Free Local SEO Tools That Belong in Your Kit

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Posted by MiriamEllis

What a lot can change in just a few years! When I wrote the original version of this post in January 2014, the local SEO industry didn’t have quite the wealth of paid tools that now exists, and many of the freebies on my previous list have been sunsetted. Definitely time for a complete refresh of the most useful free tools, widgets, and resources I know of to make marketing local businesses easier and better.

While all of the tools below are free, note that some will require you to sign up for access. Others are limited, no-cost, or trial versions that let you get a good sense of what they provide, enabling you to consider whether it might be worth it to buy into paid access. One thing you may notice: my new list of local SEO tools offers increased support for organic SEO tasks, reflective of our industry’s growing understanding of how closely linked organic and local SEO have become.

Now, let’s open this toolkit and get 2018 off to a great start!

For ResearchUS Census Bureau Tool Set

Looking to better understand a target community for marketing purposes? You’ll find 20+ useful resources from the US Census Bureau, including population statistics, economic data, mapping and geocoding widgets, income and language information, and much more.

Client Onboarding Questionnaire & Phone Script

Onboarding a new client? Reduce repetitious follow-ups by asking all of the right questions the first time around with this thorough questionnaire and easy-to-follow phone call script from Moz. Includes helpful tips for why you are asking each question. As local SEO veterans will tell you, a missed question can lead to unhappy (and costly) surprises down the marketing road. Be sure you have the total picture of an incoming client in clear view before you begin strategizing.

Location Information Spreadsheet

Vital when marketing multi-location businesses, this free Moz spreadsheet will ensure that you’ve got all the info at your fingertips about each locale of a company.

*Pro tip: When working with large enterprises, be certain that the data you’re inputting in this spreadsheet has been approved by all relevant departments. It’s really no fun to find out six months into a marketing campaign that there’s internal disagreement about company NAP or other features.

Local Competitive Audit Spreadsheet

Now we’re really getting down to brass tacks. When you need to look for answers to the perennial client question, “Why is that guy outranking me?”, this free Moz spreadsheet will help you document key competitive data. The end result of filling out the sheet will be two columns of stats you can compare and contrast in your quest to discover competitors’ ranking strengths and weaknesses. Need more guidance? Read my blog post in which I put this audit spreadsheet into action for two San Francisco Bay Area Chinese restaurants.

Manual GeoLocation Chrome Extension

Watch Darren Shaw demo using this tool to show how a local pack changes when a user virtually crosses a street and you’ll quickly understand how useful this Chrome extension will be in approximating the impacts of user-to-business proximity. Works well on desktop devices.

Our industry still hasn’t fully recovered from Google removing the Local Search filter from its engine in 2015, and I still live in hope that they will bring it back one day, but in the meantime, this extension gives us a good sense of how searcher location affects search results. In fact, it may even be a superior solution.

The MozBar SEO Toolbar

Local businesses in competitive markets must master traditional SEO, and the free MozBar provides a wonderful introduction to the metrics you need to look at in analyzing the organic strengths and weaknesses of clients and competitors. On-page elements, link metrics, markup, HTTP status, optimization opportunities — get the data you need at a glance with the MozBar.

Google Advanced Search Operators

Not a tool, per se, but the best tutorial I have ever seen on using Google advanced search operators to deepen your research. Dr. Pete breaks this down into 67 steps that will enable you to use these search refinements for content and title research, checking for plagiarism, technical SEO audits, and competitive intelligence. Be totally wizardly and impress your clients and teammates, simply by knowing how to format searches in smart ways.

Google Search Console

Apologies if it already seems like a no-brainer to you that you should be signed up for Google’s console that gives you analytics, alerts you to serious errors, and so much more, but local SEO is just now crossing the threshold of understanding how deeply connected it is to organic search. When playing in Google’s backyard, GSC is a must-have for businesses of every type.

BrightLocal’s Search Results Checker

This popular tool does an excellent job of replicating local search results at a city or zip code level. In some cases, it’s best to search by city (for example, when there are multiple towns covered by a single zip code), but other times, it’s better search by zip code (as in the case of a large city with multiple zip codes). The tool doesn’t have the capability to recreate user-level results, so always remember that the proximity of a given user to a business may create quite different results than what you’ll see searching at a city or zip code level. I consider this a great tool to suss out the lay of the land in a community, identifying top competitors.

Offline Conversion Tracker Form

Give this handy Whitespark form to anyone who answers your phone so that they can document the answer to the important question, “How did you hear about us?” Submitted information is saved to Whitespark’s database and tracked in Google Analytics for your future reference and analysis. For local businesses, knowledge of offline factors can be priceless. This form provides a simple point of entry into amassing real-world data.

For ContentAnswer the Public

One of the best-loved keyword research tools in the digital marketing world, Answer the Public lets you enter a keyword phrase and generate a large number of questions/topics related to your search. One of the most awesome facets of this tool is that it has a .CSV download feature — perfect for instantly generating large lists of keywords that you can input into something like Moz Keyword Explorer to begin the sorting process that turns up the most powerful keywords for your content dev and on-page optimization.


Another great content inspiration tool, Buzzsumo shows you lets you enter a keyword, topic or domain name, and then shows you which pieces are getting the most social shares. For example, a search for shows that a highly shared piece of content at the time of my search is about an asparagus and broccoli soup. You can also sort by content type (articles, videos, infographics, etc.). Use of Buzzsumo can help you generate topics that might be popular if covered on your website.

OSHA Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System Search

Another interesting resource for brainstorming a wide pool of potential keywords for content dev consideration, OSHA’s SIC search returns big, comprehensive lists. Just look up your industry’s SIC code, and then enter it along with a keyword/category to get your list.

USPS Look Up a ZIP Code Widget

Working with service area businesses (SABs)? Note the second tab in the menu of this widget: Cities by zip code. When you know the zip code of a business you’re marketing you can enter it into this simple tool to get a list of every city in that zip. Now, let’s not take a wrong step here: don’t publish large blocks of zips or city names on any website, but do use this widget to be sure you know of all the communities for which an SAB might strategize content, link building, brand building, real-world relationship building, social media marketing, and PPC.

Schema/JSON-LD Generators

Rather than list a single tool here, I’m going to take the advice of my friend, schema expert David Deering, who has taught me that no one tool is perfect. In David’s opinion, there isn’t currently a schema/JSON-LD generator that does it all, which is why he continues to build this type of markup manually. That being said, if you’re new to Schema, these generators will get you started: For CitationsMoz Check Listing

I can say without bias that I know of no free tool that does a better job of giving you a lightning-fast overview of the health of a local business’ listings. On the phone with a new prospect? Just plug in the name and zip and see how complete and accurate the company’s citations are on the sources that matter most, including the major local business data aggregators (Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, Localeze) plus key platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, YP, and more.

Literally at a glance, you can tell if inconsistencies and duplicate listings are holding a business back. It can also be used for competitive analysis, defining whether a clean or messy citation set is impacting competitors. The value of the free Check Listing tool becomes most fully realized by signing up for the paid Moz Local product, which automates aggregator-level listing management even at an enterprise level with hundreds or thousands of listings, and offers options for review monitoring, ranking analysis, and more.

Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder (free version)

The free version of this cool tool from our friends at Whitespark will give you a sense of how the paid version can help you discover additional places, beyond the basics, where you might want to get listed. It also analyzes your competitors’ citations.

For ReviewsThe Hoth’s Online Business Review Checker Tool

You’ll have to sign up, but this free tool gives you an overview report of a local business’ reviews on a variety of platforms. This is a smart thing to do for every incoming client, to gauge reputation strengths and weaknesses. The state of a company’s reviews indicates whether it has an offline problem that needs to be corrected at a real-world structural level, or if its core challenge is a lack of strategy for simply earning a competitive number of positive reviews.

Free Review Monitoring

Need to know when a new review comes in on a major or industry-specific review site? Signing up for this free tool will send you email alerts so that you can respond quickly. Watch the little video and pay attention to its statement that the majority of unhappy customers will consider visiting a business again if it quickly resolves a complaint. Good to know!

Review Handout Generator

Another freebie from Whitespark in partnership with Phil Rozek, this very simple resource lets you enter some business info and generate a printable handout your public-facing staff can give to customers. Active review management has become a must in even moderately competitive geo-industries. How nice to have a physical asset to offer your customers to get more of those reviews rolling in!

Google Review Link Generator

Google’s local product has gone through so many iterations that finding a link to point consumers to when requesting a GMB review has been foolishly difficult at times. Whitespark helps out again, at least for brick-and-mortar businesses, with this easy widget that lets you enter your business info and generate a shareable link. Unfortunately, SABs or home-based businesses with hidden addresses can’t use this tool, but for other business models, this widget works really well.

For socialNotify

Whenever your business gets mentioned on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, Reddit, and a variety of other platforms, Notify uses Slack or HipChat to send you an alert. By being aware of important conversations taking place about your brand, and participating in them, your business can achieve an excellent status of responsiveness. Social media has become part of the customer service environment, so a tool like this comes in very handy.


A free trial is available for this app which acts as serious analytics for Twitter. If Twitter is a favorite platform in your industry, definitely give this resource a spin. Understand the characteristics of your followers, find and connect with influencers, and use data to improve your outreach.

Character Count Online

I use this ultra-basic tool all of the time for three specific tasks. Some social platforms either have character limits and don’t always have counters, or (like Google Posts) truncate your social messaging so that only a limited snippet appear at the highest interface. Just plug in your text and see the character count.

And, of course, you’ll want a character counter to be sure your on-page title tags and meta descriptions read right in the SERPs.

My third use for this counter relates to content marketing. Most publications have character count parameters for the pieces they will accept. Here on the Moz Blog, we’re not into length limits, because we believe thorough coverage is the right coverage of important topics. But, when I’m invited to blog elsewhere, I have to rein myself in and be sure I haven’t galloped past that 800-character limit. If you’ve found that to be a problem, too, a character counter can keep you on-track as you write. Whoa, horsie!

So, what did I miss?

If you’re saying to yourself right now, “I can’t believe this totally awesome free local SEO tool I use every week isn’t included,” please share it with our community in the comments. One thing I know I’d love to find a free solution for would be a tool that does review sentiment analysis. Paid solutions exist for this, but I’ve yet to encounter a freebie.

My criteria for a great tool is that it makes work better, stronger, faster… or is that the intro to The Six Million Dollar Man? Well, Steve Austin had some amazing capabilities (and a cool 70s jogging suit, to boot!), and I’m hoping you’ll feel kitted up for success, too, with this list of free tools in the year ahead.

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!

9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page

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9 key ingredients for the perfect sales page

If you’ve created one of these 7 types of products to sell on your blog, or you’re going to start offering a service to your readers, then you need a sales page.

The sales page is (not surprisingly) a page on your blog that’s all about your product or service. You can link to it in the navigation menu, from an ad on your sidebar, from your social media accounts, and from guest posts.

As an example, here’s the sales page for Digital Photography School’s Photo Magic ebook.

Photo Magic sales page example

While sales pages don’t need to be complicated, creating your first one can be daunting. You may have seen all sorts of highly designed sales pages on large blogs and thought, “I can’t do anything even remotely like that”.

But all sales pages have similar elements, which you can think of as ‘ingredients’. Those elements are:

A clear, compelling headline An image of the product or service An explanation of exactly what’s included A list of benefits the customer will get from the product Testimonials from satisfied customers The price (and the different pricing options, if applicable) A money-back guarantee (if applicable) A buy button No sidebar

Here’s what you need to know about each one.

#1: A Clear, Compelling Headline

Sometimes you can use the name of your product or service as the headline, providing it’s interesting and self-explanatory. But in most cases you should come up with a headline as if you were writing an advertisement.

Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s “Authority” membership.

Their sales page begins with a clear statement: “How to Take the Guesswork Out of Content Marketing”, followed by supporting copy about it being a training and networking community.

Try coming up with several possible headlines, and ask your readers (or fellow bloggers, if you belong to a mastermind group or similar) which one they think works best.

You might also want to look at some of the sales pages of products or services you’ve purchased, to see what they did. Do the headlines grab your attention and draw you in? How do they do it? (And are any of them a bit over the top and potentially off-putting?)

#2: An Image of the Product (or Service)

Even if your product is digital, or your service is something fairly intangible (e.g. email consulting), you need an  image.

Here are some ideas:

If you have a physical product, use high-quality photos that show it from different angles, or perhaps in different operating modes. If you have a digital product, take screenshots of it. If it’s an ebook, you might want to create a ‘3D’ version of the cover to use on your sales page. (A cover designer should be able to do this for you. Alternatively, there are plenty of online and downloadable tools you can use.) If you’re providing a service such as consulting, coaching, an in-person workshop, or similar, use a photo of yourself. If you don’t have any professional headshots, ask a friend or family member to take several different shots so you can select the best. If showing your face isn’t an option for any reason, think of other ways you might include a relevant image. For instance, if you’re an editor you might have a photo of your hands on the keyboard.

On the 2017 ProBlogger Evolve Conference sales page, we had photos taken at past events plus headshots of all the speakers:

Use images in your sales page

Normally, you’ll want to save your image as a .jpg file so it loads quickly without losing much quality.

#3: An Explanation of Exactly What’s Included

Sometimes it seems obvious what the customer will get when they buy your product. But always spell things out as clearly as possible so there’s no room for doubt or confusion.

For instance, if you sell software you might want to make it clear they’ll receive a password to download it from your website. Otherwise, they might expect the software to arrive as an email attachment or even a physical CD.

With an ecourse, you’ll probably want to include at least the title of every module or part. And with an ebook, you may want to provide a full chapter list. Here’s what we do for our courses over on Digital Photography School. (This example is from the Lightroom Mastery course.)

#4: A List of Benefits the Customer Will Get

When you’ve created a great product or service, it’s easy to get carried away with the “features” – the nuts and bolts of how it works.

But customers don’t buy features – they buy benefits. (Or, as Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”)

Think about what your product (or service) will help your customer achieve. Will they save time, avoid silly mistakes, or overcome fears?

You might want to list a benefit for each feature. For instance, if you offer website setup and design services, some of the features might be:

You’ll get your own domain name Your site will run on WordPress Your site will feature responsive design You’ll get unlimited email support

But these features may not mean much to someone who’s new to websites. They might not even know exactly what a domain name is, let alone why having their own matters.

Here are those same features, along with their benefits:

You’ll get your very own domain name: you’ll look professional from the moment someone sees your blog’s address. Your site will run on WordPress: this popular website platform lets you easily make changes without touching a word of code. Your site will feature responsive design: it can tell when someone’s visiting from a mobile or tablet, and adjust (just for them) accordingly. You’ll get unlimited email support: while you’ll be able to update every aspect of your site on your own if you want to, I’ll always be available to help.

You can see how adding simple, clear benefits makes the offer sound much more attractive.

#5: Testimonials from Satisfied Customers

One crucial sales tool is what other people say about your product or service. Readers will (rightly) treat your own claims with a little skepticism – of course you think your product is great. But what do other customers think?

Testimonials are quotes from customers recommending your product. You could think of them as reviews, though they’re invariably focused on the positive. And each testimonial may only talk about one or two aspects of the product.

Of course, before you launch your product you won’t have any customers. To get your first few testimonials, you may want to make advance copies of the product available for free (or very cheap), or offer your services for a nominal fee, or even free. You could ask people  on your blog or social media sites whether they’d be interested in using your product and providing a testimonial.

Here’s how Erin Chase from $5 Dinners incorporates testimonials for her meal plan subscription:

Use Testimonials in your sales pages

Ideally, you’ll want to use the full name and a headshot of anyone providing a testimonial to prove they really exist. But ask permission before doing it – some people may prefer to be known by their initials alone.

#6: The Price (and Pricing Options)

It probably goes without saying, but at some point you’ll need to let customers know how much your product (or service) costs.

Be clear about the price, and exactly what it covers. If there are several options, you may want to use a pricing table (showing the options side by side) to help customers choose.

Here’s what Thrive Themes does with its Thrive Leads product (affiliate link), so customers can compare the monthly subscription to all of its products with the price of just Thrive Leads:

We have a Thrive Themes Membership for ProBlogger, and now use it to create all of our sales pages. Check out their sales page so you can see what’s possible with their drag-and-drop builder, Thrive Architect.

#7: A Money-Back Guarantee (if Applicable)

Providing it’s reasonable to do so, offering a money-back guarantee can help those customers ‘on the fence’ decide to buy. This is particularly true for digital products such as ebooks or ecourses. If they buy it and realise it’s not what they wanted, they can get a refund.

With services you might offer a trial period, or a short free consulting session, to help customers make up their mind.

Most bloggers find that very few customers ever ask for a refund, but giving people the option results in more sales. A standard money-back guarantee period is 30 days, but you might offer a longer period if your product is quite involved (e.g. a 60-day refund period on a six-month ecourse).

Here’s an example from a recent Digital Photography School deal. And you can check out the full sales page we built with with Thrive Architect (affiliate link)

Use a guarantee in your sales page

#8: A “Buy” Button

This seems so obvious that you’re probably wondering why I’m including it. But if you’re creating your first sales page, you may not have given it much thought.

To sell your product or service, you’ll need a “buy” button. It might read:

Buy now Add to cart Sign up Join now

or whatever makes sense for your product.

You can easily create a button using PayPal. If you want to style the button yourself, you can create any image and use the PayPal button link. (PayPal currently calls it the “Email payment code”. It’s just a URL you can send by email, use in a sales page, etc.)

If you want to automatically deliver a digital product when someone makes a purchase, you’ll need to use a third-party website or tool such as Easy Digital Downloads (affiliate link), which is what we use at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

Experienced bloggers sometimes split-test different button text, and even different button colours. But the most important thing is to make sure:

it’s clearly visible and easy to find (you may want to include several buttons on the page it works. #9: No Sidebar

This final ingredient is one you’ll remove from your sales page, rather than add. If you look at  the examples I’ve linked to in this post, you’ll see that while they all look very different in terms of design and layout, they all have one thing in common.

They don’t have a blog sidebar. And there are no interesting links and widgets to distract the customer from making a purchase.

Many bloggers use special software to create sales pages without sidebars (and even without the navigation bar or other standard elements on their blog). But you may be able to do it with your current WordPress theme.

When you’re editing a page, go to “Page Attributes” and look for an option called “blank page”, “no sidebars”, “full width” or similar:

Simply select the appropriate option and update your page: the sidebar should disappear.

I hope I’ve made the process of building a sales page a little less daunting. By gathering these ingredients one by one you can put your page together a bit at a time, rather than trying to write the whole thing at once.

Best of luck with your sales page, and your first product or service. I hope it’s the first of many for you.

The post 9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page appeared first on ProBlogger.


The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog

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Start a blog course open

Is starting a new blog on your goals list for 2018?

If so – you’ll want to check out our brand new (and completely free) course – the Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog.

Every year in January we notice a big spike people looking for information on how to start blogs, and while we have an article on how to start a blog that many use to walk through the technicalities of starting a WordPress blog, I’ve been aware since publishing it that there’s more to starting a successful blog than just the technicalities.

So, my team and I began to plan a course that would go deeper than anything we’ve previously created (or seen elsewhere) – while still keeping it free.

The course walks you through the technical stuff but more importantly it’ll help you make solid decisions that will get you a blog with all the foundations for success.

7 Steps to Your New Blog

We’ve designed it to walk through 7 steps:

Is a blog right for you? What is your blogging purpose? What will you blog about? Define your blogging niche and make sure it’s viable What will you call your blog? 4 factors to consider when choosing a domain name Start your blog – register your domain name, set-up hosting and install WordPress Get your blog looking good – blog design and theme choices Add content and functionality to your blog with WordPress Blog launch checklist and bonus learning modules on email and social media

We’ve designed this course with the complete beginner in mind – our guide is to hold your hand through the process.

Sign Up Before 31 January for Two Bonuses

For anyone who joins during our beta period (before 31 January) there’s also a couple of extra bonuses.

Facebook Group

Firstly – we’ve set up a Facebook Group for you to ask questions and to meet and collaborate with others in the course.

Participate in the First International Start a Blog Day

Secondly – if you enrol and use our course to begin a blog before 7 February you can participate in the first annual international start a blog day – a day we want to celebrate new blogs and where we hope we can help with your blog launch by helping you find some new readers by featuring you on our blog honour roll, spotlight some of the new blogs started and when we’re going to award some scholarships for new bloggers to give them further training for their next steps.

We’ll announce more details of the International Start a Blog Day as it gets closer, but to participate you need to start your new blog by 7th Feb!

Claim Your Spot Today

All in all I’m really excited about our new course. There’s already hundreds enrolled and stepping towards their brand new blogs.

Join them today by claiming your spot here.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.


How to Create Engaging Social Media Campaigns That Get Attention

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Getting people’s attention on social media is more difficult than ever. But giving up isn’t an option. So… what should marketers do? Create well-conceived, well-written campaigns that cut through the static, of course. Here’s how. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ad Placement Optimization

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Let’s face it: as a marketer, you can target almost any segment imaginable through Facebook.

On top of that, the social media giant has done a fantastic job at expanding the places where your ads are shown. Over the past few years the company has invested great effort into its advertising arms race against Google, resulting in the expansion of Facebook’s advertising placements.

In this post, I’ll discuss what Facebook’s various ad placements are, how they differ, and how you can strategically optimize each one to lay the smackdown on your competition. 

Facebook Ad Placement Options

If you were to start a Facebook advertising account from scratch today, you would quickly realize that your ads are set to run on “automatic placements” and wonder what that means.

facebook ad placement options automatic vs edit 

If you’re anywhere near as cynical as me, you’ll quickly jump to the conclusion that “(Recommended)” means that Facebook wants you to spend more money. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in that assumption, but I’ll get into that topic later in the post.

If you find yourself disregarding wet paint signs, not paying parking tickets, or simply defying the recommended use of Vicks Vapor Rub when the seasonal flu strikes, you’ll click the “edit placements” button. When you do so you will witness the beautiful world of placement targeting:

facebook ads placement options and instagram ad placement options 

As you can see, there are several territories where your ads can be shown, including:

Facebook’s mobile and desktop newsfeeds Instagram The Audience Network Messenger

You may also notice that you are given three options when it comes to devices:

edit facebook ad placement 

Let’s break these down for further clarification…

Facebook Ad Placements

When it comes to serving social media ads, the Facebook placement is the original gangster.

That being said, they have added a few bells and whistles over the years to give advertisers more flexibility in the way their great-looking ads appear to audience members. Now, a key distinction that needs to be made is that, unless you choose to target both desktop and mobile at the same time, not all placement options will be available to you.

If you choose to only target Facebook users on their desktop/laptop computers, you will be limited to Facebook’s newsfeed and right column placement. The newsfeed is self-explanatory; the right column refers to those compressed versions of your ad on the side of the Facebook UI:

facebook ad desktop sidebar placement 

If you want to target only users on their mobile devices through this placement, you have the option to serve to the newsfeeds as well as Facebook’s “instant articles.” Finally, there are a couple of placement options are only available for certain campaign objectives, including in-stream videos and suggested videos:

 facebook ad placement optimization for in stream video ads

Instagram Ad Placements

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 has proven to be a smart move for the tech giant from a user-base perspective. The platform currently boasts 800 million monthly active users (many of which are also Facebook users); this allows current Facebook advertisers the ability to expand their reach on a different platform altogether.

As you might have guessed, you only have the capability to target mobile users on Instagram. That being said, you do however, need to choose between advertising within the Instagram feed, or within Instagram’s “stories”.

instagram story ad placement optimization 

Now, if you aren’t fully in the loop, Instagram’s “stories” are similar to Snapchat’s “stories.” They are time-based images, videos, and gifs where people can record their existences for the viewing pleasure of an engaged(?) audience.

Facebook Audience Network Ad Placements

The Audience Network gives you a way to extend your reach away from social media entirely and into mobile apps and websites. Your ad can be displayed as either native, banner, or interstitial:

facebook audience network ad placement optimization 

If your campaigns have a video-related objective you also have the option to run in-stream videos and rewarded videos.

I know what you’re thinking – “I sell professional things to professional people: I don’t want my ad showing up on Tinder amongst the sea of singles who all claim to love puppies and adventure!” Well, you are in luck you saasy B2B marketer you. You can exclude specific catagories of apps and websites from the audience network, reducing the amount of wasted clicks. The good news is that these categories and block lists also apply to instant article and in-stream video placements as well:

facebook ads exclude audience network specific content and publishers

This also applies to religious and political categories. Boom, there you go!

Pro Tip: If you visit the website of a business with a remarketing pixel and then visit the website of someone you don’t agree with but is also a part of an ad network (i.e Google or Facebook), by default, the advertiser did not choose for their ads to be on the specific website that you chose to visit and revile so much. It is most often not the advertisers fault because many of them do not have the expertise to be able to exclude these sites specifically. You are visiting the site and the ads are following you #knowledge #blessed. 

Facebook Messenger Ad Placements

The Facebook messenger placement has two options available for advertisers to choose from: Messenger home, and sponsored messages. The home option is self-explanatory, and is essentially a banner ad that is served in the home menu:

facebook messenger ad placement  

The sponsored messages ads appear if you choose the “Messenger” objective at the campaign level. This placement allows targeted, in-context ads to re-engage people who have an existing conversation with your business.

facebook messenger ad sponsored message optimization 

Now that I’ve outlined what the available placements are, I will show you how to effectively optimize your campaigns around them to receive the best value for your dollar.

Optimizing Your Facebook Ad Placements

The truth is, not every placement works with every campaign objective and, in my experience, it’s a better idea to cut some out altogether. There are two approaches to placement optimization you can take right out of the gate – trial & error and goal-centric.

The “trial and error” approach to Facebook ad placements

This approach requires you to set up a campaign (we’ll use the example of a conversions objective).

Take a designated period that you would like to run your ads to a given audience on automatic placements. After the period is over and the data is collected, you’ll want to take a look at the performance in ads manager. To do this, select the ad set or target audience that you ran the test with and open the performance tab on the right-hand side of the screen:

edit facebook ad placements in facebook ads manager 

Once that is opened, select the placements tab on the top right:

 measure facebook ad performance based on ad placement

As you can see from this example, the placements were set to automatic and Facebook’s algorithm was able to learn and optimize for the placement that yielded the most results for the lowest cost in concordance with my bidding strategy.

Through this method you can methodically go into the ad set and pause down placements that are not performing well. Even though Facebook’s algorithm “optimizes” for the best one, it will still spend your money on others to some extent. Going in and cleaning them up will ensure your money is being spent in the best place as often as possible.

The “goal centric” approach to Facebook ad placements

Quick confessions: I wasn’t entirely truthful in my previous example and before you go and get your ad sets in a bunch let me explain myself.

I mentioned that I had set the ad set to “automatic placements” for the test. The example being used was a conversions campaign for eBook downloads and the part where I mislead you was that I didn’t run all the placements “automatically”. In reality, I paused down the audience network from the start and did so for good reason.

After years of advertising on Facebook and managing accounts for a variety of clients, I have become extremely weary of the audience network as a placement in general. When included in conversion-based campaigns I have noticed that, although it underperforms, Facebook insists on serving it to audiences over better performing and more desirable placements like the newsfeed. I have witnessed a similar phenomenon in many website click campaigns, where a large portion of the budget was being allocated for cheap clicks through this placement. This example was in fact set to “automatic placement”:

facebook audience network optimization based on performance visualized  

On the surface, one would think this isn’t all too bad. Cheaper clicks, more volume, bar graphs that ascend in a stereotypical stock photo manner. Life is good! Right?


I have found that, especially when running ads for my personal site, these audience network clicks are often accidental and don’t yield interested users who visit other parts of your site (or convert for that matter). They often bounce immediately: damn their clumsy thumbs! That being said, if you’re one of those “I need to see it to believe it” type folks then be my guest. Try it out for yourself.

Anyway, when I said, “goal centric” earlier (as opposed to trial and error), I meant whenever you create a new campaign in Facebook, the first thing you want to do is clearly define what your advertising objective is. When you do this, you want to devote a good amount of thought to what the user’s experience with your ad will be. If you are marketing a free eBook download, do you think people are going to stop playing Candy Crush to download it? Probably not, unless it’s an eBook on how to hack the game. To which I would applaud your hyper-specific targeting strategy.

And so, with that…

Facebook Ad Placements by Campaign Goal

Let’s look at the optimum Facebook ad placements for each available campaign goal.

Awareness Campaigns

If you’re running a brand awareness campaign, any placement will work. This is all about brand recognition and the key to lock on that door is frequency. If you want to devote considerable budget to this campaign objective I suggest making several relatively small audiences with high daily budgets. This will increase the frequency of your ads across platforms to a point where folks won’t be able to close their eyes without seeing your ad. Not annoying at all!

If your goal is reach—advertising to more people as opposed to more often— you’re performing what equates to a traditional media buy. Keep an eye on your frequency capping (so you don’t waste your budget berating the same people with your creative), but feel free to use as many placements as you see fit.

Consideration Campaigns

Consideration campaigns come in significantly more flavors than awareness campaigns, so let’s look at placement options for each one:

Traffic – Traffic or link clicks campaigns are good to go on all placements with the exclusion of the audience network (optional). Over time I would suggest analyzing placement performance to make further optimizations based on the types of content you are promoting.

Engagement – Automatic placements – optimize over time.

App Installs – You are restricted to mobile only placements here. I personally treat app installs the same as lower funnel conversions and for that reason place high value on them. Unless you are extremely confident in the relevancy of your audience, then I would exclude the audience network. You may find that users are more likely to download an app when they aren’t already in one.

pied piper facebook ads 

Video Views – This objective is available for all placement networks except for Messenger. If it’s only video views you are looking for I would stick with automatic placements. You could also break out the video-specific placements into their own ad set and test them against the others.

Lead Generation – Depending on the nature of your offer and form, I would say exclude the audience network for this one. You want people to take an action in submitting information, whether on a landing page or through a Facebook lead ad. They will be more likely to do so within the newsfeeds. From my experience even limiting to only the newsfeeds, will give you a more optimal CPL.

Messages – You are limited to the messenger placements for this one, which is fine because that’s why it’s here.

Conversion Campaigns

Conversions – Everything but the audience network. Seriously – kill it with fire. Some of my peers also hate Instagram as a conversion placement; I personally love it and have witnessed great results and CPA’s from it. Don’t listen to the haters.

Product Catalog sales – I would set automatic with this one, yet watch it very closely. With ecommerce, you need to be very strict with your CPA’s to be profitable. Break out placements when necessary and bid accordingly.

Store visits – Set to automatic and review results; remove costly placements as they pop up.

facebook ads for driving store visits 

Device-Specific Facebook Ad Placement Optimization

If you want to get even more methodical with your approach to placement targeting I would suggest breaking out each and testing them against each other with their own budgets. To do this you simply clone an ad set for as many placements you feel necessary to break out. You then exclude all other placements than the one you want to target individually.

Another common practice involves breaking down an audience between mobile and desktop users. This can be particularly valuable for conversion campaigns for you to assess where your best CPA is achieved and then manually devote a larger portion of your budget to the more profitable device.

Don’t Just “Set it and Forget it”

If you are to take away anything from this blog post (aside from excluding the audience network), it’s that the details of Facebook ad placements too often go overlooked.

If you are running campaigns on Facebook, leveraging lookalike audiences to find new, qualified leads, you owe it to yourself to get in there and clean things up. Too many advertisers shut down campaigns or ad sets prematurely with the belief that they just “don’t work.” In reality, they just weren’t ensuring that their ads were served in the right places.

About the Author

Brett McHale is a paid marketing and lead generation expert. Formerly the Sr. Paid Specialist on WordStream’s marketing team, Brett now consults and manages the paid search and social media marketing strategies for an array of B2B tech startups.

Connect with him on LinkedIn

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Visit his site

Profiting With Instagram Stories Ads: What You Need To Know

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instagram story ads

When it comes to social media marketing, Facebook and Instagram are probably the most important two players on the market in these days. There are more than 2.7 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 700 million Instagram users. Almost four times the audience of Instagram however, does not make Facebook better. In many ways, for marketing and advertising purposes, Instagram may deliver better results. Let’s see why: At its core, Instagram is a mobile app focused on visual information. Why is this relevant? According to Marketing Land, nearly 80% of social media time spent in today’s context is spent…

The post Profiting With Instagram Stories Ads: What You Need To Know appeared first on The Daily Egg.

228: From Crying in the Bathroom at Work to a Multi Six Figure Online Business – A Writing Blogger Shares Her Story

Originally published on:

Leaving Her Job to Create a Multi Six Figure Online Business – A Writing Blogger Tells Her Story

We’re continuing our series of blogger stories, and handing the podcast over to you so you can tell your stories and tips of starting and growing your blogs.

228 Joanna Penn Start a Blog Series

This series, which started with episode 221, is all part of the launch of our new (and completely free) ‘Start a Blog’ course, which goes live on 10 January 2018. You can sign up to reserve your spot in the course at

In today’s episode we hear from Joanna Penn, who has done amazing things with her blog at Joanna blogs about fiction and non-fiction writing, independent publishing, and making a living from writing. And she’s built an amazing business around that topic.

I first met Joanna at the very first ProBlogger conference in Melbourne back in 2010. Joanna is English, but at the time she was living in Brisbane, Australia.

Blogging and podcasting has allowed Joanna to move on from a cubicle job she really didn’t like and build a business that not only brings in a multiple six-figure income each year, but has also provided many opportunities for her to travel and speak on the topic she covers.

Joanna’s story is one of my favorites in this series, so settle in and enjoy.

Links and Resources for From Crying in the Bathroom at Work to a Multi Six Figure Online Business The Creative Penn Blogger Joanna Penn Canva PB094: 5 Mistakes Bloggers Make with SEO and What To Do About Them 194: 5 SEO Tools for Bloggers 221: From 0 to 500,000 Page Views a Month – A DIY Blogger Shares Her Story Start a Blog Course Facebook Group Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey there, it’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger here. Welcome to Episode 228 of the ProBlogger Podcast. ProBlogger is a blog, a podcast, an event, job board, series of ebooks, and a course all designed to help you to start an amazing blog that’s gonna change the world in some way, and hopefully change your life too by building a bit of profit for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger at

In today’s episode, we’re continuing our series of blogger stories which I started back in Episode 221. Essentially, this series is all about handing the podcast over to listeners so that I can share their stories of starting blogs. We’ve heard some amazing stories so far, and today I’ve got a really great one, an inspiring one for you. As I said, this started back in Episode 221, go back and listen to those previous episodes. They’re all relatively short stories, and some of the episodes actually have two or three bloggers sharing their stories as well.

This is all leading up to our Start A Blog course which launches on the 10th of January, 2018, which is all designed to really help you to start a blog, or someone you know to start a blog. We all know someone who should be blogging, and my hope is that you’ll share that course with them. You can find the course and sign-up where you can register to be part of it at Please do feel free to share that with others. It’s a completely free course.

In today’s episode, we’re hearing from a blogger who has done something quite amazing with blog and podcasting since she started. She has a blog on the topic of fiction and non-fiction writing, covers independent publishing, and making a living with your writing and has built an amazing business on that particular topic. The blogger’s name is Joanna Penn from I know many of you are familiar with Joanna already, because she’s been hanging around ProBlogger for years now. In fact, I first met her at the very first ProBlogger Conference back in 2010, back in Melbourne. Joanna is English, but at that time she’s living in Brisbane, Australia.

Blogging and podcasting has enabled Joanna to move from a cubicle job that she really didn’t like in a sort of a corporate environment to build a creative business that not only brings in a multiple six figure income a year, but has opened up amazing opportunities for her to travel, to speak, and to do what she loves, and have a creative life. Joanna’s story is one of my favorites in this series so I hope you enjoy it.

You can find the show notes with the full transcript of the story as well as links that she mentions in the show notes at I’ll be back at the end of Joanna’s story to pull out a few of the things that I hear her saying just to hammer them home so that you come away with some action items.

Joanna: Hi everyone. I’m Joanna Penn from I blog and podcast about writing fiction and non-fiction, independent publishing, book marketing, and making a living with your writing. I started my site,, in December 2008 as a way to share my journey and my lessons learned about writing and self-publishing my first book, as well as the ups and downs of marketing, something where nobody knows who you are. This was before the International Kindle, before print on demand, before we had the independent publishing ecosystem we have now. I also started a podcast in early 2009 as a way to learn from other people who were doing well, and also to meet other creatives. By sharing my lessons learned, I was able to meet other people going through the same experience and attract a community and friends overtime.

I was also living in Brisbane, Australia at the time, and most of the self-publishing early birds where in America, so I was able to use my site and my podcast to meet a lot of Americans online. I was also a miserable cubicle slave at that time, implementing accounts payable into large corporates, one of a not very creative job, and I really wanted to find new friends who were writers and online entrepreneurs. My big goal was to leave my job and become a creative entrepreneur and make a living online that was location independent and be able to travel, and create, and live a much happier life.

Looking back, I’m really grateful that I learned from professional bloggers and invested in education early, because otherwise you can make so many mistakes. I did make mistakes but I learned to avoid a lot of them by studying.

I was living in Brisbane, as I mentioned, in Australia, and I learned from Yaro Starak at Entrepreneur’s Journey, and actually met him because he was living in Brisbane too at the time. I modeled my blog on his, and I even still have a successful author blueprint as my giveaway for email list building that I modeled on his, and followed his training course exactly. I also attended the first Problogger event in Melbourne, in 2010, where I met Darren and other people making a living online and it inspired me to follow that example.

Setting up my site on WordPress and following search engine optimization design principles just has set me up so well. It’s meant that I haven’t had to do hugely horrible re-designs which I’ve seen other people go through because they set up on other platforms.

Also, learning about headlines and doing audio and podcasting so early has all really helped my business scale. I definitely recommend investing in education so you can set things up right from the very beginning. In terms of mistakes, I actually made some mistakes before, which was my third blog.

The first blog I set up was centered around my first book. I’m so tied to it, including the URL was actually the book title, that when I started writing other books, because now I have like 26 books, writing around one book was never going to last long enough. The second one was a niche that I then got really bored with. A really big tip is to choose a URL with the intent that this is going to last 5-10 years, maybe much longer. I’m just coming up myself on my 9 year anniversary.

I can use basically for the rest of my life. I can pivot that into all different kinds of things. I also have a fiction site at Again, around my name, which means that won’t change.

What do you see yourself doing in 5-10 years’ time? What won’t age too much along the way? What are you so excited about that you never run out of content for? The moment I have six months worth of content scheduled ahead of time, that’s how much I have still to share after nine years, and I’ve never, ever run out of content, I always have more ideas. This is so important. I found with those other two blogs I was just bored, and I didn’t want to write, and I didn’t want to podcast on these topics. Topics that last over 5-10 years, and what do you see yourself being known as, that’s really important too.

Also, consider technology that my age, say for example, would probably now be obsolete. I don’t know what that site is, I just came up with that. Yes, those would be some mistakes that I made that I hope you can avoid.

Some amazing things have happened since I started my site. At first, I ended up making money. In September 2011, I left my day job because I was making a few thousand a month from the blog, and with more time available I was able to write more and grow the site and write more books.

My podcast also grew as audio became more popular and self-publishing as a niche went mainstream. Meaning, I got a lot more traffic from SEO based on the content I’ve been producing for years. In 2015, we started to make a six-figure income in pounds from the blog and my husband was able to leave his job. Now, nine years after starting it, we make a multi-six figure income from our business, all powered by My blog, my podcast, and the books I’ve written along the way, which I sell to the audience that I’ve attracted along the way. It really has been a massive change in0 my life.

My life is now completely different. I was that miserable cubicle slave, crying in the toilets at work because of how much I hated my job. I really, really just didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Now, I travel the world for book research trips and professional speaking opportunities that come because of my platform as a blogger and podcaster. I have a creative lifestyle that I love and a community of friends and colleagues who are also creative entrepreneurs. I had a vision of this life back in 2008. It just feels kind of amazing. I’m now living that. But if you put your words out into the world consistently for years, amazing change can happen, and you can live that life that you design. It really is amazing.

In terms of my number one tip for new bloggers, I would say that you can think big, and you need to decide what you want to be known as in 5-10 years time. What can you create that will lead to that outcome, because you have to know where you want to end up, and that will really help guide you and keep you going in the nitty gritty bits because there are nitty gritty bits when you are blogging.

Secondly, I would say that learning how to write a good SEO optimized headline, and a really decent image. Those two things together will help your work be more shareable, and I use almost everyday to create shareable images, and it’s a free site, it’s amazing.

Decide what you want to be known as and learn to write a good SEO optimized headline and make a good image. I definitely say that blogging for me was the beginning, the turning point of what changed my life. I am so happy that I started blogging, and so happy to be part of the blogging community, and I wish you well. Thanks to Darren, and the ProBlogger Team, and happy creating.

Darren: That was Joanna Penn from I love the story, obviously an inspirational story. Someone going from working in a job that she didn’t really love to I guess having the freedom to be able to explore her own pathways and do something creative that she loves and to enable her partner to join her in that as well.

A few things that really stood out to me in that, I love that tip that she gave about choosing a URL, and I guess a focus that’s not going to age. Something that’s gonna last you more than five years. That’s a fantastic question that she gave you there, what do you see yourself being known as in 5-10 years? That’s a great starting point in thinking about what your blog should be about, but it will also begin to give you hints as to the type of content you need to create.

If you want to be known as an expert in a particular field, what type of content does an expert in a field need to create to take them to that point from someone who might be relatively unknown to being an expert, or obviously that will reveal the types of content you need to create. You need to create content that shows your expertise, you need to create some social proof, you need to create content that shows credibility, these types of things. Hopefully by identifying that end point, you can begin to fill-in some gaps in the short term that will take you to that place. Start with that question, brilliant question to start with, and those of you who are gonna take the Start A Blog course, that’s a question that I would encourage you to answer before the course starts. It’s gonna help you so much if you’ve got that end-point in mind.

Then, what content can you begin to create that will take you to that place? There’s some really good question to be asking, whether you do the course or not. Even as an established blogger, that will hopefully give you a little bit more focus as well. Also, I like the idea that Joanna mentioned a number of times, just creating, it’s the nitty-gritty stuff, it’s the little things that you need to do that will end up taking you to that destination.

We often hear the story of someone going from something that they don’t love, a job that they don’t love to a multiple six figure income, and we think that happens very quickly, it doesn’t. Joanna’s been at this now-I met her in 2010 towards the beginning of her journey, and she’d been going before that already. It’s the small actions that you take everyday and that she’s taken everyday that have actually taken her to that point.

Also, I love the idea there of investing in education early, put the time into learning. She mentioned there being mentored by someone and actually putting the time into getting to know someone who can teach you and certainly that’s what we’re hoping that you will do with ProBlogger, but there’s plenty of other great bloggers out there in your niche that you should be investing the time into building those relationships. You will learn so much about blogging through those relationships. Invest the time into the reading and the learning that you can do, and there’s certainly some amazing resources out there, and much of them for free online as well. Put that time aside, it’s not gonna happen overnight.

I really hope that you are inspired by Joanna’s story there, the tool she mentioned was Canva, we’ll put a link to that in the show notes today. Also, if you want to do some reading on search engine optimization, some listening on that, I’ll have some links in the show notes as well on that because that’s something Joanna did talk about. Really, I heard her mentioning a number of times, it was search engines that have been driving the traffic for her. This is one of the things that I think a lot of bloggers miss out on is they think the traffic’s gonna always come from social media. Traffic can come from social media, but time and time again I meet bloggers like Joanna and the key to their success isn’t social, it’s actually Google. I’m certainly not saying don’t put time into social, you need to do that, but also put time into learning the basics of search engine optimization and thinking very carefully about the headlines you use because they will help so much in SEO.

I’ve got some further listening for you that I’ll include in the show notes today as well. The show notes can be found at Our Start A Blog Course can be found over at

I’ll be back tomorrow with another blogger story. If you haven’t already listened, go back to Episode 221 and work through the six or so stories that we’ve got there. We’ve got bloggers who are DIY bloggers, we’ve got travel bloggers, we’ve got tech bloggers, a variety of different niches covered there so dig back in and look out for tomorrow’s episode as well. Thanks for listening, chat soon.  

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The post 228: From Crying in the Bathroom at Work to a Multi Six Figure Online Business – A Writing Blogger Shares Her Story appeared first on ProBlogger.

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226: From Passion Project to Over $100,000 in Advertising Revenue – a Dating Ideas Blogger Shares Her Story

Originally published on:

Over $100,000 in Ad Revenue – a Dating Ideas Blogger Tells Her Story

It’s the beginning of January and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. You may want to kick off the new year with our Start a Blog Course.

226 Kristen Manieri Start a Blog Series

In today’s episode we are continuing our series of blogger stories where I’m handing the podcast over to you as listeners to tell your stories and tips of starting and growing your blogs.

Kristen Manieri from Orlando, Florida started a blog with no real plan to make money. Kristen writes about dating ideas of a particular location and her blog has grown to the point where she is making over $100,000 in advertising.

Links and Resources for From Passion Project to Over $100,000 in Advertising Revenue Orlando Night Guide Start a Blog Course Facebook Group Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 226 of the ProBlogger podcast. ProBlogger is a blog, a podcast, event, job board, a series of ebooks, and soon to be a course all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create a blog with great content that’s going to serve your audience, and to build some profit around that blog as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at

It is the first of January as this episode goes live. I do want to pause and wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope you had a good holiday period, no matter what you did, and ready and raring to go for a great year of blogging ahead. We’ve got a massive amount planned for you this year. Starting on the 10th of January, with our new course, The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Blog, which is a seven-step guide to starting a blog that has the foundations to be profitable. We want to talk you through how to set up a blog but we want to take you a little bit back from that and get you starting a blog that’s on the right topic and is well-thought through in terms of what you’re going to be creating. That starts on the 10th of January. If you head over to, you will have an opportunity there to reserve your spot in that course, it’s a free course, and be notified when that goes live.

Today, we are continuing our series of blogger stories where I’m handing the podcast over to you, as listeners, to tell your stories of starting a blog. It’s all about trying to inspire as many people as possible to start and grow their blogs in 2018. Today’s story is an amazing one. It’s of a blogger who started a blog about dating and dating ideas in a particular location. She has grown that blog, which started as a passion project, with no real intent of making money. She’s over the years built that up to the point where it’s making over $100,000 a year in advertising just on writing on dating ideas for a particular location. She tells a little bit more about how she’s going to expand that to more than one location as well.

  This is a great story. I hope you enjoy it. You can find today’s show notes with all the links to our course as well as the blogger that we’re featuring today over at After she shares her story, I’ll be back to point out a few things that I love about the story and give you a few more tips of my own. Thanks for listening.

Kristen: Hi, this is Kristen Manieri from Orlando, Florida. I wanted to tell you all about my blog, I started Orlando Date Night Guide in 2007. It’s a total passion project. My husband, Mark, and I just moved to Orlando the year before. I was immediately struck by how much there was to do outside of the theme parks and by how often when I would share these things with people who already lived here, even people who’d been here for five years or more, how many had never heard of them or hadn’t ever bothered to check them out.

I actually started with a book that published in early 2007. Then the website launched a few months later. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary. Honestly when I started, it was just because I thought how great is this that I can write something and take some photos and hit publish. I was a freelance writer from my paid work. To have the freedom to write about what I wanted, when I wanted was really exciting and rewarding for me. In 2011 though, I decided it was time to take it a little more seriously, and I started writing more consistently, and I launched all of my social media accounts. But in 2014, I realized it was time to monetize. I teamed up with someone who sold ads locally. We created ad spots on the site. We now generate just short of about $100,000 a year in ad revenue from local businesses.

    In hindsight, what did you do in starting your blog that you’re most grateful for that you did? I think for me was that I started it without thinking that I was going to make a whole bunch of money from it. I really just started it because it was something that I wanted to do and that I loved to do. Because I did it with making no money for seven years, I don’t know that I would recommend doing that. I think I probably could’ve monetized it a lot sooner. There was no pressure up until that point. I could just have fun with it and really dive into the passion side of it before I started trying to turn it into a business. I think trying to turn a blog into a business too early can make it too stressful.

   If you were to ask me about my dream for the blog, it would’ve been to have it grow outside of Orlando. Earlier this year I actually saw that dream come true with the launch of Tampa Date Night Guide, Asheville Date Night Guide, and our national site Date Night Guide. We’re also launching in Baton Rouge in the first quarter of 2018. Few good things have had happened since I started my blog is definitely growing outside of Orlando, that’s been super exciting. But I was also voted best blogger by Orlando Magazine last year.

  Through the blog I launched an event series called Do Good Date Night where we pair couples with local nonprofits for volunteer date nights. A series was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine earlier this year. That was really cool. I’d been growing to over 60,000 social media followers and over 50,000 monthly readers who’s been pretty awesome. Also growing my team has been really great too. I’ve got such a great group of writers that work with me to create what we create everyday.

My number one tip for new bloggers, I think when you’re just starting out a new blog you should write down 100 ideas for a blog post, no less. Before you even create your site, get your URL, make a giant list of 100 things that you’d actually see yourself writing about. Then before you hit publish, before you actually start your WordPress account, write 20 of them, and see if just writing them for you lights you up enough to keep going, and if you’re actually as excited and informed about the topic as you initially thought. I’ve been writing Orlando Date Night ideas for over a decade now. Hundreds and hundreds of stories later, I still never run out of things to share or passionate about sharing them.

That’s it for me. Thanks for the opportunity.

Darren: That was Kristen Manieri from Orlando Date Night Guide, great idea for a blog. I’ve seen a number of bloggers around over the years who have done similar things for their own locations. I wanted to include that particular story for a number of reasons.

One, because it is possible to have a blog that is serving a particular location. You do not have to start a blog that is going to reach the whole world. In fact, you may be better positioned to really focusing on a particular niche. A niche can be a topic but it can also be a type of person, a demographic area as well. Kristen, in this case, is targeting people who might be over dating age in Orlando. I just did a Google search, Orlando has 2.3 million people. It’s a fairly large area that includes the metropolitan area, of course there are tourists coming into it as well. It’s big enough to be able to sustain almost $100,000 a year in advertising.

I wanted to include that because you don’t have to have bloggers that are number one in the world. You can build a business by being the number one blog, or not even the number one blog, but a significant blog in a particular area. I love that idea. Fantastic. I love the idea that she’s also built something that can be replicated in other parts of the world as well. Really, this could be replicated in any city around the world. It looks like that the plan is to roll out quite a few of them and to try it around national level.

  One of the reasons that this particular strategy works very well being localized is that it is going to help to monetize it, particularly in terms of working with advertisers directly. Anyone advertising on that particular blog knows they’re going to reach people who are in Orlando and have a very niche focused: they want to have a date, they want to do something together. I think that is one reason why this works, particularly well with that advertising model as well.

  She also mentioned their book. I think this is another revenue stream, potentially would be those types of products that could be used by couples in that particular area, whether that be a physical book or more perhaps. I’ve seen this used on other similar blogs, PDF type things or virtual type ideas as well. I did see one person doing an app for a particular area as well that worked quite well. Fantastic story there.

  I love the tip that Kristen gave at the end there. Her number one tip, coming up with 100 ideas for blog posts and then writing 20. I think for me this is actually a tip that I’ve given many people over the years, whether it’s 100 or not, I think brainstorm as many topics for blog posts for content as you can before you get that domain, before you set up your blog. Because that’s going to reveal to you is your niche broad enough for you to come up with ideas. I’ve seen a number of bloggers that I suggest do this exercise realized that they could only come up with 10 to 20 topics. That showed them that their niche was too narrow. They needed to broaden it out, and perhaps thinking about more categories of topics that relate to their audience. Because they really only had enough ideas for 20 or so posts. That’s not enough. You’re going to be at this for years. I think Kristen started in 2007. She’d been at this for 10 years now. You need to do that due diligence to come up with ideas. Also it’s going to reveal by writing the content. I love that strategy of not only brainstorming the topics but actually setting yourself the task of writing 20 of them.

  Firstly you’re creating some great content that you can use in your launch period but also you’re going to very quickly discover whether you enjoy your topic, whether you have that interest, that passion for the topic. You’ll also have some content that you can then put a critical eye to it and ask yourself the question, “Is this any good?” Perhaps at that point, it’s also worth sharing it with some friends, with others who can give you some feedback. Do you like it? Can you sustain it? Are you good at it? These are good questions to ask before you go and register that domain, and before you go and set up that blog. Also, doing that exercise of course gives you your first 20 or so blog posts as well, which you can then use to two or three of those a week. You’ve got yourself several months worth of content there, which enables you during that launch period to get on with promoting it, building community, and networking with other bloggers. All these other things that you really need to do in those early days of blogging.

Thanks so much, Kristen, for your story and for your tip. You can check her out at I think I left off the guide earlier. Thanks so much for that.

Check out for our Start A Blog course, which we’ll be launching for the first time on the 10th of January. If you’re listening to this in the months to follow, hopefully it’d still be there and you can still sign up to do that. We will be updating as we go. If you are listening to this several months later, you’re going to even get a better course. You can go there. You’ll probably be directed the way you can sign up and start up straight away. It is a seven-step course that we’re going to walk you through. It really is designed to help you make some good decisions, to have good foundations for your blog.

First step is thinking about is a blog right for you, thinking about your purpose with your blog. Number two is thinking about what you’re going to blog about to finding your blogging niche, making sure it’s viable. Part of that is what I was just talking about with coming out with those ideas. Number three we’re going to help you to make some good decisions about what to call your blog, what domain name to get. Number four you’re going to be walked through, step by step, how to register that domain, to setup your hosting, and how to install WordPress. That’s for technical side of things but really a lot of how to start a blog tutorial step with that. We want to get those first three steps in before you get to that point because really if you go out and get the domain and you setup your blog in WordPress before you think through some of those earlier things, you’re going to choose the wrong domain. That’s step number four. Number five is getting your blog looking good, thinking about the design and the theme choices. Step number six is adding content and functionality to your blog with WordPress. Then step number seven is a blog launch checklist, and some learning modules about email and social media. Some of those other things that you will want to set up in the early days of your blog.

This is a free course, steps you through those seven things will get you from idea through the having your first blog, and having some content on it. We’ve got some other stuff that we will be throwing into the course. As well to help us celebrate all the blogs that will start as a result of it. I just checked few minutes ago, we’ve had over 100 people register in just a few hours for that course. You won’t be alone. That’s one of the great things about this particular course. We’re going to be all going through it together. There’ll be some community around it as well. You can sign up to be notified when that goes live.

        Thanks for listening today. I look forward to chatting with you tomorrow. These stories will be coming on a daily basis for the next four more days after this, then a couple more next week as well before we start the course. Thanks for listening.

Thanks so much for listening. I hope you have a great end of year and I’ll talk to you in 2018.[/pb_transcript]

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The post 226: From Passion Project to Over $100,000 in Advertising Revenue – a Dating Ideas Blogger Shares Her Story appeared first on ProBlogger.


How to Rank in 2018: The SEO Checklist – Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by randfish

It’s hard enough as it is to explain to non-SEOs how to rank a webpage. In an increasingly complicated field, to do well you’ve got to have a good handle on a wide variety of detailed subjects. This edition of Whiteboard Friday covers a nine-point checklist of the major items you’ve got to cross off to rank in the new year — and maybe get some hints on how to explain it to others, too.

How to Rank in 2018: An SEO Checklist

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special New Year’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to run through how to rank in 2018 in a brief checklist format.

So I know that many of you sometimes wonder, “Gosh, it feels overwhelming to try and explain to someone outside the SEO profession how to get a web page ranked.” Well, you know what? Let’s explore that a little bit this week on Whiteboard Friday. I sent out a tweet asking folks, “Send me a brief checklist in 280 characters or less,” and I got back some amazing responses. I have credited some folks here when they’ve contributed. There is a ton of detail to ranking in the SEO world, to try and rank in Google’s results. But when we pull out, when we go broad, I think that just a few items, in fact just the nine we’ve got here can basically take you through the majority of what’s required to rank in the year ahead. So let’s dive into that.

I. Crawlable, accessible URL whose content Google can easily crawl and parse.

So we want Googlebot’s spiders to be able to come to this page, to understand the content that’s on there in a text readable format, to understand images and visuals or video or embeds or anything else that you’ve got on the page in a way that they are going to be able to put into their web index. That is crucial. Without it, none of the rest of this stuff even matters.

II. Keyword research

We need to know and to uncover the words and phrases that searchers are actually using to solve or to get answers to the problem that they are having in your world. Those should be problems that your organization, your website is actually working to solve, that your content will help them to solve.

What you want here is a primary keyword and hopefully a set of related secondary keywords that share the searcher’s intent. So the intent behind of all of these terms and phrases should be the same so that the same content can serve it. When you do that, we now have a primary and a secondary set of keywords that we can target in our optimization efforts.

III. Investigate the SERP to find what Google believes to be relevant to the keywords’s searches

I want you to do some SERP investigation, meaning perform a search query in Google, see what comes back to you, and then figure out from there what Google believes to be relevant to the keywords searches. What does Google think is the content that will answer this searcher’s query? You’re trying to figure out intent, the type of content that’s required, and whatever missing pieces might be there. If you can find holes where, hey, no one is serving this, but I know that people want the answer to it, you might be able to fill that gap and take over that ranking position. Thanks to Gaetano, @gaetano_nyc, for the great suggestion on this one.

IV. Have the most credible, amplifiable person or team available create content that’s going to serve the searcher’s goal and solve their task better than anyone else on page one.

There are three elements here. First, we want an actually credible, worthy of amplification person or persons to create the content. Why is that? Well, because if we do that, we make amplification, we make link building, we make social sharing way more likely to happen, and our content becomes more credible, both in the eyes of searchers and visitors as well as in Google’s eyes too. So to the degree that that is possible, I would certainly urge you to do it.

Next, we’re trying to serve the searcher’s goal and solve their task, and we want to do that better than anyone else does it on page one, because if we don’t, even if we’ve optimized a lot of these other things, over time Google will realize, you know what? Searchers are frustrated with your result compared to other results, and they’re going to rank those other people higher. Huge credit to Dan Kern, @kernmedia on Twitter, for the great suggestion on this one.

V. Craft a compelling title, meta description.

Yes, Google still does use the meta description quite frequently. I know it seems like sometimes they don’t. But, in fact, there’s a high percent of the time when the actual meta description from the page is used. There’s an even higher percentage where the title is used. The URL, while Google sometimes truncates those, also used in the snippet as well as other elements. We’ll talk about schema and other kinds of markup later on. But the snippet is something that is crucial to your SEO efforts, because that determines how it displays in the search result. How Google displays your result determines whether people want to click on your listing or someone else’s. The snippet is your opportunity to say, “Come click me instead of those other guys.” If you can optimize this, both from a keyword perspective using the words and phrases that people want, as well as from a relevancy and a pure drawing the click perspective, you can really win.

VI. Intelligently employ those primary, secondary, and related keywords

Related keywords meaning those that are semantically connected that Google is going to view as critical to proving to them that your content is relevant to the searcher’s query — in the page’s text content. Why am I saying text content here? Because if you put it purely in visuals or in video or some other embeddable format that Google can’t necessarily easily parse out, eeh, they might not count it. They might not treat it as that’s actually content on the page, and you need to prove to Google that you have the relevant keywords on the page.

VII. Where relevant and possible, use rich snippets and schema markup to enhance the potential visibility that you’re going to get.

This is not possible for everyone. But in some cases, in the case that you’re getting into Google news, or in the case that you’re in the recipe world and you can get visuals and images, or in the case where you have a featured snippet opportunity and you can get the visual for that featured snippet along with that credit, or in the case where you can get rich snippets around travel or around flights, other verticals that schema is supporting right now, well, that’s great. You should take advantage of those opportunities.

VIII. Optimize the page to load fast, as fast as possible and look great.

I mean look great from a visual, UI perspective and look great from a user experience perspective, letting someone go all the way through and accomplish their task in an easy, fulfilling way on every device, at every speed, and make it secure too. Security critically important. HTTPS is not the only thing, but it is a big part of what Google cares about right now, and HTTPS was a big focus in 2016 and 2017. It will certainly continue to be a focus for Google in 2018.

IX. You need to have a great answer to the question: Who will help amplify this and why?

When you have that great answer, I mean a specific list of people and publications who are going to help you amplify it, you’ve got to execute to earn solid links and mentions and word of mouth across the web and across social media so that your content can be seen by Google’s crawlers and by human beings, by people as highly relevant and high quality.

You do all this stuff, you’re going to rank very well in 2018. Look forward to your comments, your additions, your contributions, and feel free to look through the tweet thread as well.

Thanks to all of you who contributed via Twitter and to all of you who followed us here at Moz and Whiteboard Friday in 2017. We hope you have a great year ahead. Thanks for watching. Take care.

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