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Why we’re hardwired to believe SEO myths (and how to spot them!)

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Why we’re hardwired to believe SEO myths (and how to spot them!)

Give someone a fish and they’ll EAT for one day. Teach someone to fish and they’ll EAT for a lifetime. Yes, that’s an SEO pun. It’s also the goal of this article.

If you pop into either of the fantastic SEO communities on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’ll inevitably encounter some common SEO myths:

  • “Longer dwell time means a good user experience, so it must be a ranking factor”
  • “A high bounce rate indicates a bad user experience, so it must be bad for SEO”

Social media posts like these get tons of engagement. As a result, they amplify the myths we try to squash through repetition, false evidence, and faulty logic. The problem isn’t limited to social media, either. There are plenty of high-profile websites that package hypotheses as facts because readers eat them up.

These myths are a huge problem because they’re red herrings. They cause marketers to prioritize projects that won’t improve the content, user experience, or Google search performance.

So how can the SEO community rally around the truth? We can start by doing two things:

  1. SEOs must admit our personalities and professions hardwire us to believe myths. We have a deep desire for answers, control, and predictability, as well as a fierce distrust of Google.
  2. We need to recognize the psychological and environmental factors that influence our ability to sort fact from fiction.

So rather than busting individual myths, let’s ask ourselves “why?” instead. In other words, let’s learn to fish.

Internal reasons we believe SEO myths

Let’s dig into some internal factors, such as our thoughts and feelings, that influence our beliefs.

1. SEOs need structure and control

SEO is a fascinating branch of marketing because our performance is driven by a constantly evolving algorithm that we don’t control. In fact, there were more than 5,000 Google algorithm updates in 2021 alone.

In other words, SEOs live in a world of crippling dependency. Even the top-ranking signals that we know about can fluctuate based on the industry, query, or available content within Google’s index. For example, if you manage websites in the finance or health space, E-A-T is critical. If you publish news content, then recency is very important.

To gain a sense of structure and control, we look for more ways to influence outcomes. But there are two problems with that approach:

  • We overestimate the impact of individual ranking factors
  • We falsely believe something is a Google ranking factor that is not

Our need to amplify our own level of control is supported by psychology. A 2016 study revealed an individual’s need for structure made them more likely to believe in a conspiracy theory.

“The human tendency to recognize patterns even when none exist is shown to have applications in consumer behavior. The current research demonstrates that as one’s personal need for structure (PNS) increases (that is, requiring predictability and disfavoring uncertainty), false consumer pattern perceptions emerge.”

If you find yourself waffling between fact and fiction, don’t let your desire for control dictate your final decision.

2. The primal need to recognize patterns

The human brain is excellent at recognizing patterns. Throughout history, we’ve relied on that ability to make better decisions and ensure the survival of our species. Unfortunately, we’re so good at spotting patterns that we also fabricate them.

False pattern recognition has several drawbacks –

  • It might influence SEO decisions that could have a sitewide impact
  • If you overstate the connection publicly, others might misinterpret it as fact

An excellent example surfaced on Twitter recently. Google’s John Mueller was asked if adding too many links to your site’s main navigation could impact Google Discover traffic. The individual who asked the question ran several tests and saw positive results, but Mueller said it was merely an interesting correlation.

“I’d still go with ’unrelated’. As mentioned in our docs: Given the serendipitous nature of Discover, traffic from Discover is less predictable or dependable when compared to Search, and is considered supplemental to your Search traffic.”

Fortunately, this individual went straight to the source for an answer instead of publishing a case study that could have had serious implications for website navigation decisions.

3. Confirmation bias

It’s well-documented that people accept information that supports their beliefs and reject information that doesn’t. It’s a primordial trait that evolved when we began to form social groups. Early humans surrounded themselves with others who thought and acted the same way to ensure their survival.

One of the most famous confirmation bias studies comes from Stanford. For the study, researchers segmented students into two opposing groups based on their beliefs about capital punishment.

One group supported capital punishment and believed it reduced crime. The other opposed it and believed it had no impact on crime.

Each group was asked to react to two studies, one which supported their views, and one which contradicted them. Both groups found the study that aligned with their beliefs much more credible, and each became more entrenched in their original beliefs.

SEO practitioners are particularly prone to confirmation bias because we’re terrified of being wrong. We hypothesize, test, build, optimize, and iterate. If we’re wrong too often, we’ll waste time and money, and we could risk our reputation and our jobs.

We need to be right so badly that we may accept myths that confirm our beliefs rather than admit failure.

4. Lack of trust in Google

It’s safe to say most SEOs don’t trust Google. That has led to some of the longest-running SEO myths I could find. For example, even after seven years of repeated rejections from Google, many SEO experts still believe engagement is a ranking signal.

Here’s John Mueller shooting down the engagement myth in 2015:

“I don’t think we even see what people are doing on your website. If they are filling out forms or not, if they are converting and actually buying something… So if we can’t see that, then that is something we cannot take into account. So from my point of view, that is not something I’d really treat as a ranking factor.”

Nearly seven years later, in March 2022, John was asked the same question again, and his response was pretty much the same:

“So I don’t think we would use engagement as a factor.”

And yet, the SEOs piled on in the comments. I encourage you to read them if you want a sense of the intense level of mistrust. Essentially, SEOs overanalyzed Mueller’s words, questioned his honesty, and claimed he was misinformed because they had contradictory insider information.

5. Impostor syndrome

Even the most seasoned SEO professionals admit they’ve felt the pain of impostor syndrome. You can easily find discussions on Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn about how we question our own level of knowledge. That’s especially true in public settings when we’re surrounded by our peers.

Not long ago Azeem Ahmad and Izzie Smith chatted about impostor syndrome. Here’s what Izzie said:

“It’s really hard to put yourself out there and share your learnings. We’re all really afraid. I think most of us have this impostor syndrome that’s telling us we’re not good enough.”

This contributes to SEO myths in several ways. First, it erodes self-confidence, which makes individuals more prone to believe myths. Second, it prevents folks who might want to challenge inaccurate information from speaking out publicly because they’re afraid they’ll be attacked.

Needless to say, that enables myths to spread throughout the broader community.

The best way to combat impostor syndrome is to ensure SEO communities are safe and supportive of new members and new ideas. Be respectful, open-minded, and accepting. If more folks speak out when something doesn’t feel accurate, then we can keep some troublesome myths in check.

External reasons we believe SEO myths

Now let’s explore the external forces, like peers and publishers, that cause us to believe SEO myths.

1. Peer pressure

Peer pressure is closely related to impostor syndrome, except it comes from the outside. It’s a feeling of coercion from peers, whether a large group of SEOs, a widely known expert or a close mentor or colleague.

Because humans are social creatures, our urge to fit in often overpowers our desire to be right. When something doesn’t feel right, we go with the flow anyway for fear of being ostracized. In fact, social proof can be more persuasive than purely evidence-based proof.

I asked the Twitter SEO community if anyone ever felt compelled to accept an SEO ranking factor as fact based on popular opinion. Several folks replied, and there was an interesting theme around website code.

“Back in 2014, a web developer told me he truly believed text-to-code ratio was a ranking factor. For a while, I believed him because he made convincing arguments and he was the first developer I met who had an opinion about SEO.”

—  Alice Roussel

“Years and years ago I wanted code quality to be a ranking factor. Many thought it was because it made sense to reward well-written code. But it never was. Browsers had to be very forgiving because most sites were so badly built.”

—  Simon Cox

Similar to combatting impostor syndrome, if we develop a more tolerable SEO community that’s willing to respectfully debate issues, we’ll all benefit from more reliable information.

2. Outdated information

If you publish content about SEO, then you’ll be guilty of spreading SEO myths at some point. Google updates its algorithms thousands of times each year, which means assumptions are disproven and once-good advice becomes outdated.

Trusted publishers have a duty to refresh or remove inaccurate content to prevent SEO misconceptions from spreading.

For example, in 2019 Google changed how it handles outbound links. It introduced two new link attributes into the nofollow family, UGC and sponsored, and began to treat all three of these as hints instead of ignoring nofollow links.

So if you wrote about link attributes prior to September 2019, your advice is probably out of date.

Unfortunately, most SEOs update content because it’s underperforming, not because it’s wrong. So perhaps publishers should put integrity above performance to strengthen our community.

3. Jumping on trends

Sometimes SEO myths explode because the facts can’t keep up with the virality of the myth. One of my favorite examples is the LSI keyword trend. This one pops up on Twitter from time to time, and thankfully Bill Slawski is quick to quash it.

Trend-based myths go viral because they tap into the fear of missing out (FOMO), and SEOs hate to miss out on the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. They also resonate with SEOs because they appear to offer a secret glimpse into Google’s black box.

Although trends eventually fade, they will remain a thorn in our side as long as the original sources remain unchanged.

4. Correlation vs causation

The most difficult myths to bust are those backed by data. No matter how many times Google debunks them, they won’t die if folks come armed with case studies.

Take exact match domains (EMD) for example. This article lists several reasons why EMDs are good for SEO, using Hotels.com as a case study. But it’s a classic chicken and egg argument. Does the site rank number one for “hotels” because it’s an EMD? Or is it because the owner clearly understood SEO strategy and prioritized keyword research, link building, internal links, page speed, and high-quality content marketing for the last 27 years?

We also can’t discount the fact that the domain has 42 million backlinks.

But if you want to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth, Google’s John Mueller says EMDs provide no SEO bonus. Here’s what he said on Reddit:

“There’s no secret SEO bonus for having your keywords in the domain name. And for those coming with “but there are keyword domains ranking well” — of course, you can also rank well with a domain that has keywords in it. But you can rank well with other domain names too, and a domain won’t rank well just because it has keywords in it.”

This is obviously correlation, not causation.

To be clear, I fully support running SEO tests to learn more about Google’s algorithm. But it’s incredibly difficult to create a signal vacuum that prevents outside influences from skewing your results. And even if you manage to isolate one ranking factor, you have no way of knowing how strong the signal is in relation to other signals. In a total vacuum, one signal may win. But in the wilderness of Google, it may be so weak that it’s virtually nonexistent.

Furthermore, the signal may only apply to certain types of content. We’ve seen signal fluctuations before regarding product reviews and E-A-T in YMYL spaces. So even if data suggests something might improve organic rankings, how reliable is the information, and how important is the signal?

All this is to say that we should be very careful when proclaiming new ranking factors, especially if they contradict Google’s statements or stray too far from universally measuring user experience.

5. It’s plausible, but not measurable

This group of myths is rooted in logic, which makes them particularly dangerous and sticky. Usually, they follow a simple formula: if A = B, and B = C, then A = C.

Here’s an example:

  • Google wants to rank content that provides a good user experience
  • If a webpage has a high bounce rate, it must provide a bad user experience
  • Therefore, a high bounce rate is bad for SEO

This seems to make sense, right? Yet, Google has said many times they can’t see what users do on your website, and they don’t look at bounce rate.

I’ve seen the same argument applied to dwell time, time on page, SERP click-through rates (CTR), and so on. To be clear, Google says CTR  does not drive organic search engine rankings because that would cause results to be overrun with spammy, low-quality content.

Most often these myths stem from competing views about what a good user experience looks like and how to measure it. What constitutes a good experience for one type of search query might be a terrible experience for another. This lack of consistency makes it virtually impossible to identify metrics that can be deployed universally across all websites.

In other words, if potential user experience signals depend on too many factors, Google can’t use them. That’s why they launched the page experience update in 2021 which quantifies user experience with specific, universal metrics.

Here’s your fishing pole

In many cases, SEO myths fall into more than one of the above categories which makes them even more difficult to dispel. That’s why we keep seeing social media posts falsely identifying ranking factors like keyword density, domain authority, conversions, and meta keywords.

If you understand a few basic concepts about ranking factors, you’ll be better equipped to sort fact from fiction and prioritize SEO initiatives that drive more organic traffic.

Ask yourself these five questions when you smell the stench of a myth:

  • Is it quantifiable and measurable?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Is it broadly or universally true, or does it depend on the user?
  • Does it support Google’s goals of delivering a better user experience?
  • Has Google confirmed or denied it publicly?

If you can check each of those boxes, then you may have a valid ranking factor on your hands. But don’t take my word for it. Run some tests, ask some friends, use logic, and confirm your theory. And if all else fails, just ask John Mueller.


Jonas Sickler is a published author and digital marketer. He writes about SEO, brand reputation, customer attention, and marketing. His advice has appeared in hundreds of publications, including Forbes, CNBC, CMI, and Search Engine Watch. He can be found on Twitter @JonasSickler.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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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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