion. Share on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as they continue to better accommodate video in user feeds. Above all, take more opportunities to drive visibility and attract natural links with video.

How is your SEO strategy evolving in 2018?

About the author

As Digital Marketing Manager at Hallam Internet, Tom plans and delivers digital marketing strategies for key B2B and B2C clients in addition to leading a team of specialists. His expertise is within SEO, Paid Search & Content Marketing.

219: I’d like to Feature YOU on the ProBlogger Podcast

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/gerYqwazA3g/

An Invitation for YOU to Be Featured on the ProBlogger Podcast

Today’s podcast is a little different. It’s an invitation for YOU to be featured in an upcoming episode of the ProBlogger podcast.

Early next year we’ll be releasing a brand new free course for bloggers to help them launch their blogs.

And in the lead up we want to feature stories and tips from ProBlogger listeners and readers who’ve already started their own blogs.

So if you’ve started a blog, whether it was recently or a long time ago, we’d love to include you in the series.

Links and Resources on I’d like to Feature YOU on the ProBlogger Podcast Blogging What’s Your Story? Facebook Group

Join the video challenge in our Facebook group

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 219 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today I’ve got something a little bit different. Normally I teach something to you. I share an idea or a tip on how to improve your blog. But today I want to invite you to teach the rest of our audience. I want to try something a little different and give you an invitation to be featured in an upcoming episode of the ProBlogger podcast.

Early next year we’re going to be releasing a brand new course for bloggers to help them to launch their first blog, pre-bloggers really. In the lead up to that, we would love to feature stories and tips from ProBlogger listeners and readers who’ve already started their blog. If you’ve started a blog, whether it be in the last few months, the last year, or a long time ago, I would to love to include you in this upcoming series.

Today’s episode is all about how you can be involved in this little project we’re running. Listen on to find out how. But let me share the show notes for today where you can find all the details of what I’m going to mention, it’s at problogger.com/podcast/219.

Every year in January we notice a really big swing, upswing, in traffic to ProBlogger’s articles on the topic of how to start a blog. It seems that many people make this their New Year’s resolution. “I’m going to start a blog in 2018.” And we’re expecting that in the beginning of next year, many people will begin to do that.

This next January, we want to really help as many of those bloggers as possible in a way that we’ve never done it before. We want to really see in 2018 be the year that thousands of new blogs get started. And to do this we’ve been working on a brand new free course on that very topic that’s going to walk pre-bloggers through the process of not only setting up a blog, the technicalities of that, but setting up the foundations for a profitable blog.

We’re going to be talking about choosing a topic, and a niche, and really refining what it is that you want to do on that blog. It’s not just about getting a domain and a server, that’s certainly part of what we want to help people with that. But we want to really get the right foundations for starting a blog.

If you are one of our listeners, and there are quite a few of you who are yet to start, yet to do your first blog, or you’re thinking about starting a second blog, I want to encourage you to just be on the lookout for that because it’ll happen early next year. You can sign up to be notified of that in today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/219.

But if you are someone who’s already started blogging, we would also love to involve you in the process as much as possible. We want to ask you to share your story and a few tips on the topic of starting a blog.

My team and I are really excited about this course we’ve already put together. I’s very comprehensive. It’s the kind of thing I wish I had when I was starting out. However, we know that in the wider ProBlogger community, there’s such amazing knowledge and some really inspirational stories that come from a variety of different backgrounds that would be invaluable to bloggers just starting out. We know that there are people in our audience who are fashion bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers, business blogger, technology bloggers, sports bloggers, the list could go on and on and on. To be honest, I don’t have experience at all of those different niches and all the different styles of blogging. We want to include as many of your stories and tips as possible so that new bloggers have different things to draw and different experiences to draw on.

We want you to be involved. And want to give you an opportunity to share some of your stories and advice here on the ProBlogger podcast and potentially over on the ProBlogger blog as well.

We would love to hear from you and we’d love to hear from you whether you are an old-time blogger, you’ve been maybe at it as long as I have, from 2002, or maybe you’re a newer blogger. We actually want to feature blogs of all stages and in all niches and of all styles, we want to encourage video bloggers and those who are doing audio blogs, and those who are doing more visual blogs, we really don’t mind. As long as you classify what you’re doing as a blog, we would love to hear your story, no matter what the niche, the style, where your background is, whether you’re from America, Australia, Zimbabwe, it really doesn’t matter. We would like you to keep it in English because that’s where the bulk of our audience is from. But apart from that, whatever background, whatever accent you have, we would love to try and feature as many of you as possible.

This is really going to help a lot of new bloggers, but hopefully, it’s also going to be good for you as it’s going to get your story, your blog, your URL, in front of thousands of listeners of this podcast and tens of thousands of subscribers of the email list that we send out every day. Our readers are a friendly bunch, so don’t worry about that.

Here’s what we need you to do. If you want to participate in this, and again, blogs of all sizes, it doesn’t matter, we would love you to submit a short audio file. We want to keep it under ten minutes. You can go five minutes if you want, but anything up to ten minutes and we want you to share your story of starting a blog and share some tips for those starting out. You can do it in your style, but there are few things that we do want you to include. Before you go run off and do your recording, we want to have some consistency between the storytelling. There are six questions we would like you to answer. As long as you cover these six things in some way in your story, that would be great. You don’t have to read the question and then answer it (if you want to do it that way, you can), but as long as you include these things we’d love to include you as much as possible.

Here are the six things.

We want you to tell you us your name, your blog’s name and the topic, its URL, that’s the first thing. Just keep that really short.

The second thing is for you to tell us the story of starting a blog. Include things like why did you start, when did you start, what were your objectives, hopes and goals, what were your dreams when you started out. It’s the expectations that you had, I guess, and anything interesting happening in that starting process.

The third thing we want you to include is in hindsight, what did you do in starting your blog that you’re most grateful that you did? We want you to identify something that you did right, something that you’re grateful that you did, something that maybe helped you to grow faster or made the process easier. Keep in mind here that these are new pre-bloggers who will be listening to this. Anything that’s going to help them to make their process easier would be great.

The fourth thing, what mistake or mistakes did you make that you would advise other people watch out for. Did you choose the wrong domain, the wrong server, the wrong theme, did you not have a tight enough niche, whatever it is, mistake or mistakes.

Number five, what good things have happened to you since you’ve started blogging. We would love to hear the upside, what has happened since you started blogging. For some of you, there’ll be a lot that you can choose from. Don’t go into great depth in all of it, just choose one thing. Something specific as possible. Maybe it’s traffic, maybe it’s an opportunity that came, maybe it’s a lesson you learned, maybe it’s you got some self-confidence, maybe you’ve got a new income. Feel free to be specific about that if you’d like. Really, I guess what we’re trying here to do is to share with pre-bloggers some of the upside, some of the good things that can come. We want to inspire people to start blogging.

The sixth thing is what is your number one tip for a new blogger. Something practical that new bloggers can do or decide that will have a big impact on their blog. Again, we want them to come away from this with some practical things to do, to try. Keep in mind with that last one that we don’t want to really feature ten of the same tips. You can choose something that might be common. But if you’ve got something interesting, something a little bit unique that you haven’t heard other people talk about, feel free to include that as well.

There are the six things we want you to include. Keep it under ten minutes, it’s going to have to be fairly tight. My team has set up a page for you at problogger.com/blogstory where you’ll find all of that information, and it will point you to a Google Form where you can log in with your Google account and submit your audio file and a headshot.

We’d love a headshot. If you are blogging anonymously, for your freedom, maybe include your logo or something that symbolizes who you are if you want to keep that anonymous. But we’d love to see who are if you’re happy and comfortable to do that.

Before you record anything, please do read through the guidelines that we’ve included on that page just so you do it in the right way to increase your chance of being featured. One other thing: we really need you to act in the next week or so, if possible, to be considered in the first batch of episodes that we’d like to do. We may do more episodes down the track but if you would like to be considered for this first batch, we really do need your audio file by the 11th of December. As this podcast goes live, you got about a week to do that. You can submit after that time for potential lighter episodes but we’d love as many as possible by the 11th of December.

It’s also worth saying that I’m very excited about this but I’m also slightly nervous about doing it because we really don’t know how many are going to be submitted. It may be that we get ten, those ten, we’ll probably be able to feature a lot them. But we may get a hundred or we may get a thousand. I really don’t know. We will try and include as many as we possibly can. But it’s really going to come down to trying to choose ones that we think are going to be most practical and inspiring for new bloggers. And maybe something that’s a little bit unique as well. If you’ve got sort of a unique story, or if you’re blogging a unique way or a unique niche, that would be great as well.

Your recording certainly doesn’t have to be perfect but do try and make your audio quality decent and clear and think about how you can stand out from everyone else that does submit.

I hope that’s clear. If you got any questions, feel free to ask them over at the ProBlogger Facebook group. We’ll be watching out for those over the next week or so. Again, head over to problogger.com/blogstory to participate and I’ll link to that over on the show notes as well.

I’m really excited about this. I love this type of thing. We actually, a few years ago now, invited readers to submit video tips. We had 20 or so people record a tip on video and that was a fantastic post, I really love seeing and hearing the voices of our readers. Particularly the breadth of people that came from around the world, all those different accents. I know there are a lot of you who listen from America, or in Australia, or in the UK, Canada. We’ve also got a lot of listeners in India, Singapore, Manila. We’ve got listeners throughout Africa. I’d love to get as many different accents and experiences as possible. It’s fascinating to see that. Please feel confident to do it, please submit something and I really look forward to seeing what comes in as a result of this. Again, problogger.com/blogstory.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 219: I’d like to Feature YOU on the ProBlogger Podcast appeared first on ProBlogger.


7 Ways to Ensure Your Next Webinar is a Success

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/crazyegg/~3/ojZmxKPzqeo/

perfect webinar

Webinars are one of the most popular tools used by marketers for lead generation. Not only are they great for generating demand but they’re also a less pushy way of nurturing cold leads. The reason is that you are offering to provide information that your audience will value in your webinars. You can also demonstrate your expertise and showcase your knowledge of the industry and domain using webinars. However, webinars can be truly beneficial for your company if they are planned and implemented well. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the things you need to do to ensure…

The post 7 Ways to Ensure Your Next Webinar is a Success appeared first on The Daily Egg.

Learn AdWords in Under an Hour with WordStream & Skillshare

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/6PxDtgupwYg/adwords-class

Learning paid search is hard – and it’s harder on your own! So many paid search marketers are self-taught, and it can take months to fully understand the fundamentals, create keywords, write ads, and launch your first campaigns – and then even longer to fix some mistakes you learn too late! But not all advertisers have the time to learn paid search, and even fewer have the budget to make mistakes in their first campaigns.

Well, if you’re struggling with this yourself, you’re in luck: WordStream recently paired with SkillShare to launch a full class to help you master Google AdWords fundamentals and launch your first paid search campaign! I do a lot internal training here at WordStream, so I’ll be your instructor through this course.

You can watch a teaser of the course here:

During the one-hour course, split up into 11 videos, you’ll learn how to manage your first Google AdWords campaign, create your keywords, write amazing paid search ads, structure your ad groups and campaigns, and how to measure your success.

Beyond just getting started, you’ll also learn strategies for maintaining your campaigns by reducing your wasted spend, adding negative keywords, adjusting your bids, and refining the audiences that see your ads.

The course is hosted on SkillShare and covers everything you’ll need to know to launch your first Google AdWords campaign – in just under an hour. Courses on SkillShare can be streamed anytime and on any device, and best of all, SkillShare members can watch this class (or any other of their 17,000+ classes) for free!

To learn more on the Fundamentals of Google AdWords, enroll in the course here and enjoy a free 2-month subscription to SkillShare’s full library of 17,000+ classes. You can ask me questions or interact with other students in the class in the “Community” tab, and there’s even a project (think of it as homework) to test your knowledge.

After completing the course, you’ll have your first AdWords campaign up and running and you can continue to learn through WordStream’s free PPC University or optimize your new campaign using our free Google AdWords Grader. SkillShare also offers plenty of other courses for digital marketers looking to learn more about SEO, social media, email marketing, web design, and more, so start exploring!

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream, focused on research and training for the everchanging world of PPC. He was named the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2017 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and SkillShare.

How Google AdWords (PPC) Does and Doesn’t Affect Organic Results – Whiteboard Friday

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/TdWysm_hiWU/how-google-adwords-ppc-affects-organic-results

Posted by randfish

It’s common industry knowledge that PPC can have an effect on our organic results. But what effect is that, exactly, and how does it work? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the ways paid ads influence organic results — and one very important way it doesn’t.

How Google AdWords does and doesn't affect Organic Results

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 AdWords and how PPC, paid search results can potentially impact organic results.
Now let’s be really clear. As a rule…

Paid DOES NOT DIRECTLY affect organic rankings

So many of you have probably seen the conspiracy theories out there of, “Oh, we started spending a lot on Goolge AdWords, and then our organic results went up.” Or, “Hey, we’re spending a lot with Google, but our competitor is spending even more. That must be why they’re ranking better in the organic results.” None of that is true. So there’s a bunch of protections in place. They have a real wall at Google between the paid side and the organic side. The organic folks, the engineers, the product managers, the program managers, all of the people who work on those organic ranking results on the Search Quality team, they absolutely will not let paid directly impact how they rank or whether they rank a site or page in the organic results.

However:But there are a lot of indirect things that Google doesn’t control entirely that cause paid and organic to have an intersection, and that’s what I want to talk about today and make clear.

A. Searchers who see an ad may be more likely to click and organic listing.

Searchers who see an ad — and we’ve seen studies on this, including a notable one from Google years ago — may be more likely to click on an organic listing, or they may be more likely if they see a high ranking organic listing for the same ad to click that ad. For example, let’s say I’m running Seattle Whale Tours, and I search for whale watching while I’m in town. I see an ad for Seattle Whale Tours, and then I see an organic result. It could be the case, let’s say that my normal click-through rate, if there was only the ad, was one, and my normal click-through rate if I only saw the organic listing was one. Let’s imagine this equation: 1 plus 1 is actually going to equal something like 2.2. It’s going to be a little bit higher, because seeing these two together biases you, biases searchers to generally be more likely to click these than they otherwise would independent of one another. This is why many people will bid on their brand ads.

Now, you might say, “Gosh, that’s a really expensive way to go for 0.2 or even lower in some cases.” I agree with you. I don’t always endorse, and I know many SEOs and paid search folks who don’t always endorse bidding on branded terms, but it can work.

B. Searchers who’ve been previously exposed to a site/brand via ads may be more likely to click>engage>convert.

Searchers who have been previously exposed to a particular brand through paid search may be more likely in the future to click and engage on the organic content. Remember, a higher click-through rate, a higher engagement rate can lead to a higher ranking. So if you see that many people have searched in the past, they’ve clicked on a paid ad, and then later in the organic results they see that same brand ranking, they might be more likely and more inclined to click it, more inclined to engage with it, more inclined actually to convert on that page, to click that Buy button generally because the brand association is stronger. If it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of a new brand, a new company, a new website, you are less likely to click, less likely to engage, less likely to buy, which is why some paid exposure prior to organic exposure can be good, even for the organic exposure.

C. Paid results do strongly impact organic click-through rate, especially in certain queries.

Across the board, what we’ve seen is that paid searches on average, in all of Google, gets between 2% and 3% of all clicks, of all searches result in a paid click. Organic, it’s something between about 47% and 57% of all searches result in an organic click. But remember there are many searches where there are no paid clicks, and there are many searches where paid gets a ton of traffic. If you haven’t seen it yet, there was a blog post from Moz last week, from the folks at Wayfair, and they talked about how incredibly their SERP click-through rates have changed because of the appearance of ads.

So, for example, I search for dining room table lighting, and you can see on your mobile or on desktop how Google has these rich image ads, and you can sort of select different ones. I want to see all lighting. I want to see black lighting. I want to see chrome lighting. Then there are ads below that, the normal paid text ads, and then way, way down here, there are the organic results.

So this is probably taking up between 25% and 50% of all the clicks to this page are going to the paid search results, biasing the click-through rate massively, which means if you bid in certain cases, you may find that you will actually change the click-through rate curve for the entire SERP and change that click-through rate opportunity for the keyword.

D. Paid ad clicks may lead to increased links, mentions, coverage, sharing, etc. that can boost organic rankings.

So paid ad clicks may lead to other things. If someone clicks on a paid ad, they might get to that site, and then they might decide to link to it, to mention that brand somewhere else, to provide media coverage or social media coverage, to do sharing of some kind. All of those things can — some of them directly, some of them indirectly — boost rankings. So it is often the case that when you grow the engagement, the traffic of a website overall, especially if that website is providing a compelling experience that someone might want to write about, share, cover, or amplify in some way, that can boost the rankings, and we do see this sometimes, especially for queries that have a strong overlap in terms of their content, value, and usefulness, and they’re not just purely commercial in intent.

E. Bidding on search queries can affect the boarder market around those searches by shifting searcher demand, incentivizing (or de-incentivizing) content creation, etc.

Last one, and this is a little subtler and more difficult to understand, but basically by bidding on paid search results, you sort of change the market. You affect the market for how people think about content creation there, for how they think about monetization, for how they think about the value of those queries.

A few years ago, there was no one bidding on and no one interested in the market around insurance discounts as they relate to fitness levels. Then a bunch of companies, insurance companies and fitness tracking companies and all these other folks started getting into this world, and then they started bidding on it, and they created sort of a value chain and a monetization method. Then you saw more competition. You saw more brands entering this space. You saw more affiliates entering. So the organic SERPs themselves became more competitive with the entry of paid, and this happens very often in markets that were under or unmonetized and then become more monetized through paid advertising, through products, through offerings.

So be careful. Sometimes when you start bidding in a space that previously no one was bidding in, no was buying paid ads in, you can invite a lot of new and interesting competition into the search results that can change the whole dynamic of how the search query space works in your sector.

All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Complete Beginner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/6PT1ebsqMHo/account-based-marketing

I believe it was last fall when a colleague of mine told me that account-based marketing was “trending” in the digital marketing world. And according to a study done by Sirius Decisions in 2016, she was correct. They found that more than 70% of B2B marketers are ramping up ABM specific programs, with having staff dedicated to account-based marketing. In 2015, only 20% of companies had AMB programs in place.

And according to ITSMA, about 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach!

account based marketing stats

Image via Slideshare

Working in customer success at the time, but also having a background in marketing, I was instantly intrigued. A constant issue I’ve seen at different places of employment is the ability to properly align sales, success, and marketing. Could account-based marketing be the magic fix?

Marketing to specific high-value accounts seemed promising, but challenging. How can we really do this effectively over a 40-50 hour work-week? But before pondering this, a critical question must be answered: What exactly is account-based marketing?

What Is Account-Based Marketing, or ABM?

Account-based marketing is a strategic marketing strategy where key business accounts are marketed to directly, as units of one (compared to the typical one-to-many approach). In essence, high-value accounts or prospects are identified, key stakeholders in these businesses are targeted, and then marketing strategies are implemented through various channels to appeal to their specific personas and needs. Account-based marketing is like personalized marketing on steroids.

what is account based marketing

“Account-based marketing focuses on a few large and important accounts or those potential accounts that hold the greatest promise of adding to your bottom line,” says Elyse Flynn Meyer, President and founder of Prism Global Marketing Solutions. “That’s why it’s so critical to have a high-touch and highly targeted message to these individuals, because of their revenue potential and impact to sales and marketing.”

Should You Implement Account-Based Marketing?

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about what ABM actually is, you might be wondering if it’s actually worth losing sleep over. One clear reason to pursue account-based marketing is that studies show it appears to be effective in delivering ROI. In fact, research from the Altera group found that 97% of respondents reported that ABM had a somewhat higher or much higher ROI than other marketing campaigns.

why use account based marketing

But is ABM right for you? While “account-based marketing” is a buzzworthy phrase, it isn’t an optimal strategy for every business. In fact, ABM is typically a B2B marketing approach involving enterprise-level sales organizations with over 1,000 employees.

This is due to the fact that there are usually multiple stakeholders involved in the sale. If your employee count is under 1,000 and you’re not in the B2B sector, this doesn’t necessarily rule your out, but you should consider if it makes sense for your business model and sales/marketing cycles. It might not be realistic to tackle marketing to specific accounts if you’re a small business with limited time and resources for marketing.

If you’re intrigued and want to try pursuing this strategy, you absolutely should! Why? Account-based marketing seeks to kick-off the sales process with higher-value opportunities earlier, get the highest ROI possible from marketing campaigns, as well as align marketing, sales, and account management for longer-term success.

Sounds pretty great, am I right? So while it may seem a bit tricky to implement, once you’ve gotten the strategy down the payoff can be tremendously valuable and well worth the effort invested.

One other thing to mention is that there are ways to automate account-based marketing as long as you have the right data and a system to communicate between sales and marketing. For instance, Terminus is a SaaS platform that gracefully brings together account-based marketing and automation.

account based marketing platform

For those of you who feel like ABM could yield huge returns for your company, follow these six steps to get things going!

6 Steps to Effectively Implement Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is like learning a new language. You’re no longer targeting demographics or personas, but rather specific organizations.

The playing field changes a bit, and it requires a strategic and tactical approach to perfect. Following the below steps will ensure you start off on the right foot with ABM.

#1: Define Your Strategic Accounts

Marketers are used to defining personas, but account-based marketing isn’t about distinguishing between “Chatty Cathy” and “Enterprise Eric.” Rather ABM is about marketing to a whole organization rather than an individual. This is a critical distinction, and the starting point to kicking things off on the right foot.

Start your account-based marketing efforts by determining the common makeup of organizations that bring in the largest MRR (monthly recurring revenue) at your organization. For instance, define the industry, company size, location, annual revenue, upsell opportunity, profit margin, etc. for the accounts that are yielding your business the highest long-term profits. Those are the types of accounts you want to go after.

defining accounts for account based marketing

Image via datapine

This process will likely consist of both quantitative and qualitative research. For example, partnering up with strategic leaders, as well as customer-facing employees in your sales and customer success teams to learn from their experiences, while also finding the data you have on hand to support these assumptions. The information you can gather from employees who work on the front-line with prospects and customers is extremely valuable during this process, because who knows your leads and customers better then they do? Having the data to back it up will only ensure you’re heading directly to money-ville.

This step shouldn’t be taken lightly because if you don’t thoroughly define your target, moving onto the next step won’t be feasible.

#2: Put Your Investigation Goggles On

Next it’s time to go whale hunting with some strategic thinkers within your sales organization. Once you understand the makeup of the organizations you’re pursuing you need to find the ones that match, and dig in even deeper to determine who the key stakeholders are.

Once you’ve identified some target organizations, learning more about how decisions are made at these target accounts, determining who the decision makers are, and learning more about how decisions are made are the key components to this step. With account-based marketing knowledge really is power. Put your investigation goggles on and learn about the intricate makings of these organizations, and start to strategize on how you can influence the stakeholders at each one.

Some helpful tools to do this can be your own CRM (and the people within your company that have had contact with these organizations in the past), as well as social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.

#3: Create Personalized Content & Messaging

Now it’s time to put your investigational knowledge to use with content that speaks directly to these stakeholders and organizations. You should understand these stakeholders’ specific pain points and appeal to how you can solve them with your messaging and imagery.

Keep in mind that the beauty of account-based marketing is that it’s personalized to these organizations; this is why your content needs to speak specifically to them.

Work together with your design team, as well as sales, to ensure your content is visually engaging, but also communicating the right messages to these key stakeholders. Also check out this Seriously Comprehensive Guide to B2B Content Marketing for some awesome examples of companies that are killing it with B2B content.

b2b account based marketing

#4: Decide on the Best Channels for Your Campaigns

Your research and content will be useless if you’re not promoting your campaigns and creative in the right places. You need to understand where these stakeholders spend their time online, and what their state of mind is when they’re on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

For instance, if you are targeting someone within a graphic design organization, perhaps you know that these individuals spend time on Pinterest from your initial research. Or maybe you’re targeting financial executives, in which you’d be better off showing them targeted Google Display ads on Bloomberg, Market Watch, and Motely Fool.

Facebook and LinkedIn can be powerful platforms to target these stakeholders because you can actually run campaigns to appeal to specific organizations, as well as titles within those organizations. For instance, if I wanted to target Google employees on Facebook, I could do so by using the specific demographic filters of “Work” > “Employers” and then search for Google.

using facebook to target accounts

I can then take this to the next level by adding in their specific job title. For example, if I was selling HR software I could target “HR Managers” who work for Google. Pretty cool, huh?

account based marketing on facebook

LinkedIn also has powerful ways to help you run account-based campaigns. For more, check out their resources here.

using linkedin for account based marketing

#5: Execute Your Account-Based Campaigns

The hard preparation work has been completed, and it is finally time to actually run your campaign! Hoorah!

However, you shouldn’t just let your content run wild. A few things to keep in mind: Since this method of marketing is so targeted, it’s important to not overwhelm these prospects by bombarding them with repeat messages across multiple channels. Be sure that you aren’t abusing your remarketing powers, and hitting the same people with the same message time and time again.

Also, ensure your channels aren’t set up to just speak to one or two individuals within these organizations. Remember that you’re targeting an organization and the stakeholders within it rather then a single person. You need to strike the right balance of catching your prospect’s attention without turning them off. No one likes to be harassed by a sales person!

#6: Measure & Share Your Results

Once your campaign has been running for 30 to 60 days, it is time to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your account-based marketing efforts. Ask some critical questions like:

Did our personalized content prove to be engaging? If so, how? Are these accounts becoming more engaged with your brand? Are you expanding the number of known stakeholders within these organizations? Did you move any of these targeted leads down the funnel? Did you generate any revenue from these campaigns? What could you do better going forward?

If your results are not as great as you predicted the first time around, don’t be discouraged. The best thing about online marketing is how measurable the results are, which helps you see exactly where you need to evolve and improve.

On the other hand, you may find that ABM is yielding huge returns for your business. If so, keep it up!

Want more help with account-based marketing? Check out Marketo’s ABM resources and AdAge’s account-based marketing best practices.

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on:

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Blog: http://www.margotshealthhub.com/