The Perfect Blog Post Length and Publishing Frequency is B?!!$#÷x – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The perfect blog post length or publishing frequency doesn’t actually exist. “Perfect” isn’t universal — your content’s success depends on tons of personalized factors. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why the idea of “perfect” is baloney when it comes to your blog, and lists what you should actually be looking for in a successful publishing strategy.

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the perfect blog post length and frequency

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about blog posts and, more broadly, content length and publishing frequency.

So these are things where a lot of the posts that you might read, for example, if you were to Google “ideal blog post length” or “ideal publishing frequency” will give you data and information that come from these sources of here’s the average length of content of the top 10 results in Google across a 5,000-keyword set, and you can see that somewhere between 2,350 and 2,425 words is the ideal length, so that’s what you should aim for.

I am going to call a big fat helping if baloney on that. It’s not only dead wrong, it’s really misleading. In fact, I get frustrated when I see these types of charts used to justify this information, because that’s not right at all.

When you see charts/data like this used to provide prescriptive, specific targets for content length, ask:

Any time you see this, if you see a chart or data like this to suggest, hey, this is how long you should make a post because here’s the length of the average thing in the top 10, you should ask very careful questions like:

1. What set of keywords does this apply to? Is this a big, broad set of 5,000 keywords, and some of them are navigational and some of them are informational and some of them are transactional and maybe a few of them are ecommerce keywords and a few of them are travel related and a few of them are in some other sector?

Because honestly, what does that mean? That’s sort of meaningless, right? Especially if the standard deviation is quite high. If we’re talking about like, oh, well many things that actually did rank number one were somewhere between 500 words and 15,000 words. Well, so what does the average tell me? How is that helpful? That’s not actually useful or prescriptive information. In fact, it’s almost misleading to make that prescriptive.

2. Do the keywords that I care about, the ones that I’m targeting, do they have similar results? Does the chart look the same? If you were to take a sample of let’s say 50 keywords that you cared about and you were to get the average content length of the top 10 results, would it resemble that? Would it not? Does it have a high standard deviation? Is there a big delta because some keywords require a lot of content to answer them fully and some keywords require very, very small amounts of content and Google has prioritized accordingly? Is it wise, then, to aim for the average when a much larger article would be much more appreciated and be much more likely to succeed, or a much shorter one would do far better? Why are you aiming for this average if that’s the case?

3. Is correlation the same as causation? The answer is hell no. Never has been. Big fat no. Correlation doesn’t even necessarily imply causation. In fact, I would say that any time you’re looking at an average, especially on this type of stuff, correlation and causation are totally separate. It is not because the number one result is 2,450 words that it happens to rank number one. Google does not work that way. Never has, never will.

INSTEAD of trusting these big, unknown keyword set averages, you should:

A. look at your keywords and your search results and what’s working versus not in those specific ones.

B. Be willing to innovate, be willing to say, “Hey, you know what? I see this content today, the number one, number two, number three rankings are in these sorts of averages. But I actually think you can answer this with much shorter content and many searchers would appreciate it.” I think these folks, who are currently ranking, are over-content creating, and they don’t need to be.

C. You should match your goals and your content goals with searcher goals. That’s how you should determine the length that you should put in there. If you are trying to help someone solve a very specific problem and it is an easily answerable question and you’re trying to get the featured snippet, you probably don’t need thousands of words of content. Likewise, if you are trying to solve a very complex query and you have a ton of resources and information that no one else has access to, you’ve done some really unique work, this may be way too short for what you’re aiming for.

All right. Let’s switch over to publishing frequency, where you can probably guess I’m going to give you similar information. A lot of times you’ll see, “How often should I publish? Oh, look, people who publish 11 times or more per month, they get way more traffic than people who publish only once a month. Therefore, clearly, I should publish 11 or more times a month.”

Why is the cutoff at 11? Does that make any sense to you? Are these visits all valuable to all the companies that were part of whatever survey was in here? Did one blog post account for most of the traffic in the 11 plus, and it’s just that the other 10 happened to be posts where they were practicing or trying to get good, and it was just one that kind of shot out of the park there?

See a chart like this? Ask:

1. Who’s in the set of sites analyzed? Are they similar to me? Do they target a similar audience? Are they in my actual sector? What’s the relative quality of the content? How savvy and targeted are the efforts at earning traffic? Is this guy over here, are we sure that all 11 posts were just as good as the one post this person created? Because if not, I’m comparing apples and oranges.

2. What’s the quality of the traffic? What’s the value of the traffic? Maybe this person is getting a ton of really valuable traffic, and this person over here is getting very little. You can’t tell from a chart like this, especially when it’s averaged in this way.

3. What things might matter more than raw frequency?

  • Well, matching your goals to your content schedule. If one of your goals is to build up subscribers, like Whiteboard Friday where people know it and they’ve heard of it, they have a brand association with it, it’s called Whiteboard Friday, it should probably come out once a week on Friday. There’s a frequency implied in the content, and that makes sense. But you might have goals that only demand publishing once a quarter or once a month or once a week or once every day. That’s okay. But you should tie those together.
  • Consistency, we have found, is almost always more important than raw frequency, especially if you’re trying to build up that consistent audience and a subscriber base. So I would focus on that, not how I should publish more often, but I should publish more consistently so that people will get used to my publishing schedule and will look forward to what I have to say, and also so that you can build up a cadence for yourself and your organization.
  • Crafting posts that actually earn attention and amplification and help your conversion funnel goals, whatever those might be, over raw traffic. It’s far better if this person got 50 new visits who turned into 5 new paying customers, than this person who published 11 posts and got 1 new paying customer out of all 11. That’s a lot more work and expense for a lot less ROI. I’d be careful about that.

*ASIDE:

One aside I would say about publishing frequency. If you’re early stage, or if you were trying to build a career in blogging or in publishing, it’s great to publish a lot of content. Great writers become great because they write a lot of terrible crap, and then they improve. The same is true with web publishers.

If you look at Whiteboard Friday number one, or a blog post number one from me, you’re going to see pretty miserable stuff. But over time, by publishing quite a bit, I got better at it. So if that is your goal, yes, publishing a lot of content, more than you probably need, more than your customers or audience probably needs, is good practice for you, and it will help you get better.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-perfect-blog-post-length-and.html
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California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy

The La Paloma natural gas plant in California filed for bankruptcy last December because it was not getting enough operating time to cover its costs due to solar and other renewable energy receiving preference. The plant, which serves as back-up to the state’s renewable generating technologies, was also denied a reliability charge by the state that would have allowed it to continue to operate. The owners project an annual loss of $39 million without a reliability contract or other support. In its bankruptcy filing, the plant owners listed assets between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion.[i]  La Paloma is a 1200-megawatt merchant plant located 110 miles northwest of Los Angeles and is able to serve both the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.[ii]

The La Paloma Power Plant

La Paloma, an independent power plant constructed in 2003, was built by private developers at a cost of about $500 million and is the state’s eleventh largest plant. Its capital cost is completely paid and, even though it is 14 years into its operating life, its lifespan could last another 30 or 40 years. Unlike regulated utilities, it does not have retail customers and is dependent on contracts from utility companies. It gets its natural gas from a pipeline located nearby.

Between 2014 and 2016, La Paloma’s operating level dropped from about 78 percent of capacity to just 50 percent.

 

What is ironic is that the agency that operates the state’s power grid would rather have a new generating plant built, charging consumers for it rather than allow this merchant plant to operate. As IER’s study shows, operating an existing natural gas power plant is about half the cost of operating a new natural gas power plant.[iii]

La Paloma’s troubles began last year due to low market power prices, the lack of a guaranteed contract for its electricity and a new annual review by the grid operator of local electricity demand in ten state energy regions, including Los Angeles. The review was conducted with the premise that each region should be energy self-sufficient, supplied with electricity primarily from natural gas plants within the region to more reliably respond to sudden drops in electricity supply from solar, wind and other renewable sources. La Paloma fell outside the boundaries of all ten regions. The regional boundaries have been used to justify construction of seven new natural gas projects in Southern California to provide reliable power when renewable energy is not producing.

The California Independent System Operator wants a new power plant, the Puente power plant in Ventura County, to be constructed at a cost of about $250 million, which would be paid for by electricity customers. The Puente power project in Ventura County is being developed by Southern California Edison and will be built and owned by NRG Energy Inc. Edison customers would pay for the plant’s construction, regardless of how much the plant produces.

California regulators continue to approve more plants and increase electricity rates, even though California consumers are using less power. The building of new power plants and transmission lines is costing Californians $40 billion a year for electricity, $6.8 billion more than nine years ago, which is a reason why the state’s residential electricity prices are about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Conclusion

La Paloma is not the only power plant in California facing closure due to its policy promoting renewable energy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s Diablo Canyon plant is in a similar situation despite its solid operating experience. The result of California’s poorly designed energy policy is higher prices for its constituency, but that seems to be of little concern to state leaders.


[i] Los Angeles Times, A Central Valley power plant may close as the state pushes new building at customers’ expense, June 10, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-la-paloma-capacity-20170609-story.html

[ii] Kallanish Energy, California gas power plant La Paloma files for Chapter 11, December 12, 2016, http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2016/12/12/california-gas-power-plant-la-paloma-files-chapter-11/

[iii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

The post California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/california-gas-fired-power-plant-files.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy

The La Paloma natural gas plant in California filed for bankruptcy last December because it was not getting enough operating time to cover its costs due to solar and other renewable energy receiving preference. The plant, which serves as back-up to the state’s renewable generating technologies, was also denied a reliability charge by the state that would have allowed it to continue to operate. The owners project an annual loss of $39 million without a reliability contract or other support. In its bankruptcy filing, the plant owners listed assets between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion.[i]  La Paloma is a 1200-megawatt merchant plant located 110 miles northwest of Los Angeles and is able to serve both the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.[ii]

The La Paloma Power Plant

La Paloma, an independent power plant constructed in 2003, was built by private developers at a cost of about $500 million and is the state’s eleventh largest plant. Its capital cost is completely paid and, even though it is 14 years into its operating life, its lifespan could last another 30 or 40 years. Unlike regulated utilities, it does not have retail customers and is dependent on contracts from utility companies. It gets its natural gas from a pipeline located nearby.

Between 2014 and 2016, La Paloma’s operating level dropped from about 78 percent of capacity to just 50 percent.

 

What is ironic is that the agency that operates the state’s power grid would rather have a new generating plant built, charging consumers for it rather than allow this merchant plant to operate. As IER’s study shows, operating an existing natural gas power plant is about half the cost of operating a new natural gas power plant.[iii]

La Paloma’s troubles began last year due to low market power prices, the lack of a guaranteed contract for its electricity and a new annual review by the grid operator of local electricity demand in ten state energy regions, including Los Angeles. The review was conducted with the premise that each region should be energy self-sufficient, supplied with electricity primarily from natural gas plants within the region to more reliably respond to sudden drops in electricity supply from solar, wind and other renewable sources. La Paloma fell outside the boundaries of all ten regions. The regional boundaries have been used to justify construction of seven new natural gas projects in Southern California to provide reliable power when renewable energy is not producing.

The California Independent System Operator wants a new power plant, the Puente power plant in Ventura County, to be constructed at a cost of about $250 million, which would be paid for by electricity customers. The Puente power project in Ventura County is being developed by Southern California Edison and will be built and owned by NRG Energy Inc. Edison customers would pay for the plant’s construction, regardless of how much the plant produces.

California regulators continue to approve more plants and increase electricity rates, even though California consumers are using less power. The building of new power plants and transmission lines is costing Californians $40 billion a year for electricity, $6.8 billion more than nine years ago, which is a reason why the state’s residential electricity prices are about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Conclusion

La Paloma is not the only power plant in California facing closure due to its policy promoting renewable energy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s Diablo Canyon plant is in a similar situation despite its solid operating experience. The result of California’s poorly designed energy policy is higher prices for its constituency, but that seems to be of little concern to state leaders.


[i] Los Angeles Times, A Central Valley power plant may close as the state pushes new building at customers’ expense, June 10, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-la-paloma-capacity-20170609-story.html

[ii] Kallanish Energy, California gas power plant La Paloma files for Chapter 11, December 12, 2016, http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2016/12/12/california-gas-power-plant-la-paloma-files-chapter-11/

[iii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

The post California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy appeared first on IER.

Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis?

Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal. Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a warning that the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces each year is likely to increase from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the country has no plan for safely disposing of it.[i] China has more solar power plants than any other country, operating roughly twice as many solar panels as the United States and also has no plan for the disposal of the old panels. In China, there could be 20 million metric tons of solar panel waste, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, by 2050.[ii] California, another world leader in deploying solar panels, likewise has no plan for disposal, despite its boasts of environmental consciousness. Only Europe requires solar panel manufacturers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their useful lives.[iii]

Environmental Issues with Solar Panels

Solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials, such as sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, which make them difficult to recycle. They cannot be stored in landfills without protections against contamination. They contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens that can leak out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies.

A study published last December determined that the net impact of using solar panels actually temporarily increases carbon dioxide emissions, because of the amount of energy needed in the construction process. But, because newer solar panels have a smaller adverse environmental impact than older models and as their time of operation increases to mitigate the construction effects, some scientists believe the solar industry could develop a net positive environmental impact by 2018.[iv]

According to federal data, however, building solar panels significantly increases emissions of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is 17,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year time period.[v] NF3 emissions increased by 1,057 percent over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only increased by about 5 percent during that time period.

Regardless, the waste disposal issues regarding solar panels are enormous. According to an analysis by Environmental Progress, solar panels create about 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants. For example, if solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach 52 meters (the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), while the solar waste would reach 16 kilometers (the height of two Mt. Everests).

Further, while nuclear units can easily operate 50 or 60 years, solar panels have relatively short operational lifespans (20 to 30 years), so their disposal will become a problem in the next few decades. While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, very little has been done to deal with solar waste. Solar waste outside of Europe tends to end up in a large stream of electronic waste.

 

A report determined that it would take 19 years to recycle all of the solar waste that Japan is expected to produce by 2020. By 2034, the annual waste production will be 70 to 80 times larger than that of 2020. (See graph below.) The projected annual peak of 810,000 tons of solar waste in Japan is equivalent to 40.5 million panels. To dispose of that amount of solar waste in a year would mean getting rid of over 110,000 panels per day.[vi]

 

Conclusion

Solar photovoltaic energy is not as environmentally conscious as many think it is. Besides being an intermittent source of energy and more expensive than traditional technologies[vii], it has serious waste disposal issues that few countries are tackling. The hazardous materials used in their construction are not easy to recycle and can contaminate drinking water if solely discarded with other electronic waste.


[i] Environmental Progress, Are We Headed For a Solar Waste Crisis?, June 21, 2017, http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/21/are-we-headed-for-a-solar-waste-crisis

[ii] Daily Caller, Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China, August 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/01/old-solar-panels-causing-an-environmental-crisis-in-china/

[iii] Solar Waste/ European WEEE Directive, http://www.solarwaste.eu/faq/

[iv] Daily Caller, Solar Power Actually Made Global Warming Worse, Says New Study, December 7, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/07/solar-power-actually-made-global-warming-worse-says-new-study/

[v] Daily Caller, Solar Panels Increased Emissions Of A Gas 17,200 Times More Potent Than CO2, March 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/01/solar-panels-increased-emissions-of-a-gas-17200-times-more-potent-than-co2/

[vi] Nikkei Asian Review, Japan tries to chip away at mountain of disused solar panels, November 8, 2016, https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japan-tries-to-chip-away-at-mountain-of-disused-solar-panels?page=1

[vii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

 

The post Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis? appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/will-solar-power-be-at-fault-for-next.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis?

Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal. Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a warning that the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces each year is likely to increase from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the country has no plan for safely disposing of it.[i] China has more solar power plants than any other country, operating roughly twice as many solar panels as the United States and also has no plan for the disposal of the old panels. In China, there could be 20 million metric tons of solar panel waste, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, by 2050.[ii] California, another world leader in deploying solar panels, likewise has no plan for disposal, despite its boasts of environmental consciousness. Only Europe requires solar panel manufacturers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their useful lives.[iii]

Environmental Issues with Solar Panels

Solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials, such as sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, which make them difficult to recycle. They cannot be stored in landfills without protections against contamination. They contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens that can leak out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies.

A study published last December determined that the net impact of using solar panels actually temporarily increases carbon dioxide emissions, because of the amount of energy needed in the construction process. But, because newer solar panels have a smaller adverse environmental impact than older models and as their time of operation increases to mitigate the construction effects, some scientists believe the solar industry could develop a net positive environmental impact by 2018.[iv]

According to federal data, however, building solar panels significantly increases emissions of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is 17,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year time period.[v] NF3 emissions increased by 1,057 percent over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only increased by about 5 percent during that time period.

Regardless, the waste disposal issues regarding solar panels are enormous. According to an analysis by Environmental Progress, solar panels create about 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants. For example, if solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach 52 meters (the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), while the solar waste would reach 16 kilometers (the height of two Mt. Everests).

Further, while nuclear units can easily operate 50 or 60 years, solar panels have relatively short operational lifespans (20 to 30 years), so their disposal will become a problem in the next few decades. While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, very little has been done to deal with solar waste. Solar waste outside of Europe tends to end up in a large stream of electronic waste.

 

A report determined that it would take 19 years to recycle all of the solar waste that Japan is expected to produce by 2020. By 2034, the annual waste production will be 70 to 80 times larger than that of 2020. (See graph below.) The projected annual peak of 810,000 tons of solar waste in Japan is equivalent to 40.5 million panels. To dispose of that amount of solar waste in a year would mean getting rid of over 110,000 panels per day.[vi]

 

Conclusion

Solar photovoltaic energy is not as environmentally conscious as many think it is. Besides being an intermittent source of energy and more expensive than traditional technologies[vii], it has serious waste disposal issues that few countries are tackling. The hazardous materials used in their construction are not easy to recycle and can contaminate drinking water if solely discarded with other electronic waste.


[i] Environmental Progress, Are We Headed For a Solar Waste Crisis?, June 21, 2017, http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/21/are-we-headed-for-a-solar-waste-crisis

[ii] Daily Caller, Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China, August 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/01/old-solar-panels-causing-an-environmental-crisis-in-china/

[iii] Solar Waste/ European WEEE Directive, http://www.solarwaste.eu/faq/

[iv] Daily Caller, Solar Power Actually Made Global Warming Worse, Says New Study, December 7, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/07/solar-power-actually-made-global-warming-worse-says-new-study/

[v] Daily Caller, Solar Panels Increased Emissions Of A Gas 17,200 Times More Potent Than CO2, March 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/01/solar-panels-increased-emissions-of-a-gas-17200-times-more-potent-than-co2/

[vi] Nikkei Asian Review, Japan tries to chip away at mountain of disused solar panels, November 8, 2016, https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japan-tries-to-chip-away-at-mountain-of-disused-solar-panels?page=1

[vii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

 

The post Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis? appeared first on IER.

5 Tips to Help Show ROI from Local SEO

Posted by JoyHawkins

Earlier this year, when I was first writing my advanced local SEO training, I reached out to some users who work for local SEO agencies and asked them what they’d like more training on. The biggest topic I got as a result was related to tracking and reporting value to small business owners.

My clients will often forward me reports from their prior SEO company, expressing that they have no idea what they were getting for their money. Some of the most common complaints I see with these reports are:

  • Too much use of marketing lingo (“Bounce Rate,” “CTR,” etc.)
  • Way too much data
  • No representation of what impact the work done had on the business itself (did it get them more customers?)

If a small business owner is giving you hundreds or thousands of dollars every month, how do you prove to them they’re getting value from it? There’s a lot to dig into with this topic — I included a full six pages on it in my training. Today I wanted to share some of the most successful tips that I use with my own clients.


1. Stop sending automated Google Analytics reports

If the goal is to show the customer what they’re getting from their investment, you probably won’t achieve it by simply sending them an Analytics report each month. Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it only looks awesome to you because you’re a marketer. Over the past year, I’ve looked at many monthly reports that made my head spin — it’s just too much data. The average SMB isn’t going to be able to look at those reports and figure out how their bounce rate decreasing somehow means you’re doing a great job at SEO.

2. Make conversions the focus of your report

What does the business owner care about? Hint: it’s not how you increased the ranking for one of their 50 tracked keywords this month. No, what they care about is how much additional business you drove to their business. This should be the focus of the report you send them. Small business call conversions

3. Use dynamic number insertion to track calls

If you’re not already doing this, you’re really killing your ability to show value. I don’t have a single SEO or SEM client that isn’t using call tracking. I use Call Tracking Metrics, but CallRail is another one that works well, too. This allows you to see the sources of incoming calls. Unlike slapping a call tracking number on your website, dynamic number insertion won’t mess up NAP consistency.

The bonus here is that you can set up these calls as goals in Google Analytics. Using the Landing Page report, you can see which pages on the site were responsible for getting that call. Instead of saying, “Hey customer, a few months ago I created this awesome page of content for you,” you can say “Hey customer, a few months ago, I added this page to your site and as a result, it’s got you 5 more calls.”
Conversion goal completion in Google Analytics

4. Estimate revenue

I remember sitting in a session a couple years ago when Dev Basu from Powered by Search told me about this tactic. I had a lightbulb moment, wondering why the heck I didn’t think to do this before.

The concept is simple: Ask the client what the average lifetime value of their customer is. Next, ask them what their average closing ratio is on Internet leads. Take those numbers and, based on the number of conversions, you can calculate their estimated revenue.

Formula: Lifetime Value of a Customer x Closing Ratio (%) x Number of Conversions = Estimated Revenue

Bonus tip: Take this a step further and show them that for every dollar they pay you, you make them $X. Obviously, if the lifetime value of the customer is high, these numbers look a lot better. For example, an attorney could look like this:Example monthly ROI for an attorneyWhereas an insurance agent would look like this:
Example monthly ROI for an insurance agent

5. Show before/after screenshots, not a ranking tracker.

I seriously love ranking trackers. I spend a ton of time every week looking at reports in Bright Local for my clients. However, I really believe ranking trackers are best used for marketers, not business owners. How many times have you had a client call you freaking out because they noticed a drop in ranking for one keyword? I chose to help stop this trend by not including ranking reports in my monthly reporting and have never regretted that decision.

Instead, if I want to highlight a significant ranking increase that happened as a result of SEO, I can do that by showing the business owner a visual — something they will actually understand. This is where I use Bright Local’s screenshots; I can see historically how a SERP used to look versus how it looks now.


At the end of the day, to show ROI you need to think like a business owner, not a marketer. If your goals match the goals of the business owner (which is usually to increase calls), make sure that’s what you’re conveying in your monthly reporting.

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!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/5-tips-to-help-show-roi-from-local-seo.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

SEO Above the Funnel: Getting More Traffic When You Can’t Rank Any Higher

Posted by Tom.Capper

Normally, as SEOs, we follow a deceptively simple process. We identify how people are searching for our product, then we build or optimize pages or websites to match searcher intent, we make sure Google can find, understand, and trust it, and we wait for the waves of delicious traffic to roll in.

It’s not always that simple, though. What if we have the right pages, but just can’t rank any higher? What if we’re already satisfying all of the search volume that’s relevant to our product, but the business demands growth? What if there is no search volume relevant to our product?

What would you do, for example, if you were asked to increase organic traffic to the books section on Amazon? Or property search traffic to Rightmove (UK) or Zillow (US)? Or Netflix, before anyone knew that true online streaming services existed?

In this post, I’m going to briefly outline four simple tactics for building your relevant organic traffic by increasing the overall size of the market, rather than by trying to rank higher. And none of them require building a single link, or making any changes to your existing pages.

1. Conquer neighboring territories

This is a business tactic as well as an SEO one, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for reasonably uncompetitive verticals adjacent to your own. You have an advantage in these, because you already have a brand, a strong domain, a website to build upon, and so forth. New startups trying to make headway in these spaces will struggle to compete with a fairly low-effort execution on your part, if you judge it well.

Start by ideating related products. For example, if you’re a property listings site, you might look at:

  • Home insurance
  • Home valuation
  • Flat-sharing listings
  • Area guides

Once you’ve outlined your list (it’s probably longer than my example), you can do your basic keyword research, and take a look at the existing ranking pages. This is a bit like identifying keyword opportunities, except you’re looking at the core landing pages of a whole vertical — look at their Domain Authorities, their branded search volumes, the quality of their landing pages, the extent to which they’ve done basic SEO, and ask whether you could do better.

In the example above, you might find that home insurance is well served by fairly strong financial services or comparison sites, but flat-sharing is a weak vertical dominated by a few fairly young and poorly executed sites. That’s your opportunity.

To minimize your risk, you can start with a minimal viable version — perhaps just a single landing page or a white-labeled product. If it does well, you know it merits further investment.

You’ve already established a trusted brand, with a strong website, which users are already engaging in — if you can extend your services and provide good user experiences in other areas, you can beat other, smaller brands in those spaces.

2. Welcome the intimidated

Depending on your vertical, there may be an untapped opportunity among potential customers who don’t understand or feel comfortable with the product. For example, if you sell laptops, many potential customers may be wary of buying a laptop online or without professional advice. This might cause them not to buy, or to buy a cheaper product to reduce the riskiness.

A “best laptops under £500,” or “lightest laptops,” or “best laptops for gaming” page could encourage people to spend more, or to buy online when they might otherwise have bought in a store. Pages like this can be simple feature comparisons, or semi-editorial, but it’s important that they don’t feel like a sales or up-sell function (even though that’s what the “expert” in the store would be!).

This is even more pertinent the more potentially research intensive the purchase is. For example, Crucial have done amazingly for years with their “system scanner,” linked to prominently on their homepage, which identifies potential upgrades and gives less savvy users confidence in their purchase.

Guaranteed compatible!

If this seems like too much effort, the outdoor retailer Snow and Rock don’t have the best website in the world, but they have taken a simpler approach in linking to buying guides from certain product pages — for example, this guide on how to pick a pair of walking boots.

Can you spot scenarios where users abandon in your funnels because of fear or complexity, or where they shift their spend to offline competitors? If you can make them feel safe and supported, you might be able to change their buying behavior.

3. Whip up some fervor

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have enthusiasts who know your vertical like the back of their hand, but could be incited to treat themselves a little more. I’ve been really impressed recently by a couple of American automotive listings sites doing this really well.

The first is Autotrader.com, who have hired well-known automotive columnist Doug Demuro from Jalopnik.com to produce videos and articles for their enthusiast news section. These articles and videos talk about the nerdy quirks of some of the most obscure and interesting used cars that have been listed on the site, and it’s not uncommon for videos on Doug’s YouTube channel — which mention Autotrader.com and feature cars you could buy on Autotrader.com — to get well into 7-figure viewing counts.

These are essentially adverts for Autotrader.com’s products, but I and hundreds of thousands of others watch them religiously. What’s more, the resulting videos and articles stand to rank for the types of queries that curious enthusiasts may search for, turning informational queries into buying intent, as well as building brand awareness. I actually think Autotrader.com could do even better at this with a little SEO 101 (editorial titles don’t need to be your actual title tag, guys), but it’s already a great tactic.

Another similar site doing this really well is Bringatrailer.com. Their approach is really simple — whenever they get a particularly rare or interesting car listed, they post it on Facebook.

These are super low-effort posts about used cars, but if you take a step back, Bring a Trailer are doing something outrageous. They’re posting links to their product pages on Facebook a dozen or more times a day, and getting 3-figure reaction counts. Some of the lesson here is “have great product pages,” or “exist in an enthusiast-rich vertical,” and I realize that this tactic isn’t strictly SEO. But it is doing a lot of things that we as SEOs try to do (build awareness, search volume, links…), and it’s doing so by successfully matching informational or entertainment intents with transactional pages.

When consumers engage with a brand emotionally or even socially, then you’re more likely to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to purchase — but they’re also more likely to purchase if they’re seeing and thinking about your products, services, and sector in their feed.

4. Tell people your vertical exists

I won’t cover this one in too much detail, because there’s already an excellent Whiteboard Friday on the subject. The key point, however, is that sometimes it’s not just that customers are intimidated by your product. They may never have heard of it. In these cases, you need to appear where they’re looking using demographic targeting, carefully researched editorial sections, or branded content.

What about you, though?

How do you go about drumming up demand in your vertical? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/seo-above-funnel-getting-more-traffic.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com