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The 7-Day Quick Start Guide to SEO + Cheat Sheet



The 7-Day Quick Start Guide to SEO + Cheat Sheet

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

We all start somewhere.

For you, it’s your very first day of SEO.

Or, more precisely—for the sake of this guide—your first seven days of SEO.

If you do any kind of web marketing, you know that business and website owners frequently ask for SEO advice. Answering can be difficult because, short of hiring a professional, it’s hard to explain to absolute beginners where to start.

For example, what do you tell the small manufacturing business owner who wants to learn the SEO ropes but doesn’t have a year or two to master the finer details?

The best answer has always been “read the Beginner’s Guide to SEO.”

And that’s a great answer. For over a decade, the Beginner’s Guide has served as a solid and frequently updated resource for those looking to cover the basics, mixing in-depth theory with practical application. I’ve personally referred people to it literally hundreds of times.

To which the busy business owner replies, “That sounds great, but what do I do about SEO today? We need results ASAP.”

To fill this gap and to help more people, we needed a different type of SEO resource.

Improving the time it takes SEO to work

Unless you work for an agency or want to make a lifelong career out of SEO (an excellent choice), most folks don’t learn SEO for the sake of learning SEO.

For example, I started in SEO because I built a website that needed marketing. Other people may want to reduce spending on social media advertising. Still others simply have a new product that needs demand.

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In other words, people seek SEO because they want results.

And they typically want those results sooner than later.

“How long does it take SEO to work?” is one of the most common questions in our industry. The truth is, of course, it depends. Different activities are impactful over different time periods, from mere days to long months.

Here’s a rough estimation of how different SEO activities might impact Google traffic over various timeframes:

  • Quickly (days to weeks): Indexability, title tags, search appearance

  • Medium (weeks to months): Keyword targeting, content creation

  • Slowly (months): Link building, site architecture

Professional SEO agencies, when looking for “quick wins” for clients, often implement a handful of tried and true tactics, things such as a simple health check, title tag optimization, structured data, and internal linking.

Here’s the deal: you want the same quick wins that professional SEOs look for, while at the same time setting yourself up for long-term success.

Getting SEO results more quickly

To solve all of these challenges, we created the Quick Start Guide to SEO.

You can find it incorporated into the Intro Chapter of The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Since most people reading the Beginner’s Guide are very new to SEO, it made the most sense to put it there.

The Quick Start Guide includes seven days of actions to check the SEO health of your site while putting you on the path of sustained improvement. To make it actionable, the Quick Start Guide is short and sweet, but if you want something even more compact, we also created the SEO Quick Start Guide Cheat Sheet. This serves as a one-page sheet you can use for easy reference.

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Get a free downloadable copy by clicking the link below.

Get the SEO Quick Start Cheat Sheet

Quick Start Guide to SEO: An overview

More detail can be found in the Beginner’s Guide, but here’s a quick overview:

How to use:

  • Each task is a day

  • You can start, and in many cases even complete, each task in an hour or two. That said, several tasks take much more than that. An SEO professional might spend 7-20 hours on an audit. (Some audits take 40 hours or longer.) Of course, you’re starting from scratch, so some things might take significantly more investment of your time.

  • The key is to introduce yourselves to these concepts so that you’re set up for future success.

Here’s what each day covers:

Day 1. Gather your SEO data

SEO is all about working with the right data, and you want to make sure you’re looking at the right stuff. Setting up analytics and registering for free with search engines is a simple first step to gathering the data you’ll need for most SEO tasks.

Day 2. See how your site is indexed

This day you’ll do a quick “health check” to ensure your site is eligible to appear in search results. Learn a few core tricks of the trade to make sure your site isn’t stopping itself from fully appearing in Google search results.

Day 3. Target specific keywords

This is where the “magic” happens. SEO is all about providing useful content for exactly what users are searching for. Making sure there’s a match between what users ask and what you deliver is the key to success.

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Day 4. Optimize your search appearance

At this point, you will examine how your website “looks” in Google search. Do users want to click your result? Have you taken advantage of the various appearance options Google offers? Dialing in your SEO here may make the difference between simply ranking and actually getting visits to your site.

Day 5. Create content like a boss

SEO relies on content. Whether you are creating new pages to capture more keywords or optimizing existing pages, you want to make sure your on-page optimization is solid. From keyword placement to images, we’ll cover the basics here.

Day 6. Internal links & site architecture

Here we want to explore how easily users — and search engines — can navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. Examining your navigation, site structure, and internal links can often lead to significant wins.

Day 7. Gaining popularity via link building

You most likely won’t conquer link building in a single day, but you can definitely get started. Promoting your site and getting links from others is a bedrock of good SEO. Link building can be challenging, but we’ll show you how to gather your data, help you see where the opportunities are, and hopefully inspire you to a few good ideas.

That’s it! Hopefully, you enjoy the new Quick Start Guide. If you haven’t already, you can download your one-sheet copy of the Cheat Sheet here.

Get the SEO Quick Start Cheat Sheet

Best of luck with your SEO!

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How To Create Disruptive, Innovative Content



How To Create Disruptive, Innovative Content

All marketers aspire to create that memorable moment – one that gets people talking and thinking about their brand well after they first see it.

Historically, the National Football League’s Super Bowl showcased many of those moments – from Apple’s signature 1984 spot to Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.

The ads turned into more than passing distractions during breaks in the game’s action. They inserted themselves into the fabric of America’s cultural passion and forever linked to that event’s enjoyable experience.

Streaming service Tubi hoped to add its name to that memorable list this year with its interface interruption spot. The ad appeared like the standard return from a commercial break, complete with Fox Sports announcers welcoming viewers back to the game.

But some clever visual overlays quickly transformed the screen into an involuntary streamer-surfing experience. It got viewers to stand up (some literally) and wonder if the screen’s appearance happened because they were sitting on their remotes.

It might not be the stuff of a historically memorable ad, but in a space dominated by high-powered celebrity cameos and pricey nostalgia-centric stunts, Tubi won the day with innovation. The brand kept it real (perhaps too real?), kept the focus on a relatable experience, and emerged with (arguably) the watercooler moment of the game.

Standing out in a marketplace flooded with content takes that kind of disruptive creative vision built on a keen understanding of your brand and its audience.

How can your brand captivate consumers with innovative content creations? Wieden+Kennedy’s head of strategy Marcus Collins says to start by factoring your brand’s cultural perspectives into your creative ideation process.

Captivate consumers with innovative content by factoring your brand’s cultural perspective into the ideation process, says @marctothec via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Use a cultural lens to explore new ideas

For innovation to happen, you don’t just need to generate ideas. You need to develop the right ideas that fit your brand’s identity, distinguish it from competitors, and resonate with your audience.

“You need to build your creative operations around the cultural identity of the organization, and that effort has to start with belief, says Marcus, who has an upcoming book on the subject, For The Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be.

He says you must ask, “What does your brand believe? How does it see the world? What is the driving conviction that’s leading you to seek a change?”

Marcus also thinks cultural alignment can help leaders expand their team’s understanding of the audience and add a focused direction to their ideation process.

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“As marketers, we’re not just creating videos, images, and text. What we should be creating are cultural products – things that reflect our organization’s beliefs and how it sees the world. That cultural product creates a gravitational pull for people who see the world similarly,” he says.

To create that pull, your team needs to understand their views. “The discourse between us is how we start to turn ideas into meaning,” Marcus says.

Conducting conversations with your customers is a good place to start. The need also exists to incorporate outside stimuli and diverse perspectives into those conversations. Otherwise, your team might get trapped in an echo chamber. “That prevents new ideas from emerging or new behaviors and processes from being formed around them,” Marcus says.

Seek diverse perspectives to avoid getting trapped in an echo chamber of ideas, says @marctothec via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Reset your definition of innovation

Organizations often call upon marketers to fuel their innovative ideas. They also frequently equate innovation with creativity. Though related, the two concepts aren’t synonymous.

In a recent blog post, innovation architect and author of Re:Think Innovation Carla Johnson defines the difference this way: “Creativity is the idea of bringing a new perspective to anything and having it add value. Innovation is the process of transforming that creativity into value.”

#Creativity is the idea of bringing a new perspective to anything and having it add value. Innovation is the process of transforming that creativity into value, says @CarlaJohnson via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

While one can’t succeed without the other, Carla says failing to recognize and nurture this small yet critical distinction leads many businesses’ innovations to fail. “Misunderstanding what innovation is and how it looks keeps us from really understanding how to come up with those ideas and operationalize them in a beneficial way,” she writes.

Distinguish ‘possibility’ from ‘executability’

Innovation starts with ideas. But your team may need to come up with dozens of raw ideas before homing in on ones worth developing.

Content teams often rely on brainstorming to generate a steady flow of innovation possibilities. They often incorporate improv exercises, word association, and mind-mapping into their creative workflow.

Yet, Carla argues these “free-thinking” exercises can be problematic. “Marketers tend to go straight into the brainstorming step without having done anything to prime their work. There’s no inspiration to come up with an idea that’s truly innovative,” she says.

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The resulting ideas often just rehash something already done. Or, after implementing them, you discover the ideas are unrealistic, poorly focused, or difficult to execute effectively.

Consider this illustration of those limitations:

In this Instagram video, actor and Aviation Gin’s influencer-in-chief Ryan Reynolds apologizes to NFL fans for failing to develop an ad for the big game. As a remedy, he conducts an impromptu ad brainstorm for next year’s campaign.

Your creative team likely recognizes the improvisational word association technique he uses. But even Ryan admits the resulting idea isn’t great: Its clever, brand-friendly name lacks a clear brand purpose and consistency with other initiatives. It also causes unexpected challenges for the team members who must iron out the legal and technical details.

Aviation Gin created a follow-up ad that was inspiring (though it has since been taken down). But it’s better to develop ideas that account for the approval and implementation process and the execution as part of a consistent brand experience. Otherwise, those “nice-to-have” ideas won’t get traction within your organization.

Think iteration, not invention

Your content team can develop innovative ideas without being original. Uber didn’t invent the idea of hailing a driver – it just made the process more efficient. Airbnb didn’t invent short-term housing rentals. It translated the model used by hotels, hostels, and independent homeowners by “appifying” the process to create an innovative new business sector.

Marcus likens this to the work of sociologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who looked at creativity through the lens of bricolage – a French term for creating something new from a diverse range of existing materials.

“That’s hip-hop (music) through and through,” he says. “Take a sample of this, a sample from that, add new lyrics and a melody, and you have a new song. I think for creators, a bricolage approach can get us to ideas that feel familiar yet fresh.”

Manifest’s Creative Pushups initiative is a great example. While the agency certainly didn’t invent the concept of creativity exercises, it evolved the format and introduced it into a new setting, creating something fresh and exciting for the content marketing community.

Creative Pushups began as a series of fun brainstorming and free-expression exercises designed to help Manifest’s team members break away from existing patterns and re-energize their ideation process with some personal flair.

Each pushup kicks off with a quirky creative prompt, such as “Write the title of your memoir,” “Tell us what the Mona Lisa is looking at,” or “Rebrand Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point of view” (shown here).

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Manifest’s senior vice president of agency growth Mark Kats says the idea grew out of the need to substitute their in-person brainstorms with virtual sessions at the beginning of the pandemic. Launched as an internal Slack channel, its popularity inspired Manifest to expand the program onto LinkedIn and invite other creatives to participate.

The success of the Creative Pushups LinkedIn group got Manifest thinking about other ways to expand the impact. “We’re passionate about bringing creativity and newness to content. But we became really excited about extending that into a different space,” Mark says.

To test the concept, the agency pitched the idea of Creative Pushups as a series of mini sessions at Content Marketing World 2022.

It took a little convincing – and a lot of logistics work – to translate “spontaneous creativity in a ‘judgment-free zone’” into a presentation-based educational conference.

How To Create Disruptive Innovative Content

As you can see from a photo taken at the event, that transformational work included designing a space to feel more vibrant cocktail party than a convention center breakout room. High-top tables and comfy lounge chairs replaced conference desks and banquet chairs. Snacks, beverages, art supplies, and colorful toys inspired creativity, while minimal lighting and upbeat music created a space suitable for enjoyment and exploration.

All that hard work paid off. Creative Pushups was among the most popular sessions at the event, and Manifest is looking to bring it back for Content Marketing World 2023.

But the program’s story doesn’t end there. Manifest took Creative Pushups on the road to expand its impact and influence beyond the marketing arena. “Lots of organizations have internal creative teams that can benefit from activities or workshops that get them thinking a little bit differently about their day-to-day challenges,” Mark says.

That effort kicked off with a sold-out session at this year’s South by Southwest event. Manifest plans to share highlights and details on its latest creative exercises and techniques on LinkedIn.

Enable ‘operation innovation’ to succeed

Your content team’s creative ideas can forge a memorable, meaningful connection with consumers. But you must ignite those sparks of attention repeatedly and sustain and extend their initial connections through additional content assets. Take inspiration from these experts to create an innovative vision that will lead your organization to the next level of success.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in CCO.

Get more advice from Chief Content Officer, a publication for content leaders (monthly starting May 2023). Subscribe today to get it in your inbox.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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21 Ways to Promote Your Content Offers



21 Ways to Promote Your Content Offers

Content offers, like ebooks, can convert your existing traffic and even attract new traffic. However, if your ebook isn’t getting too many downloads or leads, your marketing might be the problem. (more…)

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What inflation’s cultural impact means for marketing



What inflation's cultural impact means for marketing

When inflation is high the cost of living rises and wages, although rising too, never quite keep up. This has an impact on our pockets. But in addition to the economic consquences of inflation, there are subtler cultural consequences too. That’s something marketers need to understand.

Kate Muhl, a consumer insights expert and VP, analyst at Gartner, shared this insight. “It’s important to think about the idea that there’s more happening with inflation than just economic impact and consumer spending. Those effects start to fade. We’re not where we were a year ago — but lots of consumer attitudes and behaviors are still ripple effects out of that initial inflationary moment.”

What the research shows. The 2023 Gartner Cost-of-Living and Price Sentiment survey revealed the following:

  • A third of households reported financial hardship due to price increases with the most impact felt by low and low-to-middle income households.
  • 38% of respondents reported cutting their discretionary income (a YoY increase of 15% on 2022).
  • More than a third have increased spending on store brands and increased their use of coupons.
  • Over 40% report switching to generic brands, store brands and less expensive products in at least one product category.
  • 57% reported postponing a milestone event (such as a wedding or vacation) due to cost-of-living pressures.
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Against this background, consumers and marketers are divided on what responses are appropriate. CMO priorities include increasing the availability of a product or service, offering special deals and increasing rewards and benefits. Customers agree on the special deals, but their other priorities are keeping prices steady and, interestingly, not seeing high-level executives get pay raises.

In Muhl’s view, this reflects a growing sense, especially among younger consumers, that the system is “rigged” in favor of the wealthy. “A lot of this is about consumer sentiment, culture,” said Muhl. “How does it feel? What are people’s prevailing opinions about how the world is working? Those things matter to brands.”

This doesn’t mean marketers should blindly switch to their customers’ priorities. “Consumers are consumers,” said Muhl. “Our job is to be marketers, but as marketers we have to realize that this disconnect exists and use the tools available to us to try to close that gap.”

Dig deeper: Breaking down the digital transformation of today’s customer journeys

The right responses. This would be a good time, Muhl believes, to prioritize narratives that speak to thrift and savings and to focus on those brand values most relevant to your customers’ experience of inflationary pressures.

As examples of responsive narratives, Mulh offered Tide’s “Cold Hard Savings” campaign and Everlane’s “Priced Like It’s 2019.”

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“This is just not the time to get into luxury positionings (with some exceptions) — luxury for its own sake rather than premium or quality,” Muhl said. “Brands need to really think about what their core values are and act from those where appropriate.”

Why we care. The past three years should have taught us that our sentiments, our culture, does not necessary align precisely with real world events. For many of us, deeply felt emotional reactions to a global pandemic did not necessarily coincide with COVID-19’s real-time impact. As the pandemic receded, pandemic-induced behaviors persisted — as did anxiety and uncertainty.

Similarly with inflation. Positive economic indicators and a slow but steady decline in inflation has not relieved foreboding about a recession. Inflation-triggered behaviors and attitudes will not automatically dissipate as inflation recedes to a tolerable level. Marketers need to be aware, sensitive and, as always, transparent in responding to consumer sentiment.

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