Cornerstone content revisited: how to boost your site rank and traffic​

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Introduction

Getting traffic to your website can be a brutal process, especially if you don’t know where to turn.  And paid traffic from Facebook or Google Ads stops as soon as you stop paying. So in addition to a paid strategy, it’s important to make your site and your content search engine friendly so that you can gradually increase your rank and discoverability. Cornerstone content is a key element to help make this happen.

If you are familiar with basic SEO concepts:

Then read on, because one of the most effective ways to boost your site rank and traffic is to use cornerstone content.

Once you understand how cornerstone content can be applied to your website, you will notice improvements and clarity in the way search engine algorithms index and rank your content, and the chance of your articles appearing on page one of search results increases. It takes a bit of time to kick in, but SEO activities are seldom a “quick fix”, and more often an investment in a stream of reliable track. This article will explore what should be included with your cornerstone content, and how you can use it to boost traffic and link your existing content to it strategically.

If you are pretty new to SEO:

Some people think of SEO as a confusing and complex set of technical tricks for people to discover your content on search engines. The reality for many businesses and blogs is that there is a lot of competition out there for popular search keywords, and that their site does not have the overall search engine authority to help them rank their articles anywhere near the top page of search results.

However, with a little work and patience an investment in understanding how search engines work is well worth it, and if you are new to the topic please check out our completely free course on SEO, a resource designed to provide easy to follow steps and recipes to increase your site’s visibility and rank. The course is geared towards podcasters, but everything in it also applies for blogs or business sites following a content strategy.

What is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content is comprised of your hero content, such as pages and blog articles on your website.  These should be your most compelling and important pieces. They should answer your site visitors biggest questions, explain your business approach and topic of interest in great details, and in general be content you are most proud of.  The articles should reflect your business, communicate the mission, and provide well written explanations.

How does Cornerstone Content Work?

Cornerstone ContentCornerstone content relies on an internal link building approach. Most other articles on your site should repeatedly link to your cornerstone content by way of explaining important and repeating concepts on your site.

These multiple links then create a roadmap for search engines to recognize that these cornerstone articles are the most important pages your site has to offer, and this will increase the rank of these pages on Google and other search engines.

Cornerstone Content

click to see full size

Google loves well organized content, and this overall linking strategy creates a spider web of internal links Google loves. We’ve illustrated this spider web of links to your cornerstone content in the main graphic for this post, click on this small thumbnail to see the full size version.

Using Categories to Select Your Cornerstone Topics

If you are already running a site with well organized content, the likelihood is that it is organized by category.

One approach to cornerstone content is to create a hero “cornerstone content” post for each category. All the other articles in the category should then refer to and link to this post.

Of course some people have way too many categories on their site, and from my perspective this is a mistake. In my opinion a handful of categories are more effective than dozens. Perhaps focusing on launching your cornerstone content is a good opportunity to clean up your categories and tag structure, there are easy methods for category cleanup out there to help do this.

Importance of Keywords

When you’re deciding on your cornerstone content, you need to consider the keywords you want to rank for carefully. In our aforementioned SEO course we provide many tools, tips and tricks on how to conduct keyword research that is effective for your site. Do not fall into the trap of trying to rank for keywords your site has no chance of ever achieving a page 1 result for – your keywords need to be commensurate with your current site rank, and this can be different from site to site. (We actually have a formula for that in the course)

For this reason I actually like using the term “key phrase” better than “keyword”, which implies a single word. Often the keyphrase will be a combination of two or more words that people are actually searching for on Google.

So you are looking for key phrases that are low in competition (The concept of keyword difficulty), but relatively high in search traffic.

In any case, you should make these keywords unique, and use them only once on your site – for your cornerstone article. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that repeatedly optimizing pages for the same keyword is helpful: it will only dilute the importance the Google algorithm assigns to the page.

Blog articles or pages?

There is often some amount of debate among SEOs if cornerstone content should be blog articles or created as pages on your site. Many marketers recommend setting up cornerstone content as pages. I agree, but there is no technical SEO advantage to creating pages over posts, they are ranked the same.

The benefit is that pages have over posts are

  • They do not have dates, and it is good for your cornerstone content to appear timeless
  • Pages can be organized in menu structures, making them easy to find

But there are ways to get around this, on some WordPress themes you can suppress the display of dates on blog posts. And alternatively, this brings me to another SEO trick: from time to time it is good to update your cornerstone content to keep it fresh. Personally what I do is to put a “Last updated XX/XX/XXX” at the very beginning of the post, and I have seen Google increase the post rank after doing this. So this is a “trick” to get a small additional boost for cornerstone content created some time ago.

As far as making cornerstone content easy to find, for me most traffic is coming from search and social media. This means people are likely to land on my blog, and not focusing on navigating my menu structures. So what I have done is to position cornerstone articles prominently and permanently on the top of my blog page, in a “sticky” manner. Besides, you can easily include blog articles in your menu structure if that helps.

So in my case cornerstone content is easily left as blog entries instead of converting these articles to pages.

Article Quality as Well as Length Matters

The goal of cornerstone content is to serve your site visitor, not just to increase your rank.

It goes without saying that your cornerstone articles should be of great quality, communicate your value proposition, are easy to read, have lots of images, and be SEO optimized with all the tips and techniques we teach in our free SEO course for podcasters and bloggers.

But how do you define quality? Spare a thought as to what would make a really useful resource for your audience and topic, one that people would love to share on social media, are likely to bookmark or revisit as a reference from time to time. If you can manage to make your page or post so compelling that people bookmark and share, then you will have won half the battle.

So a 300 word quickie article will not cut it, and the likelihood is that your site visitors would be more impressed and bookmark a 5000 word manifesto. Which brings us to length.

You SEO veterans out there will be aware that article length matters to Google. Google attributes more importance to articles over 300 words in length. Another inflection point occurs at 700 words, and then again at 2000 words.

So when it comes to cornerstone content, longer articles still are even better, but they should definitely be over 2000 words.

cornerstone content rankingWe’ve seen cases where we ranked a client’s page to be #1 on Google within a week, using a specifically designed and optimized long form article for the search term desired.

Google “customer experience podcast” for example, and you should see our client’s article in position #1: What we did is to create an article to summarize the experience and insights for the first 50 episodes of her podcast. We SEO optimized the article, and her fans and listeners loved it and shared the article widely, and within a few weeks her post ranked on the top for the desired search term.

Writing Clearly: A Confession And Three Tips

Cornerstone content should be written clearly. I have a confession to make, I seem to have a hard time doing this. There are tools out there to provide a “readability score”, and I tend to get a failing grade quite often. English is not my first language, but that’s just an excuse. So if you are like me and tend to express yourself with complexity, here are some tips  and tools to help:

  1. Keep your paragraphs super short
  2. Break up content with frequent headings
  3. The Hemingway App is a wonderful on-line tool that evaluates your writing in real time, and then starts marking your content progressive shades of red as it gets too complex. It will keep you writing with hemingway-esque brevity. And punish you for using too many adverbs:)

Some Cornerstone Content Ideas For Inspiration

I am sure you can come up with a ton of ideas for your blog, site or topic, but here are some cornerstone content ideas for you to consider and to help get you started.

A Definitive Resource Guide

A collection of curated external and internal links, resources, sites, video, podcasts, books etc. Describe each resource and do not just provide a list of links, but go into detail about why they are useful and in what scenario they lend value.

A Manifesto Post

A detailed explanation of your world view, philosophy, approach to your topics, summarizing your truths and then going into detail explaining your position. These can be controversial in nature, which adds to the shareability.

A Research Results Post

Conducting your own primary research around a topic in your niche is one of the best ways to build blog content that gets attention. Go into details, include graphics and references.

Tutorial Post

Create a multi part tutorial on a topic you know your audience would love, but which also represents your site’s topic well.

Crowd Sourced Influencer Post

Bring multiple influencers together to answer a single question in short form. When you get 10 influencers to give you 300 words each on a single topic – you’ve got a powerful blog post.

Podcast Episodes Roundup

If you have a podcast summarize the insights and best resources gathered in your last 50 episodes.

Internal Site Linking To Cornerstone Content

cornerstone-content-incoming-linksOnce you have created a piece of cornerstone content, it is time to identify all the other articles on your site that should link to it. One approach would be to go into a list of every article within your chosen category, or to use a list of related tags.

However, there is a more effective method to identify content that Google already thinks is related: Using Google Internal Site Search.

Go to Google and search for your keyword or key phrase in the following format: (for multiple words making up a key phrase, place these in quotes as in my own example below)

site:mysite.com keyword

So on my site, for example, this is what it would look like for a piece of cornerstone content about podcast production

site:polymash.com "podcast production"

This will result in a list of articles Google already thinks are relevant to the topic. The last step is to modify each of these articles to link to your cornerstone content article from within the text.

It is important to note that links in the sidebar of through a footer widget do not carry as much weight as links from within these posts themselves, so find a paragraph with some text from where it makes sense to link to your cornerstone content article.

External Links to Related Content

Don’t think that cornerstone content should link only to your internal articles. Providing links to other authority sites is helpful to the reader, and establishes other resources to consider on your general topic.

However, I have one caveat: I usually provide external links near the bottom of my articles, because I want to encourage people to read my article first before jumping off somewhere else. This also helps reduce my bounce rate in the process, another SEO ranking factor.

Case in point: Here are some great external articles on Cornerstone Content:

  • Copyblogger: Cornerstone Content Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]
  • Yoast: Using cornerstone content to make your site rank

The Landing Page Approach

Another useful way of thinking about structuring cornerstone content posts is to take a landing page approach.

This means removing menus, distracting sidebars, and adding a table of contents near the top. Of course you still want to enable your visitor to find menus and navigation for the rest of your site, but this menu can occur on the bottom of your page (Also sometimes referred to “Upside Down Home Page”, one of the inbound design patterns we often talk about.)

Summary

Cornerstone content should attract visitors to easily find core information about you, your topic, service or industry. When done right, it will serve your visitors and help put your other content into context, while at the same time helping you rank for more difficult and competitive keywords.

Using these simple tips and tricks will ensure your cornerstone content is ready to go.

5 Reasons NOT to Promote Your Podcast on Facebook

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If you have a podcast, then one of your top priorities will be to increase your audience size. After all, if you create a podcast to which no one listens, does it even matter? So at first glance, you may think that running Facebook Ads would be a good vehicle to promote your podcast and help increase your listening numbers and subscribers. After all, Facebook will allow you to finely target your audience and do it in a very cost effective way.

My point with this post is not so much to argue that Facebook is inherently a bad platform to  advertise podcasts on, but rather to point out that there is a better way to do it than most marketers recommend. There have been a slew of recent posts on how to best advertise podcasts on Facebook, and I fundamentally disagree with the premise of these posts. Here is why:

So what’s the problem with using Facebook Ads to promote your podcast?

The issue has to do with where to send traffic once someone clicks on your ad.

So many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android episode pages.

  • They argue this is better than sending people to a show notes page on your own site
  • In fact, many of these posts argue that you don’t need show notes pages at all, and can save the time and effort
  • They argue that iTunes and Stitcher is after all where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
  • They advise that this is the best way to capture people on mobile devices, by targeting an iOS audience for the direct link to the iTunes episode, and by targeting Android audience and sending them to the Stitcher episode link

I fundamentally disagree with this for the following 5 reasons:

#1:  It Costs Too Much

Sure, your ads may result in getting more subscribers to your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, but Facebook ads should have a better goal than just to add listeners to your podcast. And the cost per new listener is usually quite high. Think of it this way, in terms of analytics: “Cost per anonymous listener” IS NOT THE SAME THING AS “Cost per qualified lead or email subscriber”. You could be adding leads for your business, building your email list, increase the rank and traffic for your site, and building a digital asset for your brand.

Instead, you could be getting greater value and ROI from your facebook ads by focusing on lead generation and list growth instead of on just getting more listeners.

#2:  iTunes and Google Play Do Not Need More Traffic

promote-your-podcast-on-itunesYou are paying for traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.

Really?

Instead, your own site could be benefitting from greater traffic, rank and authority.

#3:  Blind Dates

promote your podcast with a blind dateiTunes and Google play traffic may slightly increase your subscriber and listener stats at Libsyn or Blubrry. Of course this cannot truly be measured, since Facebook won’t know how many listeners actually subscribed to your show on those platforms.

More importantly, you don’t know whose these listeners are. Since you are not capturing their email address, you have much less of a chance to engage with them, even if they are big fans of your show. If you don’t manage to send them to your website and show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name.

You are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name

Instead, your podcast listeners could be coming to YOUR site, because you offer valuable additional episode information there. They could be signing up to receive podcast notifications via email, or finding links and resources about your guests, and downloading these resources from you in exchange for an email address.

#4:  No Digital Sharecropping

no sharecorpping in promoting your podcastIn my opinion, too many authors, speakers, entrepreneurs and small businesses spread their entire online presence across 3rd party platforms. They want authority  and recognition in their space, but are also conscious of the promised audience, engagement, ease of use and time savings these platforms promise.

They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook instant articles. Their videos exist only on Youtube, their podcasts episode only on Soundcloud, iTunes or Stitcher. In other words on platforms they don’t themselves own outright, but platforms that have a built-in audience and engagement.

In the long run, this is short-sighted

What to do instead? I am not proposing to avoid these platforms. However, I am saying that the content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST, and then be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. The effort involved in creating and maintaining your own podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run, and pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place. You need to build system for sharing from this central platform only once – the week to week effort of recording episodes and publishing show notes for them adds up only gradually, and much of the process and subsequent syndication of your content can be automated.

For our clients we specialize on automation of the entire podcast production and publishing workflow, including automatically syndicating your episode content onto many other platforms. The content calendar tools and automation processes we use for this is the topic of another upcoming post, feel free to subscribe to our blog to learn more.

In short, having your own podcast show notes pages allow you to build a much more valuable asset in your site, audience and email list. Would you not rather have traffic and rank for your own site? Would you not rather earn organic search traffic over time? And I think most marketers would agree that email lists are still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence.

#5 : Analytics & Measuring Performance

How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads? For me the answer is by how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog, NOT by how many more listeners you might be getting on iTunes

Before running ad campaigns on Facebook, you get to decide the “Goal” of each ad campaign during the setup process. Simply measuring “clicks to a website” is the weakest form of available analytics, yet this is the only goal you can use when sending traffic to iTunes or Stitcher.

Facebook cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or even if they listened to an episode after clicking on your ad. So how do you optimize or test your ads? If you are sending your ad traffic to iTunes and Stitcher as proposed by many marketers, then the only way you can tell if these ads are even working is to see if your Libsyn or Blubrry stats increased during the time you ran the ad. And of course, even then you don’t know the identity of the people who subscribed.

promote your podcast and know your numbers

A recent marketing webinar from SharpSpring pointed out that focus on conversion rate was by far the most important metric to measure.

A better goals is to measure “Conversions”, and Facebook algorithms are more effective in showing your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. However, for this you need to install a “Facebook Pixel” on your own site, so that actual sign ups to your podcast email subscription list can be recorded by Facebook. Having a Facebook Pixel on your site is not complicated, there are great plugins for this. Facebook then improves the targeting of who they show your ads to, based on who signed up, and builds in effect a custom audience for your on the fly during the course of the campaign. This results in a much better use of your advertising dollar.

Conclusion

IMHO, having a home page for your podcast is critically important for promoting your podcast. And so is having episode specific show notes pages. Most good podcasts already do. So if you are sending Facebook ad traffic to iTunes and Stitcher, I’d encourage you to do otherwise.

Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?

 

A Shout Out: Brand Response Marketing Workshop Testimonial Video

As a small creative agency owner, attending the occasional marketing workshop is a necessary investment, and I understand the value of marketing as a tool to reach my customers and grow my company to the next stage. However, like many marketers and entrepreneurs out there, I also know how important it is to continue my own education and to learn from the best out there. As such, partnering with and learning from people who have different and deeper experience with marketing is super important for me.

My partner and I have been attending a series of seminars and marketing workshops from Speaking Empire, a leading company that helps speakers and entrepreneurs figure out new and innovative ways to market their brand, and to become best-selling speakers and presenters in their niche. Their holistic system is based on selling from the stage, be it live at speaking events, or virtual stages via webinar, and the community they have built is full of entrepreneurs that have launched multi-million dollar businesses as a result of partnering with Speaking Empire.

During the last year we’ve attended multiple 3 day workshops and have been fortunate to meet and learn from many of these successful and inspiring people. Talk about JV opportunities, this alone has made being a member worthwhile.

What Is The Speaking Empire?

Speaking Empire Marketing Workshop LogoSpeaking Empire is a joint venture by Dustin Mathews and Dave Vanhoose to teach speakers, business owners and marketers to achieve their goals. From where I am sitting, they provide some of the best information out there regarding marketing, and Speaking Empire is a company that is committed to helping business owners and their companies reach their full potential.

Dustin and Dave founded Speaking Empire because they  believe that everyone has a message inside, and to help people find that message and then structure it into a way that communicates.

When you understand both the Signature Presentation Formula™ combined with Irresistible Offer Architecture™ you’ll have a powerful message.

By utilizing real-world tested methods and laying everything out in a simple and easy-to-understand manner, the team at Speaking Empire can help anyone achieve their goals.

A Marketing Workshop With a Difference

For my partner Robyn and I, investing in the time to attend the “Group Power Day” was one of the best ways to get started. We’ve also been to the “Presentainer”, where we learned presentation techniques and webinar formulas that entertain – but also help you sell in the process. You can check out this and some of their available seminars at speakingempire.com to see what they can do for you. They helped us immensely, and I know that other entrepreneurs and marketers like us can benefit from their services.

The last and most recent in the trifecta of workshops is we attended was the “Brand Response Marketing Workshop”, and I wanted to give a shout out to Dustin Matthews, the CEO of the whole thing, and Emerson Brantley, the copywriting workshop lead for the team. Here is what I got out of everything.

Dustin Mathews, CEO of Speaking Empire

Dustin Mathews at the Brand Response Marketing WorkshopWhen most people think of a CEO, they imagine some guy sitting behind a desk who can’t be bothered with day-to-day operations. Dustin, however, is very much a hands-on person who wants to make sure that everyone who attends his events is not only having a good time but is getting the most value out of the service. After all, if we are here to learn something, we want to make sure that we walk away more knowledgeable than when we arrived.

Marketing wTo that end, Dustin was excellent and provided not only advice and brainstorming ideas while we were working, but a host of tools and templates that we could use at our disposal. In the end, it really felt like he was there for our benefit, not the other way around.

PS, Dustin just launched his new book, called “The no B.S. Guide to Powerful Presentations”, check it out here.

Emerson Brantley, Copywriter and Workshop Lead

Emerson Brantley at the marketing workshop of the Speaking EmpireWhen it comes to implementing new marketing tools, many people are so eager to try them out that they don’t step back and examine the overall strategy behind it. Why are we using this tool to reach out to our clients instead of something else? What value are we providing for our customers that will make them come to us instead of the competition?

Thanks to Emerson, I started thinking critically about how marketing can be utilized as well as the role that copywriting has in the whole process. I liked that he laid everything out in a simple manner that focused more on the customer’s experience rather than the uniqueness of the tools we could use. That way, we ensure that our clients are happy and coming to us in the future. Emerson has had some amazing experience and results when it comes to copywriting and marketing, you can check him out at Web3Direct and see some of the amazing marketing case histories. Emerson helped me see things from a different perspective, which is why I appreciated his input and recorded a separate video testimonial about the workshop experience with him here.

The Upcoming Amplify Event

Amplify is the follow up event to the brand response marketing workshop By the way, there is an amazing upcoming conference called “Amplify” I can highly recommend.

If you want to craft a message that resonates, deliver that message with power, and build a platform that reaches the world then Amplify is for you.

If you’re a high-level business owner and you want to get your company to the next stage, then you most likely want to attend this exciting and worthwhile event. It’s a collection of the top minds and leaders in the industry coming together to help everyone succeed to their full potential. As such, you need to reserve your space now as they are limited. Find out more about the event and how you can participate here.

 

Group Coaching Programs – 51 Tips On How To Start Your Own

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In today’s technological world, it has never been easier to connect with people from around the globe. While this interconnectivity is great for a lot of reasons, one aspect that has significantly benefited from it is the concept of a mastermind. Now it’s easier than ever to get a group of like-minded individuals together for various purposes, which is why they are becoming more and more popular. However, just because it’s getting easier doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of challenges, which is why you should be prepared before starting your own mastermind. No matter what your goal is, it’s important to have a strategy and a plan set up beforehand.

To help you get started, we are going to look at some of the key components that make up any great mastermind as well as go over the steps you should take to make it as successful as possible. If you put in the work, your group should be nothing but successful.

What is a Mastermind?

facilitating mastermindsSimply put, a mastermind is a group of individuals who come together to coach each other in order to achieve common goals. These can be related to a career, personal ideologies, or hobbies, but the point of a mastermind is to provide an organized and stable environment for these people to interact and work together to achieve success for each member.

So how is this different from a generic chat group or meeting space? Well, the main component of a mastermind is that everyone is there for a particular purpose. Maybe it’s to learn new skills that can be applied to a job or hobby, or perhaps it can be used as a means of networking. The underlying purpose is that everyone is there to get something out of the group, rather than relaxing and having it be a “hang out.” Overall, it’s meant to be a resource more than anything.

How Do You Start a Group Coaching or Mastermind Experience?

Thankfully, as technology grows, it is much easier to start a mastermind online than ever before. All you need is a platform that allows for users to communicate and share information and you are ready to go. To make the whole thing much more conducive to success, you want to use a platform that requires membership for entry. This ensures that you cultivate motivated people and that you can share sensitive information without it becoming public.

For most, the simplest path is to use private Facebook Groups, and while this is a simple and familiar way for members to communicate, Facebook Groups have some significant shortcomings, especially when used for paid groups. The nature of a timeline based conversation means that resources, topics and projects slide out of view and are hard to find. Setting up a simple membership site for participants in addition to having a Facebook group for simple chat and Q&A sessions is ideal. Also this allows the host to manage access and charge participants if so desired. (We get into the benefits vs drawbacks and how much to charge if at all later)

While the concept of a mastermind is relatively straightforward, execution is where most people experience problems. Because there are no specific guidelines for setting up a mastermind, it can be difficult for leaders and members to come together and stay organized. Thus, you want to make sure that you understand and stick to the following strategies to keep your mastermind on point and avoid running into common pitfalls. While there are going to be some minor differences based on your particular group, these steps are designed to help anyone manage and execute a high-quality mastermind.

​ START YOUR OWN MASTERMIND GROUP 

Use these 51 fundamental tips for success & profits

51 TIPS FOR RUNNING MASTERMIND GROUPS ONLINE

51 tips for running mastermind groups online
  • ​Is group coaching right for you?
  • Fundamentals & best practices
  • Monetization & when to charge
  • The best online platforms
  • Where the most leadership is needed
  • Managing rotations
  • And much more...

Core Components of Running A Group Coaching Program

As with any project, the primary thing driving your success is motivation. That being said, if you are trying to get your group coaching program off the ground while making it a side hobby, it can be difficult to maintain a strong momentum all the way through. As such, you first want to make sure that you understand what it’s going to take to get from a concept to reality, so it’s imperative that you get into the right frame of mind before you begin. If you aren’t mentally prepared to get your idea off the ground, then you could be dooming yourself to failure.

Once you have gotten into the right mindset, however, then all it takes is some planning and perseverance, and you can create a successful mastermind in no time.

Attendance

Usually, one of the biggest issues is getting your group to attend on a regular basis. Motivation is a huge problem for many people, meaning that if they aren’t actively engaged or getting some value from your mastermind, they are more likely to bounce after a few visits. To have a successful group, you need to ensure that members are in attendance regularly and are active within the community. Passive members should be removed or persuaded to get involved so that you don’t risk complacency taking over.

Organization

Whenever you are tasked with managing a group of people, it’s critical that you stay as targeted as possible with goals and duties that need to be performed. Essentially, you will have to treat your mastermind as something of a job where members need to stay active and participate on a regular basis. To help ensure that things run smoothly you have to be as organized as possible. Not only will it make it easier for your group to stay engaged but it will make leading so much more efficient as you can manage a larger system with less effort. Simply put, the more energy you put into the organization and planning the better your mastermind will operate.

Not only is it imperative that your platform is organized, but your members as well. If people are lazily meandering from one project to another without clear objectives or goals in mind, then the whole thing can fall apart as it becomes difficult to monitor success on a daily basis. The more you can manage the group, the better off you will be.

Leadership

If you are starting a new mastermind, then odds are you are envisioning yourself as the leader. However, are you up to the challenge? Can you keep members on point with various projects and discussions without being too bossy or off-putting? Are you able to manage your time efficiently and keep the mastermind running smoothly at all times? Again, this is all about putting yourself in the right mindset to deal with the grind that sometimes comes with running a mastermind. As with anything worthwhile, you have to take the good with the bad, so be prepared to handle all leadership duties that may arise. The reason some masterminds fail is that it starts to take more time and effort to keep things on track, and leaders fail to maintain a high level of motivation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if someone else offers to be a leader of your mastermind that it can always be a great idea to outsource responsibility. While you may first think that you are giving up control of your group, the fact is that spreading out duties can make things much easier for you and allow you to manage more effectively. Don’t be afraid to lean on other people, especially if they seem willing and capable of helping out.

Time

Ultimately, the more time and energy you can spend running your mastermind, the more successful it will be. If all you are doing is putting in a few hours a week, then how can you be expected to stay on top of things? When starting out, your time commitment may not be too much, but as the group expands and gets more members, then you will have to start putting in extra time to keep things running well. However, if you are doing everything for free, then it can start to feel like you’re putting in too much effort without getting a return. This is where fees come in.

Fees: to Charge or No?

When you’re first starting a mastermind, you may invite a few of your friends or online colleagues and do everything for free. Most people start off this way because it is hard to ask for a fee when you are starting out. However, there’s a lot to be said for charging money to members, even if it’s a nominal amount. To help illustrate this point, let’s go over the pros and cons of having a free mastermind versus a fee-based group.

Benefits of a Free Service

In this case, it’s usually easier to cultivate new members initially because there is no obligation on their end. If you are trying to build your profile and group numbers then offering a free membership can help you succeed. Overall, being free is a benefit to members rather than management.

Downsides of Free Service

Ultimately, we run into the time constraint problem over and over again. If you’re not making money running a mastermind, then that means you are doing it in your spare time, which means that it’s more of a hobby than anything. This not only is the case for management but members as well. Because there is no financial obligation to attend, it can be hard to maintain high levels of active members. In the end, it can also feel like more of a drain than anything, which could lead to the whole thing fizzling out over time.

Benefits of Charging Members

While you may feel weird about charging people to access your mastermind, the fact is that as long as you are creating value, there is no reason not to charge. The benefit of doing so is that you can spend more time and effort making the group successful (since you’re being paid to do so), and members are more obligated to make it work as well. If you’re paying a membership fee to something, you are more likely to attend as a result.

Downsides of Fees

Overall, the biggest reason not to charge a fee is if you cannot provide value to your members. If you’re not able to spend the requisite amount of time and effort to keep your mastermind organized and successful, then charging a fee can turn your membership off completely, which means that your numbers will dry up.

When it comes to starting and maintaining a mastermind, the benefits can be phenomenal. As long as you go in with your eyes open and have a plan of action, then you can turn your idea and goals into actionable plans for success. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, a mastermind can be a fantastic way to get there.

Inbound Design vs. Inbound Marketing: How To Make Your Customers Love You

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Credit: MOZ

In the world of marketing, things have changed drastically from traditional methods. While back in the old days you had to rely on “interruption marketing” to find and approach your prospects with outbound ads and sales calls, with everyone online these days you can bring these prospects to you you. What’s changed is that massive amounts of content are written and consumed on-line, and leveraging this successfully is what’s known as inbound marketing, and it is fast becoming the dominant trend.

However, while most companies are focusing on inbound marketing as a means to an end, we at Polymash believe that everything you do should be intentionally designed to make your systems as customer centric and profitable as possible.

What are we talking about? Inbound Design. Today we’ll go over how your whole marketing campaign should be carefully crafted to maximize results. Don’t just generate content and hope for the best, design everything to be a funnel and you will notice your conversion rate increase immediately. Let’s take a look and see how it works.

Inbound Design vs. Inbound Marketing

For the most part, when people talk about inbound marketing they are referring to marketing techniques and its content designed to attract, convert, close and delight people visiting  your website.

Inbound design, on the other hand, is a design thinking approach making sure that your entire presence, including your site, emails, social profiles, content you share and other touch-points your customers may have with you are all expertly curated to provide value through relevant content, develop leads and convert them into new customers. Both of these systems work well together, but most startups, solopreneurs and companies are focused on the traditional marketing side rather than the design thinking side. We hope to change that.

Conversion Optimized Inbound Designs

So what do we mean when we say that your website should be crafted to generate conversions and leads? Well, that ultimately means that it needs to be more customer centric. It needs speak to the visitor’s likely needs, appeal to their desires and speak to their likely issues or problems, providing answers and being focused and engaging all the while. In other words, provide value without being salesy or pushing an agenda. Getting your audience to know, like and trust you gradually is the aim.

It’s Not Just About The Layout

So this implies that you need to design not only the layout of the site, but the entire visiting experience to bring your customers in and provide a call to action so that they take part in your business.

Simplify, often there are gains to be had by reducing the amount of information available on your homepage to its essentials, creating more white-space and thinking about the navigation hierarchy and pathways of likely travel through your site. Resist the temptation to talk too much about how great you, your company and services are. Make it about your site visitor instead.

The more quickly and clearly you can stimulate, engage and activate your clientele the more successful you will be and the more brand recognition and loyalty you will earn. Increasingly affordable marketing automation platforms allow you to recognize return visitors and even to adjust what information your site presents to them – all with the goal to be the most relevant source of information you can be. The goal is a more customer centric website.

So how do you achieve that level of success?

Developing Personas and Value Propositions For Each Visitor Type

user experience design services - persona developmentOK, so now you may be keen to start re-designing your site.  Most people understand that before you start marketing you should have a crystal clear idea of who your target audience is. Whether it’s Millennials who love hip hop music or Boomers who want to learn how to cook, you need to have your demographic dialed in and refined so that everything speaks to them directly. The best way to do this is to create and use personas that match your audience specifically. We’ve written extensively on this site about the  Value Proposition Design and UX techniques involved, so we won’t go into detail, except to address this question:

How do you assign anonymous site traffic to personas?

One way  is to produce laser focused content on topics particular to that persona, content that will educate them or even solve a problem. And then offer relevant premium add-on-content, e-Books, guides, tip sheets or other bonus materials they will very likely want to enhance their knowledge further. When registering for such downloads, your email service provider, forms software or marketing automation then “tags” the visitor with the relevant persona.

Instead of selling them on the product or service itself you want to create a strong feeling of trust first that will make them realize why your content, and ultimately your company is so valuable to them. Ask questions, provide examples, and make your pitch as educational, useful, entertaining and engaging as possible to draw your audience in further and further until they are wondering where they can sign up for more information.

Understanding Inbound Design Patterns

At its core, Inbound Design is all about making your website visits work more BOTH for your visitors, but also for your business.

Instead of it being a passive set of linked pages that lets people journey around your site without a plan, this journey should be DESIGNED by you.

So here are 2 inbound design patterns I’d like to share that are working particularly well for this, if you are courageous enough to deploy them. The first one is the concept of the upside down home page, pioneered by Brian Harris of Video Fruit. He’s graciously made a template available on Lead Pages, but this design can be deployed on many platforms, in fact I have a tutorial for doing this in the popular WordPress Theme “Enfold” we use for a number of clients.

1.) What, No Navigation? – Inbound Design Pattern #1 – The Upside Down Home Page Concept

Tip

To get the full effect of this design pattern, click on the image to the right.

Click on the graphic to the right to see or download a larger design template for the “Upside Down Home Page”. The reason it is called “upside down” is that there is no navigation menu on the top of your home page. None. Zip, zilch, nada.

This is also the reason why I said it takes courage to deploy this method, because most people are very set wanting to meet what they think are visitor’s expectations.

However, notice the massive amount of focus generated by the call to action button above the fold. It’s pretty much like a landing page, so there are only few actions on “upside down” home pages that can be taken. In other words,  you are taking control of your visitor’s journey on your site. Of course, if they do opt in, the thank you pages take on an important role to guide them through the rest of your site, but this is one way to accomplish what we’ve been talking about.

And your calls to action can vary greatly. Ask some empathetic questions above the fold that will identify what their most pressing interest  or problem is. Allow site visitors to self-identify and click on something here that offers value or will help guide their journey through the rest of your site. And if your marketing automation platform allows, these first clicks can help categorize your site visitors into the aforementioned personas.

Keep in mind you don’t have a lot of time for this, when youre site first loads you get about 2 seconds before the average person leaves, or bounces. So whatever is above the fold should pull your visitor in, provoke curiosity and provide a particular focus. If the site isn’t immediately grabbing their attention, then they are liable to bounce, and good design reduces your bounce rate and increases your conversion rate.

The rest of the Upside Down Home Page usually consists of testimonials and other social proof, since cold traffic does not allow for lengthy indoctrination essays on home pages.

And by the way, THERE IS A MENU, but it is small and at the bottom of the page, which gives this design pattern it’s name.

Variations

Personally I like variations on this concept where you present not a single call to action, but a set of three, each solving a different problem for a different persona. So here we are starting to combine what we were talking about personas above with the upside down home page layout, and when someone opts in to your offer, you

  1. Assign them a persona
  2. Vary your follow up sequence, messages and offers based on what they selected
  3. Change the layout and content of what they see on your site (assuming you have a marketing automation platform like SharpSpring that supports this)

In the end, the upside Down Homepage converts like crazy and builds your email list of prospects super fast.

2.) The Boxed Journey – Inbound Design Pattern # 2

Tip

To get the full effect of this design pattern, visit the site or click on the image and keep clicking until you see the image full screen in your browser

Inbound Design Boxed Journey Pattern

You may have to zoom or download this to see it in detail, or simply visit the link to Titanium Fitness

Another slightly more conventional approach is one we have employed often with much success. It combines some aspect of the Upside Down Homepage philosophy, but still has the conventional web site menu at the top.

Consider the redesign of a site we recently did for a client in the fitness sector. The site is for a local gym in St Louis called Titanium Fitness, and the proprietor had several very different target audiences she wanted to attract as clients.

Conventional Slider – with a difference

Conversion Optimization geeks like us hate home page sliders. But they can be used for good, here we made sure their most popular offer is above the fold, a Groupon Coupon deal for first time visitors to their Gym.

The “Boxed Journey”

The Boxed Journey section lives on the top of the site and is designed to let different categories of site visitors self select and choose which path through the site is most relevant and interesting to them.  Each box asks some challenging questions to an issue they are likely to want help with. And offers a solution, or at least some help with common problem they may be facing, implying that the solution is not far away.

Each box also offers direct navigation options to reach the portion of the site they are most interested in, and there the offer is repeated.

The owners were creative in working with us to come up with some relevant concepts, and we then produced the downloadable gifts. Now some people won’t opt in from the top of the page, and will navigate further down. But the “Boxed Journey” continues, because each offer box on the top has a related section where more detail is provided and the offer is repeated.

The goal is to get your site visitor to identify themselves by getting into a journey that provides them with your most relevant content, even if that content is varied.

Wait, Before You Go…

Don’t finish your blind date without asking for a name

You have a visitor on your site. They somehow came there via google search or social media or paid ads.

So don’t let them leave without asking their name! In the end, your layout has a lot to do with making that happen. That’s why you need to pay attention to where everything is and how your audience experiences it. And it’s OK to offer them one last chance at your goodies with an exit intent popup, just to be sure they know what they’re missing.

Creating Captivating Content

I guess you’re saying “duh” at this point. It should go without saying that your marketing materials should be incredible on their own, but we want to make sure that we’re covering all of our bases. Whether it’s a blog post, an image, or a post on social media, everything should be relevant your audience and make them want more.

Each blog post should ideally paired with a super relevant, hard to resist, very specific lead magnet or offer. It is this relevance that gets the audience to be more engaged with the material, the more likely they are to follow it to its source so that they can get more of what they like. While most companies are fine with a shotgun approach (quantity), you should focus more on the details (quality).

Designing For The Top of the Funnel

quality content with a purposeThere is one more thing that many people misunderstand about inbound marketing, and where the solution is to apply some inbound design thinking. And that is understanding the difference between content appropriate for the “top of the funnel” vs for the “bottom of the funnel”.

During your initial interactions with site visitors they may choose to download one of your e-Books, gifts or guides. your job here is to entertain, educate and inform, lightly. Initially these should be designed to be applicable to a broad majority of your site visitors and target personas.

As part of our content design services we often help design and strategize such “lead magnets”  for our clients, because we see too many clients with “one size fits all” lead magnets. At the top of the funnel, for first time site visitors, it’s OK for this material to not be very in-depth – the rule of thumb is that these guides should provide value but not take longer than 5 minutes or so to read. And in exchange, at this early stage in your relationship, you may only ask for an email address and not even a name in exchange for your resource or gift.

However, inbound design implies that the process of getting to know, like and trust your brand only begins here – your email follow up sequences are crucial here and also need to be designed to deliver value, introduce yourself and your brand, set expectations and share further valuable resources, and these will gradually become  more in-depth and even more useful to your audience.

Designing For The Bottom of the Funnel

This is where your contacts become interested in your most valuable content, your more in-depth resources, such as case studies or longer e-books. And it is here that start focusing on selling, converting and closing. At this point, your prospects already know, like and trust you, and that makes it way easier and improves conversion %. Your forms can be designed to ask for additional information, such as last name, phone number, industry, company size etc.

And with your audience having indicated increased interest, you can now provide more information about what you do and why you are their best option for filling that need or solving their problem. While the top is all about instant gratification, the bottom is where you can switch to more traditional outbound sales outreach techniques.

Often, this is where qualified leads get handed over from the marketing to the sales team. If you are a smaller business without a marketing department, this is where owning your own marketing automation platform can help you switch from lead generation to sales mode yourself.

Conclusion

In the end, Inbound Design should not be thought of as a tool, but as a philosophy that helps your business grow by becoming more customer centric. The more you think about your customers and the way they perceive and journey through your site and content, and the more this permeates through all your customer touchpoints and marketing materials, the more successful you will be in the end. Think of it as investing in your future.

 

Group coach or facilitating a mastermind online? Some trigger questions…

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Last updated April 24, 2017

Are you a group coach or facilitator?

mastermind online groupIn recent years the tools around facilitating and teaching masterminds online have really taken a leap forward. Video streaming, Blab, Periscope, Hangouts and other platforms like Zoom and Skype have matured to the point where meaningful group coaching can easily be delivered on-line.

The emergence of the “Mastermind Online” format

It is not only the technology that has matured. One popular and collaborative modality of group coaching is the mastermind concept. In the age of the solo entrepreneur, collaborative support and group coaching from peers and like minded entrepreneurs has become not only popular, but almost a necessary ingredient to success. And from our “inbound design” perspective, this format is hugely attractive because focus on the actual participant needs and agendas are built in.

Add to this the fact that physical location is no longer a huge obstacle in our ever connected world, and the mastermind format is a perfect formula for on-line collaboration.

In a peer group environment, facilitation and leadership is still required

Masterminds online revolve around the concept that all participants are getting equal time to talk about what they are working on, and taking turns so that one person in the group may have the “hot seat” and benefit from the brainstorming of all participants in that session. But this does not mean that masterminds can self-organize.

In fact, the role of the facilitator or founder of the mastermind is very important, when it comes to ensuring that people show up in the first place, stick to the agenda, and also in providing facilitator notes and a space for resources.

Supporting masterminds beyond video conferencing apps

Assistive technologies are springing up, and having a mastermind membership site to support the group can be a big bonus. Consider the following possibilities:

mastermind online appsBenefits to the mastermind online participants

  • A central place for replays of each sessions
  • Transcripts of each session
  • Facilitator journals for each session
  • On-line courses and other resources like e-Books
  • Discussion forums and threads for members (instead of Facebook groups where topics are lost in a timeline)
  • Event calendars

Benefits to group coaches and mastermind online facilitators

  • A sales page for your mastermind group
  • Multiple payment options, one-time, recurring, free trials, renewals, credit card changes
  • Automated payment processing
  • An affiliate referral system to reward your friends and colleagues who refer someone into your mastermind group
  • Affiliate Discounts for members who bring someone else into your group
  • Automated book-keeping and payouts to affiliates

 

​ START YOUR OWN MASTERMIND GROUP 

Use these 51 fundamental tips for success & profits

51 TIPS FOR RUNNING MASTERMIND GROUPS ONLINE

51 tips for running mastermind groups online
  • ​Is group coaching right for you?
  • Fundamentals & best practices
  • Monetization & when to charge
  • The best online platforms
  • Where the most leadership is needed
  • Managing rotations
  • And much more...

Forget Design! Working Up The Courage For Digital Transformation

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Canary in the coal mine: How often do you need to re-design your site?

We always ask our clients about what insights finally prompted them to take action to re-invent, re-launch or re-design.

The stories that emerge are often quite compelling, and a good indication of how rapidly things are changing in the online world.

In many cases the realization that their site was “out of date” is prompted by lower business performance, less traffic, lower site rank, fewer people signing up to email lists and so on.

Yet a common perception persists that a site upgrade is largely a cosmetic exercise.

This is just a canary in a coal mine, an indication of more important things that may be going amiss.

Unwelcome news – or digital transformation opportunity in disguise?

unwelcome news or digital transformation opportunitySo it comes as unwelcome news that more deep-rooted causes may be at play. Here you thought all you needed was a new theme, or a cosmetic site upgrade, and the next thing you hear is that online behavior and consumption patterns may have changed enough in the last few years to re-examine not only the type of content but even your existing business models on your site.

But “unwelcome news” can actually be re-framed as an opportunity in disguise

We live in an age or accelarating change, disruption and re-invention. Web sites are not immune, and the typical life-span of a site is now 2-3 years. The opportunity is to use the catalyst of re-designing a site to look more deeply at the health of your online business strategies, and to upgrade your content, product and list building strategies at the same time.

Age discrimination – or failing to address shifting demographics?

When we dig down into the causes of “outdated websites”, some folks understandably get defensive about their existing online presence.

  • People are proud of their older sites, even when they realize a change is needed
  • It worked well in the past
  • A lot of effort and expense went into the design

When I was a graphic design a photography student, this is the sign that hung above our darkroom:

The first line of defense is usually to blame the design or visual appeal of the site itself. And the last thing anyone wants to look at are more deeply rooted business decisions or product strategies. And there are usually other, deeper factors at play, as people’s online behavior, preferences and content consumption patterns are continually changing.

  • Attention spans have gotten shorter
  • Mobile devices may be a slight misnomer: it’s people who are in fact mobile, constantly connected and expectating to consume and engage with content on the go
  • User interface design has changed to accomodate mobile responsive screens
  • The rise of short form social media sharing has shaped our communication patterns
  • Email marketing and list building methods (as well as overall content strategy) have changed.
  • If a site is older than 5 years, there is a likely significant shift in the demographic of site visitors

So the term “age discrimination” is a bit harsh – it’s not that younger people are intentionally avoiding our content; we may simply be missing the opportunity to present our content in a way that honors evolving consumer preferences.

Evolving content preferences

I actually seem to see a big “age” related phenomena, in terms of long form emails and newsletters preferences still prevalent with Baby Boomer (50-64) and Greatest Generation (65+) consumers. It requires patience and a certain attention span to read long emails and newsletters. However for consumers below 40, super short skimmable content is increasingly necessary.

  • So from a persona perspective, list building and newsletter success these days may depend on nailing the age group persona being targeted, and being flexible enough to adjust to their preferences in the delivery format and perceived value of content.

I am constantly working with clients my age (in their 50s) that write hugely long form blog posts, lead magnets and emails, and somehow fail to connect with the younger audience that would like to attract and ultimately target.

Some tips to “Shorten Up”

  • Our recommendation is to write extremely short paragraphs, and to break paragraphs up with (H2) headlines frequently. This introduces white space into the copy, and makes content much more “skimmable”.
  • If you have an email newsletter, resist sending entire articles to your list. Instead offer short and concise headlines, a thumbnail image and teaser excerpts that encourage your newsletter readers to visit your blog for the rest of the story, earning you SEO credit in the process.
  • My theory is that writing for short attention span, skimmable content, design patterns with lots of white-space and emphasis on 1-3 minute videos are necessary to connect with a younger audience, and this is a skill that few of us older, “long form” and academic types are good at:)

Evolving pricing strategies for content owners and digital product creators

We work with a lot of content owners and digital product creators, and we often see pricing and overall product strategies for knowledge products lagging behind in a way similar to web design patterns.

The same dynamics of changing consumer preferences apply, and just as some content owners are resiting to shorter content formats, they also resist lower their digital product pricing to accomodate the market.

Of course there can not be a hard and fast rules for this, and I do not mean to imply that the overall value based pricing should be diminished.
But consumer perception on price points for knowledge products and what the market will bear for typical courses or coaching experiences change. The fact that 100s if not 1000s of online courses, universities and learning tools have sprung up in the last few years have, in my optioning, changed the perceived value and landscape of e-learning.

Some work-around tips and possible examples of alternative pricing approaches

  • I see a lot of people re-positioning and breaking up their existing mega-courses or mega digital products into bite sized components that can withstand the markets price expectation and preference for a la carte learning.
  • To launch a mega product or course as the first offering is considered my many to be a productization mistake
  • Modern courseware and digital product environments accommodate free content or courses as appetizers, and then very low cost bite sized courses as the core offering, and finally membership models and premium benefits of “in person” experiences being offered as part of a community site.
  • So in the end the same amount of content can be broken up and presented in smaller and more a la carte ways, while at the same time lowering price points and attracting a new audience.

Conclusion & Recommendations

  • Don’t just think of your site re-design project as a cosmetic excercise
  • Talk to a digital strategist, not just to web designers, and have a more wide-rangingconversation about hidden opportunities you may be overlooking
  • Too many people would rather be hurt by compliments than saved by criticism: Be open to wider ranging changes to your products, services, pricing and content
  • Download our “Ultimate Website Re-Design Checklist” and be honest with yourself.

How To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization

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Lesson 5 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters series is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

In the previous 4 posts of this series we’ve talked about on-page SEO optimization. Today I’l like to focus on an often overlooked aspect of SEO.

If you’ve applied all the previous lessons of this series, then you will already have great content and a great headline for your post. And if you are promoting your content on social media, chances are that your post will organically appear in search result soon.

So what is the only remaining hurdle for people to actually click and visit your website to read your post?

The answer lies in your search result snippet, the way your content appears on Google. In other words, how click worthy is your search result snippet? And there is more to this that meets the eye…

Search Results Visualization

What is a search result snippet?

Search Result Snippet Explanation GraphicThe answer is closely tied to search engine results pages (SERP):

  • A search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query.
  • It consists of a list of items with titles, a reference to the full version, and a short description.
  • A “search result snippet” is how your post or podcast shownotes page shows up as a single item on this list.

How do you ensure a great search result snippet?

Once again, Yoast to the rescue. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is useful because it displays a “Search Result Snippet Preview”.

  • This allows you to change and edit the way the title and description of the post is displayed in the SERP snippet.
  • It also lets you change the title and description you would like to display in the search results.
  • In short, it lets you design what people will experience as they find your content in search results.

Why should you optimize the Search Result Snippet?

It is important to optimize the way your post shows up in search results. Google rewards well designed search result snippets with increased ranking. Perhaps not by much, but it makes a slight difference. More important is this:

If your search result snippet looks unattractive, makes no sense, or the post title is too long, then users are much less likely to click. So a well designed search engine result snippet can increase clicks a lot.

Here is an example of a post before optimization, and the reasons it would be bad to leave it this way:

Search Result Snippet - A Bad Example

  • The post title is too long, and thus gets “cut off”, and Google had to add an ellipsis a the end.
  • The sentence below the title makes no sense, and does not help the searcher identify what this post is about. This is because the meta description was not entered on Yoast, and so Google just displays the first words appearing on this post.
  • Some premium themes have short codes that appear in the SERP snippet, and this can be confusing.

Here is an optimized example

Search Result Snippet - A Good Example

Google rewards you for optimizing the appearance of search results snippets. Here is the same example as above, but this time with the post title length fixed, and with the correct meta description added.

  • As you can see, the content makes sense and will result in a higher percentage of clicks.

Additional tips to design a successful SERP snippet

You might think of ways to tease people with a hint of what they will learn reading your post.

  • To my eye, keeping it super short with a teaser is most effective.
  • One line is better than two.
  • Asking a question can be inviting readers to click.
  • Of course your target keyword should still be present in the meta description.

What if you’re not using WordPress or Yoast SEO?

No problems, here are some great resources for you. They work with any blog platform.

Conclusion

Even if you are already writing great post and episode headlines, do not overlook the importance of designing your SERP snippets.

Given the time you spend writing content, especially if you follow our philosophy of podcasting as a content strategy, then it makes perfect sense to dedicate a few extra minutes to this. And while WordPress plugins (like Yoast) make it easy, there are alternative snippet visualizers.


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast SEO Course Overview

Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4You Are Here!
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers Love4 Easy SEO Secrets To Powerful Podcast Episode Titles3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To Know

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Lesson 4 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters series is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

An often overlooked SEO factor for podcasters is that images in posts contribute to SEO rankings. Of course the images should be interesting and relevant in the first place, but technically the way images contribute to your SEO ranking has to do with “ALT” tags, as well as with their role in determining your site loading speed.

1.) Use ALT Text Tags For SEO Image Optimization

What are ALT text tags?

A WordPress example of Alt TextThe official definition of ALT text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell Web site viewers the nature or contents of an image. The ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. This is useful when an image link is not available because of a broken or changed URL or some other issue.

Why are they important for SEO?

Also, ALT tags serve as accessibility properties that provide the visually disabled, (who use screen reader software to read page content out loud), with information about each image. This has the additional side effect that search engines pick up these ALT tags as well and index your article based on the image ALT tag language used. So for SEO Image Optimization, if you can use your main article key-phrase in the ALT tag, it will add to your overall SEO post optimization and keyword density in a positive way.

Do’s and Dont’s

  • Do honor the intent of creating accessible sites that provide screen readers and search engines with context and recognition of what is going on in the image
  • Do not stuff indiscriminately keywords into the ALT tags in a way that makes screen readers annoying, inaccurate or not useful
  • Do use descriptions that describe the image in a meaningful way, while utilizing your key-phrase

To include an “ALT” tag, it is added to each image in the following ways:

  • In WordPress, you don’t need to know HTML to do this, you can add the ALT tag in the media library, or when you are adding the image to the post
  • If you want to know what this looks like in HTML, you would simply add alt=“Description of the image” to your image tag
  • For example, if you wanted to add an image with a podcasting microphone, that might look like so:
<img src=“microphone.jpg” alt=“Podcasting Microphone”/>
WordPress Tip

WordPress tip on using the same image several times:

Keep in mind that if you’ve already used an image and created an ALT Text tag for a previous posts, changing that image’s ALT text tag might negatively affect the SEO ranking of previous posts. A typical example of this are featured images in posts. If you have already used an image on a post once before, it is likely to already have an ALT tag assigned optimized for a previous SEO keyword.

  • Therefore if you would like to use it again it is better to upload a new version of the image, even if it already exists in your media library.

 

2.) Understand Your Site Load Speed

Site load speed has been a search rank factor for a long time, and the speed that your page loads is directly influenced by the size of the images present on your pages. WordPress and most themes process images into several sizes when you first upload them, so that thumbnails and several small to large size variations can be used. But WordPress compression algorithms are often not ideal.

Tools to help you understand your site load speed

We have tried to list some great SEO tools throughout this series, and image processing tools are often overlooked. We’ll get to these in a minute, but first of all it helps to you know if images on your site contribute to slow loading speeds, and by how much. Here are 2 tools that help you measure the loading speed of your site, and allow you to compare before and after optimization.

GTmetrix assists in SEO image optimizationGTmetrix

  • GTmetrix: A free service that gives you insight on how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimize it

Yslow

  • Yslow: Yahoo!’s Exceptional Performance team has identified 34 rules that affect web page performance. YSlow’YSlow Logos web page analysis tests your site against 34 rules that affect web page performance, and is based on the 23 of these 34 rules that are testable.

 

3.) Improve Your Site Speed By Optimizing Your Images

Once you decide you’d like to optimize your site images in order to improve load times, here are some tools that help you do it.

  • If you have an existing site with lots of images, a utility to help optimize these is great, but in general terms I would also recommend to pre-process and size images for use on your web site when you first upload these or create them in Photoshop or your favorite graphics program.
  • Uploading 12,000px wide images straight from your camera is lazy, and there is no use for these on your site without first optimizing them, and utilities like Snap-Converter mentioned below make this process very easy.

So in general terms I recommend optimizing images before they ever make it to your site.

That said, here are some great tools:

WP Smush

  • WP Smush Pro For SEO image optimizationWP Smush is the popular replacement of the Smush-It image optimization plugin based on a service once provided by Yahoo, but now discontinued
  • WP Smush Pro is a premium image optimization tool that uses advanced algorithms to compress your images while maintaining their quality and dramatically improving your website’s page speed.
  • It will go through your entire media library and replace your on-line images with optimized versions, while maintaining quality. This can significantly speed up your site. Run GTmetrix before and after, and you will be rewarded with a vastly improved site load speed, and Google rank.
  • It also processes every new image you upload, so you can be assured that all of your site images are compressed optimally.

Snap-Converter

  • Snap ConverterSnap Converter (for Mac) is a utility to help you resize as well as convert images from PNG to JPG
  • Convert images as well as Mac and Windows icon files. Supports standard bitmap types as well as digital Camera RAW types, Photoshop documents, and more. View the complete list of supported file types.

Resize SenseResize Sense

  • Resize Sense is a utility that helps crop and resize images to a variety of optimized sizes.
  • Very useful for when you need to convert a range of differently sized images into the same size and aspect ratio.
  • Helps to eliminate the hours of tedious work needed to resize, crop, straighten, rotate, flip, edit metadata, and rename many images one at a time.


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast SEO Course Overview

Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 3You Are HereLesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques 3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

Great Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques

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Lesson 3 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters course is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

Your podcast episode title is likely something that will get shared on social media, and more importantly will show up in search results and on iTunes as well.

Given how much time you are putting into creating a podcast, it is worth spending a little extra effort on creating a good title that makes people want to click through and listen or read more.

Of course you should not write content or headlines for search engines, so keep it people friendly, avoid keyword stuffing and make sure the meaning of the content is not distorted by forcing a keyword or key-phrase into the content.

1.) Podcast Episode Title Do’s

  • The MFCEO Podcast Does Episode Titles WellTry to convey the essence of what the episode is about
  • Be sure to add a short description as well (see the gallery below on how this  impacts iTunes)
  • You can include the name of the guest and the episode number, but place this information at the end
  • If possible, try to include your SEO key-phrase in the episode title.
  • Include your SEO key-phrase in the post slug

Example: Check out the MFCEO Project for some examples of “well done” episode titles

2.) Podcast Episode Title Don’ts

Check out the gallery below of Podcast Episode Title Don’ts

  • Do not put the name of the podcast first, this wastes space and is redundant.
  • Do not use the date and time as your episode title. (Sorry, Dave Ramsey)
  • Do not put the episode number first, if you’d like to include it, place it last. The reason for this is the way that episode titles display on iTunes, there are only about a 25 visible characters that display in the list of episodes, so putting episode numbers first wastes this space.
  • For interview shows, do not just use the guest’s name as the title, unless they are a celebrity. Listeners who don’t know the guest will not know what the episode is about.

3.) Use these resources for writing great episode titles and post headlines

Pro bloggers have known this secret for a long time: Catchy, fun, unique and click-worthy titles help drive traffic to their blogs. Spending time to think of good episode titles will help drive traffic to your show notes page, as well as increase your listenership. Suffering from episode title writers-block? Don’t worry, there are tools out there to help you, my favorites are:

 

4.) 5 More Not So Secret SEO Tips for Titles and Content

Tip #1: Creating H2 Tags (or sub-titles)

From an SEO perspective, Google (and other search engines) love well organized and hierarchical content. This means your show notes post should be organized. The title of the post should have the H1 tag, paragraph headers should have an H2 tag and short paragraphs should consist of text and bullet points. This approach has the additional benefit of increasing the readability of your content.

Tip #2: Focus on Readability

Unless you are writing long form essay content, short paragraphs are more appropriate for podcast show notes and accommodate “skimmer” type readers.

  • Try to avoid densely spaced content of paragraph after paragraph of text, this will be hard to read and is too information dense.
  • Breaking up your show notes into smaller segments is a good practice, also the use of images to break up the content is a good idea and will make your posts look and read better.
  • Add a sub-headline (H2 tag) for every paragraph

Tip #3: Do not use H1 tags anywhere in your show notes post

  • Each page should only have one single H1 tag
  • H1 tags are reserved for your post headline, and this tag is usually built into your theme
  • So in practice this means you should only use H2 and H3 tags within your show notes post
  • When you publish your post, the post title will automatically be displayed as an H1 tag on your page

Tip #4: Include your key phrase in at least one H2 tag sub-headline

  • Just as it was important to include your key-phrase in the H1 tag (or post title), it is also important to include the key-phrase in at least one H2 tag sub-headline

Tip #5: Watch The Concept of Keyword Density

While this is not relevant to headlines, you can and should use the key-phrase several times in the body of your post text. Keyword density refers to the number of times you have included your key-phrase in your post content, as a percentage of overall word count. If you are using the recommended WordPress SEO plugin, watch for the keyword density recommendations it provides, you can find these on the advanced tab.

Some keyword density tools


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?

 


Podcast SEO Course Overview

Lesson 1Lesson 2You Are Here…Lesson 4Lesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site