Do I Need to Be Using a Tag Management Solution?

Let’s get straight to it – yes! You need a tag manager. And the good news is no, you don’t need to be very technical or a code wiz to do it.

Saying yes to a tag management system is saying yes to saving time, saving work for your development team, increasing the ability to track useful conversions on your website, as well as the ability to solve pesky (and common) issues like cross-domain tracking.

A tag manager requires a little bit of legwork to implement, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

What is a Tag Manager Used For?

Tag management solutions are the most effective way to implement third-party code on your website. Once you’ve installed tag manager code on your site, you can add all other third-party code via your tag manager. This gives you the flexibility to change, update, and deploy code at any time.

A tag manager then sends data back to those third-party sites based on defined user actions on your website.

There are many tag management solutions available, each with their own set of pros and cons. While paid management solutions come with lots of extra bells and whistles, as a Google Partner company, we prefer Google Tag Manager. It’s free, integrates natively with many other Google products, and is equipped with integrators to platforms such as Hotjar, LinkedIn, Quora, and several others. There is also a “Custom HTML” and “Custom Image” tag option to meet any other tagging code needs, such as marketing automation platforms, and Facebook Pixels.

We’ll be using GTM in our examples today.

 

Screenshot showing a featured GTM tag optionsScreenshot showing a featured GTM tag options

Benefits of a Tag Manager

While there are many benefits to a tag manager, I’ve identified some personal favorites:

Lower Dependency on the Development Team

After tag manager code is installed on your site, you have free reign of code management and implementation after that. No need to wait around for sprints, or file Jira tickets for code additions for small updates. This gives your team agility in launching or making changes to digital marketing efforts.

Increased Website Performance

Tag managers reduce the instances of additional code on the back-end of your website. It’s worth noting that any hard-coded additions to your site may result in longer load times (to which we say AH!). Long load times mean that users will not stick around and wait for your page to load, which translates to lost business. A tag management system lightens the burden of code.

Screenshot example of GTM code on Portent's siteScreenshot example of GTM code on Portent's site

Preview and Test Changes

If you’re using a tag manager to track user actions on your site such as form fills, clicks, or page views, you can launch preview mode to ensure tags and triggers are set up the way they should be. Preview testing ensures you’re only tracking what you intend to track, and allows you to catch any errors before publishing.

How Difficult is it to Implement on My Website?

Tag managers require a one-time hard code implementation to the back end of your website.

For instance, Google Tag Manager gives you two pieces of code—one to put in the <head> and one to put in the <body>. Ask your web development team to do this for you, or do it yourself if you’re savvy enough.

Your website might even include a plugin where you can place the code, and the plugin will insert the code dynamically.

Creating Tags and Triggers

Having some background knowledge of HTML is helpful when creating tags and triggers for third-party code, but not necessarily required. When you create a tag for third-party code and GTM has a native integration for that product, you may only need to input certain elements of code.

For example, let’s say you want to implement Floodlight code which tracks conversions on your website. A Floodlight tag is provided in HTML, but Google Tag Manager has a native integration that only requires you to dynamically insert three parts of the HTML code: the Advertiser ID, Group Tag String, and Activity Tag String. You can use the “?” buttons for help if you’re unsure which parts of the code that is.

 

Screenshot showing GTM tag configuration setupScreenshot showing GTM tag configuration setup

 

It is also helpful to know what code elements to use in triggers to capture user interactions. If you’re still learning, my advice is to click around in Preview mode and see what variables are available to you when you click on them. Seeing which variables return values allows you to use them strategically to create triggers.

Which Tag Manager Should I Pick?

As I said before, there are a variety of tag management options out there. Whether you prefer a paid management solution and the support that comes with it such as Launch by Adobe, Tealium, and Signal Tag Manager, or if Google Tag manager is the right tool for you, the decision will be dependent on your business and needs. However, regardless of which solution you pick, I say: Yes to tag management!

The post Do I Need to Be Using a Tag Management Solution? appeared first on Portent.

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Top Tips to Promote Your Toy Store Through Instagram

When you have an online business, internet visibility plays a crucial role. Again, if you own a toy store, the competition is intense out there, especially during the holiday season. No matter whether you own a physical store or an online toyshop, reaching out to your customers is necessary if you want to sell kid’s toys.

The best way to market your business and highlight your toys is through Instagram promotion. The photo-sharing platform is not merely for taking selfies and posting on the site, as teenagers do. It is more than using cool filters and photos. Today, Instagram is one of the robust platforms used for business marketing. There is no doubt about the same.

According to an article published on https://www.huffpost.com, Instagram offers opportunities galore for businesses all over the world. It provides a self-serving advertising option employing attractive targeting. You can reach out to your audience through high-definition photos and videos. When it comes to Instagram, it has high-quality visual content, which is an advantage that you must leverage. 
Studies show that 40 percent of customers respond to photos and videos more than walls of text. Therefore, if you have a toy store online, you should use the photo-sharing social media site for boosting sales and acquiring loyal customers. Here are some top tips to market your toy store using Instagram: 
Make the Most of an Instagram Business Profile

First things first, make sure you have an Instagram account for your business. If you already have a Facebook profile, switching is easy. This way, your toy products will show up in numerous Instagram feeds. It will help you connect with your customers as well as connections in the industry. Moreover, you can pick a category and contact options like phone number, email, and address details.
Make the most of Instagram insights that will educate you about your most-liked posts and details like who is looking at your Instagram business profile. This way, you will come to know about your customers’ age, gender, location, and related aspects. Did you know that in Australia, Instagram has 9,000,000 monthly active users? Therefore, it is not difficult to figure out what benefit you can derive when you have such an amount of followers in your country.

Also Read


How to Use Instagram for Business Marketing
Tips to Improve Your Business Online Presence with Social Media
Use Relevant Hashtags and Catchy Captions

When you have a business Instagram account up and running, focus on relevant hashtags and smart captions. Use them in your post to reach out to your targeted audience. Since you own a toy store, make your captions funny and sweet. Depending on the location and age where you do Instagram marketing, the wise use of captions and hashtags will have a significant impact on your toy business online. 
Though you have an option of 30 hashtags, do not use more than five per post. You can mix and match trending, industry-related hashtags, as well as those relevant to your business. 
The use of appropriate hashtags is the key to the success of using Instagram for business. You’re discovered by your followers and drive strong user engagement. There is no doubt about the same. Additionally, you can use tools to improve engagement depending on location, hashtags, and your closest competitors.  
Know Your Audience and Their Preferences

Having an Instagram account for business is not enough. You need to stand out from the rest of the competition. Take some time out of your busy schedule and study your competitors in the toy business. You should research your potential customers too. It will help you determine what photos, videos, color schemes, and filters to use on Instagram. The same rule holds for picking out fonts so that you know which of these are popular for a toy store.
Studying your audience and competitors will let you know what is trending in the industry currently, especially during the holiday season when people like to gift toys. Brainstorm which content you should in your Instagram posts. For instance, if you are selling toys for toddlers, learn what matters most to the kids from their parents and promote your business accordingly. 
It is all about your time and effort that you spend to market your business on Instagram. Try it and you’ll be surprised by the results. There is no doubt about the same. 
Leverage the Power of Instagram Stories


If you want to take your business to the next level and make it successful, leverage Instagram’s new and unique feature Stories. You might be wondering what that means. Well, you can reach out to more followers with Instagram Stories with high-definition images and videos. You can educate your targeted audience with the current deals and new toys in your store. Create interesting posts, especially behind-the-scenes posts related to your toy store. 
Show your latest collection of toys through Instagram Stories. Show how your staff handles them and greets your customers if you have a physical store. Today, Instagram has millions of users daily and so you can imagine how impactful your toy store marketing would prove when you use Instagram Stories. It is the best way to connect with your audience, generate leads, and convert them into loyal customers. 
Make the Most of local SEO 

If you own a physical store, then you are fortunate. That is because you can leverage local SEO for Instagram business marketing. It is when you can add your toy store on platforms like Google Maps and Yelp. If a kid’s parent lives near your toy store, he or she will most likely saunter into your shop if your business shows up in local SEO results. There is no doubt about the same. That is because the kid’s parents will buy from a store that has a convenient location and around the corner. 
Take some time out of your busy schedule and focus on how you can boost your local SEO results. When it comes to brand engagement on Instagram, it is 10 times more than Facebook. Therefore, leveraging local SEO will make a huge impact on your toy store. 
Conclusion

Now that you have these tips handy, promote your toy store using Instagram. You will see positive results.
Author Bio

Walter Moore is a notable management consultant and digital marketing expert. He is an experienced digital marketer and has helped e-commerce businesses in all niches gain with his effective marketing strategies and guidance.

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How Many Keywords Should You Be Tracking?

Keywords are a seemingly inescapable aspect of the SEO world. SEO professionals (myself included) encourage clients to focus on more meaningful metrics besides the humble keyword ranking, but the fact remains that ranking well in Google for keywords with significant search volume will (usually) result in traffic to your site.

Of course, keeping track of keywords isn’t free. Whether you spend your time manually checking rankings or your money on a keyword rank tracking solution, you have to limit how many keywords you track per page and per website. So, that begs the question, “how many keywords should you track?”

Are you ready for this one? It wouldn’t be an SEO article if it didn’t have the following sentence:

“It depends.”

Start With Keyword Research

Unfortunately, keywords don’t materialize out of thin air or come to us in a vision. Even more, you can’t just assume you know what keywords people use to search and what you should be ranking for. That’s why you should always start with keyword research.

There’s plenty of information out there on how to perform keyword research successfully, but I’ll outline some of my preferred steps and best practices below.

Which Pages Rank for What?

I’m not the first Portentite to recommend starting keyword research by looking at what you already rank for. I like to go straight to Google Search Console (GSC) as soon as I get my hands on it. Despite the evidence that Search Console data is quite unreliable, it does come straight from the search giant itself, so we can’t ignore it.

Hop into your site’s GSC Performance section to see a table of queries that domain ranks for.

Screenshot of Google Search ConsoleScreenshot of Google Search Console

 

Conveniently, this section defaults to show which queries got your site the most clicks over the past three months. This gives you a great idea of what Google thinks your site deserves to rank for, and if you click the Pages tab, which pages are ranking.

From this starting point, go forth and research keywords! Again, I’m not going to break down that process in this post, but I can point you to a couple of great resources we already created. Our CEO, Ian Lurie, wrote this timeless guide for doing keyword research that doesn’t suck. Want more help with Search Console? How about a walkthrough from former Portentite George Freitag? Finally, check out this recent post from Senior SEO Strategist Zac Heinrichs on how to take your keyword research to the next level.

Choose Landing Pages

Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to rank highly for, assign them to appropriate landing pages. In all likelihood, you will have already identified your target pages while performing the keyword research.

The number of target organic landing pages will directly influence the answer to our main question about the appropriate number of keywords to track.

How Many Keywords Should You Track?

You’ve decided which of your pages you want to optimize as organic landing pages, but how many keywords should you optimize each page for?

At the bare minimum, one; some pages may have a singular focus that answers only one query. It’s much more likely that you’ll want to target two or three keywords per page, even if they’re just close variations. Any more than four is a bit crowded; after all, each page only has one title tag and meta description. With a range of keywords per page determined, we can estimate how many keywords we’ll track.

  1. Take the number of organic landing pages you’ve chosen
  2. Multiply that number by the range of keywords per page (1-4) to get your range, or
  3. Multiply the number of organic landing pages by 2.5, the average of the range.

For example, let’s say you’re working on a services site with five unique offerings and three blog posts that you want to target as landing pages. Between these pages and your homepage, you should expect to track 9-36 or about 22 keywords on average.

Of course, rules of thumb are meant to be broken. We work with a manufacturing client that offers ten unique manufacturing products. Without including their blog-focused keywords, we’re tracking 62 keywords for their site.

Other sites might not be as cut and dried. We work with a major news publishing site which often ranks 1st for extremely high-volume keywords due to their backlink profile and industry authority. We actively track over 200 keywords for them, most of which don’t directly correspond to a static landing page such as a product or service page.

Or, if you’re dealing with a site for a 20-year-old digital marketing agency run by some of the biggest nerds in the industry, you might end up with nearly 500 keywords on your tracking list so you can keep an eye on all the various blog posts you’ve published over the years.

How To Track Keyword Rankings

Although I did mention it as a possibility, you’re probably not going to want to manually track keyword rankings by doing a Google search every day (from the same machine, using a private browsing window, at the same time of day, etc.) and looking for your site.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for keyword tracking.

STAT

We love our Vancouver neighbo(u)rs to the north! Their robust tool allows you to set up keyword tracking for desktop and mobile, specific locations, different languages, and tons of other features. They also archive HTML snapshots of the SERPs for the keywords you track so you can see how your site and your competitors showed up in Google results.

Screenshot of a STAT daily snapshotScreenshot of a STAT daily snapshot

Ahrefs

Another favorite of ours is Ahrefs, a true Swiss army knife for digital marketers. Rather than specifying which keywords you’d like to actively track, Ahrefs updates daily with all keywords that your tracked sites rank for. You may not be able to keep tabs on that ambitious keyword you’d like to rank for but never have, but it’s still incredibly comprehensive.

Google Search Console

This is a great free option, but you get what you pay for. We already saw how you can use Search Console to identify what you’re already ranking for in Google search. However, the platform only shows your average ranking for a given keyword over a period of time. That means if you spent weeks ranking 80th for a term, but suddenly jumped to 2nd, your 28-day average ranking will be in the 70s.

There are, of course, dozens of options out there; these are just the few that I recommend.

What to Watch for in Rank tracking

You’ve done your keyword research, assigned terms to target landing pages, signed up for a monthly subscription to your tool of choice… so now what? Should you sweat over every movement in the rankings, no matter how small? (No.) Should you be worried if all the keywords a single page ranks for plummet 50 positions? (Probably.)

The easiest way to stay on top of your rank changes and have peace of mind for your site(s) is to set up position change alerts. For example, STAT allows you to create custom alerts based on position movement. My most used alert is “If the number of keywords in the top-ten falls by 5%”. The difference between a first- and second-page result is significant.

Still, alerts aren’t going to catch everything. We SEO practitioners here at Portent check in on our clients’ keyword rankings at least once a week, making sure nothing has fallen precipitously and celebrating with our clients when we see a huge win.

Of course, fluctuations are to be expected. Google is notoriously capricious, and you may find your rankings undergoing a single-day jump or a back and forth oscillation.

Screenshot of a STAT keyword ranking graphScreenshot of a STAT keyword ranking graph
This screenshot from STAT shows a client’s keyword ranking doing what rankings do best: bouncing up and down.

Find Your Goldilocks Number

I’ve given you a framework for estimating how many keywords to track, but anyone in digital marketing can tell you that our rules aren’t so much set in stone as they are written in chalk until someone comes along and hoses down the sidewalk.

You may find that you prefer to track far more or far fewer keywords than I’m recommending. Maybe you don’t bother tracking rankings at all! As long as the tracking that you do is valuable to you and your client, the exact number doesn’t matter.

The post How Many Keywords Should You Be Tracking? appeared first on Portent.

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If you want to be a really good PR pro, schmooze your way into relationships

Earlier this morning, while I was trying to pour hot coffee down my throat to get me going for the day, I stumbled across this Farhad Manjoo column in the New York Times. It’s titled “The global economy runs on parties you’re not invited to.” While click-worthy in its own merit, what stood out to me was the column’s subhead: “The robots may take over, but high-end schmoozing will never die.” Hmm, interesting.

What stands out to you the most in that subhead? If you answer is robots, tap yourself on the back. While it’s not the right answer, robots are dope AF, to be fair. But the thing that pops out for me is that “high-end schmoozing will never die.” Does that ring a bell?

As PR professionals, one of the most important jobs we have is building relationships, mainly with journalists. Sure, you could always reply or like a journos tweet every time they tweet something, but you’re not really building anything here. Fact is if a journalist walked by you on the street, would they know you were? Probably not, it’s going to take a whole lot more to build that relationship than liking someone’s tweet.

And this is why this column struck a chord with me. It makes perfect sense when you factor it to the PR industry. Ok fair, schmoozing is a bit of a stretch when it comes to journalists. But, in a sense, you want to take the same approach, but in a more subtle way. The goal here is simple: Be a human being.

Set yourself apart from the rest – Ready up that expense account

If you really want to build a relationship, put a face to the name. Shoot over a quick introductory email introducing yourself. Invite them out for a coffee. Take them out for drinks. Wine and dine them at a nice fancy restaurant. You have an expense account, use it.

Seriously, you’d be surprised at how well this works. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this and had journos respond with replies thanking me for an excuse to drag them out of the office. And there are the instances where you actually build long-lasting relationships. Like, I can count at least 10-15 journalists where we text message each other regularly without ever talking about clients or work.

And sure, while many of them may not accept your offer, the gesture is surely appreciated. There may be even other times where they accept your invitation and you have a great meeting and then you never hear from them again. It happens. Journalists are human too. They have their reasons.

As someone who runs a tech blog, I get a lot of pitches. And I can tell you right now that in the span of five years running it, I’ve been sent about two or three of these sort of invitations or introductory emails. So I can tell you, not a lot of PR people are doing this, which really tells me something – A lot of us are unfortunately bad at our jobs. If you really want to set yourself apart from the rest of the scrubs, again, be human.

The post If you want to be a really good PR pro, schmooze your way into relationships appeared first on The Future Buzz.

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5 Questions About Ad Rank You Need Answers To Right Now

You know those blog posts that attempt to answer questions about something you’re keenly interested in, but then the first 80% of them beat around the bush until they actually provide the insights you’re looking for (if at all)?

This isn’t one of those posts. Neither you or I are interested in wasting a few minutes of your life only to be let down wishing you could get your time back.

Paid search. Google Ads. Ad Rank. You have questions. We’re going to answer them. No fluff. No bullsh*t. Here you go.

1. What Is Ad Rank?

Google defines ad rank as “a value that’s used to determine your ad position and whether your ads will show at all.” Your ad rank is the result of any given paid search auction and is compared to those of your competitors to determine if and where on the SERP your ad will show in relation to these competitors.

2. How Is Ad Rank Calculated?

According to Google, ad rank is calculated using several factors, including your maximum CPC bid amount (and whether or not that meets a minimum threshold), your auction-time quality score, the context of a user’s search, and your enabled ad extensions. Your ad rank is also recalculated each time an ad is eligible for and competes in an auction. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that an ad for one of your keywords will show up in position #1 at the top of the page for one user’s search and in a different position for another’s.

3. Can I Just Bid More to Get the Best Ad Rank in an Auction?

Not necessarily. Don’t forget about the other factors; quality and context matter! If your quality score is high and your assets (keyword, ad copy, etc.) are highly relevant, you can still wind up getting the best ad rank in an auction while bidding less than your competitors. Likewise, if your quality score is low and your assets aren’t as relevant to your user’s context (where they are in the funnel, for example), you could bid higher than all of your competitors and still not get the best ad rank.

4. How Are Ad Rank and Quality Score Related?

While your keyword quality score factors into determining ad rank for a given auction, your ad rank does not directly impact quality score as a result of that auction. Quality score is, however, determined in part by your expected click-through rate (CTR) which takes into account your historical CTR trend. That trend can be influenced by an improved ad position, which is determined by your ad rank.

I know that seems like circular logic but stick with me for a moment.

It’s common for ads that show up first at the top of the SERP to naturally have an advantage at acquiring a higher CTR. Because your positioning is determined by ad rank, that positioning can (but is not guaranteed to) help improve your CTR trend which, thereby, positively impacts your quality score. That improved quality score then directly factors into your ad rank for future auctions.

5. How Do I Improve Ad Rank?

Having a better ad rank means better visibility on the SERP. The more visible you are, the more likely someone is to click on your ad. There are a few ways to directly improve your ad rank, which all refer to the factors mentioned earlier in question 2:

  • Increase your maximum CPC bids
  • Improve your quality scores
  • Ensure your keywords and text ads are highly relevant to the search queries which may trigger them
  • Optimize ad extensions and use as many as are relevant to your account

There you have it! Hopefully, your questions have been answered, and you’re well on your way to improving your ad rank. And don’t forget to bookmark this page in case you need to reference it in the future.

The post 5 Questions About Ad Rank You Need Answers To Right Now appeared first on Portent.

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Enterprise PR and Marketing Isn’t Boring – With The Right Strategy

In one of my original conversations with enterprise legend Jason Lemkin about enterprise public relations and marketing, there was one particular thing that stood out. He mentioned a common PR trope around enterprise PR (and I paraphrase) – people would constantly say “oh yeah, enterprise PR is boring, and we love boring.”

The truth is that any great tech and enterprise public relations firm that tells you your product or industry is boring immediately in a conversation likely doesn’t care that much about the conversation. I’m guessing they care about the money far more. Which I understand – I get it – it’s hard running a PR firm and it’s been a while since you could pay people in bread.

So, as a founder looking at an enterprise marketing and PR campaign, I want you to think about the following.

Does The Enterprise PR or Marketing Agency Know Enough?

It stands to reason that an enterprise PR firm would know about the enterprise, but never assume anything with PR people. They can talk in circles about things in a very pleasant, affable way, but you need to be able to establish whether they know enough to actually pitch your product. This doesn’t mean they need to exhaustively understand the substrate of your entire existence, but it does mean they need to know and understand what you’re telling them to execute an enterprise marketing or PR campaign. Ask the right questions – quiz them on previous clients, ask them if they have any opinions on particular news stories. They need to understand the data you give them, too.

What Have They Done That Matches Your Enterprise PR Goals?

This doesn’t just mean they have a good case study. You need to make sure they have good references, good media relationships and clearly understand the expectations you have. It’s totally fine to walk away from a PR and marketing effort before it starts if you don’t think that the team in question is going to execute well – it’s much harder once you’ve started.

Are You Talking To The Team You’ll Work With?

One of the greatest scams in marketing and PR is the team-based bait and switch. If you’re talking to someone that’s telling you about how an agency did X Y or Z, be prepared to ask if it was actually the person you’re talking to. Enterprise public relations is a tightrope walk between good personal relationships and understanding of a product, and that’s a very personal choice. If you’re working with someone who’s not actually touched the great successes you bought into, you’re going to find you don’t hit your enterprise marketing goals…and spend a lot of money doing so.

The post Enterprise PR and Marketing Isn’t Boring – With The Right Strategy appeared first on The Future Buzz.

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The Best Research Tools to Write Killer Content

Updated on June 25, 2019, to include current research tools and resources.

One of the first tools I fell in love with when I started mountaineering was an ice axe. An ice axe probably doesn’t sound like something you could love. It’s certainly not warm and fuzzy. You can definitely use it as a weapon. But hear me out! It’s essential for scrambling and climbing on snow and ice and is jaw-droppingly versatile. You can use it as a walking stick to keep balance, for self-arrest if you fall, and to maintain control when glissading down a slope. It’s literally a lifesaver.

Best Online Tools For Content IdeationBest Online Tools For Content Ideation

Thinking about how much mountaineering tools make my adventuring life easier and how I enjoy suggesting that other people use them, made me realize how many content research and ideation tools make my process way more efficient and that I should probably share those with people, too.

Why Do You Need Content Research Tools?

One of the main reasons for using tools for content ideation is to understand what your users are searching for, so you can deliver the most engaging and useful content to them.

In Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach write:

“Great content meets users’ needs and supports key business objectives. It keeps people coming back for more.”

When you’re coming up with content ideas, it’s essential to think about what’s going to make people return to your site. One way to do this is by answering people’s questions. Not only is this a great way to engage with people on your website, but writing blog posts in this way can help you drive a lot of organic traffic, especially if you grab the “featured snippet” or “people also ask” sections of the SERPs.

A Few of My Favorite Research Tools

If you currently write content but need some new methods for finding topics for your blog, read below for my favorite content research tools (some free, some paid).

1. Free Content Research Tools

Content topic research is more of an art than a science. There isn’t a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approach. It’s best to pick a starting point and then see where you end up from there. To begin to get a feel for what people are searching for, I suggest starting with one of the free content research tools and then dive into the paid tools to find out how viable your ideas are (I’ll talk about my favorite paid tools later on in this post).

Quora

One fantastic place to start is Quora. Quora is a website where people ask, answer, edit, and organize questions. Its sole purpose is to solve people’s problems by responding to questions, just like you do with the content on your website.

Let’s pretend your company sells matcha. If you search “matcha,” it pulls up questions people asked around the topic. The inquiry below is an excellent potential topic to explore on your website or social media platforms:

Screenshot of a search for matcha in QuoraScreenshot of a search for matcha in Quora

 

Try typing in different keywords and seeing what questions come up—some will most likely be potential content topics, or at least help you verify your current ideas.

Reddit

Reddit may seem like a place where you find trolls, not new content ideas. However, 330 million unique users are discussing different topics on Reddit, all which you can use for ideation research.

Reddit is also made up of thousands of communities called “subreddits” where users post links, stories, and videos. Users vote to determine which posts rank the highest on the subreddits.

Let’s go with a similar beverage themed query, but “coffee” this time. If you go to Reddit and search “coffee,” you’ll find the coffee subreddit and topics such as:

  • Can I collect pour over coffee in any regular glass container?
  • Can water hardness affect flow rate in pour over?
  • Does coffee get better with age? (Answer, no! Compost that immediately if it’s too old!)

Screenshot of coffee search results in RedditScreenshot of coffee search results in Reddit

 

You could turn these results into content topics such as:

  • “Coffee Accessories You Need to Own Now”
  • “DIY Pour Over Coffee Containers You Can Find In Your Kitchen”
  • “How Long Does Coffee Stay Drinkable?”

Explore the different subreddits and see what ideas you come up with. As of 2017, there are 1 million subreddits, and you’ll likely find some that are relevant to your industry.

Google Keyword Planner

A search engine’s goal is to match up a searcher’s intent with a quality piece of content that satisfies that purpose. When someone enters a query into the search bar, the engine will attempt to find the most relevant pages to display in its search results.

An excellent tool for discovering what potential customers are searching for is the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This tool allows you to research new keywords and ideas, and you can access the tool without running a campaign—I just recommend following some instructions.

Although Google will hide info for certain terms with extremely high volume, the Keyword Planner tool provides the average search volume for specific terms and phrases, and it can show you how competitive the market is for that query and how expensive a paid search bid might be.

One of our favorite ways to use the Keyword Planner is to find the Wikipedia page for your topic and then plug that into the “Your landing page” field. For example, some of the keyword ideas from looking up the Wikipedia page for “Hiking” are:

  • “hiking boots”
  • “walking holidays”
  • “backpacking gear”

Screenshot of hiking search results in Google Keyword PlannerScreenshot of hiking search results in Google Keyword Planner

 

Once you uncover what people are actually searching for, you can either optimize your current content for those keyword phrases or create new content.

Plain Old Google

Don’t get so sucked into using tools that you forget to look at the actual search engine results pages. Plugging a keyword into Google and seeing what comes up via Google Suggest can be a simple, but effective way to kick off your content ideation process.

You can use Google Suggest to go down a kind of keyword rabbit hole. Start by inputting a simple query, such as “jogging” and see what Google pulls up.

Screenshot of SERPs for JoggingScreenshot of SERPs for Jogging

 

You can then choose one of the suggestions, plug it back into Google, and see what comes up in Google Suggest this time.

Screenshot of SERPs for Jogging ShoesScreenshot of SERPs for Jogging Shoes

 

For example, if you sell jogging shoes, you could write a blog post titled, “The Top 5 Jogging Shoes for Flat Feet.”

If you want additional data about these queries directly in the SERPs, you can install the free Chrome and Firefox plugin, Keywords Everywhere. The tool will give you data such as Google keyword search volume, CPC, and competition data of keywords.

They also pull “related keywords” and “people also search for” and display them on the right-hand side of the SERPs, which you can export to a CSV file.

Screenshot of Keywords Everywhere related keywords results for Jogging ShoesScreenshot of Keywords Everywhere related keywords results for Jogging Shoes

Paid Content Research Tools

Free content tools are fantastic, but they can only give you so much information and data. In addition to free resources, I like to use a few paid tools as well. Most of them have free trials, so you don’t have to be afraid of commitment.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public is a tool that collects questions. But instead of using questions from users within its site, they’re provided by Google & Bing. These questions are put in a shareable, visual list and the data is shown in question, preposition, or alphabetical form, and then exported to a CSV file or as a PNG.

Screenshot of Answer The Public search results for Cherry BlossomsScreenshot of Answer The Public search results for Cherry Blossoms

 

For example, if you search for “cherry blossoms,” it brings up questions such as “Are cherry blossoms edible?” and “How to cherry blossom bonsai?”. You can then mold these questions into potential blog posts or content hub pages such as, “Top 10 Cherry Blossom Recipes” or “Cherry Blossom Bonsai Tree Care Guide.”

See the little green circles next to each query? If you click on them, they take you to the SERPs. Quickly reviewing the user intent of the query, the various content types (answer box, videos, links, etc.), and the competitors will allow you to determine whether or not you have a chance to rank for this particular piece of content.

Screenshot of Google Search results for How to cherry blossom bonsaiScreenshot of Google Search results for How to cherry blossom bonsai

 

Buzzsumo

One of the best ways to generate new content ideas is to take a peek at what other people are writing. We’re not suggesting you copy what you see. Instead, use your findings on Buzzsumo to initiate a brainstorm.

Buzzsumo shows you what content performs best for any topic or competitor without having to search the web yourself. You can also sort results by social network to figure out what topics performed best on each platform.

Since clearly, I love the outdoors, I’ll use that example again. This time, imagine you work for an outdoor gear company based in Bend, Oregon. Type in the search query “hiking,” and you’ll see topics such as:

  • Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brain
  • 10 California Hiking Trails with Insane Paranormal Activity
  • “Camping With Dogs” Instagram Will Inspire You To Go Hiking With Your Dog

Screenshot of BuzzSumo results for hikingScreenshot of BuzzSumo results for hiking

 

Here are a few examples of how these search results can turn into ideas for new content just by changing a few words in the previous article titles:

  • 5 Reasons Why Hiking is Great For Stress Relief
  • 5 Ghost Town Hikes in Oregon
  • Follow These Oregonian Instagram Accounts for Hiking Inspiration

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a robust keyword and competitive research tool with many different capabilities.

There are so many things this tool can do, but one of the best and most straightforward functionalities is the “keywords explorer.” You can type in a query such as “space exploration,” and it will show you keyword ideas under a few different categories: “Having same terms,” “Questions,” “Also rank for,” and “Newly discovered.”

I like using the “Having same terms” functionality. If you click on the full list of results, you can see the keyword difficulty and volume, and get tons of ideas for not only great topics but topics that you have the ability to rank for.

Screenshot of Ahrefs Having Same Terms results for Space ExplorationScreenshot of Ahrefs Having Same Terms results for Space Exploration

 

For example, the query “space exploration” is difficult to rank for, but by using this tool you can get different ideas such as “space exploration games” and “history of space exploration,” which are both easier to rank for.

There are other sites that pull articles from across the web. Try paper.li, which allows you to enter keywords or an article URL to discover similar articles on the same topic. If you don’t want to keep revisiting the site, they will collect and send you content via email. Alltop is another site that gathers content from across the web. Type in a keyword related to your industry and see what surfaces. We also have our own Content Idea Generator that’s fun, but will also give some unique ideas.

As you can see, there is a variety of content research and ideation tools out there, and I hope you’ll experiment with some of them the next time you’re staring at your screen trying to come up with your next blog or article topic. And if you need ideas for non-promotional content for your social channels, some of these work well for that too.

The post The Best Research Tools to Write Killer Content appeared first on Portent.

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On Becoming People-Centric

This is a modified version of a post I originally wrote for CallidusCloud. It appeared on their blog on June 14, 2018.

If you want to move beyond cosmetic changes and lip service to real changes in both the employee experience and the customer experience, the first thing you have to look at is your company’s culture.

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