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5 Powerful Marketing Activities: Lessons From Successful Brands



5 Powerful Marketing Activities: Lessons From Successful Brands

Marketing activities are actions an individual or organization undertakes to achieve specific marketing outcomes.

There are probably as many marketing activities as there are marketing goals. It’s hard to evaluate these activities “as they are” because their effectiveness depends on how they’re applied and to which market.

Yet there are some activities that seem to stand out from the rest by bringing great results for many companies and standing the test of time.

In this article, I’ll show you five such marketing activities and five companies that tested them in real-life conditions. Since each of those activities can be an article on its own (or a book), I’ll be focusing on explaining why they are worth your time.

Here they are:


1. Finding product-market fit

Finding product-market fit (PMF) means making sure a product can satisfy an existing demand in a market with high potential. Basically, a telltale sign of achieving PMF is when people are willing to buy your product, actively use it, and recommend it to others.

Some may think that PMF is outside of marketing’s scope or that it’s irrelevant to marketing performance. But that cannot be further from the truth. There are two reasons:

  1. Without market research, it’s unlikely a company can build a great product that answers consumers’ needs and wants.
  2. Without such a product, no marketing tactics can generate sufficient demand to support the company.

It’s quite obvious if you look at it from the customer’s point of view. A company tries to sell a new type of hydrogen car, but there are no hydrogen stations nearby. If that’s the case, what kind of marketing can convince a customer to buy that car? That product just won’t fit the market.

That is why achieving PMF matters the most. Without it, you can’t build sustainable growth, and scaling anything simply won’t make sense. You’ll just waste your time and money.

In other words, a PMF is to a business what foundations are to a house. 


There are essentially five steps to achieving PMF. The core element of that five-step process is building a minimum viable product (MVP).

An MVP is a “product development” phase in which you test whether the core functionality of your product can satisfy the market demand by interacting with real users.

That’s how Spotify started—a business valued at $54 billion today.

Instead of going for a “big bang” launch with a perfect product that has all the features people dream of, Spotify creators decided to build an MVP and test it similar to how a scientist tests a hypothesis.

This is also how this metaphorical drawing came to life, capturing the lesson from that process.

So here’s how to build an MVP:


5 Powerful Marketing Activities Lessons From Successful Brands

Translation: An MVP (or the “earliest testable/usable/lovable product,” as the illustrator of this picture prefers to call it) is about offering the earliest version of a product that can satisfy users’ needs and iteratively working your way up to something great.

This is opposed to delivering something great one piece at a time.

In Spotify’s case, here’s how the metaphorical skateboard looked like:

1642608683 417 5 Powerful Marketing Activities Lessons From Successful Brands

This MVP was designed to test the idea of streaming music and its performance with consumer technology.

The team didn’t even run complex market research to test those aspects. Initially, team members just needed some feedback from family and friends. Afterward, they took that MVP to record labels and convinced them to put music on the platform.


Find the product market before scaling any other operations. And that includes marketing. The market always wins, and you can save yourself a lot of time and money learning what it “wants” as soon as possible—just as Spotify did.


2. Influencing word of mouth

Inspiring word of mouth refers to word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM), i.e., the process of influencing and encouraging natural discussions about a product, service, or company. To put it simply, influencing word of mouth is about giving people a reason to talk.

Just so we’re on the same page, word of mouth is not some old-fashioned marketing theory. We’re talking about recent studies proving the effect recommendations from friends and family have on consumer behavior.

Also, let’s not forget that the digital era has given us new, measurable forms of word of mouth:

  • Conversations and shares on social media
  • User reviews on sites like G2, Capterra, etc
  • User-generated content about brands and their products (e.g., photos on Instagram with a branded hashtag)

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing channel that may be elusive. Yet it’s not entirely out of control. Because while marketers can’t control what people say about their brands, they can inspire brand-related conversations and even recommendations.

It boils down to delighting users with the product and spreading positive experiences.


And it’s worth it. Many companies have used that channel to grow and sustain their business: Tesla, Github, Evernote, Uber, etc. There are too many to mention. In fact, positive word of mouth is one of the signs of achieving PMF, as discussed in the section above.

Fortunately, we can speak from our own experience here. Ahrefs is an eight-figure ARR company, and word of mouth is one of our top three customer acquisition channels.

So how do we influence word of mouth? The most important component is the product. For many people, Ahrefs is the go-to toolset for SEO. Some like it enough to say things such as:

Quote from customer saying they'd quit if Ahrefs didn't exist

That’s why we never stop improving Ahrefs. People see that and appreciate our effort enough to recommend our tools to others:

And if you’ve got a complex product like ours, you also need to put a lot of effort into educating your audience. And that’s what we do with articles and videos on this blog, on our YouTube channel, and in our Academy. These types of content are also a tried-and-tested way to inspire some word of mouth:

This brings us to creating positive experiences via marketing. They captivate your customers and followers and help ensure those experiences will be shared.

One example of this is handing people free swag:

Gestures like this can later be noticed by important blogs in a particular niche and mentioned in social media conversations:


Also, doing something important or highly regarded by the target audience can spread quite fast:


Word of mouth has been the key to success for many companies. And it’s not a coincidence. Recommendations from customers have their weight in gold, and the only “costs” are improving your product, educating your audience about it, and leaving a trace of positive experiences.


3. Developing a content marketing machine

All marketers face the same challenge: how to attract people and convert them to customers. Of course, there is no silver bullet for that. But if there’s one type of marketing that comes close, it’s content marketing.

This is because content marketing can do these three things, among others:

  1. Drive the entire marketing funnel
  2. Bring compounding results
  3. Reinforce itself

Let’s break it down using Ahrefs’ content marketing machine as an example.

By driving the entire marketing funnel, we find that our content, in the form of blog posts, videos, cheat sheets, etc., can serve many different purposes when it comes to communicating with a target audience.

For example, a blog article can generate awareness by pulling people from a SERP to Ahrefs’ blog.

Another piece of content, e.g., a video, may show a step-by-step process of solving an SEO problem, thus making people more interested in Ahrefs’ product and eventually willing to try it.


And it gets even better. Often, a single piece of content can serve different stages of the funnel:

Table showing 4 questions with corresponding answers that are used to decide which stage(s) of the marketing funnel a blog article serves

Arguably, the most powerful thing about such content is its potential to pull people from search engines like Google. This can translate into huge amounts of organic traffic and, of course, considerable business potential.

Since organic search is a crucial marketing channel for us and for many other businesses, let’s see how it works for Ahrefs in a nutshell:

  1. We create SEO content based on search demand and the business value of a particular topic.
  2. Someone searches for a solution to an SEO or marketing problem via a search engine like Google.
  3. If our content ranks high enough, they read/watch our content that shows how to solve the problem through our product.
  4. If the content is convincing, it may make them want to try our product.

Search demand and business value mentioned in the first point are absolutely vital to the success of the whole operation. Without them, not enough people will find our brand through content, and we won’t be able to feature our product adequately.

This brings us to results, or rather, the compounding results of content marketing. Through the systematic publishing of content, our blog articles generate an estimated 326.7K visits per month—and that’s from organic search alone.

Every new article we publish adds to that result. And so, an article posted two weeks ago will bring new traffic, adding to the traffic generated by a blog post we published years ago.

For example, this article about top Google searches was published in 2017 and still generates traffic.

Site Explorer overview of Top Google Searches (2021)

The third special benefit of content marketing is it has the ability to reinforce itself. Meaning, it is easier to get results the more you do it because every additional action you take adds to the momentum.

Marketers call it the flywheel effect. The first push is the hardest. But as the “wheel” builds momentum, that same push will make the wheel spin a lot faster (i.e., think about how a salad spinner works).


To illustrate, this is what happens when you invest in long-term content marketing:

  1. If your content is good, people will recommend it, bringing in more readers. Chances are, the same people will come back to your blog to read your next article.
  2. Now your readership is growing. Each new post has a greater potential audience than the previous one because it borrows from the readership of past articles and pulls new readers from SERPs.
  3. A new thing happens. Someone links to your content on their website. Now you’re getting backlinks, which are, arguably, the principal ranking factor. As a result, your content ranks higher on SERPs, thus bringing more visitors and building your authority on the topic (another important ranking factor).
  4. As content gains links and ranks higher, it gets even more links, as more people are willing to link to a page with a higher ranking.
  5. Now you can link from your old content to your new content, passing on link equity. Your content then ranks higher and gets more readers. Those readers will bring new readers and new links. The cycle continues, and the flywheel gains momentum. Let’s not forget. New visitors mean new potential customers.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. But this is how content marketing contributed to making Ahrefs what it is today. If you want to learn more about building a content marketing machine like ours, check out these guides:


Content marketing is powerful. It can even function as a standalone, self-sufficient marketing tactic. Content allows you to attract new customers, nurture your leads, and educate your customers—sometimes even with the same piece of content. And it works best when you do it with organic search in mind.

If you ever wondered how much a community built around a brand and its products could be worth to a business, Adobe answered that in 2012 by acquiring Behance for about $150 million.

That is how much Adobe, the creator of Photoshop, paid to “transplant” a platform that had gathered 1 million active users and generated 90 million project views monthly.

So what kind of benefits could a community like Behance possibly offer to this software giant?

Number one: activating and retaining users. Let’s give the floor to Heidi Voltmer, Adobe’s then product marketing director, to explain why the company was in need of a solution like Behance:


We have tools, we have services, and if you’ve got all those things, you also need inspiration, you need to get that spark. … By bringing in Behance, we’re rounding out our offering and making this a one-stop destination for creative professionals.

Inspiring people to use a product (i.e., activating and then retaining users) is a common problem relating to productivity tools, and Adobe’s products were no exception.

Adobe had the best graphic design tools in class but still lacked something that would make people use those tools more frequently and effectively.

A user community is a great solution for that. Each new project uploaded to the platform can inspire multiple people to use Adobe’s products and encourage them to upload their own work. This, in turn, enriches the platform with more user-generated content and potentially inspires another group of people.

And we’re talking here about an endless stream of user-generated content:

Gif of scrolling through many photos

Number two: branding. Since Adobe now owns the platform, it can insert its logo and pitch its products in strategic places. Here are a few examples, starting from the welcome email:

Behance's welcome email

While creating an account on Behance is free, Adobe tries to put users on a conversion path ASAP. By clicking on the link in the image above, users are directed to a landing page where they can create a portfolio page that comes free with Adobe’s Creative Cloud paid solution:

Creative Cloud's paid plans

Then, on the Behance platform itself, there’s a whole lot of Adobe’s branding:

Behance platform showcasing Adobe Live's content
Behance platform showcasing Adobe's content

When we put it together with just the organic traffic this platform currently gets, we suspect that Behance is worth even more than what Adobe paid for it.

If you look at other branded communities, you will find other benefits of building them. Behance is an example of a community focused on showcasing work. But when a community is focused on conversations and sharing ideas about a product, this allows the brand to:

  • Get quality feedback on new products and features.
  • Gain an additional marketing channel. Brands can connect with users directly on these platforms, and the messages can go beyond the platform to spark word of mouth elsewhere (social media, forums, workplaces, etc.).
  • Offer added value to the product or service. For example, if a user has a problem, a request, or an idea, they can get feedback from other users in the community. 


For Adobe, a community connected to its brand was worth $150 million. And it’s not the only company that has invested heavily in this marketing asset. A branded community can be a source of many benefits. These include giving a company the ability to monetize traffic, get valuable feedback, and gain a new, direct marketing channel.

5. Conducting market research

Market research is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a given market. This is how marketers source crucial data for their marketing strategy, e.g., insights about potential customers, the competition, and the industry trends.

The importance of market research is hard to overestimate. Data is power, and it’s no different when it comes to marketing.

In fact, I’ll put it this way: Data should be the starting point of any decision-making. And if you don’t have enough data to make a move, your next move should be to get data.

Here are some popular methods to achieve that:

  • Interviews – Conduct face-to-face discussions with your users, potential customers, and other people with insight into your market (e.g., distributors).
  • Surveys – One of the most popular and cost-effective market research methods often done online. Surveys involve polling on things like feature desirability and user satisfaction.
  • Competitive analysis – By analyzing your competitors, you can quickly find out what works in your market and what doesn’t. Also, competitors make a great benchmark.
  • Commercial data – Think market reports and industry insights. You can learn things like the size of your market, market trends, and insights from people involved in your industry.

We go into further detail about the above and the tools/resources you can use in our guide on market research.

When it comes to companies that owe their success to market research, LEGO is a truly noteworthy example. In one of its research studies, the company found that only 9% of its users are female. LEGO understood that it had addressed that market segment wrong for decades.

But since a problem is an opportunity in disguise, LEGO set out to discover how it could approach that underserved market better.

It rolled out a massive study involving 3,500 girls and their mothers to understand the girls’ playing habits. It took LEGO four years to complete the study.

It found out that girls appreciate a different kind of playing experience. Namely, different kinds of scenarios (e.g., hair salons instead of police stations), more vibrant colors, and more expressive figurines than the LEGO classics. And so LEGO Friends was born in 2012.

1642608689 54 5 Powerful Marketing Activities Lessons From Successful Brands

Despite some criticism for the alleged reinforcing of gender stereotypes, the new product line became an instant hit. Today, LEGO Friends remains one of the biggest LEGO successes to date.

In the year the set launched, the company’s net profit rose 35%. And in the following years, Friends became one of the top five selling LEGO themes. 



Whether you’re trying to fix a problem in your marketing or looking for new opportunities in the market, chances are your answers are already out there. But you won’t find them until you reach for market research methods—a lesson we can learn from LEGO.

It’s worth noting that market research doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive project. It can also be done in a cost-effective, agile way.

Recommended reading: Market Research: What It Is and How to Do It

Final thoughts

I hope these five short examples inspired you to refine your marketing strategy. Seeing so many companies investing in these activities with great results, I think marketers should either try them at some point or have a really well-argued case for not doing them.

Naturally, these are not the only effective marketing activities out there. Here are a few more resources that feature other marketing ideas and tactics you can draw inspiration from:

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An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices For Mobile SEO




Mobile SEO: An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices

Over the years, search engines have encouraged businesses to improve mobile experience on their websites. More than 60% of web traffic comes from mobile, and in some cases based on the industry, mobile traffic can reach up to 90%.

Since Google has completed its switch to mobile-first indexing, the question is no longer “if” your website should be optimized for mobile, but how well it is adapted to meet these criteria. A new challenge has emerged for SEO professionals with the introduction of Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which replaced First Input Delay (FID) starting March, 12 2024.

Thus, understanding mobile SEO’s latest advancements, especially with the shift to INP, is crucial. This guide offers practical steps to optimize your site effectively for today’s mobile-focused SEO requirements.

What Is Mobile SEO And Why Is It Important?

The goal of mobile SEO is to optimize your website to attain better visibility in search engine results specifically tailored for mobile devices.

This form of SEO not only aims to boost search engine rankings, but also prioritizes enhancing mobile user experience through both content and technology.


While, in many ways, mobile SEO and traditional SEO share similar practices, additional steps related to site rendering and content are required to meet the needs of mobile users and the speed requirements of mobile devices.

Does this need to be a priority for your website? How urgent is it?

Consider this: 58% of the world’s web traffic comes from mobile devices.

If you aren’t focused on mobile users, there is a good chance you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of traffic.

Mobile-First Indexing

Additionally, as of 2023, Google has switched its crawlers to a mobile-first indexing priority.

This means that the mobile experience of your site is critical to maintaining efficient indexing, which is the step before ranking algorithms come into play.


Read more: Where We Are Today With Google’s Mobile-First Index

How Much Of Your Traffic Is From Mobile?

How much traffic potential you have with mobile users can depend on various factors, including your industry (B2B sites might attract primarily desktop users, for example) and the search intent your content addresses (users might prefer desktop for larger purchases, for example).

Regardless of where your industry and the search intent of your users might be, the future will demand that you optimize your site experience for mobile devices.

How can you assess your current mix of mobile vs. desktop users?

An easy way to see what percentage of your users is on mobile is to go into Google Analytics 4.

  • Click Reports in the left column.
  • Click on the Insights icon on the right side of the screen.
  • Scroll down to Suggested Questions and click on it.
  • Click on Technology.
  • Click on Top Device model by Users.
  • Then click on Top Device category by Users under Related Results.
  • The breakdown of Top Device category will match the date range selected at the top of GA4.
Screenshot from GA4, March 2024

You can also set up a report in Looker Studio.

  • Add your site to the Data source.
  • Add Device category to the Dimension field.
  • Add 30-day active users to the Metric field.
  • Click on Chart to select the view that works best for you.
A screen capture from Looker Studio showing a pie chart with a breakdown of mobile, desktop, tablet, and Smart TV users for a siteScreenshot from Looker Studio, March 2024

You can add more Dimensions to really dig into the data to see which pages attract which type of users, what the mobile-to-desktop mix is by country, which search engines send the most mobile users, and so much more.

Read more: Why Mobile And Desktop Rankings Are Different


How To Check If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

Now that you know how to build a report on mobile and desktop usage, you need to figure out if your site is optimized for mobile traffic.

While Google removed the mobile-friendly testing tool from Google Search Console in December 2023, there are still a number of useful tools for evaluating your site for mobile users.

Bing still has a mobile-friendly testing tool that will tell you the following:

  • Viewport is configured correctly.
  • Page content fits device width.
  • Text on the page is readable.
  • Links and tap targets are sufficiently large and touch-friendly.
  • Any other issues detected.

Google’s Lighthouse Chrome extension provides you with an evaluation of your site’s performance across several factors, including load times, accessibility, and SEO.

To use, install the Lighthouse Chrome extension.

  • Go to your website in your browser.
  • Click on the orange lighthouse icon in your browser’s address bar.
  • Click Generate Report.
  • A new tab will open and display your scores once the evaluation is complete.
An image showing the Lighthouse Scores for a website.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

You can also use the Lighthouse report in Developer Tools in Chrome.

  • Simply click on the three dots next to the address bar.
  • Select “More Tools.”
  • Select Developer Tools.
  • Click on the Lighthouse tab.
  • Choose “Mobile” and click the “Analyze page load” button.
An image showing how to get to Lighthouse within Google Chrome Developer Tools.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

Another option that Google offers is the PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool. Simply add your URL into the field and click Analyze.

PSI will integrate any Core Web Vitals scores into the resulting view so you can see what your users are experiencing when they come to your site.

An image showing the PageSpeed Insights scores for a website.Screenshot from PageSpeed Insights, March 2024

Other tools, like, will graphically display the processes and load times for everything it takes to display your webpages.

With this information, you can see which processes block the loading of your pages, which ones take the longest to load, and how this affects your overall page load times.


You can also emulate the mobile experience by using Developer Tools in Chrome, which allows you to switch back and forth between a desktop and mobile experience.

An image showing how to change the device emulation for a site within Google Chrome Developer ToolsScreenshot from Google Chrome Developer Tools, March 2024

Lastly, use your own mobile device to load and navigate your website:

  • Does it take forever to load?
  • Are you able to navigate your site to find the most important information?
  • Is it easy to add something to cart?
  • Can you read the text?

Read more: Google PageSpeed Insights Reports: A Technical Guide

How To Optimize Your Site Mobile-First

With all these tools, keep an eye on the Performance and Accessibility scores, as these directly affect mobile users.

Expand each section within the PageSpeed Insights report to see what elements are affecting your score.

These sections can give your developers their marching orders for optimizing the mobile experience.

While mobile speeds for cellular networks have steadily improved around the world (the average speed in the U.S. has jumped to 27.06 Mbps from 11.14 Mbps in just eight years), speed and usability for mobile users are at a premium.

Read more: Top 7 SEO Benefits Of Responsive Web Design


Best Practices For Mobile Optimization

Unlike traditional SEO, which can focus heavily on ensuring that you are using the language of your users as it relates to the intersection of your products/services and their needs, optimizing for mobile SEO can seem very technical SEO-heavy.

While you still need to be focused on matching your content with the needs of the user, mobile search optimization will require the aid of your developers and designers to be fully effective.

Below are several key factors in mobile SEO to keep in mind as you’re optimizing your site.

Site Rendering

How your site responds to different devices is one of the most important elements in mobile SEO.

The two most common approaches to this are responsive design and dynamic serving.

Responsive design is the most common of the two options.


Using your site’s cascading style sheets (CSS) and flexible layouts, as well as responsive content delivery networks (CDN) and modern image file types, responsive design allows your site to adjust to a variety of screen sizes, orientations, and resolutions.

With the responsive design, elements on the page adjust in size and location based on the size of the screen.

You can simply resize the window of your desktop browser and see how this works.

An image showing the difference between in a full desktop display vs. a mobile display using responsive design.Screenshot from, March 2024

This is the approach that Google recommends.

Adaptive design, also known as dynamic serving, consists of multiple fixed layouts that are dynamically served to the user based on their device.

Sites can have a separate layout for desktop, smartphone, and tablet users. Each design can be modified to remove functionality that may not make sense for certain device types.

This is a less efficient approach, but it does give sites more control over what each device sees.


While these will not be covered here, two other options:

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which can seamlessly integrate into a mobile app.
  • Separate mobile site/URL (which is no longer recommended).

Read more: An Introduction To Rendering For SEO

Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

Google has introduced Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as a more comprehensive measure of user experience, succeeding First Input Delay. While FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your page (e.g., clicking a link, tapping a button) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction. INP, on the other hand, broadens the scope by measuring the responsiveness of a website throughout the entire lifespan of a page, not just first interaction.

Note that actions such as hovering and scrolling do not influence INP, however, keyboard-driven scrolling or navigational actions are considered keystrokes that may activate events measured by INP but not scrolling which is happeing due to interaction.

Scrolling may indirectly affect INP, for example in scenarios where users scroll through content, and additional content is lazy-loaded from the API. While the act of scrolling itself isn’t included in the INP calculation, the processing, necessary for loading additional content, can create contention on the main thread, thereby increasing interaction latency and adversely affecting the INP score.

What qualifies as an optimal INP score?

  • An INP under 200ms indicates good responsiveness.
  • Between 200ms and 500ms needs improvement.
  • Over 500ms means page has poor responsiveness.

and these are common issues causing poor INP scores:

  1. Long JavaScript Tasks: Heavy JavaScript execution can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to respond to user interactions. Thus break long JS tasks into smaller chunks by using scheduler API.
  2. Large DOM (HTML) Size: A large DOM ( starting from 1500 elements) can severely impact a website’s interactive performance. Every additional DOM element increases the work required to render pages and respond to user interactions.
  3. Inefficient Event Callbacks: Event handlers that execute lengthy or complex operations can significantly affect INP scores. Poorly optimized callbacks attached to user interactions, like clicks, keypress or taps, can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to render visual feedback promptly. For example when handlers perform heavy computations or initiate synchronous network requests such on clicks.

and you can troubleshoot INP issues using free and paid tools.

As a good starting point I would recommend to check your INP scores by geos via which will give you a great high level insights where you struggle with most.

INP scores by GeosINP scores by Geos

Read more: How To Improve Interaction To Next Paint (INP)

Image Optimization

Images add a lot of value to the content on your site and can greatly affect the user experience.


From page speeds to image quality, you could adversely affect the user experience if you haven’t optimized your images.

This is especially true for the mobile experience. Images need to adjust to smaller screens, varying resolutions, and screen orientation.

  • Use responsive images
  • Implement lazy loading
  • Compress your images (use WebP)
  • Add your images into sitemap

Optimizing images is an entire science, and I advise you to read our comprehensive guide on image SEO how to implement the mentioned recommendations.

Avoid Intrusive Interstitials

Google rarely uses concrete language to state that something is a ranking factor or will result in a penalty, so you know it means business about intrusive interstitials in the mobile experience.

Intrusive interstitials are basically pop-ups on a page that prevent the user from seeing content on the page.

John Mueller, Google’s Senior Search Analyst, stated that they are specifically interested in the first interaction a user has after clicking on a search result.

Examples of intrusive interstitial pop-ups on a mobile site according to Google.

Not all pop-ups are considered bad. Interstitial types that are considered “intrusive” by Google include:

  • Pop-ups that cover most or all of the page content.
  • Non-responsive interstitials or pop-ups that are impossible for mobile users to close.
  • Pop-ups that are not triggered by a user action, such as a scroll or a click.

Read more: 7 Tips To Keep Pop-Ups From Harming Your SEO

Structured Data

Most of the tips provided in this guide so far are focused on usability and speed and have an additive effect, but there are changes that can directly influence how your site appears in mobile search results.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) haven’t been the “10 blue links” in a very long time.

They now reflect the diversity of search intent, showing a variety of different sections to meet the needs of users. Local Pack, shopping listing ads, video content, and more dominate the mobile search experience.

As a result, it’s more important than ever to provide structured data markup to the search engines, so they can display rich results for users.

In this example, you can see that both Zojirushi and Amazon have included structured data for their rice cookers, and Google is displaying rich results for both.

An image of a search result for Japanese rice cookers that shows rich results for Zojirushi and Amazon.Screenshot from search for [Japanese rice cookers], Google, March 2024

Adding structured data markup to your site can influence how well your site shows up for local searches and product-related searches.

Using JSON-LD, you can mark up the business, product, and services data on your pages in Schema markup.


If you use WordPress as the content management system for your site, there are several plugins available that will automatically mark up your content with structured data.

Read more: What Structured Data To Use And Where To Use It?

Content Style

When you think about your mobile users and the screens on their devices, this can greatly influence how you write your content.

Rather than long, detailed paragraphs, mobile users prefer concise writing styles for mobile reading.

Each key point in your content should be a single line of text that easily fits on a mobile screen.

Your font sizes should adjust to the screen’s resolution to avoid eye strain for your users.


If possible, allow for a dark or dim mode for your site to further reduce eye strain.

Headers should be concise and address the searcher’s intent. Rather than lengthy section headers, keep it simple.

Finally, make sure that your text renders in a font size that’s readable.

Read more: 10 Tips For Creating Mobile-Friendly Content

Tap Targets

As important as text size, the tap targets on your pages should be sized and laid out appropriately.

Tap targets include navigation elements, links, form fields, and buttons like “Add to Cart” buttons.


Targets smaller than 48 pixels by 48 pixels and targets that overlap or are overlapped by other page elements will be called out in the Lighthouse report.

Tap targets are essential to the mobile user experience, especially for ecommerce websites, so optimizing them is vital to the health of your online business.

Read more: Google’s Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool Now Measures Tap Target Spacing

Prioritizing These Tips

If you have delayed making your site mobile-friendly until now, this guide may feel overwhelming. As a result, you may not know what to prioritize first.

As with so many other optimizations in SEO, it’s important to understand which changes will have the greatest impact, and this is just as true for mobile SEO.

Think of SEO as a framework in which your site’s technical aspects are the foundation of your content. Without a solid foundation, even the best content may struggle to rank.

  • Responsive or Dynamic Rendering: If your site requires the user to zoom and scroll right or left to read the content on your pages, no number of other optimizations can help you. This should be first on your list.
  • Content Style: Rethink how your users will consume your content online. Avoid very long paragraphs. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” to quote Shakespeare.
  • Image Optimization: Begin migrating your images to next-gen image formats and optimize your content display network for speed and responsiveness.
  • Tap Targets: A site that prevents users from navigating or converting into sales won’t be in business long. Make navigation, links, and buttons usable for them.
  • Structured Data: While this element ranks last in priority on this list, rich results can improve your chances of receiving traffic from a search engine, so add this to your to-do list once you’ve completed the other optimizations.


From How Search Works, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

If Google’s primary mission is focused on making all the world’s information accessible and useful, then you know they will prefer surfacing sites that align with that vision.

Since a growing percentage of users are on mobile devices, you may want to infer the word “everywhere” added to the end of the mission statement.

Are you missing out on traffic from mobile devices because of a poor mobile experience?

If you hope to remain relevant, make mobile SEO a priority now.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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HARO Has Been Dead for a While



HARO Has Been Dead for a While

Every SEO’s favorite link-building collaboration tool, HARO, was officially killed off for good last week by Cision. It’s now been wrapped into a new product: Connectively.

I know nothing about the new tool. I haven’t tried it. But after trying to use HARO recently, I can’t say I’m surprised or saddened by its death. It’s been a walking corpse for a while. 

I used HARO way back in the day to build links. It worked. But a couple of months ago, I experienced the platform from the other side when I decided to try to source some “expert” insights for our posts. 

After just a few minutes of work, I got hundreds of pitches: 

So, I grabbed a cup of coffee and began to work through them. It didn’t take long before I lost the will to live. Every other pitch seemed like nothing more than lazy AI-generated nonsense from someone who definitely wasn’t an expert. 


Here’s one of them: 

Example of an AI-generated pitch in HAROExample of an AI-generated pitch in HARO

Seriously. Who writes like that? I’m a self-confessed dullard (any fellow Dull Men’s Club members here?), and even I’m not that dull… 

I don’t think I looked through more than 30-40 of the responses. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt like having a conversation with ChatGPT… and not a very good one! 

Despite only reviewing a few dozen of the many pitches I received, one stood out to me: 

Example HARO pitch that caught my attentionExample HARO pitch that caught my attention

Believe it or not, this response came from a past client of mine who runs an SEO agency in the UK. Given how knowledgeable and experienced he is (he actually taught me a lot about SEO back in the day when I used to hassle him with questions on Skype), this pitch rang alarm bells for two reasons: 

  1. I truly doubt he spends his time replying to HARO queries
  2. I know for a fact he’s no fan of Neil Patel (sorry, Neil, but I’m sure you’re aware of your reputation at this point!)

So… I decided to confront him 😉 

Here’s what he said: 

Hunch, confirmed ;)Hunch, confirmed ;)


I pressed him for more details: 


I’m getting a really good deal and paying per link rather than the typical £xxxx per month for X number of pitches. […] The responses as you’ve seen are not ideal but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take as realistically I dont have the time to do it myself. He’s not native english, but I have had to have a word with him a few times about clearly using AI. On the low cost ones I don’t care but on authority sites it needs to be more refined.

I think this pretty much sums up the state of HARO before its death. Most “pitches” were just AI answers from SEOs trying to build links for their clients. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing shade here. I know that good links are hard to come by, so you have to do what works. And the reality is that HARO did work. Just look at the example below. You can tell from the anchor and surrounding text in Ahrefs that these links were almost certainly built with HARO: 

Example of links build with HARO, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of links build with HARO, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

But this was the problem. HARO worked so well back in the day that it was only a matter of time before spammers and the #scale crew ruined it for everyone. That’s what happened, and now HARO is no more. So… 

If you’re a link builder, I think it’s time to admit that HARO link building is dead and move on. 

No tactic works well forever. It’s the law of sh**ty clickthroughs. This is why you don’t see SEOs having huge success with tactics like broken link building anymore. They’ve moved on to more innovative tactics or, dare I say it, are just buying links.


Talking of buying links, here’s something to ponder: if Connectively charges for pitches, are links built through those pitches technically paid? If so, do they violate Google’s spam policies? It’s a murky old world this SEO lark, eh?

If you’re a journalist, Connectively might be worth a shot. But with experts being charged for pitches, you probably won’t get as many responses. That might be a good thing. You might get less spam. Or you might just get spammed by SEOs with deep pockets. The jury’s out for now. 


My advice? Look for alternative methods like finding and reaching out to experts directly. You can easily use tools like Content Explorer to find folks who’ve written lots of content about the topic and are likely to be experts. 

For example, if you look for content with “backlinks” in the title and go to the Authors tab, you might see a familiar name. 😉 

Finding people to request insights from in Ahrefs' Content ExplorerFinding people to request insights from in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

I don’t know if I’d call myself an expert, but I’d be happy to give you a quote if you reached out on social media or emailed me (here’s how to find my email address).

Alternatively, you can bait your audience into giving you their insights on social media. I did this recently with a poll on X and included many of the responses in my guide to toxic backlinks.

Me, indirectly sourcing insights on social mediaMe, indirectly sourcing insights on social media

Either of these options is quicker than using HARO because you don’t have to sift through hundreds of responses looking for a needle in a haystack. If you disagree with me and still love HARO, feel free to tell me why on X 😉

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Google Clarifies Vacation Rental Structured Data




Google updates their vacation rental structured data documentation

Google’s structured data documentation for vacation rentals was recently updated to require more specific data in a change that is more of a clarification than it is a change in requirements. This change was made without any formal announcement or notation in the developer pages changelog.

Vacation Rentals Structured Data

These specific structured data types makes vacation rental information eligible for rich results that are specific to these kinds of rentals. However it’s not available to all websites. Vacation rental owners are required to be connected to a Google Technical Account Manager and have access to the Google Hotel Center platform.

VacationRental Structured Data Type Definitions

The primary changes were made to the structured data property type definitions where Google defines what the required and recommended property types are.

The changes to the documentation is in the section governing the Recommended properties and represents a clarification of the recommendations rather than a change in what Google requires.

The primary changes were made to the structured data type definitions where Google defines what the required and recommended property types are.


The changes to the documentation is in the section governing the Recommended properties and represents a clarification of the recommendations rather than a change in what Google requires.

Address property

This is a subtle change but it’s important because it now represents a recommendation that requires more precise data.

This is what was recommended before:

“streetAddress”: “1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy.”

This is what it now recommends:

“streetAddress”: “1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Unit 6E”

Address Property Change Description

The most substantial change is to the description of what the “address” property is, becoming more descriptive and precise about what is recommended.

The description before the change:


Information about the street address of the listing. Include all properties that apply to your country.

The description after the change:

The full, physical location of the vacation rental.
Provide the street address, city, state or region, and postal code for the vacation rental. If applicable, provide the unit or apartment number.
Note that P.O. boxes or other mailing-only addresses are not considered full, physical addresses.

This is repeated in the section for address.streetAddress property

This is what it recommended before:

address.streetAddress Text
The full street address of your vacation listing.

And this is what it recommends now:

address.streetAddress Text
The full street address of your vacation listing, including the unit or apartment number if applicable.

Clarification And Not A Change

Although these updates don’t represent a change in Google’s guidance they are nonetheless important because they offer clearer guidance with less ambiguity as to what is recommended.

Read the updated structured data guidance:


Vacation rental (VacationRental) structured data

Featured Image by Shutterstock/New Africa

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