How to verify your Twitter account in 10 steps

twitter bio

Twitter has announced it will now let any of its users apply for the much sought after blue badge of verification.

But there are still a number of criteria you must fulfil in order to be accepted into the Twitter pantheon.

Luckily it’s nothing nearly as taxing as ‘being just as popular as Katy Perry’ or ‘being just as terrifyingly unpredictable like Kanye West’.

Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to do to achieve blue tick* status.

Please note: I don’t personally have a verified account. The following guidelines may not guarantee you a verification badge. A Twitter verification badge will not make you a better/happier/more popular person. A Twitter verification badge isn’t a substitute for genuine emotional self-worth, you’re thinking of Pokemon Go. Now that everyone has access to a Twitter verification badge, it will probably feel a bit hollow when you’re given one.

What does verification mean?

It lets people know that your Twitter account is both of the following:

  • Of public interest
  • Authentic

At first its main use was to help users determine between genuine celebrities and their countless imitators and parody accounts, but soon afterwards any high profile user with tweets of particular note in any field of interest became eligible for verification.

It stood as a badge of authority.

Previously you couldn’t actually apply for the verification label, you were just offered it by Twitter when they ‘noticed’ you.

However all that has changed as of this week…

How do I get my Twitter account verified?

1) First you’ll have to personally determine whether your account is “of public interest.” This may take some soul searching and uncovering of some hard truths, but if you’re a regular contributor to online publications and can prove your identity by linking to other genuine online profiles, you’re in with a chance.

2) Sign in to Twitter on your desktop, head to your profile page, click ‘Edit Profile’ and make sure you have the following details filled in:

  • Make sure your name is genuinely your name (or your stage name)
  • A profile photo featuring your own face
  • A header photo
  • A bio
  • A website linking to your work
  • Your birthday

3) Save changes.

4) Next, click on your little thumbnail profile picture on the top right corner to launch the pop-up menu, and click Settings.

5) In Settings you’ll need to do the following:

  • Verify your mobile number
  • Confirm you email address

You’ll probably have already confirmed your email when you signed up, but it’s a good idea to check now that it’s your current one.

Twitter Settings

To verify your mobile number, head to Mobile on the bottom left menu, then add your number. You’ll receive a text with a six digit number you’ll have to enter here to confirm.

Twitter Settings mobile

6) Set your tweets to public in the Security and Privacy settings.

Twitter Settings privacy

You should now be ready to submit your account for verification.

7) Submit your request to verify your account by clicking this form.

8) Make sure you’re signed in to the Twitter account you wish to be verified for.

request to verify account

9) You will then need to provide at least two URLs to websites that will help identify you (I’ve chosen my author page at SEW and my Contently page) and you will also need to provide a 500 character explanation on why you should be verified.

verify twitter account

10) Click next, check your details, and click confirm.

Other things to be aware of

  • Twitter will respond to your request via email.
  • If your request is denied, you can submit another request 30 days after receiving the email.
  • The blue verification badge appears next to your name wherever it appears on Twitter and in search results.
  • Accounts that use the verification badge as a part of the profile photo or background photo are subject to permanent account suspension.
  • Verification badges may be taken away if you change your Twitter handle.
  • A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter.

*I know, the tick is technically white on a blue background. The use of ‘blue tick’ annoys me as much as it annoys you.

Digital Leaders Q&A: Sandeep Menon, global marketing director for Google Play

Sandeep_Menon Google web

Sandeep Menon, based in California, is global marketing director for Google Play, the app and digital content store for Android users that offers apps, games, a music subscription service, TV and films on demand, and ebooks.

We caught up with him to find out about his business priorities, how the marketing function is evolving, and the key skills and tools marketers need to excel at Google.

Broadly speaking, what are your key business goals? And what are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

In the Google Play ecosystem, there are three main entities that we focus on – our users, our developers, and our content partners (music labels, artists, movie studios, etc). One of our main business goals is keeping these three parties happy with the service we offer.

As for KPIs, I care a lot about the number of engaged users on our platform. We keep an eye on metrics like the number of people using our music service, the number of people using our video service, and then also other key metrics, such as revenue from our apps and games business, and from our digital content businesses.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in your role?

One of our main challenges is ensuring our teams are constantly innovating to keep up with the pace of change in the technology arena.

Another interesting challenge is ensuring that everything we do can be scaled globally, while catering to the needs of each of the 130+ countries that is supported by Google Play.

How would you say the marketing function is evolving within your organisation?

At its core, the role of marketing in an organisation has not changed, but how we go about doing it has been completely disrupted by digital.

It’s worth remembering that basic emotions, and the core things people care about, do not change. People still want to go out with friends and have fun, they still care about their families, they still get angry about things. What does change is how we express that.

For example, just 15 to 20 years ago, when you went on holiday what you would probably do is send a postcard from there to share how wonderful the holiday was. Right now, you could share that same experience of “hey I’m having a great time”, and “this is a beautiful place” in so many different ways.

At Google our focus has always been on connecting our users with the great products we develop.

Which tools or software do you find most useful in your role?

Following on from what we said about challenges earlier, one of our biggest challenges is ensuring the flow of information. How do you make sure that ideas are shared quickly, and that the collaborative nature of the organisation is preserved, even though you are thousands of miles apart?

The most powerful tools we have are simple platforms like Google Docs, which allow me to share an idea and get input from people in 40 countries within 24 hours.

One of the things we are passionate about at Google is giving everyone the opportunity to come up and try out ideas, whether you’re a junior marketer who started six months ago, or a seasoned veteran.

What do you see as the most significant trends in digital marketing over the coming years that might have an impact on the marketing function?

Marketers are spending a lot of money on getting the message out, but even now, we’re still not completely sure of how precisely targeted those messages are. There’s still a lot to do in the field of measurement, and that is one significant change that I see coming. I think that over the years we’ve had great progress in the area of measuring campaign effectiveness but there’s still a lot to do.

The second trend is getting better intelligence. As processing power improves, the kind of insight we could get is going to be fundamentally different from what we had before.

While we still do a lot of consumer surveys and similar studies, there are a lot of smart tools coming that can accurately predict the key consumer insights that we need to be focusing on.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in a senior marketing role at Google?

During my time at Google, I’ve observed that in both marketing and in other functions, the people who have been most successful are those who are passionate about technology.

At heart we are a technology company, and no matter what your background you should be genuinely excited about technology and the power of technology to change things for the better. Passion is core for being effective in any role in Google – especially a marketing role.

The second thing we talk about a lot is our very collaborative culture that’s less “top-down”. As a marketer, you should be very effective in cross-functional collaboration. Some of the best people I have seen are those who can work with everyone – from engineers to comms people.

You might say that generally for an organisation to be successful you need a cross-functional leader, but I see it much more pertinent in a company like Google.

If there is such a thing, how does the typical working day look for you?

I start most days talking to my colleagues in EMEA, spend the middle part of the day with my team in the US, then towards the evening, when APAC wakes up, start my interactions with them.

I spend most of my time in discussing our plans, campaigns and actions with my team members, but wish I spent more time around consumers – that’s one area I wish I could do more of.

Finally, do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?

In digital, we see new trends and technologies emerging constantly. This at times can be confusing.

These trends keep changing – what’s important for those who want to be creative marketers is that they understand the power of data and how data can influence thinking and they develop the ability to combine these insights with great storytelling.

Is Google becoming more hyperlocal?

new-pack-ad

Last week, reports surfaced suggesting the possibility that Google has made changes to local map results.

As detailed by Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, in the past week numerous individuals in the SEO community reported seeing compression in the local map pack results. One SEO who was monitoring results for clients observed “massive compression”:

In many tested areas (legal, dog boarding, photographers) we were seeing 4+ pages of map search results — now seeing one page (two at most).

Seems like centroids have increased as well – and its different for different business types. For example, “family photographers austin” results stop at the city line (results last week included suburbs and surrounding towns. But “wedding photographers austin” takes in the whole Austin DMA.

Others reported observing similar behavior, which, if put into practice more widely, could help some businesses and hurt others.

For example, one SEO commented, “I am seeing it here as well and while for my clients that have multiple locations across the city, its great, but for clients who have one location and get business from all over the city, its hurting them in a big big way!” He added, “Just because a business has more locations doesn’t mean they should be the ones showing up in the majority of searches.”

Obviously, Google might beg to differ. After all, Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant results to its users, a growing number of whom are accessing Google from mobile devices.

To the extent that it can reliably deliver highly-relevant, hyperlocal results personalized to specific users based on their current locations, there’s arguably no reason for Google not to. This is especially true given that, as of last year, Google’s local map pack only displays three results instead of seven.

That change made optimization even more important for local marketers.

Hyperlocal’s impact on strategy

While it remains to be seen whether or not the results observed in recent days are a result of experimentation or permanent, larger changes, they are a reminder of the fact that local businesses compete in a dynamic online marketplace that constantly requires them to reevaluate their strategies and tactics.

Optimization is no doubt and important part of that process, but an even greater hyperlocal push by Google highlights why alternative and emerging channels will probably grow in importance to local marketers in coming years.

The complete beginner’s guide to Schema.org markup

A search result from Time Out London for The Lyric theatre in Hammersmith. The result features a star rating of 4.5 stars, dated the 2nd June 2015, and has a short extract from the beginning of the review.

Do you know how to speak ‘search engine’? If there ever was a universal language for communicating with search engines, Schema.org is probably it.

What is Schema.org, you ask? Before I answer that question, first I need to explain what structured data is. In its simplest sense, structured data is information formatted in a way that can be universally understood. For webpages, this means search engines are more easily able to tell what a page is about, and the different elements it contains, allowing them to return more useful results to searchers.

Schema.org, then, is a markup vocabulary for structured data developed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex, with the goal of creating a structured data markup that all search engines can understand. It takes the form of code that you can add to your webpage to define what the different elements – like dates, images, opening hours or reviews – all mean.

Without structured data, a webpage is essentially all information with no context; adding structured data gives it that context. This enables search engines like Google to pull out the relevant parts of a webpage in the form of rich snippets and rich data, making the results page more informative and increasing click-through rate.

Rich data like star ratings in search results are made possible by using structured data

In spite of this, only a tiny fraction of websites actually use it. A study by Searchmetrics in 2014 found that just 0.3% of websites were using Schema.org vocabulary to mark up their webpages, and the number has barely gone up since then.

So if you’re a website owner or developer who’d like to get started using Schema.org markup, but aren’t sure how, then read on! As a newcomer to Schema.org myself, hopefully I can explain it in a way that makes sense to fellow newbies.

How does Schema.org work?

Schema.org marks up the individual elements of a webpage, like pictures or names, with specific code that tells a search engine exactly what that page element is. The way this is done depends on the type of structured data markup you choose to use on your webpages.

The full list of things that you can mark up with Schema can be found here. Although it seems extensive, it doesn’t by any means cover everything that you might want to feature on a webpage, so there will be some things that the vocabulary just doesn’t exist for yet. But the vocabulary is always being updated and expanded, and if you’re ambitious, you can even add an extension of your own.

Marking up your webpages with structured data means that a search engine can ‘read’ them more easily and understand what the content refers to. For example, if you had a page about Avatar, the James Cameron film, you can mark it up with the ‘movie’ item type to let the search engine know it’s a page about a film and not a type of online profile picture, or an incarnation of a Hindu deity.

As I mentioned above, Google’s ‘rich snippets’ and other kinds of rich data that appear in search results, like images and recipes, are made possible through structured data markup like Schema.org. So using it has the potential to make your pages much more attractive and interesting in search, increasing click-through and thus traffic from organic search.

Schema.org markup is the difference between your search result looking like this nice, informative result with an attractive picture and a star rating:

And this much less attractive result with a randomly generated extract:

Which of these results would you rather click on?

The Searchmetrics study that I mentioned earlier also pointed to a general ranking increase of four positions for pages using Schema.org markup, but it’s likely that this is correlation, not causation. As Searchmetrics put it, webmasters using Schema.org tend to be “one step ahead of the competition” in various respects, which all add up to a ranking increase.

In other words: smart webmasters mark up their websites with Schema.org.

In this guide I’m going to look at how to use three types of markup with Schema: microdata, RDFa and JSON-LD. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s really a matter of choice as to which one you implement.

Jump to:

How to mark up your pages using Microdata
How to mark up your pages using RDFa
How to mark up your pages using JSON-LD

How do I start marking up my webpages?

How to mark up your pages using Microdata

Microdata is a set of tags, introduced with HTML5, which is aimed at providing a simpler way of annotating HTML elements with machine-readable tags.

Microdata is a fairly easy-to-use markup, and good for beginners. The downsides are that you have to mark up each individual item within the body of the webpage – which can get messy – as opposed to a markup like JSON-LD, where you can confine most of the code to the header.

Before you begin, you first need to work out what ‘item type’ your webpage content can be defined as. Is it a recipe? A review? A piece of music, or an event? This will determine what you tag it up as.

Let’s say that you have a website for a restaurant called Noodle Paradise. The website home page might look something like this:


Noodle Paradise

The best noodles in all of London!

Address:

260 Elephant Road

London, UK

Tel: 01234 567890

Click here to view our tasty range of dishes!

We're open:

Mon-Sat 12pm - 9:30pm

Sun: 1pm - 8pm

First, you want to identify the section of the webpage which is about the restaurant. For us that’s everything between the two tags. So at the top we add in:

By adding the itemscope tag, we’re specifying that the HTML contained in the … block is referring to a particular item. But which item? Next, we need to use the itemtype attribute to specify the type of item our page is about – i.e., a restaurant.

Item types are given as URLs, in this case http://schema.org/restaurant. If your page was about a film instead, you might use the URL http://schema.org/movie. You can browse the full list of item types plus extensions to find the specific entity you’re looking for, though like I said before, not everything is covered.

Back to our restaurant page, next we want to tag which part of the webpage has the name of the restaurant – in between our tags. This calls for an itemprop tag, which as you might guess, labels the properties of an item.

Noodle Paradise

We can go ahead and tag the rest of our page up this way. When tagging item properties, you don’t need to tag the whole line, just the bit the property is actually referring to. So if you have a line saying Phone number: 01234 567890, you only need to put the tags around the number itself.

The best noodles in all of London!

Address:


260 Elephant Road

London, UK

Tel: 01234 567890

Click here to view our tasty range of dishes!

We're open:

Mon-Sat 12pm - 9:30pm

Sun: 1pm - 8pm

If this all looks complicated, don’t panic – every individual page on Schema.org for different item types has examples for how to use them, so you can see the code in action.

You can also use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper for easier tagging of your webpages. To use it, just select your item type, paste in the URL of your page or the content you want to mark up, and then highlight to tag the different elements. It can be a bit restrictive, though (for example, selecting the ‘restaurant’ type won’t give you the option to mark up a description), so depending on what you want to tag, you might still need to add some of it manually.

Structured Data Markup Helper

And if you want to test how well your markup works, Google has a Structured Data Testing Tool which will track down the errors in your completed webpage.

How to mark up your pages using RDFa

RDFa stands for Resource Description Framework in Attributes, and is an extension to HTML5 designed to help you mark up structured data. It is a W3C Recommendation – that is to say a web standard – and can be used to combine multiple structured data vocabularies, if you want to add structured data that goes beyond what you can do with Schema.org.

If you already know how to use Microdata markup with Schema.org, then RDFa really isn’t that different. Like microdata, the tags integrate with the existing HTML in the body of your content. Let’s use a simple restaurant website as an example.

The original HTML for our restaurant homepage might look like this:


Noodle Paradise

The best noodles in all of London!

Address:

260 Elephant Road

London, UK

Tel: 01234 567890

Click here to view our tasty range of dishes!

We're open:

Mon-Sat 12pm - 9:30pm

Sun: 1pm - 8pm

First off, we want to specify that the vocabulary we’re using is Schema.org and that the webpage is referring to a restaurant. You can navigate to the Restaurant page on Schema.org to find out how to tag different elements – the examples at the bottom will show you how to use them in practice. Just click the RDFa tab to see examples for RDFa format.

We need to use the tag vocab together with the URL http://schema.org/ to specify the vocabulary for our markup. The page type is defined by the typeof tag; unlike with Microdata, types are indicated with one or two words instead of with URLs.

We’ve now told the search engine that this is a page about a restaurant, but not what the rest of the page elements are referring to. We now want to define those as properties, using the property attribute. For example, we would tag our restaurant’s name using the name tag, like so:

Noodle Paradise

The typeof attribute can also be used when you want to define a property further; for example, you can further define the address property with the type PostalAddress, like this:

Typeof is roughly equivalent to itemtype in Microdata, while property is equivalent to the itemprop attribute. You can check the lists and examples on Schema.org to see which kinds of elements are defined as types, and which are defined as properties. For our restaurant homepage, we would tag the rest of the page up like this:

The best noodles in all of London!

Address:


260 Elephant Road

London, UK

Tel: 01234 567890

Click here to view our tasty range of dishes!

We're open:

Mon-Sat 12pm - 9:30pm

Sun: 1pm - 8pm

To help with your markup, every Schema.org page for a specific item type or property, like ‘restaurant’, ‘telephone’ or ‘opening hours’, has dedicated examples to show you how to use it. You can also use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to help you spot any errors in your code.

Some other resources I found useful when writing this guide are the Schema.org Data Model for RDFa, which explains how the Schema.org use of Microdata maps into RDFa (among other things), and the W3C RDFa Primer. The W3C primer mostly focuses on other vocabularies like Dublin Core, but you can use Ctrl-F to find the bits that relate to Schema.

How to mark up your pages using JSON-LD

JSON-LD, which stands for JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data, is a means of encoding linked data (which itself is a method of publishing structured data) using JSON. It’s a W3C Recommendation – so a web standard – and was added as a recommended format for Schema.org in 2013.

Google was initially hesitant to support JSON-LD as a format for Schema.org markup, preferring developers to use inline markup like Microdata or RDFa where you could more easily see where the markup was being applied to individual elements. But it has since embraced the format to the point where it recommends developers use JSON-LD to mark up their web pages, which means there are lots of handy resources for JSON-LD on Google Developers.

The advantage of using JSON-LD with Schema.org markup is that it confines most of the relevant code to the page header, keeping extra tags out of the main body of your content and making the code cleaner and easier to read.

JSON-LD notation is contained inside a script block (). So to start off, we would input this line to show we’re using JSON-LD format:

Your JSON-LD code should also be contained within curly brackets, also known as curly braces, or it won’t be parsed by search engines or applied to the page. This is known in JavaScript as an object structure. So the outline of your code will look like this:


{
code goes here
}

Next, you need to use context to define the vocabulary that the data is being linked to – in our case, Schema.org. A comma should also go at the end of each line of code.

“@context”: “http://schema.org”,

As with other types of Schema.org format, you next need to define the type of content you’re marking up. This is equivalent to the itemtype attribute in Microdata, or the typeof attribute in RDFa.

We’ll use a simple restaurant website as our example, so our type of content would be “Restaurant”:

“@type”: “Restaurant”,

Next we want to define the restaurant’s name and its description. If we were using an inline markup like Microdata or RDFa to define these elements, they would need to be present on the website homepage itself. But another of the neat advantages of JSON-LD is that it allows you to define elements without them necessarily being present on the page.

“name”: “Noodle Paradise”,
“description”: “The best noodles in all of London!”,

Now we want to define our restaurant’s address. Because the address is going to have additional, more precise properties that belong to it – like street address and locality – we’re going to put those properties inside another set of curly brackets, like so:

“address”: {
“@type”: “PostalAddress”,
“addressLocality”: “London, UK”,
“streetAddress”: “260 Elephant Road”,

},

Next, we’ll put in the opening hours. Because we’ve got a couple of different sets of opening times on our website – one for Monday to Saturday, and one for Sunday – we’ll put these on separate lines, inside a pair of square brackets (also known as an array structure).

Our opening hours are Monday to Saturday 12pm to 9:30pm, and Sunday 1pm to 8pm. The days of the week are specified in two-letter combinations (Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr, Sa, Su) and times should always be written with the 24-hour clock.

“openingHours”: [
“Mo-Sa 12:00-21:30”
“Su 13:00-20:00”
],

Finally we’re going to add in a telephone number, and the menu URL; both quite straightforward except that the phone number needs to be written as a continuous string of numbers with an area code, like so:

“telephone”: “+441234567890”
“menu”: “http://www.noodleparadise.com/menu”

And that’s it! Our finished markup should look like this:


{
"@context": "http://schema.org",
"@type": "Restaurant",
"name": "Noodle Paradise",
"description": "The best noodles in all of London!",
"address": {
"@type": "PostalAddress",
"addressLocality": "London, UK",
"streetAddress": "260 Elephant Road"
},
"openingHours": [
"Mo-Sa 12:00-21:30",
"Su 13:00-20:00"
],
"telephone": "+441234567890",
"menu": "http://www.noodleparadise.com/menu"
}

As I mentioned earlier, Google Developers has some good resources available for using JSON-LD with Schema.org, including an Introduction to Structured Data which uses JSON-LD as its example format. I also found Portent’s JSON-LD Implementation Guide a very useful point of reference. And you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check your syntax for errors.

Other uses for Schema.org

As well as being used to mark up webpages, Schema.org markup can be added to emails in order to trigger Google Now cards, add actions and appear in users’ Search Results – Google Developers has some good resources and tutorials which show you how to do this.

Pinterest also uses metadata in formats like Schema.org and Open Graph to form rich pins, which feature more information and give Pinners a richer experience, increasing engagement. You can find out how to get started with Rich Pins using this guide.

The 10 greatest social media advertising tips for content marketers

Social media advertising Butters meme

Let’s start with the bad news first. It’s tougher than ever to get your content noticed.

Changes to Google’s search results pages have further obscured content organically, especially on competitive commercial searches. Meanwhile, paid search CPCs are at all-time highs in established markets.

Organic reach in social media? It’s pretty much dead. Half of all content gets zero shares, and less than 0.1 percent will be shared more than 1,000 times. And Facebook just announced that you’re even less likely to get your content in front of people who aren’t related to you. (Sorry.)

Additionally, the typical internet marketing conversion rate is less than 1 percent.

How content marketing doesn’t (usually) work

How does content marketing actually work? Many people believe content marketing is basically a three-step process:

  • Create new content.
  • Share your content on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
  • People buy your stuff.
  • Nope. This almost never happens.

    Social media advertising how content marketing doesn't work

    Most content goes nowhere. The consumer purchase journey isn’t a straight line – and it takes time.

    So is there a more reliable way to increase leads and sales with content?

    Social media ads to the rescue!

    Social media advertising bad time ski instructor meme

    Now it’s time for the good news, guys! Social media ads provide the most scalable content promotion and are proven to turn visitors into leads and customers.

    And the best part? You don’t need a huge ad budget.

    A better, more realistic process for content marketing would look like this:

  • Create: Produce content and share it on social media.
  • Amplify: Selectively promote your top content on social media.
  • Tag: Build your remarketing audience by tagging site visitors with a cookie.
  • Filter: Apply behavioral and demographic filters on your audience.
  • Remarket: Remarket to your audience with display ads, social ads, and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to promote offers.
  • Convert: Capture qualified leads or sale.
  • Repeat.
  • You can use the following 10 Twitter and Facebook advertising hacks as a catalyst to get more eyeballs on your content, or as an accelerant to create an even larger traffic explosion.

    1. Improve your Quality Score

    Quality Score is a metric Google uses to rate the quality and relevance of your keywords and PPC ads – and influences your cost-per-click. Facebook calls their version a “Relevancy Score”:

    Social media advertising Facebook Relevance Score

    While Twitter calls theirs a “Quality Adjusted Bid”:

    Social media advertising Twitter Quality Adjusted Bid

    Whatever you call it, Quality Score is a crucial metric. You can increase your quality score for Twitter and Facebook by increasing your post engagement rates.

    A high quality score is great because you’ll get a higher ad impression share for the same budget at a lower cost per engagement. On the flip side, a low Quality Score is terrible because you’ll have a low ad impression share and a high cost per engagement.

    How do you increase engagement rates? Promote your best content – your unicorns (the top 1-3 percent that performs better than all your other content) vs. your donkeys (your bottom 97 percent).

    To figure out if your content is a unicorn or donkey, you’ll have to test it out.

    Social media advertising unicorns or donkeys

    • Post lots of stuff (organically) to Twitter and use Twitter Analytics to see which content gets the most engagement.
    • Post your top stuff from Twitter organically to LinkedIn and Facebook. Again, track which posts get the most traction.
    • Pay to promote the unicorns on Facebook and Twitter.

    The key to paid social media ads is to be picky. Cast a narrow net and maximize those engagement rates.

    2. Increase engagement with audience targeting

    Social media advertising South Park meme

    Targeting all of your fans isn’t precise. It’s lazy and you’ll waste a lot of money.

    Your fans aren’t a homogenous blob. They all have different incomes, interests, values, and preferences.

    For example, by targeting fans of Donald Trump, people with social media marketing job titles, NRA members, and the hashtag #NeverHillary (and excluding Democrats, fans of Hillary Clinton, and the hashtag #neverTrump), this tweet for an Inc. article I wrote got 10x higher engagement:

    Social media advertising Trump tweet engagement

    Keyword targeting and other audience targeting methods help turn average ads into unicorns.

    3. Generate free clicks from paid ads

    On Twitter, tweet engagements are the most popular type of ad campaign. Why? I have no idea. You have to pay for every user engagement (whether someone views your profile, expands your image, expands your tweet from the tweet stream, or clicks on a hashtag).

    If you’re doing this, you need to stop. Now. It’s a giant waste of money and offers the worst ROI.

    Instead, you should only pay for the thing that matters most to your business, whether that’s clicks to your website, app installs, followers, leads, or actual video views.

    For example, when you run a Twitter followers campaign you only pay when someone follows you. But your tweet that’s promoting one of your unicorn pieces of content will also get a ton of impressions, retweets, replies, mentions, likes, and visits to your website. All for the low, low cost of $0.

    4. Promote unicorn video ads!

    Would you believe you can get thousands of video views at a cost of just $0.02 per view?

    Social media advertising 2 cent video views

    Shoppers who view videos are more likely to remember you, and buy from you. A couple quick tips for success:

    • Promote videos that have performed the best (i.e., driven the most engagement) on your website, YouTube, or elsewhere.
    • Make sure people can understand your video without hearing it – an amazing 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound, according to Digiday.
    • Make it memorable, try to keep it short, and target the right audience.

    Bonus: video ad campaigns increase relevancy score by 2 points!

    5. Score huge wins with custom audiences

    True story: A while back I wrote an article that asked: do Twitter Ads work? To promote the article on Twitter, I used their tailored audiences feature to target key influencers.

    The very same day, Business Insider asked for permission to publish the story. So I promoted that version of the article to influencers using tailored audiences.

    An hour later, a Fox News producer emailed me. Look where I found myself:

    Social media advertising Larry Kim Fox News interview

    The awesome power of custom audiences resulted in additional live interviews with major news outlets including the BBC, 250 high-value press pickups and links, massive brand exposure, 100,000 visits to the WordStream site, and a new business relationship with Facebook.

    This is just one example of identity-based marketing using social media ads. Whether it’s Twitter’s tailored audiences or Facebook’s custom audiences, this opens a ton of new and exciting advertising use cases!

    6. Promote your content on more social platforms

    Medium, Hacker News, Reddit, Digg, and LinkedIn Pulse call all send you massive amounts of traffic. It’s important to post content here that is appropriate to the audience.

    Post content on Medium or LinkedIn. New content is fine, but repurposing your content is a better strategy. This will give a whole new audience a chance to discover and consume your existing content.

    Again, you can use social media ads as a catalyst or accelerant and get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of views you otherwise wouldn’t have. It might even open you up to syndication opportunities (I’ve had posts syndicated to New York Observer and Time Magazine).

    You can also promote your existing content on sites like Hacker News, Reddit, or Digg. Getting upvotes can create valuable exposure that will send tons of traffic to your existing content.

    For a minimal investment, you can get some serious exposure and traffic!

    7. Optimize for engagement for insanely awesome SEO

    RankBrain is an AI machine learning system, which Google is now using to better understand search queries, especially queries Google has never seen before (an estimated 15 percent of all queries).

    I believe Google is looking at user engagement metrics (such as organic click-through rates, bounce rates, dwell time, and conversion rates) as a way, in part, to rank pages that have earned very few or no links and provide better answers to users’ questions.

    Social media advertising RankBrain SEO

    Even if user engagement metrics aren’t part of the core ranking algorithm, getting really high organic CTRs and conversion rates will have its own great rewards:

    • More clicks and conversions.
    • Better organic search rankings.
    • Even more clicks and conversions.

    Social media advertising Facebook Experian case study data

    Use social media ads to build brand recognition and double your organic search click-through and conversion rates!

    8. Social media remarketing

    Social media remarketing, on average, will boost engagement by 3x and increase conversion rates by 2x, all while cutting your costs by a third. So make the most of it!

    Use social media remarketing to push your hard offers, such as sign-ups, consultations, and downloads.

    9. Combine everything with super remarketing

    Social media advertising super cereal South Park meme

    Super remarketing is the awesome combination of remarketing, demographics, behaviors, and high engagement content. Here’s how and why it works.

    • Behavior and interest targeting: These are the people interested in your stuff.
    • Remarketing: These are the people who have recently checked our your stuff.
    • Demographic targeting: These are the people who can afford to buy your stuff.

    Now you need to target your paid social ads to a narrow audience that meets all three criteria using your high engagement unicorns.

    The result?

    Social media advertising more money meme

    10. Combine paid search & social ads

    For our final, and most advanced tip of them all, you’re going to combine social ads with PPC search ads on Google using RLSA.

    RLSA is incredibly powerful. You can target customized search ads only to people who have recently visited your site when they search on Google. It increases click-through and conversion rates by 3x and also reduces cost-per-click by a third.

    But there’s one problem. By definition, RLSA doesn’t target people who are unfamiliar with your brand.

    This is where social ads come in. Social ads will help more people become familiar with your brand.

    Social ads are cheap way to start the process of biasing people towards you. Although they may not need what you sell now, later when the need arises, people will either do a branded search for your stuff, or do an unbranded search but click on you because they remember your memorable or inspirational content.

    Social media advertising unicorns

    If your content marketing efforts are struggling, then these ridiculously powerful Twitter and Facebook advertising hacks will turn your content donkeys into unicorns!

    Are retailers missing the mark on m-commerce?

    A photograph of a colourful clothing store.

    With the increasing dominance of mobile across all industries, business owners and influencers in every sector from retail to finance are making developing their mobile experience a top priority.

    But a new report by PointSource into ‘The State of the Mobile Experience’ has indicated that few are happy with the results.

    The study, which surveyed nearly 300 key influencers and decision makers across retail, insurance, finance and supply chain industries, found that although nine in 10 companies have a mobile website, and eight in 10 have a mobile app, fewer than one in five respondents rated their mobile presence as “excellent”.

    In retail in particular, only 37% of respondents to the survey rated their mobile presence as a nine or above, on a scale of one to 10. The report also revealed several areas in which retailers are missing opportunities to enhance the user experience on mobile, track customer behaviour, and implement features that would help to engage and retain mobile customers.

    So why are retailers still missing the mark with their mobile presence, and what can they do to improve?

    Image by Findio, available via CC BY-SA 3.0

    Successes and failures

    The report by PointSource found that retail is streaks ahead of other industries in some areas of mobile, such as strategy planning and implementation. 91% of retail companies surveyed reported having a dedicated mobile site, with 84% offering a mobile app. 77% of retail decision makers also rated their mobile presence as seven or higher on a 10 point scale.

    “It is no surprise a consumer-dependent field such as retail would be attuned to shoppers’ growing preference for mobile,” writes the report.

    “However, while retailers have done well thus far to implement mobile technologies ahead of the curve, there is much they can still do to embrace the next level of mobile capabilities, especially as related to improving the user experience.”

    ‘The State of the Mobile Experience’ also highlights some key pain points for the retail industry when it comes to mobile, the most common of which are a result of poor design or IT infrastructure. Of the respondents with an existing mobile presence:

    • 48% listed slow page loading times as a recurring issue
    • 31% said that customers were having difficulties navigating on mobile
    • 28% said that a malfunctioning app or website is a pain point for mobile customers
    • 27% said that their customers are currently unable to pay via mobile

    This becomes less surprising when you discover that 42% of the respondents to the study said that their company’s biggest challenge to executing a successful mobile strategy was uniting marketing and IT departments.

    Clearly, although companies have recognised mobile as a key focus point for the future and are making an investment in a mobile presence, they aren’t carrying out the internal restructuring that is needed to properly support a mobile-first strategy. Too many businesses still see IT as an area to be kept separate from other parts of the company, instead of something which needs to be integrated throughout.

    Similarly, over half of respondents – 54% – said that their biggest challenge was integrating mobile strategy into overall marketing strategy: another fundamental step that needs to be taken before companies can be truly mobile-first.

    Other challenges that were highlighted by respondents were a lack of internal resources (24%), insufficient budget for carrying out a successful mobile strategy (20%), lack of internal support for mobile from management (18%) and being unsure what a successful mobile strategy would look like (17%).

    10 content marketing tools to boost your productivity

    MindMeister

    Content marketing includes so many tasks and processes that it can be very overwhelming. You need a solid toolset to keep it well organized.

    Productivity is among the most important elements of my working life. Juggling multiple projects on top of family and life tasks means I spend a great deal of effort managing my time as well as possible.

    With content marketing making up the bulk of my promotional work, I have had to find ways to shave off time spent doing the marketing part. That way I can focus more energy on the content itself, which is tantamount to my brand strategies… which is why I love having a set of solid tools at my disposal.

    These are the ten that I have tried and loved, many of which I still use to this day. Others I have given up, but still highly recommend.

    Content brainstorming & creation tools

    MindMeister

    Some content projects require a longer bout of brainstorming than others. That can get confusing, when dealing with an entire team of people, or even just more than one.

    MindMeister is a brain mapping tool letting you to visualize concepts and their relations. It is perhaps the most productive way to organize your ideas and create an article structure.

    Google Drive

    Google Drive

    With a ton of collaboration tools and additional productivity apps you can install for free, Google Drive has been my favorite writing tool for years.

    Write, share, export, communicate with the team, co-edit in real time – the best part of the toolset is that it’s free and very reliable!

    Hemingway App

    hemingwayapp

    Ernest Hemingway once memorably said that you should write drunk, edit sober. The Hemingway app works on the same principle, minus the booze (unless you want them).

    You write everything in one go, without any editing. Then you go back and edit later. It also promotes concentration by offering a clean, easy to use workspace that limits distractions. You would be amazed by how much you get done using this app.

    The app will also mark your text based on usability score and give suggestions how your content can be simplified to be more readable.

    Content marketing tools

    GetResponse

    GetResponse

    GetResponse is an advanced platform that handles lots of aspects of content marketing including:

    • Email marketing
    • Web forms creation
    • Lead management
    • Landing page building
    • A/B Testing
    • Advanced workflow automation
    • Traffic analytics

    DrumUp

    DrumUp

    This one is actually a social marketing tool. But social and content go hand in hand, and this is definitely a productivity (and visibility) booster.

    It empowers publishers and editors with social media access to increase brand awareness across all networks. It lets you productively share (and schedule shares of) your content throughout multiple social media networks.

    WME’s Nick Bell suggests other social sharing alternatives which you may want to check out.

    Content analytics tools

    Parse.ly

    parsely

    Don’t want to go through all of your data manually to figure out how your content is being received? I don’t blame you, no one wants to do that which is why you need a tool that does it for you. Parse.ly handles and organizes all of your analytics, based entirely around your content rather that wider traffic.

    They aim their product at editors, product teams, data analysts, and sponsored content. All insights are thorough and easy to track and understand, so you can make more informed decisions about your content moving forward.

    The Telegraph has used the service themselves to great effect, and you can see their case study on the site.

    Cyfe

    Cyfe

    Cyfe can be used for lots of purposes. I use it to get a bird’s eye view of my stats. You can create a single dashboard to see all types of traffic and social media reports you can imagine: from Google Analytics numbers to daily progress of your social media following growth.

    On top of that, you can integrate your Google Docs, add notes (I am using the notes widget to maintain my daily to-do list) and much more!

    Editorial management tools

    Trello

    Trello

    Trello is a highly adaptable project management platform that can be used for pretty much anything you could want, as far as organization goes.

    Brainstorming, managing writing tasks, to-do lists, team assignments, personal projects, product mapping, feedback forms… your limit is your imagination. It is among one of my most used platforms, personally, and I recommend it to my clients all the time.

    Advanced tip: If you are using Zapier, look at all other apps Trello can be combined with for more content marketing fun.

    Wrike

    Wrike is a team management and assignment monitoring system that I have only just started using. It allows you to assign tasks and due dates, details, and communicate in much the same way as Trello. Only it has categories and assignments, unlike Trello’s box system.

    While it is less versatile, I like it a lot. It works well for bigger teams and projects, and is perfect if you have a ton of people and elements to manage.

    You may also want to check out these writing productivity tools which are free.

    Coschedule

    Coschedule

    I personally hate building and keeping track of editorial calendars. Don’t get me wrong, you need them. They are one of the most important tools of the trade. They are just such a pain to monitor and update. Unless you have Coschedule, and then it is way easier.

    Connecting to your WordPress Dashboard, it creates a customizable calendar where you can schedule, plan and create posts. You can even prepare social media updates. All right there in the same place.

    Have a tool to add? Let us know in the comments!

    Five things to remember for a smooth, catastrophe-free site migration

    image1

    For a good percentage of you, your website is probably your single-most important business asset. It’s where you drive traffic, sales, brand visibility (online and offline), and generate ROI.

    It’s also probably where you invest the majority of your time and capital – in terms of design, build, maintenance, and marketing.

    But there’s no point spending millions on a new site if no one’s going to see it.

    I recently analysed the impact of what happens when site migrations don’t go to plan.

    Just take a look at this major high street bank – it’s not hard to imagine how much this downtime cost them; both financially and in terms of their SEO legacy.

    What were they thinking?

    This company lost their (previous long-term) presence in the organic search space for a range of commercially valuable search terms following a migration, and never recovered positions thereafter.

    And, what can you do but standby and watch when this happens?

    You can’t reverse engineer SEO into your strategy, because the damage has already been done. In this case, the company threw a lot of money at PPC to claw back some presence – but not all of us have the budget for that.

    The cause of this grave site migration error? A failure to plan and implement a cohesive SEO strategy.

    The old migratory myth

    image3

    image4

    image5

    But that’s enough about my weekend…

    In all seriousness though, these are some of the most heart-attack inducing activities you can undertake – and many SEOs would have you believe that site migrations are up there with them…

    image6

    Even Google is full of frankly terrifying site migration horror stories, which warn you to expect a loss of anywhere between 20% – 70% in site traffic.

    But this doesn’t have to be the case. Migrations can be fun. Whether it’s to rebrand, apply a new domain structure, or update your CMS, there are a number of reasons for wanting to migrate your site and despite popular belief, it can in fact present you with a great opportunity for improving search presence and optimising your ROI, so long as you have a foolproof plan.

    I cannot stress enough the importance of preparing a tailored SEO strategy, so I’ve defined five critical steps for achieving a smooth site migration.

    1. Involve SEO from the start

    Make sure you have an experienced team member working on the project, who can help to incorporate SEO at all relevant touch points, from the SOW onwards; including CMS decisions, architecture, taxonomy, page-theming, use of images, internal linking etc.

    Leave nothing to chance! Don’t just give it to the nearest Dev Guy.

    “Barry, are you busy? Can you SEO the new site please?”

    2. Consolidate your redirects and mapping

    Crawling every page of your site is intrinsic to a successful migration. You really need to know where you are before you begin.

    Create a detailed redirect map and audit H1s, page titles, meta-descriptions and more, to inform the architecture of your new site.

    This is also the stage to identify the stragglers – we’re talking the orphan pages and subdomains which aren’t working hard enough, and can be stripped from the new site to create a more streamlined architecture. Don’t forget paid campaign pages either.

    Finally, make sure you test everything thoroughly in staging and after launch.

    3. Use your data

    Your data is your life jacket. You should use it to:

    • Analyse site performance throughout the “Migration Window” (see end of article). Daily tracking is key to comparing your sites true visibility pre and post migration. It gives you the full picture of your migratory success, and highlights negative movement; allowing you to create an instant plan of action.
    • Benchmark visibility against competitors. Site-agnostic data shows you who’s performing better and why. You can use this to tweak your content and site structure for an effective migration.
    • Identify opportunities: Discover pages that, with only a slight push during migration, can move up into the conversion zone.
    • Determine and knead out conflict issues: Ensure internal cannibalisation isn’t carried over to the new site.
    • Look out for any existing redirects to avoid cycles

    4. Make sure there’s a project owner:

    As above, assign one person responsibility and authority to run the migration and make sure they are entirely au fait with the architecture and all elements of the site.

    They must be fully-involved and empowered enough to make a case for implementing the above processes, even if it means challenging those individuals who are keen to accept the migratory myth.

    5. Prevent the stage from being revealed:

    Your stage site is something which you really want to keep under wraps – especially as robots.txt only blocks crawling and not indexing – meaning your stage site could still get indexed and released into the digital ether, if the right precautions aren’t carried out.

    In a few cases I think I may even have seen a stage site being indexed after being shared internally via Google mail – but don’t quote me on that!

    So, of course, use IP whitelisting, set up logins and apply no-index meta tags.

    What is the “migration window”?

    The migration window refers to the seven to 14 day period after a migration has been executed. During this time, your rankings may assume many different forms including:

  • A straight switch in the SERPS – old page for new
  • The change-over may take some time to set in
  • Random drops can occur
  • You may see a brief coexistence between your two domains for a short timeimage7
  • You could see a straightforward transition, with no change in rankingsimage8
  • And of course, the result everyone hopes for: You may see a positive uplift in performance (That’s if you follow the steps above!)
  • image9

    In summary

    SEO should be the cornerstone of any site migration strategy. Without it, we may as well drag and drop our site into the recycling bin, along with its rankings, backlinks and social media activity.

    We shouldn’t expect to lose visibility, or buy into the old ‘migratory myth’ either. Instead, we need to use data to inform our entire strategy before, during and after the migration.

    And, remember, you can’t just sprinkle magic SEO dust on your site if things go wrong.

    Your visibility will already be damaged. That’s why we SEOs need to get in on the action from the word go, to safeguard our most important asset, and capitalise on any business opportunities.

    Five steps to report marketing results like a boss

    Google marketing vis

    If you don’t have a boss that expects you to deliver results reports on your programs today, you will in the future.

    But regardless of your current organization’s sophistication with marketing analytics, there’s no reason you shouldn’t step up and report results like a boss.

    But what exactly does that mean? I don’t just mean “being awesome” (well, I do mean that too) but I mean being the leader in your marketing organization I know you can be. Following is an overview of the basic steps to get there.

    Marketing dashboard using the recently launched Google Data Studio

    1. Start with a plan

    What are your goals for marketing? What channels will you use to accomplish them? Do you have alignment and agreement on all metrics from all stakeholders? What will be your reporting cadence?

    A fleshed out measurement plan is a requisite prior to implementing any single marketing tactic. Once your plan is in place, channels and tactics determined, and resources allocated, only then are you ready to execute and report results to your team.

    2. Be sure you’re capturing all the data you need

    This should go without saying, but be sure you have implemented all the right code and configuration with your marketing and analytics tools in order to capture all your data. This is one of the first things we talk about in our (free) Analytics Academy Digital Fundamentals online course.

    If you’re not capturing data properly, it is exceedingly difficult to report on marketing results. Learn more about data capturing my previous column on the subject.

    Bonus tip: setup alerts to know if something changes from a data capture standpoint. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a quarter only to see your data capture is not happening properly: alerts will help you sleep better.

    3.Create the right reports for the right stakeholders

    Your CMO is interested in entirely different set of metrics than your product managers. Your marketing team loves all the tacticle KPIs, but your sales team likely only wants to hear about leads generated and associated pipeline metrics.

    It’s our job as marketers and analysts to make sure we’re delivering a view of data that is relevant for each audience.

    This ensures not just that we’re showing how our tactics are delivering on promises, but shows respect for our peers’ time by delivering them a customized view of business metrics they care about.

    You can always expand reports if certain people ask for more, but don’t overwhelm people with charts and graphs not relevant to them, especially busy executives.

    Bonus tip: check out the recently launched Google Data Studio to make beautiful dashboards from all our data sources for free.

    Sample Google AdWords report

    4. Always include an executive summary with anticipated reports

    This is where the real analysis work comes into play. Sending reports with agreed upon metrics to your manager or to a client is great and illuminates your hard work that month or quarter.

    But context is critical. What worked well and what didn’t? Did you have a blog post, social ad, or email campaign that stood out as a shining star that month? Call it out and share the what and the why, as well as “what’s next” (replicate your successes!).

    Executive summaries are your chance to tie all the metrics together with your team’s hard work and show you can articulate what the data means – your most valuable skill as a marketer and how you grow trust — and marketing budgets.

    5. Start to learn and become proficient in marketing forecasting

    You’ve got a marketing plan, you’re capturing data and sharing it with the right team members as part of a process. Awesome work, you’re already in the top percentile of marketer.

    Now go further: after you learn to walk with results reporting, you’ll soon want to run. Start to forecast where you see results going.

    This can be done not just by having goals, but by also including a dashed or light grey line within reports to show how you’re trending compared with expectation. Truly sophisticated managers will appreciate this forward guidance.

    And even if you don’t exceed your numbers every month, the fact that you have goals will motivate your team to do better, dig in to see what’s working and in the future get good enough at forecasting to trend with – and hopefully beat – your forecasts.

    Five of the most interesting search stories from this week

    showcase shopping

    It’s time for our weekly update from the world of search marketing and beyond.

    This week we have new antitrust measures against Google from Europe, new mobile shopping formats, and Google testing store inventory searches in GMB.

    New mobile formats from Google

    Google announced this week that it will soon begin rolling out new mobile features for PLAs, holiday booking filters, its YouTube’s TrueView shopping feature and a new Showcase Shopping ad format.

    No SEO advantage to removing older content

    In a question to Google’s John Mueller (as reported by SEMpost), he gave some useful advice on whether or not to remove older content.

    In a nutshell, there’s no benefit to be had in terms of SEO. As John says, ‘just removing old content doesn’t automatically cause a ranking advantage.’

    There is a quality question though, and sites with older content that doesn’t match the quality of the new may wish to improve or remove.

    Then there’s the question of making content easy to crawl. John Mueller:

    “…if there is a lot of content that you have like this, then it could be affecting your crawl rate, in that if we waste a lot of time crawling content on your site and we miss the new content, then that’s probably not that great for you. “

    Google in trouble with Europe (again)

    The European Commission has sent two ‘Statements of Objections’ to Google, on the following issues:

    • Google abusing its dominant position ‘by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages.’
    • Abusing its position by ‘artificially restricting the possibility of third party websites to display search advertisements from Google’s competitors.’

    Here’s the full statement.

    Google showing store inventory in GMB results

    As spotted by Nicolai Helling on G+, Google seems to be testing a new feature which allows shoppers to search store inventory from Google My Business results.

    Did a June Google update benefit publishers?

    According to SimilarWeb, Google may have released an update in June. Roy Hinkis at SimilarWeb has looked into this, and it suggest that publishers may be the beneficiaries.

    He has seen that news sites have increased their organic search traffic. New York Post, for example, has seen it organic search traffic increase by 155% between May and June this year.

    news-organic-seartch