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10 Content Marketing Skills You Need to Master (& Tips to Master Them)

Julia McCoy

In a world of ad blockers and AI automation, content marketing is essential to your marketing plan.

For example, the number of people using ad blockers has risen by 10% in six years. No matter how much you spend on your paid advertisements, there’s a 26% chance your target audience won’t even see them.

Voice search is growing. To date, there are 4.08 million voice assistants in use worldwide. This means users can get answers to their online queries without even visiting a website. In the future, the only content people will read is authority content written by experts.

So, now it’s time to focus all your energy on content marketing!

But wait…

Not so fast.

Because there’s content marketing that works. And there’s content marketing that doesn’t.

To achieve the former, you first need to master the right content marketing skills for success.

What are these skills?

The Top 10 Content Marketing Skills to Learn for Greater Brand Success

The good news is you don’t need a special degree or inborn talent to master these 10 essential content marketing skills. All you need is to know what these skills are and to practice until you’ve mastered them.

Let’s get started!

Skill 1: Detective Work – Digging Up Facts About Your Audience

No matter how compelling your content is, you won’t convert anyone if you don’t know exactly who you’re speaking to.

For instance, look at this content from Vixen Daily’s email campaign.

vixen daily email

The email holds enticing promise to readers who want to move on after a breakup. But what makes it compelling isn’t fancy wording or clever phrases. It’s simply that Nick Bastion knew his audience’s pain and need before writing it.

When you know your audience intimately, producing content they’ll devour becomes easy.

Here are a five powerful ways to put on your detective’s cap and dig up clues about your audience:

  • Use Google Analytics to find out who’s visiting your website. Analytics gives you information like the names, ages, and genders of your site visitors.
  • Go on Quora or Reddit and research topics around your niche. What are people saying? What are their fears/desires/dreams? Reading what they talk about will help you understand them on a deeper level.
  • Take note of how users respond to your content. With a tool like BuzzSumo, you can learn how people are reacting to what you write. Analyze your top engaged posts and discover what made them appealing to your audience.
  • Offer surveys (with incentives like free downloads – a mini e-book or cheat sheet work great).
  • Engage with people in the comment section of your blog. Listen to what they’re saying and respond personally and directly.

Remember, speaking to your audience should be like conversing with a friend. The better you know this friend, the more personal and appealing your message will be.

Skill 2: The Art of Subject Matter Expert Interviewing

To write amazing content, you need to be an expert on your topic.

Does this mean you need to enter medical school to write a blog about health issues and treatments?

Not necessarily. When you master the art of conducting subject matter expert interviews, you can produce authority content even if you don’t have a degree in the niche you write in.

But you can’t just jump into an interview with an expert and ask any question that comes to your mind. Remember, the value of the information you get depends on the quality of your questions.

Here are five tips to make your interviews seamless and value-rich:

  • Be prepared. You don’t want to come to an interview with absolutely no idea on the topic. Rather, you want the interview to be a deep dive into the topic. So, before you call your SME (Subject Matter Expert), do as much research as you can. From your research, make a list of questions you can’t find the answers for online.
  • Skip the dead air with open-ended questions. You want your SME to gush over the topic. You want them to feel excited. To do that, whet their appetite with unusual questions. For instance, instead of asking, “Is your profession inspiring?” you can ask, “Can you give me some facts most people don’t know about your profession?”
  • Bring your content outline with you when you interview. Asking a bunch of random, unrelated questions wastes time. To avoid this, base your questions on the outline you prepare for your content. This will help you ask specific, driven questions you can use in your writing. For instance, if you’re going to interview a psychiatrist about Bipolar disorder, it’s best to skip questions about other types of mental illness.
  • Record your conversation. Later on, you’ll want to go back over the exact words your SME said during the interview. Also, keeping busy catching up with notes will distract you from what the SME is saying in the moment.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If there’s something you don’t understand during the interview, ask! This can open doors for an even deeper dive into the topic.

When you approach interviews with a genuine passion for your topic, there’s nothing you can’t dig up from the experts’ knowledge banks.

Skill 3: Writing Each Piece of Content with a Goal in Mind

Writing random content wastes time without doing much for your brand. What you need to do is attach a specific goal to every single piece you write.

For instance, look at this sales copy from AWAI.

AWAI sales copy

The lead is interesting and informative, but this piece has a main goal: to compel readers to buy the How to Make Money as a Social Media Expert course at half its usual price.

Remember, goals aren’t only specific to selling products or services. For instance, you can write a lead magnet to grow your email list. You can write an email series with links to different blogs on your website.

You can write an authority blog to gain your audience’s trust. And so on. The secret is to determine the goal of every single piece of content you write.

Skill 4: Knowing How to Stand Out

Your goal is to compel your audience to read your content instead of your competitor’s. How do you do that? By providing content you can’t find anywhere else online.

Here’s how to come up with this content:

  • Spy on your competition. What are they doing right? What’s missing in their content that you can add to yours?
  • Present content uniquely. Your content can be similar to what your competitors are saying (because who can change facts?), but if you package it differently, it’ll always look like something new.
  • Develop your own personal style. You’ll be surprised to find how many people will keep reading what you write because of the way you write it. For instance, maybe you take technical subjects like best SEO practices and write about them in a way that’s fun, engaging, and easy-to-follow. People will read your blog instead of blogs packed with jargon and long paragraphs of text.

Remember, though, not to go too far with uniqueness. Sometimes, there’s a reason why your competition isn’t doing something.

Skill 5: Keyword Research Savviness

Keywords don’t only help you rank higher on Google, they act as the spine of your content. Keywords direct what you say and allow you to stay relevant with what people want to read.

So, how do you choose keywords to use in your content?

  • Go for long-tail keywords. For example, instead of choosing “dress,” go for “Walt Disney princess dresses for kids.” Keywords like this help direct quality traffic to your site.
  • Choose low competition keywords. If you go for a keyword like “shoes,” you’ll find yourself up against content from huge brands like Adidas and Nike. As a rule of thumb, go for keywords with a score below 50.
  • It’s OK to select a keyword with low search volume. As long as there are people searching for this keyword, creating content around it will get you results.

To help you find the best keywords for your content, you can use tools like KWFinder and SEMrush.

Skill 6: Looking Ahead – Planning Content Way Ahead of Time

You don’t want to wake up one morning panicking because you have to produce content but have no idea what to write. To avoid this, create a content calendar.

For example, here’s what Buffer’s content calendar looks like.

Buffer content calendar

With a content calendar, you’ll avoid problems like repetitive content and stay up-to-date with events like holidays and special occasions.

Always remember, however, to leave room for spontaneity. For example, if a relevant question from one of your followers suddenly pops up on your Twitter account, why not address it at length in a blog?

Skill 7: The Ability to Repackage Content

The goal above begs the question, “How on earth can I come up with enough new topics to fill an entire calendar?”

The good news is you don’t have to. You can take older content you produced and simply repackage it.

For instance, you can take a 3,000-word guide and turn it into three separate blog posts. You can turn those three posts into videos.

You can take the sub-headers in a long blog and turn each one into a separate post. You can update an old post with new stats and tips.

The key is to be creative. In no time, you’ll have enough content to flood your yearly content calendar!

Skill 8: Optimizing for Voice Search & AI

As mentioned earlier, voice search is a major trend to watch out for. If your content isn’t optimized for voice search, chances are low Google will choose it to answer a searcher’s query.

So, what are the best practices to follow when optimizing for voice search?

Here are a few:

  • Use whole questions instead of phrases. According to Google, 41% of people imagine themselves talking to a friend when addressing their voice assistants. When addressing friends, we don’t go “Hey Bert…restaurant near me.” Instead, we use question phrases with words like where, when, which, and how. Use whole questions in your content to optimize it for voice search.
  • Structure your content to be featured in snippets. With voice search, users no longer need to click through to a website to get questions answered. Google will find the answer for them via their voice assistant. The good news is the answer they get can come from your site. To increase this chance, divide your content into relevant H2s and H3s and use your keywords in them. Also, use numbered and bulleted lists.

Skill 9: Using Links for Higher Authority & Relevance

Links are essential to your content. They can:

  • Help Google understand what your site is about by connecting it with high-authority sites in the same niche.
  • Show Google which of your pages are most important (by linking to them).
  • Invite other influencers to link to you (if your content is stellar).

The key to choosing the best links is to analyze them with Alexa’s free tool. If the site ranks below 100,000 it’s good to go to use in content.

Skill 10: Measuring Your Content’s Success

Attaching metrics to your content will help you determine whether the content is successful or needs improvement. Here are three great ways to measure content success:

  • Email click-through rate. If people are clicking the links in your email series, take note of what makes this series different from others.
  • Bounce rate. Do people leave your site without clicking through to other pages? The rate at which they do so is your bounce rate. If people click away more than 70% of the time, you need to improve your content.
  • Scroll depth. Do people read your introduction and then leave the page? Or do they scroll all the way to the bottom? At what point do they stop reading? When you analyze what’s working and what’s not, you’ll be able to strengthen your content.

Mastering Content Marketing Skills for Your Brand’s Future Success

Content marketing is powerful, but that’s only if it’s done right.

And doing it right doesn’t mean taking the web by storm with a flood of random blog posts and web pages.

Rather, it’s digging up what your specific audience wants to know. It’s talking to them as a friend, in your own unique way and voice. It’s keeping up with current trends in technology, but only so you can serve your audience better.

When you master these skills, your content strategy will lift you to success in no time.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, February 2020

6 Reasons to Run Responsive Display Ads (& 2 Reasons Not To)

Pauline Jakober

Some advertisers struggle to create display advertising programs.

Sometimes they don’t have the design expertise or capacity to create good-looking ads.

And even when they do, they may not create every possible ad size or type.

This is one of the reasons Google rolled out responsive display ads in 2016. It was a way to help out advertisers — and a way to potentially fill more ad placements.

Since 2018, responsive display ads have been the default ad type for the GDN, and responsive display ads are something we use quite often for clients.

And if you’re not using them for yourself or your clients, it might be time to take another look at them — for six good reasons.

But at the same, I can think of two good reasons why you might not want to.

Before we get into that, let’s quickly review what responsive display ads are.

What Are Responsive Display Ads?

Responsive display ads are ads automatically created by Google using assets that you provide.

Google automatically adjusts the size, appearance, and format of your assets to fit available ad spaces on the Google Display Network.

Responsive display ads can consist of the following text elements:

  • Short headline
  • Long headline
  • Description
  • Business name

It may also have the following image elements:

  • Marketing image/video
  • Logo

Responsive display ads can be used for both regular display campaigns and smart display campaigns.

Now here are six reasons why you and your clients might want to use them:

1. You Don’t Need to Engage an Outside Designer

Responsive display ads are a great solution for smaller companies that don’t have the resources to run standard display ads.

As mentioned above, the requirements for creating standard display ads can be onerous. You need a variety of images in a variety of sizes.

Often, smaller companies don’t have an in-house design team they can turn to create these ads — and they may be reluctant or unable to engage external designers.

But with responsive display ads, you only need a couple of high-resolution images and a logo to get going.

2. You Don’t Have to Rely on Your In-House Design Team

Creating the images needed for standard image ads can even be a problem for companies that have an in-house design team.

Their request for images may not be a top priority for the in-house design team.

If there’s a backlog of work, they can end up waiting days, weeks or even months to get the assets they need.

In the meantime, good opportunities are lost.

In these cases, responsive display ads can be a good interim solution.

For example, one of our large clients has a steady stream of new programs and products we support via Google Ads, and we have a healthy mix of search and display network campaigns for them.

This client has an in-house design team that creates custom display images ads for us, but backlogs can still happen. When it does, we utilize the assets we do have with responsive display ads to get us started while we wait.

3. You Might Get Better Performance

In some accounts, we find we get better performance with responsive display ads than standard display ads.

This isn’t always the case.

But it can happen.

For example, with this client (metrics below) we achieved a better conversion rate with responsive display ads (0.23%) than standard display ads (0.09%):

Responsive display ads performance example 1

The same is true in this account with responsive display ads converting 0.54% of the time and standard display ads converting 0.10% of the time:

Responsive display ads performance example 2

Those are some significant differences!

4. You Can Deploy Video Assets

We’ve been getting good advertising traction with video assets, so we’re always on the lookout for new ways to deploy them.

As of early 2019, we have that option with responsive display ads.

Today, you can select up to five videos (maximum 30 seconds in length) from your YouTube channel to display in your responsive display ads.

This is in addition to at least one landscape and square image, as well as your headlines and descriptions.

When will your videos be used? Here’s what Google has to say:

“Your videos will be shown instead of images whenever Google Ads determine videos could drive better performance for you.”

This sounds rather vague, so you’ll want to monitor performance closely.

5. You Can Evaluate Your Ads With a Scorecard

The ad strength scorecard gives feedback on how well your responsive display ads are set up before you go live.

It provides an overall rating and suggests actions you can take to improve the strength of the ad.

You’ll find this feature in the Ads & Extensions window. (Look for it in a column in your table of ads.)

While the scorecard and its recommendations are no substitute for real-person analysis, it’s still a useful tool for double-checking your work.

6. A Responsive Display Ad Is Better Than No Ad at All

I like to have as much control over my ads as possible.

So, given the choice, I’d still take a well-designed standard display ad over a responsive display ad, everything else being equal (including performance).

However, if the choice is between running a responsive display ad and running no ad at all — then responsive display ads are definitely worth a shot.

A Few Words of Caution

This all sounds great – so you may wonder why you would run standard display ads at all when responsive display ads are an option.

Two main reasons come to mind:

Brand Control

Whenever you automate your ads, you lose some measure of control.

Here’s an example of what can happen:

Responsive display ad example

The ad at the top of this page (circled in red) impressioned on a desktop. But it looks much more appropriate for mobile.

I think we can all agree that this image is a major misrepresentation of its brand (or perhaps NON-representation is a better word).

If you visit the website of this advertiser, you’ll find that it’s beautifully designed — and completely incongruous with this ad.

We have several clients who would not be happy at all with this kind of brand representation, and I can appreciate why.

I really, really wish we had the option to opt out of text ads in responsive display ads.

So far (to the best of my knowledge), we don’t.

Getting this option seems unlikely as it would work against Google’s goal of filling ad placements.

This is one reason why we still tend to favor standard display ads over responsive display ads, unless it’s justified by performance.

Anytime you give up control and automate, you raise the possibility of things going sideways.

Regulatory Requirements

Some advertisers are required to disclose legal information in their ads, which creates two problems:

  • Most of the description space would be taken up with this legal text.
  • There’s no guarantee that the legal text will display every time in every ad.

If this is the case for your service or product, responsive display ads probably aren’t a good fit.

Is It Time to Give Responsive Display Ads Another Look?

You might have stayed away from responsive display ads due to habit, concerns about control or skepticism over results.

But in the right circumstances, they can play a helpful role in your Google Ads program.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Dreamstime.com
Screenshots taken by author, January 2020

The Changing Landscape of Google’s SERPs with Peter Leshaw [PODCAST]

Brent Csutoras

For episode 182 of The Search Engine Journal Show, I had the opportunity to interview Peter Leshaw, a seasoned digital marketing consultant and speaker with over 20 years of experience.

Leshaw talks about Google SERPs, how much they’re changing, what you need to pay attention to, and what you can have an impact on.

The Changing Landscape of Google's SERPs with Peter Leshaw [PODCAST]

Why are things constantly changing with Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Peter Leshaw (PL): Google is doing things consistently to their algorithm, which benefits SEOs. It keeps us in business.

And why does it do that? It does that because the landscape of the search engine result page is ever-changing. Let’s keep in mind two things.

Google has a mission to provide all the world’s information in one universal area, unique, fast, and all that.

The second mission is to make money. Their search engine result page is their real estate. That’s where they’re trying to monetize the front area.

Every time they make changes to the SERPs – what information is displayed and when – it sort of eats up some of the real estate on your display and pushes down organic results.

So, what’s changing? It’s the landscape of the search engine result page for different queries over different industries.

What are some of the changes in the SERPs today that individuals can actually go in and have an impact?

PL: What’s important to lean on regarding that is the fact that we have to always focus on creating unique and good content.

Last summer, Google rolled out an update related to a concept called E-A-T. And that’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

And later on in the year, they did a major core update and are calling it BERT, which is Bi-directional Encoder Representation from Transformers.

Most businesses probably think they’re an expert, they have authority, and they’re trustworthy. What does E-A-T actually mean?

PL: It’s basically how your content is published. Not only do you need to have good, unique content, but the authority of that content needs to be backed up.

The author of the content needs to be disclosed.

  • Who this person is.
  • What their experience is.
  • Where they got their experience to talk about the subject.

They need to back that up with some social media profiles that support their involvement in a community and in discussions.

Lastly, it’s about pruning, or cleaning up, our content that somebody from authority had once published but never really added all the authority.

So that goes back to your question of Google making a change that doesn’t seem like you can put something hands-on to tweak something immediately to get some ranking changes, it’s just about understanding what Google wants from an authority standpoint with content and outlining that appropriately.

Brent Csutoras (BC): So consolidating content, and even going in and de-indexing content and taking content out and removing authors. These are kind of going backward and removing, but yet these are extremely important things to do when it comes to E-A-T. Would you agree?

PL: Absolutely. I call that concept “content pruning.”

So, let’s think about the billions upon billions of pages that Google is indexing regularly and all the thousands and millions of pages that are being added to the web every day.

Google has a tremendous index to go through… Unique, great and authoritative content is what Google wants.

We need to take the time to go back to our old content, if we feel that it is worthy of the web and it’s still current as far as the concepts that we’re discussing in the article and improve it.

Either add to it, maybe consolidate a couple articles, redirect an old article to a newer version of it.

It’s about shaping Google’s index to trim the fat, basically. One of Google’s other missions is to have a very, very fast result from when you’re searching.

And the only way to do that is to either speed up the servers or optimize the content. And that’s really what they’re asking you to do, is optimize your content, trim the fat, keep what’s good, keep stuff that’s evergreen and build off of it.

How do you approach content pruning?

PL: That’s where I lean on my tools – Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

When we write content, it’s all about the metrics and the data of how the visitors respond to that content.

I’ve always said that I could virtually live in China, not speak the language, and I could probably still be a good strategist just by analyzing the analytics.

We look at:

  • Bounce rates.
  • Traction as far as impressions.
  • Some social signals including likes and engagements.

I would start to look at the content to see what has lower bounce rates. Lower bounce rates, you’re going to want to keep that content.

Stuff with higher bounce rates, well, we obviously realize that there are some things on there that you’re attracting to visitors that they’re not wanting.

I would start there, look at content with very high bounce rates and not a lot of engagement as far as quick, easy stuff that you can trim.

Now when you’re starting to drill down into your list and you’re getting to content that has good bounce rates, but maybe low engagement, that could be an idea of maybe an article that you’d want to consolidate into something else, if not add to it.

The other thing that I would look at is Search Console to see what the content is ranking for.

If you’re in this process and you’re going to attempt to do what I’m telling you to do, you probably have had a site for a while and you have a lot of content.

And so it’s about drilling down into that content to see where two articles may be competing for the exact same keyword market.

On the SERPs and paid search ads…

PL: I just wanted to make a quick point about paid. Something that I think your audience needs to just pay attention to is local service ads.

Local service ads are done through Google Ads, so it’s a paid mechanism. But it’s Google’s latest product for getting professionals to be ranked above everything else and they’re just rolling it out to other industries and in other markets.

But it’s going to work like searching for immigration attorney in San Diego, and at the very top, you’re going to have recommended by Google this person. It’s something else is going is that’s coming out there that’s going to push our organic results.

BC: That’s interesting… I didn’t know that there were a lot of changes to it. I know that there’s also a change on how the ads actually visually look. They’re starting to look more and more like natural results.

PL: That goes into the landscape of the search engine result page. I think Google has been accused of blurring the sort of lines between what’s a sponsored ad and what’s not.

Google now just has a little icon that says, “Ad,” next to the top four results. And the colors of the ad, the background colors of the ad, are displayed like organic search results. And so that’s part of what we’re trying to do.

Snippets is something that, again, goes towards Google’s mission to provide the information in a concise format, relatively easy to find. It makes you organize your content properly in order for your result to be included in a featured snippet.

How do you do schema right today?

PL: So schema is a markup language that is added around certain sets of data.

So for instance, if you are a dating site and you have a page of local events, and the event has:

  • Location.
  • Date.
  • Time.
  • Registration link.
  • And so forth.

So what you would do is you would mark up your event information for the event-related schema.

And so what that means is when somebody is searching for an event in your area and Google has that information in their index, instead of Google listing you on the first, second or third result, Google will put you at the very top of everything in an area that says events near me in a very nice table displayed with your event, your time, your date, as well as others that are in that area.

This podcast is brought to you by Ahrefs and Opteo.

To listen to this Search Engine Show Podcast with Peter Leshaw:

Visit our podcast archive to listen to other Search Engine Journal Show podcasts!


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

How to Get Started & Be Successful

Brent Csutoras

In this Reddit guide, you will learn what Reddit is, why it is such an important social platform, and what makes it different than all the other social platforms.

You will also learn what you need to consider in order to successfully get started on Reddit.

What Exactly Is Reddit?

Reddit is a social media platform, that allows any individual to create and manage their own community, which Reddit calls a sub-reddit.

The entire platform is a social aggregation site, where individuals curate content they either find around the web or create themselves.

They then submit it to their sub-reddit to allow other Reddit users to ability to comment, discuss, and ultimately vote on the content, pushing the most popular content up to the top of the page and moving less popular content down and out of view.

A Beginner’s Guide to Reddit: How to Get Started & Be Successful

When logged out, Reddit’s front page shows a slightly filtered view of all “safe” communities, organized by most popular from top to bottom.

When logged in, the front page of Reddit shows you all the sub-reddits you have joined, again in order with most popular content from top to bottom.

Now that we have covered what Reddit is, let’s cover some of the key differences you need to understand about Reddit, to have success on the social media giant.

reddit posting rules

What Makes Reddit Unique?

Put aside for a moment, that Reddit has been responsible for:

  • Shaping the Internet culture as we know it today.
  • Creating many of the memes.
  • Helping pave the way for crowdfunding.
  • Creating the interview format we know today as AMAs.

As marketers, our goal is to get in front of potential customers, with a message that’s compelling enough for them to make a purchase, remember our brand, and potentially tell all their friends and family about us.

Reddit is unique in that of all the social aggregation sites that started this whole social media thing, it is the only one that has survived, continued to grow, and stayed true to its audience.

Not to mention it is one of the only social media sites around today, where people are not simply trying to catch up on friends and family or pass their time in a Starbucks line.

Instead, Redditors are looking to learn, read, and debate all the important issues in their life.

A Beginner’s Guide to Reddit: How to Get Started & Be Successful

In fact, it is estimated that 32% of all Americans are on Reddit every month, with over 430 million monthly visits and over 30 billion screen views per month. Of that around 82% are English speaking and 60% from the U.S.

Furthermore, Reddit hosts an audience that is pretty evenly split between male and female, with 78% college educated, on average 35 years old, and with a median household income of $92,500 a year.

The audience is so potentially valuable, that the likes of Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, Toyota, and a large number of celebrities, influencers, companies, and politicians, can be found regularly participating on Reddit.

However, for anyone to have success on Reddit, it is important to understand what makes Reddit unique and different from all the other social media platforms.

Every Subreddit Has Its Own Rules

Sure there are some basic overall Reddit rules, but these tend to focus on things like don’t hack the site, don’t post people’s personal details, don’t break the law, etc.

However, each individual Subreddit you want to participate in also has its own rules and they are more often than not super unique and specific to the Subreddit.

For example, you may be considering submitting your recent Infographic to /r/dataisbeautiful, which is one of the most popular Subreddits with over 13 million subscribers. However, the rules clearly state ‘no infographics or other unautomated diagrams.’

You have to clearly review and consider a Subreddit’s rules, when determining if you are going to participate in that community.

Not following the Subreddit’s rules will get you quickly banned and there is little to no tolerance for this.

Use a Pseudonym

Just about everyone on Reddit uses a pseudonym, including the founders, the admins (people that work for Reddit directly), and the moderators (the individuals who run the Subreddits).

Unless you are planning to create a branded account, for running ads, managing a profile, or creating your own branded Subreddit, then you should use a pseudonym when creating your username.

That said, even if you make a branded account, I highly recommend you make a second account with a pseudonym to engage and participate in the various communities outside of your branded account.

Don’t worry… Reddit allows you to make multiple accounts, so long as you do not use them to try to game their voting algorithms.

Understanding Reddit’s Algorithm

Reddit uses a combination of upvotes and downvotes, scaled logarithmically, to determine the popularity of content within both Subreddits and the front page of the site.

If you are not familiar with logarithms, think about it like this: The first 10 votes have the same impact on your submission as the following 100 votes do and those 100 votes have the same impact as the next 1000 votes, and so on.

What this means is that your first 110 votes are likely your most important votes and really determine how successful your submission will be.

This does not mean you should try to game the system and force those initial votes.

Reddit is extremely good at detecting this and it will likely get you Silent Banned.

It is important to understand though, so you can put the extra work into making sure your Title / Description is accurate and quality, as well as possibly getting a good comment or two to help the tone of your submission start of positive.

Become a Redditor

I know it may sound like common sense, but seriously take the time to really become a Redditor, so you can understand the platform, its features, and its users.

  • Find the Subreddits you are passionate about so that you can better understand the conversations happening. Become familiar with the intricacies from one Subreddit to another and participate with a sense of authority around the topics and discussions you already understand.
  • Take the time to really understand all the features Reddit has to offer, including settings options and the various sections of your profile.
  • Learn the Reddit language, so when you are engaging in each Subreddit, you sound like you belong. Trust me, there are a lot of Reddit terms and phrases you definitely do not know but should if you want to have success on Reddit. Check out this handy Reddit Lingo Guide.
  • Become familiar with the rules… not only for Reddit itself, but also for each of the specific Subreddits you decide to join or participate within.

Comment, Comment, Comment

reddit comment karmajpg

Commenting is probably the most important aspect of being a Redditor and fitting into the communities.

In fact, not commenting or replying, can mark you as a spammer if you are not careful.

Take the time to comment on threads in Subreddits you are passionate about and if you really want to hack the comment karma game, check the rising tab for threads on their way to becoming popular on Reddit and comment early.

You Might Be a Spammer If…

Unlike many social platforms, Reddit has an interesting take on what makes someone a spammer and it is not likely what you think.

Here are some of the things that could make you a spammer on Redditor:

  • Submitting your own content is pretty obvious. Note that Reddit has always had a 9:1 rule, where about 10% of your submissions are allowed to be your own content. Also note that you can always submit content to your own Account and any Subreddit you control, without a penalty for breaking the 9:1 rule.
  • If you do not comment or reply to comments on your submissions.
  • Submitting off-topic content to a Subreddit.
  • Submitting too much to a Subreddit, regardless if you own the content or it is high quality.
  • Submitting content that keeps getting downvoted, but you continue to submit it anyhow.
  • Submitting the same content to multiple Subreddits.

The Right Subreddits

the right subreddits

Again, it is really important to join a couple of Subreddits that you are really passionate about, but after that, you are likely to start looking for Subreddits that you want to join for marketing purposes.

You want to have success with your content in these Subreddits, so let’s talk about some important elements to consider when picking the right Subreddits.

Find Subreddits Your Content (Or a Competitor) Is Already Performing In

To do this, use the site:domain.com parameter in Reddit’s search.

You will be shown a number of results for content from that domain and you can review the various subreddits to determine where the content has been regularly submitted to.

Once you have identified a few Subreddits, update your search to add in the Subreddit specific parameter; subreddit:nameofsubreddit, to see the selected content that was submitted to just that Subreddit.

Now just click on the content and see that users have interacted positively and then add it to your list of potential Subreddits to join.

For example, if I searched site:searchenginejournal.com, I would notice a lot of submissions in the Technology Subreddit, so I would then update the search to say site:searchenginejournal.com subreddit:technology, to see that domain in the Technology Subreddit only.

Check the Rules in the Sidebar for Each Subreddit

Check the rules in the sidebar for each Subreddit you have identified and make sure that the rules are conducive to the strategy you have in mind.

If you want to submit your URLs, but there is a Subreddit rule against the submission of URLs, then that Subreddit is not right for you.

Identify Up & Coming Subreddits

Consider identifying up and coming Subreddits, with open source tools like RedditMetrics.

Getting in early on an up and coming Subreddit could open doors for your content to be more accepted, as well as the potential for you to become a moderator of that Subreddit.

The Best Content to Submit

reddit-sej

Now that you have joined all your ideal Subreddits, both for passion and for marketing, you want to consider what content is going to perform the best in each Subreddit.

  • Click on the TOP tab in each Subreddit, to see all the content that has reached the very top position in that Subreddit. You can filter the time period you want to review, but definitely consider each and every top submission, as it is the content the users in that Subreddit have voted the best at one time or another.
  • Do that site:domain.com parameter in Reddit’s search again, using your own domain and competitors, to review all the content that has performed in the past. Use this as a baseline for content to select or create (and I recommend considering creating content just for Reddit).

Don’t Try to Game Reddit

It is understandable that while participating on a site where the success of your content is based on the number of votes you get, to want to consider a way to improve your chances by getting more votes.

However, I can promise you that in almost all scenarios, the risk of having your domain (and possibly your account) getting banned forever is not worth the short-lived success of gaming your way to the front page (if it even works).

Reddit has always taken a strong hand when it comes to fighting spam or attempts to game the system.

They are willing to ban ten people just to catch the one that might be breaking the rules and they have a number of anti-spam and anti-gaming systems that do a really great job at catching and penalizing you and your content for trying.

There are plenty of opportunities to market on Reddit without trying to game the system, so avoid the temptation and just focus on having success on Reddit the right way!


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author

12 Strategies to Boost Growth on Pinterest

Anna Crowe

If you had told me nine years ago that 250 million people would be scrolling through images on a site called Pinterest, I might have mistaken you for someone who was trying a little too hard to maintain your “early adopter” status.

Yet, what was once a simple photo-sharing site, is now driving 33% more referral traffic to shopping sites than Facebook.

Pinterest is one of those revolutionary social media channels we didn’t really know we needed.

Pinterest is an IRL version of how I feel shopping into Target. Or, when my favorite ‘90s song comes on in the car and I sing like James Corden is next to me.

Pinterest is a collection of secret weapons that you didn’t know you needed for your home, inspiration for your next logo design, or research for a vacation.

But, the best thing about Pinterest is that, unlike other social channels, it’s very low-commitment. As Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann told Fortune, “Pinterest is self-serving.”

In this article, I’ll outline all the goals and objectives for your Pinterest marketing strategy, including how to reach your following, what to post, how to measure, and so much more.

Let’s dive in…

Achieve Your Business Goals & Objectives on Pinterest

In 2018, Pinterest conducted a study of more than 4,000 weekly Pinners about their shopping habits. Here are two major highlights of what they found:

  • 90% of weekly Pinners use the app to make purchase decisions.
  • 9% use Pinterest to find out more about their purchases.

Pinterest is impacting what people buy.

While the platform may not provide the level of scale and reach as other social channels, it has evolved to a more advanced system for on-platform purchases.

Before you jump in and create your Pins, it’s important to think about why your brand is using Pinterest and what you want to achieve.

Ask yourself: How will Pinterest benefit my business?

Here are three major goals I aim to hit with every brand I manage on Pinterest.

1. Build Brand Equity with Pinterest

You can strengthen your brand image and exposure using Pinterest.

By engaging that 77% of Pinners that have discovered a new brand or product on Pinterest, you can start building your brand equity.

Pinterest performed an internal brand lift study comparing Pinners who’ve seen Promoted Pins to Pinners who haven’t, people who saw them had 40% greater awareness of new products and 50% higher purchase intent.

And, with Pinners taking almost three months of research before purchasing, you want to make a memorable mark during the purchase cycle.

2. Drive Traffic

Need more website traffic? Join the club.

Brands using Pinterest have seen success in generating awareness and reaching users.

Anna Runyan used Pinterest to increase page views on her career-focused website from 100,000 to 500,000 page views per month.

57st. design shares that 50 to 60% of their website traffic comes from Pinterest.

57st. design on Pinterest

Side Hustle Nation grew from 479 visits to 11,733 visits from Pinterest in just two months.

Side Hustle Nation Pinterest growth

Not to mention, Pinterest redesigned their feed to help increase referral traffic.

Pinterest redesigned feed

The traffic is there. It’s yours to take it. I’ll show you how if you keep reading. 🙂

3. Increase Sales & New Customers

Building brand equity is great.

Driving traffic is better.

Increasing the bottom line, the best.

And, many brands are taking advantage of this.

Brilliant Business Moms used Pinterest to generate $15,000 in sales.

Gravity Blankets achieved a 2x increase in sales and a 58% lower cost per acquisition.

Pinterest has just about every opportunity that an e-commerce brand could need to increase ROI.

And, with the company hiring former Wal-Mart CTO, Jeremy King, as the new Head of Engineering, we can expect to see more ecommerce enhancements.

You can see some of the new ecommerce improvements taking shape already.

So, to make sure brands are getting your fix of Pinterest, let’s go straight to the source and show you how to achieve all of these goals on Pinterest.

How to Reach & Grow Your Business on Pinterest

Do you have a guess at how many Pins there are?

There are 175 billion Pins!

With 175 billion Pins, how do you break into the feed? Let’s me show you how.

1. Install the Pinterest Save Button on Your Website

Make it easy for people to pin content directly from your website by installing the Pinterest Save button on your website.

The more people use the Save button, the more content they add to Pinterest for you.

After AllRecipes.com added the Save button to their site, they saw more than 50,000 of their recipes had been saved to Pinterest.

The result? 130 million total impressions.

2. Apply for Rich Pins

Rich Pins provide more actionable data for your audience. Think of it as the Big Mac to the Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

There are four types of Rich Pins: app, product, recipe, and article.

rich pins

About.com saw a 40% increase in traffic when they started using Rich Pins.

If you plan to pin any of these four types above, I highly recommend applying for Rich Pins.

3. Install the Pinterest Tag on Your Website

If you’re considering advertising on Pinterest, install the Pinterest Tag.

Pinterest has been improving its ad platform.

They recently launched a conversion optimization ad option that allows brands to track visitor actions after seeing ads on Pinterest.

Flaviar saw 409% more traffic and an 8x increase in leads from October 2018 compared to the month before when testing conversion optimization.

Trust me, you’ll want to install the Pinterest Tag.

4. Get Product Pins

We all know Pinterest and ecommerce go together like PB&J.

That’s why you need to work with your developer to install Product Pins. Product Pins give the users a link where they can make a purchase.

Product pins

5. Upload Your Product Catalog

Pinterest will allow brands to upload their full catalog to the platform. This turns all your products into dynamic Product Pins.

And, if you’re advertising on Pinterest, these dynamic Product Pins tie into the automated ‘Shop the Look’ Pins., and turn their products into dynamic Product Pins.

6. Nail Your Images

Brands, delete your subscription to any stock photography websites. Pinterest users want custom images that are unique to your brand.

Here are a few quick tips to making a lasting impression with your images on Pinterest.

  • Design for a mobile experience. Nearly 85% of Pinterest searches happen on mobile. That means you want high-quality images with high aspect ratio. Pinterest states the best image aspect ratios are between a 2:3 and 1:3.5 (width to height), with a minimum width of 600 pixels. See what Target did below.
    Images for mobile experience
  • Incorporate your logo and product naturally into the image. By integrating your logo or watermark into your images, you still gain exposure while maintaining a tasteful, less obvious, brand image. Here is what Keurig did.
    12 Strategies to Boost Growth on Pinterest
  • Use lifestyle images and text overlays. Give your customers a feel for the product with lifestyle shots. Like this.
    12 Strategies to Boost Growth on Pinterest

7. Keep it Simple on Product Descriptions

Product descriptions on Pinterest are where the fun starts. And, if you’re an SEO, you know this part of the game all too well.

Here are a few quick tips to help you optimize your product descriptions:

  • Keep it between 200-500 characters.
    Product descriptions 1
  • Always include your brand name.
    Product descriptions 4
  • Use hashtags in all your descriptions. Hashtags are used to relevant trending topics related to your Pin so keep it specific. If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, use the autocomplete suggestions in the search bar on Pinterest as guidance.
    Product descriptions 5
  • Mention or tag others in your description.

8. Optimize Your Boards

Similar to your Pin descriptions, you want to optimize your Pinterest boards like an SEO. Here’s how:

  • Perform keyword research to determine your top keywords. These top keywords should become your board title.
  • Write a board description. You have 500 characters to fill so use it all. You can also add a call-to-action and a URL to explore more products on your site.
  • Only create boards that you can fill. For example, if you sell clothing, you don’t want a board title “Red Shoes.” Your board title may be broader like “Shoes.”
  • Repeat your board title in your board description.
  • Create a cover photo for your board. The graphic should be 217 X 147 pixels.

Optimize Pinterest Boards

9. Engage Your Following

Like any social channel, networking and collaborating are vital to your success. It’s like making Rice Krispie Treats without marshmallows. It doesn’t work.

Pinterest the ideal platform for partnerships. Here are some strategies you can use on Pinterest to engage your following:

  • Start a Group Board. Last year Pinterest launched Group Boards. This allows you to add collaborators to boards so you can both Pin to the same board.
  • Comment on Pins. Take advantage of the Popular section on Pinterest. Find a popular Pin and write a useful, thoughful Pin. Do this two to three times a day.
  • Follow others. I follow 100-300 new people per day for 3-days a week. Try to find people with similar interests (maybe your competitors?).
  • Create an influencer campaign. Pinterest is partnering with influencer marketing platforms like OpenInfluence, Hypr, Klear, AspireIQ, Mavrck, Izea, Influence.co and Obvious.ly. This means there are big things coming soon for Pinterest and influencer marketing so you’ll want to get a head start.

It’s all about getting back to the human side of marketing.

10. Invest in Promoted Pins

Promoted Pins look just like regular Pins that businesses pay to promote. They appear in the home feed, category feeds, and relevant search results. Like this.

Invest in Promoted Pins

Even better?

Promoted Pins typically earn $2 in profit for every $1 spent in ad costs.

LitJoy Crate saw an average of $3 to $5 per new customer, sometimes even going below $2. Their CPA is 70% lower than their average across all marketing channels.

And, Careful Cents made over $1,200 in affiliate revenue on her Pinterest ads campaign in just 30 days.

Try testing Promoted Pins with a small budget to determine if a bigger investment is right for your business.

11. Pin Frequently

Think posting once or twice is enough on Pinterest? Think again.

Posting more frequently increasing your engagement.

Buffer increased Pinterest engagement by 150% by pinning 10 times a day.

There are a few interesting studies out there on how many pins are the best.

Trafficwonker.com did a study that discovered 72 pins per day achieved the best results. While others stick to 30-50 pins per day.

If your face looked like this in fear of that amount of content per day, then you’ll want to test drive a tool like Tailwind that can help manage this process.

If you’re unsure of what to pin, Pinterest publishes trendy topics study every year. Don’t just post content your customers don’t want to hear.

12. Repin Even More

While you may want to keep driving traffic and sales, you also want to continue to engage and interact with other Pins by repinning.

Repins are kind of like that saying “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” The more you repin others’ content, the more likely they’ll repin yours too.

And, repins are used in Pinterest’s algorithm. The more repins, the more likely you’ll show up in the search results.

Key Takeaways for Using Pinterest for Your Business

Pinterest is becoming more than a social network. It is changing the way people search for products.

Pinterest has often felt like the red-headed stepchild of social media. But, that’s because it’s a search engine.

We’ve only scratched the surface of the capabilities of Pinterest. It’s time marketers looked deeper into Pinterest.

As Ryan Probasco, an early engineer at Pinterest, describes it, “But I think the mission is massive: the idea that we can connect everybody to the things they love and help them discover new things they love. It’s a human need.”

Only when we realize its potential will we find the solution to building a Pinterest marketing strategy that lasts.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author