By Ben Jacobsen
18 Nov 2020

SEO From Home: What's Working Right Now According to 1,000+ Bloggers

Content Marketing     Content Creation     SEO From Home

On November 15th, we hosted Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media on SEO From Home — Andy joined us to discuss what is working right now according to over 1,000 real-world bloggers and what specific actionable steps you can take now to help your blog grow.

Webinar Recording

If you missed the live presentation, you can watch a recording of the event below! 

 

If you want to see who's presenting next on SEO From Home, check out this post or keep an eye on our Twitter profile.

See you next time!

Show Transcript:

0:00:06.1 Ben Jacobsen: Alright, so we are live, we're gonna go ahead and give it just a few moments for people to get settled in there. Alright, looks like we've got a couple of people starting to pop into the room, so we should be good to go there, we'll go ahead and just kinda get things started. Welcome everyone. My name is Ben Jacobson, I am the Digital Marketing Strategist here, Page One Power. I'm also the host of SEO from home, which is why you guys are here today. If you haven't seen the show before, the goal of SEO from home is to sit down with some industry leading experts from across SEO, marketing, digital strategy, all that stuff, PPC, and we're talking about a variety of topics inside of SEO and search marketing, and the whole reason behind that is basically to help provide you guys some actionable information that you can do on your website today to start making some changes in your traffic and how your website is performing, so all of that is to kinda keep the SEO community connected. We're talking with a bunch of different people, and as you’ll see today, we actually get to sit down with Andy Crestodina and he's gonna be talking with us about blogging, so this is a little bit more of the bread and butter of what Page One Power is all about, but we have some really interesting information that we're gonna dive into today, so we're super excited about that.

0:01:26.0 Ben Jacobsen: For today's episode, we are gonna be live tweeting that, and we're also gonna be recording today's episode, so if you wanna engage with us on Twitter, you can do so by using hashtags #SEOfromhome, be sure to tag at Page One Power. And if you wanna engage with Andy, you can also tag at Crestodina, we're gonna be live treating that, like I mentioned, and then also in about 24 to 48 hours, we usually aim to have the recorded version of this up online for you guys, so if you have to step away for any reason don't worry about it, we got you covered. Also, we'll be posting that in our SEO from home Facebook group, so if you guys want to continue the conversation or maybe you got some questions that are unrelated to what we got going on, join our SEO from home Facebook group, and we can answer any of those questions for you or do our best to and maybe even be on a future episode of SEO from home, discussing that topic. So all of that being said, like I mentioned in the top of today's episode, we are gonna be sitting down today with the chief marketing officer and co­founder of orbit media studios, Andy Crestodina, and he is going to be telling us about a blog post that his agency put together recently that's surveying over a thousand bloggers talking about what's working right now, what's not working, and where we're kind of finding these pockets of really interesting information to take your blogging to the next level.

0:02:51.9 Ben Jacobsen: So all of that being said, Andy, welcome, thank you so much for joining us. I know you're super busy right now, and I think the world is a little distracted, but I appreciate you taking some time to join us today and tell us a little bit more about what we're gonna be discussing today.

0:03:07.9 Andy Crestodina: It's one of those major projects, people used to call this big content, it's like, yeah, you can write blog posts, but you can also go bigger, big content would be like some massive piece, and I was pretty ambitious in the beginning... This was seven years ago, we decided to try to answer some fundamental questions about content marketing, things like how long are typical blog posts, how much time does it take to write a blog post? How are people promoting their content? And it was fascinating, we learned, for example, the average blog post back then took two hours, 20 minutes to write, something like that. Most bloggers use this, don't use this, influencer marketing was hardly a thing, then we repeated it and repeated it and repeated it, and now we have seven years of longitudinal data showing the trends over time, and it's just so interesting to see as the effectiveness of blogging changed, what channels lead to the best results can what formats lead to the best results? So it's like 15 questions, and at the bottom, there's this question of like, which of the following best to scratch your blog? I get strong results from blogging, I get some results from blogging, I get disappointing results, or I don't know the results, so then we can correlate all of the other questions to that answer, and we’re about to report. Long versus short, frequent versus in free, all those things are basically right here.

0:04:34.8 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, I mean... If you guys haven't had a chance to check it out, I definitely do. So we'll post it in the chat here in a moment. But yeah, there's... The amount of information inside of there is pretty staggering, and the sample size is actually, is fair enough to where I think you can get a really good pulse on what's going on inside the industry, there's a lot of information that is probably what some people would expect we're putting more effort and more time into their blog posts, and the people that are doing so are succeeding, but there's a lot more that is to it than just like, Oh, you gotta make a longer blog posts, what are some of the more interesting ones that you're kinda coming away with? I mean, you guys have been doing this for seven years now, yeah. What are some of the things that you feel like are most surprising that you're coming away with?

0:05:31.1 Andy Crestodina: I find it, so everyone right away jumps onto the length piece and how long should a blog post... By which I always thought was kind of a crazy question. Every blog post should be as long as it needs to be to answer the question in detail and not a single word longer, make it concise but detailed content. That's an interesting conversation. There's a lot more in this than that, one of the things that shows is just how visual content is, and bloggers that add a lot more images are getting much better results, and this confirm something that a lot of us kind of explored and discovered years earlier. One of the goals of the content marketer is to keep the visit or on the page, one of the tactics to do that is to make sure there is something of visual interest at every scroll depth. So if you'd ask me like 15 years ago, I'd say, Oh yeah, put a picture on every blog post, that's totally insufficient, put a picture at every scroll depth on every blog post, and you're much more likely to get engagement. So it aligns with that idea of scan-able content that readers aren't reading, you have to slow down, make a thumb stop and slow down the reader on mobile, formatting, short paragraphs, sub­heads, bullets holding internal links, italics, all these things and multiple images.

0:06:51.6 Andy Crestodina: So that is a big correlation, bloggers that are adding lots of images are far more likely to report success, similarly, video, similarly, adding contributor posts, Similarly, writing a whole bunch of draft headlines before choosing one, which most people don't do.

0:07:10.1 Ben Jacobsen: It makes total sense if you think about it. I take it back to your middle school, or it's like there's no pictures in this book like... Or maybe it was more recently, maybe it was a couple of years ago, maybe it was last week, there's no pictures in this book, like you want... It's something to break up the monotony, and I think it's... When you see something that's varied and you're seeing... Obviously, I think there's a very clear point to where you can overdo it, but I think when you see varied elements, when you see things like You have a pull quote that maybe there's an animation that comes into it, some people are really against animations, but even if it's just static on that page and you have a pulled quote... That's right, 36­point font. Something that breaks up. Just the constant drone of 12 ­point Times New Roman text. Big difference, shocking. Like if you were to send me an article and it's just 2500 words of just long paragraphs, I'll read it, but it's like, Alright, I gotta set time aside, but sometimes I'll find myself reading an article about photography or something, which is something I'm interested in, of course.

0:08:28.9 Ben Jacobsen: And it's like, I'll find myself and I was like, Oh man, it's been an hour and I've been reading the same article, and it's because it doesn't feel like you're doing the same thing for an hour, it's changing the media consumption type, a small variation, but

0:08:47.3 Andy Crestodina: Very, very important, I agree with you that our readers are not grade schoolers, but that psychology is not dissimilar. All of our websites have one feature in common, which is the back button, every page, everyone page has got a back button on it, and everyone knows whatever the traffic source was if it was email or social media, they know that there's 500 other articles right there. All of us, as we click into something, we clicked from a place that had many, many other options, so if you hit someone with a wall of text, so past that, then I'll give you a tip that is not in the blogger survey, but that has worked beautifully for me, I rarely teach this one or talk about it much, but we're gonna share here today, 'cause this is SEO at home and you are gutting it out on a tough news cycle, if you include images in your content that add to the story, such as charts and diagrams and graphs, then when you contribute to other people's content, then you have an opportunity to include that image in that content, and when yourself a link back in the image source link.

0:09:53.9 Andy Crestodina: I don't know if this is a thing anyone else talks about it, but image source, link building, it's very... I find it very difficult to promote a post that doesn't have an original diagram in it, if you have an original diagram in your content and you have the chance to talk about it anywhere, grab the image added to the contribution, below the image, put image source and link back to the thing, you're gonna win an exact match, anchor text link from any site that you want, if that image supported your contributor quote, how do you make the opportunities to contribute to content grow and add contributors to your stuff? So that's a really good point. Visual content, collaborative content, contributor quotes diagrams, there are best practices and you can say, Oh yeah, you can invite other people into your content or add pictures to your stuff. Actually, there are very specific tactical ways, invite contributors who are likely to invite you into their content. Add diagrams that could be used in your contributions to other content, so there are... It's actually very strategic. You might get results by doing these things just intuitively, but you can also reverse engineer awesome outcomes like authoritative links and relationships with influencers.

0:11:10.1 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, that's a really unique perspective that I personally, I've never even thought of. So that's really interesting, and it brings up a really good point that it's something that we do internally, I know that we have a... We're fortunate we have an in­house graphic designer, he is fantastic. And part of what we do is we try to keep everything consistent as far as the branding. And as far as the aesthetic, just for cohesive branding, I think it's like marketing 101 state that just made me start my dear, start spending a little bit, and it's like if we take these charts that were, in some cases, we're actually even styling and creating infographics about clients that we're doing for case studies or whatnot, if you're using those charts and you're using customized graphs, that are well put together, if you have resources of someone that can put together a diagram or an infographic that is better than just an Excel export... You are going to be a better piece of content, and again, it's the same thing that you have to relate back to any sort of link building or content promotion, it's always gonna be what's serving the best purpose, and the same thing can be applied to graphs or charts or even things that we deem mundane or monotonous don't have to be...

0:12:32.1 Ben Jacobsen: And to your exact point, using that and then also allowing for back­linking using the image source, like you're setting yourself up for a really easy win 'cause you're not gonna get a huge amount of competition there.

0:12:48.2 Andy Crestodina: Yeah, your contributor quote to that article is likely to appear at the top, if there's more than one, you added more value, you added a visual, the link is less likely to be removed. If someone sent you an image, would you remove the image source link, you'd feel sketchy about removing it. If you wanna see the effectiveness of this, I just put my own site into MOS and clicked on the anchor text report. There are 57 websites that have linked to us with image source as the anchor text link. That's awesome. There's hundreds, others where the anchor text would have been the name of the article, because I put an image source and then the link is the name of the article, which includes a key phrase, so yeah, these are... I don't know that image. Link building is a thing in anyone else's mind, but at a crime opportunity... Yeah, and if you wanna make a Canva or engage, just go to engage, they gonna make you beautiful, you could actually get quite a bit done without a pro... In­house graphic designer.

0:13:47.3 Ben Jacobsen: Absolutely, and it's a great point, absolutely. You don't have to have a huge production team or anything like that in order to create amazing content, but it's the same sort of thing, like looking at where you have skill sets inside of your organization and you already have those resources and trying to do what you already have and taking that and putting it in the best light you possibly can... Absolutely, a really good point. Anyone else really making an effort out of this, I know you said no one else really has this on their radar, but this is... For me, personally, at least this is the first time I've ever even really seen it as a tactic for... It's something that just happens naturally as you're doing it, but people actually focusing on that, or at least paying attention to it, I think is the unique thing there.

0:14:46.8 Andy Crestodina: Not that I know of. I've never met anyone or seen it at conferences or people talk about it. I wrote an article about it. It's like how the Medes affect SEO, and it was in there. I think that article was... People who saw that headline thought I was talking about image, Google Images SEO, it's not about that at all, talking about how to improve your organic rankings through the use of images and diagrams within your content, that was one of several ways in which... In that article, it lays it out, we could share that link to... One thing I did learn from another pro, you know Dan Shore?

0:15:18.9 Ben Jacobsen: I know the name, I don't know him.

0:15:20.8 Andy Crestodina: He's great. Dan’s Evolving SEO is the name of this firm might be just a consultancy, but he has a podcast called experts on the wire, which is excellent, and he had me on the show once and I learned more from him on that episode, then he learned for me, I think... He said that If you publish original research to blogger surveys, one example, that you can optimize it to rank for a statistics related phrase, and that statistics related phrases like the phrase blogging, statistics, that's a phrase with linking intent. People search for statistics when they're looking for somebody to link to...

0:16:03.5 Andy Crestodina: How ridiculous, it's like cheating, it's like... That is so effective. Anyone that ranks for anything that has podcasting statistics in a video conference to just any statistics related, any posts that ranks for a phrase that includes the word statistics or quote, maybe less so, people only search for that stuff if they're trying to find somebody to link to, that's a good point on the link intent key phrase. It's like, I don't know, you feel bad for your competitors when you do this stuff, you're like, Oh, I'm gonna crush them all, you can do it, you can literally, you can dominate your category after combining some of these things.

0:16:41.1 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, it seems silly, I'm laughing at it 'cause it's like, Well, why didn't you do a Google search for people who are trying to link to your website? And it seems like something that would be so on the nose, but... What an interesting approach to that. It seems silly that I haven't thought of that.

0:17:06.5 Andy Crestodina: Well, I didn't think of that. I think about it in... I think of intent as being information intent, commercial intent or navigation intent... No, do go. Everyone is taught in SEO, that's how people talk about intent, top of funnel, middle of funnel, or bottom of funnel, or problem aware, solution­aware, brand­aware, but in Dan's mind, there's all kinds of different intent, some things people search for indicate they want to find other people, some things people search for indicate they're looking for a certain format, so there's like... Some phrases indicate the person is in a deep thinking frame of mind, other phrases, people are just very surface, just clicking through fast. Dan is a really smart guy, he's a technical SEO, but he's one of those OGS who's just been doing it, I've been doing so for 20 years. I think he started before me. He goes way back. 

0:18:09.6 Ben Jacobsen: Awesome. Yeah, it's really interesting 'cause that almost touches on one area that I wish I was better at and I always aspired to grow in, but just the psychology behind marketing, when you're talking intent, there are quantifiable metrics that you can start to assign in certain areas, but really, when it comes down to it, the psychology behind intent and the psychology behind a search for haircuts, searching for ideas or researching for... There's so many different things and understanding the psychology behind that is one of those, kind of sciences where there's so much to it, and I feel like there's always surprises...

0:19:05.2 Andy Crestodina: Well, it is such an important point in the SEO community, because the SEO is over­ emphasized algorithms, and Google. Conversion optimizer undervalue search ranking factors in algorithms. So the best marketers are dual threat marketers, they understand SEO and CRO conversion optimization, they understand cheese and mouse traps, they understand algorithms and psychology, the people who can do both can attract visitors and convert those visitors into leads. These are the best marketers, they think the way you are right now, it's like, I might rank like a champion, but anything times zero is zero. If you have a million visitors in a 5% conversion rate... So if you go to any conferences, I try to split my time between SEO conferences and conversion conferences. If you go to conversion conferences and you go to a session about how to build a high converting landing page, the entire session will be about how to do qualitative research and interview, it's not gonna be about button color, they're not gonna talk about button color, they're not gonna talk about pictures, they're gonna talk about the information needs of a strong intent visitor, and they're gonna say things like, Yeah, get the audience on the phone and ask them: Why did you buy...

0:20:34.5 Andy Crestodina: Why did you buy? What almost kept you from buying? What was the most important information to you? Take me back to that moment. What's the true story in the life that set you're looking for this thing, and then pretty soon you're painting a word picture about the moment when you thought you needed this thing, what did you do? Did you search? What did you search for? What did you land on? What did you find? And pretty soon you end up realizing like, it's really all about building content that guides the eye through a series of messages that in a roughly prioritized order satisfy this visitor's information needs. As soon as you do that, it's also called just FAQ content, you're just answering people's questions. As soon as you do that, you're also aligning content for search, because Google trying to find the best page on the internet, the best page on the internet solves for that visitor's information needs. You can try to follow a leader, you can analyze every other page that ranks and you can figure out what else, what other words they use, or you can stop everything and blue sky think deeply about the needs of this person and what's happening in their life.

0:21:39.5 Andy Crestodina: I totally agree that psychology is just underrated, it's just skipped over by a lot of CEO’s who think that the point is just ranking, which is terrible. The point is traffic, that's a little better, you know, the point is to connect with the human and change of mind and make some money, by triggering an action.

0:22:00.8 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, I always look at it and I think that it's really... It's fascinating to me, and I think I've said this a couple of times before, but just switching from a digital marketing background and switching over into more of an SEO industry and understanding that shift between like, Okay, I'm just trying to answer a question that someone is looking for, that was kind of a light bulbl moment for me, but I think that relates back to so many different aspects of marketing as a whole, or running a business as a whole, like answering a question is kind of a relative term. Obviously, you're answering a question, you're providing a service, that sort of thing, but overall, like your marketing efforts in your website should all be basically pointing back to solving a problem for a person, there's always so many different marketing gurus and interesting clips and phrases and strategies that come through, but it all boils down to essentially that it all comes back to this general root of if you're trying to help someone answer a question, you're trying to help them do something in some capacity, like you said.

0:23:33.5 Andy Crestodina: Information, transaction, navigation. And so with that, it all boils down to the same sort of basic core desire, and I think once you can conceptualize that a little bit more and get that wrapped around inside of the envelope of what your strategy is, it will start to make a little bit more sense. I think it was really difficult for a lot of people that I see inside of SEO to understand that they don't have to completely relinquish all control over the psychology aspect of it, so maybe that's kind of where the drop­off point is for some people is you have a lot of people that are in the camp of CRO, and then you have a lot of people who are camp SEO and the SEO camp, I feel kind of tends to be like, Well, I can't control what they're gonna do, all I can do... I can look at these numbers and I can pull up MOZ and I can do... I can look at hard data, and I think that often it gets relinquished to like, Ah, I can't do the soft science and stuff, it has to be data and metrics and numbers and...

0:24:53.1 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, I think there's a lot of that in SEO, obviously, I think that's a huge, huge aspect of it, but if you can partner that with some of these things, like looking at the hard science... With the report that you guys are putting together, you can discern a lot of the more social and soft sciences side of stuff from that data pretty quickly, you have to use a little bit of an adventurous mind to understand what those numbers actually entail, but overall, it's there... I think that people get too scared of like, Oh well, you can't really discern too much from just hard numbers, but the stories there. You just have to know how to read it.

0:25:34.1 Andy Crestodina: I was reviewing the website this morning, occasionally I do website reviews for people, I was reviewing a website this morning and they wanted me to look at it from both perspective, search and conversion, so it's like a tech company, like it was like a software for emergency rooms or urgent care clinics, and they have this section and they're saying about Teleradiology, I'm like, that sounds like an awesome key phrase. Sounds very specific. Let's look it up. They were ranking on page one for teleradiology, the other pages that ranked high for that were a lot of information intent pages, not service pages, but pages about What is it addressing? Like is it effective? The legality of it, what you need to be licensed in these states? like there's a big mix, the page, not weird, the search results page is a mix of information and commercial intent, URLs services and articles, but looking at their page... It wasn't that deep, they had added a lot of content to it, but it linked off to different things, and there was some case studies over there, and there's a list of clients over here, basically, after a few minutes of digging, I found that deep in a case study, it said that they do teleradiology in 20 minutes, is how long it takes their doctors to review these x­ rays or whatever...

0:26:51.2 Andy Crestodina: Accuracy, in a different page, their accuracy is 999%. Their sales page said, fast, accurate, televangelist say how fast it didn't say how accurate, we imagine you're the visitor and you land on this page. What will convince you? Here's a simple way to approve any web page on the internet, look at the page and ask is the most compelling piece of information, the most powerful trust building content, testimonial statistic is, whatever it is. Is that also the most visually prominent thing? Frequently, no. The most compelling thing should also be the most visually prominent thing, people great, big vague headlines and tiny very specific benefit driven sub heads wouldn't you just flip that... Why didn't you make... Or you had your list of, You have a page about testimonials, does anyone go to your page about testimonials? Make every page of testimonials page, put testimonials throughout the site who do expect your visitor to see what you do go over there to see how well you do it... Come back over here to see, how do you do it for... No, no, you gotta construct this as one long flow, and then pretty soon you've built an awesome page for visitors, now go back and look at it for SEO. 

0:28:09.6 Andy Crestodina: Oh wow, you the testimonials had keywords in them, a keyword focused testimonial, that's the trees and mousetrap. Oh wow, this case study paragraph fit beautifully under the page, pretty soon its a longer page, it's a better page, it's a more compelling, more persuasive page. The things that are good for visitor psychology, FAQ content, strong data quotes, testimonials, those are also good for SEO because they add depth and detail, they improved time on page is the best marketing is done with both in mind.

0:28:41.9 Ben Jacobsen: So why do you feel, from what you've seen, that it's so often that these things are siloed, 'cause what I'm understanding and how I'm kind of discerning this is, if I'm looking at this from someone who's providing a service to say, I'm a mechanic, if I'm saying I have 500 five star reviews. I'm an insured here and I can get your car back to you in a day, those really important beneficial pieces need to be really front and center, so if you're saying, people are like, Okay, I'm gonna have this section that's gonna talk about how long it's gonna take and then I'm gonna have another page, it's gonna talk about my reviews, and then we have another page. So if people are siloing this information on their website, do you know why they're doing that, or is it just like they're just not... Is it just perhaps their own ignorance, they're just not familiar with that, or is there a purpose to having a page that's really, really deep with reviews, is there any benefit to having it that way?

0:29:50.0 Andy Crestodina: There's not a single standard answer to the question, but fundamentally what's happening is every scroll is a continuation on the topic, every click is the visitor telling you they want different information, so every click, segments your visitor into a page that's more specifically about their information needs, that's what a click is, that's what navigation labels are. That's why people navigate around us because they're looking for something that's more specifically relevant to them, so now this person's on this page, you know that they're interested in what auto service. Is the answer to the question, How long would it take on the same topic, or is it somewhere... Is that a very different topic that answers then... Is the same topic, right? If you care about it, if you care about making an appointment for your car, you care about how long the appointment takes, so I might put that right into the call to action. Schedule a time takes 30 minutes, something like that. So you would end up... So that decision about whether to make it in the flow or out of the flow on a different page, is that same question, is it relevant to this visitor in this moment, when done well, the page basically reads their mind...

0:31:04.4 Andy Crestodina: If I had 1000 conversations with auto mechanic customers, and I answered the questions, I knew what they're likely gonna ask, I know what they care about, what they're hoping for, what they're afraid of, I could make a high converting page just by emulating a sales conversation, so that's what the best page does, it emulates the sales conversation, that also that page when you're done also happens to be filled with FAQ content, naturally it's going to be relevant in search because you answered every question that the visitor might likely have. So think of it this way, the best web pages are a mixture of three things, answers, and evidence to support the answer, answer evidence, answer evidence, answer evidence, Call To Action page with answers, but no evidence is just a bunch of unsupported marketing claims. A page that's all evidence but no answers, no one... No one's gonna go there because your visitor has no intention to read testimonials, they know that's just a bunch of happy stuff on that other page, they're never very popular pages.

0:32:08.2 Ben Jacobsen: There's no compelling piece to it necessarily… Yeah, if you have a link that says testimonials and your main navigation, what information is that satisfying? It's like ordering a plate of parsley, it's a garnish, it's supportive content, it doesn't do well on its own... It's very, very powerful. When mixed in with the other content. That's

0:32:29.3 Ben Jacobsen: A good point because I was thinking about it, and while you've been talking about this, some of us know the... Or while you were thinking, or while you were speaking about this, I was thinking... I feel like I am the type of person that reads reviews often, like, Okay, I go through and before I buy anything online, I’ll research and find either a product video review or I'll read the reviews from just written reviews or maybe check on their own site a third party site, so I feel like it's something that I value pretty heavily, and I was like, Oh well, I'm the person that would click on the reviews tab, and then I started thinking about it and I just answered my own question, but... Why not have that on the actual part of the page instead of having to click away to the reviews page?

0:33:21.5 Andy Crestodina: Yeah, that for the bends low on a page, it might be worth it both, there's no downside, no cost, no harm, no fowl, if you have it in for two places, and if your research or that people are searching for brand plus review, you should have a review page, sure. It can be off nav... It doesn't have to be in the navigation, but yeah, there are people like me and you who wanna research that topic more deeply, there's other people who are just moving fast, making quick decisions for which you wanna have the content right in the review should be on the page.

0:33:54.4 Ben Jacobsen: But I mean, it's true, I think that having that stuff natively inside of where you're already searching, it prevents you from having to navigate away, 'cause every time that I navigate away from something like I am the worst and the most notorious person about having a thousand tabs open, and I'm like, Well, I wanted to review this, but before I buy it, I'm gonna go ahead and open up another tab and search on YouTube and see if I can find a review and what other people thought about it. And then it gets kind of relinquished and just forgotten about and shelved in the tab, and then I end up not making a purchase, and so thinking of my own buying habits, if I were seeing that there were third party reviews from his moto and gadget saying, Hey, this phone is excellent. That gives me like the extra vote of confidence in order to make a purchase a lot sooner than maybe I would if I had to click away or if I had to start navigating to other websites to find the answer I'm looking for...

0:35:09.6 Andy Crestodina: Yeah, you're basically constructing an experience for the commercial intent visitor information and high ranking articles, totally separate, but for the commercial intent visitor, you are deliberately designing an experience through which they get their top questions answered, they get reasons to believe those answers, and they see, clear, compelling, specific calls to action. So that is... It's like my little brother is kind of like a mixologist, and he explained to me one day, I even like Coca­Cola has acid and sugar. It's like acid, sugar and alcohol. That's a cocktail wine. Basically, those are the three things that you need. Simple syrup, lime juice and whatever your thing is, it's gonna be... It's acid, sugar and alcohol, that's a cocktail, answer, evidence, call to action. That's a sales page.

0:36:06.2 Ben Jacobsen: I like it. That's like a perfect recipe. Just, I just use that as like just your go ­to base it around that That's awesome. It works, it works beautifully. Works every time.

0:36:21.4 Ben Jacobsen: I'm going to post this thing, I meant to do this right at the top, you guys, but here's the link to the specific posts that we're talking about, so that you guys can dive through and read that again further if you want to... Well, let's kinda shift gears just a little bit, I wanted to talk about maybe a couple of the things that people here watching right now can maybe do as actionable takeaways from what you're finding in here. So there's a lot of high level things inside of here as far as people who are publishing more frequently, they get better results, are publishing longer content. So maybe for some of the people that are watching this right now that are thinking, Hey, it's coming up on winters coming up, I got some time inside where I go, I'm gonna be re­doing my blog, I wanna get some content scheduled out, what sort of suggestions or maybe a piece of advice that would you have for some of these people that are looking to do just revamp, maybe re­ adjust and get back into blogging and get things spinning in the right direction for them again.

0:37:30.2 Andy Crestodina: I'll give you three quick ones, as you sit down to write, you're gonna write a headline for the thing, write another and another and another, just stop everything and brainstorm and literally write 10 headlines before you choose one, you might find that some of those headlines are better for search and will work as title tags. Others are better for social, and will just be social media posts, some of them not nothing to do with keywords, might be a great for Psychology, could be a good email subject line, there really isn't a headline anymore, there’s title tags is email subject lines, or social media post, there's infographic headers, there's all different things, but there is no one had adapt your headline for many things and for each location and write tons of them. Another is I consider just making sure you include a contributor and everything you write, that contributor ideally should be a content creator themselves, and ideally someone who writes for many websites or writes for a high authority website, so just like journalists, include sources as a content marketer you should include contributors, and it's going to do three things, it'll make your content higher quality, it could increase the social reach because you can mention them, they may share when they see themselves mentioned in social, and it grows your personal network, so making friends like we're doing now, to the last tip I was gonna say is to, rather than writing new articles, consider going back, checking the SEO performance of old articles, seeing things that rank but don't rank that high yet, and without changing the URL, rewrite content, re­write old posts recycle old URLs.

0:39:11.7 Andy Crestodina: It is the most reliable in that I know of in search, I've got articles, I could show you where the day I rewrote it, the next week, the traffic and rankings jump, so it doesn't work if you re­ write... If you change the URL, but it's very likely that everyone on this on this call or everyone, whoever hears this, has on their site already pages that almost drank high pages that have authority and have been linked to pages that have content that's a little bit out of date and re­writing an article on that URL, will give you 10x the results of making a new piece of content.

0:39:48.1 Ben Jacobsen: And I wrote these down 'cause I know that these are ones that we actually... We got a chance to kind of briefly touch on when you and I got to chat a couple of weeks ago when we were kind of planning for today's episode, and I remember getting to just barely talk about each one just a little bit, and I kinda wanted to maybe even do maybe something pretty similar to that, maybe do a five­ minute dive into each one of those, just a little bit more and just bouncing my ideas off the wall with you, but one thing I remember starting with the top one, writing many headlines, I think this is something that I'm guilty of too for sure is it's literally just... If you guys are going to be out spending money on, let's say, a Google, Google ads or Facebook ads, you're going to do AB­ test, you're going to want to test multiple options, it's the same thing for any sort of piece of organic content, if you wouldn't... Run a 5000 dollar Facebook ad spend without testing multiple headline options and ad options like... why would you do that with your natural blog post, it's something that...

0:41:10.7 Ben Jacobsen: When you said that, we were talking about it and it was like... Again, a lot of these things, I just feel silly 'cause I'm like, Well, yeah, of course, but it's... Some of these things that make the biggest impact. Why would you not have 10 to 15 different options to try to test like AB test, figure out what's working so that you're not spending your money and more importantly with your time on a wasted effort, it goes back to some of these other things too, but if you are able to create headlines that are naturally gaining traction, you're not only being more efficient with your time, but you're actually saving yourself money in the long run because you're able to actually do something organically that you normally... You'd have to be paying multiple hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, just to get the discernible data for what headlines work, so test it early, do a lot of options and keep your eyes open for maybe even some options that you didn't think about before. Yeah, I really like that.

0:42:20.8 Andy Crestodina: If I could be the greatest at one skill in marketing, if you could choose one thing to be like the best at, maybe it's keyword research or outreach, influencer relations or... No, there's no really... No question, it'd be headlines, because without the headline, the headline is the key to all traffic, basically every visitor is an instance where you won the battle in an individual's mind, in the ROI calculation of whether this click is worth 10 seconds of their time... Everyone does that math before they click anything, is this click worth five seconds of my time? The information they use to make that decision is the headline, so headlines can either increase the return or reduce the investment, if you say 10 statistics, you've made the investment lower... I can tell, I can scan, this is gonna be scan-able content, it's this lower investment for me for high performance click­through rates, that's a benefit. Now, I can see that's the return, every headline is basically manipulating the ROI calculation each potential visitor does in their mind before they click, it is the key to email, it's the key to search. It's the key to social.

0:43:39.4 Andy Crestodina: That is the game. I think that might be one of the most important things as far as a takeaway from this… Absolutely. Piggybacking right off of that, it's the first yes that you get from a customer, anyone that's ever taken any marketing class ever, is gonna hear you gotta get the customer saying “Yes”, get them to say the first yes, then get him to say another yes. The headline is The first... Yes, and again, the headline is, we're using kind of as a nebulous term here, it can mean a lot of things, like men... Is an email subject line? It can mean your ad copy, it can mean your postcard, anything that is your attention grabbing the first thing you want them to see, that's your test into the world, that's your fight or flight to throw into the sharks. Let's see how many more phrases I can use.

0:44:36.3 Andy Crestodina: I have no way to really research this, I would need one of those super expensive eye tracking glasses to watch people's eyes and put them on a bunch of people to get a good sample size, but how many headlines do you think that you see in a day?

0:44:50.3 Ben Jacobsen: That's gonna be a lot, huge. Hundreds at least, right? Yeah, maybe more than a thousand. What percentage of headlines do each of us click on in a day is a lot less.

0:45:04.5 Andy Crestodina: 1%, maybe fewer, if you count everything that you see in social streams, if you got every page you see in the search results page, it's very likely that the average click­through rate as individuals is something like .01%. So what works? What is working in that... Yeah, so what affects that click rate?. It's basically you have to win the ROI calculation in those brains, and you can do so by... And if you just plan to do SEO, it's only about key phrases, you're missing all the stuff Larry Kim used to teach, throw an unexpected word into the title tag, how does your title tag perform against the other title tags in the search results page? Is it boring? Is it expected? Is it just a bunch of repeated semantically related phrases, or did you do something that merchandise the click... So yeah, I think if you could do that one thing really well, you would get more traffic without higher rankings, and you get more email visitors without more larger email list, you don't need higher organic social reach, you would just have more clicks from the reach you've got. I think it's very much underrated, maybe partly because you can't ever really see the headline against all other headlines in that visitors feel the vision.

0:46:30.9 Ben Jacobsen: You'd have to do... In order to even get some sort of idea, you'd have to just do a massive amount of testing on there, and at least you can then get some sort of idea of how effective you're being, but... Yeah, exactly. You're increasing your value to your audience without having to actually change... You're changing your pitch, I guess, so you're not actually changing what you're offering them, but you're changing the way you're presenting it, so you're not having to revamp all of your content, you're not having to launch on your product line or anything, it's all just how you're inviting people, in the door.

0:47:10.8 Andy Crestodina: Well, viral news sites did this for years, all they would do is take existing content and re­write headlines.

0:47:16.9 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, there's been a lot of people who have called out for that and they were sheepish about it at first, so... Yeah, Andrew's got a question here. He says, Do you ever test headlines on social forums, for example, Reddit and Facebook to see what's resonating before you launch the page?

0:47:36.2 Andy Crestodina: Thanks for that question, Andrew. I have... One of the ways that we've done that is to be more specific, test the email subject line on social media before sending the newsletter...

0:47:50.7 Ben Jacobsen: That's a good idea.

0:47:52.1 Andy Crestodina: So email is high stakes, low data, social is low stakes, high data. Good point. Email, you get one shot, you can't un­send an email, social organic reaches 2%. Dude, you gotta share a bunch anyway... Who cares? Just share the crap out of that. So yeah, I've never been super confident in the statistical relevance of any of those because you've got timing as a factor, you can't just share both at the same time, you can maybe subject lines in other ways, just through your ESP, we use Active campaign just to see which one's gonna get... 10% gets this subject, 10% gets this subject, the winner is the subject for the remaining 80%, but yeah, I think it's... If you use buffer or co­schedule and you just scan through your top performing social posts, use that, it's not testing, but I think that you'll get a lot of interesting ideas. If you go all the way through that long list and see which got 10x the traction and the literally 10 times the traction I shared, if I only share my screen and scan through Buffer, you'll see some that have like 30 likes, two likes, 25 likes, the variance is enormous.

0:49:09.2 Andy Crestodina: So I think that social media is a gold mine for us, for data that's working and with your visitor psychology.

0:49:16.9 Ben Jacobsen: How do you discern effectiveness, just because of the whole idea behind of course testing is to try to get as close as possible to understanding what the real story is... inside of the social specifically, one reason that I've found it to be somewhat difficult for AB testing inside of social is just because of how unreliable and how inconsistent your reach is, so how do you combat that or do you just try to look at your analytics inside of that social platform and adjust and try to make the numbers match.

0:49:57.0 Andy Crestodina: It's just clues. It's quite frustrating. There's a personality type that is very frustrated if they go into marketing, if you... I remind people who keep seeking more and more accurate data that every number on Google Analytics is wrong, 100%, the numbers and analytics is incorrect, right? Because it's based on JavaScript and cookies. So the best you're ever going to get, even if you had total confidence in that thing, that day, by the time you do it, maybe more time has past, you don't know if that got pick up because there was one influencer who amplified it. There's lots of reasons why those outliers. But email subject line, Writing is such a blood sport, I'll take any clues I can, because that is one of the hardest things, if there's like, I don't care that much about if this ranked or doesn't, you could go change it later, I'll try it again. I'll just rewrite that article or change the title tag or… Yeah, digital ink is never dry, except email subject lines, you can't un­send that thing, man, it's gone, it's out there, it's gonna sit in their inbox, so you can't change it after it's there, that one kills me.

0:51:12.2 Andy Crestodina: So I appreciate the clues, and I do use social to try to guide, but then it's different too, because the mobile inbox is gonna truncate after 548 at 45 words or letters. So unlike social media, you need to front load your email subject lines, where the most unexpected or compelling words are in the first five words, that's not even a success factor in social because you can normally see the whole post.

0:51:37.9 Ben Jacobsen: Even then, you still have some of that going on to where I think people... I've noticed that we've seen more success if I start front loading more information that's timely, relevant, or something that is queuing their interest right from the jump, just because... Social media is hard because I think that we're in a strange place where there are so many people that are completely encompassed by it, but at the same time, I think there's so many people that are so completely over it... To use a phrase, I feel like people are less inclined to engage with longer posts, especially if they don't have something that's speaking right to them up front. Yeah.

0:52:32.3 Andy Crestodina: Yeah, well, it's supported by the data in the blogger survey, social means sharing your content and social media doesn't correlate with stronger than with above trend results as... No, it's like like 25% of bloggers report strong results, bloggers social media, it's like 25% of them report strong results, so... It doesn't correlate with success. It's just so easy to do. Everyone does it. 98% of our survey respondents of do share content on social, but in my mind, there's three kinds of social media posts, there's content promotion, there's curating industry news, and there's just making friends, so creation, curation and conversation, if you're only using social media to dump links on the internet, you're not really doing the best with... social media, you could do better than that. So you should use it for research, use it for outreach, use it for networking? Use it for listening. These are all things that you don't get any data for, they don't show up in your analytics at all, friendship is not a report in analytics, but these are the best parts about being social. And people say, What's the ROI of social media? It's like, Well, what's the ROI of your phone just to interact with a good internet citizen, it's the ROI of writing a LinkedIn recommendation for someone who helped you...

0:54:09.4 Ben Jacobsen: I like that. Perfect wrap­up for that. Let's jump into... Let's get to these last ones real quick. So including a contributor. This one, I know that there's some people that have gone back and forth. I know there's people that have said I always include an author on authorship inside of every blog post. Can you dive into this a little bit more and give us importance of including a contributor, you touched on it briefly, but what about some maybe smaller organizations, maybe they don't have the resources to have multiple writers, or do you still recommend having just one person listed as the author of that post or how would you recommend proceeding?

0:54:54.3 Andy Crestodina: Every post has an author, and that author while they're writing the post, might think of someone and rather than just quote that person, instead reach out to them and ask them for a quote on the topic, social media is a very common place to do that, when they respond, get a couple of sentences, tell them how soon you need it, add their quote to the article, you're gonna add visual prominence 'cause their face... If you put their face next to the quote, you just added an image, which is good for scanability and keeping people flowing through content, you just made your content more authoritative if you care about eat stuff and do always... Strangely, SEOs are focused on that for search ranking reasons, in fact, that's just really a psychology, I think we should admit, weird that SEOs had to read that in a quality reader guideline to decide to make site... Isn't that silly Ben? Why do SEOs think about expertise and authoritative­ness and trust when they think about a quality rater got... I shouldn't be thinking about it when you think about your visitor?

0:55:57.5 Ben Jacobsen: I’m not gonna say that everything inside of the SEO industry is the most logical… Yeah, it makes no sense. So weird, it's so weird. It's like, Oh, it is a thing, I need to add experts to my article... You waited until now, like someone told you what quality is... Have you heard of journalism? I use those principles anyway, so

0:56:21.0 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, I wouldn't be an acronym, that's how... We gotta get an acronym, some sort of industry jargon, then we'll start you at a garage with that

0:56:29.2 Andy Crestodina: EAT contributor quotes for EAT reasons, and as a side benefit, you'll notice that your content got better, social reach, got better, your personal network got better, it's just... It's part of being just a good internet citizen, as a rule, we don't write articles that don't have contributor quotes from a friendly expert.

0:56:48.2 Ben Jacobsen: Awesome, I really like that, and I think that is a perfect way to answer that question, 'cause I know that there are some people that have pushed back against it a little bit as far as... Yeah, anyway, so the last one that I wanted to touch on real quick before we get wrapped up, we're actually just about at the top of the hour, perfect timing, is recycling URLS, and this is one that we... I think this is probably the one that we spent the most time on, a least I feel like it was, but tell us a little bit more about this because this one was really fascinating to me, and you were presenting it as maybe one of the most effective ways to help... Drastically change rankings. I'm trying to avoid saying the whole get rich quick mentality. But one of the fastest ways in order to turn content around and help it gain some legs, so you can tell us a little bit more about what you do, what your process is like, and how you find articles that are right for the picking.

0:57:49.7 Andy Crestodina: It is. There are falling... I did an article once about how to do a content, it categorized content in different groups, and I gave a little names to them because like you said, we like jargon, of course, falling stars is an article that used to rank high and it's starting to decline, because new better content came out since then, so to rescue that thing before it crashes down to page two, re­write it, and then there's like the... I forgot the name that I gave it, but it was like the almost high ranking posts, it's like the potential champion, it ranks at the top of page two, it's been there for months. How do you get that thing to page one, just go rewrite the article, go make it a better article, make it 80% new, Makeit better than before I add detail, add depth that images at contributor quotes, add video and everybody can... If it proves, if it moves up even a few positions, it'll be on one... So there's a couple of more different criteria, but fundamentally, Google likes that URL, Deb page may have authority, other sites may already have linked to it, so you're going to get bigger benefits by strengthening a performer to a top performer.

0:59:08.4 Andy Crestodina: Another way to think of it is that everything in digital, all the results of everything in digital, every channel, every format, every topic, is that an exponential curve, it... 1% of Twitter users get done to get the most engagement, 1% of YouTube videos get the most views, 1% of your articles, get the most traction, like 10X or 100x the traction. Go look, you switch the bar chart view in any report in analytics, it's always the same, There are no straight lines, therefore, do anything you possibly can to move farther over on the X­-axis where the results are so much higher. So you don't need a 1000 articles. You need 100 really great articles.

0:59:50.2 Ben Jacobsen: Would you recommend trying to find an article that's maybe on a cusp, or do you find one... What about stagnant? Do you look for articles that are stagnant in their position, or as you mentioned earlier, following stars, are you specifically looking for ones that are making positional changes or are you looking for things that maybe just need like an extra little boost? More looking for things on the cost?

1:00:17.3 Andy Crestodina: I think the idea of striking distance key phrases is really important, things that are on the cusp, but at that point, it might matter, you might get bigger benefits by factoring in some other criteria such as, is there a massive search volume on this phrase versus that phrase, is this phrase much more relevant to my audience and this versus that, we could actually add another criteria to decide, Am I passionate about this topic versus that topic? A lot of times I'm just like, I get an idea, it goes on the list, and if that idea aligns with stuff I've written before, I gotta start to prioritize that piece of content, because I got a URL, I can recycle. It's just one of the more important decision criteria for deciding what to create next, just try to prioritize the rewrites, make that one of your factors along with some that you just mentioned and that I think you'll get their faster.

1:01:10.0 Ben Jacobsen: Love it. Awesome. Looks like we did have one other question. Come in real quick. Shantanu, I think I am seeing that right. Hopefully, correct me if I'm wrong, please. It says, thanks again for the webinar and sharing your thoughts. Any specific thoughts on location, specific content tuning... So content surrounding geolocation, I'm assuming... So what are your thoughts there?

1:01:36.5 Andy Crestodina: There’s less certainty about local SEOs or outside factors, but one thing we didn't touch on is bloggers get the best results... Right. For many websites, right? For some local websites, for local sites, pitch the local news, who's in the area, how are you relevant in that communities, make your digital footprint in that physical location bigger by being in more than one place, if your site is the only place where your content appears, you're at a big disadvantage, locality gives you lots of ideas right away for other places you can write for and contribute to...

1:02:13.2 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, excellent idea. And thank you for the question. Yeah, I think any time that you can, as we were mentioning earlier, any time that you can network out, find things that are relevant, what are people doing in your area, try to find... And if you can tie in whatever your business is to local trending topics, so for example... I'm trying to think of something really relevant, but like here in Idaho, let's say that there's a snow storm that's predicted for the coming weekend, so it would be the first one of the year, so as a photographer, I could say, Hey, here's how to prepare for the upcoming big snow storms in Idaho, and you can do that and you can help guide these people on like, Okay, if you're wanting to get pictures done, like Here are some ideas, or Here's ways to how soon you need to book... There's different ways that you can create content that is specific to your location, but is also really relevant to a lot of other people that are not specifically looking for maybe photography, but they do see something that is related to your area and adjacent to what they're talking about...

1:03:33.8 Ben Jacobsen: And hopefully, if you can curate it just right, then you're gonna be the most compelling result to answer that question. And this is fun. I like this conversation. Same. Yeah, this is excellent. Since the first conversation we had where we were kind of discussing what we're gonna talk about, I knew that there was gonna be a lot that we could just riff off and go through, so that was excellent. Yeah, let's do it again. That was really fun. Any time you know how to find me. This is a huge pleasure.

1:04:03.5 Ben Jacobsen: Yeah, likewise, I have so many notes here that I think we're just gonna start diving through and start even looking at our own strategy here. It's always cool when I get to look at things and take in different perspectives to see how we can even push ourselves forward too. Well, and thank you again so much for joining us. I appreciate you taking the time and sharing all of this super actionable and great info with us, like I said, let's do it again. Sounds good.

1:04:33.9 Ben Jacobsen: Thanks you guys for joining us, we're back soon, stay tuned and we'll be posting for new upcoming SEO episodes in the future, thanks again and stay safe out there, you guys, we'll see you later.




Ben Jacobsen

Ben Jacobsen: Marketer, Photographer, and perpetual tinkerer. If he isn't behind a keyboard, he's traveling in the mountains looking for the next adventure.