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How To Optimize YouTube Videos To Help Ukraine



Back on Feb. 11, 2022, the marketing team at SE Ranking, then located in Kyiv, Ukraine, invited me to give an online presentation about my Search Engine Journal article entitled, “Video SEO: 10 Steps to Optimizing Videos for Search and Discovery.”

I quickly accepted.

I didn’t hear back from them for several days, and I learned later from Svetlana Shchehel, an editor at SE Ranking and fellow SEJ contributor:

“Some of us have spent days on the road striving to bring our families to a safer place. Some are still in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine, trying to do their daily routine to the sounds of air raid sirens.

All of us feel scared and devastated, but also hopeful and strong.”

That’s when I decided to go beyond presenting a PowerPoint version of my Search Engine Journal article.

And that’s why I opened my presentation at their webinar on April 14 with a snapshot of “The real price of war.”

I said, “Ukrainians are a big part of the SE Ranking team. Tatiana Perebeinis, the chief accountant of SE Ranking, and her two children, Mykyta, 18, and Alisa, 9, along with a church volunteer helping them, Anatoly Berezhnyi, 26, were killed on Sunday, March 6, crossing the concrete remnants of a damaged bridge in their town of Irpin, to evacuate to Kyiv.”

Now, as I said then, I can’t help Ukraine produce more YouTube videos that people in Europe will watch and share.

But I can teach you how to optimize videos that tell the truth about the war, so they are discovered when people conduct relevant searches on YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine.

Here’s a quick reference, and we’ll dig in below.

How to optimize YouTube videos to support Ukraine.

How YouTube’s Algorithm Works

YouTube’s algorithm tries to match each viewer to the videos they are most likely to watch and enjoy.

With more than 500 hours of video content uploaded every minute, this is quite a challenge.

YouTube’s search and discovery systems tackle this Herculean task by paying attention to viewers instead of videos.

YouTube’s algorithm “follows the audience” by paying attention to things like:

  • What they watch.
  • What they don’t watch.
  • How much time they spend watching.
  • Their sharing, likes, and dislikes.
  • “Not interested” feedback and satisfaction surveys.

Next, I explained that YouTube has multiple algorithms, including ones for:

  • YouTube Search: Videos are ranked based on how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s search and which videos drive the most engagement for a search.
  • Up Next: Videos are ranked to offer viewers videos they’re most likely to watch next. These videos are often related to the video an audience is watching, but they can also be personalized based on watch history.
  • Your homepage: Videos are selected based on how well they have interested and satisfied similar viewers, how often viewers watch a channel or topic, and how many times YouTube has already shown each video.
  • YouTube Shorts: YouTube wants both short and long videos to succeed. So, broadly speaking, relative watch time is more important for short videos, and absolute watch time is more important for longer videos.

But you don’t have to be an expert in YouTube’s algorithms to be successful. Instead, you focus on knowing your audience.

YouTube’s search and discovery system doesn’t “promote” videos to your audience. It ‘finds’ videos for each viewer and their varying interests.

The goal is to get people to watch more videos they enjoy so they will come back to YouTube regularly.

For example, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, made an emotional appeal to members of the U.S. Congress for additional help in defending Ukraine from Russia’s invasion.

His 18-minute address included a powerful video set to haunting violin music, juxtaposing Ukraine’s pre-invasion joy and beauty with graphic images of the war’s death and destruction that brought some lawmakers to tears.

And Tubular Labs data shows 174 accounts uploaded 217 videos about this event to YouTube, resulting in 5.3 million views and 130,000 engagements (e.g., likes, comments, shares).

Most were uploaded in the News & Politics category, but the video with the most views and engagements was “Trump Dials Back Putin Praise, Russia Sanctions Prominent Americans & Zelensky Addresses Congress,” which was uploaded in the Comedy category by Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Zelensky addresses CongressScreenshot from YouTube, March 2022Zelensky addresses Congress

Jimmy Kimmel’s 14:06-long monologue got 1.6 million views and 28,500 engagements.

WION, an Indian multinational English language news channel headquartered in New Delhi, uploaded a news story that was 48:13-long, which got 561,000 views and less than 7,800 engagements.

Meanwhile, CNN’s 6:06-long news story got 371,000 views and 13,400 engagements. I’d call these results counter-intuitive.

After providing this background, I presented an update to the 10 steps for optimizing videos.

Step 1: Conduct Keyword Research For YouTube

The first step is conducting keyword research.

Instead of trying to cover the 10 best YouTube keyword tool alternatives, I focused on just four:

  • Search predictions: Start typing a term in YouTube’s search box. The autocomplete feature will provide you with a series of search predictions related to what you’ve already typed in and what other people are searching for.
  • Keyword Tool for YouTube: The Keyword Tool for YouTube pulls more than 750 long-tail search term suggestions from YouTube’s search predictions by appending and prepending the keyword you specify with letters and numbers.
  • Google Trends: Google Trends shows you “web search” interest by default. But, click on the Web Search button, and a drop-down menu will show you other options, including YouTube Search trends back to 2008.
  • vidIQ: When you search on YouTube, vidIQ displays how hot (or not) the keyword or phrase is based on its search volume and competition. It’s also worth noting that Ukrainians make up a large part of vidIQ’s team.

Step 2: Optimize Videos Specifically For YouTube Search

The second step is optimizing your videos for YouTube Search, which prioritizes:

  • Relevance: YouTube looks at many factors, such as how well the title, description, hashtags, and video content match a viewer’s search query.
  • Engagement: YouTube looks at the watch time of a particular video for a particular query to determine if the video is considered relevant to the query by other users.
  • Quality: YouTube’s systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which channels demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.”

And I shared the following tips for optimizing your titles:

  • Use compelling titles for your videos that accurately represent the content.
  • Keep your titles concise – under 50 characters.
  • Put the most important information up front and your hashtags, branding, or episode numbers towards the end.
  • Avoid misleading, clickbait, or sensational titles, making your video less likely to be recommended to viewers.

Step 3: Optimize Video Descriptions

The third step is optimizing both parts of your descriptions – what viewers see before they click Show more and what they see after.

In June 2020, YouTube introduced Video Chapters, which add context to each portion of the video.

And in January 2021, YouTube launched a new search results page that appears when users look for videos by hashtag.

So, here’s how to optimize your descriptions:

  • Use the first few lines of text to explain what the video is about using search-friendly keywords and natural language.
  • Use the rest of the text (what shows up once they click Show more) to provide around 200 to 350 words of extra information.
  • Add Video Chapters, which use timestamps to allow viewers to watch or rewatch a specific section of a video.
  • Use related hashtags (#) to help viewers find your video when searching for a specific topic on YouTube.

Step 4: Optimize Video Thumbnails

The fourth step is optimizing your thumbnails.

I said, “Video thumbnails let viewers see a quick snapshot of your video as they’re browsing YouTube. After uploading your video, you can add a custom thumbnail if your account is verified or choose one of the three thumbnail options that YouTube automatically generates.”

I added, “Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible.”

Custom thumbnails should:

  • Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF, or PNG.
  • Remain under the 2MB limit.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews.

But, I also cautioned:

  • Make sure your thumbnail follows YouTube’s thumbnail policy.
  • Create thumbnails that accurately represent your content.

Step 5: Optimize For YouTube’s Recommendation System

The fifth step is optimizing your videos for YouTube’s recommendation system, which drives a significant amount of the overall viewership on YouTube, even more than channel subscriptions or search.

And YouTube’s recommendation system works in two main places: The “Up Next” panel and a viewer’s homepage.

The “Up Next” panel suggests additional content based on whatever a viewer is currently watching, alongside other videos YouTube thinks the viewer may be interested in.

So, here’s how to optimize videos, so they’re Up Next:

  • Make strong calls to action to encourage viewers to watch another video in your series.
  • Long endings may delay viewers from watching more, so be mindful of how your videos end.
  • Use links, cards, and end screens to suggest the next video that your viewer may be interested in watching.
  • Develop playlists that are organically connected by a specific theme or tent-pole event to create a long viewing experience.

Step 6: Encourage Viewers With Links, Cards, And End Screens

The sixth step is optimizing your links, cards, and end screens.

Links in your description can encourage viewers to take an action, which is an engagement signal.

Cards work well when in conjunction with scripted calls to action or when they’re relevant to your video content.

End screens can be added to the last 5–20 seconds of a video to promote other videos, encourage viewers to subscribe, and more.

So, here are some video SEO best practices:

  • Use cards in older videos to highlight your most recent uploads or promote fundraising campaigns.
  • Use cards to cross-promote other creators and credit collaborators in your video.
  • Leave enough space and time at the end of your video (the last 20 seconds) for an end screen.
  • Encourage viewers to click using calls to action for different end screen elements and show them at different times.

Step 7: Remember The “4 Rs”

The seventh step is fighting misinformation.

For content where accuracy and authoritativeness are key, including news, politics, medical, and scientific information, YouTube uses machine learning systems that prioritize information from authoritative sources.

And certain types of misleading or deceptive content are not allowed on YouTube, including misinformation that can cause real-world harm.

For example, YouTube blocked Russia’s state-backed channels RT and Sputnik across Europe on March 1, 2022.

And YouTube started blocking access worldwide to channels associated with Russian state-funded media on March 11.

YouTube cited a policy barring content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events. YouTube added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now fell under this policy, and violating material would be removed.

Here are the “4 Rs” YouTube’s machine learning systems use:

  • Remove content that violates their policies.
  • Reduce recommendations of borderline content.
  • Raise authoritative sources for news and information.
  • Reward trusted creators.

Step 8: Optimize For User Homepage

The eighth step is optimizing videos for a user’s homepage.

The homepage is what a user sees when they first open YouTube.

It displays a mixture of personalized recommendations, subscriptions, and the latest news and information.

Unlike other platforms, YouTube doesn’t connect viewers to content through their social network.

Instead, YouTube’s recommendation system is constantly evolving, learning from over 80 billion signals every day to help people connect to videos they love.

So, I shared these observations:

  • Recommendations connect viewers to high-quality information and minimize the chances of seeing problematic content.
  • Any video that YouTube classifies as “borderline content” is demoted in recommendations.

Step 9: Set Up A Regular Publishing Cycle

The ninth step is publishing content frequently and regularly.

A good frequency to aim for is a minimum of two videos per week, but the right amount of content depends on your audience, your goals, and your content.

And release videos on a set day of the week, if possible. Releasing videos on a recurring schedule helps build a structure to your channel that an audience can rely on.

Then, I shared the following ways to optimize your programming:

  • Upload new videos consistently to give your audience an expectation of when they can see more new content.
  • Keep viewers engaged for longer and encourage them to come back for more.
  • Keep doing what works. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but do so mindfully.
  • See how often your channel appears on Home, globally, by going to your YouTube Analytics Traffic Sources report.

Step 10: Create Shorts

The tenth step is getting started with YouTube Shorts.

In my article, “YouTube Shorts: An Introductory Guide,” I said,

“You might mistakenly think that Shorts is merely a bunch of creation tools that make it easy to create short-form videos up to 60 seconds long with a multi-segment camera.”

But, I added, “Viewers may find your Shorts by tapping Shorts at the bottom of the YouTube app.”

They may also find Shorts:

  • On the YouTube homepage.
  • In their notifications.
  • By checking their Subscriptions.
  • Featured on your channel page.

YouTube is also testing new ways to deliver Shorts. For example, once viewers tap into a Short, they can scroll to watch more short videos.

So, why should you jump on the bandwagon?

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed in January 2022,

“We’re seeing momentum across the platform, including on Shorts. We’ve now hit 5 trillion all time views on Shorts!”

After presenting the 10 steps to optimizing videos for search and discovery, I encouraged attendees to apply what they had learned.

They weren’t in a position to stop missile strikes or Russian troops, but they could tackle other strategic threats to Ukraine, including misinformation, fuel, and food.

I suggested that Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, could use their help.

In February 2022, his Ministry launched an operational press center with Ukrinform National News Agency and the Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security to provide daily updates on Russia’s “disinformation war.”

On March 18, 2022, Tkachenko said,

“Russian propaganda has driven itself into a dead end, so it has completely switched to the Russians – to brainwash them.

Roskomnadzor is trying to block all resources that might tell the truth to the Russians. But they’ve lost control. And soon, the refrigerator at home will win over the TV at home for the Russians.”

But, there is another way to tell the truth to the Russians.

YouTube has escaped any major censorship since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite the company suspending all monetization in Russia.

So, optimizing Ukraine’s videos in Russian could help Tkachenko tell the truth about the war to 106 million YouTube users in the Russian Federation.

I also suggested helping Bill McKibben, founder of Third Act, which is organizing people over the age of 60 to defend our climate and democracy.

He’s pushing a plan called Heat Pumps for Peace and Freedom.

In an op-ed entitled, “Heat pumps could help ease the climate crisis — and the war in Ukraine,” which was published by The Boston Globe on April 4, McKibben explained,

“Putin built his army on oil and gas earnings, and he’s made Europe cower by threatening to turn off the energy spigot. Both can be addressed in part by the massive application of technology.

The simple heat pump, for instance, which is basically a highly efficient air conditioner that also works in reverse, uses electricity to take the ambient heat from the outside air to warm a home.”

Does this plan seem farfetched?

Well, five U.S. Senators – including both Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts – have written to the White House asking President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would get America’s air conditioning factories to start churning out heat pumps for immediate export.

And you can help McKibben by optimizing YouTube videos in more than 100 countries around the world, across 80 languages, to build support for this strategic plan to deliver millions of heat pumps to Europe before October, making Putin’s energy weapon much stronger less potent.

Finally, I suggested helping David Wells, Senator for Newfoundland and Labrador in the Canadian Parliament’s Upper Chamber, Vice President of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, and Canada’s delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Senator Wells spoke on March 31 at a “Geoeconomic RoundTable: War in Ukraine – Political and Economic Forum,” which discussed how the invasion of Ukraine is affecting global food security. He said,

“David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, told the U.N. Security Council this week that the war in Ukraine has created ‘a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe’ and will have a global impact ‘beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II’ because many of the Ukrainian farmers who produce a significant amount of the world’s wheat are now fighting Russians.

He also stated that the war in Ukraine is turning ‘the breadbasket of the world to breadlines.”

Geoeconomic RoundTableScreenshot from Geoeconomic RoundTable: War in Ukraine – Political and Economic Forum, March 2022Geoeconomic RoundTable

Senator Wells added,

“It is imperative that we establish a long-term strategic plan to address this situation as well as plan for the future as this crisis has changed the playing field possibly for generations.

Canada, as the fifth largest supplier of wheat in the world, is a key player and can participate in a long-term strategy.”

And, you can help Senator Wells by optimizing a series of videos that explain Ukraine’s absence from the world’s grain market will cause “a significant dent in world supply” and a problem in price.

“This will be a huge issue for the world’s poorer countries – particularly in Africa and Asia,” he said.

There are many other ways SEOs and digital marketers can #standwithukraine.

Miranda Miller outlined them in her post, “SEO Community Support For Ukraine & How You Can Help.”

In short, do something.

You can’t control who lives, dies, or tells your story, but you can influence all three outcomes.

More resources:  

Featured Image: Darya Lavinskaya/Shutterstock


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Yelp Details Removal Of Paid Review Groups & Lead Generators



Yelp Details Removal Of Paid Review Groups & Lead Generators

Yelp published its 2022 Trust and Safety Report detailing actions it took against lead generators, fake review groups and businesses incentivizing reviews.

Yelp Cracks Down on Paid Review Groups

The report details the proactive approach to chasing down online review groups and breaking them up.

Among the tactics Yelp used is identifying IP addresses used for fake positive reviews, as well as connecting users to groups that are arranging paid reviews.

Yelp’s Trust and Safety report revealed that it fights online review exchanges by identifying the groups on social media and working together with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to break them up.

In a 2021 blog post about their recommendation software, Yelp wrote that they monitor online groups and even conduct sting operations to catch the fake review rings.

Yelps newly released Trust and Safety report explains:

“Yelp strictly prohibits offering incentives or other compensation in exchange for writing, changing or removing a review.

To combat this on and off our platform, our User Operations team did the following in 2022:

– Issued 415+ warnings to businesses for engaging in compensated or incentivized review behaviors.

– As part of our broader Consumer Alerts program, we placed 88 Compensated Activity Alerts on business pages after receiving evidence someone offered cash or other incentives in exchange for posting, updating or removing a review.

We also placed 405 Suspicious Review Activity Alerts after our systems detected a large number of positive reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates incentivized reviews.

Made 1,100+ reports to third-party sites, such as Twitter (150 reports were made by Yelp), Facebook (130 reports), Instagram (110 reports) and LinkedIn (70 reports), to warn them of content from more than 900 suspicious groups, posts or individuals we found on their sites participating in online review exchanges.

Third-party platforms took action on content at issue in approximately 77% of our reports.”

Yelp Closes Thousands of Fraudulent Accounts

The Trust and Safety report reports that Yelp closed over 77,000 user accounts for terms of service violations and suspected deceptive and abusive actions.

They also rejected over 32,800 potential new business pages for being associated with spammy activities that violated Yelp’s policies.

An interesting revelation is how they came down hard on lead generation businesses whose business model is to create fake business listings and then sell leads to local businesses.

Yelp writes:

“Nearly 2,000 business pages removed for being associated with lead generators, violating Yelp’s policies.

‘Lead generators’ create fake business pages then take the customer leads generated and auction them to other contractors.

This behavior tricks people into paying exorbitant costs for services, targeting vulnerable consumers who are often allowing service providers into their home (locksmiths, movers, home cleaning, etc.).”

Yelp User Operations Team Content Removals

The report notes that 2% of all Yelp contributions were removed by their user operations  team in 2022. That includes reviews, photos, review up-voting, and other forms of contributions.

Yelp Trust and Safety

The integrity of reviews is important to a recommender ecosystem like Yelp. Yelp uses a recommendation software as their first line of defense against deceptive behavior. The software itself is dynamic in that it keeps tabs on the users and businesses as they engage with the platform.

Yelp writes:

“The recommendation software is entirely automated and applies the same objective rules to every business. The reviews that are recommended for any business can change over time as Yelp’s software learns more about the reviewers and the business.”

It also employs human moderators in their User Operations team to follow up and manually review reports generated by users, businesses or their automated systems.

Read Yelp’s Trust and Safety Report for 2022

Featured image by Shutterstock/

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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales



7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

Content marketing has become one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to get traffic to a website. When done right, the traffic keeps coming long after you stop actively promoting it.

If you own an e-commerce website and want to learn how to utilize blogging to grow your brand and increase your sales, this is the guide for you.

I’ve personally grown blogs to over 250,000 monthly visitors, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients in the e-commerce space to help them do the same. Here’s an overview of my seven-step process to starting and growing an e-commerce blog. 

But first…

Why start a blog on your e-commerce site?

Creating a blog has a whole host of benefits for e-commerce websites:

  • It can help you move visitors along your marketing funnel so they eventually buy.
  • You’re able to rank highly for keywords on Google that your product pages could never rank for but that are still important for building brand awareness and finding customers.
  • It can help you grow your email list.
  • You’re able to continue to get traffic without constantly spending money on ads.
  • It provides many opportunities to link to your product and category pages to help them rank better on the SERPs.

If you don’t know what some of these things mean, don’t worry—I’ll explain them along the way. But for now, let’s take a look at some e-commerce blogs that are working well right now so you can see the end goal.

Examples of successful e-commerce blogs

Three of my favorite examples of e-commerce websites using blogging are:

  1. Solo Stove
  2. Flatspot
  3. v-dog

Solo Stove comes in at the top of my list due to its excellent use of videos, photos, and helpful information on the blog. It also does search engine optimization (SEO) really well, bringing in an estimated 329,000 monthly visits from Google (data from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer).

Overview of Solo Stove, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In fact, it’s grown its brand to such a level of popularity that it even created search demand for keywords that include its brand name in them, then created blog posts to rank for those keywords:

Ahrefs' keyword report for Solo Stove

But that’s not all it did. Its blog posts also rank for other keywords in its marketing funnel, such as how to have a mosquito-free backyard or how to change your fire pit’s colors.

E-commerce blogging keyword examples

Then on its blog posts, it uses pictures of its fire pit:

Solo Stove blog post example

Ranking for these keywords does two things:

  1. It introduces Solo Stove’s brand to people who may eventually purchase a fire pit from it.
  2. It gives the brand the opportunity to promote its products to an audience who may not have even known it existed, such as the “mosquito free backyard” keyword.

Moving on, skater brand Flatspot also does blogging well, with a cool ~80,000 monthly visitors to its blog just from search engines.

Overview of Flatspot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One of its tactics is to piggie-back on the popularity of new shoe releases from major brands like Nike, then use that traffic to get readers to buy the shoes directly from it:

Flatspot promoting Nike SB shoes in blog post

Finally, let’s look at v-dog—a plant-powered kibble manufacturer that gets ~8,000 visits per month.

Overview of v-dog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

My favorite post it’s done is its guide to making wet dog food at home, which ranks for the featured snippet for “how to make wet dog food”:

Google search results for "how to make wet dog food"

This guide directly promotes v-dog’s product to make wet dog food. So people who search the query will be introduced to its brand and potentially buy its product to make their own wet dog food at home.

And there you have it—three examples of blogging for e-commerce that’s working right now. With that, let’s talk about how you can start your own blog.

Seven steps to start and grow an e-commerce blog

In my 10+ years as a professional SEO and freelance writer, I’ve worked with over a dozen e-commerce stores to help them grow their website traffic. I’ve also run several of my own e-commerce websites.

In that time, I’ve distilled what works into an easy-to-follow seven-step process:

1. Do some keyword research

I never start a blog without first doing keyword research. Not only does this make coming up with blog topic ideas much easier, but it also ensures that every blog post you write has a chance to show up in Google search results and bring you free, recurring traffic.

While we wrote a complete guide to keyword research, here’s a quick and dirty strategy for finding keywords fast:

First, find a competitor who has a blog. Let’s say you’re selling dog food just like v-dog—if I search for “dog food” on Google, I can see some of my competition:

Google search results for "dog food"

At this point, I look for relevant competitors. For example, Chewy and American Kennel Club are good competitors for research. But I’ll skip sites like Amazon and Walmart, as they are just too broad to get relevant data from.

Next, plug the competitor’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and click on the Organic keywords report to see the keywords its website ranks for on Google:

Organic keywords report for

In this example, it has over 700,000 keywords. That’s way too many to sort through. Let’s add some filters to make things easier:

  • First, set the KD (Keyword Difficulty) score to a maximum of 30 to find easier-to-rank-for keywords.
  • Then we can exclude brand name keywords using the “Keywords” dropdown, set it to “Doesn’t contain,” and type in the brand name.
  • If the website has /blog/ in its blog post URLs, you can also set a filter in the “URL” dropdown to “Contains” and type “blog” in the text field. In Chewy’s case, it doesn’t do that, but it does use a subdomain for its blog, which we can search specifically.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Ahrefs keyword filters

In the case of, this only shaved it down to 619,000 keywords. That’s still a lot—let’s filter it down further. We can apply the following:

  • Minimum monthly search volume of 100
  • Only keywords in positions #1–10
  • Only show keywords containing “dog,” since my example website only sells dog food, not all animal food

Here’s what it looks like with these new filters applied:

Filtering down Ahrefs' Organic keywords report

Now I can find some more related keywords like “what to feed a dog with diarrhea” or “can dogs eat cheese.”

Data for keyword "what to feed a dog with diarrhea"

In addition to picking interesting keywords, you can also get an idea of how to become a topical authority on the topic of dog food by searching “dog food” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Overview for "dog food," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This keyword is extremely difficult to rank on page #1 for. However, if we go to the Related terms report and set the KD to a max of 30, we can see keyword ideas that are still relevant but may be easier to rank high in the search results.

List of keywords related to dog food

Go through and click the gray + sign next to any keywords you may want to target to add them to your list of potential article ideas. 

2. Create templates for future blog posts

One of the first things I do when I create a new blog is to establish a repeatable template that I use for every post. Typically, it looks something like this:

Blog post template example

It has breadcrumb navigation to help with SEO and navigation, the article title and the date it was last updated, then a short intro with an image on the right to make the lines shorter (and easier to skim). Finally, I include a clickable table of contents to help with navigation, then get into the article.

Within the article itself, I will use headers (H2s) and subheaders (H3s) to make my content easier to skim and to help Google understand what each section is about.

You can make templates for every kind of post you plan on creating—such as list posts, ultimate guides, tutorials, etc.—and reuse them for every post you ever create. It’s a huge time-saver.

While you’re at it, you should also create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that you go through for every article. This could include writing guidelines, what to do with images, formatting, tone, etc.

3. Outline your article

I never dive into writing an article without outlining it first. An outline ensures the article is well structured and planned before you start writing, and it bakes SEO right into your writing process. It’s another big time-saver.

Typically, you want this outline to include:

  • Potential title or titles of the article
  • Target keyword
  • Brief description of the article angle
  • Links to competing articles on Google for research
  • Headers and subheaders, with brief descriptions of the section as needed

Here’s a look at part of an example outline I’ll either send to my writers or write myself:

Content outline example

I wrote a guide to outlining content, which you can follow here for the full step-by-step process.

4. Write, optimize, and publish your post

Next up, it’s time to write your article. As you write more articles, you’ll find what works for you—but you may find it easier to fill in the sections then go back and write the intro once the article is finished.

Here are a few writing tips to help you become a better writer:

  • Ditch the fluff – If a word isn’t needed to bring a point across, cut it.
  • Keep your paragraphs short – Two to three lines per paragraph is plenty, especially for mobile readers where the screen width is shorter.
  • Use active voice over passive voiceHere is a guide for that.
  • Make your content easy to skim – Include photos and videos and make use of headers and bulleted lists to share key points.

Once you’ve written your article, do some basic on-page SEO to help it rank higher in search results:

  • Ensure your article has one H1 tag – The title of the article.
  • Have an SEO-friendly URL – Include the keyword you’re targeting, but keep it short and easy to read.
  • Link to other pages on your site using proper anchor textHere’s a guide for that.
  • Ensure your images have alt text – This is the text Google uses to read what the image is about, as well as what is shown to readers if the image can’t render.

Finally, publish your post and give yourself a pat on the back.

5. Add product promotions, email opt-ins, and internal links

Before you promote your content, there are a few things you can do to squeeze more ROI from it—namely, you should add a way for people to either push them through the funnel toward purchasing a product or subscribe to your email list. I’ll give an example of each.

First, Solo Stove wrote an article titled “Ambiance Is A Girl’s Best Friend,” where it promotes its tiny Solo Stove Mesa as a way of improving a space’s ambiance: 

How to promote your products in a blog post

Beyond directly promoting your products in the articles, you can also add email opt-ins that give people a percentage off their orders. You may lose a little money on the initial order. But once you get someone’s email address, you can promote to them again and get multiple orders from them.

For example, Primary sells kids’ clothing and uses this email pop-up to promote money off its products after you spend a certain amount of time on its website:

Email opt-in pop-up offering a discount on first order

Just make sure your discount code only works once per unique IP address. You can learn more about how to do that here if you use Shopify.

Finally, when you publish an article, you should make it a point to add internal links to your new article from older articles. 

This won’t be as important for your first few because you won’t have a ton of articles. But as your blog grows, it’s an important part of the process to ensure your readers (and Google) can still find your articles and that they aren’t buried deep on your site.

Refer to our guide to internal linking to learn more about this step.

6. Promote your content

At this point, your content is live and optimized for both conversions and search engines. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.

We have an entire guide to content promotion you should read, but here are some highlights:

  • Share the article on all of your social media channels
  • Send the article to your email list if you have one
  • Share your content in relevant communities (such as relevant Reddit forums)
  • Consider running paid ads to your article

There’s a lot more you can do to promote a piece, including reaching out to other blog owners. But I won’t cover all of that here.

The other important piece of promoting your content is getting other website owners to link to your new articles. This is called link building, and it’s a crucial part of SEO.

There are many ways to build links. Some of the most popular include:

Link building is an entire subject on its own. If you’re serious about blogging and getting search traffic, it’s a crucial skill to learn.

7. Scale your efforts

The final step in blogging for e-commerce is scaling up your efforts by creating repeatable processes for each step and hiring people to do the tasks you yourself don’t need to be doing.

You can hire freelance writers, outreach specialists, editors, and more. You can put together a full SEO team for your business.

If you’re not in a place to start hiring, there are still things you can do to squeeze more output from your time, such as creating the SOPs I mentioned earlier.

Final thoughts

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your e-commerce store’s traffic and sales. It costs less than traditional paid advertising and can continue to provide a return long after a post has been published.

This guide will hopefully help you start your e-commerce blog and publish your first post. But remember that success with blogging doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes three to six months on average to see any results from your SEO efforts. Keep learning and be patient.

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results



The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

Looking to launch a successful digital marketing campaign for your business?

How do you select the best SEO keywords to expand your brand’s reach?

What can you do to determine the most effective ways to allocate your marketing budget?

Facing these tough decisions can put you on your heels if you’re not equipped with the right information.

Luckily, there’s a new way to leverage your company’s data to estimate your ROI and take the guesswork out of your next campaign.

With a simple mathematical formula, you can predict the amount of traffic and revenue you’ll generate before even setting your strategy in motion – and you can do it all in just five steps.

Want to learn how?

Join our next webinar with Sabrina Hipps, VP of Partner Development, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis at CopyPress, to find out how to analyze specific keywords and forecast your SEO results.

Not too fond of math? Don’t worry – we’ll provide access to free tools and a downloadable calculator to help automate this process and save you time.

Key Takeaways From This Webinar: 

  • Learn how forecasting your SEO can help you build better campaigns and choose the right keywords.
  • Get step-by-step instructions to predict revenue and website traffic for your next SEO campaign.
  • Access a free handout, resources, and online tools that will save you time and supercharge your content strategy.

In this session, we’ll share real-life examples and provide guidance for the decision-makers within your organization to start getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

By better understanding the market potential of your product or service, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and effectively maximize your ROI.

Sign up for this webinar and discover how you can secure a sufficient marketing budget and use SEO keywords to forecast the results of your future content campaigns.

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