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10 Local Online Marketing Tips to Grow Your Business

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10 Local Online Marketing Tips to Grow Your Business

Local online marketing is a set of marketing tactics that use the internet to target potential and existing customers within a business’s physical location.

Online marketing is a crucial aspect of promoting a local business because:

  • People look for nearby products and services online.
  • They use search engines and social media platforms to learn more about local companies.
  • They look up specific information like opening hours or driving directions. 
Search volume of "lawyer near me"
To illustrate, one of the search queries used to find a nearby lawyer gets 18K monthly searches in the U.S.

In this article, we’ll look at 10 ideas that can help you grow your local business through SEO, social media, advertising, and more.

1. Optimize your Google Business Profile 

If you haven’t created or claimed your Google Business Profile (GBP) yet, make sure you do. Because here’s what people usually see when they look for something in their vicinity—a list of GBPs “recommended” by Google for a given search query.

Google Business Profile at the top of the SERP

In all, 84% of GBP visits come from discovery searches (source). This means that a striking majority of your potential customers won’t be looking for you. Rather, they’ll be looking for businesses that offer things or services they need. 

So what you want here is not just a GBP…

Unoptimized Google Business Profile
It’s not hard to imagine how much this doctor is missing out on when people find this business profile.

… but an optimized GBP. One that shows accurate and helpful information and clear, useful photos. It’s a straightforward process that you can complete in 30 minutes, and it has two goals: 

  • Ranking higher to be more visible through optimizations that can impact rankings in Google Search and Google Maps 
  • Looking more attractive to people searching for businesses like yours

All optimizations can make a business look more attractive to customers, but these few are known to impact its ranking on Google. 

Name of the business

Having a business name consisting of the thing or location people are searching for can impact rankings. I don’t think I have encountered a study of local SEO ranking factors that doesn’t mention this as one of the most important factors. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to change your business name to something like Dentist Near Me. 

This “hack” doesn’t work anymore, at least not in Google Maps. 

Nor does it mean that having an SEO-driven name beats every other ranking factor. 

Name of the business is not the top local ranking factor
The business name consisting of the search query doesn’t rank #1. Other ranking factors are at play here too.

But this means at least two things:

  • You can report a competitor trying to keyword-stuff their business name on GBP, i.e., use a different name than the registered one. If you feel like doing so. 
  • If for some reason, you want to have an SEO-driven name, you probably can expect some uplift from that. I suppose this is something to consider when starting a new business. But if you want to change to an SEO-driven name, you’ll actually have to change the name everywhere, meaning a full rebranding. An SEO-driven name may actually make sense if it’s something that accurately describes your business and helps you stand out. For instance, a car dealership called “BMW of Beverly Hills” since there is more than one BMW dealership in Los Angeles. Or to have both “plumbing” and “heating” in your business name if you’re a plumber specializing in both. 

Business categories

You can help Google understand your business better by selecting up to 10 business categories. And that will most certainly impact your rankings. 

Google has thousands of categories to choose from. It seems that the reason behind it is that it wants its results to be as specific as possible. This is something to keep in mind when picking your categories. 

Moreover, Google keeps adding new categories every month, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on that and update your GBP accordingly. For example, if you’re a local optician offering glasses repair, you may add that category as of August 2022. 

Attributes

You can think of attributes as labels or tags that convey additional information about the business, which may help searchers find what they need. For example, curbside pickup or Wi-Fi inside.

Some GBP attributes are objective (aka factual), meaning they can be controlled by the GBP manager. For example, “black owned [business].”

GBP attributes example

Other attributes are subjective. They are sort of earned when a certain feature of your business is often suggested by the customers. For example, “cozy” or “good for kids.” You can only impact them indirectly by making them part of the experience. 

Just as categories, attributes are regularly updated by Google. If you want to learn more about their impact on rankings, check out this case study

Reviews

They greatly impact rankings and visibility. While the ones you get on your GBP will likely have the most impact on Google’s services, reviews on third-party websites and even reviews published on your website also count for Google. 

Since reviews are quite a nuanced topic, I’ll discuss them in a separate point below. 

2. Earn and manage customer reviews

Everybody relies on online reviews. 

Customers rely on them because they make choices more effortless and less risky. And even if not everybody trusts online reviews, plummeting rankings and negative comments never look good.

Online platforms also rely on reviews. Reviews tend to be a fundamental part of ranking and recommendation algorithms so that platforms can suggest the best choices to their users. And it’s true for SEO too. The number and the sentiment of a business’s reviews can impact local rankings in Google (although they are probably most important for Google Map Pack and Google Maps). 

But let’s address the elephant in the room: Can you pay or otherwise incentivize customers to write any kind of reviews? 

Generally, it’s a bad idea, and you can get prosecuted for it. Here’s why:

  • Most countries protect consumers from fake or misleading online reviews. And an incentivized online review can be seen as such. For example, according to the Federal Trade Commission, incentivized reviews must be clearly labeled as such. What’s more, they have to come from real customers and can’t be influenced by the incentive (good luck proving that in court), among other things. So while a review like that may “fly,” you need to ask yourself if it is worth it. 
  • Most third-party websites clearly prohibit incentivizing reviews in any form. Examples: Google Business Reviews, Amazon, Tripadvisor, etc. Some, although probably not many, prohibit even just asking for reviews, like Yelp. While these platforms may not necessarily pursue legal action, banning an account is just a few clicks away for them. 
  • Having said all that, since incentivized reviews are legally allowed in some circumstances, you will find platforms like Capterra, where you can offer something in return for reviews. Then the question is one of ethics and dealing with possible negative outcomes of such reviews (here are three great examples of those). 

So here’s what to do instead:

  • Provide a great and memorable experience – Some customers will leave positive reviews even without you asking. And in any case, you will have the best possible reason to ask for a review (which is perfectly fine outside of the likes of Yelp). 
  • Ask for a review when you have the opportunity – The best opportunity is when the customer expresses their satisfaction, whether they say it personally or online. But you can also “create” that opportunity in a conversation by casually asking something that will lead to a customer sharing their experience. For example, “Have you ever tried a similar product?”
  • Use tools to gather and manage your reviews – Check if the platform where you list your business allows for sending review requests. To make your life easier, you can use a tool for both requesting and managing reviews, such as Podium or Birdeye
  • Respond to all your comments – The science behind that is a) according to this study, replying to comments can help you get better ratings and fewer short, unconstructive, and negative types of feedback and b) most customers overlook negative comments with adequate responses (source). By the way, it’s all right to have some negative reviews
  • Collect the review by using the channel the customer is comfortable with – Example: It will look awkward if you’ve been talking via Whatsapp so far, but you suddenly send an email with a review request. 
  • Show off your positive testimonials – After all, they exist to be seen by other customers. 
Google encourages to ask for reviews

Sidenote.

You may come across advice like “include keywords when replying to customers” (fortunately, most of them probably don’t work) or “suggest to customers to include certain keywords in their comments” (I haven’t seen any evidence, but some SEOs say this works). Even if you find hard evidence for “optimizations” in this area, be careful because you may easily harm your business’s reputation.

3. Expand service pages with solutions people look for 

Setting up pages describing what you offer and where you offer it is pretty much standard practice. But you can give these pages an additional SEO boost if you use the kind of language searchers use. 

To illustrate, let’s say you offer an electronics repair shop specializing in phones, consoles, and computers in the U.K. By doing keyword research in a tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, we can discover how people search for these kinds of services. 

The first step is to type in the names of basic services, select the U.K. as the country, and then go to the Matching terms report. 

Starting keyword research with seed keywords

On the results pages, we can see that people use the brand of the hardware they need fixing or the type of damage. 

Example keywords from keyword research

An interesting example here is water damage. If your shop offers this service, it will be a good idea to mention it on your website (you can also consider expanding your services with this kind of repair).

Potential keyword to use

From this point, you can go even further into competitive research. By clicking on the SERP button, you can reveal other keywords this page ranks for. Just click on the caret next to the URL and then “Organic keywords.” 

Clicking on the caret in the SERP overview leads to other reports

You will be directed to a report showing keywords and their SEO metrics.

Organic keywords report with "exact URL" mode

You can then change the mode to “Subdomains” to see keywords the entire domain ranks for. 

Organic keywords report with "subdomains" mode

And this can lead to other interesting finds: 

Keyword ideas from competitive research

Recommendation

If you want to make sure you’re looking at a keyword where people are explicitly looking for local services (according to Google, of course), look for the “Local pack” feature. These keywords trigger the Google Map Pack with local businesses.

Local pack feature in SERP overview

Additionally, you may want to see if a specific service is also a GBP attribute. 

GBPs with fire damage cleanup attributes

4. Blog with SEO in mind

Just like everybody else, your potential customers look for solutions to their problems online. 

Using keyword research, you can learn what those problems are and then address them with helpful blog posts. Result: free traffic from search engines. 

Overview report showing organic traffic to a blog post
This guide on hiding electric wires out of sight gets 25K visits every month from search.

Here are two methods for finding relevant topics with search traffic potential. 

First method – Explore related terms 

  1. Create a list of things related to your service, i.e., seed keywords; for example, an electrician may come up with these terms: wall chasing, wires, wall sockets, wiring, appliance, lighting, breaker box, etc
  2. Plug them all at once in Keywords Explorer 
  3. Go to the Matching terms report and toggle “Questions”
  4. Look at the results to find the most relevant questions that you can provide answers to via blog posts
Keyword examples from the Matching terms report

Second method – Analyze competitors (and other content in your niche)

For this method, you need the URL of a website with content related to your business (likely your competitor) and an SEO tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

There’s a report in Site Explorer called Organic keywords, where you can explore keywords of any website. Along with the keywords, you will see SEO data—such as volume or Keyword Difficulty (KD)—that will help you choose the right keywords

Example keywords about electric services via competitive keyword research
Zinsco and Federal Electric panels were commonly installed in the U.S. in the past. Some homeowners still have them today. This electric company from the U.S. uses that fact to create helpful content for thousands of related searches with low Keyword Difficulty (KD).
More keywords from competitive research
And here’s another set of helpful content from D.O.C.

If you know what kind of keywords you’re looking for, you can use the provided filters. 

Organic keywords report with applied filters
A search for low-difficulty keywords with at least 100 monthly searches that contain “upgrade” or “install” shows us 40 keywords on this site.

You can also analyze competitors in bulk, even simultaneously comparing them to your existing content. For this, use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool in Site Explorer

Content Gap tool

These are broad, non-local keywords, so not every visitor will come from your area. But some potentially will (or will tell others about you). Plus, you can earn links to your content and boost your SEO. 

Recommended reading: How to Write a Blog Post (That People Actually Want to Read) in 9 Steps 

Recommendation

You may be wondering why give out knowledge for free. Consider this: 

  • People will likely remember you for the content and keep you top of mind next time they need help from a professional. 
  • DIY guides about complicated or even risky jobs often have an “opposite” effect. Anyone who has ever done kitchen or bathroom remodeling by themselves knows this. You think you can do it yourself, so you Google some tutorials. You read the guide, realize you will break more stuff than fix it and, finally, decide to call a professional. 

 

5. Build citations (and keep them consistent) 

Citations are online mentions of your business. And let me be blunt here: You need those if you want customers to find you online. And this is because people search for businesses like yours either through search engines like Google or through niche directories and aggregators like Tripadvisor or FindLaw. 

Case in point. This is a search result from Google for “electrician near me.” Right below the GBPs, which we have already discussed, we see directories. 

Top results on the SERP dominated by Google Map Pack and directories
The “landscape” may slightly differ based on locations and niches. But generally, that’s the kind of results your potential customers will see.

On top of this, local citations can help you rank higher in the Google Map Pack (source 1, source 2).

I’m sure you already know some directories in your niche suitable for your business. You can add some more by:

  • Adding your business to big data aggregators – For example, Data Axle in the U.S. The services distribute information to other websites, so being listed here can generate listings in multiple directories.
  • Using a citation list Like this one from Whitespark or this from BrightLocal
  • Looking at your competitors’ citations – This is something you can effortlessly do with Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool
Link Intersect tool
First step: insert competing domains and your domain (in the last field).
Results from Link Intersect tool
Second step—you will see websites that link to everybody else but not to you. Browse through the list and look for local listings.

Two important things to remember. You should:

  • Adhere to the guidelines when submitting your listing to directories. Otherwise, you can get banned for something that may seem OK to you.
  • Keep your citations consistent and accurate.

Because of the reasons above, you may want to consider a tool that will help you manage your listing, e.g., Yext, Uberall, etc. Such tools offer additional, useful features like managing reviews, so you can consider the tools as longtime investments. 

Recommended reading: How to Build Local Citations (Complete Guide) 

6. Try localized online ads 

According to Facebook, this should be the first thing you do when setting up your ads:

Facebook's advice about ads

Thing is, nobody really wants to see ads. People want what they came for, and ads are a distraction. 

At the same time, online ads are still an effective form of promotion. But making them work is hard because effectiveness relies on so many factors—geographical relevancy being one of them. (Naturally, local businesses can leverage that.) 

Apart from the opportunity to attract local customers, ads have the advantage of being:

  • Fast – You can set them up in minutes and have them reach your audience on the same day, oftentimes in a matter of hours. 
  • Easy to set up – You don’t need to hire an agency for that. 
  • Easy to measure – Website visits, ad impressions, ad clicks, and costs are easy to monitor here. Local businesses can use special ad goals like phone calls and driving directions. 
  • Performance-based – For example, with Google Local Services Ads, you pay only if a customer actually contacts you after seeing an ad. 
  • Easy to scale – If you want to reach more people, you can simply invest more to reach more locations, target more keywords, or outbid competitors. 

Oversimplifying things, there are two types of ad products. You can target:

  • Prospect’s action – These will be your search engine ads like Google or Bing search ads or services with search engines like Tripadvisor. The searcher enters a search query, and the platform shows them an ad related to that search query. Thanks to these ads, you can reach your audience exactly when they are in the market for a specific product or service. Sometimes (e.g., using Google Ads), you can add another layer of localization—when the user is located in, is regularly in, or showed interest in a particular location. 
  • Prospect’s profile – These will be your social media ads and ads you can buy in locally focused online magazines. They will have data points that you can use for ad targeting or just the right kind of audience. 
The top spots for this search query are reserved for advertisers
The top spots for this search query are reserved for advertisers. Here, you can see two types of ads: Google Local Services ads and typical Google Ads.

IMPORTANT

There are certain limitations to geotargeting. At least on Facebook and Google. That is one reason why it’s called geotargeting and not geofencing.

Geofencing usually refers to drawing a location fence in a small area. Well, the smallest area you can target on Meta’s and Google’s products is 1 mile. 

So let’s say you run a casino in Paradise and want to show what real fun looks like to the folks who have visited the venue across the street. Unfortunately for you, that casino will be in the same circle as other casinos, a couple of local churches, and Costco. 

Geotargeting limited to a 1-mile radius on Facebook

The web has plenty of ad options to choose from, and each deserves a dedicated guide. But according to my experience, these rules seem to be universal:

  • Iterate on your ads – Aim for a lot of small changes that you can easily introduce and measure. 
  • Refresh your ads regularly – Ad fatigue affects even the best ads. 
  • If none of your ads work, consider looking into your offer – You may find that, for example, it’s too expensive or lacks a critical feature. 
  • Start small with geotargeting – Say targeting by ZIP codes and not the entire city you can potentially serve. This way, you’ll know where your best customers are, and you’ll be able to prioritize your spending.
  • Learn from your competitors – See what ads they bid on, what language they use to advertise, and where they send visitors to. 

Recommendation

Some SEO tools can help you with ads too. Look for tools that can show you paid keywords of your competitors, their search ads, and the CPC costs while you do keyword research. 

Ahrefs Ads report
A screenshot from Ahrefs Ads report. The report shows Google Ads that the website is running, where the ads lead to, and the bid keyword.

Recommended reading: PPC Marketing: Beginner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Ads 

7. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and fast 

You could go all day listing reasons why your website should be optimized for mobile phone users. Basically, at least half of the people will look up your business on their mobile phones. 

If you already have a website, you can check its mobile-friendliness in minutes with a free service like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It allows you to test one page per test, so you may need to run it a few times to test the most important pages on your website (such as homepage, services, locations, contact, etc.).

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

For checking website speed (both mobile and desktop), there is a whole other set of free services, such as the popular PageSpeed Insights one from Google. What’s particularly useful in this test is the use of Core Web Vitals, which are part of Google’s Page Experience signals (a ranking factor). 

Google's PageSpeed Insights

Both tests will show you what needs to be fixed in terms of speed and design. If there’s too much to be fixed, it may be better to invest a few bucks into a new website than to spend time fixing holes in the old one. A cost-effective solution here is using a service like Squarespace or Wix. There, you can set up a mobile-friendly, fast website without technical skills. 

8. Use social media to give a taste of your service/product

People want to know what it’s like to be your customer. They tend to do a bit of online research to see whether you’re the kind of business or even the kind of person they want to deal with. 

So don’t be a stranger and make the research easier for them: show the effects of your work, show how you work, share tips, or even show that comfy chair they can sit in while waiting for the service to get done. 

For example, Nick Bundy is one of the many electricians from the U.K.’s Midlands. But what sets him apart from the competition is how much you can learn about the quality of his work before you hire him. 

He’s promoting his business on YouTube and Instagram with simple videos that either show how he works or answer questions, such as how to price a house rewire. 

What may look like content made for other electricians is actually a signal for potential customers that other people trust him. Moreover, he’s so confident about his trade that he shows it publicly (some more “inquisitive” customers can read the comments too). 

Testimonial on Nick Bundy's website

And it seems that Nick is very aware of the effect that his videos have. Good for him: 

Nick recommending YouTube channel, where he shows how he works

He’s also aware that his videos have “wider than local” reach. So he makes a note that, in any case, large jobs outside of his hometown are also welcome. 

YouTube videos have a "wider than local" effect

Of course, many people realize the boost that social media can give to a small local business, and they use it similarly to Nick. You can find creators like him in probably every niche. 

Sidenote.

By the way, Nick seems to be quite proficient with the monetization of his work—something you may also want to look into if you decide to create similar content. The same videos that promote his business generate ad revenue from YT (which he talks about in this video). On top of that, he utilizes sponsorships, does affiliate marketing, and even co-designed a product.

9. Get featured in relevant niche rankings and guides 

Not everyone simply looks for the best bar in [whatever city]. Some people want more specific things like “rooftop bars,” “arcade bars,”  “jazz bars,” or even “weird bars.” 

Like their more popular counterparts, these niche search queries often have their own rankings and guides. These could be easier to get featured in while still offering a good opportunity to attract customers. 

Here’s how you can find them. You can:

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer and type in keywords that define your business. For example, “bars.” Use the singular form for more results, but the plural form will usually weed out most of the branded keywords (i.e., those including the bar’s name).
  2. Set your country and hit search. 
  3. Go to the Matching terms report after the results load.
  4. Use the Include filter to type in words that define your location. Enter “San Francisco, SF” and select “Any word.” Then hit “Show results.”
  5. Pick a keyword and click the SERP icon to see if there are any guides and rankings. 
Example keywords that show interest in different types of bars in San Francisco
Example keywords that show interest in different types of bars in San Francisco.
Clicking on the SERP button shows top-ranking pages
To see top-ranking pages for a given keyword, just click the SERP button.

Once you find them, the last thing to do is to contact these websites and tell them why they should add your business to their lists. 

10. Build awareness (and links) with free press 

Even small local businesses can get free press. What matters to the press is the attention it can get by telling your story, not necessarily how big or profitable the business is. 

And every business has its own story. It can be related to how it started, the unique idea behind the business, the values it lives by, or the unique way it manufactures products. 

But you may be wondering how you can actually benefit from that:

  • Press coverage makes readers aware that your business exists – Or reminds them about it if they have already seen it somewhere. It also creates awareness among journalists; after one story, you may be asked to do another or to provide commentary on another related story.
  • Stories are powerful message carriers – Not only will they help people understand what’s unique about your business, but they will also make it easier to remember. 
  • Press coverage acts like a seal of approval – If you’re wondering whether a company is trustworthy, having seen it in local newspapers tells you that someone has screened it before you. 
  • Last but not least, digital media is great for link building – That means website visitors and an enhancement of your backlink profile, which may lead to higher rankings on the SERPs. Links from media are often sought after because of their strong link profiles. 

You can earn free press typically in one of these two ways. 

The first is simply pitching your story to the press. The outcome may be something like this: An interview with a local entrepreneur in a local magazine featuring the story behind creating an ethical and sustainable jewelry business. 

Free press example from a local Midwest magazine featuring an entrepreneur from Minneapolis

Of course, nothing stops you from pitching your story to multiple outlets (also national ones). Here’s another example linking to Fair Anita; it shows a link from a popular local magazine, Star Tribune. 

Another example of a high-DR link from the press
You can see the strength of the profile by looking at the DR column. Star Tribune scores 88/100, which is a high score. Data via Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

The second method is providing expert commentary per a journalist’s request. You can monitor relevant requests through services like HARO, SourceBottle, or Terkel. If you answer well enough and quickly enough, your quote may be featured along with a link to your website. 

An example request delivered through email by HARO
An example request delivered through email by HARO.

Final thoughts 

Local online marketing tactics seem to be focused on the promotional aspect. So speaking in terms of the classic four Ps of marketing framework, make sure you don’t neglect the other Ps— product (or service), price, and place—while doing promotion. Promotion is actually the very last step in creating an effective marketing strategy. 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.  



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SEO

12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential To Your Success

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12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential To Your Success

Link-building strategies, along with SEO tools, have certainly changed over the years.

Since the old automated link-building tools that automatically placed content like KontentMachine or GSA’s Search Engine Ranker, modern tools have moved to manual research and outreach platforms.

Tools that many of my link-building colleagues and I use today look more like ones used for public relations (PR) rather than link-building. However, there are still tools specific to link building that aren’t going anywhere.

These can be divided into four categories:

  • Link research.
  • Prospecting and outreach.
  • Reporting.
  • AI-powered tools.

Emerging technologies powered by AI can make the link-building process easier.

Link Research Prospecting And Outreach Reporting AI-Powered Tools
1. Majestic

Excellent for identifying the types of domains you should generate links from.

3. Pitchbox

Combines email outreach with SEO metrics.

8. Agency Analytics

Connects a variety of performance metrics.

10. Link Whisperer

Good for internal linking efforts.

2. Ahrefs

Provides useful reports to analyze trends.

4. BuzzSumo

Use to identify authors and sharers/backlinkers.

9. Cyfe

Customizable but automatic reporting.

11. Postaga

Find opportunities and initiate outreach.

5. Hunter.IO

A browser extension that helps you find contact information.

12. CTRify

WordPress plugin that generates content.

6. BrightLocal

Submit and manage citations.

7. HARO

Link Research Tools

Link research is vital to figuring out what type of sites you should be approaching. This includes establishing quality criteria, categories of sites, authority metrics, and others.

Majestic and Ahrefs are two research tools that provide large databases and robust reporting.

I’ve included both of these sites as I constantly see each having data that the other doesn’t.

You may find some links to your competitors’ sites in Majestic that aren’t listed in Ahrefs and vice versa.

These tools can be used together to build a comprehensive list of sites to analyze. As with many SEO tools, the pricing depends on how many features your team needs.

1. Majestic

  • Pricing: $49.99 per month with one user for the ‘Lite’ package. $99.99 per month for the “Pro” package, which they recommend for SEO agencies and consultants.
  • Payment options: Monthly or receive a discount for an annual subscription.
Screenshot from Majestic, January 2023

Here are some recommendations on using it and what reports should influence your link-building.

  • Topics: This data can be used to identify the types of sites you should be generating links from. Consider running this report on the link profiles for top-ranking sites, then finding sites that fit into similar categories.
  • Referring Domains: Use this to evaluate the number of unique domains you should focus on building for your site. This also offers a look into the trust/citation flow distribution (count of domains by trust/citation flow).

2. Ahrefs

  • Pricing: $99 per month with only one user for the ‘Lite’ plan. $199 per month for the “Standard” plan.
  • Payment options: Monthly or receive a discount for an annual subscription.
Ahrefs toolScreenshot from Ahrefs, January 2023

In contrast to Majestic, Ahrefs has some reports that are much easier to run inside the tool. It certainly costs more, but if you want more data, then Ahrefs is the right choice.

Here are reports to use in Ahrefs over Majestic:

  • Pages > Best by links: Two useful applications of this report are:
    • Identify competitors’ most linked content to influence your content strategies.
    • Identify the type of sites that link to the content you will produce.
  • Pages > Best by link growth: This is a “trend” report providing content that has been generating links over the last 30 days. Find content here that is receiving a rapid number of links and create more robust content.

Prospecting And Outreach Tools

Finding highly relevant sites that may link to your content is the most excruciating part of link building.

You can create a large list of sites and bulk outreach to save time, but when evaluating your link-building success on links gained per hour and the quality of those links, it’s best to handle prospecting manually or in a semi-automated approach.

I’ll go through five tools, Pitchbox, BuzzSumo, Hunter.io, BrightLocal, and HARO.

These tools can be used for the most popular link-building strategies.

3. Pitchbox

  • Pricing: Averages $500+ per month.
  • Payment options: Prices are dependent on an individual walkthrough with Pitchbox.

Pitchbox is one of the pricier tools on the market compared to email tools like MailChimp, but integrated prospecting helps reduce the time to qualify sites.

The prospecting sites list builder and SEO metrics integrated right into the opportunities report make the tool stand out.

PitchboxScreenshot from Pitchbox, January 2023

4. BuzzSumo

  • Pricing: $99 per month for the “Pro” package. $179 per month for the “Plus” package. There’s a pared-down free version with limited searches per month.
  • Payment options: There is also a free version with limited features.

This is an excellent tool for building lists of blogs, influencers, and authors. Out of all the prospecting tools on the list, BuzzSumo has the best filtering options.

You can use the tool for a lot of purposes, but for link building, these are two effective use cases:

  • Identifying authors: The content research and influencers sections provide lists of authors/influencers that are searchable by keywords in the content they shared or produced. One fantastic use for this is to search through the “most shared” report and find influencers that received more than 2,000 shares of their content, then outreach to them to share yours. This can yield a lot of natural links.
  • Identifying sharers/backlinks: The second use goes a layer deeper than the first, finding those that have shared the content. Pull a list of shares or backlinking websites by content, then create similar but better content.
Buzzsumo platformScreenshot from Buzzsumo, January 2023

5. Hunter.io

  • Pricing: Starts at free. The first two upgraded packages are $49 per month and $99 per month.
  • Payment options: Free for 25 monthly searches up to $399 per month for 30,000 searches.

This browser extension finds email addresses for easy contact options.

It helps cut down on time spent sifting through About pages. You can also take it a step further and use the tool for outreach.

Hunter.ioScreenshot from Hunter.io, January 2023

6. BrightLocal

  • Pricing: $29-$79 per month, depending on package size.
  • Payment options: You can also pay for the citation builder, reviews, or enterprise.

Citation building is important for local SEO and should be considered a link-building project.

One of the tools with the best value for submitting and managing citations is BrightLocal.

There are two components: citation monitoring and citation building. The tool also allows you to figure out how you’re ranking based on the local competition.

BrightLocalScreenshot from BightLocal, January 2023

7. HARO

  • Pricing: Starts at free. The first paid plan is $19 per month, which adds alerts and search functionality.
  • Payment options: The free options offer media options delivered to your email three times a day and up to $149/month for premium.

While this tool is traditionally used in the journalism world, it can also help link builders. It connects you with credible sources and allows you to build natural backlinks.

HAROScreenshot from HARO, January 2023

Reporting Tools

Although many of the tools in the previous section have reporting functionality built in, I’ve found them lacking in custom reporting or the ability to associate links to ranking performance.

These tools solve that issue; AgencyAnalytics and Cyfe.

8. Agency Analytics

  • Pricing: $12 per month, per campaign. $18 per month per campaign for custom reporting features.
  • Payment options: Pay annually to save money.

Agency Analytics automatically populates the dashboard with data from Moz and Majestic and connects that data to critical performance metrics, like ranking and organic traffic.

Qualified traffic that converts to leads or sales is the purpose of link-building and SEO efforts, so reporting needs to make a connection between them.

Agency AnalyticsScreenshot from Agency Analytics, January 2023

9. Cyfe

  • Pricing: $19 per month for one user, with higher tiers for more users.
  • Payment options: Unlimited users for $89/month.

This tool can be built out as a hybrid between Google Sheets and Agency Analytics, meaning it’s very customizable but can also automatically and easily aggregate data from multiple sources to create a meaningful report.

CyfeScreenshot from Cyfe, January 2023

AI-Powered Tools

AI-powered tools can significantly simplify otherwise complex and time-consuming tasks. Remember that some of your processes will require a human touch, so always evaluate how performance is impacted when integrating AI into your processes.

The following tools, Link Whisper, Postaga, and CTRify use AI to discover opportunities and automate processes.

10. Link Whisper

  • Pricing: $77 per month for one site, with additional plans for more sites.
  • Payment options: One to 50 site licenses.

Link Whisper is useful for internal link building.

AI technologies offer automatic link suggestions as content is produced. It can also help you recognize old content that needs more links directed to it.

The tools also automate links based on keywords and offer internal link reporting. It’s pretty all-inclusive and can help speed up internal link-building automatically.

Link WhispererScreenshot from Link Whisperer, January 2023

11. Postaga

  • Pricing: $84 per month for one account with five users. $250 per month for 30 accounts with unlimited users.
  • Payment options: Save by paying annually.

Postaga does everything from finding opportunities to initiating outreach.

AI comes into play with the outreach assistant, which finds relevant information from influencers to include in emails. You can also enter your domain into the tool to find relevant campaign ideas.

PostagaScreenshot from Postaga, January 2023

12. CTRify

  • Pricing: A free version. $197 or $497, depending on the plan.
  • Payment options: Single payment.

CTRify is a WordPress plugin that is great for content creation.

All it takes is a single keyword, and the AI creates the content you need for a specific campaign. You can then automatically publish the posts – it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

CTRifyScreenshot from CTRify, January 2023

Conclusion

I’ve curated this list with the intent to offer a tool for every reader, providing enterprise-level affordable solutions and highly technical tools.

There is diversity in the available tools, and you will need to select the right one for the job.

You don’t need to have a $1,000 monthly tool budget to be a link builder, but all of the tasks will take time. Allocating your time and budget in the right combination improves business outcomes.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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WordPress Admin Interface Is “Simply Bad”

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WordPress Admin Interface Is "Simply Bad"

Yoast SEO plugin founder, Joost de Valk, published a critical appraisal of the WordPress user interface (UI), saying that it makes it  “harder to use” and may be a reason that contributes to WordPress losing market share to companies like Wix and Shopify.

The official WordPress design philosophy states that they want to make WordPress easier to use with every new version published.

They write that it’s their goal that the “non-technically minded” user is the one they design for so that they can be set up within five minutes with a fully functional website.

However the reality of how easy WordPress is to use falls far short of their philosophy statement.

Even the developer of WordPress itself, Matt Mullenweg, said that designing in Wix is faster than doing the same thing in WordPress.

WordPress User Interface Design

Joost points the finger at the current WordPress admin user interface as a contributing factor to why WordPress is confusing to use.

He called attention to the fact that WordPress has three different user interfaces, forcing users to learn how to use each interface and complicating the experience of using WordPress.

To make things worse, themes and plugins introduce their own user interface elements, which again forces users to learn an entirely different way to navigate and user the software.

An ideal user interface (UI) offers a consistent workspace so that a user doesn’t have to stop and rethink where all the buttons and links are.

Interacting with the interface should be similar across every screen, regardless of what they are trying to accomplish.

Joost wrote:

“The current state is simply bad: WordPress core basically has 3 designs now.

The edit post page I’m typing this in looks nothing like the Posts overview page, which looks nothing like the Site Health page.

And then you go into plugins and each has their own UI there too. This makes WordPress as a whole harder to use.”

WordPress is Old Fashioned and Losing Market Share

Aside from the UI being inconsistent, Joost also pointed out that competitors like Wix have a consistent UI throughout their content management systems.

So while the rest of the world is moving on with best practices WordPress is stuck with the same inconsistent interface it’s had for years.

Yoast insisted that the poor user interface is contributing to the exodus of users from WordPress to competitors.

“This is how we lose CMS market share to companies like Wix and Shopify (who each do have their own design system).”

Is WordPress Hard to Use?

A major feature that makes a closed source CMS like Wix attractive is that it’s easy to use. One of the reasons it’s easy to use is a consistent design system.

PC Magazine gave Wix an Editors Choice Best of the Year Award in 2022, writing:

“If you want to build a website online with minimal effort and maximum creative freedom, look no further than Wix.”

WordPress received no such award. However, in PC Magazine’s overview of WordPress, the authors remarked that it wasn’t “particularly difficult.”

But the authors of the PC Magazine overview also acknowledged the learning curve to using WordPress:

“…people who aren’t familiar with the process may need a guiding hand.”

WordPress theme website ThemeIsle writes:

“While WordPress does not require any coding knowledge, customizing your theme is often not that straightforward.

By default, you don’t get quite the same visual editing experience as you would with Squarespace or Wix, although the new Block Editor is evolving in that direction…Some poorly coded themes might also be a pain to adjust unless you’re an advanced user.”

One of the goals of WordPress is to be easy for users to build with.

So it’s puzzling that WordPress is acknowledged as difficult to use, particularly in comparison to closed source alternatives like Wix, Shopify and Duda.

Joost de Valk puts his finger on the outdated admin UI as one reason why WordPress is so hard to use.

He practically pleads for the leadership at WordPress to prioritize designing a consistent user interface.

“WordPress needs a design system and it needs it fast…”

Response from Twitter WordPress Community

The response to Joost’s article was overwhelmingly positive, with many from the WordPress community thanking Joost for calling attention to the topic.

@learnwithmattc tweeted:

“Excellent write-up, summary, recommendations, tips, resources. It’s not often you get this much valuable info in one blog post.

WP Product Devs, pay attention! Settings UIs matter, whether you like the route Yoast took or not, I think it’s worth paying attention to.”

@Shock9699 tweeted thanks for the article, calling attention to the mismatched menus within the WordPress admin interface.

“Totally agree. WordPress now looks like a 10/15 year old CMS. Especially with the advent of the new FSE where the internal menus are different from those of the normal dashboard.”

@mnowak_eth tweeted agreement with the opinions about the state of the WordPress admin UI:

“…Wordpress panel is starting to look like ancient enterprise software (you know the names). With the whole SaaS movement constantly educating the Internet society on good and bad UX and ergonomics, wp panel was overlooked.”

A standardized design that is shared by plugins and themes would create a seamless and coherent admin interface. @wpsecurityuser tweeted an appeal for a standardized design system.

“Please stop plugins implementing their UI systems, update the wordpress admin UI and standerdize everything, let’s get modern.”

@bitartem called attention to the value of having a design system in place so that the WordPress ecosystem can know ahead of time what to expect.

“Another problem is that WordPress is in a transitional phase, I mean Block Editor, and Full Site Editing, and new features are added almost every day, so if there’s a Design System, we need to know what WordPress will become in near future.”

WordPress Admin User Interface Needs Improvement

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that WordPress is in trouble when the person who created it says that it’s faster to get things done in a closed source competitor than it is with WordPress.

Joost’s article focuses on the outdated state of the WordPress admin interface and calls attention to the need for a coherent design statement that plugin and theme developers could adopt in order to create an easier to use end product.

Read Joost de Valk’s Blog Post

WordPress’ admin UI needs to be better



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Top YouTube Videos, Shorts, And Ads of 2022

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Top YouTube Videos, Shorts, And Ads of 2022

Examining YouTube’s list of the top trending videos and top Shorts of 2022, as well as the YouTube Ads Leaderboard: 2022 year-end-wrap-up can teach content marketers, content creators, and digital advertisers some important lessons that they can apply in 2023.

But, it helps if you have a secret decoder ring to decipher why there are three lists – and why each one uses a different methodology to come up with the rankings.

YouTube unveiled its first list of the 10 most-watched YouTube videos back in December 2010. Unfortunately, that list taught many marketers that “view count” was the only metric that mattered.

But, I got my secret decoder ring back in October 2012, when YouTube started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search results to reward engaging videos that kept viewers watching.

In other words, YouTube replaced “view count” with “watch time.”

This was a significant shift, because “watch time” gives you a sense of what content viewers actually watch, as opposed to videos that they click on and then abandon.

In December 2012, YouTube shifted from unveiling its 10 “most-watched” videos of the year to unveiling its “top trending videos,” based on time spent watching, sharing, commenting, liking, and other factors.

In other words, “watch time” and “engagements” were now the metrics that mattered.

Today, YouTube’s algorithm rewards “viewer satisfaction.”

In other words, YouTube doesn’t pay attention to videos; it pays attention to viewers.

So, rather than trying to make videos that’ll make an algorithm happy, focus on making videos that make your viewers happy.

This brings us to YouTube’s lists of “trending videos” and “top Shorts” for 2022.

To learn important lessons that can be applied in 2023, we need to realize that YouTube’s discovery system uses both absolute and relative watch time as signals when deciding audience engagement.

Ultimately, YouTube wants both short and long videos to succeed, so relative watch time is more important for short videos, and absolute watch time is more important for longer videos.

Top 7 Trending Videos Of 2022

1. “So Long Nerds“ By Technoblade (6:32 long, 88.3 million Views, 10.2 million engagements)

In this moving tribute, the father of beloved Minecraft creator Technoblade reads a farewell letter from his son.

The gamer lost his battle with cancer in June, but his legacy remains on YouTube.

2. “Watch The Uncensored Moment Will Smith Smacks Chris Rock On Stage At The Oscars, Drops F-bomb” By Guardian News (1:24 long, 104 million Views, and 1.8 million engagements)

It was the smack heard ‘round the world: Academy Award winner Will Smith went off-script and slapped Chris Rock, live on-stage, at the film industry’s most prestigious event.

3. “Hi, I’m Dream” By Dream (5:42 long, 48.5 million Views, and 4.7 million engagements)

Dream’s ingenuity within Minecraft has led him to become a top creator with a devoted fanbase.

But no one knew what he looked like IRL, until now.

4. “ Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar & 50 Cent Full Pepsi Sb Lvi Halftime Show” By NFL (14:41 long, 146 million Views, and 3.5 million engagements)

Lose yourself in this epic Super Bowl halftime show packed with some of the biggest artists in hip-hop history: Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lama, and 50 Cent.

5. “I Built Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!” By Mrbeast (17:01 long, 132 million Views, and 5.1 million engagements)

In a “Willy Wonka” inspired warehouse, MrBeast challenges contestants to traverse a chocolate river, climb a candy wall, compete in confection-themed games, and indulge in their sweetest fantasies.

6. “Pranks Destroy Scam Callers- Glitterbomb Payback” By Mark Rober (26:41 long, 55.9 million Views, and 2.2 million engagements).

Engineer Mark Rober exacts dazzling revenge on a scam call center in the latest version of his glitterbomb series.

7. “Being Not Straight” By Jaiden Animations (15:22 long, 17.8 million Views, and 1.7 million engagements)

In this coming-out video, Jaiden Animations depicts a personal journey from adolescence to adulthood, sharing how they discovered their sexual identity along the way.

Top 7 Shorts Of 2022

1. “Diver Cracks Egg At 45 Ft Deep #Shorts” By Shangerdanger (0:56 long, 251 million Views, and 12.3 million engagements)

The ocean floor is a mysterious place. It’s full of unknown sea creatures, strange plants, and…chicken eggs?!

Join Shangerdanger as he cracks up the internet and dives egg-first into the blue depths.

2. “Sarah Trust Challenges” By Hingaflips (0:31 long, 142 million Views, and 6.5 million engagements)

Better than parkour? This is Trampwall: an epic sport where acrobats defy gravity and leap off a wall, onto a trampoline, to pull off mind-blowing aerial stunts.

3. “Come With Me To Shave My Fluffy Dog! #Doggrooming #Grooming #Goldendoodle” By Brodie That Dood (0:52 long, 108 million Views, and 6.8 million engagements)

For years, his long fluffy fur has made Brodie one of the most iconic dogs on YouTube. So, the heartbreak was real when it was decided that he needed a close trim.

4. “Dave and Busters Bet Me 1000 Tickets I Couldn’t Do This…” By Chris Ivan (0:59 long, 83.6 million Views, and 6.3 million engagements).

No one does trick shots like creator Chris Ivan. In this Short, he attempts to land a plunger on a Dave & Buster’s sign.

The prize? 1,000 tickets … if he can pull it off.

5. “That Gap Between Your Car Seat and Center Console” By Jay & Sharon (0:58 long, 182 million Views, and 6.4 million engagements)

We’ve all lost something in the dreaded gap between the car seat and the center console.

In this comedic sketch, creators Jay & Sharon show us what’s really going on down there.

6. “Welcome To The Stomach #Shorts” By Adrian Bliss (0:34 long, 118 million Views, and 7.0 million engagements)

In this bite-sized skit, witty creator Adrian Bliss brings to life all the characters trying to gain entrance – and party in – his space-limited stomach.

7. “This Magic Trick Explained (America’s Got Talent)” By Zack D. Films (0:34 long, 97.4 million Views, and 5.6 million engagements).

How did he do it? The judges of “America’s Got Talent” were confounded by this magic trick.

But not internet-sleuth Zack D., who unveils its clever secret.

Top 7 YouTube Ads Of 2022

Meanwhile, YouTube uses an entirely different methodology to determine the top YouTube ad for its 2022 year-end wrap-up Leaderboard. This makes sense.

The top ads are generally the ones with the biggest budgets, which drive up view counts, but not always engagements.

1. “Amazon’s Big Game Commercial: Mind Reader” By Amazon (1:31 long, 69.7 million Views, and 25,700 engagements)

The creative agency for this ad was Lucky Generals and the media agency was IPG – Rufus.

The ad’s description asks, “Is Alexa reading minds a good idea? No. No, it is not.”

2. “Welcome To Clan Capital! Clash Of Clans New Update!” By Clash Of Clans (1:20 long, 52.9 million Views, and 212,000 engagements)

The creative agency was Psyop, and the media agency was in-house.

The ad’s description says,

“Welcome to the ultimate clan destination! A place where you and your clan can BUILD and BATTLE together! A place called CLAN CAPITAL!”

3. “Goal Of The Century X BTS | Yet To Come (Hyundai Ver.) Official Music Video” By Hyundaiworldwide (4:08 long, 40.5 million Views, and 886,000 engagements)

The ad’s description says,

“Our ‘Goal of the Century’ can’t be achieved by one individual alone, but we can achieve it if we all join forces and unite.

Just like football players come together as a team to score goals, we aim to use the power of football to go forward together in pursuit of the greatest goal – ‘A united world for sustainability.’”

4. “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts | Official Trailer | HBO Max” By HBO Max (1:58 long, 27.3 million Views, and 739,000 engagements)

The creative agency was in-house, and the media agency was Hearts & Science.

The ad’s description says,

“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts invites fans on a magical first-person journey through one of the most beloved film franchises of all time as it reunites Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and other esteemed cast members and filmmakers across all eight Harry Potter films for the first time to celebrate the anniversary of the franchise’s first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

5. “Introducing iPhone 14 Pro | Apple” by Apple (4:20 long, 23.8 million views, and 571,000 engagements)

The ad’s description asks, “What lies beyond a traditional smartphone? Let’s find out. This is iPhone 14 Pro.”

6. All of Us Are Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix” by Netflix (2:35 long, 22.6 million views, and 518,000 engagements)

The creative agency was The Refinery, and the media agency was in-house. The ad’s description says,

“All of us will die. There is no hope.” The school turned into a bloody battleground and our friends into worst enemies. Who will make it out alive?”

7. Sally’s Seashells (Extended) | Big Game Commercial 2022“ by Squarespace (1:07 long, 21.6 million views, and 67,600 engagements)

The media agency was in-house. The ad’s description says,

“See everything that Sally sells in this extended cut of our 2022 Big Game commercial. Starring Zendaya as Sally and narrated by andré 3000.”

Most Important Lesson That Marketers Can Apply In 2023

Looking back at YouTube’s lists of top trending videos, top Shorts, and top ads for 2022, there is a meta-lesson that marketers can learn: one size does not fit all.

Different metrics matter when measuring different types of video, and different types of ads are better for different marketing objectives.

Or, as the British say, “There are horses for courses.”

Now, that’s a lesson that all of us can apply in 2023, and beyond.

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