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The Link-Earning Stack Every SEO Should Strive For

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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.

Being an SEO, you can’t go a day without hearing about links: “Links are crucial!” or “Prioritize links!” or “Links are the nourishing lifeblood of the almighty algorithm!”

But for those of us who’ve taken the next step to actually figure out how to earn said links, we realize it’s not that straightforward.

It’s hard to sum up all of that in the tweets and LinkedIn posts that get shared about link earning, because the truth is, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all link earning approach or vendor. You need a link earning “stack” that appropriately reflects the complexity of your marketing and content goals.

In an ideal world, here’s what that stack would look like. (Hat tip to Paul Zalewski, SVP of Marketing at Verblio, who gave me the idea for this breakdown!)

Passive link earning

Objective: Set up a foundation for link earning with lower effort over time

Content needed: A “linkable content” asset (this is key)

Promotion needed: Manual outreach and promotion to acquire the first one or two links, to help the page initially rank

Passive link earning is any content you can create that will naturally earn links over time without having to actively promote it on an ongoing basis. These pieces are designed to carry their weight in earning links without much active promotion (which is what separates it from the next category, post-specific link earning). They’re often not directly tied to your product or service, though if they are, that’s certainly a bonus.

When SEO teams can collaborate with content teams on creating “linkable content,” passive link earning magic can happen.

Some common examples of linkable content include:

  • Statistics-based or definition-focused posts: People are always looking for stats to cite or definitions to link to.

  • Tools or other interactive resources: If they’re useful, folks love to share them!

  • “Best”/”Top” posts or annual reports: People like to reference lists they’re on or share lists that are interesting, valuable compilations.

Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios is excellent at this strategy.

This post presents new data points around blogging, and it’s earned 2,761 linking domains! How? Because there are so many blog posts about blogging (meta) that want to include statistics relevant to the point they’re trying to make — and Andy is providing them.

Here’s an example of an Alexa blog post citing a data point from the Orbit Media piece:

1652191314 269 The Link Earning Stack Every SEO Should Strive For

If you want to dive into this link-earning type more, I recommend reaching out to either Andy or Alex Heinz, who I just saw give an awesome presentation on this very topic.

Targeted link earning

Objective: Help elevate a particular, valuable post in the SERPs

Content needed: N/A — the post you want to boost already exists

Promotion needed: Manual outreach and promotion to more niche sites

You write a piece of content and you know it’s killer, but you want an initial boost to elevate it on page one.

You probably want to build credibility to that page by earning a link or two that will help demonstrate its value.

This is post-specific link earning. It usually involves highly tailored outreach in which you pitch sites to link back to your post. While it’s often a pretty manual effort, even a couple of links can make a huge difference.

I’m going to use Golden Thread Tarot as an example. I do not work with or for them, so I can’t confirm they did any manual outreach. But this example still illustrates my point. Also, tarot reading is my newest obsession.

Their page on how to read tarot ranks in positions 1-3 for highly relevant terms:

1652191314 415 The Link Earning Stack Every SEO Should Strive For

This is a great example of a page that should be prioritized for targeted link earning so they can continue to maintain their positions. Why? Because people searching to learn more about reading tarot are the perfect potential customers for their tarot deck and app. Notice how the page has plenty of calls-to-action.

1652191314 653 The Link Earning Stack Every SEO Should Strive For

Obviously ranking for “money pages” won’t always be easy, especially for higher-volume terms with greater competition. But if you’re truly creating the best content in response to the searcher’s intent, a couple of links can give you a boost.

There is some overlap between targeted link earning and passive link earning, but the primary difference is that in the former, you’re designing a piece of content from scratch with the sole purpose of building links. The latter is link outreach you conduct in order to boost a page that’s important to your audience acquisition and conversions.

Site authority link earning

Objective: Improve the overall authority of your site/brand

Content Needed: Original reporting and/or newsworthy data

Promotion Needed: Pitching journalists or setting up syndication relationships

A rising tide lifts all boats. In this case, the boats are your specific pages of content, and the rising tide is your site’s domain authority.

If your site and brand are deemed authoritative, it increases the chances that your individual pieces of content will be considered authoritative, as well.

I’ll use one of our brand partners, Sidecar Health, as an example. We’ve been creating newsworthy stories on their behalf and distributing them through the Stacker newswire since December, and Sidecar Health’s domain authority has increased by four in a few months.

The strategy is to create top-of-the-funnel, newsworthy content that authoritative news publications would be interested in running. That way we can earn links/canonicals that demonstrate that the brand is producing valuable content.

Our first story for them was about rural hospital closures across the country. It earned 300+ pickups on sites like MSN, SFGate, The Houston Chronicle, and more.

1652191314 75 The Link Earning Stack Every SEO Should Strive For

When you earn this type of link equity to your site, you can then leverage internal linking to distribute that equity to pages that are important to your SEO goals. In using this strategy for just a few months, Sidecar Health has seen a 77% increase in keywords in positions 1-3 in the SERPs.

This type of link earning is often the missing piece for brands who have found that their on-site content is top-notch, but their traffic is plateauing anyway.

Niche link earning

Objective: Earn more relevant authority in your specific niche

Content Needed: Original reporting and/or newsworthy data

Promotion Needed: Pitching journalists or setting up syndication relationships

You can view niche link earning as a spinoff of site authority link earning. Niche link earning just focuses on a lower DA and higher relevance.

I’ve been talking a lot about authority in this piece, and for good reason: it’s one of the most important aspects and benefits of earning links.

But relevance is a piece of the puzzle as well. You don’t want to be earning links that have nothing to do with your brand, even if you’re taking a tangential approach mentioned in the previous section.

It’s good to supplement your general link earning strategy by ensuring you’re earning links from more relevant sites, that are specifically aligned with your brand offering.

To continue the Sidecar Health example, in addition to the links we’ve earned for them, their backlink profile includes links from sites like Verywell Health and Healthline as well as even more niche sites like Health Care Business Today and Electronic Health Reporter.

If you’re finding that you’re not naturally earning links from respected sites in your industry, it’s certainly worth trying to pitch them on your content or build syndication partnerships with them.

A well-rounded link earning strategy

Any one of these link-earning strategies can help move the needle for your organic growth, especially if you’re just getting started.

However, as you mature your program, you’ll need all of these strategies in order to grow sustainably and consistently. The trick becomes understanding how to implement these strategies — whether in-house or outsourcing. A common approach I see is having an internal team that focuses on post-specific and niche link earning while hiring outside help with passive and brand authority linking.

Whatever you try, remember to consistently check that you have your bases covered so you achieve the organic traffic growth you’re aiming for.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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